To my colleagues at this time of uncertainty,
We are living through an unprecedented period in recent history when we’ve been asked to stay home and keep our distance from others at a time when we need contact the most. We’re facing disruption to our work, personal lives, daily routines, and our communities. We’re learning how to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and adjust to what will be our new norm for the foreseeable future.
In spite of these challenges, it is remarkable what our community has accomplished in the last few weeks—quickly moving courses to online formats, supporting parents and students through sudden shifts in living and learning, bringing students back from abroad, helping locate an influx of laptops and technology to support remote work, revising and implementing policies, procedures and benefits to support faculty and staff, creating a website and call center to keep everyone informed—among so many other examples. We have risen to the challenge and I have no doubt we will continue to take care of ourselves, our families, and others in our community.
At times like this, I look for inspiration in the words of one of my heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. which I share in the hope they provide you encouragement as well.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
I’d like to highlight several resources at the University that may help you through this challenge.
Self-Care in Times of Stress
Fear and anxiety can feel overwhelming and it is important to find ways to cope with stress. Physical activity is a great way to practice self-care. Well-U is offering virtual fitness classes live-streamed via Zoom. You will be able to watch and listen to instructors through your phone or computer. Please be sure to follow the instructions to get set up and view the schedule and instructions to attend the class.
Working from Home Success
We know from the Centers for Disease Control and our own medical experts that social distancing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. For those of you who are working from home, this is a new challenge. It comes with pros—wearing your pajamas to the office —and cons—distractions looming everywhere. There is a lot of great advice to help you think about work in a new way. Check out NPR’s 8 Tips to Make Working from Home Work for You.
Time with Family
With schools and daycares closed, and parents working remotely, we are experiencing more family time than ever before. This unexpected extended time is wonderfully precious, but can also test our patience. I highly recommend a great article from the Society for Human Resource Management, which identifies ways to get work done while managing child care. WXXI offers some great educational tools to keep kids learning and engaged.
Resources and Support
The Office of Human Resources is here to help you. Visit the University’s COVID-19 website for important updates and guidance on working, teaching, and learning remotely.
I encourage you to reach out if you are struggling. The University of Rochester offers many programs and services for employees and their families, including confidential, short-term, evidence-based treatment for stress, depression, and anxiety. Learn more about our Life Work Connections/the Employee Assistance Program, and Behavior Health Partners Programs on the HR website.
Thank you for all you are doing to help those around you through this pandemic. As a part of the University, you are also helping our broader community. We need each other now more than ever.
Associate Vice President for Human Resources/Chief Human Resources Officer