September 21, 2020

Inclusive remote work environments with Mari Moreshead and Victoria Heath of Creative Commons

Josephine Tse: It's time forseason two of the Remoter Podcast.

I'm your hostJosephine.

As a continuation from seasonone with Alex and Andres, I had the opportunity to interviewsome remote work leaders, ranging from companies, consultants, advocates and more to add to Remoter's stash offree resources and human-centred stories, enriching oureducational platform about remote work.

This podcast issponsored by Torre, a new kind of professional network thatautomatically connects talent with opportunity.

Founded byAlexander Torrenegra, our goal is to make work fulfilling foreveryone find the job of your dreams by visiting torre.

co.

That's T O R R E dot C O.

Hey there, I've got Mari, Victoria and Alison's story today.

I met up with Mari andVictoria in Toronto, Canada at my alma mater, RyersonUniversity and it just so happens that as we wererecording our conversation, to our left, the Minister ofFinance appeared and was having a meeting or something.

So whatthat meant was, as we were recording our conversation, there were people in very formal business attire just roaming upand down the halls.

Nevertheless, Mari, Victoria andAlison story is one showcasing Creative Commons' dedication tocontinue bettering their diverse and inclusive remote workplace.

I'm here today with Mari andVictoria from Creative Commons.

We are currently in Toronto, ina little red and grey study room in the Student Learning Centre, which is now called the Sheldon and Tracy Levy something, something something something, and you know what? Good forthem.

He was a good president.

I'm not really sure who's thepresident now, but that's besides the point but thank youvery much for joining me on the Remoter Podcast.

Mari Moreshead: It's ourpleasure.

Victoria Heath: Thanks forhaving us.

Josephine Tse: Would you like togive the audience a little brief or a summary on what you guys doat Creative Commons and introduce yourselves? Victoria Heath: My name isVictoria.

I'm the Communications Manager at Creative Commons.

I've been there for about six months now.

So I'm one of thenewbies of the team.

So Creative Commons is a nonprofitorganisation that was founded in 2001.

And essentially, we're atthe heart of the open movement, which is a movement that aims tosolve global problems through transparency and collaboration, reuse and free access.

So our mission is to make it easier forpeople to share creativity and knowledge as well as access andbuild on the creativity and knowledge of others.

Mari Moreshead: My name is MariMoreshed.

I'm the Director of People & Operations at CreativeCommons and I've been there for five years.

Josephine Tse: Have you guysworked remotely before Creative Commons? Or is this your firstgig? Mari Moreshead: For me, it wasmy, this was my first one.

It took a lot of getting used to.

But now I have two colleagues that are in Toronto with me.

Sowe try to get together about once a week.

And that's reallynice.

Victoria Heath: Yeah, for me, this was my first full time, all the time remote work, but I didrealise that I am so much more productive, not being in anoffice full of people because I would I talk a lot and peoplewould always kind of come to my office to talk to me.

So that'sbeen one of the benefits as I've realised, I get things done alot faster now that I'm not really surrounded by a bunch ofdistractions.

Mari Moreshead: Do you want meto start interrupting you more at work? Just what it would be like, hiI'm walking into your office.

Yeah, perfect.

Josephine Tse: I like having myown co working space.

But if I'm bouncing around a lot, then Ikind of have to go to cafes.

And I understand like the mostawkward, like I spent seven hours at this cafe once and Iwas just working I forgot I didn't realise seven hourspassed, but I also didn't realise I only had a glass oforange juice for seven hours.

I was like, AUGH.

Oh, no.

Mari Moreshead: But there's alsoyou know, it's like when I work from home, it's nice because Ihave a nice big monitor.

So having my monitor is important.

And for a lot of people that we work with, like if you're adeveloper, maybe you have two monitors.

Yeah, so it's like, yeah, you got to make sure you have the right setup.

Josephine Tse: I was wonderingif you can give me an insider's look into Creative Commons.

Victoria Heath: Mari and I andthe other person who works in Toronto, Alison, who we'll talkto later, we work on sort of the East Coast time zone, because Ido most days try to work out of my apartment, I try to go for awalk in the morning so that I'm sort of separating myself fromjust like wearing my pyjamas all day, I think it's important tosort of separate that and make yourself actually wear humanclothes and get yourself outside for a bit.

