A new reality: URFA members share experiences working from home

URFA Member Anne Lauf

Anne Lauf (U of R APT) shows off her home work space. 

Note: This orig­i­nal­ly appeared in the Sum­mer 2020 edi­tion of URFA Update. You can read it in its entire­ty here.

Since the mid­dle of March, the major­i­ty of URFA mem­bers have been work­ing from their homes in makeshift offices. This has brought new chal­lenges for mem­bers, who found them­selves hav­ing to fig­ure out how to move their offices to their homes while learn­ing new dig­i­tal plat­forms and pro­grams, all while deal­ing with fam­i­ly, child care, and oth­er house­hold issues that come with a glob­al pandemic.

At URFA, we were curi­ous as to how mem­bers were adjust­ing to this new nor­mal. How were mem­bers main­tain­ing a work/​life bal­ance when both work and life are now inter­twined? We decid­ed to ask mem­bers- but to make it a lit­tle dif­fer­ent from our usu­al mem­ber sur­veys. Instead, we asked mem­bers to send us pho­tos of their remote work­spaces, and answer a few ques­tions about what their expe­ri­ences have been like. URFA then drew three names from all who sub­mit­ted entires, and sent cof­fee and treats deliv­ered to their new work­place, cour­tesy of URFA.

Thank you to the dozens of URFA mem­bers who entered. Con­grat­u­la­tions to Kel­ly-Ann McLeod (U of R APT), Kea­neena Age­coutay (FNUniv APT), and Tim Maci­ag (U of R Aca­d­e­m­ic) whose names were drawn for the prize.

Below, you’ll find some quotes from URFA mem­bers who shared their expe­ri­ences work­ing from home with us. The COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has brought many chal­lenges, but URFA mem­bers con­tin­ue to rise to the occa­sion, ensur­ing the con­tiuned suc­cess of our insti­tu­tions. We hope to see you all back on cam­pus soon. 

On the chal­lenges of remote work­ing:
I miss my col­leagues more than I real­ized I would. I mean, I knew I would miss them, but I real­ly didn’t know how much I would miss them.”
-Wendy Tebb (UR APT)

The main chal­lenge is just stay­ing con­nect­ed with peo­ple. So, our team has cre­at­ed Zoom
chat rooms, includ­ing a Zoom cof­fee break room, where occa­sion­al­ly we get togeth­er and just
casu­al­ly talk, with no agen­da and no work dri­ving the con­ver­sa­tions. This is where we main­tain our
con­nec­tions on a per­son­al lev­el, and bring back the social ele­ments that sev­er­al of us are miss­ing.”
-Aman­da Noubar­ian (U of R APT)

The biggest chal­lenge is con­nect­ing with stu­dents… work­ing with stu­dents on a dai­ly basis I can tell that stu­dents are feel­ing less con­nect­ed to cam­pus.”
-Vic­to­ria John­son (U of R APT)

Using Zoom for music teach­ing is far from ade­quate because of poor audio qual­i­ty. Unless both instruc­tor and stu­dent have a good micro­phone and strong inter­net, it’s very dif­fi­cult to teach a real­ly thor­ough one-on-one music les­son, which is a large part of my work­load.”
-Helen Prid­more (U of R Academic) 

The biggest chal­lenge is adapt­ing to meet the needs of con­stant change. Work­ing with employ­ers and stu­dents remote­ly, means tak­ing extra time to reach out and access sit­u­a­tions we have
not encoun­tered before…”
-Dean­na Selin (U of R APT)

On the unex­pect­ed ben­e­fits of remote

I feel more rest­ed, and have been very focused.”
-Rebbec­ca Cop­pens (UR APT)

I am able to spend more time with my 86 year old moth­er. I have saved mon­ey on gas and lunch. I have more time to pre­pare meals.”
-Kea­neena Age­coutay (FNUniv APT)

More time for the impor­tant things in life – less time dri­ving to and from work and more time with
my daugh­ter and hus­band.
-Anne Lauf ( U of R APT

I get to run in the morn­ing just before I work as I don’t have the dri­ve to work any­more.”
-Jason Bird (FNUniv APT)

It’s been a bond­ing expe­ri­ence with my fam­i­ly mem­bers”
-Olu­so­la Fan­su­won ( U of R APT)

What do you look for­ward to the most when
life returns to normal?

Going to my favorite local cof­fee shop and watch­ing people’s hap­py faces”
-Rubi­na Khanam (U of R Aca­d­e­m­ic)

Being able to ride my bike to work.”
-Michael Shires (U of R Academic)

Vis­it­ing my fam­i­ly – I very much miss my par­ents and sib­lings.”
-Tim Maci­ag (U of R Acadmic)

Hug­ging my nieces and social­iz­ing with fam­i­ly and friends in per­son (I imag­ine there will be lots of hugs and tears) and going out for a nice sup­per”.
-Kel­ly-Ann McLeod (U of R APT