The Brave New World of Going Remote

Let’s face it. The world we were living in four weeks ago has changed. The COVID-19 virus is wreaking havoc not only on the health care systems of the world and has altered our day-to-day interactions. Schools are suddenly closed, and jobs that may have been resisting the idea of remote work have gone full-court press transitioning all employers remote because the show must go on. Schools are transitioning to online education not to have children fall behind. Now a new challenge is transitioning to remote work and having your children home with the expectation of physical/social distancing. 

I wear several hats. I am a practicing respiratory therapist who is an essential employee like always (more so even now), an online educator, and an instructional designer. I doubt many in the world will look at this situation the same as I do just because of my mashup of professional roles and educational degrees.

 Telehealth has been a hot topic in health care for a while now. Right now, many clinics and pulmonary rehabilitation centers are closed across the nation because of an enemy we cannot see. Patients who not only used these services to improve their life have lost an important social outlet. There are remote solutions available to support these patients, such as the telerespiratory services of rtNOW. Still, they are not being used because of the lack of health care forethought and reimbursements. Hopefully, there is a silver lining at the end of all this, and needed changes occur to advance health care.

On the educational front, there was a scramble, and many of you working in this field had to build courses quickly. This was an unexpected transition to online education for an indeterminate amount of time. I recently saw Virginia will not be returning to face to face learning until the next school year. 

Virginia teacher Stephanie Nash wrote in a Facebook post about the decision to keep schools closed, “As I do understand why this decision was made, it doesn’t make it easier. For many students, school is their safe place. It is the structure they wish they had at home. It’s the smiles, laughs, hugs, high fives, and compliments that they might only see for the day. It's more than just bookwork; it's a family. Now it might be a long time before any of them get that feeling again."

Although schools have gone online, do all students have the tools to be successful at home? I appreciate companies coming to the aid of students offering free internet services and trying to level the playing field, but for some children, school is where they get their well-balanced meals. As much as I love the United States of America, we are still a country with many disparities in health care and education.

 I am guessing now every school will have an emergency backup plan for a full transition to online learning in the future. As instructional designers, rarely do we just throw something together. We know there is a lot of forethought required to create an engaging and successful online course. Will this rapid change put a bad taste in students' and teachers' mouths when this is all said and done? My best friend is a teacher who is working on transitioning her classes online. She is learning that there is A LOT of work in getting an online course put together.

This is a time of uncertainty. We know jobs are going to be lost. Already various industries have begun the first waves of layoffs or furloughs. I know instructional designers who had interviews scheduled that now have been canceled due to hiring freezes being put into place.

 We are facing a new reality for an indeterminate amount of time. So, what can you do to make lemonade out of lemons?

  1. Be a handwashing hero.

    Wash your hands! Over and over again! (I mentioned I was a healthcare provider, right?) My friend Molly Parsons from The IDOL Academy made a great slide deck with songs you can sing to make sure you wash your hands for the required 20 seconds. Thanks for giving me an alternative to the happy birthday song .... that one has really gotten old after 15 years in health care. 
  2. Structure and Mindset

    You are working remotely, but so are your kids. In this time, creating some semblance of structure helps. We are creatures of habit. Create a schedule for work/school and breaks. I think one of the funniest posts I have seen this week was by Robin Sargent "For Parents Working from Home: Refer to your kids as coworkers and tell me what they're doing in the comments." Boy were there some doozies. Hats off to the parents working from home!

  3. Physical distance

    Yes, physical distance is required right now to stop the spread of the virus, but we are social creatures. This week I have been joining my team virtually in a standing 1 pm meeting. It's good to check-in and see how everyone is progressing. The work expectations have not changed. But the challenges are more significant with unexpected distractions because this wasn't originally in the plans.

    I also joined voice-over artist Josh Risser for a working group session for accountability. Several professionals met online on zoom. It started with a little chit chat, and then we all were muted and worked on our projects while everyone was zooming. I know it sounds odd, but it was a fun experience. We took breaks at set intervals and chatted. It was a great way to meet new people and get some work done and not be alone.


  1. Set up your workspace

    You want to set up your workspace for success. I have been enjoying seeing people sharing their new remote office setups. I have seen some people create their workspace and their kids alongside them. When it's time to work, everyone is working.  
  1. Breathe

    This all too shall pass. This is the first time the world has been challenged like this.  This is affecting everyone, and as humans, we will overcome.

Support each other but from a distance.  

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Written By: Tabatha Dragonberry

Connect with Tabatha on LinkedIn or Instagram.

Tabatha is an EdTech entrepreneur, instructional designer, content writer, and educator dedicated to developing interactive and engaging learning ecosystems. She has a passion for gamification, learning experience design, and the integration of social learning to improve learner engagement and knowledge retention. Also, she is a respiratory therapist who hosts The Vent Room podcast providing a little inspiration to respiratory therapists.



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