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A keyboard, coffee cup and notebook that says "be kind."
Brendan Stelmach

Brendan Stelmach

Brendan Stelmach’s work as an Associate in the Partner Solutions team sees him provide research, writing and support for existing and prospective clients, as well as contribute to the wonderful blog team! A Chicago native, he is very happy to be living and working in the Washington, D.C., area. Before Global Impact, Brendan gained experience with the World Bank and the U.S. State Department. He has a passion for all things international, from philanthropy to soccer, and tries to learn new things every day, which working with the blog team certainly helps.

By
Brendan Stelmach

Before I joined Global Impact, one of the things that attracted me to the organization was the deep commitment to driving charitable giving, supporting partners and clients, and empowering those who make the world a better place. My time at Global Impact has confirmed that all of those things are true, and since joining the team, I have learned even more about how leadership seeks to foster these values in the internal culture of the organization.  

As the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic have unfolded, I have been impressed by the consistent communication and forethought Global Impact’s Executive Team has shown toward employees, empowering us to continue our mission of working on charitable ventures for greater giving. In this post, I describe some of the steps Global Impact has taken and share some lessons on the powerful effect that positive leadership can have on morale as we all continue to explore these uncharted waters. 

Consistent communication 
My first takeaway is that leadership does not mean always having all the answers – and in times like this, having all the answers isn’t really possible. Despite there being no handbook for this type of situation, our HR team has done an excellent job clearly communicating the thoughts and plans of management to the entire organization. In early March, we received an email explaining adjustments to our company travel policy restricting non-essential travel. Since then, Global Impact has consistently clued staff into the thought process of management, limiting insecurities and being honest about next steps.  

With plenty of uncertainty in other aspects of life, receiving clear communication from your employer can be a much needed source of stability – even communicating that very uncertainty can be helpful. And I believe it is goes beyond simple consistency to include honesty as well. For example, we recently moved from a plan to work from home for two weeks to an indefinite timeline, with assurances that ample warning will come before we return to the office. This clarity and communication can mitigate a great deal of discomfort. 

Learn from your peers 
Global Impact is based in Alexandria, Virginia, but we are lucky enough to have employees all across the country. That means a significant portion of our team regularly works from home, and our leadership has effectively harnessed the expertise of these employees, who have generously shared their strategies for remote work, allowing us all to get up and running quickly. Here are some of the best tips I’ve heard from my peers: 

  • Have a dedicated workspace, even if it is small. Have a desk or a table or even part of a table that is your space where your computer is set up.  
  • Plan your day! No commute and fewer in-person meetings can harm your time management, and carefully curating a calendar will preserve your productivity.  
  • Get away from your computer and workspace for a lunch break! Set an alarm for lunch or put it on your calendar to block the time. 
  • Make an effort to connect with your colleagues and work friends via Skype just to see how someone is doing. You won’t be bumping into each other in the kitchen anymore, so check in to say hello. 
  • Get up out of your seat each hour and stretch or walk around your house a bit – working at home all day can involve a lot less moving than being in the office. 

Mental and career health in a trying time 
All the uncertainty surrounding a sudden transition to work from home, not to mention the overarching economic and health concerns that are sweeping the country, has left an enormous number of people anxious and unsure. Our leadership has done its best to ameliorate concerns and allow for flexibility based on potential new responsibilities triggered by the crisis. The emotional tone set by leadership during this time is critical, and the core of their messaging has been simple and reassuring: be kind. 

  • Be kind to your clients and partners who are feeling the pressure of these new circumstances. 
  • Be kind to your co-workers as they balance a new work and home routine, not to mention shifting projects. 
  • Be kind to yourself, taking the time to explore your feelings and taking the steps needed to ensure you are operating in a positive and healthy manner. Remember, just because you are working from home does not mean you cannot use vacation days, take a long lunch or simply communicate your stresses to your peers. 

Find the good in what you do 
A great source of confidence for me during this time has been the knowledge that even while I sit in my apartment all day, I get to do work that is making a difference, even if it’s in a small way. Global Impact leadership has always encouraged employees to tailor services to meet our clients where they are and to provide the very best product for their needs. These days that may mean helping corporate clients set up emergency employee assistance funds or positioning nonprofits to weather this storm financially and operationally.  

Global Impact inspires greater giving to benefit the world's most vulnerable, and vulnerability seems to be incredibly common today. All the great work that Global Impact’s HR and leadership team has done has made me a better employee, and more importantly, it has made it easier for me to continue to advocate for those in need.  

I hope everyone stays safe and healthy. We’re all in this together! 


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