Healthy Brown

Virtual Community

Many offices have curated tips, tools and technologies for cultivating and maintaining a sense of community, even while most Brown employees and students are away from campus.

Cultivating Community

With all Brown students completing the semester via remote learning and most employees telecommuting from their homes, maintaining a sense of who we are as a community at Brown is more important than ever.

While the format for events and interactions among Brown community members might change, a wealth of tools and technologies allows for campus activity to continue vigorously, even while students, faculty, staff and others are separated physically.

This page includes tips and resources for all Brown employees working to maintain community remotely. Learn to:

  • connect through virtual events;
  • connect through wellness programs;
  • connect through skills development and training;
  • connect generally through technology while working from home;
  • connect through your team (tips for supervisors); and
  • connect through benefits.

Connect Through Virtual Events

Does your department hold events on campus during the semester? Rather than cancelling, it’s important to offer virtual events to maintain a sense of community within departments and across the University. If you had previously scheduled your event to happen on campus and it involved University service providers or external vendors, notify all parties of the event change as soon as possible. The Office of University Event and Conference Services has provided a guide to managing major events during this time.

Use this checklist as an introductory guide for organizing virtual events, from panel discussions, single-speaker talks and fireside chats:

  1. Determine the best event format and length. Will there be a 30-minute presentation from a single speaker, followed by a 30-minute Q&A? Or an hour-long panel discussion based on pre-submitted questions?
  2. Invite guests and speakers to participate remotely, and obtain permission to use images that will help you promote the event to attendees and use photos and videos to share event content when it’s done. 
  3. Determine technology needs, consulting this Zoom Web Conferencing guide from Computing and Information Services (CIS). To record the event and share the video with the wider community, fill out a media request form for assistance from CIS.
  4. Determine the audience for your event and share event details accordingly. If the event is open to the full Brown community, publicize it on the [email protected] calendar and submit it to [email protected].
  5. Consider sharing events on social media channels, whether for defined groups, or events open to the public. 
  6. Take advantage of services such as Eventbrite to gather RSVPs, or continue to rely on other existing digital systems you may have for confirming attendance. 
  7. If the event relies on audience questions, consider soliciting questions from registered attendees in advance.
  8. If applicable, gather and organize content for a presentation, creating slides with the University or department logo when appropriate (consult the University’s policies on Brown name and logo use).
  9. Test all software and applications before the event to ensure everything goes smoothly.
  10. During the event, include an introduction to ensure that attendees know they are in the right place. Check in with attendees regularly to address any questions or concerns.
  11. After the event, follow up with attendees to share recordings or resources that were discussed during the event. Collect feedback from attendees that may help you plan future virtual events. 

Connect Through Wellness: Programs and Resources

Your wellness journey can continue even while you work away from campus. From online workshops, to self-paced journeys, to virtual destination challenges with your colleagues, Wellness at Brown can help you stay healthy, motivated and connected!

  • Wellness at Brown is offering an array of webinars on topics ranging from finding the right exercise for your personality type to improving your sleep.
  • Your Virgin Pulse Wellness Portal is packed with resources to help you with all your well--being goals. Check out an online journey on Getting Strong at Home or Organizing for Financial Fitness; watch a Whil Yoga or Mindfulness session; select one of hundreds of week-long Healthy Habit Challenges, or take it to the next level and invite some colleagues to join you in a steps challenge or healthy habit challenge.
  • Walk to Health programs offers a team-based challenge approach to health and wellness. 
  • In addition to Wellness at Brown programming, the Mindfulness Center at Brown offers weekly Zoom drop-in sessions intended to support anyone interested in developing and sustaining a regular mindfulness meditation practice.

Connect Through Skills Development

Your workspace may have changed, but you can still make professional development an integral part of your week at Brown.

  • Talent Development at a Glance will be regularly updated with virtual training links, telecommuting tips and other learning opportunities. A special edition includes a guide to coaching a virtual workforce, tips for working remotely for you and your family, and advice from other curated resources. 
  • Continue to take advantage of the University Library’s seminars and trainings, which are now being offered remotely. The library hosts sessions on searching for funding opportunities, managing and presenting data, using software such as Photoshop and Keynote, and more.
  • Be sure to also check back for regular updates and new e-learning opportunities. 

Connect Through Technology: Tips for Working from Home

As most Brown employees work remotely, technology makes it easy to stay connected to colleagues in your department and other resources at Brown.

  • Hold meetings via Zoom, which allows up to 300 participants to participate in a live web video or audio conference. Features include screen-sharing, chat, video sharing, mobile collaboration including co-annotation, and recording to the cloud or to your computer. Robust mobile apps for iOS and Android devices are available. New to Zoom? Start with this Zoom Web Conferencing guide.
  • Set and maintain a work schedule. While flexibility may be needed throughout your day, recognize and respect regular working hours. Schedule time on your calendar for lunch and breaks, as appropriate.
  • If you need to use campus-limited web resources or want a more secure connection to the internet when you’re on an open Wi-Fi network, find out how to connect to the Brown VPN.
  • Get virtual research help from the University Library at [email protected]. Brown community members can also reach subject librarians by email and via online chat, and faculty can continue to request online course reserves. More information about online services can be found on the library’s website.
  • Review the Telecommuting page for guidance on working off-campus, leave policies and additional resources. Or find detailed advice on this Tips and Best Practices for Working Remotely guide from University Human Resources.

Connect Through Your Team: Tips for Supervisors

Employee supervisors have an important role to play in maintaining community among teams.

  • Encourage Ongoing Communication: By creating the expectation that an entire department, team or research laboratory will communicate regularly with one another, members will feel connected regardless of where they are.
  • Focus on Completing Tasks: Look at your team’s goals and consider what can be revised and what needs to be prioritized. Some work may need to be postponed indefinitely, while other goals may be easier to achieve remotely. Send a regular email with department, team or lab priorities and check back in regularly to celebrate meeting those goals. 
  • Inquire and Assess: Ask how, not if, your team is being affected by this situation. Remember that everyone’s situation is different, and work with each person to assess and adjust their work plan as needed.

Connect Through Benefits: the Faculty Staff Assistance Program and Telemedicine

Benefits provided to Brown employees can play a role in providing support in a way that enables all faculty and staff to stay connected to the University community.

  • The Faculty/Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) is available 24/7 to assist you and your loved ones. Counseling sessions, a Health Resource Library and a variety of work/life and convenience service referrals can help you manage your day-to-day routine when disruptions occur.
  • Telemedicine enables you to be seen by a physician without ever stepping foot in a crowded waiting room. Telemedicine offers eligible employees and dependents 24/7 access to board-certified physicians through phone and/or video consultations. Employees must be covered under one of Brown's health insurance plans.

For more information, visit the Resources and Tips page on the University Human Resources site.