June 28, 2020

Working remotely during a global pandemic

A pandemic isn’t only about the virus

I have been working remotely for more than ten years, and this wasn’t it. For example, even though I have been thinking about writing for three months, I couldn’t write a single word until today. Because working from home during a global pandemic isn’t the same as working remotely.

Working from home during a global pandemic isn’t the same as working remotely

During the last few months I feel the world, at an accelerating and sometimes forced pace, busted the myth of people who work remotely are less productive’. I’m glad to see working remotely is no longer an edge case because I’m sure regulations for better remote working conditions will follow.

We need to make clear one thing: This situation we have lived isn’t working remotely. People had been sent home to work during a pandemic, without time to prepare for it at an individual level nor a broader one, with every worry about health and unemployment of their relatives and peers, without a plan for translating their everyday job into a remote environment. And even with a situation that bad, people made it work.

A friend’s boss was totally against working from home because We can’t technically do it, we would have to dedicate too many resources for that to happen’; he changed his slant into We have prepared a VPN in an afternoon so you all can access our database and work as usual while being locked down at home’. Proving once again that lack of trust is what shapes a manager’s opinion against working remotely.

This is a rough list of things that are different when properly working remotely:

  1. Before going full remote, the company takes time to change some part of the processes and adapt them to a remote environment.
  2. You can prepare a place at home or elsewhere reserved just for work.
  3. You choose that place because it’s silent enough to concentrate.
  4. Your children are at school while you work.
  5. If you live with a remote worker, they also have their own space for it.
  6. You have a set of clothes comfortable enough to work from home that are not your pajamas.
  7. You have your own routine chosen through trial and error. Working remotely is usually attached to other flexibility treats, like choosing your own schedule.
  8. You have lunch at restaurants from time to time, instead of having to cook all your meals.
  9. On your free time, you can practice hobbies outside or sports that help clear your head from your job and other worries
  10. You can have lunch with friends in the middle of the week.
  11. You celebrate birthdays and other events in person, helping you feel the passage of time.
  12. You sleep the extra time you used to spend in your commute, because you aren’t worried about family and friends well being.
  13. You can ignore the news for a couple of weeks to clear your mind, instead of continually reading every update to get to know the new rules to go outside and interact with one another.
  14. You walk outside without fearing to bring back a virus with you.
  15. You don’t bleach your groceries when you come back home from the supermarket.
  16. You don’t care about touching your face while being outside.
  17. You aren’t worried about the pandemic affecting the vulnerable people around you.
  18. You can rest during weekends: singing at concerts, walking in the park, hugging your friends, making a picnic, ..
  19. You have the freedom to choose where to work or party.
  20. You can move to a new home.
  21. I would have hugged my mom tightly when my grandma passed away from covid, instead of grieving in isolation.

The pandemic has created new stressful situations that didn’t happen before. Apart from the most obvious–people with health issues that covid affect to–there were people with mental health issues shut at home, people living with their abusive partners, young queer people living with intolerant families, …

If working from home during a pandemic has kind of worked for you and your office, imagine how well will it work with freedom of movement and a well-rested headspace.

If working from home during a pandemic has kind of worked for you and your office, imagine how well will it work with freedom of movement and a well-rested headspace.

I’m aware I’m talking here about the lucky people who could work from home during the lockdown, but wanted to mention that the most vulnerable people didn’t have that chance. The possibility of finding a job for a few hours or days depends a lot on their mobility.

remote
March 11, 2020

El pijama es para profesionales

Recomendaciones personales para los que trabajamos en remoto


Read Pajamas are for pros in English


👉 Tienes un nuevo trabajo (¡enhorabuena!) y puedes elegir cuándo y dónde trabajar al menos dos días a la semana.

👉 Eres el nuevo líder de un equipo que trabaja de manera distribuída.

👉 Estás trabajando como freelance y tu siguiente trabajo es para una compañía en tu ciudad en la que están abiertos a que las reuniones se hagan por videollamada.

👉 Estás en un huso horario diferente al de tus compañeros de trabajo, y estabas acostumbrado a hablar con mucha gente a diario.

👉 El coronavirus ha llegado a tu ciudad y tienes que teletrabajar por primera vez.

Hay un millón de modos en los que trabajar en remoto, sobre todo porque la mayoría de ellos nos los estamos inventando sobre la marcha. Nuestras necesidades para hacer nuestro trabajo están cambiando, e Internet nos está ayudando a poder ser cada vez más creativos con nuestros horarios y maneras de trabajar. Pero, ¿cómo evitar procrastinar sin parar?

La rutina es la mejor amiga del teletrabajo

Piensa en tí misma como si fueras el perro de Pavlov, e intenta entrenar a tu cerebro para seguir ciertas rutinas. Crear hábitos nuevos es bastante difícil si se hacen grandes cambios de golpe. Es algo más fácil si incluyes nuevas rutinas poco a poco, acostumbrándote a ellas una a una. Ajustarse al remoto lleva un poco de trabajo al principio.

Como mi cabeza no puede no pensar en el método científico, durante los últimos años he ido probando diferentes rutinas para ver cuáles me funcionan mejor.

Esta es mi lista de rutinas, por qué las sigo, y cómo pequeños detalles han influido en el equilibrio de mi vida personal y profesional.

El pijama es para profesionales 👖

Cuando te levantas, asegúrate de que tu cuerpo se ha enterado de ello.

