Working remotely in a digital world – reflecting on an internship

COVID-19 has pushed us all to take a different approach to how we conduct our lives and to adapt to new ways of working and learning digitally together.

By mid-March this year, most of us had to jump straight into working from home, adapting  and learning how we can still achieve all of our daily tasks without a physical office space. Businesses had to adapt to the digital world in such a short amount of time and most with little to no notice.,

It can be difficult to find the right online tools and resources to help with remote working, especially with such a large market to choose from. 

This was the challenge I found myself working to solve as I started a 100% remote intern experience with Astrolabe Group.

As a University student currently in my last semester before graduation, it was very difficult making the transition from internal learning to online learning. I could only imagine what it was like for small to large businesses who haven’t necessarily worked online together routinely, when they had to change their entire systems of working.

My dilemma – finding an organisation during a pandemic to complete an internship 

I had a double dilemma back in March. Apart from transitioning to online learning I also had to find a work placement. This was proving almost near impossible at the time as everywhere organisations were facing some serious transformations to adhere to social isolation during a pandemic.

Then a miracle happened. The team at Astrolabe saw an opportunity to bring me in to their newly established fully remote workplace to help their transition to flexible working and online collaboration with their own team and clients.

Supporting remote working 

I quickly learned that Astrolabe were already using online platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Trello, as well as quickly starting to experiment with other tools such as Slid.o and Mural.

MS Teams has become their virtual office space, which was completely new to me. My first step in my remote working was to learn how to this tool!

Once I had the basics sorted, my focus of work was exploring online tools and resources to help the team with daily tasks and support engaging and dynamic online collaboration.

I embarked on a horizon scan of what was available and started to build an online tool comparison considering their benefits, opportunities and limitations to enable online collaboration. Some of the questions I asked during this research were – “what was good for brainstorming, prototyping or decision making?”

Everyone at Astrolabe was experimenting and playing with different tools during this time. The first part of my project was to capture the insights from these experiences – about what was working well, so it could be shared across the team and promoted for use. To communicate this research I developed a resource document for ongoing use.  I got to test my research and how I was presenting it with the team, and continually refine the document through feedback as my research progressed. This is now a resource that is available for both the Astrolabe team and their clients.

Remember I mentioned MS Teams? Well, this has become a critical tool at Astrolabe in a remote world. The second part of my project was to create resource document on how to use MS Teams to assist everyone working on this platform. This guide will help enable Astrolabe and their clients to use MS Teams for online meetings, collaboration and projects. We included Astrolabe’s own approaches using MS Teams so it is fully fit for purpose.

Image: Considerations when using MS Teams as a collaboration tool.

Reflecting on my experience 

Working online isn’t always an easy task, especially when you have to separate work and home life all under the one roof. Being at home and working can be difficult because there is more room for distractions and afternoon naps!

My experience working remotely so far has been a very new experience and a challenging one, but I’m so grateful for it as I have learned new skills. I’ve learned to use MS teams, adapted to different environments and gained more knowledge on how I can use my skill set. In my opinion, working remotely could definitely be a new norm.

All this while I have been blessed to be able to work with such an amazing team. While I was with the team, I got to know them all through daily stand ups, staff meetings, project meetings, knowledge shares, 10 minute meditation, afternoon tea parties and trivia competitions. I felt fully integrated and welcomed, despite never visiting a physical office.

Chloe Caton is in her final semester of a Bachelor of Business Management (with a a joint study in Legal Studies) at Charles Sturt University. From March-June 2020 Chloe was an intern at Astrolabe Group. After graduating Chloe is hoping to use her knowledge and skills in the government sector.