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Taking care of ourselves and others

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Mary Clark

Jeremy Haefner

News  •

En español.

Dear colleagues,

One of the many ways the Coronavirus pandemic has upended our lives is the way it has disrupted and transformed how we work.

During the shelter-in-place orders early in the pandemic, we needed to pivot quickly and unexpectedly. Many of you suddenly confronted simultaneous child- and elder-care responsibilities and other complex home situations while juggling working remotely. This completely transformed our working environment and many of us have found ourselves with a work schedule that never ends. Faculty spent countless hours learning or relearning how to teach via remote learning. Early morning Zoom meetings and email exchanges at midnight became the new norm for most of us. 

These conditions still exist, even as many of us have returned to work on campus. This has left many of you overworked, overextended, and stressed—and this stress is only compounded by our general worries about health, the economy, the education of our children, and so much more that the virus threatens, including the financial future of the University. The fact that the additional workload has come on top of pay cuts for many in our community and benefits cuts for everyone has no doubt compounded stress levels and uncertainty. 

As we have reaffirmed since the pandemic’s start, your health and safety are paramount to us. Each day we ask you to log-in to Everbridge to gauge your physical well-being. But one question the app doesn't ask is, how are you?

As we enter the pandemic's seventh month with no clear end in sight, we'd like to acknowledge the importance of seeking a sustainable work-life balance. To that end, you might want to consider doing some of the following:

Look at different ways to schedule breaks during your day for reflection, exercise, connecting with family and friends or just rest;
Plan at least one day each week that's devoid of a Zoom meeting;
Limit Zoom meetings to 30 minutes and schedule breaks, even if short ones, between meetings;
Invite members of your offices or departments to a socially distanced circle lunch;
Make time for a lunchtime walk, even if it means blocking out the time on your calendar;
Hold meetings while walking around campus;
If possible, create no-email and no-work zones that allow you to spend the time you need for family and personal matters; and
For faculty, use your scheduled office hours with students to manage expectations so that if students cannot meet with you on an academic matter in a particular week, they know they can do so in the following one.

Also, you’re invited to join a friend for a socially distanced coffee on us through the Community+Values Coffee Hours. Details will be shared in the Bridge soon.

We're not perfect people, and we can be very hard on ourselves. Some deadlines will be missed, some meetings will be delayed and non-urgent projects will fall off our radar, and that's alright. This community of professionals knows what is a priority, and what, for now, can be paused. Please take care of yourselves and show care and forgiveness of your colleagues during this stressful time.

The COVID-19 crisis has caused all of us to suffer losses, whether of companionship, freedom to move around the country and world, or even a loved one. As we grieve those losses, please consider speaking with someone. You can find someone ready to listen and to help through SupportLinc. 

Finally, and most sincerely, thank you. Your hard work, dedication, and commitment to fulfilling DU's mission are much appreciated and are helping enormously to weather this storm. 

All the very best,

Jeremy Haefner

Mary Clark
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor