Feb. 10, 2021

Pandemic Reflections: Dru Marshall on how COVID-19 has changed the work we do

Recognize a UCalgary team for their exceptional work during the pandemic, by sharing your story through the Pandemic Reflections website
Help Prevent the Spread sign on door of EEEL building.
Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

The University of UCalgary wants to acknowledge and recognize the efforts of the university community during the pandemic. We reached out to leaders on campus and asked them to reflect on a set of questions.
What we heard through these Pandemic Reflections is that we have a campus that is resilient, and also a campus that recognizes the work of others during this difficult time.

In part one of a three-part series, we talk to UCalgary Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Dru Marshall.

Q: How has work changed for you since COVID-19?

A: Well, the days are longer as we deal with all the issues related to COVID in addition to our regular jobs! I have missed seeing people face to face, but our team seamlessly adapted to working together online. A lot of our work involves meetings and teamwork, as we are more effective when we talk things through than when we email, so it has been essential to ensure we schedule a time to work through ideas and make the best decisions for the campus community.

Q: When we get back to our new normal, what do you want to take with you as a memory from your time away from the workplace?

A: When we were able to be more vulnerable and share more about our “whole self” with one another. I learned more about our team, whether they were taking care of family members or their work-from-home experience. Learning more about each other strengthens our relationships and allows us to work together more effectively.

Q: What is one thing you learned about working from home that will help you in the workplace?

A: Now that we have all experienced working from home and how it can be a bit more isolating, we’ve learned the magnified importance of connection during these unprecedented times. Taking the time to do the small reach-outs to check in on each other is important — a quick text or call can make a significant impact.

Q: How will you work differently with your colleagues when you return to the workplace?

A: I am back in the office most days now, and I value seeing our team more than ever. The quick hallway conversations have always been crucial for collaboration and connection, but they are more meaningful in these times. So relationships — either in person or virtually through Zoom, text or email — will continue to be critical. I also think we can get together quickly online more efficiently than we might at times in person — so I don’t see some of our online meetings stopping.

Q: What expectations/definitions of “normal” are you letting go of?

A: I always say we have an individual responsibility to take care of ourselves and a collective responsibility to ensure we look out for one another. Now more than ever, we have to grant each other grace and understand that these are challenging times, and everyone has faced a significant amount of change this year. We need to be more flexible and be open to new ways of doing — seize the opportunity to be innovative and adapt to our new reality.

Recognition can be simple and fun, while its impact is meaningful and lasting

There’s nothing louder than the silence where “thanks” should be. When you see great work happen, make some noise. Being recognized and recognizing others builds a supportive and positive workplace.

It has been nearly a year since the pandemic first affected us and we want to hear from you. When reflecting on 2020, challenge yourself to consider what lessons you have learned during this time and how this discovery can impact your recognition of yourself and others.

If you want to recognize any teams who did exceptional work during the COVID-19 pandemic, please submit your stories through the HR Pandemic Reflections website.