Workplace wellness, like individual wellness, will look different for everyone. At Work Life, we promote a progressive work environment with policies and programs to ensure a healthy and supportive workplace, while also emphasizing the importance and benefits of self care. We encourage employees to bring their whole selves to work and to participate in creating a culture that prioritizes flexibility, mental health, and work-life integration.
Caring for ourselves often falls to the bottom of our to-do lists, but workplace wellness starts with putting yourself and your health first. Self care can mean many things, whether it’s getting enough sleep, prioritizing some alone time each day, or finding ways to reset and recharge. At Work Life, we believe that a culture of self care is essential for establishing a healthy, thriving, and progressive university. Below, you’ll find several resources dedicated to improving your mental well-being.
Manager Considerations During COVID-19
While some faculty, administrators, and students will be returning to campus this fall, many employees will continue to work remotely. We recognize that current circumstances are not ideal, but for those with caregiving responsibilities or health concerns, remote work may be the best solution. Work Life encourages supervisors to speak with their teams to determine a plan that incorporates flexibility and accounts for the additional responsibilities that we are all navigating during the 2020-2021 academic year. Below, you’ll find our tips for working remotely and managing your team with a work-life lens, which emphasizes leading with compassion, empathy, and trust.
For Managers: Leading Virtual Meetings with Compassion and Flexibility
By now, many of us are likely experiencing “Zoom fatigue,” the mental exhaustion that comes from being on video calls as we continue to work remotely during the pandemic. Whether you are a manager scheduling team meetings or you have been invited to a meeting, we can all take proactive steps to lessen the fatigue and burnout around virtual meetings.
Everyone is challenged by not having a visual break in addition to the complications of stressful caregiving needs. Video meetings require us to stare at a screen the entire time, different from being in an in-person meeting where you can look away, look at the speaker, or look at your notebook. In order to account for our own mental health and wellbeing and that of our teams, consider incorporating some new techniques for your meetings:
Techniques for Leading Virtual Meetings
Check in with yourself first
Do I understand the needs of my team? Am I creating a trusting relationship so that employees can come to me openly with their needs? Do I have a sense of the flexibility I might need to exercise as a compassionate manager and leader? What challenges do I have balancing the work that needs to be done and the work-life needs of the team?
Check in with your team
Talk to your team individually to get a sense of what obstacles they are facing and how you can be supportive of their success. Remember that even employees without children need flexibility and compassion during these incredibly challenging times.
Ask others if a 9:00 am meeting or a lunchtime meeting still works. Remember that many people have increased caregiving responsibilities including self-care. An early morning meeting might be hard for a person that needs to get a child set up with remote school and a lunchtime meeting might mean that people have to care for an older adult loved one who needs help. Don’t schedule meetings before or after normal work hours. See our Kinder Emailing tips for suggestions on emailing during normal work hours.
Running your meetings
Remember we are all human and want to connect so start meetings welcoming everyone and consider asking an engaging question to get people to feel more relaxed.
Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish and how long it will take. Not all meetings need to be an hour. Consider shortening meetings to 30-45 minutes. Make sure to tell everyone to use the remaining time to reflect on the conversation, jot down some notes or just take a refreshing pause before moving on to the next meeting.
Close each meeting by acknowledging great individual or team work or simply by thanking someone who did something special.
Exercise flexibility for how to show up
At the start of every meeting, consider communicating that people should be comfortable turning off their cameras while still having an opportunity to fully participate in the meeting. Alternatively, you may want to host meetings where all videos are turned off.
Be an example for others
Modeling behavior for leading virtual meetings says that you have an appropriate management style adaptive to what is needed today and that you can lead teams while having empathy and compassion.
During the 2019-2020 academic year, The Work Life office partnered with two departments to co-host a pilot program called Wellness Wednesdays. For one hour on Wednesday afternoons, department colleagues would participate in different wellness activities, which ranged from journaling and walking tours to volunteering and playing with therapy dogs.
While wellness is an individual commitment, there are benefits to a shared experience. We encourage offices and departments across NYU to think about ways to collectively improve wellbeing and provide a space to relax and connect with one another. Some ideas for (virtual!) Wellness Wednesdays include starting a book club, Zoom-friendly games like pictionary and charades, crafting, drawing, and stretching.
For more information about ways your department can incorporate wellness activities, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional Wellness Resources:
- Optum: The University's Employee Assistance Program is available for confidential counseling services. To consult with a Board-certified counselor 24/7, 365 days a year, call 800-437-0911.
- NYC Well App Library: NYC Well provides apps and online tools to help you manage your health and emotional wellbeing. You can even filter the apps to help you with specific needs like depression, anxiety, mindfulness, and substance abuse.
- Office of Mental Health Emotional Support Line: More than 6,000 Mental Health professionals have signed up to provide free online mental health services during COVID-19. You can call 1-844-863-9314 to schedule an appointment.
- Headspace Partnership with New York: The meditation app Headspace is giving New Yorkers free access to some of their movement, meditation, and sleep exercises.