Mari Moreshead: I call that timehatching.

Because that's like, oh, you wake up and you're inthis egg and you have to wake up and like, become a human beingright? So that's why I get extra early because I need a littlebit more time to hatch and be ready for human consumption.

Victoria Heath: Great.

I reallylike that.

Josephine Tse: I'm gonna dial itback a little bit because I realised there was one thingthat I really wanted to ask you guys, when you were giving yourexplanation about the company, I'm sure a lot of people knowthat Creative Commons works with licencing materials online andall that.

But do you guys have any other projects, initiativesthat people may be like, oh, I didn't know you guys did this aswell! Victoria Heath: So one of thethings that we have is called the CC certificate, which is aprogramme that people can take online or in person, it's sortof like an educational programme, and it's for peoplewho want to learn more about copyright and how CC licenceswork and open licencing.

And then the other one that I reallydid want to mention because I think it's probably the newestis CC search.

CC search and CC certificate were probablystarted around the same time.

But CC search is this reallycool free search tool that we have that makes openly licenced.

It makes it easier to discover and used openly, licensedmaterial and just last week, I believe we launched the CC.

.

.

let me get the name right the CC search browser extension, whichis a plugin that you can download to your browser.

So youcan just look for openly licenced images andillustrations and other things straight through your browser.

So it's really awesome.

I've used it a couple of times sincewe launched it.

I actually found these really hilarious GIFs, I'mgoing to say GIFs, these really hilarious GIFs of cats in outerspace.

And it was like the best day when I found that.

Mari Moreshead: But also there'sfood.

It was like a cat on a burger.

Victoria Heath: Yeah, there'slike a cat on a burger-burger.

And it was this really greatthing that someone had made, but I found it through the throughCC search and through the browser extension.

So we do alot.

That's just like, really surface level of what we do, buteverything's essentially connected back to our mission.

Josephine Tse: So to bring itback, I saw on your website that your company mission and valuesis basically you guys are committed to building a globallyaccessible public commons of culture and knowledge.

I want toknow how that trends like how that external mission statementtranslates into your internal company culture, work values, etc.

Mari Moreshead: Sure, we do ourbest to be really transparent with each other.

It's reallyeasy to be siloed when you're working remotely and not knowwhat everyone else is doing.

So every two weeks, we have a staffcall where we just sort of talk about what's up, if someoneneeds help with something, if someone wants to show somethingoff, they can do something like that.

But then we also useproject management tools like Asana, so everyone can see whateveryone else is up to.

And I mean, of course, there arealways a few exceptions of things that need to be private.

But for the most part, I mean, I can always go and look at whatVictoria is doing, and see what her week, her week is going tobe like.

And maybe I feel comfortable asking your helpwith something if I see what she's up to.

Victoria Heath: Yeah, I wasgonna say the other thing is, we all can see each other'scalendars because if you're not seeing people in the officeevery day, you're not entirely sure if they have a millionmeetings because usually you will talk about that.

I thinkthat's been that's been something that's really beengood for me at least coming in to a remote company for thefirst time.

Josephine Tse: So on top ofproject man-, like being very transparent about seeing whatyour other colleagues are doing, or do you guys have anythingelse you're doing to make your colleagues feel like they'rebeing included? Mari Moreshead: Actually, justlast week, someone shared a really cool calendar with methat had a lot of holidays and celebrations from around theworld.

So I think that's something that we're going toimplement.

And I'm kind of excited about it, because it'sreally interesting to see what other people are up to.

Victoria Heath: Yeah, that'sreally cool.

I think the other thing that we do that's reallynice that I don't know when this started, but is every wheneveryou do get up at whatever your time is, and you start your day, you go on slack and say hello, yeah.

And so we've all beendoing that, but then I have to remember whenever becauseusually I want to say good morning, but then I have toremember oh, some people have been up for a few hours.

Sothat's one way we- that's a very small thing, but it's somethingwe try to be conscious of when we you know how we phrase thingsbecause some people have been ups for a while.

