Two weeks with COVID-19

Written by Chris Vanstone, Chief Innovation Officer at TACSI


What a couple of weeks.


The week before what would become our first of working entirely online we’d started to get ready, in case it happened. That Friday we shared tips on moving aspects of our work online, so we could keep it going, and also reduce the financial risk to our organisation. That Sunday we decided to shift a three-day retreat for six towns on Kangaroo Island to a fully online experience. Some people were already at the airport, it started 24hrs later. That was the first week that working from home became the default.

Our response has been the same of many organisations. Safety of our people first. Next the survival of our organisation. We spent that first week doing anything we could do to mitigate the inevitable financial impact of the pandemic. Our clients and partners were incredibly supportive and flexible, our team were super creative and super busy, we’ve had a reasonable share of good luck, so far.

Fortunately, we’ve been becoming a more networked team for some time now, our core team rituals are largely unchanged by working from home. Our weekly ‘TACSI Tuesday’ team meeting is online, as it has been every Tuesday for a year. Our first online after-work drinks was a bit more of a novelty. We clumsily tried to work out what the protocols and norms might be, costumes, funny backgrounds, and children were involved.

We’ve also been working on our practice. Human connection is core to social innovation. But, how do you get people together, when they can’t be in the same room? How do you build a deep understanding of people’s context and preferences, when you can meet them face to face? How do you work together, when you’re apart? This set of patterns are our evolving guide.

Phones waving

In week two of social distancing, our focus has moved from emergency measures, and replanning existing projects, to think about the nature of social services during this time, how we can help, and what might be some of the longer term implications for society, our business and our practice.

This week, week three, seems like it’s going to be just as busy.

We’ll be running a webinar to explore, with others who are interested, how we keep social services working during this time. How do you enable transformational change, without in-person interactions? Register here.

We’re in conversation with a number of organisations to rapidly develop a new support service, based on our Family by Family model. Family by Family are already offering 5 and 10 week link-ups online and over the phone. This new model would explore if families could provide support to families where there is a particular risk of domestic violence or substance misuse during, what could become, a long period of extreme social isolation.

As part of the States of Change network, we’ll be connecting with our international colleagues, to reflect on the longer term opportunities that might arise from this crisis. We’ll be sharing more about this and our reflections shortly.

We’ll also be sharing our future organisational strategy with our board, we’ve been working on it as a team for months, we were proud of where we got to, but the foundations on which it was built just shifted.