Return-to-Office Resistance: Adapting to the New Status Quo

by Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE Few things have changed the modern workplace more than the COVID-19 pandemic. Large-scale remote work, which many corporations tried and discarded as unmanageable not so long ago, suddenly became required in most businesses. Nascent and underutilized technologies experienced rapid development and widespread implementation. While the pandemic paralyzed some industries for a while, the white-collar world not only adapted quickly, but it also thrived. According to most studies, individual productivity increased slightly after employees went home to work. Familiar surroundings, flexible schedules, and a lack of commutes led to happier, more engaged, and less-stressed workers… to the point where most of the rank and file simply didn't and still don't want … [Read more...]

Upskilling: Four Simple Steps Toward Upgrading Your Work

by Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE In a rapidly changing environment, it's no surprise that new "buzzwords" occasionally pop up on your bingo card. One of recent example is upskilling. At first glance, the definition seems obvious, but it means more than you might think—especially after our shared ordeal with the COVID-19 pandemic. These days, we all need to take the time to upskill and refresh our work habits, which the World Economic Forum predicts will raise the global GDP by up to $6.5 trillion by 2030. Upskilling involves taking your work to the next level, to better fit your job's current and future needs. It's not good enough to just tread water. You must consistently work to advance your career, if only to keep pace with change. The white-collar professional never really stops … [Read more...]

The Third Year In: How Remote Work Has Changed Our Time Use

by Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE I’ve been a remote work-at-home professional for 30 years. I’ve never had a traditional brick and mortar office, and I’m the most productive person I know. (That sentence is a bit tongue in cheek.) I was one of the original pioneers of GoToWebinar and was able to use webinars to keep my business going during the 2008-2010 depression. I started using livestreaming in 2017, ahead of it’s time, before people even understood what it was and the difference from a webinar. I’ve hired contractors from all over the world with no geographic constraints to a physical location. I always thought most professionals whose jobs didn’t require a fully human presence would be happier and more productive if they could also work from home virtually. When COVID hit us full … [Read more...]

Staying Productive During the Never-Ending Pandemic: Four Things to Try When You’re Sick of COVID

by Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE "Productivity isn't about being a workhorse, keeping busy, or burning the midnight oil… it's more about priorities, planning, and fiercely protecting your time."—Gary Keller, American entrepreneur and bestselling author. As British author John Heywood noted in 1546, It's an ill wind that blows no good. As devastating as COVID-19 has been, some positive things have followed in its wake. For example, the business world has learned to leverage remote work more effectively than any time in modern history, using new technology and approaches to keep teams together. Telecommuting and videoconferencing have reached heights never before seen, and I don’t believe it will ever go back to the way it was. Countless workers have figured out how to work productively … [Read more...]

As COVID Went, So Went the Nation: The Results of the 2020 American Time Use Survey

  by Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE "Suspect each moment, for it is a thief, tiptoeing away with more than it brings."—John Updike, American novelist Since 2003, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has released the results of the previous year's American Time Use Study (ATUS) during the following June or July. Not surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic was time's greatest thief in 2020. In addition to stealing time from American workers, the pandemic affected ATUS interviews all year long. None took place from March 19 to mid-May. As a result, the 2020 ATUS is missing data for two months… but that doesn't mean the data collected were useless. Far from it. Homework The most obvious difference this year isn't any real surprise. The number of people working at home nearly … [Read more...]

Post-COVID Productivity: Five Ways It’s Going to Improve Our Performance

 by Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE  “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors."—African Proverb While we may be premature in assuming that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic has passed with the Delta variant alive and well, it’s better than it was a year ago. However, things will never be the same in its wake, even for those of us untouched by the disease itself. Our new attitudes about social distancing, personal protection, and hygiene will remain for a long time, as will practices adopted in all aspects of our lives. Among other things, we're still weathering the worst recession since the Great Depression, when so many of us were laid off, furloughed, or otherwise out of work due to lockdowns. Now that we're piecing together the shuttered and shattered portions of our economy, … [Read more...]

The Benefits of Coaching: Six Ways It Can Boost Productivity

by Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE "Coaching isn't therapy. It's product development, with you as the product."—Fast Company magazine. Business experts often cite coaching as an effective way of enabling employees, by making sure they embrace their jobs and maximize performance. By coaching, I don't mean those all-hands-on-deck motivational sessions where a celebrity or high-powered speaker (like me!) delivers a keynote address aimed at improving solidarity or general productivity. Those definitely have their place, but count as coaching only in the most general sense. Coaching isn't the same as an annual evaluation, either, though some coaching may take place during the evaluation. It isn't mentoring, because that usually doesn't involve a manager. Nor is training, another essential, … [Read more...]

It’s Not (Completely) What You Think: Five “New Age” Management Techniques

by Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE "To thrive in this new age of hyper-change and growing uncertainty, it is now imperative to learn a new competency—how to accurately anticipate the future."—Dan Burrus, author, business advisor, and futurist When many people hear the term "New Age," we think of crystals, magic mushrooms, and alternative spirituality. But when applied to business practices, the term takes on a different meaning. Oh, there's some of the esoteric in New Age business; but as it typically does, the business community has extracted only what seems to work. It's more of a New Age of productivity than a new type of lifestyle. Practitioners of New Age management techniques have chosen logical practices for treating their human resources as, well, more human. Let's take a look at … [Read more...]

True Performance: Five Ways to Avoid Fake Productivity

by Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE "Better productivity means less human sweat, not more."—Henry Ford, 20th century automobile manufacturer. We all know the classic definition of increased productivity: producing more goods or services per given amount of time; or, as the online Oxford Dictionary puts it, the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input. That's foundational knowledge, right? The problem is, while these definitions may have applied when our economy was based almost entirely on agriculture and manufacturing, they don't necessarily apply to our modern service-based economy or knowledge jobs. Here's what I mean. Consider the editor who cuts 10,000 unnecessary words out of a novel. Using the old … [Read more...]

Sharpening Your Tools: Six Reasons Why Mental Fitness Matters in the Workplace

by Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE  "To survive, a man needs food, water, and a sharp mind." Louis Zamperini, Olympic runner and World War II veteran and POW This isn't a just another blog about how to hone your mental acuity so you can boost your workplace productivity. There are plenty of those out there, and I've done one or two myself. No, this article is about the why, not the how. You may think the why is obvious, but is it? Most people only have a nebulous idea that mental fitness is a good thing—and, of course, they're correct. But it's important to know why it's a good thing in detail, because this makes its value easier to pin down and focus on. There are always the basic arguments for keeping your mind sharp. It may help you live longer and avoid Alzheimer's and other forms … [Read more...]