Social impact organizations sent their staff home a year ago. Here’s what they’ve learned about remote work so far.

Moving operations online was only the first of a series of hurdles for social impact organizations across Canada.

Why It Matters

Roughly two-thirds of Canadian charities alone implemented some form of remote work policy in 2020. Effectively running an organization remotely is complicated, and analysis by workplace experts suggests the practice could become more popular in years to come.

When Oxfam Canada started hearing about the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, it took action quickly. 

The organization’s 75-odd staff had been testing out a remote work system shortly before Canadian public health officials implemented the first COVID-related restrictions, spurred on by news about the virus’s spread across the globe.  “The week before lockdown, we had gone remote for several days to test our IT systems and make sure all of the infrastructure was in place,” says Kelly Bowden, acting deputy executive director of Oxfam Canada. “And then, essentially, we just never came back.” 

For over a year, many of Canada’s social impact organizations have tried moving to remote work wherever possible. This isn’t easy. Operating budgets to upgrade computer services and phone lines are often minimal. Staff frequently juggle duties

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