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Your Essential Productivity Checklist for Managing Hybrid Work Like a Pro

Essential Productivity Checklist for Managing Hybrid Work Like a Pro

“You don’t get paid for the hour, you get paid for the value you bring to the hour.” Jim Rohn

Though the idea of 9-5, Monday-Friday seems destined to be relegated to the rear-view mirror, there’s no doubt that the post-pandemic office recall has begun. Workers are dusting off their office finery, topping up their train cards and preparing once again for peak hour pandemonium. But don’t pack away the Ugg boots just yet. Thanks to the success of the covid remote work mandate, and much to the delight of many, it looks like hybrid workplaces are the way of the future. To help you manage the transition like a pro, we’ve got your essential productivity checklist covered – follow this, and you can have your cake and eat it too. Whenever and wherever you like!

Results of the world’s largest work from home experiment, otherwise known as Covid-19, showed that flexible work arrangements can be a resounding success.

Recent research conducted by Deloitte Access Economics found that businesses that have adopted hybrid work have 6 per cent higher income, are 22 per cent more likely to see higher productivity and are 28 per cent more likely to be innovative than those without hybrid work policies. They also show improved customer service and more engaged employees. That’s excellent news for businesses, because the fact is, employees have had a taste of remote work and they’re keen for more.

The Australian Government’s WGEA study found that an astounding 92% of employees want access to some form of flexible work arrangement as covid restrictions ease. In fact, the global EY 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey reports that 54 per cent of employees would actually consider leaving their job if they’re not afforded some flexibility post-pandemic.

Thankfully, it seems the majority of businesses are onboard the hybrid bandwagon, with nearly four in five employers surveyed in the WGEA study stating that they now have a formal flexible work policy or strategy in place. Michael McQueen, trend forecaster and best-selling author, believes that this shift to flexible workforces will see offices increasingly being used for specific purposes such as team building, collaboration and key meetings, and home offices being used for individual, focused work.

While the hybrid work model is still an evolving phenomenon, productivity seems to be the key to success. The checklist below will help you transition to your new work mode, setting you on the right path to achieving that holy grail of work-life balance…

Your Hybrid Work Productivity Checklist:

1) Tech up: Your employer should ensure you have the digital tools, resources and training you need to succeed in a hybrid work environment. Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Asana, SharePoint… they’re prime productivity boosters, and they’ll help smooth the transition between work and home. And don’t forget to sync and save as much as you can to the Cloud so that you (and your workmates) have access to the documents you need no matter where you’re working from. According to Trevor Long, our go-to-guy for technology insights and one of Australia’s leading tech experts, there are plenty of ways tech can help your home office work like a dream – a Mesh Wifi network like Netgear Orbi or Google WiFi, for example, will help provide high-speed internet to every corner of your home… pure gold if your Wifi box is miles from your workspace!

2) Commit to a work schedule: Let your workmates know when you’ll be in the office and schedule collaborative work and face-to-face meetings accordingly. A good place to start is by working out which tasks you’d like to do synchronously (in real-time) – like group brainstorming, and which you’re good to do asynchronously – think more focused, independent tasks.

3) Timing is everything:
A hybrid work schedule allows you the flexibility to schedule the tasks that require the most focus, creativity and brainpower for when you’re most alert and energetic. Productivity coach and Time Management expert Donna McGeorge believes we’re at our most productive and creative when we structure our day around our natural internal rhythms and cycles. Our body clocks are designed for greater mental agility in the morning, so block out a solid 2-hour slot in the morning to tackle your most important tasks.

4) Work on your connection:
We’re not talking about NBN (though obviously that’s pretty handy). Remote work, even if it’s super productive, can be fairly isolating. Building meaningful connections with your workmates enables greater communication, and – importantly – makes work a more enjoyable experience. Take the time to catch up face to face when you’re in the office, and stay in touch with your team online when you’re at home. As Mark Sanborn says, “In teamwork, silence isn’t golden, it’s deadly.”

5) Mirror your workspace:
Replicating your office workspace at home, in terms of organisation and ergonomics, will help get you in the right frame of mind. If you your inbox is to the left of your screen in the office and your phone to the right, set up your home desk like that too. Consistency helps focus your brain power on the right tasks.

