Exercising Creativity in Remote Working Environments
By Maziar Jafary
Disclaimer: The views are those of the author's alone and do not represent the views of UNA-Canada.
My name is Maziar, and I am currently a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Ottawa, while also working remotely for the Inclusive Quality Education section at the UNESCO-Bangkok office, as a Junior Professional Consultant (JPC) with UNA-Canada. Like many others, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am working remotely. Remote work contains its own opportunities, but it also has its own challenges which require creativity in order for an intern to benefit from their work experience. In this brief post, I will talk about three elements of my own experience as a JPC!
SDG #4 Quality Education
The major challenge of working remotely for a newly admitted intern like me is the lack of enough face-to-face time and oral communication with colleagues. Consequently, it is harder in this remote setting for an intern to get to know how the organization runs and what their role is. In this regard, I have tried to communicate directly with different colleagues as often as possible, and not just with my supervisor, in order to get to know them better, and to find my own place and role in the organization. This also helps me better understand working relations among colleagues and how everything is interconnected. I have also spent time researching the functioning of UNESCO, and its regional offices, which has given me a lot of insight. Though, as I’ve said, colleagues are always there to support, and they are the best guide for interns in their remote working roles.
Another challenge in the beginning was my task of writing a UN document for the first time! Even though I have had plenty of academic research experiences, preparing a handbook for the UN was something new for me. In that sense, it was a challenge for me to get out of the complex scope of academic writing, and to write in a brief, get-to-the-point, and concise way. So, despite the fact that my academic career has helped me a lot during my internship, it was particularly joyful for me to write a document for the UN, in a different format than in academia.
A final point to mention is working hours. In this regard, my main difficulty has consisted of the time differences between Canada and Thailand, which has made it particularly hard to work simultaneously with my colleagues in Bangkok. It can be very strange to be working at 1 or 2am in the morning, Ottawa time, but the support I received from the UNESCO team in Bangkok, and the joy and enthusiasm they have shown for the support I have provided thus far during my internship has encouraged me to take an active part in the meetings held in the early morning hours, Canada time. So, on some days of the week, I have simply decided to change my working hours and spread them into the evening, rather than the normal 9-5 working hours.