We have closed our office and empowered our team to work efficiently from home.
Happy new year!
We are so excited to be back and to have made it to 2021. As you have seen from our previous blogs, we have been examining ourselves and talking about how we are changing ourselves as an organisation and our evolving strategy for achieving our goals as an organisation. Today, we announce that we have officially evolved into an entirely remote-working organisation. We decided to close down our office entirely and have our team work from home for the foreseeable future.
Last year was one for the books, as we dealt with a global pandemic while doing our best to keep our heads above water. While trying to stay positive amid the chaos, like everyone else, we believed it would blow over. It became increasingly hard to keep saying “when things get back to normal” as we watched companies struggle and industries shut down as a result of the economic impacts of COVID-19.
The restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the disease forced us to work from home. We limited our movements, reduced travel and replaced it with virtual engagements as we did our best to remain virtually connected as a team. As March slowly turned into December, we started to ask ourselves whether we even needed a physical office, given that we had hardly used it throughout the year. Even amidst grappling with how to pivot during this new normal, we realised that we actually had the tools, capacity and systems to implement a fully-functional work from home policy. We are always communicating; could we ensure we still did this efficiently in a virtual set up? We are always brainstorming and collaborating; could we somehow implement this remotely? Since we have all the systems and tools in place, all we needed was to take the plunge and make it a reality.
Towards the end of last year, as the second surge of infections ravaged the globe, we realised that the more we put it off, the higher the risk for our team to contract the virus. Losing our beloved team member also helped to seal the deal – our team’s safety was paramount. Continuity of our programmes and activities was the only thing that would help us survive, and ironically, keeping our office would stand in the way of that. In fact, we realised that letting go of our physical location would force us to innovate, experiment and find new ways of working – precisely what we were working towards in reimagining the future of OI as an experimental organisation. We would pioneer innovation by starting with revamping our way of working.
We have one more motivation for taking the remote working route: we are making the transition to work in many parts of the African continent. Our mission has not changed – we still are in dogged pursuit of an open society that is managed by informed fact-driven citizens, one in which governments are responsive to citizen needs and citizens are actively using their voice to guide their government’s hand. As we continue to build these models, we aim to replicate them in the continent.
Our process is simple, we are surveying the team to identify any gaps in resources they need in order to make this a reality. Does our team have a good and conducive working environment at home? If not, what can we do as an organisation to facilitate this transition? Apart from the available virtual tools and resources that we have availed to our team members, including technological tools and access to the internet, what else could make it easier for our team to work well remotely?
Members of our team are also grappling with what working from home looks like for them. It is learning process for all of us and some of us are documenting what we are learning as we go – see Ivy’s blogpost on the subject. “In my case, I am 10 months into working from home and I don’t think I want to ever work in a physical office,” she says.
We are working hard to make sure that we meet all our requirements as we fully transition into a work from home organisation. Much as we would like to go back to the old brick-and-mortar way of doing things, we appreciate that the world is also changing, and maybe, just maybe, this pandemic was an opportunity to transition into a future we were not ready for but one that is inevitable. We feel ready to embrace that change.
Stay tuned for more insights as we invite you into our journey into new frontiers this year.
We wish you a prosperous 2021!