6) Double up where you can:
Invest in two of everything where possible so you don’t need to lug it all around. Laptop charger, mouse, keyboard – leave a set in the office if you can, or have a separate work bag that’s office-ready and doesn’t require constant shuffling about. Don’t forget that work gear is tax-deductible if your employer won’t fork out for it.

7) Make the most of the extra time: A recent Productivity Commission report found that full-time workers in Australian major cities used to spend an average of 67 minutes per day commuting. Make the most of that extra time when you’re on a home day! While it’s tempting to have a sleep in & roll around in your pj’s ‘til go-time, don’t. Do something that’ll fuel your health and happiness – exercise, passion project, family time… whatever it is, schedule it in and commit to it. It’ll set you up beautifully for the workday ahead.

8) Don’t get distracted:
While doing some dinner prep and squeezing in an episode of Bridgerton during your lunch break is a definite perk of working from home, try sticking to your work schedule. Close your door, put your headphones on and snooze your notifications to stay on task during scheduled work blocks (try a distraction-blocking app if you don’t have the willpower!).

While this productivity checklist seems deceptively manageable, there’s a huge pay-off if we can nail it and make the transition to hybrid work a smooth one. Not only will we get that aspirational balance we crave on a personal level, but according to Deloitte, a hybrid work future could see Australia’s economy grow by $18 billion over the next decade, and create more than 42,000 extra full-time jobs.

So if it’s good for the economy and it’s good for the people, we’re all for the move to a hybrid workforce. And if it also happens that your laundry basket is clear and you’ve smashed through Season 2, then all power to you!


We can introduce you to a number of experts who tackle productivity and other factors critical to hybrid work success, including Donna McGeorge, Michael McQueen, Trevor Long, Andrew May, Chelsea Pottenger, Rob Pyne, Dr Paige Williams and Gihan Perera. All are captivating motivational speakers that can inspire your team to succeed regardless of which location they’re working from. If you’d like to engage any of these speakers, get in touch with us for a chat!

Green is the New Black: Businesses Doing Well by Doing Good

“When the wind blows there are those that build walls and then there are those that build windmills.” – Chinese proverb

Gone are the days when the quest for profit comes at the expense of people and the planet. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability aren’t just nice-to-haves on the annual report anymore – these days doing well by doing good is where it’s at, and if you’re not actively looking to implement positive impact initiatives, you’ll be held accountable. We take a look at the new era of good corporate citizenship, and some clever initiatives bettering more than just the bottom line.

Global movements like the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the UN Global Compact and B Corp certifications are helping to drive commitment to CSR, while high-profile activists like Greta Thunberg are fuelling the green crusade and ‘eco-anxiety’ amongst consumers. The result? More and more people are actively choosing sustainable and ethical brands.

Recent research by IBM showed that sustainability is important to nearly 80 per cent of the general population – not only that, but of those people, 70 per cent would pay a premium of 35 per cent for brands that are sustainable and environmentally responsible.

While sustainability and ethical practices are important to most people, it’s Millennials – the largest adult cohort in the world – that are the most vocal and dedicated. It seems that if you want their business, and you want their help to run your business, you need to show a genuine commitment to the greater good.

The Millennial quest for good goes beyond simply buying on beliefs, with research by US-based Cone Communications showing that two-thirds of millennials won’t even take a job at a company with poor CSR practices – in fact, the survey of 1000 people found that 75 per cent of millennials would take a pay cut to work for a responsible company, with 83 per cent saying they’d be more loyal to a business that enables them to contribute to solving social and environmental problems.

While there’s been a marked rise in big brands like Patagonia, Intrepid Travel and Ben & Jerry’s achieving BCorp status, eco-minded Australian Millennials are setting up ethical social enterprises that operate like a business – but with a purpose. You’ve heard of KeepCup and Thankyou – they’ve received plenty of press coverage and strong consumer support for their purpose-driven products. Other businesses you may not have heard of, like The Sweetest Gift that employs & trains organ transplant recipients, and HoMie – an award-winning shop selling ethical merchandise and providing clothing and training to homeless young people – are also doing incredible good.

Another local brand out to prove that small business can make a big difference is local Melbourne start-up Good Edi. Born out of a shared passion for sustainability, big ideas and really good coffee, Good Edi was created by Melbourne duo Catherine Hutchins and Aniyo Rahebi.

