27 September 2023

Hanging ten: How to stay afloat riding the wave of change

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Laura Stack* says it may be comforting to chug along with the old familiar office technologies, but in the end the ever-changing work environment will come back to bite you.

I have a colleague who, until several years ago, tracked most of his projects on a large chalkboard rather than using project-tracking software.

The same colleague was using an older version of Microsoft Word that produced old-style DOC files, rather than the more compact DOCX files.

He still doesn’t use much HTML-based mail. Why is he so resistant to change?

Because when he’s comfortable with a technology, it’s a pain to change.

He’s seen lots of change over the course of his career.

First he had to learn to use an electric typewriter, then a word processor, then computers of various kinds starting with Mac IIs and DOS, before moving on to Windows 3.11 and all the new Windows versions since.

His first laptop weighed more than nine kilos (it too ran on DOS).

His very first computers used floppy disks for media storage.

Then came CDs, zip drives, DVDs, low-end flash drives, USB thumb drives, and Micro-SDs.

Now he’s dealing with all the tablets and smartphones, too.

Sound like you? It’s understandable why people get sick of learning new technologies.

It’s understandable to try to hang onto what works, but realise that others won’t.

Advance to the next level, or you’ll hold yourself back — along with everyone who depends on you.

Some apps, devices, and technologies you don’t have to adapt, but when something becomes common usage, unwillingness to upgrade just shoots you in the foot.

Furthermore, you may find that, once you’ve overcome the learning curve, the new tech is much more efficient than your old way.

That’s what my colleague learned when he updated his tech.

For similar reasons, you’re best served updating your work technology whenever you can, if high-value improvements are offered.

Here are four basic technologies to consider discarding.

Any computer older than three years:

Many systems will continue to work adequately as they age.

However, they are limited by their ability to accept new programs built to accommodate computers with increased RAM, memory, and new operating systems.

Software bloat aside, newer computers often come with a magnitude of more capacity than older computers.

Desktop computers in general:

Separate desktops have proven too limiting, as they lack batteries.

It’s hard to pick them up and go anywhere — whether this means traveling to a satellite office in Bogotá or down to Starbucks for a more productive environment.

Often, a good laptop or high-end tablet is the less-expensive and better computer, all things considered, especially when used in conjunction with a good smartphone.

Then you will always have your saved files without having to use cloud storage.


The completely paperless office will probably never happen, but you can stop producing reams of paper for everything.

At best, it’s a good storage medium that’s not vulnerable to electrical interruption or EMP, but it can still be physically destroyed.

As long as you store digital files carefully and translate them to new technology as it appears, they’re unlikely to degrade.

Stop converting old paper to digital files; I’ve found it’s rarely worth the time and effort.


These are boring, and you never know who’s really there and fully engaged.

I’m not a huge fan of meetings, but I realise some remain necessary.

So when you need to convene a virtual meeting, why not use video?

Few modern computers lack webcam; Skype and similar Video Over IP options are cheap or free.

You can see everyone else present — so you know whether they’re paying attention to you or their dog.

Face-to-face meetings prove invaluable in terms of seeing the other attendees’ body language, expressions, and general behaviour.

We miss out on these interpersonal communications at teleconferences.

New technology and productivity paradigms increasingly point us toward a more virtual work environment where we have much greater leeway in who we employ and where they do their work.

As long as our technology continues to support the internet and light-speed communications, business will continue to grow exponentially and easily.

That is, if we’re willing to let go of old technology as it ages, and learn new tricks.

*Laura Stack is a keynote speaker, author and authority on productivity and performance. She has written seven books including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time. She can be contacted at theproductivitypro.com.

This article first appeared on Laura’s blogsite.

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