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Extension Operations

Ohio State University Extension


Thoughts from the Director

Dear Colleagues, 

It’s hard to believe that it’s already mid-June and official summer begins next week. I know it’s a busy fair, camp, and field work season, but I also hope you have been able to plan a vacation and/or some long weekends during the next few weeks to recharge and refresh your own batteries. I’m excited to be going on vacation at the end of the month, and I look forward to some great family and friend time away from the office. 

With refueling in mind, I want to pass along some general expectations for balancing life and work in Extension that I shared during the Ohio JCEP (Joint Council of Extension Professionals) meeting earlier this week. I encourage you to keep these in mind as you connect with your office teammates, and please remember to give consideration to everyone’s life/work balance, as it may look a little bit different than your own. 

  • A 60-hour work week should be the exception, not the rule. There are busy seasons, but on par, this is not an expectation.  
  • Set boundaries for when you are off the clock. You do not have to share your personal cell number. Your Skype or other number can be forwarded to your cell phone, and that can help you differentiate a work call from a personal call. 
  • You should step away from email at night and on weekends. Set clear guardrails for yourself with your colleagues and your volunteers and clientele. We all need the mental break and time away from work demands. 
  • You can take 24-48 hours to respond to a non-urgent question or phone call. Simply acknowledge the receipt of the request and let them know you will be in touch shortly. 
  • Stay off of the grid during vacations, and prepare your team(s) in advance so you can do so. 
  • Plan ahead and protect your vacations – use your hours. Do not lose the days the university has already allocated for you to be out of the office.  
  • Become familiar with the flexible work arrangements available to you. They have been shared broadly; but as a review, they include up to one full day of telework weekly for everyone in the office, if there is work that can be done remotely. Educators can work up to two full days (16 hours) telework per week. There should be no one working a majority of their time from home on a regular basis, unless they have worked this out with their supervisor; and it should be focused on doing deep work or virtual education/programming, not simply preference. It goes without saying that performance, responsivity, and communication are expected remotely, as they are in the office. 
  • There is a compressed work week option available for 4 x 10-hour days, if this can be worked out with the unit and supervisor. This is based on ability to maintain specific office operations and role. 
  • Check with your supervisor if you are interested in a flexible work arrangement.  
  • There is the option of predictable staggered start and stop times within an office, if the public office hours are covered and your schedule can be worked out with the office and supervisor. 
  • There is the option of professional scheduling, but this must involve effective communication with unit colleagues and supervisors. Colleagues should know in advance when possible, and your calendar should always be up-to-date. You will likely know at least a few days ahead of time when you have night and weekend meetings. 
  • Educators often will be in the field or at other off-site meetings, and it is to be expected that they won’t always be at their desks. However, all calendars should be up-to-date and shared. Communication is key. 
  • We have more flexibility now than ever before in Extension; but we must keep our clientele, community, and colleagues in mind. It is only fair to be flexible for others as well as when we desire it for ourselves.

As always, I am so proud of the work we do in Extension and all of your passion to bring the vision and mission of OSU Extension to life. I trust that we can apply the same professionalism with which we do our jobs to our life/work balance conversations and plans with our teammates. 

If you have any other helpful suggestions for life/work balance or things you’ve tried that work really well, please share those with me. I’d love to hear how our professionals are being creative at balancing their work and life priorities!

Best regards, Jackie