News & Perspectives

Remote Work Challenges During the COVID-19 Emergency: Perspectives from New England Substance Use Prevention Professionals

4. May 2020 PCG Human Services

The Human Services Team at Public Consulting Group, Inc. collaborated with the New England Prevention Technology Transfer Center (PTTC) recently.  PCG and the New England PTTC developed and administered a survey to receive feedback about current remote work challenges and needs from substance use prevention professionals in its service area—during the COVID-19 emergency. The survey was administered from March 23rd to April 3rd to professionals who typically work for community coalitions, hospitals, schools and other human service organizations.

The New England PTTC, administered by AdCare Educational Institute of Maine, Inc., is funded by the Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The New England PTTC provides training and technical assistance services to the professional and volunteer prevention workforce within the New England states.

Of the 144 substance use prevention professionals who responded to the PCG/New England PTTC survey, most (92%) indicated that they have been able to work from home during the COVID-19 emergency. However, their most significant challenges are staying connected with stakeholders and partners; transitioning a business model that typically relies on face-to-face client interaction to a virtual platform; and related mental and emotional stress. Respondents further indicated a desire for some “normalcy” during this time of drastic change, primarily in the form of continued virtual training and webinars, especially those with continuing education credits (CEUs).

PCG’s Human Services Team will use the survey results to provide AdCare with additional support, resources, strategies and recommendations on new ways the New England PTTC can leverage social media and remote, online access more effectively to meet specific needs of substance use prevention professionals.

Based on the survey results, the New England PTTC will also potentially offer 30-minute “coffee break” sessions for substance use prevention professionals.  The moderated sessions will provide an opportunity for these professionals to ask questions and share ideas related to their technology challenges during the COVID-19 emergency.

In addition, the New England PTTC will offer live and recorded webinars for substance use prevention professionals. The most requested webinar topics listed by the survey participants include: communication strategies for staying connected to coalition members, sectors and collaborators; communication strategies for connecting with parents, youth, and schools in a virtual world; and best telecommuting practices, how-to guidance, and planning for the future. Separate webinars for directors and supervisors will be available as well—to focus on unique leadership and technology needs.