Trabajar en pijama es super tentador, pero te arriesgas a que sea el primero de una lista larga de rutinas perezosas, y puede ser contraproducente para trabajar y para tu vida personal. Si te quedas en pijama, tienes más excusas para no salir de casa ese día.

Descubre la rutina que mejor te viene para despertarte del todo. En mi experiencia, una ducha, un cambio de ropa, y un café es lo que pone en marcha mi cerebro.

Si no estás en pijama, además estarás preparada para una videollamada inesperada.

Si es tu primera vez trabajando desde casa y tienes que meter la rutina poco a poco, intenta seguir exactamente la misma rutina que tenías cuando ibas a una oficina física, menos la parte de irte de casa. Te asegurarás el despertarte, y tendrás la sensación maravillosa de que no tienes que gastar tiempo en ir a ningún lado.

Parar de trabajar es tan difícil como empezar ⏰

Esta parte se la dedico especialmente a todos aquellos que viven solos y no tienen la referencia de los ritmos de la vida real, y a aquellos que caen fácilmente en el efecto oh-estoy-a-oscuras-cuándo-se-hizo-de-noche.

Cuando trabajas desde casa, puedes estar trabajando horas y horas. Cuando tu única distracción eres tú misma, puedes estar tan concentrada que te olvidas del resto. Algunos de mis amigos a veces incluso se olvidan de comer.

Está bien trabajar un poco de más un día, si lo necesitas. Pero intenta añadir a tu semana algunos eventos que te devuelvan a la realidad. Por ejemplo, apuntándote a unas clases de baile.

Una cosa que hago para tener un horario más sano es poner una alarma para dejar de trabajar. Como la sirena de terminar las clases en el colegio. No sólo me ayuda a tener vida por las tardes, también a estar más descansada al día siguiente.

No te olvides de descansar 💤

Cuando trabajas desde casa te cansas de diferente manera que cuando estás en una oficina: pierdes energía más lentamente, cambias tus hábitos de descanso, e incluso tendemos a pedir menos vacaciones.

Si ves que esta semana te está costando levantarte, puedes cambiar tu horario y poner el despertador una hora más tarde para estar más descansada durante las siguientes semanas. Esta flexibilidad es un arma de doble filo.

He estado en esta situación alguna vez y te das cuenta de que no es un cansancio normal’ sino agotamiento cuando estás ya agotadísimo. Siendo freelance, si decía que no ahora a un proyecto, me arriesgaba a perderlo. Así que trabajé en un proyecto tras otro sin parar durante dos años y medio, solo parando en algún fin de semana largo.

Escucha a tu cuerpo, y descansa.

Haz cosas diferentes en sitios diferentes 🍜

Elige un sitio diferente para trabajar que para hacer todo lo demás. El día que como delante del ordenador, sé que no estoy haciendo algo bien. Cambia el espacio físico donde haces las cosas.

En un escenario ideal, tendríamos todos una habitación solo para trabajar, donde estaríamos únicamente en horario de trabajo. No todo el mundo tiene una casa suficientemente grande para esto, y tu oficina en casa puede ser una mesa y una silla en el salón, o una silla en tu cocina.

No importa dónde esté (en casa, en un hotel, en la oficina de unos amigos) nunca como y trabajo en el mismo sitio. La hora de la comida sirve como también como respiro para el cerebro. Todos necesitamos un descanso, así que es mejor hacerlo oficial. Cambiar incluso sólo de silla para comer, te ayudará a tener (literalmente) otra perspectiva, a relajarte un poco antes de seguir, y a estar mejor concentrada después de comer. Son todo ventajas.

Encuentra la música que te pone en el estado mental que necesitas 🎶

Puedes incitar ciertos estados de ánimo con ayuda del sonido. Recuerdas al perro de Pavlov? Puedes traducirlo a ti misma usando música. Estos on mis niveles de concentración y la música que escucho para cada uno de ellos:

  1. Tareas diarias = Música aleatoria Escucho música mientras trabajo, y con las tareas diarias no necesito ningún tipo en específico. Es en estos momentos en los que encuentro por casualidad las canciones para los otros niveles de concentración.
  2. Tarea medio dificil = Una playlist Tiendo a escuchar las listas de canciones en loop. Durante seis meses ha sido el disco de Solange, y ahora estoy entrando en la fase en la que escucho a Janelle Monáe. He descubierto los dos discos mientras escuchaba música aleatoria, y me han ayudado a entrar en una zona de confort mental que me ayuda a resolver cosas. Esta música me transporta al equivalente en comida a tomarse una sopa cuando estás un poco enfermo.
  3. Tenía que estar hecho ayer = Una canción o silencio Tengo una lista de reproducción con solo una canción para que suena una y otra y otra vez. Sé que es un poco locura, pero a mí me funciona. He estado escuchando esa canción sin parar para concentrarme desde que la escuché en un capítulo de Fringe. A veces también uso el silencio, pero sigo poniéndome los auriculares para aislarme del ruido del mundo.

El truco de la luz 💡

Hace un tiempo, vivía en un apartamento muy pequeño en el centro de una ciudad muy grande. Dentro no era tan luminoso como me hubiera gustado, pero era la primera vez que vivía sola, así que estaba encantada con ello.

Cada vez que empezaba a trabajar encendía una pequeña lámpara de los años cincuenta. Trabajaba en la mesa más estrecha de ikea, y usaba la lámpara para no tener solo la luz de la pantalla delante. Cada vez que me sentaba a trabajar, click, lámpara encendida.

