Today's Update: Wednesday, March 24
March 24, 2021
Dear Student Life Team, As you know, we are diving into planning for what life at Ohio State will be like post-COVID, and I want to thank all of you who participated in the survey we did recently. I am Scarlet and Grateful for your thoughts, input and suggestions, and hope that you will continue to reach out to me with your ideas.
I mentioned some of the responses at the recent All Team Meeting and want to go into a little more detail here. The most common themes were a desire to keep virtual programming and services for students in addition to in-person experiences. There was also interest in maintaining some options to work virtually.
It seems like you appreciate the great degree of information that has been shared throughout the pandemic and you’d like that to continue from all levels of leadership, especially related to how decisions are made, budgets and policies. So, I will continue to hold team meetings, The Doc is In sessions and sending these daily updates.
Here is a deeper dive into the questions on the survey and the answers we got back:
What practices, initiatives and procedures for student programming, services and support should we keep post-COVID? What worked, why did it work and why will it work in the future?
The biggest theme from this question was the desire to keep virtual programming and services for students, as well as virtual or remote work and meetings for staff. Team members felt the flexibility that virtual programming offers students is ideal and allows Student Life to reach students we would not typically reach, such as regional students, graduate and professional students and commuter students.
Another prominent theme was that staff appreciated the kindness calls and other one-to-one outreach to students, like the Q/I support calls. Team members felt that, while time consuming, there was a lot of value for students in having Student Life staff reach out individually.
What practice, initiatives and procedures for student programming, services and support should we NOT keep post-COVID? What didn’t work, why and why will it be helpful to discontinue in the future?
The main theme to emerge from this question is that staff believe that we need to balance a return to in-person events. While there is still value in virtual or hybrid programming, many felt that virtual programming and in-person experiences help to create access and meet the needs of human interaction.
What practices, initiatives and procedures for employees should we keep? What worked, why did it work and why will it work in the future?
Almost every staff member responded to this question by praising working remotely and the flexibility staff have had during COVID-19. Staff noted that it improved their mental health and well-being, allowed them to better integrate work and life, and that they were more productive. Some staff would prefer to remain working remote full-time while others hope to have flexibility to work remotely a few days a week moving forward.
The majority of staff also had support for virtual meetings, whether people are on-campus or not, as it allows for flexibility and saves time from traveling across campus.
As part of the university’s Reactivation Task Force, we are reviewing future guidance related to flexible work opportunities, and updates will be provided as they are available.
I do want to acknowledge that we do still have many staff members whose job responsibilities make it largely impossible for them to work from home, and this will always be an important consideration to keep in mind.
What practices, initiatives and procedures for employees should we NOT keep post-COVID? What didn’t work, why and why will it be helpful to discontinue in the future?
It is hard to identify an actual theme for this question because responses varied greatly, and largely speak to the stress and anxiety we all feel in times of uncertainty. Several team members pointed to the specific challenges they and their departments have faced.
What lessons were learned, what new personal and professional discoveries did you make that you will carry into the future?
Staff reflected on a wide range of things they learned during the past year, including that they were better able to integrate or balance work with their lives, largely due to working remotely. Team members also focused on their personal learnings, including learning new technologies and skills and better health and wellness practices. Several people noted that they learned about their own strength, the strength of their teams and that they built better connections with colleagues.
What other thoughts, hopes or ideas do you have for Student Life moving forward in a post-COVID world?
The most common theme was a desire to continue and increase transparency and communication from all levels of leadership, especially related to budgets, policies and how decisions are made. Another theme focused on staff wanting Student Life to intentionally focus on staff health and wellness, including continuing to support flexible work arrangements, working remotely and valuing work/life harmony. Along this vein, staff hope that we take the lessons we have learned from COVID and not revert back to the “old” way of doing things.
I could not agree more, and the staff wellness work that Dr. Elbert is leading will be very important. If anyone has ideas for her, please send them along.
I appreciate the input of everyone who filled out the survey and encourage you to continue to reach out with suggestions and feedback.
We know it will take time to get to the new post-COVID normal. We will do it together, and it will be Scarlet and Great.