Returning to Campus Tool Kit

Whether you’ve been working on campus, remotely, or any combination of the two, things will continue to evolve as more and more of our community members return to campus spaces.  We’ve put together this tool kit of resources to help all of us navigate the transition and a new way of operating for the fall semester.

Some employees or entire departments may be working fully on campus, or fully remotely, or a combination.  Therefore, many cross-department meetings and interactions will likely be mixed between those on campus and remote.  Working in hybrid groups is different from working in fully co-located groups.  We want everyone to be prepared with tools for working in a hybrid environment.

For all information regarding COVID-19 guidelines, testing, symptom tracking, and dashboard numbers, please visit the One Emerson Knowledge Center.

Technology and IT Support

The beginning of a semester is always a busy time for our friends in IT User Services (Help Desk, Labs, and Media Services).  But the beginning of a semester AND a return from a global pandemic is shaping up to redefine the word busy.  To help us all out, the IT team put together a few pointers for some technology needs and possible issues that you may encounter upon returning to campus.  

Before you go to campus, do you have what you need? 

  • What do you have at home that you don’t have on campus?
  • What did you bring home that you need to bring back to campus? 
  • Does your desktop computer have a webcam or are you going to need one?
  • How about adapters, headsets, a mouse, docking stations, etc?
  • This includes both individual workspaces and any shared workspace or conference rooms your department may have.

IT plans to reach out to those with purchasing power on Workday to give an overview of how to buy common items like adapters, webcams, and keyboards and will be updating the Connection purchasing site to make it easier to find what you may need.

Set up items beforehand

Preparing for your first day

  • Take a back-to-school photo as little kids do!  (Maybe even share it on the #staff Slack channel!)
  • Look at your calendar.  Don’t schedule a meeting as your very first thing. Give yourself time to settle in and check things out.  Remember, technology has the superpower of knowing when you are crunched for time and may decide to act up!

Your First Day Back to Campus

Just like a good workout, you want to give your technology time to warm up first.

  • Turn all devices on and run any updates that are suggested. (This may take some time.)
  • If something isn’t working correctly, restart the device. Turning devices on/off will often fix the issue. Especially if they’ve been sitting idle for over a year.  (You also know if you call IT, it is the first thing they are going to ask you to do!)
  • Make sure all cables and wires are plugged in. Unplug and replug to be certain. 
  • Bring your patience.  Be prepared to do a little troubleshooting when you reach out to the IT Help Desk.

Set your expectations reasonably.

  • Do not come in and prepare to immediately use a computer that’s been off for a year plus.
  • Give yourself time to prepare yourself, your office/space, and your technology.

As You Get Back in the Grove

Take the time to practice setting up for meetings.  It is recommended that you always include a Zoom link and prepare for meetings to be hybrid.  Hosting a hybrid meeting is different than hosting an all-remote or all-in-person meeting.  Refer to Communicating in a Hybrid Environment for more information.

Support Resources

If you’ve done all of these things and still need assistance, reach out to the IT Help Desk!

Communicating in a Hybrid Environment

Hosting Hybrid Meetings:  A hybrid meeting is a meeting with participants gathering both in-person and via Zoom. Thank the IT team for putting together this list of tips!  We'd like to emphasize that it is important that you always add a Zoom link to your meetings, even if you think everyone will be in person.  Things come up, and having the link already set is more inclusive and stress-reducing than not having it.

What it Takes to Run a Great Hybrid Meeting:  We spent last year learning the best way to run meetings all on Zoom. But hybrid meetings are vastly more complex.  It is imperative that ALL attendees have the best experience possible, making the days of the phone in the middle of the table with the remote person only hearing half or being talked over a thing of the past.

3 Ways to encourage informal communication in a hybrid workplace: One thing we learned by going remote was how important information communication is in the workplace and how difficult it was to maintain it remotely.  Unplanned, “water-cooler” communication allows for spontaneity, collegial check-ins, and “Oh I meant to tell you!” moments.  Make them a priority in a hybrid environment.

Resources for Employees

Stress-Free Way to Go Back to the Office:  While the idea of stress-free is great for a headline, we all know it isn’t reality.  This article shares some ways to help ease stress.  (Note: One of the advertisements on the article site is Talk Space, which is part of the Emerson Health Insurance benefits. Log in to Harvard Pilgrim for more details.)

