It has been four months since LLC has gone virtual. As you may recall, at the end of March, LLC decided to give up our Oakland office and have our staff work from home. As promised, we thought now might be a good time to share what we have learned during this process.
Working remotely has had several advantages. As an organization, our overhead is much much lower, individually our daily commute time has significantly decreased,which means less time stressing over traffic. Though there are core hours we commit to daily, there are times when we each may need some flexibility and we are easily and smoothly able to transition between work and life. For example, when we were all able to walk to our voting sites for the primaries for a few minutes and return to work quickly without any added commute.
In addition, I’ve been able to practice something our board member, Beth Kanter has modeled; walking meetings where we won’t sit but walk together or walk while talking to someone on the phone. I’ve been able to take several calls while walking in my neighborhood. I can take quick notes and document next steps on a draft email, which I then send to myself. (Headphones are recommended and make sure to review your notes as soon as the call is over to make sure you didn’t miss anything.) Not only do I feel less stressed during these calls, I am able to blend personal ecology into my day. Deborah has also been able to run to the gym during lunchtime more. In addition, Deborah has always worked long hours, but being able to do so from home feels less burdensome and even enjoyable. I also agree, for instance being able to write this article after dinner when I can reflect on my day without being constantly pulled by urgent emails.
One of the things we all did greatly miss, was the collegiate energy of seeing each other every day. After years of being together, being home alone though made us more efficient made us miss each other. To resolve this, we meet face-to-face for weekly staff meetings. As an added bonus, we even get home-made lunches on those days. During our meetings, we spend a few hours each week catching up on all of our projects and strategize our work for the coming days. In addition, we stayed in close contact with RJOY, who have made a home in our former office space and in the spirit of partnership, they have offered to share their space with us when we need it for meetings and to receive mail.
Upon reflection here are our top four keys to aid you if you are also thinking of trying out working remotely:
Schedule Staff Meeting Time: Having dedicated meeting time each week helps us all connect and stay in sync with our work is. We all know ahead of time that we have this time together and we are able to strategize and plan our collaborative work. We can tackle any upcoming challenges and assign tasks. We build our agenda together and make time at the very beginning to check in and give a quick personal update; this also keeps our friendships going.
Set Up Virtual Dashboards: We are all working on different pieces so we have dashboards on GoogleDocs where we can update what our tasks are and when they are due and keep track of how each of us is progressing. We also keep virtual notes from our meetings, so we can track our discussions and review our goals.
Calendaring Queens: Our calendars list our meetings, but also when we might not be available for work for lunch hour at the gym for instance or those walking meetings. If we are stepping away from our computers, we can instant message or text each other and let others know that we may not respond as quickly. Impromptu calls are also welcomed especially for quick assistance or when we need clarity from each other.
Make Partnerships/Find Support: RJOY has very generously allowed us the use of their space for staff meetings, site visits, and circles. When we told our new fiscal sponsors what our plan was, they also offered their space on occasion as well.
Our Favorite Virtual Platforms: Virtual platforms are a must, we know you have your favorites here are some of ours.
Printing: We love our printers which have the option of receiving files via email and printing them remotely. It is extremely helpful to be able to send something directly to Deborah’s home printer knowing that it will be ready for her without my presence and to be able to print from a staff meeting knowing those documents will be ready by the time I get home.
All in all, we enjoy working with flexibility and look forward to continuing our work efficiently and effectively from our homes and on occasion from RJOY’s home base. As always, we welcome your questions and would love to feature them in another update before the end of the year.