COVID-19: What to expect at work this fall

Posted on Wednesday, September 23, 2020

A person installed at their home office

Like many workers, a good portion of the uOttawa workforce has been working from home since the start of the pandemic. Given the ever-evolving nature of the situation, it is hard to know when most of us will return to campus. 

But rest assured. The uOttawa COVID-19 Recovery Task Force, in collaboration with Human Resources, has been working since the beginning of the pandemic on a robust plan that will guide us on what steps to take when that day finally comes. 

A gradual return to campus

When the time comes, staff will gradually return to their campus workplaces in three phases, with each phase affecting at most one third of the members of any given unit. This approach reflects the one adopted by the Government of Ontario. 

“At this time, it’s very difficult to predict exactly when all staff members will be able to return to the office. A return to normal depends entirely on how the COVID-19 situation evolves, as well as related public health guidelines,” said Director of Protection Services Dana Fleming, who is a member of the COVID-19 Recovery Task Force. 

To date, only employees whose work requires them to be present on campus have made the return. 

If your work allows you to function adequately at a distance, and you have not received any instructions on returning to work in the near future, there is a good chance you will continue working from home for the foreseeable future.  If in doubt, please speak to your manager. 

The new normal in the workplace 

Mask wearing, physical distancing, following new signage, completing self-evaluation forms… those returning to work on campus will need to adopt host of new habits. 

The University has established and communicated the various safety measures that faculty members and support staff must follow to keep everyone safe and healthy. You will be briefed on these measures during a mandatory orientation session that everyone must complete before returning to campus.  

Two guides have been published to assist those returning to campus, one aimed at employees, the other intended for managers. Be sure to review these guides for all the details.  

Those who require accommodations for medical or family reasons are asked to contact their manager and the Health and Wellness team at santerh@uOttawa.ca.

A positive telework experience 

Given that most of us will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future, many resources are being put in place to make the experience as positive and productive as possible. Need a few tips on setting up a home office? Check out this guide

Moreover, Human Resources has created a set of resources for University managers to help them motivate their teams and support employees working from home. 

Remember to take care of yourself

If you are feeling worried and stressed, remember that this is normal during unusual circumstances, and that there are resources available to help you cope.

All employees, including contractors, can access the short-term psychological consultation services as part of the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP)

Moreover, the mental health and wellness website lists a host of resources that are particularly relevant to childcare, stress, and telework. 

Finally, the Canadian Mental Health Association offers the free Bounce Back program, a useful resource you can turn to if you’re feeling stressed, worried, or anxious about COVID-19. 

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