With more than 20 years experience in food processing and packaging, it just didn’t sit right with Catherine and Aniyo that their cherished daily habit added 2.7 million disposable coffee cups to Australian landfill every single day. So they set out to fix the problem, creating the world’s first totally waste-free coffee cup that’s good for the planet, and good for you. Made from ethically sourced, grain-based vegan ingredients, the Good Edi cup can be eaten (it tastes like a waffle cone!) or thrown into the compost or general rubbish where it will break down naturally in a few weeks.

Winning first place in the 2020 HATCH: Taronga Accelerator Program, a new initiative designed to support sustainability start-ups, allowed Good Edi to kick off production in June 2021. Around 10,000 Good Edi cups have been distributed since then, with coffee roasteries and café owners praising this unique and tasty solution to minimising waste.

With socially conscious consumers prepared to pay a premium for products produced and discarded responsibly, and investors looking to invest in business that have good ESG (Environment, Sustainability and Governance) metrics, there’s hope that clever initiatives like the Good Edi cup will continue to garner support.

As for big business? The message is hitting home, with KPMG’s 2021 CEO Outlook reporting that 98 per cent of Australian leaders identify corporate purpose as driving their financial performance, while 86 per cent recognise purpose as a key part of their ‘employee value proposition’.

While the pressure to create economic value in ways that also create value for society may be driven by global movements and conscious consumers, it’s win-win all round. Happily, it seems that doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive – being socially responsible, it turns out, is actually better business.


Strike while the iron’s hot! Corporate social responsibility is a trending topic in the wake of the pandemic, and the right motivational speaker can help inspire your team to make a positive difference. We can introduce you to some brilliant business leaders in this space, including Catherine Hutchins and Aniyo Rahebi, founders of Good Edi, Abigail Forsyth, Co-founder and CEO of KeepCup and Justine Flynn, Co-founder of Thankyou. If you’d like to engage any of these sustainability trailblazers to speak to your team about their vision, the challenges they’ve faced and the lessons they’ve learnt, get in touch with us for a chat.



Guest Blog: From the Battlefield to the Boardroom – Leading Your Team Out of the Pandemic.

Written by military commando and International Aid Worker Mark ‘Squiz’ Squirrell OAM.

Mark 'Squiz' Squirrell

Leading on the Battlefield

The windscreen of the lead vehicle in our three-car convoy is shattered by a bullet. The four-inch armoured glass has done its job; the bullet did not penetrate the vehicle.

Leading your teamWe are in the Gaza Strip and stuck at the last intersection before we can travel the final kilometre to the Israeli border. Two Israeli Defence Force (IDF) tanks with barrels pointing directly at our vehicle are thirty metres to our front. Behind, we have an agitated Palestinian crowd that is preventing us from doing a U-turn.

The lead vehicle is allowed to move slowly past the tanks, but the Tank Commander clearly indicates through hand signals that my vehicle, and the third vehicle in our convoy, are to remain. Over the next hour I phone the IDF military liaison officer multiple times to request passage through the intersection. He is on board as we are a convoy of diplomats and aid workers with the right to move freely. The problem is, it’s taking a long time for his message to go up through the chain of command and then back down to the Tank Commander. We need leadership that is decisive, outside the box and relevant to our situation right now.

Leading your teamFor 20 years I’ve worked as a Security Risk Manager to assist with the delivery of aid to desperate communities in war-ravaged countries such as Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The risks of kidnap, crossfire and landmines were just a few of the likely threats, exacerbated by linguistic limitations, cultural restrictions and dilapidated infrastructure. In an environment like that, trust, teamwork and leadership meant the difference between success and failure.

I often wondered, whilst attempting to navigate through unmapped parts of South Sudan or negotiating with Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka through a translator, how much easier it would be to lead teams during an emergency setting if it was back in Australia. The Covid-19 outbreak gave me the opportunity to find out.

Leading During the Pandemic

During the COVID emergency our training room was converted to an Operations Centre, and over an 18-month period we were at the forefront of Australia’s response to the outbreak, managing teams of nurses and logisticians.

Leading your teamAlthough I had worked within a similar emergency during the 2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa, there was still a level of anxiety and caution for the rapidly unfolding circumstances.

