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Monthly Poll | Efficiency at the Office

By SRAI News posted 10-13-2021 02:19 PM


Monthly Poll | Efficiency at the Office

Last month we asked you to share something that you thought you needed for efficiency before the pandemic that you find you can work well without now.  The resounding answer was paper!  I’m in that boat too!  I’ve moved the vast majority of my note-taking and task reminding to digital platforms like Trello, One Note and Google Drive.  So many of us have quit printing documents and reports in favor of reviewing them electronically.  Most of the documents we approve and sign have also received an extra push towards e-sign options since the pandemic. 

At the September 29 Coffee Talk – Betwixt and Between: Office Operations and Culture in a Hybrid and Remote Environment – panelists Lisa Mosely (Yale), Christy Taylor Bray (UTMB) and Jessica Rowell (UC Boulder) discussed the logistics of transitioning to a hybrid work environment. 

Many of us have spent the past 18 months adjusting to the impromptu move into a fully remote working environment,  but Christy shared that her institution had already started moving in the remote and hybrid direction before the pandemic after a hurricane forced them to move away from campus and work remotely for six months. 

Christy noted that one of the tools that has really made remote work feel seamless and efficient has been internet phones.  At UTMB their phones ring to their computers so the caller’s experience is the same whether Christy and her team are in the office on campus or working remotely off campus.  Lisa mentioned how much Zoom and video chat platforms have had a positive impact on the remote work environment.  All of the panelists agreed that they’ve met more of their faculty face to face during video chats during the pandemic than they had before.  Jessica expressed a desire to keep the option to interview potential candidates via Zoom because it made the process more accessible and easier to calendar. 

Let’s talk about sick leave and vacation leave this month.  I took annual leave for the first week of September.  In the scurry to complete as much as possible before leaving, I was discussing the sense of guilt I was feeling with a colleague.  I felt guilty that I was stepping away from work and would be asking a team member to be my backup while I was away.  Basically, I was feeling guilty for letting the system work the way it was designed.  Our team is structured such that we can fill in for each other during times of absence.  Yet, I felt guilty asking my teammates to take on the “extra work” of responding to the tasks that would come in while I was away.  My last night of vacation I felt guilty for not browsing through my inbox.  

On my first day back in the office, I checked my email with trepidation,  watching for a sign that I dropped one of the many balls we keep in the air as research administrators.  I was so worried that there would be mountains of emails to respond to, a cadre of fires to put many of you feel this way too?  Do we let this sense of guilt and worry keep us from taking vacation or enjoying vacation?  If we do that, are we just pushing ourselves further towards inevitable burnout?  We’ve talked so much about self-care in connection to the pandemic, but what if the reason we’re struggling with self-care during the pandemic is because we were struggling with self-care before the pandemic. 

So this month let us know, do you take your vacation time and sick leave?


Authored by Heather Brown, Grants and Contracts Administrator
Duke Human Vaccine Institute