Teamwork … while working remotely at Cleanfarms

Author, Bailey Pryce, Cleanfarms Business Assistant

Bailey Pryce is a fourth-year University of Waterloo Environment and Business student who is wrapping up her co-op term with Cleanfarms in the role of Business Assistant.

Like many of my fellow co-op students, this latest co-op term has been somewhat unique as Covid-19 has changed the way many organizations operate. Since joining Cleanfarms in January 2021, I have spent very little time in the office and have only ever met two of my co-workers in person. And while I was initially a bit worried that this would limit my ability to absorb and learn from my colleagues, I’m pleased to report that my hesitations were not necessary.

As a student who attended all classes remotely during the 2019 to 2020 school year while holding down a part time job, I came at this with some experience as time management, ensuring a dedicated working space and consistent scheduling are all second nature to me.

Cleanfarms also offered significant advantages: there is a strong teamwork culture that exists amongst a team of 15 individuals who are used to collaborating remotely across the organization’s offices in Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, Etobicoke and St. Bruno. Working with someone who isn’t sitting in your same space is quite normal.

While I worried that I would miss out on those ‘coffee pot/water cooler’ conversations, I was quick to learn that virtual coffees were the norm. The team relies on video calls and besides the odd hiccup of someone being on mute, these platforms have proven to be reliable. One example of how the team stays connected that I found helpful is our weekly meeting that everyone attends in real-time and bounces ideas off of one-another. In addition, we even had a company-wide team-building activity; although it was not in person, being online did not at all take away from this experience.

I’ve contributed to a variety of projects throughout my eight months here including reference/fact checking for Agricultural Plastic Characterization and Management on Canadian Farms, managing contact lists for 2,000-plus collection sites, helping keep track of collection figures and drafting a variety of pieces that help profile the good work that farmers do.

I’m in awe of the number of projects that Cleanfarms got off the ground during these challenging times. I’m grateful that I had a chance to be part of both mature and new projects that span the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako in Northern British Columbia, the beautiful Prairies (which I knew little about before this experience) and all the way over to Souris, Prince Edward Island where island farmers are enthusiastic about recycling.

Ultimately, the members of Cleanfarms’ team have really adapted to the realities of Covid-19. The effort put forward is something they should be proud of, especially the way they all draw on each other despite being apart.

As my co-op term comes to an end, I’ve learned a great deal about this industry, but also, I’ve  gained crucial skills from working with my colleagues here at Cleanfarms. I’m completely comfortable now to pop into online meetings to share my views, with our without presentations, and contribute to energetic online discussions that move projects forward. I’ve had a chance to expand my professional research skills and have learned to ask the questions I need to be able to do my work efficiently and effectively – in person or online. Based on my Cleanfarms experience, I definitely won’t be hesitant to take on a completely remote role again and to thrive in whatever employment format the future might hold for my generation.

Ed note: It’s been a pleasure having Bailey work with the Cleanfarms team and she’s been a terrific contributor to many projects through her time with us. We all wish her the very best and look forward to seeing what the future holds for this talented member of her class!

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