Not all lockdown experiences have been equal. In a blog for the Association of Heads of University Administration (AHUA) last month, my associate colleague Rachel Holmes, AHUA Coach and Facilitator, explains the importance of taking a moment to pause, breathe, and share with your team to support their wellbeing and your own.
Rachel's full post is available to read here: www.ahua.ac.uk/supporting-staff-well-being-after-lockdown/
The most common challenges reported by AHUA members will come as no surprise:
Video conferencing – The intensity of being on camera almost non-stop: tired eyes, headaches, tension from poor posture.
Workload – The sheer pace and volume of activity, and the length of the working day.
Demands – The expectation that one is always ‘available’ and can deliver by return… because what else would you be doing?!
Isolation – The lack of ‘water cooler’ moments: those impromptu opportunities to catch up with someone, or sound out an idea.
Uncertainty – The need to anticipate and tolerate a wide mix of staff domestic challenges.
Boundaries – The lack of proper demarcation between ‘home’ and ‘work’ time.
Multi-tasking – Juggling meetings, home schooling, and supporting elderly or vulnerable family and friends.
Priorities – The tension between dealing with ‘now’ and planning for the future, especially when that future lacks clarity and changes hourly.
Tension – The adrenaline rush of being at the heart of your institution’s response, and the difficulty of switching off.
Sustainability – It may have been possible to sustain working in this way for a few months, but we will be living with this situation for a considerable time to come.
Highlighting the importance of taking time together to learn from our lockdown experience, Rachel offers some valuable supporting questions as a useful place to start a check-in session with your team:
What words would you use to describe your lockdown experience?
What has gone particularly well?
What are you most proud of?
What were the biggest surprises?
What bad habits have crept into how the team works?
What good habits do we want to continue?
What are the top three changes that team members would like to see?
As Rachel says, taking time out often feels like a ‘nice to have’ and may feel hard to justify in the current environment. However, it is essential to allow you and your team to keep doing the amazing job you’ve been doing since March.