Después de hacer esto durante semanas, y a pesar de mis problemas de insomnio, encender esa lámpara me ayudaba a concentrarme. Sin saberlo, me había condicionado a ello como en un experimento.

Ya casi nunca uso este truco porque ahora vivo en una casa más luminosa. Pero aún tengo la lámpara al lado de mi sitio de trabajo.

Queda con gente 👯

Si piensas que tienes que ver a una persona a la semana, mejor queda con dos. Siempre que puedas, añade un evento social a lo que piensas que necesitas en tus planes semanales.

Cuando trabajas en una oficina física estás rodeada de gente todo el rato. Ves a un vecino al salir de casa, en el camino a la oficina, en la oficina. Esa es una de las razones por las que es siempre buena idea trabajar un par de meses al año o dos días a la semana en un espacio de coworking. Porque todos esos hábitos sociales que en una oficina salen de manera natural, se pierden poco a poco cuando te quedas en casa.

Tendemos a pensar que este tipo de habilidades sociales están ahí para siempre. Pero piensa en algún idioma que hayas aprendido hace un tiempo, o en alguna asignatura que aprendiste en el colegio. Si no lo practicas, tu cerebro deja de recordarlo y ocupa ese espacio con otras cosas.

Igual no estás en tu ciudad, o tus amigos están muy ocupados durante la semana. Intenta entonces practicar alguna actividad social, como deportes, o aprender idiomas. Los eventos relacionados con tu trabajo también son una buena idea para conocer a gente y socializar.

Mira por la ventana 🖼

Cuando todo lo que ves, escuchas, lees, escribes, y toda la gente con la que te relacionas están en la misma pantalla, ésta se convierte en tu zona de confort. Llegarás hasta a desayunar delante de ella, y olvidar que el mundo exterior también es un lugar confortable.

Inspira y mira por la ventana durante los descansos de tu jornada laboral. Te ayudará a no perder la perspectiva.

👖 + ⏰ + 💤 + 🍜 + 🎶 + 💡 + 👯 + 🖼 = 💻 🔝

remote es
March 10, 2020

Cómo funciona la comunicación cuando trabajamos en remoto

Si no está documentado, nunca pasó

cc gallery flickr.com/photos/wocintechchat/


How remote communication works, English version


Para ser fiable en remoto: sigue tu propio horario

Una de las ventajas de trabajar en remoto es que normalmente va acompañado de poder elegir tu propio horario. Esto no es tan fácil como suena. Tus horas trabajando afectan directamente a la comunicación con tu equipo o tu cliente.

Elige las horas que mejor te vengan, y repite tu propio horario diariamente. Cuéntale a tus compañeros cuándo vas a estar disponible para que todo el mundo sepa cuándo se puede contar contigo y cuándo no. Una rutina es la mejor amiga de toda persona que teletrabaja.

Imagina estos dos escenarios: 👉 Una persona A que trabajó 10 horas el lunes, 2 el martes, ninguna el miércoles, y 12 horas el jueves y el viernes. Y cada día empezó a trabajar a una hora diferente.

👉 Una persona B que trabaja de lunes a viernes las mismas seis horas y media, siempre trabaja desde la 1 de la tarde y hasta las siete y media.

Imagina que has trabajado con ambas persons en el pasado. A y B son igualmente buenas en su trabajo. A quién volverías a contratar? Solo vas a confiar en encontrar a una hora concreta a una de ellas. No es que no te fíes de A, sino que B no te hará pensar en cuándo puedes encontrarle y cuando no.

Completa tus mensajes en remoto y ahórrale tiempo a todos

La comunicación en remoto es a menudo asíncronica, es decir, puede ocurrir que los interlocutores no estén conectados al mismo tiempo. Para mí, trabajar con gente que vive en otros husos horarios y otras partes del mundo es parte de la belleza de trabajar en remoto.

Aprende nuevas maneras de interrumpir menos a tus compañeros.

Si tienes una pregunta, primero intenta encontrar la respuesta en internet o en la documentación interna de la compañía. Pasarás el mismo tiempo esperando la respuesta que buscándolo tú mismo, pero no gastarás el tiempo de otros. Si no encuentras la respuesta, entonces pregúntale directamente a la persona encargada de esa decisión.

In tenta imaginarte la conversación completa y ofrece una lista de opciones concretas a tu interlocutor.

Si, por ejemplo, tienes que crear una reunión con Sara en el calendario, tendréis que estar de acuerdo en la hora, el día, el sitio de la reunión, el formato (por chat, por videollamada). Pero resulta que Sara vive a siete horas de ti, y vuestros horarios difícilmente se solapan.

Proponer una reunión

👎 ¡Hola, Sara! Me gustaría contarte algo sobre el proyecto del sistema de diseño. Cuándo estarás disponible?

👍 ¡Hola, Sara! Me gustaría que priorizáramos los próximos tres meses en el proyecto del sistema de diseño. Podríamos hablar de ello el martes a mis 5 de la tarde, tus 12 de la mañana? Creo que no nos llevará más de 30 minutos.

El segundo ejemplo se puede añadir al calendario en ese mismo momento. Si Sara es igual de eficiente que tú, aceptará y creará el evento en el calendario de las dos, porque ella ya tiene la información de cuándo tú estarás disponible.

