April 2nd, 2020 | Category : bepress Culture

Tips and pets: A letter from us while working remotely

Dear friends,

Times look and feel strange anywhere you live, and Berkeley is no exception — we are working remotely through at least May 1st in order to protect our team and comply with regional and state recommendations to help keep our local community safe. It’s a challenging shift to our workplace reality, but we’re committed to getting ourselves, each other, and our Digital Commons community through this as safely and securely as possible.

In the time-honored bepress spirit of collaboration, we wanted to take some time to highlight a few of our best working from home tips, and also to share some cute animal photos that we hope will brighten your day. Tips first, then pets!


1) Stretchy Time: A bepress institution dating back at least six years, bepressers gather in the common room at 10:30 am and 3:30 pm for 10-15 minutes of group stretching. There’s some reaching for the toes, some carpal-tunnel mitigation, and the occasional handstand. Whatever your ambition and flexibility level, we highly recommend setting a calendar event or chat reminder or phone alarm to remind you move your body. It is so much easier when working remotely to become one with the chair in all the wrong ways! Do it on your own schedule, or adopt our times and know that you are stretching with us – either way, make some time for regular movement.

2) Meditation: Yes, we’re a bunch of Californians, so it’s in our nature to lean in to mindfulness and meditation when stress arises! We are currently blessed with an Elsevier colleague who is leading two twenty-minute meditation sessions a day via Zoom, to great effect. But you don’t have to be in the Bay Area to benefit from a little regular mindfulness! If you’re not comfortable meditating on your own, there are plenty of online resources or live or recorded meditation aids to help you find that center and do some deep breathing before you open your emails or look at the news.

3) Coffee-Klatch or Beverage Thirty: The Midwesterners among you are likely familiar with this term, but for those who are not, a coffee-klatch is the caffeinated version of a water cooler chat – both of which are currently missing as we all disperse to our own residences and then stay inside them. Likewise, any happy hour types of events are currently a non-starter. Don’t let this discourage you! Set up a Zoom meeting or a Skype call for a 15 minute coffee cup comparison; have a shared picnic lunch where you can debate the correct sandwich spreads; meet for a shared social decompress post-work (no shop-talk allowed!). Distance doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker.

4) Flex your schedule: One of the silver linings to the current situation is that spring is truly springing up, and that makes it much easier to get outside (alone) and enjoy the fresh air (six feet from others). If you live reasonably near co-workers or friends, take a bike ride that will take you past their house and they can wave from the stoop! If you’ve got kids at home, give them and you both regular recesses. Or take a long lunch and read a book in the sun. We’re all learning together how to navigate this new reality, and if you can take advantage of shuffling your schedule a bit to allow for better self-care, it’s an opportunity worth taking.

5) Alternative Socializing: Back when we could walk around outside a little more freely, Pokemon Go was very popular at bepress; these days, Animal Crossing has been released, and you can visit each other’s islands from the comfort and safety of your own couch! Our regular Crafternoons, which used to take place in the kitchen, now have their own Slack channel and have gone virtual. Now that we’re all cooking a lot more, we’ve also added a home-cooking channel to share snacks, recipes, and tips on which grocery stores still have flour. Get creative! Digital socializing is different than in-person interaction, but it can be very fulfilling, and can go a long way toward filling some of the holes we may be feeling right now.

You can continue to reach us via email and phone as always. As you support your institutions through the COVID-19 crisis, you can count on Digital Commons to remain a place for any new content to find a home where it is available to all.

Last but not least, we’d like to take a moment to recognize some of our most valued colleagues: the ones who are there to make sure that we enter the kitchen regularly; that we look away from our computer screens at least once an hour; and that we are aware of any goings-on outside that we might otherwise miss. It’s important work, and it’s important to recognize it, so we’d like to invite you to join us in a round of appreciation for the most dedicated members of our remote-work staff:

The bepress pets!

Compilation of animal photos from bepress staff working from home

T-B, L-R:

1) Buddy keeps an eye peeled for bugs (and birds) as he assists Ben Rosenberg in our Dev department

2) Sidewalk demonstrates the values of a standing desk for CSer Scott Sessions

3) River reminds CSer Courtney Barkley that self-care is an essential part of a balanced life

4) Una, making sure that CSer Stephanie Rogers remembers to add time on her calendar for lunch!

5) Matilda ensures that CSer Nancy Kerr stays on topic in all of her meetings

6) Betty, who makes sure that CSer Stacey Vaughn is addressing issues in a hands-on manner

7) Bob, reminding CSer Chrissy McGrath that it’s important to take regular walkies.

8) Blueberry the shark, taking an important call for CSer Benny Nyikos

9) Katie, providing Ann Connolly with important feedback in our Product department

10) Gracie models active listening for CSer Anne Luca

11) Fry, lending his ground-level expertise to CSer Aurora Arder

12) Mika keeps an eye on CSer Ben Gaunt to ensure optimal productivity

13) Bingley helps to promote healthy work habits by ensuring that CSer Sara Loyd is taking regular breaks from the computer screen

14) Lady Julia Greybottom helpfully holds the headset for CSer Constance McEntee until the next meeting

15) Crookshanks, helping to stress-test CSer Mo Frencham’s office equipment (and shoulder) to ensure it’s up to code

16) Taz helps Patrick Neve with some important code review in Dev

17) Hazel, doing a terrific job of helping CSer Kelly Kunaniec double-check client requests


Wishing you and yours all the best,

-the bepress staff