The COVID projects were time-critical and complex, similar to when I was delivering humanitarian aid overseas. The difference was that we now had at our disposal the latest technology, sealed and uncluttered roads and teams all hailing from the same culture. Unexpectedly though, I found myself embroiled with team dilemmas, inefficiencies and communication challenges similar to those I’d experienced working abroad.

While there were no concerns of kidnap or aerial bombardment and no translation issues, I witnessed the same levels of stress in my teams as when deployed overseas. Why? Because we were able to take on a greater workload and set bigger goals than we would have overseas. The opportunity for stress, team fracturing and things to go wrong was absolutely present, and the best way to mitigate that was to build the team dynamics, monitor and tweak the culture and, most importantly, provide decisive leadership.

Leading your teamPrior to the pandemic my company provided keynotes, workshops and team building activities to strengthen workplace performance. Right now my own teams needed this more than anyone. I took them on a metaphorical journey up Mt Everest to learn about teamwork, and used Virtual Reality goggles to strap them into the front seat of the Gaza Scenario that you are halfway through. The experiences allowed for robust conversation, a calibration of thoughts about our own operational issues and most importantly, a distraction from the intense daily pressure. It worked.

Leading Out of the Pandemic

As the Pandemic unfolded there was one aspect of the change to workplaces, regardless of the industry, that made it easy on those making the leadership decisions. The changes were forced upon us by the Government. So what do we do now that those regulations are being wound back?

Leading your teamAs we begin moving to post-pandemic life, organisations need leadership that is decisive, outside the box and relevant to their current situation. Sound familiar? I learnt very quickly whilst ‘sandwiched’ in the Gaza Strip that the standard operating procedure that worked fine in yesterday’s circumstances was not going to resolve our current problem.

Leaders will now need to:
– Take a long-term approach and not expect team members to suddenly revert back to pre-pandemic operations;
– Acknowledge that there may be some efficiencies and mental health/morale benefits for team members working from home;
– Create other stimulus to entice team members into the office, such as entertainment or team bonding events;
– Create contemporary oversight structures to compliment the newfound autonomy;
– Use external consultants to objectively arrive at suitable frameworks to take the heat away from what will be seen as an imposition by management to team members.

Leading Out of the Gaza Strip

We were cornered! Two tanks were blocking forward movement and a marauding crowd was building up behind. Similar situations in the past were mitigated by obtaining clearance from the military liaison officer. But that wasn’t working today.

So, if you were there, what would you do next?

We could wave a white flag, but that won’t have any tangible impact on the current circumstances given that those around us already know who and what we represent. We could attempt to reverse and move back through the crowd, hoping that they show some mercy. Unlikely, they have already seen one of our cars get past the blockade and aren’t too happy about that. Plus, hope is not a good strategy when things are going wrong.

I’ll give you a chance to make a phone call.  Who would it be to?

The phone call is a decisive leadership decision, but you can’t call the Tank Commander as you don’t have their number. You can call your boss, Ambassadors, Israeli or Palestinian officials but it will still take a long time for the message to get down to those on the ground. So, who will you call?

If you thought that the best option would be to call the lead vehicle; you nailed it! The vehicle has now travelled the one kilometre to the Israeli border and is currently parked alongside IDF soldiers that have a direct line with the Tank Commander. We ask our lead vehicle to use the hole in their windscreen as leverage, threatening to take it to the media if they don’t get the remaining two cars out of the blockade. Within 30 seconds of making the phone call, warning shots are fired into the ground in front of us by the Tank Commander, the crowd pushes back and we’re given the hand signal to move through the intersection. Well done, you have led your team through this difficult situation.

The question for you now is this: What are you doing as a leader that’s decisive, outside the box and relevant to the new normal?


Want to hear more?

Leading your teamAwarded the coveted green beret during his military service and recognised with an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his international humanitarian aid work, Mark Squirrell is one of our most courageous and well-respected motivational speakers. Squiz’s presentations include a thrilling recount of his awe-inspiring journey from the world’s most brutal war zones to the summit of Mt Everest, brought to life by the use of authentic footage and Virtual Reality goggles for a truly unforgettable experience. If you’d like Squiz to share his knowledge about leadership, teamwork and communication with your team, get in touch with us for a chat. 




