Continuous Improvement blogSupportive Strathclyde

The start of the new year and returning to work, it isn’t quite working out how I had imagined it would!  When our team had a virtual Christmas quiz on the last day before the Christmas holidays, things weren’t looking too bad.  I was looking forward to a couple of days at home on my own while I was off and my kids were at school.  Everything seemed fairly calm at the end of term – looking forward to Christmas, and to putting 2020 behind us with the new year.

Needless to say, with the ever-changing situation that we are becoming used to with the coronavirus pandemic, you cannot plan ahead for anything (not even two days alone)! Anything that I have learned over the past year is that things can change in a heartbeat.  I didn’t for one second think that starting a new year and ending the worst year in my memory would mean that there was an end to the pandemic, but it did seem hopeful that there would be light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccination process starting.  How 2021 has started though, was never how I had pictured it.  I don’t know about anyone else, but starting the new year with a major lockdown and the stay at home message back on our tv screens seems like we are back to where we were in March 2020.  I wrote a blog last year at the start of working from home focused on missing being in the office. Home schooling was very much new (and I was actually looking forward to it), but a lot has changed since then.

A child being home schooledWith schools being closed again, shops shut and only essential travel allowed, I was not looking forward to returning to work.  I have three children and my husband is a key worker, so I am on my own with them during the day, trying to keep them amused, do some home schooling, and work from home.  Not that I am complaining – it seems to be necessary to keep everyone safe.  Although it feels like we are back to square one, but this time it is a little different.  We know what to expect! Many of us have been working from home since the middle of March.  Home schooling was a novelty and something new to try – for about a week.  This time round, I know what it is like.  I also only had two children at school last time, now I have three. It will be a challenge, but bring it on!

I’m not stressing out too much about it all just now (trying anyway). Since the pandemic began, every week the Principal has kept us all up-to-date about the situation we are in and informing us about what the University is doing for us. The message, from the very start, and throughout was that the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and students was of the utmost importance.  These were not empty words and were immediately demonstrated in March, when we were all given a rest and recuperation day every week, until the schools went back to help with caring responsibilities.  I cannot tell you enough how grateful I was for these additional days off every week.  It helped me enormously.  When these ended, they were replaced by meeting-free Fridays.  The support available from the university has been invaluable.  The Wellbeing & working from home hub provides us with a place to go to easily find assistance for many different aspects of working from home if needed.

A primary school number worksheetFurthermore, my colleagues have been understanding of each other throughout.  Recently, I read somewhere that we are all in the same water but in different boats.  I like this analogy.  We are all living through a pandemic, but all have different situations facing us at home and at work.  In our team some are on their own, others have older children at home (with battles for the Wi-Fi), partners working from home, and I have younger kids at home. We look out for each other and ensure that everyone is supported.  Our daily comm cell was adapted to include more wellbeing elements, we all have individual weekly catch-ups with John, our Director, and some of us have a weekly catch up with a colleague who lives alone.  The team also enabled me to do the school-run by not scheduling meetings at that time.  All of these small actions contribute to the feelings of being supported.

Returning to work after the new year I did not expect that the rest and recuperation days would be repeated this time round.  When I read the email from the Principal, I was surprised, but extremely grateful to see that they were being reintroduced. I have always felt supported working at Strathclyde, but never more so than in the past year.  Working from home and home schooling is stressful, but we can’t put too much pressure onto ourselves.  I am not a teacher and I can only do what I can do. I count myself lucky to be working at the University of Strathclyde, never more so than during a pandemic where I have not only been given the opportunity to work from home, to not only feel supported by the Continuous Improvement Directorate and the University, but actually be supported.

No one knows exactly what the future will bring, but I am confident that the support from the Strathclyde community will continue.