Ryerson provides virtual lunch and learns, remote work guide for staff during coronavirus

Ryerson University is taking a well-rounded approach toward supporting its staff and faculty who are working from home due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The university has released a new guide to remote working, covering best practices such as developing a routine, setting up an ergonomic workspace and establishing an after-work ritual to signal the day is over. It encourages employees to check in regularly with their colleagues, think about the tone of their messages and provides tips on developing a positive remote work culture.

The guide also offers well-being tips, such as carving out alone time, staying in touch with friends and family and avoiding information overload. It also acknowledges “the reality of the situation,” by providing suggestions on how staff and faculty can manage the dual responsibilities of working from home and caring for their children, says Natalie Roach, the university’s mental-health coordinator and co-author of the well-being tips.

Read: Employers moving to remote work to help ‘flatten the coronavirus curve’

“This is something that’s changing every day, and our response to it is one that is active and engaged and very mindful of the fact that this is impacting employees’ well-being. We are being flexible and adaptive and communicating as much as we can.”

To support employees’ mental health, Roach is continuing to run monthly well-being lunch and learns in a virtual setting. Initially, she had planned to cancel the most recent one, a reiki session on March 26 over Zoom, until the instructor suggested a virtual class.

“Reiki is always really popular,” she says. “It provides [participants] an opportunity to slow down, ground themselves and calm their nervous system. It’s one we almost always have a wait list for. . . . All the participants were so grateful [we moved it online].”

Read: How to support employees’ mental health during coronavirus

On May 1, Roach is hosting the next virtual lunch and learn, featuring a local naturopathic doctor who will discuss staying energized for life, how to overcome the common causes of fatigue and how someone’s lifestyle can impact their energy, diet and nutrition. Later in May, a member of Ryerson’s nutrition department will discuss how to “eat for energy” and avoid the all-too-common afternoon slump.

Roach says she’s been heartened to see colleagues and leaders in the three departments she’s a part of — student well-being, workplace well-being and the office of the vice-president of equity and community inclusion — communicating regularly and sharing helpful information.

Read: Dalhousie, Ryerson focusing on mental health in January

“One of the messages I got from a leader . . . was talking about acknowledging the fact that a lot of us feel deeply concerned about the people we love even though we aren’t able to see them and providing guidance on what we can still do in these strange times,” she Roach.

Ryerson’s internal news outlet has also shared a list of entertainment resources that staff, faculty and students have access to, including films and documentaries, online journals and virtual guided walking tours throughout Toronto.