Melissa Gregg

The Productivity Imperative in a Global Pandemic


Oct 20
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Humanities Commons (220), Humanities Building

Melissa Gregg
Senior Principal Engineer for Sustainability and User Experience at Intel

The immediate shift to so-called "remote work" in the pandemic created an extraordinary instance of corporate reckoning: hierarchies seemingly so solid and impenetrable evaporated within weeks as workers rapidly adjusted to doing their job in sweatpants. Previously commonsense notions of the day’s rhythms - the obligatory performance of a 9 to 5 persona — faced critical contaminants in the form of children, spouses, and pets. Meanwhile the surprisingly social elements of office life became apparent in their obvious absence. Zoom fatigue replaced team-building drinks as the dominant affective mode. This talk draws on multiple studies of technology users in lockdown and previous research on productivity to understand the condition of professional intimacy during and after COVID-19. In doing so, it reflects on the psychological, physical, and environmental burdens embedded in the idea of "work from anywhere." What lessons have been learned about the workplace from this once in a century experience?

Melissa Gregg is senior principal engineer for sustainability and user experience at Intel. With a Ph.D. in gender and cultural studies, she is an international expert on the future of work and a specialist in applied ethnography. Her over 60 peer-reviewed publications and books have anticipated key shifts in the experience of connected work and home life, from Work’s Intimacy (Polity 2011) to Counterproductive (Duke 2018), The Affect Theory Reader (Duke 2010) to the new collection, Media and Management (Meson Press 2021). Following an academic career in Australia, Melissa led Intel’s first university investment in social computing before building user research to a position of strategic impact in the PC business. Her current focus is driving sustainability strategy through software and open source partnerships, in service of Intel’s RISE 2030 goals.