Navigating a Virtual/Remote Workplace During COVID-19 with Erin and Julia from CanWaCH

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Show Notes

This is the first episode Sujani sat down to record since COVID-19 became a pandemic. And we know that it is a tough time for every single one of us. We are new to physically distancing ourselves from families and friends, and holding game night and coffee chats over a video call are just not the same…and we now have to adjust to having children and the entire family at home 24/7, and for some, the transition to working from home has been tough. We will be the first to say that we don’t like this way of living and wish things were different. But, it’s so important for us to sacrifice these things, and to bear some of this pain because it does save lives!

Given this current situation, and acknowledging that we may not be mentally ready to focus on building our careers the same way, we wanted to change things up for the next couple of podcast episodes (or more). These episodes will focus on slightly different topics ranging from tips to help you cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as fun behind the scenes reflections of PH SPOT to give you a bit of “entertainment” listening. If you have other ideas do email them to us, and we will incorporate them into a future episode. Once we feel that we are ready to get back to our regular show, we will start rolling those episodes out!

In this episode, Sujani sits down with two members from the Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH). CanWaCH catalyzes Canadian collaboration among 100 Partners who are improving women’s and children’s health in 1,000 communities worldwide.

The interesting part is that CanWaCH is a completely virtual workplace with 22 employees across Canada. Given they have been working in a virtual workplace for a number of years now, we reached out to them so that they could offer up all of the lessons they’ve learned to help you, your organization and employees manage working in a virtual environment as a cohesive team. I talk to two individuals from CanWaCH’s team – Julia Anderson who is the Chief Operating Officer and Erin Jex, the Gender Equality Officer at CanWaCH.

You’ll Learn

  • About the physical environment that Julia and Erin work from to give us a picture of their workspaces (Julia lives with 8 other people, and Erin has 1 other person)
  • The makeup of the CanWaCH team, and their environments
  • Whether COVID-19 has changed anything for them or their team, with respect to working from home
  • The technology and tools that their team uses which enables them to work collaboratively and efficiently (and tips around this)
  • The challenges they still face, despite having been a virtual workplace for a number of years
  • As management, the importance of setting your intentions right from the beginning and reiterating it (constantly); and equally important is the trust you must build with your team
  • Onboarding a virtual team member; how orientation is set up for these employees
  • Tips and considerations to build relationships with your team members given the absence of regular face to face interactions
  • The silver lining in working from home, and what they enjoy about a virtual workplace


Today’s Guest

Julia Anderson, Chief Operating Officer, CanWaCH

Julia is CanWaCH’s Chief Operations Officer. She previously served as the organization’s Acting Executive Director (2018-19) and Senior Director of Programs and Operations. She is responsible for day-to-day management of CanWaCH’s program portfolio, including managing program deliverables, human and financial resources, reporting, and liaising with CanWaCH funders.

She works closely with the Chief Executive Officer and the Board of Directors to implement the organizational strategic plan and long-term fund diversification and sustainability plan. Julia holds a Master of Arts degree in Canadian and Indigenous Studies from Trent University where she focused her studies on the role of civil society in Canada’s international cooperation activities. Julia has over 15 years of experience in the international development and not-for-profit sectors. She has worked with youth from across the globe on international development policy-related issues and held senior human rights positions. She is also an active volunteer working with the New Canadians Centre to support refugee resettlement and has served on the board of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation and as the Vice-President on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Council for International Cooperation.

Erin Jex, Gender Equality Officer, CanWaCH

As CanWaCH’s Gender Equality Officer, Erin works to build relationships with member and non-member organizations who have expertise in gender transformative approaches and to work with them to drive the development of a capacity-building series focused on rights-based approaches and data-driven decision making. She has a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Modern Languages and a Master of Arts Degree in Political Science with a Specialization in Women’s Studies from the University of Ottawa. Most recently, Erin completed an International Youth Internship Program in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. In this role, she developed monitoring and evaluation strategies to improve women’s economic empowerment in the education and health sectors. Erin is passionate about women’s reproductive health, youth engagement and community development and is currently involved with her community through Circle of Health International and as a French tutor. In her spare time, she loves being active and enjoys hiking and playing sports – especially soccer, hockey and golf.



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About the Show

PH SPOTlight: Public health career stories, inspiration, and guidance from current-day public health heroes

On the show, Sujani sits down with public health heroes of our time to share career stories, inspiration, and guidance for building public health careers. From time to time, she also has conversations with friends of public health – individuals who are not public health professionals, but their advice and guidance are equally important.

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