Las listas de tareas en remoto: no dejes que una pregunta sin responder impida seguir con tu día.

Normalmente tengo una lista escrita con todas las preguntas y comentarios que surgen durante el día y las mando todas a la vez en una lista cerrada. Cuando tus compañeros de trabajo estén concentrados en responder cosas, podrán hacerlo con todas a la vez. No hará falta interrumpir a tus compañeros cada vez que te surja algo. Estar concentrado no es una tarea fácil, ni para ti ni para ellos.

Cuando estés planeando tu día, ten en cuenta que surgirán preguntas durante dicho plan. Ten un plan B preparado para esos casos, con una lista de tareas que no dependa de terceros para realizarse.

En mi caso, normalmente tengo un listado con grandes cosas que necesitan ser pensadas durante un tiempo, y una lista con pequeñas tareas que no dependen de nadie o no tienen una fecha y una hora en la que tienen que estar hechas.

Ya que estás aquí, añade documentación’ a tu lista.

Documentar es clave para todo equipo que trabaje en remoto

Escribe las decisiones tomadas en los proyectos en los que estás, apunta los planes para cada cosa. Evitarás pasar dos o tres meses después por exactamente la misma conversación.

Conlleva un poco de tiempo acostumbrarse, pero a la larga merece la pena. Guarda la información en algún lugar en el que sea fácil buscarla después.

En un mundo ideal todos los del equipo tendréis la misma forma de catalogar la información, por ejemplo, con las notas tomadas durante una reunión.

A veces sabes el contexto o los por qués de cada detalle de un proyecto en el que has estado trabajando un tiempo, pero no puedes asumir que todos tienen toda esa información cuando argumentan sus decisiones. Esta es una de las mejores razones para documentar cosas, que cualquiera puede entrar y salir de un proyecto y ponerse al día rápidamente.

La ironía no funciona en remoto

Cuando trabajas en remoto, las palabras que eliges, tu tono, lo a menudo que hablas, y otros aspectos de tu comunicación le dan forma a la imagen que otros tienen de ti

Evita el uso de la ironía o del doble sentido. Los textos escritos no tienen entonación. Estarás pensando ¡obvio!’ pero no todo el mundo lo recuerda. Los tweets, por ejemplo, son malinterpretados muy a menudo.

Este estudio sobre el uso de la ironía en Twitter muestra cómo la ironía sólo la detectan las personas que han visto a la persona poner opiniones contrarias a lo escrito.

La ironía en remoto solo funciona si el otro te conoce bien.

Los emojis son tus expresiones en el remoto

Los gestos y microexpresiones no existen cuando tu comunicación es, sobre todo, escrita. Y, solo existirán en la mente de otros, si lo expresas implícitamente.

El cómo otros nos perciben está ligado directamente a lo que compartimos con ellos. No hace falta que compartas todo lo que haces, pero no te olvides de mostrar que eres persona por encima de trabajadora.

Uno de mis lemas para la comunicación en remoto es: Cada vez que alguien cuente algo que no tiene que ver con el trabajo, reacciona. Es decir: cada imagen de un gatito necesita su emoji de ojos con estrellas.

Los emojis y los GIFs animados ayudan a formar tu imagen más allá de la pantall, y son una forma perfecta de hacerle saber a tus compañeros que tienes interés en lo que cuentan, y contar tus propios intereses.


Resumen: Seis consejos para la comunicación en remoto

  1. Fiarse en remoto: sigue tu propio horario.
  2. La comunicación en remoto no es siempre instantánea
  3. Interrumpe a otros como te gustaría que te interrumpierana a ti.
  4. Documenta, documenta, documenta.
  5. Tu imagen depende de cómo te expresas. Evita malentendidos.
  6. Recuerda usar emojis 🐱 + 🤩
remote es
December 26, 2019

Tailoring our future

How did we get here and sustainable alternatives to fast fashion

Cinemagraph by kpoldnk

Disclaimer: The goal of this article is not another guilt trip about how you live your life, and how much water you need to drink. My intention is to create awareness about this situation in a society that normalises consumerism. I also offer alternatives on an individual level

If the price of two products is similar, aren’t you more prone to consume things that have a smaller carbon footprint, less wasteful production process, better worker conditions, or made of a durable material? Of course! No one wants to impact the world negatively because of a pair of trousers. The thing is: we don’t usually have that information on hand, but we can use the internet to look for it. Thanks to a better informed society, people’s sustainability expectations on products is growing by the day.

Some fashion industry giants have lately been so wasteful, polluting, and worsening their worker’s conditions, that they now have their own definition: Fast Fashion.

Brands like Zara or H&M are following an unsustainable operational model. The current speed of retailers to move their collections from runways to stores, and their accelerated manufacturing production process creating a collection every two weeks have lead to brands using fashion FOMO-Fear Of Missing Out-as a business model. Of course, in most cases without hiring more people or paying them any better. Fast fashion is contributing to the global climate crisis with its waste while profiting from vulnerable places.

This wasn’t the future capitalism had planned

Born in the UK in the XVIII century, capitalism was based on a super elitist idea of the world, were men (only men, and only white) basic desires were pushing the economy to a balanced status. According to consumerist John Maynard Keynes, one day we will all be rich, we won’t need to work so much, we will consume less; and all we’ll do is to watch our flowers grow. Keynes idea was that greed was good, and consumerism was the better rational and temporal option for achieving that human limited” greed. Unfortunately, he didn’t take into consideration hundreds of years of accelerated consumerism couldn’t all end in one day–or one decade–. Plus the naïveté prospect of everyone –even taking his definition of everyone as white rich men–or anyone saying Ok, I have enough, I’ll now watch my flowers grow”.

