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Remote Management Q&A Series: Implementing Remote Work Policies

Written by: Ziad Ghadbane

net2phone Canada's Remote Management Q&A Series provides real-time insights on management strategies from local business leaders as they navigate managing a team from afar.

UPDATE: Since this Q&A session was completed, Versature has transformed and become net2phone Canada! We're still the same company, with a lot more operational power to provide better voice solutions to our clients and make their lives easier.


Ziad: Welcome to episode two of our Remote
Management Q&A series, where we’ll be interviewing business leaders
and our very own management team to learn about their experience,
strategies, and successes in leading a team remotely.

Today we’ll be taking a step outside of Versature and learning about
remote work policies. Hundreds of businesses whose employees had never
previously worked from home are now operating completely remotely. This
huge shift in dynamic within a short time frame has forced teams to
learn and adapt on the fly. Over the past few weeks organizations across
Canada rushed to put new tools in place to keep their employees
connected and engaged but in ways that also allow them to keep working
at full capacity.

It’s my pleasure to introduce Nancy Carter. Nancy is the Chief Financial officer of CANARIE here in Ottawa. CANARIE
manages and develops digital research infrastructure for Canada's
research, education, and innovation communities. Nancy authored CANARIE’s
“work from home” policy, giving their organization guidelines around
how to successfully work from home.

Nancy, thank you for joining me.

Question 1 To start off, I was hoping you could give a little bit of
background about what CANARIE does, and what your role is within the

Since 1993 CANARIE has been supporting the development of
Canada’s digital economy. The thing we are best known for is operating
and managing the Canadian portion of the global research and education
network that connects researchers and educators around the world to each
other, to major science instruments, and to cloud services. This global
network also brings together scientists from around the world to work
on global challenges for humanity like the one we are currently
experiencing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The network also supports
research on things like climate change, chronic health issues like
Alzheimer’s, clean water, genomics and so on.

As Chief Financial Officer I oversee the finances of the
organization – I look after things like financial integrity, reliability
of financial results, and also CANARIE’s governance, legal, HR, IT,
facilities, operations, and compliance. All the fun things!

Question 2 There were plenty of companies who were not prepared with
a work from home policy, and whose employees had never worked from home
before. What was the situation with your team at the time and how has
your team adapted to working in a completely remote environment?

Interestingly enough, it started almost 2
years ago when we had to close our downtown office as the result of a
flood caused by the fire sprinkler system on the floor directly above
us. We were forced to work from home for a week, completely
unexpectedly. The technology toolkit we had at the time got us through
that situation, and since then we have continued to augment our toolkit
to support remote work. In fact, about a year ago, management initiated a
Work From Home Wednesday on every second Wednesday, when all staff are
encouraged to work from home.

Making the change to completely remote had some challenges, but
certainly, all staff were already capable of working remotely. Maybe just
not for quite as long!

Question 3 What sort of things did you have to consider in the
creation of a document like this? What sorts of things popped up after
it was written that needed to be included?

We learned a lot about the tools we needed for remote work after
the flood 2 years ago. But we knew the approach to working from home
periodically didn’t scale to an extended period of time, such as the one
we are currently experiencing. There are a number of things we did to
close that gap. We knew that staff needed something to help them prepare
for a longer period of working from home, which is why I developed the
Work from Home Code of Practice that you mentioned.

Other things that we scheduled right away to maintain momentum
include a weekly social videoconference with all staff, daily virtual
team stand-ups, and a daily email update to all staff from the

Question 4 Given the current situation, what sort of inclusions or
considerations did you make for working remotely for such a prolonged

The key driver was maintaining a feeling with staff that we were
still connected on a day-to-day basis. We knew that would be challenging
as we would all miss the daily interactions that happen in any office,
like ad-hoc meetings, or chatting at the coffee machine. In the current
situation, the approach to social distancing also meant we had to check in on staff to help keep them from feeling isolated from the

Other challenges have come up over time that we know we need to
add in to this code of practice. Are staff able to work and home-school?
Do they need to stagger their hours to manage child care? Are we able
to support our staff fully? How can we help with the unique issues or
challenges that each of our staff are experiencing? Mental and emotional
health is a priority. There is no one size fits all, we deal with these
things on a case-by-case basis. Version two of our code of practice
will be a bit more fulsome.

Question 5 A lot of managers and business owners are taking this
unprecedented time day by day and are figuring it out as they go along.
If you could give two pieces of advice for business owners on how to
effectively manage a team remotely, what would they be?

Look at the situation from the perspective of your staff as a
whole and then from the perspective of each individual would be the
first piece of advice I would give. Each of our staff members' home
situations and the work they need to do is different. Making sure that
we support them all with the work-at-home code of practice for example,
is important, but also working with each of our staff individually to
make sure that our work from home expectations can be aligned with their
home situations. Do they need to borrow one of our spare laptops for homeschooling for instance? Is it better for them if they work

The second piece of advice is to invest in the tools needed to be
totally paperless and build the communications technology and approach
to allow people to work remotely. That will protect you during times of
disaster recovery, and in times such this, it will also streamline the
operations of your business. We were already paperless for most things,
but during the past 4 weeks have become even more so. For instance, I
have not signed one cheque in the last 4 weeks, as all our payments are
now done online!

I have two other small pieces of advice.

Provide guidance and training to staff on things like how to keep
their home networks secure, because if that fails, they can’t work.
We’ve been supporting our staff from a cyber security perspective for
their home setup.

Finally, strong leadership, especially at the top. All our staff
know that the president is supporting them and that they can go to him
for any advice, support or guidance any time. That’s just been pivotal
in our staff transitioning to working from home successfully.

Ziad: That’s great
advice! Thank you Nancy for joining me for our Remote Management Q&A
series. I appreciate you taking the time to share your expertise. And
thank you to all of the listeners for tuning in. For more tips and
tricks on how to effectively work from home or to listen to the previous
episode where we dive into SDR remote management, visit the Versature
Conversation blog
! Have a great day.

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About the Author

Ziad Ghadbane | Director of Marketing

Ziad is an avid fan of Premier League soccer, admirer of alpacas, building computers and learning about next-gen tech. Within this Manchester United faithful, lies a curious marketing leader, researching the next biggest B2B communication pain-point. Marketing the value that VoIP possesses within the business world is his most lethal weapon.