Tips on remote teamwork from the Coop

2 minute read

Written by: Carly Strasser - Director of Alliances and Data Strategy (2018-2020)

The Coop is community-focused; we run events, host office hours, teach courses through, and connect with researchers to help them with their data-related questions. Needless to say, the COVID-19 situation has impacted our ability to connect, both with researchers and within the Coop team itself. Kate wrote a great post about using Microsoft Teams to stay connected, and Lauren wrote a post last week with some great tips on successfully working from home. Following on the theme, here are some ways the Coop team is staying engaged and productive during this period of remote work.

Daily standups

Yep, every day at 9 am the group gets together for 15 minutes to cover each member’s progress since the last standup, anticipated work before the next standup, and any impediments or blockers. It’s also a great time to ask for help or collaboration on projects and to prioritize work based on new or changing information. These are not intended to be ways for the manager (me) to keep tabs on people; instead it’s a way to keep the work flowing and help each other. We use Microsoft Teams and require that cameras be turned on - that helps guarantee we have each others’ attention and mandates that I brush my hair at least once a day.

Updated project priorities

The Coop is not able to host events, have in-person training, or consult with researchers over coffee. That means we are limited in what projects we can accomplish during this time. We are re-prioritizing our projects, exploring how to teach online, hosting office hours remotely via Teams, and updating the SciWiki.

Comfort with the phone and video

I loathe talking on the phone. I especially loathe talking on the phone while staring at a video of myself. But I’ve gotten over it for the sake of the team. I’m willing to video chat with anyone, any time, for the sake of getting our work done. I hate to admit this, but it actually does make a huge difference to see people while talking to them. Bonus: you get to see peoples’ pets.

Shifted expectations of ourselves

This isn’t my first time remote working. I had a previous position that was 100% remote and quickly realized it’s different in some significant ways. For the over-achievers in us, it’s important to keep a separation between work and non-work times (see Lauren’s post for tips). It’s easy to slip into the habit of constantly being available and online, and that’s not good for mental health. We recognize that without the casual conversations, interactions over lunch, and office drop-bys, eight full hours a day of working non-stop is not a reasonable expectation. We take breaks and seek interactions with others (remotely of course!).

What are you and your co-workers doing? How are you staying productive during this period? We’d love for you to share with the community! Hit us up on Slack in the #general channel so that everyone can learn.