Return to Campus: Staff Perspectives
As the weather gets warmer and restrictions lift, we are preparing to return to campus! We understand that the shift in work environments can come with a slew of feelings, ranging from excitement and relief to apprehension and concern. So to shed some light on returning to campus, we spoke with a couple of Haasies (Amanda, Cathy, and Robert), some currently working on campus and some who are fully remote, about their feelings on returning to campus. See below for more info about our panelists!
Q: How do you feel about returning to campus?
Amanda: I’m excited to have more people back on campus. I miss the collaboration, serendipitous hallway conversations, happy hours and opportunities to connect not just with colleagues but with students, faculty and my friends from other departments.
Cathy: I am excited to be back on campus. I miss the energy that comes from being in the learning environment.
Robert: I’m not nervous about going back to campus. I’ve been going in at least twice a month to take care of technical issues that could not be taken care of while remote. The first time I went in it was a little alarming, mostly because I didn’t want to get locked out of any buildings. We also didn’t know much about COVID-19 so the safety protocols kept changing. Since then all is ok now. I think the campus and health rules finally aligned so we finally had a firm process to follow. I’m glad that things are calming down and hope that there will be a sense of normalcy.
Q: What was it like when you returned to campus? / What are you looking forward to about returning to campus?
Amanda: I look forward to seeing people that I haven’t seen in over a year. Apparently Mezzo is reopening soon, so I’m planning lots of lunch dates with colleagues. And I cannot wait to relocate my “office” from my bedroom back to my actual office.
Cathy: I look forward to seeing my work colleagues; chatting in the hallways and having those serendipitous work project collaborations. I’m also ready to have a bit more privacy. I have been “office-ing” in my family room with family members traipsing in and out!
Robert: At the onset of the pandemic, our team was mostly remote. Since we still had active projects and tasks to cover, a few of us were added to the essential list. On the days I drove into campus, there was no traffic, which reminded me that COVID-19 was real and people were scared. I normally park at the Lower Hearst parking lot so I get to walk across campus. The walk across campus was really quiet; I counted maybe 5 or 6 people. When I arrived at Haas, there were a few people in the courtyard, mostly to use the power outlets and shelter.
I look forward to walking across Campus in the mornings, being able to interact and chat with the team and our campus partners. I also plan to start a new resolution to get out occasionally instead of always eating lunch at my desk.
Q: How did you/will you adjust or change your daily routine when coming back to campus for work?
Amanda: I have to start brushing my hair and wearing “real” clothes again 😉 For me, routine is good. Getting up when the alarm goes off, driving to the office and walking up the hill to Haas helps me to get in “work mode”. And leaving at the end of the day, with my laptop turned off and locked up–not staring at me 24/7 from my home “office”–helps me find work-life balance.
Cathy: I have adopted neighborhood walks into my daily routine and I hope to keep this habit when I return to work. Maybe I can convince some of my colleagues to join me for “walking meetings”!
Robert: The past few weeks commute traffic has been heavy. I feel more people will opt to drive in than take public transportation. Also, the first few months after fall semester starts, parking will be difficult. Lately I have made small schedule adjustments when driving into campus but once everyone starts coming into campus, I will have to start my commute much earlier.
Q: Do you have any advice for those that are nervous or apprehensive about coming to campus? (if currently working on campus)
Amanda: Acknowledging that each of us feels differently about returning to campus is an important first step. Everyone’s feelings are valid. It’s completely understandable that after 15 months of being told that isolation was the best way to keep ourselves safe during this pandemic that we might feel a bit uneasy about social mixing.
I think it’s important to drill down on those feelings to understand the underlying concern. Is it apprehension about being indoors? Unease that folks around you might not be vaccinated? Is it related to child or elder care? Once you figure out what’s making you nervous, be proactive. Do your research, get your questions answered and explore your options. There was a Campus Conversation recently with Eugene Whitlock, Art Reingold, Sally McGarrahan and Guy Nicolette that I found particularly insightful. #studentsalways
Cathy: My advice is to treat your return to campus as a pilot; try to bring the best of your remote work style and combine it with the best of your campus work style. Let’s lean into our students always principle – learning and adjusting our work routines as we aim for the sweet spot of productivity and personal satisfaction.
Robert: Take your time and ease into the new “normal”. Don’t try to take in too much at once. I’m sure there will be people that feel nervous or anxious about coming back to campus. We, as a community, should respect their feelings and give them time to get used to this new normal.
We hope you found their answers insightful, funny, encouraging or a combination of the three!
To help ease back into working on campus, Haas is holding Haas Re-Orientation Days (June 21-23 & July 12-15). It’s an opportunity to: re-orient yourself with your workspace, pick up your staff appreciation gift, test your card key, and grab lunch or a to-go box with colleagues! Sign up here to indicate what day/time you plan to come to campus!
For more information on the procedures and protocols for Haas’s return to campus efforts, visit Berkeley Haas COVID-19 Info and Updates.