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Are you remote ready?

March 18, 2020

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Sue Prettyman

Senior Advisor KML
Catholic Relief Services

We may be in the midst of the largest teachable moment in history. How has your organization been dealing with full time remote work?

At CRS, we have the benefit of being a cloud-based enterprise so our staff can access their content anywhere, anytime, from any device.  As long as they stored their content in OneDrive for Business and have an internet connection, they’re good to go. Work content can be sync’d with their computer so they can work offline, and their content will automatically sync to the cloud once reconnected.

Microsoft Teams also provides a collaborative workspace for staff and enables all staff to chat and meet online. This gives our staff great flexibility to work collaboratively with staff and partners no matter where they’re located physically. But you don’t have to have O365 and OneDrive to work remotely. There are numerous free applications available that support collaborative online work like Slack, Google Drive, Hive, Box, and many more.

We developed a checklist for our global offices to help them prepare to work remotely that we’d like to share in part with you.  Please feel free to use and adapt for your own agency’s environment.

Remote Readiness Checklist

Your connection – The following connectivity issues should be considered for people working from home or elsewhere outside of the office:

At home – Check to see if there is internet connectivity at the location you plan to work.

  • Connect to WIFI using your device (e.g., laptop, home computer, tablet, etc.).
  • If your home has a router that is accessible, you can plug into it with an ethernet cable. This is faster and more reliable than a WIFI connection but isn’t always convenient.
  • If you only have cell coverage and need to use your laptop, in some cases you can create a hotspot which would allow your laptop to connect to the internet via your phone.

Off-line – If you have no (or little) internet connectivity, you can still work on your laptop, but it will be limited.

  • You can use Outlook to read and prepare emails. It will not send until you are connected again.
  • You can open and edit files which were synced with OneDrive. These files will sync back to OneDrive after you are connected.
  • You can use any application which does not require internet connectivity.

Your computer – If you have a work laptop, make sure you take it with you along with the charging adapter. There is no need to take docking stations.

  • If you don’t have a laptop, you can use any device with internet access.
  • You can use any application which does not require internet connectivity.
  • Make sure your operating system, software, and browser are up to date.
  • Make sure you can log into your Microsoft account and access your applications and content.
  • Sync files from OneDrive to your device that you’ll need to access remotely while offline.

Your workspace and you – (keys to success)

  • Create a quiet, dedicated workspace where you can focus.
  • Maintain core working hours and dress for work.
  • Use status indicators to cue colleagues of your availability status.
  • Have regular check-ins with your supervisor and work team; set clear expectations and priorities.
  • Use video for meetings when possible. If your meeting software has the option, blur your background to eliminate visual distractions. Look into the camera when speaking and smile.
  • Know yourself and play to your strengths and work style; leverage the time periods you know you’re most productive to advance your work.
  • Manage distractions and interruptions.
  • Manage boundaries with family members by identifying ways to signal them when you’re unavailable due to work.
  • Be supportive of your colleagues and trust them — nothing is harder to build and easier to lose than trust. Ultimately, you’re the boss of you!

It’s hard to see it now but this too shall pass.  Once we’re on the other side of the pandemic, we will hold a “lessons learned” forum to improve our readiness stance for the next crisis. I hope you’ll do the same.  In the meantime, practice social distancing and wash your hands!

Visit our COVID-19 Resources page