Adapting to our new ‘normal’: Working in Print and Post Services during lockdown and beyond
Print and Post Services Manager Helen Clarke has continued to work on campus throughout the coronavirus pandemic, supporting both her team and the students that have remained in halls over the last few months.
Here she explains how her team have adjusted to working in lockdown, and the steps taken to make staff, students and visitors feel safe when using the print and post services.
It’s fair to say that this is a stressful time. COVID-19 has impacted everything and everyone in some way or other, including our work.
The University’s Print and Post Services has not closed during lockdown, along with a few other teams, we have stayed open throughout.
We have done that for our students still on campus. The team in the Herbert Manzoni Building have been consistent – taking in and handing out mail as well as providing a friendly face and a caring voice. But that’s not happened without concern, careful planning and constant communication.
The service has had to adapt: ways of working, building layout and processes have all had to change. Our team has learnt how to exist safely yet practically, and as some colleagues have returned, these measures have eased worries and given confidence to live the ‘new normal’.
Full risk assessments, signage and floor markings have been used to define and mitigate risk to reassure colleagues of the safety of the environment.
One of our front of house supervisors Michelle had expressed her concerns before returning, with initial worries about staying within two-metre working spaces and having the correct PPE (personal protective equipment) for her own safety.
“After my induction, I felt reassured that the necessary steps had been taken to ensure I felt safe and confident to work,” said Michelle.
“We have Perspex screens for the counters, clearly defined work areas to ensure we have the right number of people in a space and my manager is constantly checking that we have the PPE we need.”
One of our other team members, Tony, also shared similar feelings: “Working with couriers and delivery drivers had been a real worry for me coming back to campus, but the steps taken to protect us and make us feel safe have been well thought out and work in our practical environment.”
Keeping customers and visitors safe has been equally planned to assess and mitigate risks. Essential activities to manage printers across campus, reinstate postal deliveries, and the management of couriers have all been modified to meet current guidelines.
Redefining service delivery and managing expectations in the ‘new normal’ have been essential to the service moving forward as lockdown eases. Huge changes have happened within the service, including a significant move to all print requests coming via the Online Shop to reduce human interaction.
Postal services have also changed as turnaround times are unpredictable, and an increase in department mail to the Herbert Manzoni Building adds to the workload whilst most other buildings are closed.
And yet, the team know these changes are essential to the future of campus operations. Becoming the single location for mail has enabled the University to control cross-contamination. Couriers and delivery drivers can no longer move freely across campus nor enter buildings unchallenged.
Mailroom Manager Sue has continued to work throughout the pandemic: “Providing our service to the students has been crucial. Packages from home have not stopped, and myself and the team have worked hard to be the friendly face, still here, still smiling and having a laugh.
“Some of these students have been in their halls for weeks on end because of the lockdown. They needed to see us, to see that we are happy to be here. We could have let our own worries and stresses show but we knew our role was beyond that.”
The team’s unwavering ‘can do’ attitude during lockdown has been exceptional and their emotional intelligence and resilience to do right by others in the face of dramatic challenges has set them apart.
Their confidence in the social distancing measures and their willingness to make them work has enabled the service to carry on and stand as an example to others as the campus is reoccupied. I’m very grateful for all their hard work during this time, and I hope gradually I can start to see more familiar faces return to our campuses soon.
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