HEWeb #MTP7 Making remote teamwork work

Tuesday, October 10th, 2023

Tuesday, October 10, 2023, 9:30 AM – 10:15 AM EDT 
Jesse Lavery – University of Mary Washington and Curtiss Grymala – University of Mary Washington and Ryland Willis – University of Mary Washington

Remote work in higher ed seemed unthinkable, until the events of the past few years forced the issue. While we know that our work is typically not location dependent, and proved it during the pandemic, many of us are once again facing campus cultures that insist on in-person work. How can we change minds and create a new model? In this session, the digital communications team from University of Mary Washington will share their experience advocating for, building and maintaining a successful remote team. Attendees will learn what has worked, what hasn’t and best practices for remote teamwork in an otherwise location-centric university environment.


  • 44% of losses of tech workers in Higher Ed site the ability to work remotely somewhere else.
  • Make the case
    • Be patient
    • Show a wider talent pool
    • Talent vs money (wider talent pool = wider cost of living structure)
    • Allow yourself to try and fail to hire locally
      • Then push for remote
    • Find value-adds
      • Not subject to on-campus issues (connectivity, etc)
      • Include remote workers in crisis communications (they are most likely outside the crisis zone)
      • Increased timezone availability?
      • Can attend events in different areas
    • Provide safety nets
      • One person on campus at least some of the time
      • “Regular” team visits to campus (face time with campus partners)
    • Reinforce school pride (wear onbrand items when in meetings and out-and about at remote location)
  • Prove the concept
    • Overcome fears “everyone’s going to nap”
    • Show your face
    • Active communication
    • Answer promptly (set a high standard)
    • Be proactive. Schedule meetings.
    • Do the work
  • Best practices
    • Everyone hates meetings, but…
    • Backchannel communication
    • Zoom call bingo!
    • Zoom backgrounds
    • Watch you language
      • Refer to remote workers location as “The Pennsylvania office”
    • Tools for collaboration
    • Project management tools
    • Project intake workflow (still not perfect/organized)
    • Shared password management

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