Posted on April 17, 2020
Comments Off on Coronavirus – ACT staff working remotely from home
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
Office Manager, Diana, describes how the coronavirus lockdown is impacting on how staff are working away from the ACT Croydon office.
When a new person joins our team at our Croydon office, they usually comment on how great it is to be part of the welcoming and caring team. Each person, whether they are a volunteer, intern or paid staff, is a vital cog in the wheel that ensures smooth and efficient running of the charity. This is despite the fact that a majority of the team are in the office only for one day or two, each week. So, how is the coronavirus lockdown affecting our little office family, the work we do and how we do it?
Our small team of 9 staff members, including two paid staff, is split primarily into three working groups covering, Supporter Care and Administration, Communications and Events Fundraising and Finance. Specialist tasks such as preparing funding applications and our work with youth, churches and school (YCS) are carried out separately, led by our director.
Physically our office workspace is split across three separate areas in the building. Each day different people are working in any one or more of the three different work groups and in different workspaces. For our volunteer staff mostly in the office for one or two days, this can all feel disparate and disjointed. This is why developing a sense of community and close working together is so important to us and also why we put time and effort to foster this feeling through various activities. For example, on Monday mornings we have a short time of devotion at the start of the week for those present. Tuesday, the busiest day in terms of number of staff present, is our coffee time day which takes place at 11:00am. It provides an opportunity for having a chat, it can be about any subject, both personal and workwise. We use it to catch up on what each one has been up to. At other times during the week we have brainstorming sessions to encourage discussion across working groups. This makes it possible for one person to start off a task at the beginning of the week, and then pass it on to be completed by another member of their group later in the week, even if they work on different days and are not physically in contact. As Office Manager, working full time, my role is to coordinate these activities and to be the main point of contact across work teams.
The coronavirus lockdown is having a significant impact on the way we work. Away from our Croydon office, it is more difficult to keep up the normal level of communication among our staff team. The separation has slowed this down and liaison is mainly at individual levels rather than as a team. For some staff, their work is not just not possible, as they are unable to access software available only in the office. New processes have needed to be set up for our communications work. Our weekly blogs and daily social media output require access to materials and information that are only on our server. We are having to access it from our remote backup that requires administrator access, essentially additional work for our director each week. Thankfully it’s all working well so far.
Our supporter care work is also affected. An important aspect of their work is communicating with our supporters and child sponsors and updating them. We provide periodical reports obtained from partners in Africa, to update them of the progress of their supported children. This team also make contact with new donors to thank them and to ensure that their donations go to support the specific aspect of our work that they have interest in. Building relationships with our supporters is an essential part of our work, but with restrictions and lockdown also in the 8 countries where we operate in Africa, our local partners also now cannot reach the children and widows we support. Although this is not as yet a major issue, with time it may become so if it affects our ability to update supporters or answer specific queries they may have about the children they support.
In the midst of these changes in our way of working, our emails are checked daily, we are attending to issues raised and we are responding and thanking our donors. We are also operating and managing our child sponsorship programme. Prospective donors and child sponsors can be assured that we are able to respond to their request to donate. This is important. The coronavirus may be affecting our way of life and causing fear and concern, but we must continue to give a thought to the poor and vulnerable in other parts of the world. At ACT, we are continuing our vital work to help the vulnerable and forgotten in Africa. More than ever, we need your help to do so.
Please consider making a donation today to help us to continue to support those otherwise forgotten in Africa. Please click here.