Wednesday, 1 April 2020

How to be most effective when homeworking

Guest blog by founder of Redwood Publishing Recruitment, Theresa Duncan

With an increasing number of companies asking their staff to work remotely from the office, many people will be learning new ways of tackling the daily task list. We’ve compiled some helpful tips to make working from home more straightforward, based on our experiences and those of candidates we work with.

Creating a workspace
The first, and one of the most important tips, is to create a dedicated workspace. Perching on the end of the kitchen table while your family eat around you is never going to work! Even if you have to move to a spare bedroom, use the sitting room for part of the day or even the garden shed, creating your own area to work in.

Once you have secured your workspace, now’s the time to set out a plan and schedule. Think how your normal workday is scheduled and try to mirror this as much as possible. For instance, if you always start with a ‘to do’ list, make this the first thing you do. Keep team meetings and 121s in place and look to achieve tasks during the day and week.

Sharing is caring
To help keep your schedule, share it with others who are in your home. Whether these are flatmates or family, it’s important that they respect your time and keep noise and activity to a minimum, especially if you’re on a video call!

Break it up
It’s important to schedule regular breaks, whether it’s for a coffee or lunch away you’re your desk. While you are at home, take advantage of eating as healthily as possible – homemade sandwiches, baked potatoes, veggie pasta and rice bowls are great options. Avoid sugary snacks such as biscuits and cake – they only give you a false energy high. And step outside. We are still able to exercise outside, so perhaps use your lunch hour for a power walk or jog. Drop into the garden for air during the day, to literally clear your head.

Identify when you are at your most productive or change your work hours to be online when your clients or colleagues are. And think about dressing for the occasion. We’ve all heard about newsreaders wearing shorts under the desk and a jacket just for the TV camera, but if dressing more smartly helps your productivity, or doing your hair gets you in the zone, embrace it! There is nothing wrong with looking the part just because you are working from home. The important part is your output and getting the job done.

Stick to the 9-5
If you were in the office, you would not be thinking about the washing or running errands, so the same should apply when you are homeworking. Quit the tasks during the day or make time for them before you start work. You need as few distractions as possible, so taking housework or errands out of the mix will help you to focus. Social Media can be a huge distraction, so disable alerts and put your personal phone on silent to help you focus on the 9-5.

Keep in touch and keep motivated
One of our final tips is to keep in touch with co-workers. As a recruitment business, Redwood Publishing Recruitment do this on a daily basis, contacting candidates and clients regularly. We plan in calls, emails and meetings and stick to them, becoming business as usual. Use this to keep yourself motivated in and in touch with your colleagues. We’ve heard how effective Zoom has been for all team and 121 meetings, even being used by some for a 5pm ‘Friday hurrah’ as the week draws to a close. There are plenty of video calling options; the key thing is to utilise them to keep motivated and in touch with your team. Remote working can be challenging, but this, and the other ideas, should make your working week a little easier to manage.

Redwood Publishing Recruitment is offering ALPSP members free advice on homeworking, career coaching, team restructures, recruitment and other employment needs during this unprecedented time. Their qualified careers coach is happy to answer all your questions, just email:

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

The partnership that built a platform fit for 21st century publishing

In the run up to the ALPSP Webinar Series, Case studies in collaboration: the next wave of platform hosting initiatives, Harriet Bell (Emerald Publishing) and David Leeming (67 Bricks) discuss their alliance.
Back in 2017, all of Emerald’s journals, and most of their books and case studies, were stored and managed by Atypon on the Literatum platform. But Emerald lacked control over their customer data and user experiences; and there was no flexibility to innovate - essential in the new digital era. How does a small publisher hold their nerve to digitally transform?

What were the key issues behind moving from a vendor platform?

Harriet Bell: The ability to innovate was paramount. User needs are dramatical
ly changing and they expect personalised, digital products, tailored to their own needs, as standard. We were keen to take back control of our customer data and offer new products, but our vendor platform was holding us back. We wanted to build something ourselves but it was too big a task. We thought: why not find a technology partner who can help us do the best of both - build something tailored to our users needs whilst buying in the best of the latest flexible technologies that are already out there - and take a ‘partner’ or ‘hybrid-build’ approach?

What is a hybrid-build approach?

David Leeming: The hybrid-build approach is all about flexibility and getting closer to the customer. Today’s developers and architects have taken the best lessons from the monolithic platforms of old and are now creating smart, flexible frameworks built to interact with other systems and to create opportunities to build business-changing assets that will age gracefully. Taking a hybrid-build approach means selecting and using the best of breed components that are out there, and combining these with your own specific architecture,design and development. Your partner can provide upgrades to the service in real-time, with little or no disruptions to the service or the other systems with which they are interacting. Other features and applications can also be added to the architecture fairly easily.