Right now, for instance, too many sectors would crush if we stop all the consumerism machinery at once.

How did we get here, then

In the XVIII century, women were expected to fit their garments as the yearly trend dictated. Wealthy women had their dresses created ad hoc for every trend. Less wealthy women adapted their clothes, shortening theirs skirts or adding a different neck to their old clothes.

The textile industry was leading the Industrial Revolution, which main changes were the use of machines as a manufacturing production process replacing manual labor, and dividing such work into little steps within assembly lines.

Average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. […]GDP per capita was broadly stable before […], and the Industrial Revolution began an era of per-capita economic growth in capitalist economies.

Lucas, Robert E., Jr. (2002). Lectures on Economic Growth.

With factory workers and military personnel as their main target, men clothes were the first to have homogenised sizes and tailoring cuts. During the next century, offering high-end garments made by a tailor was a differentiation value for wealthy people, and fashion houses were born.

The XX century started with well-off women dressed extravagantly corseted to display economic wealth. As their lifestyle became a bit more independent they started demanding more practical clothes, like garments that could be put on without a maid’s help. On the less-wealthy side, women had entered the factories workforce massively during wars, so they were not only starting to have some kind of economic independence, they also needed outfits with better mobility.

Fashion houses added a pret-a-porter line–literally ready-to-wear– to their half-year collections during the 50s. Pret-a-porter fashion was more affordable for the public, and more profitable for brands, and soon haute couture was replaced by it.

Fast forward a few years and we have globalised fashion producers and trendsetters thanks to magazines, movies, … And in the 70s Zara appeared on the scene. A tiny fashion store on the Northwest of Spain that copied and simplified those pret-a-porter pieces they saw on the runways and remade them with affordable garments.

Zara changed small stores fashion expectations and the way fashion was designed, manufactured and distributed. Its owner called it instant fashion”. They could produce trendy clothes faster than ever before. Zara then went from being the tail of the lion, to be the head of the mouse, to create a completely new animal. They became so popular they started creating their own collections–mixed with the runway copies–. And soon enough they were the ones getting copied by new brands. Gossip apart, the fashion industry, sorry, the high fashion industry, wasn’t happy about being copied or losing customers because of this.

Zara just started the trend

Globalisation, lower shipping costs and quality, and internet stores have amplified and speeded up this copying cycle. Brands and fashion houses, trying to be unique, used this new more affordable way to exploit the whole supply chain. They wanted to wow’ people more and more often, so they created middle-season collections, and then half-middle-season ones. And a set of sales right in between. So much so, there are stores right now with a section that’s always on sale.

The impact was similar to computerisation on the workplace. As Javi Loureiro once pointed out: when computers were able to calculate x2 faster, people expected to work half of the time; instead, companies asked to double the amount of work done.

Middle-season collections fall into this category. Almost no one on the chain was paid more, teams weren’t growing, they were asked to double their work. These triggered a discomfort and lack of value inside fashion brands. They, for example, started copying illustrations they found on the Internet, provoking a lot of public brand shaming and litigations.

Once upon a time, buying clothes was limited to a particular time of the year, like children’s clothes at the beginning of the school year. During the 90s, shopping was made popular as a form of entertainment. This was shown in a lot of movies and tv shows.

Fast fashion dark patterns

In 1993, Lefties was created, a store where Zara’s defective clothes were sold for very low prices. They used the mindset of cheaper products are held to lower standards and, soon, Lefties evolved into a full low-cost clothing store. The business model wasn’t about Zara’s residuary anymore, they were creating lower quality clothes at lower prices and standards. It was so profitable they extended this model onto the main brand.

In 2013 job conditions deteriorated even faster than before. The Subprime mortgage crisis rose unemployment rates, and companies were making mass early retirements and firing waves. Low-cost brands where growing and, in this scarcity of jobs, they hired people for lower salaries and more precarious conditions along the whole production chain.

At the same time, social media platforms exploited the exposure of people with good personal branding, called them influencers, and paid them to promote their products. Having followers brought status, status brought money from brands which lead to more followers. Influencers and their clothes were an aspirational persona, and we started talking about personal branding’ even for regular people. We could all be influencers in our own circles, getting likes for social status. There was a social pressure to fit in, and to look as trendy as often as this or that influencer.

A lot of fast fashion brands monetise this in a well-thought evil way. Brands release collections every two weeks now (Dec-2019). They use specific patterns, colors, and shapes for every collection. I’ve lived in a very crowded place with a lot of fast fashion stores nearby and after a while, with my crazy-for-patterns brain, I could spot if someone was wearing a shirt from three or six weeks ago. Clothes get old fashioned pretty fast right now.

In every new collection, new items are created that match the colors of the last collection but with a twist. This twist is what makes it recognizable as a brand new item that week. But three collections from today, your garment won’t match the colors or style of the new one. So the consumer is pressured to throw away or hide their clothes from six weeks ago.

This consumerism epidemic led the fashion industry to become synonymous with disposable fashion and textile waste.

