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Our Experimental Office Remote-Day

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Prepping for a Possible Coronavirus Workplace Interruption

To prep ourselves against worsening Coronavirus spread, we conducted a work-from-home trial day with all our team members here at Maracaibo Media.

We’re headquartered in New York, where the Governor has already declared a state of emergency. There are 98 confirmed cases in a neighboring county. And there are four recently reported ones in our own county.

But don’t worry. We’re not panicking – just moving into action.

Our preparatory working-remote trial day was an experiment, and we all agree it went pretty well.  Some of our team already work remotely full-time as it is, so for them, it was business as usual. But others of us are accustomed to working alongside one another, taking advantage of the group-think that occurs in our office on a daily basis, where we’ve become pretty adroit at crisis communications for our clients.

So the test was important not only for us but for the information share it would provide to the companies that rely on us for sound advice in good times and bad.

So today, we isolated ourselves. Holing up separately at home, as we might if this virus becomes more prevalent in our region.

The good news is, except for the occasional pangs of loneliness and the inability to consult one another over-the-shoulder instantly, (and to get our usual Buffalo Chicken salad orders from the local lunch-place), it all went surprisingly well.

What did we learn? We had to make sure we all had at-home computers that could utilize the cadre of programs we use on a daily basis, including the instant-messaging app, Slack. It also helped that we had dial-in access to our communal documents drive.

We also made sure that the office phone was forwarded to several of us. And that we over-communicated throughout the day, so everyone knew where and what the other team members were up to, and who was accessing the Cision, Muckrack and other third-party group accounts we make use of.

We also continually monitored the various news feeds, to identify Coronavirus stories that affected our clients firsthand or to which they could serve as expert commentators.

In the end, the only tool we found missing was the ability to group video chat, with all of us attending. Most of our hodgepodge video-chat apps limited us to one-on-one or 5-or-less group chatting.  This wasn’t a big deal, as we don’t generally need to video-chat with everyone at once – but it was a limitation we decided to address, should the instance ever arise that we need all-hands-on-deck for a video conference while we’re all working remotely.

This was a preparatory trial we urge all our clients and colleagues to perform, only if it exposes any kinks in your ability to work effectively as a team in the face of emergency situations like we’re currently undergoing with the Coronavirus.

Feel free to call us if you’d like to hear more details about how we work – and especially if your company needs to put together a comprehensive crisis communication plan before this virus impacts your bottom line. We’d be happy to help.

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