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2 minutes to read Posted on Wednesday April 8, 2020

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

Working together, from home - some tips from the Europeana Foundation

Like professionals over the world, staff at the Europeana Foundation have had to adjust and learn as we face a fixed period working from home. As part of our collaborative approach to the current circumstances, we would like to share our thinking, and the results of an internal webinar that we recently developed for our colleagues.

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Excelsior Zeep Gebrs Dobbelmann Stoomzeepfabriek "Het Anker" Nijmegen. Savon Excelsior Excelsior Soap 1 doz. No. 764.
Regionaal Archief Nijmegen

Our webinar - entitled ‘Europeana at Home’ - intended to bring together ideas, tips and tricks for working from home that had been shared through a dedicated organisational Slack channel. We were also keen to reach out to colleagues that might not be coping as well as others with the change in circumstances and to show they were not alone in finding this challenging. The webinar was curated by a small team at the Europeana Foundation (keep your eye out for an upcoming post to find out more about our work), and you can find out what was shared below.

Virtual meeting etiquette

With all our catch-ups now taking place online, we thought that sharing tips for running virtual meetings was a good place to start. We highlighted the important role that organisers play in online meetings through being an active chair and setting clear goals and structure for the meeting, as well as ensuring that they invite everyone to contribute. Julia, for example, likes to do a roundtable of everyone on a call at least once - to make sure that everyone has a chance to speak up, even if they are not sure when to. Everyone agreed on the importance of keeping virtual meetings shorter than we would in person and scheduling regular breaks in meetings over 60 minutes. 

We also noted that it’s trickier to understand people’s reactions in an online meeting - especially if we have to turn cameras off to improve the audio quality!  Our tip; be patient and if in doubt, ask people directly. We can all be proactive checking colleagues who have been quiet for a while - they might be experiencing internet connection problems - and using the chat box to help express yourself. 

Finally - for a bit of humour if internet problems do become overwhelming - we referred our watchers to Teleconference AV problems bingo!

Working rhythms

There are a number of ways to approach our new working patterns, and in our webinar two of our colleagues shared advice based on their own experiences, from trying to mimic the patterns of a normal working day, to experimenting with the new flexibility that working remotely offers us. 

Gina - who just got back from holiday and had to fit straight into the working from home routine - recommended: 

  1. Get up and dress as though you were going to work

  2. Eat healthy and keep a schedule as usual

  3. Start early but know when to stop! Set office hours.

  4. Have a hangout call (with video) with someone from the office at least once a day! 

  5. Start free online training if you have a bit of spare time. 

Fiona - who shared her experience from completing her PhD alongside other work- recommended: 

  1. Focus on productivity not presence (think achievements rather than time-spent)

  2. Set core hours for work and/or when you won’t work

  3. Identify a clear goal for a short session (block time in your calendar for an activity if needs be)

  4. Identify what and where works best for you

  5. Focus on achievements and the to-do list (start small and manageable)

Creating a workspace

Fiona also discussed the importance of creating a workspace at home and we picked up a few of the following tips from colleagues: 

  • Use music and sounds to help you to focus - Audible, Spotify, YouTube and Noisli are all great sources. 

  • If you have the room, try to assign one space for work and make it an enjoyable place to be. You could put up some inspirational pictures and even include some on your desktop - you can always check out for inspiration!

  • With this in mind - you might have to spend some time cleaning your office, space, or house so you can concentrate better. It’s not always procrastination!

Looking after your well-being 

We also shared tips and tricks for well-being at and after work. These included: 

  • Joining an online yoga class.

  • Moving around regularly while you’re working and trying to be active every day.

  • If you have gained extra time previously spent commuting, consider new ways to use this - catch up with family/friends over Skype, read a book, do an online course, cook creatively...

  • We recognised the importance of looking after our mental health at this time, and thought that this Guardian article had lots of good advice.

Get inspired by cultural heritage online 

Finally, we shared some examples of inspiring places to find cultural heritage online!

And finally, we encouraged everyone to keep sharing tips on Slack, so that we can keep learning from each other.  We understand that everyone is experiencing a range of challenges at this time - some may be obvious, and some may not be - so we encouraged everyone to reach out to someone if they were struggling with anything. We want to continue to support each other through the new situation we find ourselves in, and are keen to grow and develop more ways to help our colleagues to manage our changing world. 

Explore the full presentation