Global Voices’ response to COVID-19

UPDATED: April 10, 2020 10:19 AM AST

In spite of the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, Global Voices is well-positioned to manage any work challenges that may arise during this period. Our remote work environment, as well as years of experience juggling our schedules as contractors and collaborating with colleagues in different time zones, has equipped us to function more smoothly than many other workplaces in this extraordinary time. However, the severity of this virus has the potential to radically upend the lives of even the most resilient members of our community.

To that end, the GV core team has designed the following internal protocols to support both individual community members and larger teams. These protocols are intended to reflect our principles and values as well as the logistical aspects of how GV is responding to the pandemic.

Take care of yourself (and your loved ones!)

GV is committed to providing flexibility around work obligations during this challenging time so that our community members are well equipped to take care of themselves and their loved ones. If you’re not feeling well, or if a loved one needs caretaking throughout the day, please reach out to your team lead to discuss a reduced schedule, adjusted targets or deadlines, or other accommodations that may be helpful during this time. Filip Noubel is lead for editorial, and Mohamed ElGohary is lead for Lingua.

These are uncharted waters, and the pandemic can present unexpected challenges other than illness, such lapses in childcare, additional support for extended family, or changes in access to food or medicine. This pandemic affects everyone differently, and we’ll need to show extra empathy for one another (and ourselves!) during this period. GV encourages everyone to evaluate on a daily basis personal stress levels and work/life responsibilities and to alert team leads as early as possible if you find that your workload becomes unmanageable.

Recovery time in the event of illness

We deeply hope that our community members all remain healthy. However, the reality is that some of us may become ill to the extent where we may need to stop working for a short period. In such an instance, GV commits to paying annual-term contractors at a 100% rate for up to 2 weeks while they are incapacitated either at home or in hospital. This support is in addition to contractors’ usual Personal Time Off (PTO). Those with a medical need requiring extended time away to recuperate should discuss this with Georgia or Ivan directly, instead of your team lead. Georgia or Ivan will communicate your absence to the team where necessary in order to maintain our workflow.

GV respects your right to privacy, and will not require disclosure of test results or diagnoses, but will ask you what level of disclosure to the wider team you prefer during your recuperation time. Based on the answer, Georgia and Ivan will not share any details of your time away with other members of the team other than to say, “Our colleague X will be out of the office until further notice and asks that all communication from the team (work-related or personal or both) cease during this time per X’s preference.”

Recuperating team members will also be asked to contact Georgia or Ivan on a weekly basis to provide an update on an intended return date. They will also ask for an emergency contact specific to this situation in case it becomes impossible to stay in touch directly.

Internet interruptions

With the increase in internet traffic during this period, networks can become overwhelmed and it may not be possible to upload stories in WordPress. If this happens to you, please contact your team lead and let them know. Possible solutions in such a case include sending the text to another teammate by email or a messaging app for them to upload on your behalf. Under no circumstances should any community member risk their well-being in order to post or research a story: for example, by spending time using public wifi at a library or internet cafe where they could be exposed to the virus.

In the event that your internet connectivity is degraded or unavailable for a prolonged period of time, please contact your team leads as soon as possible to discuss alternative methods of communication.

Dealing with new laws and measures imposed in your location

As a result of the pandemic, some governments have clamped down on the free flow of information and on freedom of movement. Their motives may be well-intentioned, such to limit the spread of the virus or of mis- and disinformation; but they might also be designed to cover up government missteps or a pretext for curbing freedom of expression more generally. Failure to follow lockdown or curfew rules, publicly criticizing government policies or the sharing of certain kinds of information on social media can, in certain countries, carry severe penalties, including arrest and imprisonment.

Please be sure to pay very close attention to the measures implemented in your location (also note that they can sometimes change very quickly) and do your best to abide by them.

If you are uncertain whether a story you are editing or writing is affected by any of the new laws, or about any related issue around safety and censorship, please contact Filip.

This is also a good time for everyone to refresh their memories about emergency response guidelines, which are outlined in e Appendix B of your GV contracts.

Communication, communication, communication

In all of the cases above, early communication is key — please don’t wait until a situation spirals out of hand to talk with your team lead, or with Georgia and Ivan, about challenges you may be facing. Let’s work together to address concerns before they escalate.