When a dog barks in Toronto, does anybody hear?

I want to say that yesterday was unusual, but I find that every day at CAIS is full of surprises so in that regard, yesterday was typical. But there was a big announcement in our office yesterday, and the circumstances surrounding it confirmed that our team can handle the change.

Our team meets regularly by videoconference to update each other on projects. Three members of our team work from home so we find it valuable to connect this way, and because I travel so much, I sometimes join these conversations from places away from the office. We work productively, and we laugh as if we were in a room together.

This week was very typical in terms of time actually in the office. I was on an accreditation team and then speaking at a conference, so I was only in the office once all week. On a personal note, I have a dog, Ginny, who is quite fond of me (and vice versa) so I sometimes bring her to our office, especially if I haven’t seen her for a while. She spends her day at my side, mostly asleep at my feet, and the team tells me that they also like having Ginny around.

Our IT guy, Grant, was having an atypical day. He was only in for the morning meeting, so he also brought his dog to the office. This has happened occasionally in the past, and although it may seem odd to have two dogs in one six room office, the dogs mostly ignore each other.

So there we were in our meeting – five of us huddled around one desk with three others on the screen. (We were missing Val, who was at a meeting in Chicago learning how to incorporate survey data into the accreditation process.)

I had an announcement. My husband, Kevin, has accepted a job as Dean of Arts at the University of Ottawa. My plan, as I had already discussed with my board chair, is to move our family to Ottawa, run the office virtually, and come to St Catharines at least twice per month. I wanted to get everyone’s reaction.

Grant summarized it well: we are already a great example of how a dispersed office can collaborate productively and not much will change with a move of your home.

Janice noted: I am home right now, but if this call was last week, I would have joined you from Kazakhstan and you wouldn’t have known the difference. Maybe this is a fake wall and I am actually on vacation right now!

We agreed that we are a results-driven and motivated group, and we are in very regular contact with each other regardless of where we are.

And that’s when Janice’s dog barked in Toronto. It was a faint bark that wouldn’t have interrupted our conversation, except that the two dogs in St Catharines jumped up and started barking in our office. We all laughed…. The timing was perfect proof that a virtual office can mean close connections.

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