Leadership & Management

Leadership Infographic:
It's not all Doom and Zoom

Credit to all authors below (listed alphabetically):

Whitney Burse, Nancy Carter, Zain Chagla, Teresa Chan,  Mark Crowther,
Pam Elmhirst, Dale Kalina, Karen Saperson, Mark Walton, Anne Wong.

Originally Published November 16, 2020
*Revised November 23, 2020*

It's been many months of working with social distancing and pandemic protocols and we're all feeling a bit exhausted. Some of us have spent hundreds of hours on Zoom or other teleconferencing software.

Although COVID-19 has changed our workflows, there are still some ways to find a way to connect with your team members and staff. A number of leaders from across FHS have contributed to this below tip sheet.

At the McMaster FHS, your team's mental health and physical safety are equally important. Here are some suggestions on how to change things up during this pandemic period. We asked our leaders to send their tips!

1. Strategies for Mitigating Digital Fatigue

  • Have phone or teleconference meetings to reduce eye contact and need to visualize the entire zoom.

  • Take your meeting on walk – call in to Zoom and go for a walk during the meeting.

  • If doing Zoom calls inside, get close to a window. Natural light will help you feel better (and looks great!).

  • If possible, take your meetings in different parts of the house.

  • Partition work and personal time; set up limits on when you check and reply to emails. Make sure you keep the weekends, to the extent possible, as personal time.

  • Equip yourself! Acquire a high quality chair, over the ear headset and more monitor(s). Dedicated glasses (for those who need vision near-vision correction) greatly reduce eye and next strain.

2. Get Outside (Weather permitting! Dress warmly!)

  • Make the first 5-10 minutes of your meeting social time – if they are recurring meetings with your team, consider giving it a theme (e.g., show your pet, everyone wear green, wear your McMaster gear, etc.)

  • Consider holding outdoor “walking meetings” with appropriate social distancing and masking as an alternative to Zoom virtual meetings if face-to-face discussions are preferred.

  • Consider offering scheduled meet-ups for outdoor hikes (within COVID-19) precautions) for your department, school, or program to keep in touch with members, and promote team building and wellness (such as the Department of Family Medicine residents).

  • Be sensitive to limitations of faculty and staff who have responsibilities related to child or elder care where walking meetings and/ or outdoor activities may not be possible.

  • Consider even just nipping outside for a walk in between calls. Just make sure to dress for the weather!

3. Foster Connection (Yes, even digitally!)

  • Before you book an event, make sure to check and follow your local Public Health guidelines.

  • Consider bringing a group of people to a digital event together (e.g. Women’s CHAT series from MacPFD - find out more at macpfd.ca/event-calendar)

  • Hold social get togethers or coffee breaks that are non-work-related (e.g. administrative staff who work for the Dean recently held a virtual retreat that was trivia based and even though it was held on Zoom.

  • Go out for lunch or dinner, particularly as long as patios remain open. Dress warmly and enjoy the fall weather. Pick times that are going to be less busy, and venues that have more space.

  • For those involved in clinical activities with learners – meet in person where possible and permissible. Virtual clinics are much less tiresome if you are speaking to the clinic staff and residents in person, rather than over the phone.

4. Rejuvenate Yourself. Treat Yourself.

  • Discover the activities that “fill your cup” and energize you – walking daily, meditation, playing with your kids, music, reading with a hot drink before anyone else wakes up, etc.

  • Exercise regularly – get outside where possible - exercising does not require going to a gym or specialized equipment. Click to read a blog post with more ideas.

  • Depending on your local public health guidance and the restrictions for your jurisdiction, consider larger indoor venues that are safe, monitored, and well ventilated (e.g. grocery markets, malls). This may not be available at all times, but at off-peak hours, these venues are less populated as well.

  • Indulge yourself – most of us are spending less on discretionary items right now, think about spending some money on something a bit frivolous

5. Target Your Interventions

  • Department of Psychiatry has produced series of rolling surveys to measure the issues affecting our members and directed our supports to where the members indicated most need

  • McMaster FHS Program for Faculty Development has been running multiple events since the pandemic started. Each event is recorded and then syndicated across multiple channels (recordings on YouTube, audio-version for Podcast, re-distribution later via an email newsletter). Target your intervention to meet the needs of your constituency/learner population.

And, that's a wrap for another quick hit from the @MacPFD team. Stay tuned for The Supportive Leader: Creating Effective Team Conversations During COVID-19 for more strategies and tools to use.