Due to poor quality and manufacturing, the benchmark for fast fashion companies is expected to last 10 washes until an item no longer holds its original quality and subsequently falls apart. Approximately 500 million pounds of textile waste exist in Canadian landfills.

The last straw

From the producers perspective, the story is much worse. I remember the Rana Plaza building collapse in 2013. An eight-story commercial building with around 5,000 people working on foreign retail brands collapsed. The worst part is that workers, mostly women and some as young as twelve years old, had seen cracks growing on the walls but were threatened to be fired if they refused to enter the building.

It was a turning point on fast fashion acceptance because a lot of international brands were involved: Walmart, Primark, Carrefour, Benetton, Mango, Children’s Place, … The Accord on Factory and Building Safety in Bangladesh was created after the tragedy to protect workers conditions with safety training, factory inspections, etc.

Please don’t let the next social and economic change wait until the collapse of a building with 5,000 people in it.

Alternatives to fast fashion

I’ve been thinking and writing notes for this article for a while now. And the main proposal I got is:

On top of consuming less items, let’s consume better ones–if you can, quality isn’t always affordable–; and be aware of and reject the feeling of needing to own everything you like.

💊 Capsule wardrobe, a design system for your wardrobe

This is my favourite one because it fits my minimalist mindset and because it’s flexible enough to be trendy if you care about fashion trends.

A capsule wardrobe is the conscious choice of owning 20-25 pieces for every season, excluding underwear. The idea is to have a minimum amount of clothes, all easily paired with each other. It’s like a design system inside your wardrobe. The choosing process include having all pieces fitting you perfectly, so you love every piece you own, making it more probable that you’ll be wearing them. It’s less about quantity and more about quality.

One thing that has helped me maintain the number of items I own is to go shopping only when I need a specific piece; and to take the old garment out of the wardrobe every time I add a new one.

I’ve kind of had a capsule wardrobe before I knew its name because I don’t like to spend time shopping. Whenever I’m about to buy an item I ask myself:

  • does it fit my body the way I like?
  • does it fit with my kind of life? (all night gowns are automatically eliminated, as much as I like to think I’d look sickening on a red carpet)
  • do I really need it, or do I have a similar piece?
  • do the colors or shapes combine with my current pieces? Or in order to wear it I have the obligation to buy another item?
  • did I come to this store needing this?
  • would I still love it in six months?
  • do I really want it?

This final question reminds me of Marie Kondo’s: Ask yourself if it sparks joy”.

I normally choose plain neutral colors: black, white and grey, for the pieces I wear more than once, like sweaters, jackets, shoes, trousers and skirts. It is easier to combine them with new pieces that way. I like to play with the texture, the shape, the overall style, and the structure of those neutral-colored clothes.

For example, I own a very basic black skirt that’s transparent to the eye, nothing super special. But if you look closer it has a Japanese martial arts vibe that makes it [chef kiss].

I choose more colorful or special pieces for things I change the most, like shirts and t-shirts.

If you want to be trendy with the least amount of garments, you can be extra with your shirts, or play with accessories. A simple black dress, for example, can be worn with white converse shoes and no accessories to have a coffee with friends. The same black dress, combined with elegant shoes, an updo, and long earrings and boom!, you are ready for an elegant night event.

I like how capsule wardrobe guidelines are flexible enough to fit most people, and you can still be trendy if you want.

🍍 Piñatex: a sustainable business model

Piñatex is a vegetable leather and its story is one of my favourites about thinking twice and acting once.

Dr Carmen Hijosa, Piñatex founder, was a leather exporting expert in a UK firm for a long time. She knew the industry well enough but wanted to improve the leather extraction process. She started by travelling to the countries of origin, following each and every step of the leather production chain to see if anything could be better and/or more profitable. She found out the deplorable worker conditions, like people being regularly surrounded by dead animal parts. She returned to the UK with a broken heart and a new goal.

To improve the process, it needed to change completely. She saw that if a plant-based fabric was made, with no animals involved in hot and humid areas, the starting point would hopefully have a less toxic environment.

She hired a team to research what kind of plant based fiber could be used to get a leather-like texture. Being an experienced leather trader, her standards were pretty high and specific: durability, flexibility, appealing, easiness to work with, …

After a while, they discovered a way to transform plant-based fibers into a leathery texture. It wasn’t entirely ready but it was good enough to start looking for the best fiber to use. They had multiple plants in mind that could work, but buying or even cultivating them was too expensive. One of the things she wanted was to pay workers better, so lowering costs needed to happen on the raw materials.

They started looking for a cheap vegetable fiber in the countries they had shipping connections with, and they discovered pineapples were the second most cultivated fruit in the world. No only that, they also found out pineapple leaves weren’t used at all and were thrown away! They sure found the cheapest most spreaded vegetable fiber.

Pineapple was it, then. They had this plant fiber leftovers to experiment with, and the rest is history. Dr Hijosa had enough knowledge about how and where to ship this pineapple based fabric. She also knew the market was starting to open to sustainable options, so the timing was also spot on. In my opinion, it was smart not to try and design clothes themselves, but to sell the material to others. I’ve seen too many startups collapse because of a blurry and boundless scope. They initially launched the fabric in three colors: white, black, and gold. Brands like Hugo Boss or Nae shoes trusted this new vegan leather called Piñatex.

One of the solutions to fast fashion is to make sustainability trendy. We, as individuals, don’t have enough power to change the entire system, but our purchases (dollar votes) and public concerns are now too loud to ignore.

