All Things Access in a Pandemic

Access worker, understudy and Youth Company teacher Millie (Amelia Clarke) reflects on the evolution of her duties as an access worker in the pandemic…

Portrait of Millie dancing in the studio, her long, brown, curly hair flying mid-movement. Millie is looking down, laughing. Photo by Chris Parkes.

ID: Portrait of Millie dancing in the studio, her long, brown, curly hair flying mid-movement. Millie is looking down, laughing. Photo by Chris Parkes.

Like most of us, this pandemic shifted how work life looked. My normal studio day consisted of instigating travel arrangements, physical management, making sure other dancers were ready for class and had what they needed. Then during class, checking to make sure everyone understood the exercise and finding some time to go over their 1-2-1 feedback. Over the last couple of years, I have really learnt how to read my colleagues body language, for instance, when they needed breaks or more time to work on a phrase and creative tasks. However, as the government demanded national lockdown my role was redesigned and evolved.

Stopgap instantly went online and had to learn and adjust to the magical ways of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Whatsapp, FaceTime calls, Facebook live and YouTube! I was not particularly computer literate when it came to technology (and I still struggle with it now) so I had plenty of learning to do as we started our new workdays. I knew I needed to adapt to this way of working very quickly. Working 1-2-1 made up a majority of my job and communication was definitely at the heart of my studio days.

My amount of communication was really heightened. To begin with, I was messaging people every morning before work to make sure they were up ready to start the day, checking in to see if there were any technical problems and how people were feeling. All of our vocabulary changed from travel to check in, and studio to home environment as we all began to ramp up our hours of screen time. I knew it was all getting a lot when I was calling a normal conversation a meeting! However, we all began to settle into the new routine of a digital schedule which quickly became normal.

So, here are some top tips in supporting people while working online…

  • Be super organised with schedules and timetables. Make sure you’re really clear with meeting/class times and which platforms they are accessed on. Include all passwords, links and codes.
  • Make sure timings are in an easy-read format and keep to a pattern with how you present schedules.
  • Keep a folder on your phone with all the zoom codes, passwords, links etc. This means they can be accessed quickly as there’re all in one place and can be shared to people if needed.
  • Manage screen time so people don’t feel overloaded. I have found that too much screen time reduces focus and productiveness and can cause headaches and tiredness.
  • Make sure you are clear when you are starting and finishing your day. Try not to answer emails or messages outside of these times. It’s really important to take your downtime and recharge.
  • Make sure your colleagues know that they can never ask too many questions. This actually applies to everyone so keep asking and learning!

The most important thing in this job is to flexible. Our circumstances seem to be shifting all the time and the role is forever changing as people come and go. Just remember to have lots of enthusiasm, energy, creativity and lots of laughs!

– Millie

As of 30th September, Millie finished working for Stopgap and is moving on to exciting new things, join us in wishing her luck on her journey!