That's easy tosay, Hey, what's up instead of saying, Oh, good morning, likefirst coffee of the day.

So there are some things like smallthings like that I think are important.

Mari Moreshead: It's verytempting to say good morning.

Victoria Heath: It's reallyhard.

Yeah, it's very, very tough.

Josephine Tse: I've actuallynever I have not thought of that.

Victoria Heath: I just thought, yeah, I didn't think of it either until I think youmentioned it to me.

I was like, Oh, yeah, like that person'sbeen up for a while.

So they're probably like.

.

.

Mari Moreshead: Especially youknow, Europeans.

It's like, we wake up, yeah, and they're like, my days almost done.

Do you feel like you're also very aware ofseasons because that's our other one.

Josephine Tse: Very aware ofseasons? Victoria Heath: Yeah.

Like, it'll be like winter here.

Mari Moreshead: Oh, even liketalking about the year, right.

It'd be like, well, we could dothat next winter.

It's like the habit of not calling it winterbecause it's not for everybody.

It's like, let's call it Q1.

Right? Yeah, there's got to be other words we can use.

Victoria Heath: I would say thelast thing I mentioned that I think is important too is we forthe holidays, we did Secret Santa.

But then we realised thatit wasn't inclusive.

So we actually changed it to secretfriend is which is actually how they say it in Brazil like inPortuguese.

Okay, so that was one instance where we're like, oh, well let's be inclusive for people who don't celebrateChristmas but also people who maybe they call it somethingelse or it's not that so Josephine Tse: It's a lot of theverbiage and like the what language.

Victoria Heath: It is.

Yeah, it's really important.

Josephine Tse: The season thinglike I stopped myself recently with that, or I've been tryingto be more aware of it because like we're doing a month endnewsletter every month.

And I was like, oh, maybe we can dosome like winter themed, coloured.

Victoria Heath: Like happy falland our creative directors like, but it's not fall for everyonethat's on our newsletters.

Josephine Tse: Oh, yeah, that'strue.

And I'm like, okay, I can't just make it all like coldblue kind of thing, because some people might be warm orange, andyeah, I can actually so Yeah, no, the language is really, really important.

Yeah, but it does take time to turn out ofthat mindset.

I've heard that you guys also applied for adiversity equity inclusion grant.

And could you tell me alittle bit more about that? Because I feel like that reallysums up like your guys's focus and efforts on having aninclusive workspace.

Mari Moreshead: Sure thing.

Soone of our bigger funders is the Hewlett Foundation.

And the yearbefore last they had this grant that was for DEI – diversity, equity and inclusion.

And it was it was pretty broad.

You couldtake the money and sort of do whatever you wanted with it.

Sofor the first year, we felt really focused internally.

So welooked at how we do our meetings, and how our calendarswork, how we communicate with each other in general, becausebeing remote, that can be really tough, and we actually got arenewal of that grant.

So this year, we're going to work on thehiring process in onboarding and our handbook.

We have staff allover the world.

So we're trying to figure out a way to improvewhere we find people and what our hiring process is for, forthat kind of thing.

And then lastly, the Hewlett Foundationfocuses a lot on OER – open educational resources.

And thatwas something that we really wanted to give them as sort of athank you for the grant is something that we can share withthe rest of the world.

So currently, we have a pretty goodhandbook, but I want to make it a little bit more human friendlyand sort of make it a how to work your guide and have itopenly licenced so that others can remix it.

Josephine Tse: On top of all theinitiatives that you guys are doing right now.

I know you guysdo events as well.

And you had said that your other colleagueAlison is the one who's in charge of it, perhaps now wouldbe the great uh, would be a good time to get her in on theconversation.

Mari Moreshead: Let's call her, our events and operations manager.

Josephine Tse: Allison hi! I'm, my name is Josephine.

Thank you so much for joining us on thecall and on Remoter Podcast Season Two of the CreativeCommons episode.

To give view- listeners a little bit ofcontext, we're gunning it and we can't, we couldn't hear Alisonfrom the regular headphones.

So now my headphone is now just thespeaker on the table.

And everyone's just listening tothat.

Alison, tell me what you do at Creative Commons.

