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BRIEF May 13, 2020

Russian ED's Office shares its remote work experience


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all World Bank Group staff are quarantined at their homes. The Office of Executive Director for the Russian Federation shares its experience working from home, main challenges faced, and positive sides discovered.


"I was pleasantly surprised by the WBG operative switch to the remote working mode that helped to minimize the health risks for all employees. Although videoconferences were not a new thing due to the extensive network of country offices and their participation at the committee meetings in virtual mode, the IT services managed to cope with the sharply increased traffic volumes and the number of participants. I am also happy that so far, we have no COVID-19 confirmed cases among our office employees and their family members. Despite the sharp increase in country projects, our work productivity has grown significantly, and we manage to cope with the processing of all necessary documents. Perhaps this is because employees do not need to spend time to come to the office. Of course, there are certain disadvantages such as cancellations and postponements of several important events that we planned, including the so-called "Day of Russia" on the sidelines of Spring Meetings. Networking is also more difficult now due to the inability to conduct or attend meetings, and we are already adapting to the new virtual mode of networking. However, this is not so critical compared to ensuring the health of our colleagues; therefore, I think that we successfully adapted to the new work mode by fulfilling our goals ."
Man on a suit
Roman Marshavin
Executive Director for the Russian Federation

"It’s a bit unusual feeling, especially for your loved ones. Having papa at home means a double fun for them. It takes time and effort to protect the time and space perimeter for your job dedication. But time savings on everyday trips to the office help a lot! As well as an opportunity to combine your work on the projects with being with your family. I feel like I created a lot of new connections with my kids in these weeks, which is precious. I was surprised how fast our team managed to adapt to a new form of cooperation. IT, Corporate Secretariat, and support teams are doing a great job! But of course, I still missing a so-called “human touch”. Being able to talk in person with teammates, to drink coffee together in MC, and lunch together discussing global issues is precious as an essential part of our work. Now I realize it even more acute." - Vladimir Tamozhnikov, Alternate Executive Director

"Working from home, to my surprise, turned out to be less complicated and uncomfortable than I initially expected. Of course, it is mostly because I happened to share this fate with my family. There are three of us in the house, we all have separate rooms to work from home in relative seclusion, we lunch together, do some gardening, watch movies in the evening, etc. Still, I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing my colleagues again as real human beings and not just talking heads on my laptop screen. My most serious impediment to work so far is the inability to read documents in hardcopy, in the printed version. Being old school, I'm accustomed to reading with pen in hand. I leave multiple marks, remarks, etc. on the margins and simply across the text, and all options Microsoft Word provides cannot replace the convenience of this habit. But this is, of course, nothing if compared to the grand challenge of flattening the curve!" Boris Lvin, Senior Advisor

"I feel that the World Bank and the Executive Board has been well prepared for the virtual mode. Most Board and Committee meetings run smoothly, and Bank staff and Board colleagues have been very responsive. I look forward to our offices reopening because I miss the informal interaction, but overall, I have been satisfied with the organization’s and my effectiveness in these new circumstances!" - Ekaterina Sycheva, Senior Advisor

"I feel quite comfortable working from home but miss face-to-face communications with colleagues. Our IT department did a great job fine-tuning all the necessary software, so I have the same level of access to all the essential resources as I had in the office.  I have found only one but significant drawback - I eat much less chicken and tilapia.  Another month working from home and I will start missing them." Vladimir Agapov, Advisor

"Working from home was a new experience for me, where face-to-face communication is the most missing part. During quarantine, I’ve learned to appreciate the little things in life. Our team managed to organize the work efficiently and productively. I would like to thank the WBG IT team for doing an excellent job,"- Izabel Bairamukova, Advisor

"With social distancing, we have a different working environment. It is more comfortable for me to work from home in general, so I like it. Telecommuting takes some getting used to, but after a while, you don’t notice the practical difference. Of course, there are some drawbacks too. It is hard to start the day without the usual morning walk to the Bank, and I miss my lunches at MC Cafeteria. Now I must cook myself, which is a great pain. But other than that, remote work feels fine," Igor Shervarli, Advisor

"In the beginning, it was challenging to coordinate the workflow, but after a few days, when people find a way to communicate distantly, everything was much better, and now it works well. The positive part: I spend less time to travel to the office, the hours are more flexible. I spend a lot of time with my kids. I miss the social part of work and all my colleagues. The factors for successful teamwork distantly are the same as in the office, responsiveness, respect, and willingness to help, inform/remind each other about tasks or events," Marina Proutkova, Program Assistant