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Work in the time of Coronavirus

How can the CivicDataLab team help? Especially to teams new to remote working in the development sector

Gaurav Godhwani
Mar 25 · 8 min read

With each passing day Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading further and affecting millions of lives globally. In order to slow down the rate and extent of disease transmission, both MoHFW and WHO are urging people to practice social distancing and working from home. We understand most organizations working in the development sector are quite used to spending their majority of time in the field or brainstorming solutions with colleagues in the office. We hear from our partners that migrating to work from home is turning out to be quite a major challenge for individuals and teams alike. We really appreciate how most foundations globally have started to alter their philanthropic commitments to better support their grantee partners, but at the same time, we are sensing a need to enable our development sector workforce to be productive from home.

In such demanding times, most of us have come home to spend more time with family and loved ones, and working from home is turning out to be more challenging than we could have imagined. As the lock-down periods are increasing, there is a much stronger need to keep our anxiety and stress levels in check. We need to ensure that we, along with our loved ones take good care of our mental well-being and physical health. At the same time, it’s essential to keep ourselves occupied and continue to focus on working to solve crucial problems, something which keeps all of us motivated.

Image by thedarknut from Pixabay

With an 11 member team (at the time of writing), CivicDataLab has always been a remote-first organization. We have accumulated some tested techniques and experiences of working remotely for the last 2 years. Our colleagues are currently working out of 9 districts spread across India, and we thought one of the ways we could help was to assist you in setting up a productive work environment in your home:

1. We are offering help with your migration so you can Work Remotely yet Smoothly

2. Volunteering time to help organizations working on issues related to COVID-19

Are you an organization working to plan and execute rapid responses to the COVID-19 situation, specifically in India? Then we can help. We are parking a couple of hours every week to volunteer our time to remotely help organizations working on the current pandemic. The areas in which we can help are:

  • Data Mining and co-creating Open Data
  • Data Analytics, Monitoring, and Evaluation
  • Data Visualization, Dashboards and Reporting
  • Geospatial Analysis and GIS-related activities
  • Social Media Campaigns and Analytics
  • Annotations and Data-Driven Storytelling
  • Design Thinking and Research
  • Automated and Assisted Indian Language Translations — we along with our network have some experience working with these 6 languages: Assamese, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu.
  • Information dissemination and Chat-bots
  • Various open-source tech and data tools

If you are keen to collaborate with us on researching and responding to COVID-19 related issues then please drop us a note at

3. Bandhu-ism: Be there for your Team

4. ScrumJi: Sharing responsibilities and planning effectively

5. Tools for Online Team Collaboration

  • Rocket.Chat: We use this open-source team chat software to have important discussions, partner conversations, curating — news, tech solutions, research, music, books, and all other chitter-chatter.
  • Taiga: This open-source project management tool for multi-functional agile teams, giving you key features like Scrum, Kanban, Wiki and more.
  • Github and Gitlab: These collaborative version-controlling platforms help us manage our codebase, documentation, designs and other things that require community participation.
  • G-Suite: We constantly use Gmail, Google Docs, Drive, Calendar, Meet and other components of G-Suite to support team collaboration. Most of our Scrum calls, bandhu calls and partner calls happen at Hangouts Meet and occasionally on Zoom.

We strongly encourage reliance on more open-source tools and self-host them on our servers to have more control over our data. Though we still rely on some proprietary tools, we are constantly looking for robust open-source alternatives to them. If you have a suggestion for us then please drop us a note at, we will be keen to speak to you.

6. Assistance for Home Office Setup

Image by Michael Jastremski

We also have some allowances for Personal Growth & Development that broadly cover expenses on online courses, software licenses, summer schools, workshops, events & conferences. Lastly, some parked allowances for Wellness covering gym membership, yoga therapy, mental health counseling, music and dance lessons, and related activities for the well being of our members. Some of these activities are now being continued via online subscription during the precautionary lock-down period.

7. Doing Quarterly Retreats and Planning Online

8. Let’s be EXTRA Mindful of our peers

Moreover, make sure you encourage your teammates to have some time parked for themselves. Times like these can cause a lot of anxiety and stress, thus our team members are taking out some time for some activities like — Mini Anapana Meditation, Journaling, 30 mins home exercise, weekend matinees with family, indoor games and more.

9. Ensure adequate family time

I guess all of us acknowledge in our hearts, that these are extraordinarily difficult times for us, but how we together respond and come out of this, is going to define the humanity in us.


CivicDataLab works with the goal to use data, tech, design and social science to strengthen the course of civic engagements in India. We harness the potential of open-source movement to enable citizens to engage better with public reforms.

Gaurav Godhwani

Written by


CivicDataLab works with the goal to use data, tech, design and social science to strengthen the course of civic engagements in India. We harness the potential of open-source movement to enable citizens to engage better with public reforms.

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