Finding new ways of working in a remote environment

Shaun Haskins is a business operations manager in the College of Design

Editor’s note: Beyond the Call is a section in Around the O Workplace that highlights the exceptional work of UO employees during COVID-19. Each story features an interview with one employee, in his or her own words, with light editing for clarity and length only.

Shaun Haskins
Business Operations Manager in the School of Architecture and Environment

How long have you worked at the UO?

11 years as of September 11, 2020.

Tell us about your work:

My job is basically to make sure the machinery of my departments keeps running on the administrative side. I do basically everything from budget and finance to personnel matters to purchasing approvals to overseeing staff, managing our internal space, communicating with faculty about policy changes and things like that. I spend a lot of my time on emergencies, unexpected things that pop up that need attention. That's probably a good 20 or 25 percent of what I do.

How has your work changed during COVID-19?

The pandemic has changed my job because I have to be a lot more intentional about how I'm communicating. Our campus work environment is pretty close and a lot of our work would happen just as a matter of being in close proximity to one another and having really quick conversations. Without that proximity we’ve been figuring out how to make sure we're in regular contact and how to replicate some of the comfort and convenience of those kinds of conversations so they didn't disappear. In my role, I spend a lot more time thinking about what information I know and where it needs to go rather than being able to do kind of a daily round and check in with everyone.

Work-life balance is also so much more important now than it was before. I would really encourage everybody to give themselves as much flexibility as they can in their work and to encourage the people that report to them to have as much flexibility as possible in their work in order to support a healthy work-life balance.

One of the things we've also discovered is so many of the constraints around our work environment are kind of arbitrary. We've all decided that we need to be on campus at certain times and that offices need to operate in a particular way. In some offices folks have kind of hewed a little bit to those constructions and it's partially to give structure to the experience of working. On the flip side I think it's made some people reluctant to kind of jettison the things that are actually just getting in the way of feeling like you've got ownership over your work, engaging in a way that's healthy for you and that actually doesn't impact the end result of the work. I'm learning a lot of lessons about how we did business before that make me rethink a lot of steps that we were kind of clinging to that we don't have to necessarily.

What is keeping you motivated during this challenging time?

More than anything else, what really keeps me going right now is the realization that there are so many factors working against things going well that I just gotta be attentive. Things are changing so quickly in terms of the institutional context but also the broader context in which we're working so I don't want any of our students’ experience to be bad because we're not paying careful enough attention to what their needs are and how circumstances are changing.

Shaun is a part of the School of Architecture & Environment in the College of Design.

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