I hope that this finds you, your household, your family and friends safe, healthy, well and managing to adjust to lockdown. I would like to have written to you all sooner but the run up to lockdown was frantic and the first week was equally busy and our new reality took some time to get used to. Last week and this week HR and Payroll are working to ensure that the April payroll runs smoothly.
The purpose of this communique to is to thank all staff are able to and have continued to work diligently and productively during these uncertain times. Thank-you to our Campus Protection staff and the staff from the Health Care Centre who come in to work each day. Our Campus Protection Staff continue to ensure that the Campus and all its assets remain safe and secure. Our Health Care Centre Staff have been undergoing specialized training conducted by the Department of Health on how to conduct screening and take swabs for COVID-19. A shout out to the staff in Residential Operations making masks and to Community Engagement for all the good work they are doing distributing information to our community. To all those making hand sanitizer, you are champs. To CHERTL who are supporting our academics and students by assisting everyone with the use of online teaching and learning platforms, it is much appreciated.
To all our support and academic staff who are working remotely, thank-you. I am sure that there are many more unsung heroes and those that work tirelessly out of the limelight, we salute you. Every day that we work to keep our Institution going counts in ensuring that we will have a fully functioning (albeit differently functioning) Institution to come back to. The way in which our staff of our University have responded to this crisis makes me proud to be a Rhodian.
I know that there are still many unanswered questions and that a question for many staff is how we will treat the lockdown absence.
The Department of Labour has encouraged employers not to insist that employees take annual leave but make use of the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) which has been set up. This however has been set up for Employers who cannot afford to pay their staff and also assumes that staff are not working remotely. Rhodes staff have been paid in March and will be paid in April and as such Rhodes University will not be eligible for this scheme for the months of March and April. Other than the initial communication from the Department of Labour there has not been any further guidance. There are many unknowns including whether the lockdown will be extended. There is no one size fits all but once we are able to communicate how we will treat the lockdown we will do so.
Notwithstanding the challenging and unprecedented times we find ourselves in I encourage you all to stay strong and to look after yourselves. Be gentle and kind not only to those around you but to yourself. For those of you that are working remotely please know that every hour and minute you work, Rhodes is deeply grateful because we know it is challenging. Working remotely under normal circumstances is very different to working remotely under lockdown. There are many tasks that are usually performed by others that have to be picked up by us. If you need to take some time out to get things done and even if it is just some self-care to keep you and those around you sane please do it. Do what you can to keep yourself in the best head space possible.
Some guidelines that you may find helpful if you are working remotely: -
1) Have a structure and a routine, plan your day.
2) It helps to have a definitive start time and finish time (‘home time’).
3) Get up and get dressed in presentable clothes.
4) Put things in place that make it harder for you to get distracted especially by social media, Netflix etc.
5) Make sure you take breaks and get some fresh air and exercise (even if it means just walking around your house or garden).
6) Eat properly and drink lots of warm liquid.
7) Hide your treats, so that when you open your fridge and/or pantry they aren’t the first thing you see.
8) Don’t be too hard on yourself.
I also have these questions pinned up on my wall in front my desk which I have found uplifting as I ponder them each day.
1) What am I GRATEFUL for today?
2) Who am I CHECKING IN ON or CONNECTING WITH today?
3) What expectations of “normal” am I LETTING GO OF today?
4) How am I GETTING OUTSIDE today?
5) How am I MOVING MY BODY today?
6) What BEAUTY am I creating, cultivating or inviting in today?
In closing, thank-you once again to all those who are making a difference not only to Rhodes but to those around you. Keep it up!
Of course we are all hoping that we will be able to return to work on Friday, 17 April 2020 but be prepared for the fact that this may not be possible. May the rest of lockdown be kind to us all.
Sue Robertson, Acting HR Director