WORKING REMOTELY: without losing your mind

A June Health Affairs Blog eloquently stated, “The struggle to balance literal survival with all the things that make surviving worthwhile has never been so clear. Many of us have been forced to sacrifice social connections, therefore quality of life, for life itself.” Fast forward five months. As a remote team in the field of education, this notion of a “double pandemic” of social isolation and Covid-19 could not be more real.

Where are we?

Social isolation. The complete opposite to what draws so many of us to educational organizations. I’m not going to lie, it has been – and continues to be – a challenge. While the teaching professionals in our office have broader opportunities to interact outside of the team, the same is not true for others. Working Remotely: Secrets to Success for Employees on Distributed Teams is helping us better understand the thoughts and emotions of our remote team members while offering insights into the physical and functional aspects of working remotely.

In Chapter 1: Secrets of the Right Mentality, lead author Teresa Douglas @teresamdouglas (along with Holly Gordon and Mike Webber) call out the lonely nature of remote working. We’re all missing the spontaneous everyday interactions – the water cooler meet ups, the hallway consultations, and the rides down the elevator that spill into parking lot conversations. The loss, intensified by a new work environment and new processes for carrying out the work, takes a toll on the human psyche.

How do we overcome isolationism?

find your tribe

Amanda Kohr reminds us “There’s nothing better than authentic and compassionate relationships.”  Her post How to Find Your Tribe offers eight great steps to finding impactful associations. 

“..our tribe is important because it reflects our values while simultaneously satisfying our need for companionship.”


 Now more than ever:

  • Be intentional in your interactions. One quick, small connection can go a long way.
  • Weather the storms together. Rely on, and give back to, your support network.
  • Attend regularly. Participate in activities offered and take the time to create your own.



It is not too soon to be thinking about reintegration.

We’ll be on the flip side of this one day!

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Dr. Donna M. Gaffney has served as Montgomery County Intermediate Unit's Director of Professional Learning since 2013. With a diverse background in curriculum, instruction and professional development, Dr. Gaffney has collaboratively envisioned and advanced professional learning opportunities throughout Montgomery County.

Dr. Gaffney began her career as a Mathematics teacher in 1994. She has instructed students at both the middle and high school level in traditional as well as multi-disciplinary, co-taught, and vocational environments. In her work as a staff developer and school district administrator, Dr. Gaffney has supported a variety of schools and districts with comprehensive professional development and continuous improvement planning. Her work and involvement in education at the local and state level is foundational to her knowledge and understanding of best-practices in teaching and learning today.

Dr. Gaffney is passionate about leadership development, serving as practicum supervisor to aspiring and practicing school leaders as they build or strengthen their capacity to lead. She is currently partnering with the National Institute for School Leadership (NISL) on a pilot program that focuses on principal pathways and pipelines.