NorthTec staff supported while working from home

30 April 2020

NorthTec staff supported while working from home

With teaching moved online during pandemic Alert Levels 4 and 3, NorthTec staff have created innovative and interesting ways to deliver lessons and tutorials remotely through a combination of methods. 

NorthTec architectural technology tutor, Jan Irving, lives in rural Whangārei and has no internet access at her house. She has used Kiwi ingenuity to solve this – by parking a horse float on the top of a hill in her property and using the data from her work phone, with a back-up generator to start up when her laptop runs low on battery.

She says: “I still drive to work (in a four-wheel drive!) and the most challenging part is getting the generator to start. I miss the face-to-face teaching, but to make up for this I am running Zoom classes, which works because we have a small class and it really helps us to stay connected.”

Technology is playing its part to help tutors stay connected with their students. Nursing tutor, Victoria Munro, says: “If students are struggling then I usually Zoom or phone them to check in to see what support I can offer such as a listening ear, help with internet access or an extension on an assignment.”

The support from colleagues at this time has also been great, says Victoria. “Our nursing team has a dedicated drop-in session every morning at 8.30am for all staff to have a catch-up. This has helped us to stay connected as a team and express how we are managing within our bubbles and also with our work commitments.”

NorthTec’s Wellness Committee has also taken advantage of the technology available to the organisation and has set up a daily karakia via Zoom, led by Pathway Manager Matua Ross Smith, where everyone in the organisation can come together each morning and connect. 

Krystal Riley, head of NorthTec’s wellness committee, says connecting to others is really important for our wellbeing as we work in a sector where connection is part of our everyday work life. “A lot of NorthTec staff are in classrooms, or in open plan office spaces, and now we don’t see these people every day. Remaining connected as a work whānau helps us feel less isolated, better supported and protects us against anxiety and depression.”

A daily staff wellness newsletter started circulation at the beginning of the level 4 lockdown, and includes tips on working from home, mental health advice and competitions, including a working from home photo competition and an Easter baking competition. 

There is plenty to be thankful for at this time, say NorthTec tutors. Jan Irving says: “Working from home has its perks: no traffic worries, no parking problems, plenty of fresh air and an awesome view for tea breaks - I can look out and see the resident hawk patrolling the valley.”

Victoria Munro says: “My favourite part about working from home is not being stuck in traffic, being able to hang out my washing at morning tea time, being able to go for a walk around my garden when I need a break and having access to my pantry - but that might not be a good thing!”

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