Like our students, staff, and faculty members across the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus, many School of Kinesiology employees have transitioned to remote work. To learn more about the individual experiences of their employees, the School of Kinesiology held a Zoom meeting where staff members could reflect on their experience working from home. Below are their stories, successes, hurdles, and overarching advice.
What were your initial thoughts about working from home?
“At first, I was pretty hesitant about virtual advising appointments. I was unsure what it would look like and was concerned about people piling up in the Zoom waiting room. Now, I have, on average, three student appointments a day and they’ve been going very smoothly. The students seem very comfortable with it and to some extent I think they enjoy them more than coming in in person.” — undergraduate academic advisor, Colin Rogness
“Families. I think it’s essential to understand that people are going to be called away with regular family duties and then also family emergencies that come up. It’s important to note that not everyone’s schedule is going to be the same, but we’re all trying to be responsive, whether it’s at seven in the morning or at six o’clock at night. People are trying to help and do as much as they can.” — administrative director, Bob Janoski
Have any of you had any funny stories or experiences?
“When I use my wide angle webcam the view includes the kitchen. So, if I use the wider angle webcam in the morning I have to tip the camera back because sometimes my wife wakes up in the morning and wanders into the kitchen to make breakfast.” — administrative associate, Jonathan Sweet
“In other meetings with staff members, sometimes their kids come flying through the screen and that’s definitely one of the funnier moments during a zoom call.”— Bob Janoski
Tell us about your new work routine
“It’s been nice to just wake up and walk to my desk, which is like two steps away from my bed and then start working. So I usually do that when I can. In the mornings and later in the afternoon when it gets a little warmer, I try to go for walks if it’s nice out. Overall things have been going really well.”— administrative office manager, Gao Thao
“It has been great not having to commute 45 minutes to work each morning. This has saved me so much time and made me much more time efficient.”—graduate program coordinator and MEd adviser, Nina Wang, MS
“I’m definitely working earlier than I was before because I don’t have commute time. Then around mid-morning/afternoon, instead of taking an official lunch break, I’ll use that time to take a walk outside. I also finally bought a desk. So, I have a little setup in my spare room. Which is nice because with two of us working remotely, the condo space can feel a bit small.” — communications manager, Brittany Vickers
What is something you miss from working in the office?
“Well, I miss Cooke Hall. I mean, I really miss the interactions in the hallways with the faculty, colleagues, and our staff.” — Bob Janoski
“I miss my stand-up desk. Bob shared a document of people trying to be creative and putting some cereal boxes and Amazon boxes on top of each other to mimic a stand up desk. I tried to do that but it definitely was not the same.” — Nina Wang
“I miss seeing people and their smiling faces and just passing by them in the hallways.”— Gao T
“I miss the energy. There’s a certain energy that you get from a place. It’s the people. It’s the bustle, you know, the people coming and going.” — Colin Rogness
What is one word you would use to describe your work from home experience?
“The word I’d use is adaptability. We have been more adaptive than we ever imagined. And we did this quickly. So, I’m really proud of my team for being able to jump in and do that.” — Bob Janoski
“My word is flexible. We have talked a lot about practicing flexibility in our thinking, in what we expect, just trying to be as flexible as we can. When I talk with students I use that word a lot as well. We all need to be patient and flexible with what’s going on.” — undergraduate academic advisor, Tracey Hammel
“My word is forgiving. Whether that be as a parent, as an advisor, or as an employee, just forgiving myself.”— Colin Rogness
“Efficient is the word I think of. All of the meetings I have attended have been short and to the point. Everyone has been doing a great job of getting their point across quickly and effectively. This is something I really appreciate. I am able to save time for other tasks.” — Nina Wang
“Community is the word I’d choose. The fact everyone is in this together makes it much easier. If it was just me working from home and everyone else was in the office, things would be different. I think that since everyone is in the same boat, it’s been easier. I’m very thankful that everyone has a real understanding of each other.” — Gao Thao
“I think my word would be perspective. I feel like I might have taken for granted a lot of things that I was able to do every day before all of this. This entire experience has been a new perspective on how I should be thankful for the interactions and social situations I’ve had with others.”— Brittany Vickers
Do you have any advice for others?
“Take it easy.”— Nina Wang
“Be gentle on yourself.”— Tracey Hammel
“Don’t take your personal interactions for granted.” — Brittany Vickers
“Preserve a sense of normalcy for yourself. Whether it be waking up and going to bed at the same time, taking afternoon walks, or facetiming friends, find a way to do some of things you do normally ”—Bob Janoski