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
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.