Machine Work: Three Ways Artificial Intelligence is Impacting Business Productivity

by Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE “Some people call this artificial intelligence, but the reality is this technology will enhance us. So instead of artificial intelligence, I think we’ll augment our intelligence.” — Ginny Rometty, American business executive Artificial intelligence (AI) gets a bad rap in pop culture. For every fictional Jarvis or David, there are a half-dozen Skynets or Ultrons. In the real world, most workers believe artificial intelligence is something we're still waiting on. But it's already off and running in corporations around the world, though not necessarily in forms people tend to think of when they hear the term "artificial intelligence." Some visionary authors call what we have "artificial stupids,” but whatever you call them, they can get the job … [Read more...]

What’s Next? Four Productivity Predictions for 2023

by Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE  "The best way to predict the future is to create it."—Peter Drucker. Making predictions about the future of productivity can be dangerous business. Remember all those people who predicted that the Internet would be a flash in the pan? Yeah, me neither. What I do remember is how wrong they were. That said, I'm going to make a few predictions about what might happen in 2023 in the productivity field, based on what we’re all hearing lately. Inflation will continue to eat at your productivity. Inflation has many causes, so we're not looking to blame it on anyone here. But as prices for everyday costs like food, housing, and energy rise, some substantially, your dollars buy less — especially, as has been the case for decades, when pay doesn't rise … [Read more...]

The Economy’s Short-Lived Recovery: The Results of the 2021 American Time Use Survey

by Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE  "The two most powerful warriors are patience and time."—Leo Tolstoy, Russian novelist, in War and Peace. Late in June 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released the results of the previous year’s American Time Use Study (ATUS), as it has annually since 2003. I've reported on it each year for more than a decade. The ATUS data for 2020, released in 2021, reflected significant effects from the COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped the nation since March 2020. Fortunately, during 2021, the crisis loosened its stranglehold on the economy, allowing it to bounce back to pre-plague levels. However, the economy has since fallen behind again due to the rise of the worst inflation since the 1980s (sure to be a significant factor in next year's report). A … [Read more...]

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...]