Alison Pearce: Sure, my title isEvents and Operations Manager, changed a little bit in my timeat Creative Commons.

I first came on the organisation to workon the summit, which is our 400 person business conference thatwe hold every year.

But we bring our members of our communitytogether once a year from all over the world to further theirwork.

I also plan the two intown weeks that we hold and those areour week long meetings for our staff that we get together twicea year.

We have four really, really full days of hanging outand furthering our work, doing some fun kind of staff bondingthings together.

So I also do So before I joined the team, wekind of had a system where that.

organised Creative Commonsgroups in different countries to kind of bid on hosting thesummit.

It had some really great benefits that model but it alsowe started to miss out on things like reporting and continuity.

And you know, just being able to hold certain things at the stafflevel.

When I first started, we brought everything back in tothat.

And so that's when we had the event here in Toronto, whichis where I'm located.

So I was able to be the boots on theground, I was able to be the sort of everything to the eventwith support from Mari and others from our team, of course, and it went really well in Toronto for two years.

And thenwe decided that we wanted to move out of North America.

Andso last year 2019, and in 2020, we're holding the event inLisbon.

So that's come with a whole set of challenges becauseI'm not based in Lisbon.

And so that's kind of tricky that way.

But we've settled on a model this year where we hold most ofthe cast in staff jurisdictions.

And then we have an eventproducer, which we just hired, which I'm very excited about.

And she is going to work part time contract hours for us inLisbon, to kind of to be the boots on the ground.

And then wealso have an excellent volunteer team and listen as well.

And sothey are passionate about some of the arts focus, and theyreally brought that to life and they help us make connectionswith the local communities.

But they're volunteers.

Josephine Tse: Local support isprobably one of the .

.

.

oh my God.

Victoria Heath: Yeah, reallybig.

Josephine Tse: Just havingsomebody speak the language and know their way around.

Alison Pearce: Yeah.

You don'tknow what you don't know.

Right? And so we just had a bunch ofsurprises that probably would not have been surprises had wehad someone bear on the ground.

We learned.

We're moving on.

Josephine Tse: Do you have anyother any other stories or lessons learned from yourprevious year of event planning and that you've kind of added tothis model? Alison Pearce: Um, yeah, I thinkthat we have done a really good job of increasing the ways thatpeople can participate and volunteer members of ourcommunity can participate in building the summit.

And so wegive people the opportunity to join the programme committee, the scholarship committee, there's an application processfor both of those.

We have our event day volunteer.

So it'sreally an event that we make sure it is for the community andbuilt by the community and give people chances and really likeclear ways of participating.

Josephine Tse: And on top of thesummit, as you said, there were internal events, I would assumeas like company retreats that you are planning as well.

Alison Pearce: Yep.

So twice ayear, usually one in the first quarter and one in the third orfourth quarter, depending on what the schedule looks like, weget our whole staff team together.

from all over theworld, we try to incorporate some staff bonding because itwould be too intense if we did like Work, work, work, work workfor four days.

Josephine Tse: So I waswondering if you guys had any kind of personal stories fromlike, from your retreats that you would love to share with ourlisteners? Mari Moreshead: Sure.

I have twothat I'm thinking of right now, actually.

One is, so we alwayshave an opening circle in the morning and a closing circle atthe end of the day, and sometimes it's just to check inand say hello, and see how you're feeling.

And sometimesit's a little bit more share-y.

And there was one that weactually did last year in Miami that I loved.

And I think it wasa closing circle.

And we went around and everyone had to tellone story or phrase that was a local -ism to where they lived.

So something that they wouldn't somebody else wouldn'tunderstand.

So there was somebody from Canada, forinstance.

It was not me.

Who explained the Saskatchewan bunnyhug, which is a hooded sweatshirt and people were justlike, what is a bunny hug? And it was like, Yes, that's what itis.

And I remember one of our colleagues from Brazil told us areally interesting -ism.

That was, I wish I could remember thePortuguese word, but it was about homesickness.

And Alison, do you remember? Alison Pearce: I don't rememberthe word, no.

Mari Moreshead: But it was aboutit was about like, if you've, if you've been gone for a longtime, and you come back home and you meet up with your friends, the thing that you say to them is like, Hey, I'm glad you'reback.

