Community-based efforts are the center of social justice work, but for social justice organizations, even those of us with large field-based teams, the default setting continues to be the office. At Provide, our widespread use of field-based staff has led us to reconsider the structure and location of all members of our team and has made us enormous fans of "remote work." Our state-teams, managers, administration and development team members work from diverse locations including coffee shops, home offices, and in cars and airplanes. In addition to our project states, this works takes place in Maryland, New York, New Hampshire, and in Massachusetts, where we continue to maintain an office that holds less than 20 percent of our workforce, a small group of us that, uncomfortably for many visitors and newcomers, rarely sees or talks to each other... unless we're on Skype.
For us, remote work is defined not by whether one of us is located in or out of our office, but by our locations in relation to each other. In this way, we are all remote workers, with benefits that have included increased trust, greater flexibility, better work-life balance (including reduced burnout, which can be a chronic issue in social justice work), results- (vs. process) oriented efficiency, and, above all, having the right people in the right places to get the work done.
This is not to suggest that the process of becoming a remote work organization has been easy or that remote work is for everyone. But, after several years of exploration and experimentation, we have developed a body of knowledge and practices that have helped us create change where it is needed most. Although many of the resources and practices we have drawn on were developed in industries that can feel antithetical or even antagonistic to social justice work, we believe that remote work can be a great tool for social justice. We want to share what we've learned and build a community of social justice remote work practitioners and learners, to help us all make the changes we want to make in the world.
We've built a website to share resources on how to use remote work as a social justice tool: Remote Justice. As much an internal resource as a public one, we will keep this website updated as we continue to learn from our own work, and we hope you will also contribute your insights and experiences as you explore (from first steps to seasoned expertise) the power of remote for social justice. Take a look and let's build another tool for the change that a just world needs.