University of Wisconsin–Madison
CIO Blog

Staying socially connected at a distance

Our communities and our families are adjusting to an immense amount of change and uncertainty in our daily lives. There is a lot of information available about how to cope during these times, and I offer just a few comments here about things we’re doing to maintain social connection, even as we remain physically distant for a time.

In the workplace, we rely on serendipity of the hallway—bumping into someone, or stopping into someone’s office to catch up, or chatting in the kitchen, to stay connected.

So how can we stay connected without those in-person interactions?

First, reach out to others. Check in with your teammates, people you work with, your connections. See how they’re doing and let them know how you are.

Second, here at UW–Madison’s Division of Information Technology, we created a DoIT Community MS Teams Site and now have social channels where we can share tips to:

  • Keep kids engaged in fun activities and occupied while parents work
  • Share technology hacks for working from home
  • Offer exercise tips and ideas for getting moving while we work
  • Share new recipes to try as we stay “Safer at Home”
  • And give suggestions for binge-worthy shows and movies

Special thanks to Dave Pagenkopf for the idea, Derrian Jones, Marcus Machacek and others for setting up this new DoIT Community and getting the word out.

Many of us are starting to feel like we’re settling into a productive work-from-home rhythm.

For my part, I struggled for days with latency and bandwidth issues as I hopped back and forth between meetings on Webex, Microsoft Teams and other platforms. So, my husband and I spent a couple of hours disassembling my workstation and moving it next to the network closet for a wired ethernet connection, which has solved the bandwidth problems. This also has an unexpected upside of being right next to my home exercise area, making it easy to take regular movement breaks during the day.

I hope you’ve all also been able to find ways to optimize your workspace and work style at home, even as you’ve settled into the “new normal” of working alongside your spouses, partners, children and pets. Many of you are flexing work schedules around family care, and I hope you’re finding rhythm and balance.

Your ideas for how we can thrive while working from home are welcome and appreciated. Also, please remember to take the time to take care of yourselves and those around you. Even while we remain physically distant, let’s do our best to remain socially connected with each other, both as human beings and university colleagues.