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by Elizabeth Elmore

During the past year and a half, we’ve teleworked to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Some of us got used to working barefooted. Some tackled assignments with our favorite album cranked up to 10. And some perfected the home office setup – in the sunshine on the porch.

There are positive aspects of teleworking, but there are so many benefits to being back in the same buildings, walking through campus alongside students and faculty, and meeting with donors and alumni face-to-face. But there’s no doubt the transition back to the office won’t be effortless! 

Recently, DARCOMM was exchanging “random office tips” for staff members who joined the team just ahead of or during the pandemic. For all of us (not just those staff members) it was a reminder of office etiquette and considerations before we’re all back together (nagging Brooke about the coffee machine and sharing weekend plans while waiting to heat up lunches in the breakroom). 

The transition back to a full-time, in-office schedule may take a little getting used to, so here are a few DARCOMM recommendations to consider ahead of your return: 

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Expressing Professionalism

  • Remember DAR’s attire policy will be in effect. Alas, yoga pants aren’t on the list. le sigh.
  • Attend non-essential meetings. These can be great ways to meet new people and understand how your own work connects to what others do in the division.
  • Keep an emergency blazer or pair of heels at your desk for days when you forgot you had an important meeting. 

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Staying Healthy 

  • Take a walk around the building to stretch your legs and get some fresh air. 
  • Hold your meeting outside. For those in 1PP, there are now free outdoor tables on College Avenue. 
  • Ensure that your standing/sitting situation is comfortable and healthy for you in the long run. 
  • Don’t forget to schedule time for lunch – and enjoy it somewhere other than at your desk.

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Maintaining Focus 

  • Start your day by time-blocking your schedule to ensure you can fit in your top three “to do list” items between meetings. 
  • White noise apps layered with music help to remove distractions around you. But don’t forget your headphones!
  • Avoid loud conversations in open work areas.
  • Now that we’re Microsoft Teams users, consider messaging someone before popping by their office. That way, you won’t interrupt them if they’re “in the zone.”
  • Turn off audio and pop-up notifications on your phone and computer for email, texts, Teams, and social networking sites. 
  • Don’t start your day with email; knock out one assignment before digging into your inbox. 

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Supporting Each Other 

  • Check in on teammates and actively listen as they share about their personal/professional lives. We can all use a little space to share these days! 
  • An in-person chat can save lots (and lots) of emails back and forth. And miscommunication.
  • If you’re leaving for the day, check in with colleagues. Are they waiting on anything from you? Could they use a hand to help them also leave work on time?

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Getting Comfortable 

  • Controlling office temperatures isn’t as easy as it is at home. Bring a sweater or blanket to keep at your desk.
  • A plant can perk up your desk area. We hear ZZ and snake plants grow well with minimal sunlight.
  • Stock your desk with “essentials” like pain medication, Band-Aids, extra batteries, snacks, chargers, etc. This may also make you someone else’s work day hero in a pinch!

golden rule: don't be mean

The Golden Rule 

  • Last, but not least: be kind to the IT squad, especially Marcus Jennings and Glenn Allen! Trust us, this tip always pays off. 

 Best of luck, DAR colleagues, on this summer’s work-life transition. See you in the office!