Work Practices in the midst of Phase: Social Distancing – Atma Education NGO Accelerator

Work Practices in the midst of Phase: Social Distancing

Brandon Michael   |   25 March 2020

As always at Atma, our effort is to take matters of health and work of utmost importance. Keeping this in mind, we’ve developed guidelines that ensure that we are taking care of ourselves personally while accounting for the productivity of our organization. The current public health response to Covid-19 unfolds along with an opportunity for us to provide guidelines that ensure the health and safety of our team, partners, and their students. Keeping this in mind, Atma has put in place certain measures informed by best practices adopted by others in the social sector. Also, we remind our employees and volunteers to maintain a healthy work-life balance. It is essential for our team to take care that they are not overwhelmed and have time for themselves, but also continue a high level of productivity.

Atma has gone forth with utilizing a work from home policy that allows our team to stay connected over this time. Activities range from mandatory team meetings via google hangouts, internal meetings, and simply checking up on each other through at Whatsapp group. In our chats, not only do we discuss the ongoings of work, but also serve as a platform for our employees to remain properly informed. We implement material provided by spotlighted employees that include video, led meditations, and open group discussion. These activities make our meetings a grounding time for all team members to connect while we work from home through the current phase of social distancing.

As this time specifically requires us to solely work from home, it was also a good time to adopt policies that could be used later for other work from home situations in the future. Advice supplemented from group input includes:

  • Encouraging employees and volunteers to stick to a normal work routine and ask that they are available between 9 and 5.
  • Setting up a work space that is conducive to the team members style of working from home.
  • Dressing up for work as if actually headed into the office
  • Talking about work with those that live around you
  • Being present with their work schedule to cultivate a sense of respect for their daily work from those that live around them.
  • Taking breaks as they would in office.

In a work from home setting, some individuals inherently over work while some tend to underwork. Both of these personality types can combat their tendencies by sticking to these guidelines. Setting a daily timeline is vital for both personality types in that if you underperform, sticking to a timed schedule and deadline will help you stay on track, while if you overwork, scheduling lunch and breaks for yourself will keep you stable while you stay productive.

Maintaining physical health is an important topic that we address by encouraging our staff to incorporate basic health procedures even while in the work from home environment.

Basic personal measures we can take against Corona-Virus include washing hands frequently. The World Health Organization lists hand-washing as washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
Another key objective is to maintain social distancing where we maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Also to avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth as hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses.
We encourage the practice of respiratory hygiene: Make sure you, and the people around you also follow good respiratory hygiene.
This is a time of holistic thinking where we need to ensure that while we take precaution for physical well-being we acknowledge the need for mental wellness as well.

Staying informed is a factor that we have taken into consideration as well. We provide updated information within our weekly check-ups to the best of our ability. We follow national and local authorities who have the most trustworthy information on the situation in the area. This avoids digesting media from unknown or perhaps misleading sources which cause hysteria for unnecessary reasons. Especially in a work from home environment where we must stay a bit glued to our computers one cannot help but be bombarded by news that doesn’t always utilize proper sources. This inherently causes avoidable anxiety. It is our hope that with these guidelines we can not only set a positive environment for productivity but also for mental and physical wellness.

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