The Strauss Blog

Learning to Work Remotely

During this global pandemic, most associations have their employees working from home. When working remotely communication, prioritization of tasks, and overall organization are affected. With such a drastic change in environment, pace, and priorities, it’s important to stay connected with your colleagues during these uncertain times. Putting time, effort and thought into keeping yourself organized and healthy will allow for a seamless and positive work-from-home transition.

Staff Communication

Working remotely is difficult when proper and consistent communication are not prioritized. Communication with members, board members, and throughout the staff are all areas that must remain consistently strong to ensure that no one is left in the dark.

When communicating with staff, it is obvious that a simple stop by their office to have a chat or ask to ask a question is not possible right now. Staff communication will likely incur a slight delay through email. I would suggest, if your office has not already done so, to invest in an instant messaging program; our office has successfully and smoothly transitioned into using Microsoft Teams for quick daily communications. Consider setting up small group chats for different clients or projects to avoid message overload and proper organization.

Board and Member Communication

The same delay and possible interruption in communication should be mentioned for the board of directors. Since national association’s board members live across the country and are used to only meeting a handful of times a year, things can get challenging when those few in-person meetings start getting cancelled. Video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Skype for Business, or Teams can be great for board meetings and are an easy way to present everyone in a face-to-face type of way.

Member communication should be especially prioritized at this time. With all the information being given to the public, from daily updates by public health officers and provincial and federal political leaders, it is important for associations to share relevant and accurate information that applies to the association’s industry and its members. Having announcements following government press releases or other credible sources of information to share with members is a great way to show that you are thinking about them and their profession, and it shows that you care for their well being. How Associations and its Members can Continue to Work Efficiently in Quarantine provides some great tips and links on how to offer support and build community. Associations and AMC’s that rise to the occasion in a time crisis will become known as industry and profession leaders; this reputation will outlast the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prioritization

Make sure to re-prioritize your tasks when working remotely. As previously stated, tasks that may have taken five minutes and a quick walk to a coworker’s office may now take you an entire morning to get done. Ensuring you give tasks the appropriate amount of time to be completed is a great step towards keeping both your email count and stress levels low.

It is important that you recognize that, during a global pandemic, the board of directors may not be prioritizing their work with you. Remember that they are volunteers and that more often than not, they have families and work lives outside of the association. Therefore, tasks involving them may take more time. Make sure to give board members ample time to complete tasks and prioritize your communication with them. Working remotely could also mean that you no longer have access to certain things like a printer or photocopier so make sure to give yourself time so that you can figure out the best system for you.

Connect with Colleagues

During these uncertain times, make time to have some fun with work friends. Restore a sense of normalcy by hosting an afterwork trivia game or hold a group yoga session. This will help lift the office spirit and will keep everyone connected and in touch. Continuing with groups or clubs you were a part of at work is also a great way to stay connected. Rather than stopping your lunchtime book club, why not just host it over video conference?

Overall Well Being

Reinforcing your relationships with colleagues and board members during this time is critical. Not being able to see each other face to face can be very difficult. Ensuring that your office is having regular update video conferences to share what you are working on and your overall state of well being can be very beneficial.

When it comes to the board of directors and board meetings, having more frequent board meetings to keep everyone up to date on the association, its members, and new information that may apply is a great way to stay proactive. Try adding a board of directors’ update to your agenda. This will give all the board members a chance to update everyone on their well being, whether that be professional or personal.

With these tips and tricks, hopefully working with associations and their board of directors remotely will be as stress-free as possible and that you will endure a manageable transition for you and the people you support.