Like why don't we meet up and kill the homesick? Josephine Tse: Okay, okay.

Okay.

Mari Moreshead: And I thoughtthat was really neat.

So I feel like we're always trying toshare things that our culture for sure.

Josephine Tse: What did youshare? Mari Moreshead: Something thatmy grandmother used to always say if you asked her how shewas, if she would always say, “fair to Midland” and it justmet, she's like, she's fine.

That's pretty cute.

Victoria Heath: I love it.

Yeah.

Alison Pearce: Yeah, me too.

Victoria Heath: And Alison's atrooper because she's the only one of us of me and Mari thathave kids.

So we're always just amazed.

Mari Moreshead: She does it all.

I don't know how.

Victoria Heath: How she does itall.

And like I never, whenever I complain about something, Ialways think about Alison's like, Oh, yeah, she haschildren.

I have, like, not even a pet.

Alison Pearce: Yeah, I mean, thebenefits of the benefits to my entire family of workingremotely are undeniable, for sure.

You know, it really, I wasworking in an office environment with very rigid rules onattendance, and no one was allowed to work remotely.

It wasanother events role for an organisation that I really lovebefore I came to Creative Commons.

And it became reallyhard because my kid goes back to school or daycare.

You know, she's one year old, she starts daycare, she picks up all thegerms and I think like, two months into the year I was outof sick days and so for just to be able to work remotely andlike, if my kids had a terrible evening, like a night or youknow, they didn't get enough sleep or they're sick under theweather, things are happening.

I can choose to keep them at home, I can prioritise, I dropped my, my daughter off at school everysingle morning and I join the morning circle and sing O'Canada, the whole deal, which is awesome.

And, you know, it'sjust it makes it makes such a difference in my time with mychildren and my partner, because I have time to get things doneduring the day during my breaks, and I'm not commuting.

I havereal quality time to spend with my family, which is priceless.

Josephine Tse: I mean, I kind ofhope the world continues going that way because of all therealised benefits, especially for parents.

Victoria Heath: Yeah.

Or atleast be more flexible, you know? Josephine Tse: Yeah.

Well, thankyou so much for joining us for this section of the podcast.

Alison Pearce: Yeah, I love youguys.

Mari Moreshead: Thanks, Alison.

We'll talk to you later.

Okay.

Josephine Tse: Thank you.

Mari Moreshead: Her babysitterwas not here last week, and it was hard.

It was really hard forher.

But it was awesome because of this.

He'd be there.

You'd betalking to her and you can just like see him off in thebackground.

And then he like, brought a toy that I bought forhim.

He was like, Look, it's the chicken that you got for me.

Itwas like, cool.

It was super cute.

Josephine Tse: Curious questionfor you guys.

Do you consider your company as a team or afamily? Victoria Heath: Oh.

Mari Moreshead: I think team.

Victoria Heath: Yeah, I thinkwe're a team.

Mari Moreshead: I think we're ateam.

Victoria Heath: Yeah, it's aninteresting question, though.

Because I think to get that, that I know what you mean that family feel because uh, my firstjob out of my master's degree, I had that with my team in mycompany.

But the reason we had it is because pretty much Imean, we spent so much time together like probably tooprobably too much time together.

Like I actually knew probablytoo much about them.

That, you know, probably on likeunprofessional level how the details I knew about their livesbecause we would just talk all the time about like verypersonal things that maybe you should do right here, rightthere.

Yeah.

And you would go out drinking together and youwould do stuff like that.

And so I think I get what you mean.

Idon't necessarily miss that though.

Josephine Tse: Okay.

Victoria Heath: Because I thinkto some extent, in some places, it can get to like a weird, like, unprofessional level where, you know, you do know toomuch personal details about people, and there gets to besort of like this gossiping and stuff.

And we don't really havethose types of issues.

So yeah, I agree with Mari.

I think we'rereally focused on the mission and what we're doing work wise.

Of course, we have personal discussions, but it's not to thesame extent that I've sort of had in other places I've workedand I kind of like that.

Josephine Tse: Okay, that'ssomething that I had to really adjust because my first my firstjob out of school, I was in like, post production studio andI really like I called people like it felt like a family.

