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  • Tarragona Associates

Sustaining Work Remotely

Updated: May 30, 2020

Working from home during Covid-19, Photo by Johnny McClung on Unsplash

by Mark Atkinson, Maureen O. Hall, and Gregory B. Milton

Remote First: Renewing the Significance of Sustainability through Remote Work

Back in the old ‘normal’, remote work was slowly increasing in the US. By 2018, Global Workplace Analytics (GWA) reported that 3.6% of the US workforce worked from home, an increase of 159% over the previous 12 years. With the sudden shift to remote operations - through an often rapid and hectic venture towards employees working away from their central locations - stemming from COVID-19 shutdowns, GWA further estimates now that 25-30% of the US workforce will be remote on a more permanent basis in 2021.

Deploying a management and communication strategy designed around remote working possibilities, Remote First is an approach that creates practice and policy that does not leave remote workers out. It makes it possible for any employee in an organization to work remotely, even though not all may choose to do so, and requires that integral tools, workflows, information, and communications are available to everyone, no matter where they might be located while working. Stressing internal and external accessibility for people, information, and tools, Remote First builds resiliency and creates opportunities for continuous operations.

Teams which struggle with communication, project management, or database integrity under ‘normal’ conditions will likely experience a magnification of such problems within a remote-work environment. Remote First assists organizations to up their game with business processes, workflows, communication, productivity, data, technology, compliance, that are improved through deep analysis of practices and policies.

Integrate Remote Work Practices In Higher Ed

As you perform a COVID-19 after action review and plan for the future, your organization should consider the following:

1) How would you rate your university’s performance during COVID-19? Has your institution reevaluated its approach to remote operations and contingency planning?

  • Remote First offers higher education an opportunity to be prepared for the unexpected and update operational practices.

2) Was the university’s workforce prepared to work remotely?

  • Remote First creates an organizational strategy incorporating practices that make it possible for any university employee to work remotely at any time. It requires an infrastructure supported by policies to support flexibility and efficiency.

3) Has your university started researching tools to make your operation more flexible?

  • The Remote First approach parallels concepts and system universities already utilize: Universal Design for Learning (UDL) for curriculum development and Learning Management Systems (LMS) for online academic services. Just as these can support remote services for the in-person student, remote work design provides flexibility for employees.

4) Does your university have good communication and management training in place?

  • Remote First depends on transparent communication between management and staff across the university. Remote work requires clear structure with stated goals, productivity and accountability measures.

5) Has your university started contingency planning for the future?

  • Remote First encourages organizations to rethink and redesign how they work, allowing them to leverage the impacts of COVID-19 to create an academic workplace of the future.

Save the Date to learn more:

Join our Webinar

Remote First: Renewing the Significance

of Sustainability through Remote Work

with Dr. Mark Atkinson

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

11:00-11:45 am PT / 2:00-2:45 pm ET

For more information, email

TA Solutions

Tarragona Associates provides consulting expertise, such as Mark Atkinson’s, to our higher ed clients. With Tarragona Associates’ help, you will:

  • increase student success and satisfaction

  • improve faculty and staff buy-in and engagement

  • enhance the health of your enrollment and retention pipelines

  • create strong core-mission budgets and build institutional revenue

  • protect the integrity of your academic promise

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About the Authors

Mark Atkinson, Ed.D, brings extensive experience developing outreach programs and online learning within higher ed. He has taught online, led teams of instructional technologists, and built and managed multiple endorsements, certificates, and degree programs from needs analysis to design to implementation.

Maureen O. Hall, M.A., is a higher education professional with over 20 years of experience managing business school graduate programs and student affairs. She has worked in public and private institutions. She has been successful in enhancing student and faculty engagement with her office through establishing relationships built on trust, excellent performance, respect, and open communication.

Gregory B Milton, PhD, brings 30 years’ experience in the professional development, training and academic fields to his focus on creating innovative lifelong learning opportunities for all learners. He employs an entrepreneurial approach to facilitating teams, always seeking to better achieve objectives, more efficiently and with higher quality, objectives that provide student-centric success through market-driven digital learning opportunities and enrollment growth.

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