Just about everyone would agree that these are uncertain times. The word my office has adopted has been fluid. We have all decided decisions may be made and then change immediately due to the fact everything is constantly fluid. This has been a way for us to avoid frustration and to go with the flow. As online meetings become a must during this transition, I wanted to talk about the importance of connection, how distance relationships have been a major part of my personal and professional career, and how I manage these as a work/life balance
Aquatics Panel of Experts
Having graduated from Indiana University Bloomington and completing my graduate assistantship (GA) with Indiana University (IU) Campus Recreation, I have been blessed to meet an amalgam of aquatics professionals. The close relationships built out of the Aquatics program at the Campus Recreation department has led to a strong showing of professionals spread across the nation. We started a small group chat while I was working as a GA, and we slowly have added past professionals, friends and colleagues to the chat. This has led to a great social network where we can share celebrations, triumphs, personal pictures, etc. It is also a great way to send out a quick professional question and get an almost immediate response from someone. Having this group chat of past and current IU professionals has been a wonderful way for me to stay connected across the country and still feel as if I get to connect with colleagues who I consider close friends. Asking or answering a work-related question no longer feels like a task or exhausting because I get to talk with my friends about something we are all so passionate about. With everyone being encouraged to work from home, I would encourage others to build small communities of friends and experts in areas so you can send quick updates or questions among those you consider valued peers.
Friends Across the Country
I have a group chat that has been active since my first year as a GA. This chat has former colleagues that have moved on to become close friends. In fact, they were all members of my bridal party when I got married last summer. This group has been such a support system for me even before social distancing. Having close friends practically on a group speed dial allows us to engage in small doses throughout a week and to give updates about our lives in small snippets. This has also been a chat we have used for work related questions but have really moved it to be a quick way to stay engaged in each other’s lives. As social distancing has increased, I have found this group more and more active and have felt such a positive feeling of engagement after speaking with everyone. As someone who does not have social media, this is my main means of staying connected with these individuals and it feels so authentic that updates about their lives come directly from them. During this time away from the office, we have shared so many stories about how each other’s departments are handling the current state of the country. More importantly, this has been a great support group as we all adapt to being at home more. Having friends “close” by, even remotely, is such a blessing.
Work from Home
Managing a pool, I have been fortunate that my supervisors understand the importance of me stopping into work to ensure the water chemistry is balanced and the pump room is functioning properly. However, working from home has given me unique perspectives into how my day-to-day operates. Not having individuals walk into my office throughout the day has shown me the value of the face-to-face interactions I am used to. However, it has taught me techniques on how to schedule out my day. Once this is over and everything is back to normal, I still hope to find ways to balance being available while at work but learning how to find times to have time blocked off where I just focus on my tasks at hand. Payroll is a big process I have found beneficial to having the office door closed. This is something I will learn how to adapt to moving forward. Remote work has taught me that it is OK to take some time to reply to an email or to answer a question. If anything, I hope to take away better strategies at how to plan a work day, week, month, semester and year. Reading on how successful CEOs plan their days or how others have managed work/life balance while at home has been rewarding. When this is all said and done, I think my work will only flourish while my life at home will be even more appreciated.
I know this is a trying time for all and that finding joy may be difficult. However, I always try to see the glass as half full. Over the next week, reach out to those you have not made time to talk to and reach out via video chat. Create micro communities of peers to engage with. Take advantage of all these national organizations opening free workshops or presentations. There are plenty of ways to stay engaged remotely, and I hope we can all find ways to still feel connected.