Session: Understanding Remote Work Life Balance at the Epicenter of Covid-19 (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

213 Understanding Remote Work Life Balance at the Epicenter of Covid-19

Friday, January 22, 2021: 1:15 PM-2:15 PM
Cluster: Work and Work-Life Policies and Programs
Diane DePanfilis, PhD, MSW, Hunter College, Geetha Gopalon, PhD, MSW, Hunter College, Stacy Sakane, MPA, Hunter College, Maia Hyary, PhD, Hunter College and Hyunjoon Um, PhD, MSW, Hunter College
The Covid-19 has transformed how and where we work. It has resulted in unprecedented change including shifting countless employees to work from home while simultaneously juggling the complex needs of their families.

Common challenges of remote work include lack of face to face supervision, lack of access to information, social isolation, and distractions at home (Larson, Vroman, & Makarius, 2020). How are those challenges amplified when staff also experience the sudden loss of family members, colleagues, or friends? How do employees concentrate on “work� when they live with the fear of being exposed or having their loved ones exposed to the coronavirus? Moreover, how can workers, already at high risk for secondary trauma (Sprang et al., 2011) due to their frequent interactions with traumatized individuals, cope with the additional stress of these unprecedented times while working remotely?

Research has established best practices about how managers can support remote employees (Larson, Vroman, & Makarius, 2020). For example, establishing daily check-ins, providing access to a range of technology for different types of communication, (e.g., Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Instant Messaging), providing opportunities for remote social interaction, and offering encouragement and emotional support are all essential when remote work occurs suddenly without established policies for working from home.

The panel representing university and social service agencies based in New York City will set the stage for this roundtable discussion based on their lived experience and based on their frequent implementation of a Remote Work/Live Pulse survey distributed to social service professionals. The survey adapted from a survey developed by Qualtrics, explored how staff balanced their work/life demands, what supports they needed, and assessed how well their organizations responded to their needs over time.

Results from frequent surveys deployed over time with quantitative and qualitative check-ins will be described as a framework for discussion among attendees. Panelists will lead a discussion about how attendees responded to understand the impact of the Covid-19 including processing the collective lived experience, and discuss strategies implemented by organizations to tend to the health and well-being of their staff during this unprecedented world crisis.

Questions that will guide the discussion: What individual and organizational factors seemed to affect the reported work/life balance over time? What types of communication methods seemed to be most effective for supporting work teams? How did technology support or challenge work from home? In what ways did supervisors support their staff to juggle multiple roles while working from home?

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