5 Key Habits to Help Build Mental, Emotional and Physical Resilience.

 Coco Quirke

“The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived.” – Robert Jordan

‘Resilience’ is a buzz word for a reason. It’s our response to adversity, how we overcome hardship and challenges – that mental reservoir of strength we tap into in times of need. Terms like ‘bouncing back’ and ‘rising from the ashes’ are all about harnessing our resilience not just to survive a trauma, but to thrive in the aftermath. So how can we build our resilience to ensure we’re well equipped to deal with whatever curveballs life throws at us? We asked McQuilty ‘Coco’ Quirke, ex-Army medic, trauma survivor and resilience expert, for some advice.

With an 18-year army career covering the war zones of East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan as a medic, soldier and leader, there is no-one better equipped to talk about resilience and overcoming adversity than Coco Quirke.

Having courageously battled post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the horrors of war in Iraq to return to active duty, Coco’s army career was put on hold in 2011 when an improvised explosive device detonated under his vehicle in Afghanistan. Coco was catapulted headfirst 30 metres down the road, suffering multiple life-threatening injuries including two shattered vertebrae, broken bones in every limb and a traumatic brain injury. Coco had to be revived 3 times on his way to Germany for specialist treatment and spent more than 6 months in hospital undergoing multiple surgeries. Defying the doctor’s prognosis, Coco took his first steps just 3 months after the explosion, his recovery hard-fought and his attitude resolute.

On his long road to recovery, both from PTSD and severe injury, Coco worked hard on building a positive mindset. It became his priority, and eventually his saviour, as he dealt with ongoing physical and mental challenges. Coco learnt that practising good habits creates a happy brain, and a happy brain develops a positive mental mindset. And it’s that positive mental mindset that he believes is the key to building resilience.

These are the 5 fundamental habits that continue to help Coco maintain his positive mentality:  

1. #take3steps
The hardest 3 steps you will take every day will be the first 3 steps you take away from your bed. Your bed is your safe place. Some days you wake up not feeling good, the easy option is to stay where you are safe, warm and comfortable.

2. #InnerVoice
Those days you find yourself wanting to stay in bed, you need an Inner Voice to help you get up and take those first 3 steps. That voice that says, “No Coco, the easy way is to lie here, the hard way is the right way. Get up and take those 3 steps.” Then you keep walking!

3. #BeTheWolf
Go out and get what’s yours. Be the Wolf is about having a fighting mindset, a positive attitude that you will achieve your goals that day. This takes preparation and starts the night before. Bring into focus your dream goal, break it down into achievable daily goals, and then adopt your #BetheWolf mindset to fight for those goals. It all starts with these ‘non-negotiables’ that you write down every morning and evening:
– Gratefuls: 3 things you are grateful for – family, wife, house, job, dream car…
Reflection: 3 goals for the day – did you achieve them? Why not
Goals: 3 achievable goals for tomorrow

4. #FeedTheWolf
To build a positive mindset we must feed the wolf. Nutrition is very important – we should have a balanced diet so we can work at optimum capability every day. Sleep is another critical factor, helping our body recover mentally, physically and emotionally. To help with sleep, do something meditative before you go to bed like breathing techniques, reading, listening to music, watching a candle.

5. #LiveLoveLaugh
We get so consumed by work and deadlines we can forget about those closest to us. When was the last time you played a game with your kids, watched a movie with your wife? The last time you laughed with your mates? Remember this, when you walk through adversity, those that mean the most to you will always be beside you. Make time for them.

Coco’s concept is simple and powerful, and his time is now dedicated to encouraging others to build resilience by implementing good habits and creating a positive attitude. He uses his lived experience to inspire and motivate others, humbly presenting his learnings to businesses, schools, military units and sporting bodies like the NRL Cowboys, Qantas Wallabies and Australian Kangaroos.

If there’s a key message to take from Coco’s experience, it’s that people have the power to build their own resilience. Resilience isn’t dictated by genetics, it’s a set of skills that are developed and, most importantly, can be learned. And that’s what Coco does – he gives people a toolbox of techniques that help them build the capacity to cope when things go wrong. And go wrong they will. But as Friedrich Nietzsche said (and Kelly Clarkson for the millennials): what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.


Coco’s captivating journey and his passionate and humble presentation style make him one of our most popular motivational speakers. His feedback is always exceptional, and his presentations are a guaranteed event highlight. If you’d like to engage Coco to show your team how to build resilience by implementing good habits and creating a positive attitude, get in touch with us for a chat.