Working from Home Online
On a mild Monday evening, staff were informed studies were to be suspended for a week. The remainder of the semester was to be online starting the following Monday.
Sport coaches have a phrase for such need for responsiveness, “The game demands and the player responds”, although Plato put it more eloquently, “Necessity is the mother of invention”. In less than one week the entire degree was placed online. What makes our course stand out from the crowds of others - highly practical assessments and content – also made this transition all-the-more tricky. How was it done?
By the Friday, we were ready to roll out 90+ hours content, across 13 modules to 340 students. This, alongside the creation of a ‘working from home’ document and 20 new assessments to meet the new mode of content delivery, meant staff working both hard and efficiently. Here are some of their top tips for adapting to changing work patterns whilst keeping sane and feeling energised from the respective contributors;
David Alder – Set specific agendas for and outcomes of meetings. It is easy to get side-tracked or just end up chatting. For each meeting I set out exactly what the meeting is about. Once finished I summarised both the conversation and the actionable points with their timelines.
Ian Cowburn - Plan something to look forward to each week. This might include getting a takeaway, baking a cake, FaceTiming with family member / friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Choose anything that feels like a bit of a treat/reward to give a pleasant focal point in the week and to break up the work.
Tom Mitchell – Give yourself structure, plan ahead and place all your tasks in a diary. I have found this to be most useful given I now have to deliver home schooling! Also, I have abandoned the 9-5 routine and now happily accept my working day and other commitments aren't confined to traditional times.
Fieke Rongen – Spend time with your pets, or in the absence of having any (like me!) get all your friends and students who do have pets to share pictures with you. Invite them to the online meetings, they will likely put a smile on your face!
Gary Hodgson – At some point in the work day, walk; supplement that with greeting everyone you pass. It's not possible to speak to too many people, and I've found a simple, quick interaction (like ‘Good afternoon’) with passers-by quite energising. That energy can be refocused into my work when I return to my desk.
Steve Mckeown - A wee bit of mindfulness. If you are having a cup of tea, a biscuit or a slice of fruit for your break, savour it! No rushing back into work. Perhaps hold that sip of tea in your mouth for a wee bit longer. Savour the taste and the effect it has on you. Few things will beat really savouring a piece of chocolate or ripe fruit.
Of course, working from home looks very different for each staff member. The same is true for students. Here are a few points that arose from of our level 6 students talking through their experiences of adapting to the new normal.
Although the task of finishing the semester so students can progress has been a main aim of the past few weeks - something else stood out – how much our staff team really care. They care about one another, about our students and about the University in general. Further, students care too! They miss their daily interactions with each other and with staff. They actually miss the routine of trekking from Kirkstall to Headingley in the rain! Importantly, they really miss being Beckett. But the brilliant thing is, they still are.
While we are not all in the same boat, we are all weathering the same storm.
Stay Safe, Stay Home, BeBeckett.
David is a Senior Lecturer in Sports Coaching and joined Leeds Beckett University in 2015.
His research interests include decision making in elite sport, the effects of stress (anxiety/ fatigue) on performance and the training of perceptual-cognitive expertise.