Latest Blog

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Respect, Patience and Compassion Essential in the Shifting Landscape of Work

Barbara Roberts, Ph.D, Director, WLO

An opportunity for profoundly positive culture change has landed in our laps with the onset of COVID-19 restrictions.

Applying key questions to what work comes back to campus - an APA example

By Barbara Roberts
A consistent set of principles, key questions or values goes a long way in clarifying complex decisions. When we get back to primary principles, and away from personal circumstances, we can make better decisions.I like what Fisher and Ury say in "Getting to Yes," at the Harvard Negotiation Project: "Separate the people from the problem. Be soft on the people and hard on the problem.” If we can identify the “problem” or the challenge as the work that must be done on campus, independent of the people initially, we can solve the problem better together and protect the people.

Why We’re Tired: Surviving Online Meetings

By Barbara Roberts
Working in this medium for hours on end is not good for the health we are trying so hard to preserve! Let’s be intentional about how we pace ourselves, and we will last longer in the end. We are all learning to function in a new medium, which takes energy in terms of attention, concentration, learning in real time while doing, and learning without hands-on, in-person supports.

Ergonomics of Working Remotely: Position in Life is Everything

By Barbara Roberts
A supervisor during my occupational therapy internship in spinal cord rehab taught me, with only a little tongue-in-cheek, that “Position in life is everything...”; that is, the physical position you are in to do any task affects your safety, comfort, endurance and effectiveness for the task. Earlier in life, when learning to use a hammer effectively, instead of whacking the nail at some odd angle, my father taught me to “Get your [backside] behind you.” Good advice when positioning to exert force. Position matters.

The Importance of NOT Socially Isolating While Simultaneously Practicing Social Distancing

By Jaimie Hutchison
Social distancing is the important strategy of physically separating ourselves from one another to avoid the spread of the Coronavirus. Social isolation, on the other hand, is often physically isolating ourselves (which we are doing) AND emotionally isolating ourselves, which we cannot afford to do.

Inclusive Online Participation: One Perspective

By Barbara Roberts, Executive Director, WorkLife

In my long career working with how people participate in higher education and professional settings, I have had the joy of being in meetings where information is shared in many ways simultaneously. I have attended conferences, run by students, where there is simultaneous French/English translation, American Sign Language interpretation, Braille and large print copies of slides and hand-outs, all happening seamlessly over the heads of service animals quietly lying beside their companions. I have presented to the United Nations where the headphones and microphones are filled with different languages and cultural nuances, and where the pace of the meeting is nonetheless productive, respectful and creative.

What’s OK and what’s not when meeting with people online?

By Barbara Roberts, WorkLife Office Executive Director

When we take our daily work into an online venue, whether Zoom, WebEx, Skype or discussion spaces, we need to remember it’s nonetheless a work setting. While we might still wear our fuzzy slippers no one can see, it’s important to remember that we need to maintain business decorum in our dress, manners, and comments. Here are some pointers to keep in mind to make your new work setting as professional, productive and personally respectable as possible. Let’s reflect on our ethics, and then look at some tips for effective participation.

Things to Do to Keep Kids Active, Engaged and Learning While Home

By Jaimie Hutchison
In these challenging times, it is important to acknowledge that each family will have their own work and home situation that will be unique. Some people may have more flexibility, more caregivers in the home, or older children who are more independent. Others may have less flexibility, younger children and may be the sole caretaker of those children. We honor all of you and know that you are doing the best you can.

Best Practices for Working at Home with Children

By Jaimie Hutchison
These suggestions and guidelines offer you some direction on where to start. We are all in this together and every situation at work and at home is different. These are not suggestions to do all of these things, but rather to consider what may work for you. We need to work together with compassion to decide which priorities are valued. It is time for us all to dig deep and practice a level of flexibly that we have never had to exercise before.

