Reflections on the Return to In-Person Work

Written by Delphine Ji (Design Research Team Lead), Austin Go, Ting Bai, Izzy Friesen, and Hong Shu (Design Researchers)

Over the course of the summer, one team at the Innovation Hub has been dedicated to ensuring that returning to work in person is a positive experience. The team hosts team-building activities during our Friday workshop meetings and has been gathering feedback from team members. To grow and improve the Innovation Hub, a key focus is identifying aspects that are working well, and what to improve. With this term, the Innovation Hub has moved back into in-person work, and a few team members took a moment to reflect on their experiences. 

Adjusting to Hybrid Workspaces 

three people creating a tower of sticks

Our summer team has returned to the workspace, and is learning to find the balance between online and in-person working. While it’s encouraged to meet in person, there are many opportunities for team members to call in virtually, maximizing flexibility for everyone to fit the needs of current times. 

“I felt that the pandemic has changed the way we work. In the past, everyone was expected to work in person. Though most of the iHub’s meetings and co-working sessions are conducted in person, we also incorporate virtual and hybrid working arrangements when it’s appropriate. For example, when team members are out of town or have tight schedules. Sometimes it can be challenging to navigate between the awkwardness of having some members meeting in person while others are online. Nonetheless, I believe that transparent communication along with being flexible and understanding are the keys to successful teamwork.” – Ting Bai 

In-Person Socialization 

two people with a measuring tape and a hand built structure on the table

As jarring as it was to make the digital shift, coming back to in-person socialization can be equally challenging. As we slowly relearn mannerisms and visual cues, having a respectful environment can make the process easier.  

“I was excited to join a new team and meet new people, but being isolated for a long time, I also had social anxiety about being in front of a large group of people. But the atmosphere at the Innovation Hub is friendly and positive, and made it easier. Working here gives me an opportunity to meet and work with students from different disciplines. There is always something new to learn every time we meet. – Austin Go 

“It was challenging for me to come out of my shell and work with other team members. I was used to working by myself without talking to other people, especially during COVID-19. However, working at Innovation Hub helped me step out of my comfort zone and learn more about the collective power of wisdom. I learned that instead of facing up to challenges in isolation, I can always reach out to my team members who are non-judgmental, caring, and supportive all the time.” – Hong Shu 

Building Time Management 

two people outdoors kneeling in front of a container

As we move to in person, many aspects of time management need to be considered. From commuting to re-introducing social engagements into your life, the transition may provide some challenges to adapt to.  

 “As a commuter, I reflect on how I’m managing my time. I’m still working on intentionally being aware of how much time it takes to make myself breakfast, walk to the subway, or how much buffer time I need in case the TTC is delayed. Rebuilding these habits is not as easy, but over the past few months, I have been seeing some improvement. By rebuilding my time management habits and figuring out what works for me, I have been making strides in being present and prepared for both work and play. -Izzy Friesen 

Returning to Reconnection 

one person sitting at the table, one person standing and collecting cotton balls into a bowl

The past couple of years have been anything but easy, and the transition out of the pandemic provides new challenges on top of our already hectic lives. However, we are given the opportunity to connect or reconnect with others. Going back in person gives us the chance to reorganize and collaborate with others in our natural environments once again.  

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