What a difference a month makes. In last month’s editorial, Seema Dhindaw wrote about how our profession could continue to be productive if and when we were forced to work from home. Now remote work is the new reality for most of the United States and many countries around the globe. We are sheltering in place and being told (and sometimes ordered) to wear masks and gloves when leaving our homes. What can we do to ease our anxieties at this time when we are in a frequently more dystopian society? Although not ideal, teleconferencing is an important tool to keep us connected to our co-workers and families. Many of us were already using Facetime to talk to far away friends and relatives long before the pandemic. Now, Facetime is the norm for communications like telemedicine and connecting with kids and grandkids (who are much better at technology than I could ever be).
What else can we do to stay connected? Last week, I joined an SRAI virtual happy hour via Zoom. The topic was “Day to Day Challenges of our New “Normal.” Of the six participants, only one still goes into her university office every day. Even though the surroundings are familiar, the workday is nowhere near normal. With few coworkers around and no support services, the work is “ten times more difficult” than pre-pandemic. The rest of the group is working fully or partially from home. Challenges with working from home include finding a quiet place when the entire household is sheltering in place and remembering to get up, stretch, and walk around during the workday. Some positives include no commute and being able to dress down every day. The big challenge mentioned by everyone is just staying organized. I can certainly relate. I have a home office, but the old-fashioned roll top desk doesn’t accommodate a laptop and a full-sized monitor. So, my dining room table is my new office. Which means I cannot escape work unless I stay in another part of the house (impossible to do since the dining room is on the way to the kitchen), or move all equipment and files to another room each day, and close the door (not practical).
There are other challenges more difficult to solve than where we work. How do we onboard a new employee when working remotely? How do we mete out progressive discipline? We are all learning new ways of doing business and for better or worse, this is our reality for now.
Along these lines, the Communications Committee recently met and discussed coping strategies. Committee members were asked to answer the following questions:
What is keeping you sane while working from home (shows, movies, family, etc.)?
How are you maintaining work/life balance while working from home?
What are you most looking forward to once stay-at-home orders are lifted?
What is one positive thing you believe will come out of this?
What is a hobby or activity you plan to start or try while being at home?
What are three words to describe your quarantine life?
We at the Catalyst would like to hear from you. Take a few minutes and respond to one or more of the questions either on the platform or via social media. Let’s see if we can get #InThisTogetherRA trending. I’ll share my answers on the SRAI Facebook page. I look forward to reading your answers!
And remember, we ARE all in this together.
Authored by Katie Watkins, M.Ed.
Associate Director, Research Admin
University of Akron