College of Business Fiscal Operations through the COVID-19 Pandemic
Having just assembled her new Fiscal Operations team, Jeanine Pociask, College of Business ASM, expected 2020 to be a year of growth and learning; 2020 delivered and then some.
In January 2020, newly hired fiscal operations team along with longstanding ASM Jeanine Pociask began their journey into 2020 with high hopes. After only one month in the new positions, came the news of COVID-19 being more serious than anyone had anticipated. Federal and local government agencies imposed restrictions that inevitably resulted in CSULB community adapting to a new remote work environment to ensure safety for all campus employees. This left us with a unique set of circumstances to continue onboarding. Office procedures shifted dramatically with the COVID-19 pandemic as the fiscal team needed to transition to new work processes, modes of communication and collaboration. This was accomplished by incorporating Microsoft teams, Zoom meetings, and shared documents into our day-to-day operations.
As time moved forward and with no end to the virus in sight, the fiscal team had to ensure that departmental procedures were still completed in an accurate, efficient, and timely manner. This meant taking on a hybrid bi-weekly work schedule where we continued to report to campus throughout the pandemic. Important items such as payroll timekeeping, lecturer & student hiring, additional payment processing such as; the Summer Faculty Development program through ATS, all had to be completed while we continued learning our new jobs. Although only visiting campus twice per week, considerable progress was made through teamwork in an effort to maintain college operations. Improved systems and procedures were implemented that would enable a smoother workflow for all involved. Through the support of the university, the fiscal team was able to facilitate the purchase of improved technology to ensure all staff and faculty had the necessary equipment to deliver quality instruction and support to our students.
In addition to limited resources that came with working from home, as the virus continued to spread across the world and with unprecedented levels of disruption in everyone’s environment, employees were worried about their family’s health and job security. Not only did people fear the virus itself, but also with the ever-increasing level of unemployment outside our university, naturally, many on campus were concerned whether we would meet the same fate. The fiscal team engaged in discussion about this real world issues and level of uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic had brought about. Leading by example, ASM Pociask was able to develop psychological safety within the team and continue to reinforce high engagement in daily activities. She encouraged the team to work beyond their comfort-zone to continually strive for self-improvement which continues to be part of the process today.
What many on campus have learned from 2020 was that although unexpected situations may arise, we have the capacity for responsiveness, flexibility, and improvisation. The future may not currently be as clear as everyone would like, change should not be feared but embraced to ensure challenges are met appropriately and the best path forward is found.