10 Tips for Parents Heading Back to the Office: Heading back to the office will be a transition for all members of the family.   Care.com offers some expert tips and advice for a smooth transition.

Are you Ready for the Hybrid Workplace?: In this 13-minute podcast, Wharton professor Martine Haas speaks with Wharton Business Daily about how to make the hybrid workplace equitable, focusing on the risk of power differentials when some employees work from home, while others work in the organization's office.

How to Prepare Your Pets for Your Return to the Office:  Our furry friends have grown used to having us home.  Don’t wait until your first day back in the office, but rather start taking steps now to prepare your pet for the transition. In this article, you’ll find a guide to easing your pets’ post-pandemic transition, including tips, tricks, and tools.

Why returning to ‘normal’ feels so not: “Given the extent of the pandemic’s effects, it’s understandable that the commute will be different, that employers will have new policies in place, and that workers’ home lives — obligations to children, parents, and spouses — will have shifted. All the change, Koenen said, can cause a sense of dislocation.”  Together, as the Emerson Community, we will continue to make shifts.

Resources for Teams

Did you Get my Slack/Email/Text:  With multiple ways to make communication easy, communication can actually become harder!  As a group, spend time brainstorming with the sole purpose of establishing some agreed-upon norms.  The article has a sample chart and questions to help you with the conversation.

11 Ways to Create Community in a Hybrid Work Environment:  Forbes Communications Council offers their best advice for helping teams who are not co-located foster a sense of community.

As Employees are Returning to Work, Now is Time to Set Up Systems That Can Prevent Burnout:  A glimpse into a new book called “Beating Burnout at Work: Why Teams Hold the Secret to Well-Being and Resilience”, author Paula Davis calls out TNT’s, or tiny noticeable things, that we can tweak in our work systems to provide necessary interpersonal and social aspects that make work meaningful and employees motivated.

How Microaggressions look different when we’re working remotely:  HR professional Sarah Morgan explains how microaggressions show up in the online environment and provides suggestions for addressing these behaviors (Fast Company)

Making the Hybrid Workplace Fair:  With a hybrid team, it is crucial to be aware of power dynamics and how they come into play.  While the article is written with a managerial perspective, all team members have a role to play.  

Resources for Managers

How to Manage a Hybrid Team:  Having a team in which some employees are co-located in an office and others doing their jobs remotely presents a number of challenges. As a manager, it is your job to support your team members as well as think through all of the dynamics that come into play.  The article includes two case studies about inclusion and communication.

How Leaders can Engage Employees during a Return to Work: Recognizing and addressing the core human emotions of grief, loss, and anxiety in the workplace is a chance to rebuild organizational health, productivity, and talent retention.

Help Your Employees Who Are Anxious About Returning to the Office:  We must not forget the impact of Covid-19 on emotional and psychological health. Drawing on their experience as people, culture, and change consultants, the authors identify several things employers can do to help reduce employee re-entry and anxiety. (Harvard Business Review)

How to Manage the New Hybrid Workplace:  These hybrid arrangements will require a massive rethinking on the part of bosses -- both in terms of individual schedules and a vision for the organization as a whole. No longer will they be able to manage remote workers like they are office employees whose desks happen to be really far apart. Nor can they treat office days as the "real" workdays and write off the time that workers spend at home. Instead, bosses need to ask themselves a question that most have never had to consider: How do I manage a workplace in which office days and home days are used for the work that is best suited to each setting?

Measure Performance: Strategies for Remote and Hybrid Teams: Gallup discovered three performance domains that comprehensively describe and consistently predict success in a role.  These three core performance domains are a standard framework that every leader can use to evaluate employee productivity, regardless of an employee’s location. 

  • setting goals and meeting them >> my work
  • partnering for effectiveness >> my team
  • translating work into its consequences >> my customer

How to Manage the Performance of Your Hybrid Teams:  A hybrid team thrives when productivity is measured by results and not by the hours spent at a desk. Focus instead on the results, and less on the process — that will be different for everyone. By taking into consideration the needs of remote workers and in-office staff, you can find a balance that helps all workers do their work the best way they can.

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