♻️ What’s coming

Circular economy is now the main approach behind any sustainable product. Its goal is to waste less, or having no waste at all, in any manufacturing production process. You can know more about it from the leading organisation at the moment: Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Other models include recycling clothes, using fabric off-cuts for new pieces like this zero waste clothes by Kye Shimizu, or renting fancy garments for special occasions so we only have the essentials on our shelves.

The room for improvement in the ethics department of the fashion industry is still too big, and it’s not only about the manufacturing process. During the research part of writing this article, I found so many things that aren’t quite right. For example, brands showcase non-binary models while forcing their online users to filter between women clothes’ and men clothes’. I’ve also stumbled upon offensive terms like age appropriate’ too many times. Clothes are a form of expression and you should have the freedom to choose your own adventure. You decide what sparks joy for you, what’s a good fit and what’s your style today.


Although it may look like buying clothes that aren’t part of the fast fashion industry is difficult and too expensive, remember slow fashion takes clothes durability into consideration. You’ll be needing less clothes, less frequently.

As Greta Thunberg said as individuals, our most powerful tool is to inform ourselves, and use that to pressure our governments into making the necessary changes.

August 1, 2019

The Peephole Distress Theory

A new angle to look at social media

Yet another research has shown the connection between time using mobile apps and depression. Our instinct saw it comming, as you can’t visit Instagram from your desk during the summer without assuming you are the only one not on the beach.

I see friends on holidays trying to do activities away from screens, or trying to fight the attention span issues that leave them unable to read anything longer than a headline.

Maybe because of my degree in Communication Science, maybe because I’ve helped build digital products for over a decade, I like to see myself as an observer of these kind of behaviors. This time, I want to share with you the observations I’ve made on myself and my surroundings.

The Peephole Distress Theory

When I use social media I get a mix of happiness for other people’s achievements, entertainment, food for thought and a pinch of imposter syndrome. I attribute the last part to what I’ve called the Peephole distress.

Imagine you live in a crowded building and you look through your apartment door peephole during the day. You’ll get to see a lot of your neighbours going in and out. Maybe some of them go in and out multiple times. If you think about it you know you are not seeing everyone that lives in the building, you are only seeing the ones outside their houses. But your brain gets a conglomerate of all of the people out there and produce a message like: People are coming in and out all the time and I’m not”.

When reading tweets I regularly get peehole distress with people’s accomplishments. I know I’m only seeing a percentage of people telling about their successes. I consciously bring myself to think about this distorted reality feeling being not real, but there are times when my brain still produces a statement: Everyone is achieving things while I don’t”.

My inner saboteur surely doesn’t help

It’s not exactly an imposter syndrome, it’s something else, and it’s amplified on social media.

For example, if I follow 100 people and each one of them publishes a highlight on a different day, at the end of 100 days I’d have seen 100 highlights. That highlight could be one work achievement, or a personal success story. My brain would translate that into Everyone is achieving something everyday”, with the additional you need to stop being so lazy” on bad days. Even though each one of them has had only one highlight during the last three months.

What about the silent ones

After considering the Peehole Distress Theory I couldn’t stop thinking about the silent ones. What if I could visualize all the people in the building, the ones that are going out, AND the ones that are staying at home like me? Wouldn’t I have a more realistic view of what people is actually doing? Wouldn’t I see a more realistic Twitter feed if I displayed the published and the unpublished tweets?

What if I could see how many people on my Twitter feed are silent? I’ve made the numbers.

I’ve looked for information about tweeting patterns of 100 people I follow. I’ve discarded bots, organizations, and looked for the number of tweets that aren’t retweets or replies, so I could get the real average number of tweets per day with original content. The formula is:

tTpd:Total number of Tweets per day

tTpd - (tTpd x (RT percentage / 100)) - (tTpd x (Replies percentage / 100)) = Real tweets per day

My numbers are these:

These are the aggregated numbers from the 100 people analyzed:

I’ve analyzed users I follow that were active during last year. 62.5% of them tweet less than once a day. This is the image of all the people talking (blue) and the ones that are silent (white) during one day:

The 1%

Most users don’t participate. It’s the 90-9-1 rule, 90% users of a community are lurkers, 9% are intermittent contributors, and 1% of them are heavy contributors. Reddit CEO said recently in an interview that A small percentage of our users are very loud”. That is true for almost all communities online.

We already knew it. Most people are silent and just a few make a lot of noise. But we still get the feeling that everybody is doing something all the time and the only silent ones are us.

In a way, it can feel like everyone has always wins to share and we are the only ones trying to hide our failures.

A little trick

If you work remotely, this effect affects regular communications too. When everything is alright you don’t get a long message full of explanations on why is it alright. When there’s a problem, you do. It’s part of life but we better be aware of it.

One of the things I do to counteract it is document those wins one after the other on a text file. So, when things aren’t going well or I doubt myself, I read my own wins, written by me, and the excitement is contagious. On the same note, I recently went to a friend’s talk that was reaaaaally good. She was nervous about it at first but she crushed it. I recorded her stress-free wide smile at the end and a bit of the loud applause she got, so she has it on hand any time she needs a reminder of how awesome she is.

transparentbg

communication
June 5, 2019

Pajamas are for pros

Personal tips for remote workers

👉 You just got a new job — congrats!— and you can choose when and where to work at least two days a week.

👉 You are the new manager of a remote team. You had done this job before but only in person.

