Faculty and staff appreciate the flexibility to work at home on an as-needed basis, but running a PA program remotely takes it to another level, bringing with it some unexpected challenges. As everyone focuses on how to ensure that learning continues for students, it is important not to neglect the faculty/staff infrastructure.
Programs have resources in place to support colleagues on campus that should be explored and used. Taking the time to think through how faculty and staff are supported remotely in this time of disruption is also key. Maximizing technology and creating touchstones for virtual check-ins may be useful. Check in with your IT support staff to explore available options used on your campus for instant messaging (like Slack or MS Teams) and connecting remotely (like Zoom, Blue Jeans, WebEx) if you do not already have this set up. Recognize that missing the socialization of the workplace may contribute to a feeling of social isolation for some of your faculty or dampen avenues for creative planning or programming. Building in regular “virtual watercooler” moments along with planned meetings is recommended and may be critical.
Supervisors planning for regular pulse-checks with colleagues is especially important during this time to help both on-campus and remote workers feel connected. Everyone bringing a growth mindset of how to maximize this time for focused work can help to keep productivity at a high level during this crisis. A study by Nicholas Bloom at Stanford found that remote workers are more efficient than office-based peers, but other studies have shown that people working together in the same location solve problems more quickly than remote collaborators. How can your technology augment virtual gatherings to limit this loss? Ask faculty and staff to brainstorm how they can support a creative work environment to bolster collaborative problem-solving.
Another point for discussion is how to create a natural separation from work to home life. PA student needs and technology with its 24-hour connectedness have already contributed to this issue, but having designated work times clearly defined and communicated may help to create a sense of normalcy in these abnormal times. Remember to build in breaks to allow the opportunity to stretch, take a walk, and refocus. It is best to have a designed “work space” in your home to minimize distractions and help with work-life integration.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, PAEA has created a Remote Teaching Channel within the Digital Learning Hub (DLH) to complement resources being provided by your campus teaching and learning center. We have added several LinkedIn Learning tutorials about working remotely that you will want to check out.
Leading at a Distance – The remote team member’s perspective
Time Management: Working from Home – Keep work hours in balance
Working Remotely – The value of working remotely
And, you can find more related articles in the Transitioning to Remote Work Channel in the DLH.
Additionally, with the current situation limiting face-to-face interactions, PAEA has created an online community developed as a space for PAEA members to connect regarding how the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is affecting PA programs across the country. Please use this gathering space to share responses, ideas, questions, resources, and stories with your colleagues.
Christine Vucinich, MA, instructional specialist for PAEA’s Digital Learning team, contributed to this article.