Since Covid-19 emerged to a pandemic in 2020 it has compelled many governments around Europe to take extreme measures of lock down to a degree unimaginable until then. As a result millions of Europeans were forced to stay home for an extended period of time. Unexpectedly employees had to work from home for the first time, teachers had to teach from home for the first time, students needed to continue learning from home for the first time and parents had to support their families – both their kids and parents – in a different way from the one they were used to. This new reality found most, unprepared to adapt their working, leaving, producing, creating, learning, teaching and living habits and be as productive and effective while staying at home. Thus, CONOCO project aims to collect practices from the partner countries and beyond, on how the Europeans employees- employers, educators-students, parents- grandparents, were coping with staying at home and also highlight original, atypical approaches that proved to be efficient and help peoples productivity and creativity. This collection will be grouped and prepared in an easy readable digital document that will map what happened in the following categories, which could become guidelines on how to cope with isolation at home covering many different parameters of everyday life and how people can develop competences to be adaptable to this at any time.
THE CASE OF WORK FORCE:
The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated instantly the practice of ‘teleworking’, ’working remotely” or “working from home”. According to Eurostat data (2018) the percentage of employed persons aged 15 to 64 in the European Union (EU) who usually work from home was at 5.0% in 2017. This figure was highest in the Netherlands (13.7%), Luxembourg (12.7%) and Finland (12.3%), and lowest in Bulgaria (0.3%) and Romania (0.4%). Also, the EU says that flexible work is indispensable to achieve greater balance and productivity [European Parliament resolution of 13 September 2016 on creating labour market conditions favourable for work-life balance (2016/2017(INI))].
THE CASE OF TEACHING AND LEARNING (School and Higher education):
Through the years, schools have experienced several closures as a result of health issues or other crises, causing educational disruptions among millions of children and youngsters. Aware both of the importance of maximizing the social distancing meant to limit the spread of the new Covid_19 virus, and the incentive of continuing the educational process teachers have been focusing on online teaching-the application of online techniques to provide learning to students at a distance. Even though the current pandemic according to the indication is coming to an end, as the previews experience has shown similar obstacles and situation may occur at any time in the future. That is why, it is absolutely necessary to discoever the problems now so school and HE distant teaching and learning can be improved.
THE CASE OF PARENTS AND GRAND-PARENTS:
Probably the main actors of such crises are the parents and sometimes even grand=parents who have been scientifically impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak and it is this category who not only have to adapt their working schedule and habits to the new situation but found themselves in the challenging position of supporting their families in a different way from the one they were used to. The project will collect practices from this group as well.
This project does not produce Intellectual Outputs as its aim is a collection of good practices. The following result deliverables are planned:
D1: Online Survey implementation and result
D2: Focus groups and interviews in order to produce the national Reports
D3: C1 Short Learning, Teaching Training content
D4: C2 Short Learning, Teaching Training content
D5: Preparation, editing and finalization of the video testimonials
D6: E-book comprehensive collection of results
D7: Diseemination Strategy and Plan
D8: Quality Assurance Stategy and Plan
The project has duration 20 months.
CONOCO D1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF RESULTS
The project survey aimed to collect the activities, practices and actions followed by the participants during the lockdown period of the COVID-19 pandemic, that helped them cope with the lockdown situation.
The survey was more specifically addressed to 7 groups of participants, pupils, students, grandparents/older adults, parents, teachers/professors, non-teacher employees and employers/businessmen.
The pupils that participated in the survey identified that during the lockdown the reception of equipment for distance education from their schools, in order to attend the online lesson helped them a lot. Also, they identified as important the regular, almost everyday contact with their classmates, their teachers and their friends and using online social networks for communication.
Other activities that contributed to coping with the situation that were identified were, the engagement in artistical activities, like painting or playing music, writing books for their pleasure, like novels etc, engaging in online and offline gaming and outdoors exercising, as permitted by the measures taken in their countries.
Finally, they also claimed that following private lessons to help them with school lessons and following other extracurricular courses online were also helpful to coping with the situation.
Regarding the participating students, the activities that were primarily identified as helpful were corresponding in physical form with their friends and relatives, the regular contact with their colleagues and listening to music. Also, the participating students that had received equipment from their institutions to help them in distance learning claimed in their totality that this was helpful or very helpful.
From the answers of the grandparents and older adults it was found that the primary factors that helped them cope with the situation were related to their children and grandchildren. Those were the regular communication with their children and grand children over the phone and online and also providing to them and receiving support (instructions, recommendations etc) from them. Also, for the few participants that claimed that have engaged in such activities, gaming was identified as important.
The parents that participated in the survey reported that the frequent contact with other parents and with the teachers of their children was important to cope with the situation. Also, they thought that the support from their employers, from other parents, from groups and communities of parents and from the public services in charge of the health crisis situation, such as the ministries of health, of education etc. were also very important.
The few among them that stated that they received support from the state institutions in the form of childcare benefits also found that it was very important for them in order to cope with the lockdown.
Moreover, for the parents in the survey, the frequent organization of actions to help and inform other parents, the organization of frequent communication of the children with friends and relatives and the frequent organization of activities for their children at home were also perceived as helpful or very helpful for coping with the lockdown, as well as their own frequent communication with, friends and relatives over landline, mobile phones and online.
They also, stated that the upgrade of the connection to the internet and the procurement of new technological equipment (laptops, tablets etc.) for the children were important for dealing with the situation.
Lastly, they identified that discussing frequently with their children about the situation of the pandemic and the lockdown, providing support to other parents in the form of advice, recommendations etc. and also exercising outside of the house, as it was allowed by the measures in the region they lived in, were also important factors for dealing with the situation.
The teacher or professor employees from their side, in the context of their work identified that the ability to work from a distance in a regular everyday basis and having received equipment from their institution to do so, had positive impact on their effort to cope with the lockdown.
In that direction also helped the frequent, almost everyday contact with their students, their colleagues, the parents of their students and the management of their institution and the reception of help from their institution, their colleagues in the form of training, instructions, etc.
They also recognize as important the frequent support in the same form from the services of the state that were in charge of the situation, their colleagues and from professional groups that they were part of.
Moreover they identify that the organization of different actions to help and inform their colleagues, their students and to provide them extracurricular activities to do, were also activities that contributed to coping with the lockdown.
Regarding their personal life, the most important activities they identified was the communication with their friends and relatives on their mobile phones and online and reading books for enjoyment.
As for the group of the non-teacher employees, the most important factors that identified as helpful for coping with the lockdown were all related to their work environment. In this context they claimed that frequent contact with their colleagues and organizing action to help and inform them were beneficial.
Also, receiving training, instructions, recommendations etc. from their employer, from their colleagues, the services of the state in charge of the health crisis and from groups or professional communities they were participating in helped them a lot cope with the lockdown.
Lastly, they thought that it was very helpful providing also support (instructions, recommendations, training etc.) from their side to their colleagues.
Finally, for the group of businessmen/employers that participated in the survey, the findings were also primarily work related, as they identified that the frequent contact with their business partners and providing support to them (instructions, training etc.) as well as receiving support from them in the same ways were important for coping with the lockdown.
The same positive impact was identified for the reception of support from the services of the state that dealt with the crisis and from professional communities or groups that they were a part of.
Other activities that contributed were the organization of activities or events for their employees not related to work matters.
Moreover, they stated that taking time to think and devise plans on the way that their business would work and integrating new technological tools in the functioning of their businesses had positive impact in coping with the situation.
Lastly, regarding their personal life, they claimed that writing and communicating with friends and relatives over mobile devices also helped them greatly in coping with the crisis.