👉 You are freelancing, the next project is for a company in your city and they are open to have meetings using a video calls.

👉 You are now in a different time zone than your coworkers. You are used to talk with a lot of people daily.

There are a thousand configurations of remote jobs, mostly because we are creating them on the fly. Our needs are changing and Internet is helping us being creative with our schedules. How can you avoid becoming a serial procrastinator?

Routine is a remoter’s best friend

Think of yourself as Pavlov’s dog, and train your brain to follow some simple routines. Creating new habits or modifying old ones isn’t easy. Try to include new routines little by little to not overwhelm yourself. It takes time to readjust but it can be done.

Being a scientific-method-holic, I tried different routines to measure my productivity as a remote worker.

These are my routines, why I follow them, and how details have impacted my productivity and personal-professional balance.

Pajamas are for pros 👖

When you wake up, make sure you’ve really woken up.

I know working in your pajamas is tempting, but you risk accumulating a list of lazy new habits, which can be counterproductive for your daily work and your personal life. Find your own waking up routine. From my experience, a shower and a change of clothes set your brain in motion for the day.

It also comes in handy to be prepared for a video call.

If it’s your first time working from home, try following your commuter routine except for the commuting part. You’ll have the cozy feeling you don’t need to waste time on the road anymore.

Stopping to work is harder than getting started ⏰

This is a special call for those who live alone and don’t have a real world schedule reference, or those who had easily fallen in the when-did-it-get-so-dark-in-the-room wormhole.

When you work from home you can be working for hours. When your only distractions are your own, you get focused and you can forget everything else. Some of my friends get so focused they skip meals.

It’s OK to work overtime once in a while before a deadline. Add a little real life event here and there so you don’t forget about it. A good habit is setting a schedule — and an alarm, if you need it — and following it, which also helps your remote reliability.

Don’t forget to rest 💤

When you work from home you get tired differently than when you work in an office. You lose your energy slower and you can change your resting habits, even not getting enough holidays.

Your usual red alerts are different now. For example, if you see yourself being lazier than usual you can change your schedule to start an hour later and solve that for a while.

I’ve been in this situation and realized it when I was already burnt out. As a freelance if I say not now to a project I risk losing it. So at some point I chained project after project for two years and a half with no more than a couple of long weekends off.

Different locations for different activities 🍜

Establish a different location for work and for everything else. Physically separate your work space.

The ideal scenario is to have a room just for work, where you are only during work hours. But space constraints can make your home office a table and a chair, or just a chair.

No matter where I am, at home, a hotel, a friend’s house, an office, I never eat in the same space I work. Having lunch is my resting time, everyone needs a break, it’s better to make it a habit. Even changing the chair arrangement — literally having a new perspective— helps your brain rest for a while. Taking physical distance while having lunch helps you focus on your job after lunch. It’s a win-win situation.

Find personal music-mindset patterns 🎶

You can trigger a certain mindset with sound. Remember Pavlov’s dog and apply it to music. These are my focusing levels:

  1. Everyday tasks = Random music I listen to music while working. With everyday tasks I don’t need to listen to anything in particular. By trial and error, this is where I discover good focusing music for the other focusing levels.
  2. Kind of difficult task = One playlist I tend to listen to one album in loop. For six months it has been Solange’s, and now I’m in a Janelle Monáe phase. I discovered both while listening to random music, and they have helped me feel in a mental comfort zone to relax when solving difficult tasks. This is the equivalent of having a soup when you feel a little under the weather.
  3. Deadline is yesterday = One song or silence I have a playlist with a single song to play in loop. Yes, it’s crazy but it works for me. I’ve been listening to that song in loop to focus since I heard it in a Fringe episode. I also use silence as a concentration tool, but I need to be using my headphones to isolate myself.

The lamp trick 💡

A while ago I had a tiny apartment in the middle of a big city. It was less bright than I would have liked, but it was the first time I lived alone and I loved it. I worked at the tiniest table with a 50s lamp on it. The table was in the shadows and I used the lamp to see further than my screen reflection. Every time I seated to work I turned on the light. After a while, I had sleeping problems and turning on the light kept me focus during work hours. Unknowingly, I had conditioned myself to a new stimulus.

I rarely use this trick anymore because I live in a brighter house now. I still have the lamp though.

Meet with people 👯

If you think you need to meet people once a week, do it twice a week. I always add an extra social event to my weekly plans.

When you work in an office, you are surrounded by coworkers. You get to see people on your way there and your way back. That’s one of the reasons it is a good idea to work in a co-working space a couple of months a year, because we learn habits the same way we lose them.

We tend to think basic skills are there forever. Think about a language you learnt a while ago, or a middle school subject you were good at. If you don’t practice it your brain uses that space for something else. Don’t underestimate your ability to losing basic skills such as socializing.

Maybe you aren’t in your country or your friends are busy. Try a social hobby like practicing a sport or learning a new language. Events related to your discipline is also a good idea because you get to know your peers.

Look out of the window 🖼

When everything you watch, listen, read, write, and everyone you talk to are in one screen, this screen is your new comfort zone. You’ll have breakfast in front of it, and you’ll forget the outside world is comfortable too.

Breathe in and look out the window during breaks. You‘ll remain grounded.

👖 + ⏰ + 💤 + 🍜 + 🎶 + 💡 + 👯 + 🖼 = 💻 🔝


Post originally published in Medium

remote