Yeah, just because we were there together all the time, too longand I was just like, working on projects where, you know, we'dbe angry about the same thing.

We all understand each other'sanger, complain about it.

Yeah, together.

And it's kind of likeyou, it just the nature of remote work, you just do not getas close.

So it's true how it is.

Yeah, on Remoter like wehave a course and like a free online course on how to buildscale remote teams learn about remote work.

And one of thechapters is basically on, like our CEO gives a little section alittle talk in a little part of it, where he talks about how youconsider your like your work as a team, not a family.

And it'simportant to think that way, especially in this remote workworld.

So I was curious to see what where you guys were at andI guess we're aligned.

We think the same.

It's more of a teamthan it is of a family.

Mari Moreshead: We're a teamthat is changing the world.

Victoria Heath: Yes.

Mari Moreshead: A family doesn'tchange the world.

Victoria Heath: They fight.

Mari Moreshead: But a teamchanges the world.

Josephine Tse: Finally, I wantedto ask if you guys think that Creative Commons, your thecompany's story, mission and values will encourage and enablemore leaders and companies to transition or to go remotefirst.

Mari Moreshead: I hope so.

Wetalk about it often.

And we certainly promoted as much as wecan.

Victoria Heath: I think sowhenever I tell any of my friends that I work remotely, they're all extremely curious.

Mm hmm.

So I think it'ssomething people are really interested in and they want tolearn more about especially with smaller organisations, like yousaid, it gives them the ability to find talent, anywhere doesn'tmean it has to be outside of their country of origin, butthen you could just go across your country too.

It doesn'tmean people have to move to like San Francisco and spend so muchmoney to live there.

Like it just opens up so much morepossibilities.

I hope so yeah.

Mari Moreshead: It's like peoplehave a chance.

They know people know that they have a chance towork on something cool, like our mission, if they're anywhere.

So, I mean, what other- what ther organisation? Well, a few thers do it.

But what other orga isations like not a lot of them It's like, if you see some ne who is doing something cool you're like, well, I don't live there.

So I certainly could neve work for them.

So like, if I wa t to work for NASA, I guess I beter move to like, Florida.

Victoria Heath: There's a fewplaces but yes.

Mari Moreshead: You know, but ifyou really believe in the mission of Creative Commons, there's a chance that you could work for us, right, like you canbe anywhere.

And I think that's kind of nice.

Victoria Heath: I think theother thing too, is that if you're an organisation that hasa globally focused mission, and we're still like, we are notperfect on this whatsoever, but we're, we really want to work onit.

We don't if we have a globally focused mission, weshouldn't just be hiring people who are from, you know, America, especially from like New York or DC.

And I think that's an issuefor a lot of nonprofits who do have a globally focused mission.

They're sort of, they only get to hire people and get the ideasand experiences of people who are in sort of these biggercities.

And I think that can be sort of to the detriment oftheir mission.

Josephine Tse: So, especiallylike having the perspectives of the people.

Yeah.

Yeah, that'sreally important too.

Yep.

So you've heard it here first.

Yeah, go remote.

Victoria Heath: Go remote! Mari Moreshead: Absolutely.

Josephine Tse: So I just want tothank you guys so much for being a part being a participant ofthe Remoter Project coming here to do this with me.

Victoria Heath: Thank you.

Mari Moreshead: Thanks a lot.

Josephine Tse: Remoter Podcastseason two is recorded, produced and edited by Josephine Tse.

Itis mixed and mastered by Stephen Stepanic and Vanesa Monroy.

Graphics and visuals by Valentina Castillo.

The musictrack used is Skip by OBOY from SoundStripe.

Follow andsubscribe to us on Spotify, Apple podcasts wherever youlisten to your podcasts.

Don't forget, we've recently made ourFounding and Growing Remotely online course completelyaccessible and listed on our site.

Visit us at remoter.

com, that's R E M O T E R dot com for more relevant content.

Follow uson social media @remoterproject to stay up to date with ourlatest initiatives and collaborations with other remotefirst companies around the world.

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And remember, we're here to makework fulfilling, so what part will you play in shaping thefuture of work?.

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