Taking Care of Yourself in Times of Uncertainty

By Jaimie Hutchison
We are all in this together, let’s work to keep ourselves and those around us safe, healthy, and supported. If you are in need of resources or information on work-life fit, workplace wellness, remote work, or anything else that comes up, the MSU WorkLife Office is a great place to start. We will all be available as we continue to work to support you and your families during this uncertain time.

Remote Work Structures and Working Together with Your Supervisor

By Dr. Barbara Roberts, Executive Director
There is suddenly more discussion than ever about implementing remote work strategies, as we seek to reduce our in-person contact for a while, yet not fall out of touch or cease operations. The WorkLife Office has a great deal of experience addressing alternative work arrangements, including telecommuting, flexible scheduling, work-from-home or teleworking, and multiple means of participating on or off-site. There are many and varied reasons for working remotely, all the time or sometimes - accommodation of disability, childcare or eldercare needs, commuting constraints/savings, work that spans locations and time zones, winter weather - We already do this in many circumstances; we have the knowledge and ability to adapt to evolving needs for flexibility and remote work.

Your Mental Health Matters

By Jaimie Hutchison
Your mental health is very important. The current circumstances have added extra stress and pressure to many. These are unusual times where many things are unknown. Please know that you are not alone, and that you are valued.

Common Questions about Working Remotely

Thoughts from Dr. Barbara Roberts, Senior Advisor to the Provost for WorkLife on questions like "How do I manage working from home and taking care of my kids?" and concerns such as "My supervisor suggested that I can’t work from home if I have kids at home. But there is no school and not enough childcare to care for my kids. Plus, I don’t want my children to be at risk of being exposed or exposing others."

Preparing for Childcare and Family Arrangements

By Jaimie Hutchison
The WorkLife Office staff knows that this unprecedented experience will require preparation, thoughtfulness, and certain resources. We are working hard to support you in the best ways possible. To that goal, we have developed many resources on our website including this post about supporting your family during these trying times.

Preparing for Work from Home

The WorkLife Office staff knows that this unprecedented experience will require preparation, thoughtfulness, and certain resources. We are working hard to support both supervisors and employees in the best ways possible. To that goal, we have developed many resources on our website including this short preparation checklist. We ask that you take our short survey to give us feedback that can help us provide the best services to MSU faculty and staff during these trying times.

Performance Reviews, Bullying, Malicious Complaints, and Fear of Retaliation

The stress caused by a toxic work environment can be frustrating. The waters are sometimes muddy. For many employees, incivility at work is a new experience that can generate many questions. The WorkLIfe Office is here to help answer you questions and direct you to additional resources.

Developing Cohesiveness: Building a Culture of Trust

As part of our Trust Series, “Developing Cohesiveness: Building a Culture of Trust” was presented by Todd Bradley and Carrie Galdes from MSU HR. They highlighted how the T-shaped professional - with both depth of knowledge and breadth of application - can contribute to a team by bringing the deep knowledge of an area to creative connection with team members across disciplines.  

Keeping Kids Engaged Over the Summer

By Jaimie Hutchison
If you have kids in your life, one thing you are probably keenly aware of is that they keep you busy. It’s also sometimes difficult to find activities that they enjoy, especially activities and opportunities that keep their brains, creativity, and learning engaged. It can become even more complicated if you have several kids in your life and they all have different interests.

Support for Employees who Breastfeed at MSU

Guidelines to support breastfeeding faculty and staff at MSU were approved and implemented in 2018.

Commuting Options: Be "Spartan Green" and Save Money Getting to Campus

Panelists: Jennifer Bruen - MSU employee, vanpool commuter; Layne Cameron - MSU employee, bicycle commuter; Dana King - Michivan/Enterprise; Pam Latka - CATA Marketing Assistant; Tim Potter – MSU employee, Sustainable Transportation Manager, MSU Bikes, bicycle commuter; Grace Noyola - Communications Manager MSU Sustainability, Infrastructure Planning & Facilities; Chloe White – CATA Clean Commute Options Coordinator.