At Home

CID At Home

Here are some ways Michigan Engineering staff have found to be creative, innovative and daring during this period of social distance and working from home (quotes have been edited for clarity and length):

Introducing loved ones

We are enjoying meeting via BlueJeans and Zoom, and…sharing our families (pets included). Our manager entered a meeting wearing a red wig which got us all going for a few minutes. The next meeting saw wigs and hats come in for viewing! We [also] enjoy “porch” meetings as weather permits!

We have been having weekly team check-ins with the staff. … Each week we have a different theme that is either shown as our Zoom background or something to chat about during the check-in. We [also] created a “kid stuff” channel in Slack for both faculty and staff to share ideas for keeping kiddos entertained, engaged, and strategies for working at home with kids. [And] [w]e….increased the frequency of our faculty meetings, and have turned them into “institute” meetings including both faculty and staff. 

Staying connected

Our team does weekly coffee via Zoom. [I]t has helped us to stay connected and…chat about what is going on. I also implemented this with students, so that way I can stay connected with them while off campus.

Our administrative team brought a new employee into our fold. We trained and coached her remotely. We used Zoom, chat, email, and phones to coordinate with her and one another. 

We’ve have a daily, optional, virtual coffee break for 30 mins. [w]here colleagues can check in socially. We [also] have a virtual “whiteboard” (which is essentially a Google doc) with a different ice-breaker prompt every other day, to stay positive and connected.

Daily “water cooler” meetings continue, but we have moved to games/Sporcle quizzes/celebrations. These are usually 5-30 minutes a day that provide staff an avenue to bond, vent, laugh and get to know each other better.

Adoption of Slack…. It’s helped a lot with real-time collaboration and information sharing. [We also have] fun themes to weekly staff check-ins [and] [h]ost weekly happy hour game time using Jack Box games.

Making home an office

I’ve replaced a large corner plant with a potted purple rose (received as a Mother’s Day gift) and added a reading lamp to my home office work area. It provides a more “open space” feel and a better-lit area for reading work documents, and is screen friendly. 

Each day, I get up at 7:15 a.m. (a slight luxury vs. being in the workplace), shower, dress, apply make-up, and I’m at my “workstation” by 8 a.m. … to make sure anyone who needs to reach me is able to do so. … I try to keep my work-day as I would if I were going in to the office. I have [also] been keeping in touch with our student administrative temps (who have now been furloughed) to see if they have any needs and are doing OK. One of them has a job at a local restaurant, so [my family has] been making a point of ordering take-out from that restaurant so we can … say “hello” from a safe distance. 

Since I spend most of my work days at my kitchen table, I “put things away” every evening and move them … to another room (out of sight). This helps me feel like my work days have a beginning and an end. Then, each morning I start fresh again.

Physical and mental self-care

We’ve done some Friday night hangouts over Zoom. I’ve joined a workout Zoom group to burn anxiety. I move my work space every couple weeks to keep my brain focused on work.

Inviting every student in the program to schedule a 30-minute appointment with me this summer; most conversations are 1/3 academic, 2/3 just talking about life and wellness. [I also hid] the leftover jellybeans from myself so I don’t finish the bag in one day. 

I’ve learned to be more proactive in reaching out to contacts [and] to make myself more accessible. I like interaction, so becoming more comfortable with technologies that enable that action has been invaluable to me.