I don’t usually tell people this, but I lived through SARS, in Asia. I got so sick that the doctor made me stay inside for a week. I coughed so hard I cracked a rib. So, please, if you are feeling sick, stay home. Encourage your staff to stay home. Don’t even let them get on the subway. That can make everything worse.
We don’t know how long this virus is going to last, and it has already mutated like the regular flu. It has symptoms of coughing, fever, and breathing problems that have caused healthy people to be hospitalized and on respirators. It might come back in the fall. So, in the interests of your health and the health of your coworkers, you need to learn how to work from home.
First, here’s how to prepare your work from home technology for the influx of remote workers in the wake of coronavirus:
1. You MUST have good online meeting software:
Why? Why not just do phone calls? Because people need to see your face to start to feel connected to you. And it also helps you read their expressions too. This work from home tech is useful for donors as well as for staff and volunteers. Your director can have a virtual “state of the nonprofit” with your supporters, and keep them in the loop. Your volunteer coordinator can meet with your volunteers, to talk with them about what’s happening and find new ways to engage. Your development director can keep meeting with donors online and help them stay connected.
Online meeting software: (I use Zoom, which is both cheap, and allows people to chat with each other, and is easy to set up. You can also use it as an app on your phone. People can share their screens, so there’s no tedious downloading of other people’s documents or trying to fix formatting. I also like it because it’s connected to my scheduler, Acuity Scheduling, but there are plenty of others. Find what works for you.) To go with online meetings, you definitely want:
- Good microphone: (I like the Blue Snowball mic)
- Good headset: (I don’t have a headset to recommend yet, but this is useful if you don’t have a microphone!)
2. Next, make sure your donor software allows people to work from home:
You probably already have this, but if you don’t, now is a perfect time to invest! If you need more than one reason for this, think about it. When you travel to donor meetings (or host them virtually), you need access to the donor database to update it with what you talked about.
Cloud-based donor software is useful to pull reports and call donors and ask how they are doing. There are lots of different cloud-based donor software companies out there. It might be useful to get extra people able to access this work from home tech at this time if you have a limited number of people who can log in at once. This way, you can help more staff communicate with donors and take some of the burden off of the development director.
3. Then, it’s management time:
Have people start to use work from home tech that can help them track their tasks and be systematic. This one I know is going to help managers embrace this working from home thing! If you haven’t yet figured out how to keep track of people’s tasks virtually, the tools that I use below have seemed the most intuitive and affordable to me.
Cloud-based project management software: First, double-check to see if your donor management software will help you assign tasks for staff members. Then, consider using other popular options. Google Docs is an obvious choice, but I also use Asana, which is useful for helping parse out tasks and put deadlines and people on them. Slack is another good one. But there are lots of these. Other people like Trello or Monday. (Let’s not forget Canva, for designing. So useful.)
Got more tips on how to manage a workload at home or a virtual workforce? Just leave a comment below!