What is unique about the partnership between 67 Bricks and Emerald?

Harriet: 67 Bricks really got our overall goals around digital transformation and going beyond academia from the start. They helped us bang the drum internally, and win hearts and minds. This level of commitment helped build mutual trust; it never felt ‘them and us’. The other key ingredients? 67 Bricks were, and are, unafraid to challenge us. Their role as ‘critical friend’ is an essential one for us. We want to push the boundaries in publishing - and we need to be challenged sometimes to do that. For example, when user requirements ran into the thousands, 67 Bricks were not afraid to push back and call on us to focus.

If publishers are considering a new digital platform, what three top tips would you leave them with?  

1. Select the appropriate partners to help
2. Run a focussed and phased implementation that builds out capabilities whilst delivering business value
3. Last but not least, prioritisation is key - don’t try and do everything at once.

To join the webinar on 6 May email Susie Brown or visit the ALPSP website.

About the Speakers

Harriet Bell
Harriet Bell, Marketing Director, Emerald

Harriet Bell has worked in academic publishing for over 20 years and is now a Board member for Emerald Publishing which is an independent social science and humanities publisher. Harriet is responsible for global marketing and product development for Emerald at a time of exciting opportunity and change, moving towards innovative content formats to more broadly communicate research findings, supporting open science and above all looking at the role publishers can play in supporting research impact.

David Leeming, Head of Client Services, 67 Bricks
David Leeming

David is Head of Client Services at 67 Bricks Ltd a technology company that is leading the evolution of content and data capabilities at scholarly publishers. At 67 Bricks he oversees consultancy and software development projects and has taken a lead in exploring how technologies like AI and machine learning can deliver value in the information industry. David is a regular speaker at publishing events, having delivered talks at several industry events. He brings practical experience of the use of these technologies on real projects at 67 Bricks and an in-depth publishing knowledge of over 20 years working for scholarly publishers.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Updates on Accessibility and Sustainability at University Press Redux 2020: Steps in the Right Direction

Nisha Doshi
Senior Digital Development Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Last summer we floated the idea of a parent-baby room to allow new parents to attend this year’s University Press Redux Conference. We received lots of positive feedback about this suggestion, but it wasn’t clear that anyone would specifically wish to make use of a parent-baby facility at this particular event. We’ve therefore decided to broaden our plans to cater for the needs of attendees at this conference and we wanted to share with you the plans we’ve put in place:

  • Building from the idea of the parent and baby room, we’ve designated a room at Churchill College as a Quiet Space, which can be used by anyone wishing to take time out from the busy conference day. 
  • In partnership with the Disability and Neurodiversity Staff Network at Cambridge University Press, we have developed best practice guidelines for speakers to ensure that presentations are accessible. If you are chairing or speaking at this year’s Redux event, please do look out for these guidelines from ALPSP. 
  • We have also arranged large signage to help delegates navigate around the conference venue, and we implore attendees to use a microphone when asking questions in conference sessions. We’ll provide roving mics to help with this. 
  • Lastly, we’ll be offering delegates pronoun badges at the registration desk and we encourage everyone to make use of these, even if you have not used one before.

For those who can’t attend the event in person, several of us will be live tweeting the conference sessions (#Redux2020). If you’re following along on Twitter and want to ask a question of one of the speakers, just let us know on the Twitter feed and we’ll do our best to ask your question and tweet the answer. We’ll also be making the slides and audio recordings of sessions available on the conference website after the event.

As part of Cambridge University Press and ALPSP’s commitment to sustainability, we’ve been careful to strike a balance between providing printed materials and minimising environmental impact. So, we will be providing signage and pocket conference planners but we won’t be providing every delegate with a full printed programme, notepaper or pens. A conference app will be available and we encourage you to use this to plan your attendance at breakout sessions. It will also be possible to use the app to plan lift sharing to minimise your carbon footprint for this conference. Churchill College will provide mugs for coffee and tea, but please do bring along your own reusable bottles for water – we want to completely avoid the use of single-use cups. 

If you’ll be attending the University Press Redux Conference this year and have specific requirements or suggestions, please do let us know when you make your booking, or as soon as you can by emailing ALPSP on While we have a limited budget, it’s extremely important to us that this event is accessible to and inclusive of everyone.

To register for the Conference, go to the event website or email ALPSP for details.