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Desk Services rises to the occasion

MAY 2020
Going creative: The SLIDE system for sending items to residents at the Willow Regional Desk. (Left to right: Student Trevor, Student Gabriela, Cristal Pinnix Visser, Occupancy Supervisor)‚Äč

Pandemic or no, Desk Services for the residence halls continues to offer the same services from before the virus’s impact on the University and HFS. What’s changed are some of the methods of operation.

“The Desk Services team has been really quick to respond and adapt to changing protocols and guidelines,” says Emily Maki, Desk Services Manager. “We have worked well with other units to ensure we can continue to offer our normal services and that we can be flexible when needed to provide out-of-the box solutions.” She adds the staff continues to provide excellent customer service.

During this time, Emily works remotely, with Desk Services staff onsite at the Willow and Lander Regional Desks, as well as the Nordheim Desk. 

“I have weekly Zoom meetings with my team and am in daily contact via email,” says Emily, who has been with HFS for 6 years. “I am also available at any time they need to reach me (Skype, Zoom, phone).” She also sets up meetings with individual staff to address topics specific to occupancy, scheduling or other desk-related issues.

The team put into effect measures that emphasize both customer and staff safety. To minimize person-to-person interaction, residents can return keys and building access cards via drop boxes. Signage alerts customers to remain the recommended six feet away each other and staff. Custodial teams have increased the level of sanitation procedures.

Desk Services is also coordinating with Residential Life to allow family or friends room access to move out items. For package handling, the team devised a safe system for the intake, storage and delivery of items. One significant change is that residents do not have to provide a signature during package pickup.

Looking back, Jennifer Bhat, Regional Desk Supervisor says, “Working during the evolving days of the crisis was interesting.  We were dealing with key returns, processing vacates, coordinating resident room access for Dorm Room Movers and other authorized move-out proxies, as well as processing mail and packages, all of which are very hands on, so working remotely was not a possibility.” Even though it was stressful to do so, she adds that 
coming into the office each day provided a sense of normalcy in a very uncertain time.

In addition to the HFS staff, about 30 student staff (DSRs) continue to work at the three locations. (These student staff will not work over this summer and Desk Services hopes to have them return in the fall.) The students came up with several acronym descriptors for the SLIDE system at the Willow Regional Desk (see photo above) built by student Trevor and Cristal Pinnix Visser, Occupancy Supervisor:  Super Linear Item Delivery Expediter and Supreme Low-Tech Instant Delivery Experience. One DSRer also calls it the quarantine machine.