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What's working like for you?

colour portrait photograph of Sonia Hood

The coronavirus lockdown has changed the way we work individually, with our own teams and with other teams at the University. Whether we are working from home or are working on the campus, each of us is adapting in our own way to these changed circumstances. Every Tuesday and Thursday, we will share the experience of some of our colleagues.

Sonia Hood is the Study Advice Manager within the Library. The team provides support to students from foundation to PhD level to enable them to develop the necessary academic skills for successful study.

We asked Sonia how the lockdown had affected her work:

“I manage a small team of four and we’ve been having our regular weekly team meetings via Teams. I’ve also been having weekly meetings with team members individually, which help to replace those casual conversations we have in the office. And we had a new member join the team during lockdown, so we had to have a virtual induction which presented many challenges; not the least of which was getting the right IT equipment sorted out and completing their mandatory training. It obviously wasn’t possible to have a tour of the Library but the Academic Liaison Librarians have an open coffee catch up at three o’clock each afternoon which has been helpful for them to meet their new colleagues.

“We’ve been writing blog posts to support studying from home, for example on how to manage distractions, and a COVID19 guide which we update regularly to reflect students’ changing needs. We’ve converted all our services online replacing one-to-one sessions with virtual ones. Using Teams has offered a number of surprising benefits, for example in allowing observation of the session (for training) in a more unobtrusive way. It’s also very easy for students to share their work and discuss their concerns, more so than, say, an exchange of emails. We’ve also been delivering webinars via Blackboard Collaborate, for example the recent Dissertation Fair for Masters’ students, and we’ve seen much higher attendance for these online versions than for the face to face events. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with a blended approach but we haven’t noticed any drop off in appointments since we switched these online.

“I’m looking forward to going back to the office as I like the separation between work and home and I like being around my colleagues. Now we are really starting to think about the skills a student will need when they start with us in September, how this will be different from usual and how we can support this. Many won’t have sat their A-levels so won’t have had the confirmation of ability, which might impact on their confidence. And, with a blended approach to teaching, will students be able to manage their time effectively with no fixed lecture times and do they have the skills required to study remotely? So, we’ll be adapting the advice we provide and how we provide it.”

To enable as many people as possible to share their experience the Internal Communications team has developed a storyboard, so if you’d like to take part, contact the Internal Communications team and a member of the team will guide you through the process. These will form a series of articles on what new ways of working have been like for colleagues as well as offering practical advice, hints and tips on how to manage this.

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