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SCC’s Information Services team goes the extra mile during COVID-19

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Brinkman working from her home office.

Like many other employers, Southeast Community College had to work fast to get employees ready to work from home. Most employees did not have laptops, and many have never worked from home before. This was a unique challenge unlike any other the College had faced.

An Incident Response Team was quickly assembled, with administrators and other key staff who met often to decide what needed to be done. Things changed rapidly, and a decision made one day might have to be adjusted for the next day.

“We put together this team to address this ongoing issue and how to address this situation,” said Al Brunkow, SCC Information Services Manager. “As soon as we heard about it (COVID-19), we started planning and started to think about how we were going to be able to move people off site.”

The 30-person Information Services team started working immediately, finding enough laptops to accommodate close to 1,000 employees. Stress levels were high, but employees worked hard to get everything done.

Brunkow said around 95% of SCC’s employees are working from home, while essential employees such as safety and security and janitorial staff continue to work on each Campus.

“The biggest challenge was finding enough devices,” Brunkow said. “Right from the start we started finding laptop carts around the College that we could use. If everyone had laptops (instead of desktops in their offices), it would’ve been easier.”

From that point, people then needed to be educated on how to use the remote software, as well as how to use the Zoom video conferencing platform.

“Many people were not familiar with using the software from home, so we had to show them the tools to sign on,” he explained. “Zoom has been huge. Even though we’ve had it at the College, many people have never used it. We worked at getting people connected, and set them up for it and showed them how to connect at home.”

Employees in the Transitions Lab on the Lincoln Campus worked with the computer technicians to get set up at home, and they even went the extra mile and helped them set up printers.

“They had a mini training session with all of us to make sure we were comfortable,” said Shannon Brinkman, Transitions Advisor/Tutor Coordinator. “They helped me get One Drive set up and showed me how to do a few important things on it before leaving campus. They also helped me get my printer hooked up at home, and they are just so eager to help. They are constantly saying ‘If you have any more questions, just let me know.’ ”

In addition to getting the College employees set up, next the IT staff had to help instructors prepare to teach in an online format starting March 30. SCC has around 9,000 students who are learning remotely for the unforeseeable future.

“We didn’t know what was going to happen on the 30th with classes online, but so far they are good,” Brunkow said, adding there were some calls to the IT Help Desk, but not as many as expected. Their next challenge is getting students access to some of the technical software programs, such as those in the Design & Drafting program. Those require specialty lab software that has only previously been used in the College labs.

“I’m proud of our team,” Brunkow said. “It’s pretty amazing to see how it all came together.”

Brunkow said he sent each member of his staff a personal email, thanking them for their hard work. “It was an eye-opening challenge. I knew we could do it; the staff really worked together great.”

Brunkow added that one positive from this experience is now more College employees will be able to work from home if the need arises. In the meantime, there will be one or two computer technicians available at each campus from this point forward if employees experience any problems while working remotely.

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Andrea Gallagher
Marketing Specialist
402-323-3395
agallagher@southeast.edu