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Keeping connected and maximising support networks

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Maintaining a sense of community

The fabric of our society as we know it is changing. It is ironic that where, only a few weeks ago, we might have been considering the need to restrict our use of social media and screen time, now the way we perform our daily work relies on it. 

It may seem worrying, when thinking that it might be weeks or months until we get to physically interact with the people and communities who make up the daily interactions in our lives again.  But this presents an opportunity for us to connect with people in a more purposeful way.

It is vital to remember that you are not alone during these challenging times. Below you will find a plethora of advice and guidance on ways to keep connected and how you are best able to support and lift others.   

Team unity, mindfulness and gatherings – can you help?

Could you help your team (or other colleagues around UCL) by offering a group wellbeing session online? Perhaps you are a yoga teacher, Thai Chi instructor or have some other skill you think could help support your colleagues in an online setting. 

You can either arrange to run this directly with your team, or by getting in touch with your HR Business Partner, a Community of Practice or Organisational Development who will be able to help you to set something up.

Also, think about taking time out to have your morning coffee with one or more colleagues over your screen. Sharing lighter moments with each other is important in order to maintain mental health and effective working relationships. Please visit our Self-care toolkit for more suggestions. 

Adaptability

Now more than ever being flexible and adaptable is going to be imperative, as are new ways of working. Adapting as a group, team or department (and being open to these new methods) is going to be the first step. A big positive is that we will all be learning new skills and having a sense of openness and flexibility, to innovative methodologies, is key. With all this in mind though, it is important to be mindful to not take on too much.

IYou can learn more about self and social awareness in how we interact on our  Leading our people and Environment toolkits.

Digital communication (social media)

As the world changes, our communication channels, ways of interaction, and tools are changing too. As well as needing to be clear and concise, we must also be sensitive, showing empathy in our writing.  Consider that some people may be ill, or have loved ones who are, some may be struggling with increased anxiety levels and others may find it challenging adapting to working remotely or in isolation. Social awareness needs to be heightened as our written words are going to hold even greater weight now.

For more on UCL social media etiquette, please see the UCL Social Media Guide.  For information on supporting colleagues with disabilities, please see the UCL Accessibility Guidance

Relationship management tools

There are numerous tools out there to stay connected and to engage in fun, meaningful ways that also empower us to connect with more people.   

  • MS Teams This is the official UCL channel. The capacity of this platform is really exciting and there are also tutorials online with specific guidance about conducting large meetings.  If you are interested in receiving 1-1 support, in the form of a brief overview, please contact Rachna Kayastha.

  • MS Teams Kudos  With colleagues adapting to deliver services, why not show your recognition and appreciation? If you see someone excelling in their role why not recognise them through the MS Teams Kudos Bot?

Zoom has been purchased for UCL for a year to support learning and teaching during COVID-19 for certain specific use cases. Both Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate are recommended for online teaching; the ISD recommended tool for online meeting and staff collaboration in most circumstances remains Microsoft Teams.

Compassion, empathy and supporting each other during COVID-19

“Be kind to each other” is a phrase we are hearing a lot of at the moment but there is reason for it. These are challenging times and tensions are running high. If there was ever a time for a heightened sense of self and social awareness the time is now.

Staff may experience bereavement, or may contract the disease themselves. Showing understanding and empathy is going to be key. There shouldn’t be stigma attached to anyone experiencing circumstances related to COVID-19.

Staff may have elderly parents/family who are unwell, or have family members abroad. Some may have faced racism and/or hostility. Having an awareness of the common (and also different) circumstances people might be facing is vital in our current work context. Please visit the Leading our People toolkit for more relevant resource.

For more information on UCL resources and tips that can provide to support to you and others during these difficult times please see our Self-Care toolkit.

For information on how the COVID-19 may affect disabled people and people with compromised immune systems, please refer to the Toolkit produced by the Business Disability Forum.

Online and local communities: fostering existing communities and building new ones   

  • Communities of Practice 
    The UCL Communities of Practice  are grass roots initiatives established in order to bring together groups of staff from across UCL who perform similar functions, work in defined practice areas, and need to build similar capabilities – regardless of their line management structures. The Communities of Practice will be transitioning to creating collaborative, innovative and supportive spaces through online communities so, we will now focus on making connections and growing as E-Communities of Practice.  

  • Parents and Carers Networks
    We understand the additional pressure you are facing. Please access UCL PACT on teams and on the website.  

  • Linkedin
    Join and create groups relevant to your work and interests .

  • Alumni groups
    If you are an UCL alumni you can connect at UCL Alumni but regardless joining your alumni university/work communities could also prove useful.

  • Volunteering within UCL (and volunteering locally).

  • Webinar diaries 
    Many of us finding relief recording ourselves and sharing tips/experiences with our colleagues across UCL. There are many softwares and platforms you could use to do this. 

  • Online personas
    UCL Staff Profiles and Linkedin – Building and maintaining your profile is going to play a more important role in the next few months as we adapt our ways of working.

  • UCL Meet up
    Set up by the Caleidoscope - Challenging Unconscious Bias project team, they encourage people to connect based on their interests with sections for film, music, languages, arts and crafts, and more.