Transitioning An Office-Based Organization To Remote Work Due To COVID-19
CSforALL’s Team Shares Insight on How to Make a Productive and Positive Transition to Remote-Working
Like millions across the nation and globe, CSforALL’s team has transitioned to full-time remote working, that is, indefinitely, due to COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus). In this unpredictable, and anxiety inducing crisis many organizations, as ours, had to make an immediate decision for the safety and health of their employees.
CSforALL’s decision was in tune with the new best practice of 2020, social distancing. For this full time, yet temporary, transition to go effectively CSforALL had to embrace an adjustment period, learning and using new virtual tools, and support one another along the way.
Hear from three CSforALL’s team members about their individual transitions and recommendations for remote working:
Stephanie Wortel-London, Director of Research:
1. Routines are your friend: Before the pandemic, I might use the odd “work from home” day to work from bed, or from my sofa. The novelty of occasionally working from home had me luxuriating in the flexibility of it all. For the last two weeks, one of my saving graces has been strongly routinizing my day. I finish with breakfast by 8:30, I put on an outfit like I was going to the office…most days, and I sit down at my home office desk, a 400-square-foot apartment and 1 door away from my partner’s desk. This makes work feel more special and makes the time when I “clock out” for the day feel unique and separate as well.
2. Your friends are your friends: At CSforALL, I am very lucky, because each co-worker has become a dear friend. I’ve found that “over-communicating” with not only the colleagues on my research team and my supervisor, but moreover with each member of the team on Slack and Coffee breaks on Google Hangout has gone a long way.
3. Unleash the power of your collaboration tools: Admittedly, I was more casual with my use of project management software before, when I had the benefit of more informal “elbow conversations” with my coworkers in the office. Now that we are all remote, across four time zones, our use of Asana, shared work documents in Google Drive, and Slack has really ramped up. I am gaining new skills which are making me a better collaborator and project manager, and I am also able to seriously support our team-based work.
An-Me Chung, Fellow
- Set up a separate, dedicated remote working space that can be easily converted back to your living space once your work day is done. If possible, purchase a few items such as a monitor, webcam, over the ear headset, and a comfortable chair.
- Establish a routine throughout the day that begins with dressing for video meetings at least from the waist up, wearing your favorite earrings or pair of glasses and filling up your favorite coffee/tea mug. Be sure to schedule breaks between your virtual meetings for coffee, lunch, bathroom, stretching, and hugging your pet.
- If you are managing or facilitating a conference call with multiple people, make sure you create an agenda available in a Google Document that people can follow and contribute as needed. If the call is longer than 1.5 hours, be sure to build in breaks where people can stay in the virtual room.
- If you are not feeling up for a video conference that day, give yourself permission to just join by phone.
- Remember that you can have fun remotely! It’s really “spatial distancing” rather than “social distancing.” In a previous job, we had virtual Friday afternoon happy hours, birthday celebrations, and surprise bon voyage parties.
- Especially during this pandemic, keeping up good spirits by checking in with your colleagues with simple messages, funny memes, or virtual coffee meet-ups will go a long way.
Ines Fernandez Dionis, SCRIPT Program Manager:
- Don’t work overtime, even if you have nothing else to do. This doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible with your working hours (I’m Spanish, and sometimes a good siesta is unavoidable), but don’t work till it’s dark just for the sake of it, because you will get burnout sooner.
- Find other things to concentrate on at home other than work. This will help you fill your time with exciting new projects that will clear your mind from work! Try a new Netflix series, get addicted to a board game, develop your culinary skills… We at CSforALL have created a Slack channel just dedicated to share our new cuisine creations called What’s Cookin’ and it’s great to spend time with colleagues in a non-work related environment, as we would do at the office with lunch hours, or happy hours.
- Reflect on what was essential to your job when you had all of your team in the same room, and find a way to make it happen. Who was your thought partner? Do you think an informal Google Hangout once a week will help brainstorm in the same way? Who kept you accountable? For me, that would be Steph up there in the first paragraphs. How can we keep each other accountable now using virtual tools?
- Think about how to make everyone’s lives easier. Avoid communicating after hours, even if you are still working. People are still entitled to rest! Make one long email at the end of the day with things you need from others, instead of slacking or emailing every time something small comes up. Keep your manager in the loop of your day to day tasks by updating your Program Management tool (we use Asana).
- One last thing… BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR CAMERA / AUDIO SETTINGS DURING WORK CALLS!! We’ve probably all seen by now what can happen when you leave your camera on during a meeting when you’re doing something else… so dress up, look nice, find a spot that doesn’t have a disturbing background, mute yourself if you are not talking, and don’t use the camera if you are multitasking or sharing the space (not applicable to pets or small children — they’re always a pleasure to watch!).