Staff staying connected at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences
Following Jack Ma’s example of daily communication with his staff during the 2003 SARS lockdown in China, Dadi Chen, senior lecturer at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences (WUAS) proposed an online daily meeting for staff during the Education Board meeting in preparation for online teaching during the COVID-19 crisis. The proposal was gladly accepted by colleagues and thus the Online Coffee Table began. Every morning at 10 a.m., at least 30 members of WUAS staff from Apeldoorn, Amsterdam and Munich campuses gather online through Microsoft Teams.
According to Maggie Feng, Wittenborg CEO, this daily meeting is intended to check in with staff to ensure that everyone is coping well given the current situation. She considers the Online Coffee Table one of the positives from the COVID-19 pandemic, as it has brought staff much closer digitally than could have been achieved physically. Echoing this sentiment is WUAS lecturer, Bruno Salvetti, who sees this daily session as a tool that maintains our sense of community in these challenging times where we need to maintain our relationships latent in an environment of isolation. For lecturer Theodoor Breevoort, who was already in contact with most colleagues through other mediums before the COVID-19 pandemic began, the ability to see each other on screen and bond through chit-chat is welcome during these times.
The Online Coffee Table provides an opportunity for lecturers to discuss work-related problems as well as personal issues. For Dadi Chen, one interesting by-product of discussing personal issues is the innovative way that staff celebrate birthdays and share how they are staying busy during this time. The Online Coffee Table also creates the opportunity to know each other better and support each other at this difficult time while taking a break from routine work, which senior lecturer Doron Zilbershtein especially values.
Staying at home, while preferable for some, is quite a difficult adjustment for others. It is important to remain in touch with your friends and family so that you can encourage and uplift one another just like WUAS staff.
by Olivia Kawuma
©Wittenborg University Press