Looking Back – WST: Working in the Distributed Office

Donna Carroll, Agile Coordinator

The WST event ‘Working in the Distributed Office’ took place remotely in March.  One benefit of remote working is that events online allow great uptake in attendance; people can join from where they are whether on campus or working remotely. As well as this, many of us have embraced remote meetings which allows us to fully engage but also reclaim that precious time lost to travelling to and from locations (often at a bit of a sprint because we got pulled into a last-minute issue as we tried to leave on time to avoid this very jog-walk situation). Online events also have that added benefit of a second life as a recorded zoom meeting which means more opportunity for colleagues to catch up with the event when it suits them. You can watch start to finish or take those pieces of interest and replay to catch essential details. We may be eager to reengage with the obvious benefits of working side by side but the increased opportunity to engage through online meetings and events is something we might consider taking forward with us into hybrid working.

This was my first WST event and credit to the Agile team past and present, the majority of the groundwork was laid before I arrived. Working in the Distributed Office was a theme that resonated with most people and the presentations were focused around that idea but still with very diverse perspectives. Our experience is simultaneously shared and incredibly specific to each of us but the opportunities that our presenters spoke about share that dichotomy. Solutions and insights are transferable, by listening to our colleagues we can definitely save ourselves some metaphorical legwork.

As with the previous iterations of WST events, I am always struck by the willingness of colleagues to join in and share their achievements. We love hearing about them and using this forum to share them with the wider UCD community.  The presentations are always so accessible, it’s easy to celebrate colleagues when they take you on a journey of discovery and you can see insights gained through experience. Collegial relationships are apparent such as when Barbara Dooley opens with warm remarks and an outline of WST’s role and history in UCD or with Colin Burke’s upbeat powerpoint (including catchy earworm) on the Remote Working Group and how it helps colleagues identify solutions to common remote problems. The team of Chantelle Guilfoyle, Helen Crowe, Maureen Quinn delivering an incredible overview of Activity Based Working reveals the buy-in necessary for a project that overlaps the day to day of multiple units.  Paula McGarry took us through her experience of remote committee meetings that shows us that although remote meetings are new(ish) to many, some have been meeting overseas colleagues pre-pandemic and are at the vanguard of trialling specific built solutions like Decision Time. Susan Grey gave us a practical insight into Zoom Rooms and caught our collective attention with some practical nuggets on hybrid meeting etiquette.  Thanks to Agile Director Michael Sinnott joining the dots on our speakers between sessions, presentations are kept moving along and we finish on time.

To learn more about each of the presentations check out the slides here and the videos here.

Post event, we offer our thanks to presenters, send a survey for feedback to attendees and post the event online.  Feedback is essential to planning future events, we want to know what our audience wants to see and what our colleagues are up to around us. Friends and colleagues who know Agile and WST are the first to get in touch when they have something to share; we hear of achievements through the grapevine but we’re always suspicious that people are quietly working away not acknowledging to themselves how much they contribute or that they are sharing common problems and coming up with innovative solutions that can benefit us all.

Get in touch, let us know what you’re facing or what problems you’re solving, we’re eager to listen and share stories or take feedback. Email us at agile@ucd.ie and let’s start celebrating.

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