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2 minutes to read Posted on Monday March 16, 2020

portrait of Harry Verwayen

Harry Verwayen

Executive Director , Europeana Foundation

Europeana Foundation - working with you in the time of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We’re putting measures in place with immediate effect to minimise the COVID-19 risk for our staff, their families and communities while continuing our operations to the greatest extent possible. We’d like to share what that means in practice.

main image

Title: The regular washing of hands. Lithograph, ca. 1960.

Institution: Wellcome Collection

Country: United Kingdom

CC BY

In response to growing concerns about COVID-19, and to comply with recommendations from the Dutch authorities, the Europeana Foundation office at the National Library of the Netherlands in The Hague is currently closed. As an organisation that champions digital and a collaborative, networked approach, we’re making these elements the building blocks of our response to our changed working environment.  

Working from home

All Europeana Foundation staff are now working from home until at least April 28. 

While the majority of Europeana Foundation staff usually work from our office in The Hague, some work remotely from other countries, and we all work collaboratively with partners across Europe and beyond. So remote working, online communications and virtual meetings are all familiar practices to us. As far as possible, our operations will continue as normal but with staff working remotely rather than from a central office. Please continue to contact us using our online contact details.

These unprecedented circumstances will of course challenge our working practices. We cannot copy everything we do in the office online and will need to be smart and creative in how we engage with each other while remaining socially responsible. As we explore new approaches to working remotely, we think it’s important to share best practices with our community and partners, and to learn from others too.  You can look into our approach below or check out tips for working from home from Creative Commons - a fully remote working organisation. 

  • Coordination: We have established a small team that coordinates messages to staff. We meet three times a week to evaluate the situation and draft communications.

  • Communication: For important all-staff messages, we use email. We are already used to video conferencing using Google Hangouts but are aware that long video meetings are exhausting so we will develop protocols and practices to run these better (e.g. by managing Q&A sheets). 

  • Socialising: The most obvious thing we won’t be doing in the next couple of weeks is dropping by each other’s offices or chatting at the coffee machine. We are thinking of new ways to socialise in the age of social distancing so we might take lessons from this article from The Atlantic

No work-related travel for meetings and events

We have taken the decision to cancel our attendance at all physical events and meetings between now and 30 April, including the Europeana Presidency event that was due to take place in April in Zagreb, Croatia. To minimise disruption to our partners and to our workflow, where appropriate we will conduct meetings virtually and hope to reschedule other events at a later date. 

We’re investigating new approaches that are less dependent on all being together in a physical place. Some of the things that we like to do, such as running workshops that use whiteboards and post-its to creatively think through challenges, might be hard to do online. But we welcome the idea that other possibilities such as running webinars, developing explanation sessions and using video means we can still be creative and collaborative. Who knows, some of these may even create new ways of working together for the future? 

Coming together as sector - online

As we increasingly see the cancellation of festivals and events and cultural heritage institutions temporarily closing their doors, we need to do what we can to support each other. 

Here, digital cultural heritage can play an important role. The cultural sector is a creative one and around the world, organisations are already finding ways to bring their collections and activities to people - wherever they are - via social media. For example, using the hashtags #MuseumFromHome, #MuseumMomentofZen, and #MuseumOnline. This recent article from the Statens Museum for Kunst provides some great inspiration! And of course, here at Europeana, we’ll continue to share our news and collections on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 

Let’s support our sector by sharing these types of hashtags and activities with the Europeana Network Association via the #europeanacommunities hashtag. Together, we can help bring a little bit of culture into people’s lives in this challenging time. 

What next?

We are monitoring advice from the authorities closely and will respond accordingly as the situation progresses. Any updates will be added to this post and clearly marked with the date of any change in procedure. 

In the coming weeks we will also be collecting, curating and sharing knowledge and best practice for the sector - and how Europeana can support it - on Europeana Pro. 

And of course - we must all take every opportunity to look after ourselves and those members of our families, friends and communities who may need more protection and care than ourselves. 

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