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Working From Home in Higher Education

Learn the RaiseMe remote team’s tips for working from home in the context of higher education, and start creating a daily schedule that works for you.

For many of us, it is the first time we are working from home (WFH). That daydream we all had of working in our pajamas all day long, doing the laundry ahead of when we actually need to, and cooking a perfect lunch is likely not the reality we now live in. Luckily, we’ve asked a few of our RaiseMe experts who have worked from home throughout their careers to share their tips for working from home as higher ed professionals, specifically. 

RaiseMe Remote Team Locations

First, the Basics

  • Gather your means of communication: You are not limited to just one medium when you work from home, and there are some powerful tools out there to help you stay connected and be more productive. Popular options include Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Skype for video conferences. Replacing face-to-face meetings with video conferencing can be daunting and seem awkward at first, but with a few adjustments you will be a virtual collaboration powerhouse. Treat these video sessions as you would a face to face meeting, and find a spot where you feel comfortable taking calls. Remember that most of your coworkers are likely just as uncertain about how to handle these new tools as you are…so relax, and focus on engaging with coworkers and others in a natural, authentic way. 
  • Set boundaries: As you get settled, designate hours when you will “arrive” and “leave” work. This way you know when your day starts and ends, and work doesn’t fill every moment of each day. If you are at home with kids right now, try and be flexible with yourself and create a discrete list of tasks you will get done each day rather than force yourself and your family to adhere to traditional hours. 
  • Create community: These times are tough for everybody, and entering a totally new work routine can add to the stress. Lean on your community of family, friends, and neighbors. Create book clubs and recipe groups, watch TED talks together, or do virtual coffees with coworkers. Check-in more often! 
  • Be mindful of your environment:  While it’s tempting to work from your pajamas in bed you might feel more work ready by creating a purposeful workspace in your home. Check out these home workspaces from pro remote workers. 

WFH Tips for Higher Ed Professionals

  • Set a virtual all-hands meeting: This allows different groups to give updates on their territories and present their team’s work. It’s also a predictable time for everyone can count on coming together to maintain a sense of shared mission and progress. 
The Engineering Team at RaiseMe having an all-hands and using funky backgrounds
  • It’s data time: As priorities shift and new aspects of your work take on urgency, now is a good time to dive into your data to inform how you manage your time as effectively as possible. For example, you’ll want to determine how to allocate time between yield efforts for admitted students, outreach to counselors, and managing inquiries within each territory.  Confirm what the top priority enrollment goals are, consider your students’ time zones and availability to connect. Use your CRM to build a dashboard that helps you visualize and analyze by region, gender, ethnicity, major. Identify any gaps in admits, deposits, event attendance, or communication that you need to fill, and prioritize your time accordingly.  
  • When it comes to your team’s communication with students and parents, do it often. Now is a crucial time to guide students and parents in the admissions process. Set up virtual office hours for prospective students, push out communications about deadline dates, and use social media as a platform to answer questions students or parents may have. Use all platforms, channels, and tools available to you to communicate
  • Be flexible and creative: Your work won’t look exactly the way it did in an office. After all, your day may include new virtual initiatives in the absence of some major parts of your job that are no longer possible such as admissions events and travel So use this time at home to take a step back, reset, and strategize what this means for you and your work to support students. Now is the perfect time to be innovative and test out new strategies.

Tara Zirkel, Ed.D, is Senior Manager for Community College Partnerships Manager for RaiseMe. Tara has over a decade of student affairs experience in community college settings, including as the Dean of Distance Education and Education Centers at Westmoreland County Community College and as the Director of Admissions, Interim Dean of Students, Adjunct Faculty, and Interim Associate Academic Dean at the Community College of Allegheny County. She holds a doctorate of education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she researched enrollment habits of community college students.

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