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Adjusting and planning for an uncertain future

Dear FM,

In today’s message, I’d like to focus on how we are continually adjusting to these ever changing times and planning for an uncertain future. I’ll invite you to share your input on a couple of these topics and look forward to reading what you share. 

Departments returning to campus
If you’ve been reading along with President Gabel’s messages, you will recognize the term “Sunrise Plan.” The Sunrise Plan outlines a gradual reopening of limited functions on our campuses and other University sites. This is an intentional and comprehensive plan that is consistent with guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health and was developed at the request of Governor Walz. The sun has slowly begun to rise, and some departments are returning to campus for research and operations. FM is also increasing our presence on campus which will continue as more departments return to campus. 

Financial challenges
Along with the Sunrise Plan, recent messaging from President Gabel explains that efforts are underway to plan for our financial future. Planning for different budget scenarios in FM is a part of this overall effort, and that planning process has begun. We benefit from your ideas and solutions every day, and this is no different. I would like to hear your ideas for how to control costs and create operational efficiencies in FM.  Please consider ideas that affect our operations, infrastructure, administrative processes, or any other areas where you think we can improve. Every idea may not be feasible to implement, but we want to get broad input to consider all options. Also note that ideas already submitted to the Finance and Operations group at the University level planning pertaining to FM continue to be forwarded to us. 

Click here to submit ideas for cost control and operational efficiencies

How are you doing?
With May being National Mental Health Month, I feel this is a good time to acknowledge that this is a stressful time, and we may benefit from sharing our experiences. I’d like to hear from you on what you find most challenging about this time and how you are coping. The FM leadership team and I offer our personal reflections below.  

Click here to share how you're coping

Note that your responses will be linked in the next Biweekly newsletter.

What do I find challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic?

  • Bill - I have found it challenging to stay connected to both work colleagues and family and friends - emails and zoom meetings only go so far!  I am especially concerned about my 84 year old mother who lives alone near Cincinnati and has some short term memory issues. All her local friends and relatives are also staying home and especially staying away from the retirement community where she lives, so no one is really checking on her. When I talked to her yesterday she said she does not remember much from the last 2 weeks, but the mail has not been piling up in the mailbox so she must have gone out to get it at least a few times. I know everyone has their own personal challenges to manage, and this is one of those that is unsettling for me.

  • Dave - The disruption to my regular routine and not being with people on campus and in my personal life.

  • Linda - Living with the uncertainty of our situation at work and at home. In particular, seeing my high school senior deal with the loss of the events and celebrations that he was looking forward to, as well as having to wait and wonder about what his first year at the U of MN will be like.

  • Erick - I miss being with people in person! Though 'Business Erick' (an inside family standing joke) is mostly my facade in the office environment, I love people. Zoom meetings are helpful, but they are a deficient substitute when human emotion and non-verbal body language is needed for hardy/productive discussion. 

  • Shane - I'm worried for the people that are especially impacted by this crisis, including those that have gotten sick or lost jobs as a result of the pandemic, and essential workers that are in higher risk jobs. My Mom, Brother, and Sister are all essential workers and in jobs where the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is higher (Mom is a nurse manager at Bethesda, M Health Fairview's COVID-19 hospital, Sister is an ultrasound tech, Brother works for a co-op grocery), so this has hit particularly close to home.

  • Jen - The ambiguous uncertainty of the unknown, being with people in person and concern for the health of my family and friends.

How am I coping?

  • Bill - I try to find at least one thing per day to do that makes me feel productive outside of work. Most are very simple things but something I can get done and check off my list -  paying the bills, taking a bike ride, working in the yard, baking a loaf of bread, or doing some touch up painting around the house.

  • Dave - Continuing to rise early in the morning and taking quiet time to begin the day.  Throughout the day I try to connect with as many people as I can to see how I can help deal with challenges. More of my exercise routine is outside with bicycling, running & golf. Spending more time cooking with my wife and discovering new meals has also been fun.

  • Linda - Connecting with family and friends regularly. Finding ways to keep active: Zoom yoga, "front yard fitness" (hosted by a neighbor), and lots of walking. 

  • Erick - Instead of my 35-60 min ride to campus each morning, the dog and I make a 2 mile walk before the second cup of coffee then I fire-up the lap-top and work engage for the day. Nothing like a 6:00 am sunrise walk to help you sort out the plan for the day.

  • Shane - I go for a walk with our dog and my youngest son each day. I do body weight exercises (push ups, situps, squats) 4-5 days a week (and then record them in the Seize the Day Wellness Program challenge). My family has a regular video call once a week to touch base, catch up, and make sure we are all doing ok. A few times a week I also try to connect with friends, family members, acquaintances, or colleagues that I haven't seen or talked to for awhile just to make sure they are doing ok personally and seeing if there is anything I can do for them. Finally, our family is purchasing more frequently from local businesses that may be struggling during this time.

  • Jen - Increased intentional exercise, checking in with family and friends more regularly and making sure I have a delish hot cup of coffee each morning.

And lastly, on Friday I sent a message to our Twin Cities building contacts and facilities partners regarding what they may expect from FM as employees return to campus. Click here to read that message.

Thank you for your flexibility and creative solutions in responding to COVID-19. We have come so far in only three months. We have more work to do, and I’m confident we’ll succeed together.

Have a great week!



Performance reviews
Manager reviews are due this Friday, May 15 in U Review.

Check out the Wellbeing Program website for updates to the current offerings to get Wellbeing points. 

U of M COVID-19 resources

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