Remote work continues for many Boilermakers in effort to reduce exposure to COVID-19

Fall semester at Purdue University is quickly approaching, and the Protect Purdue Implementation Team continues its pursuit of safely reopening campus for in-person classes. A multi-faceted approach to protect the Purdue community against the spread of COVID-19 is being introduced one step at a time. However, not all Boilermakers are planning to return to campus just yet.

“An aspect of the Protect Purdue initiative and the university’s persistent pursuit of creating the healthiest campus possible for those essential staff members and students who are returning in August, is that many other staff members have been asked to continue to work remotely,” said Candace Shaffer, senior director of benefits in Human Resources. “Research continues to show that social distancing plays an important role in helping slow down the spread of COVID-19, and as we’ve proven over the last 14 plus weeks, ongoing remote work opportunities provide a practical solution to minimizing face-to-face interactions while allowing business to continue. We’re all doing our part to protect ourselves, protect others and protect Purdue, regardless of our individual physical work locations.”

Since mid-March, employees have had to adjust to the new normal of working from home while balancing their professional and family responsibilities. While the transition for some might have been relatively easy, others could still be struggling to find their comfort zone.

“With anything new, it can take time to adjust and recreate work-life balance,” said Rachael See, employee assistance counselor at the Center for Healthy Living (CHL) on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus. “Remote work has many advantages but comes with some disadvantages, too. For instance, it can be difficult to separate our work time and our personal time. Having your office only steps away can lead to extended work hours and less time to focus on self-care.”

See believes that it’s important for individuals to spend some time on their mental health and well-being now more than ever – beginning to go back out into public spaces as well as remaining mostly isolated can both be stressful.

“There’s so much for everyone to try and process right now,” See added. “People are preparing to go back to their offices and others are making plans for their extended remote work situations. We have many individuals who are at high-risk level of developing serious illness if exposed to COVID-19, regardless of whether they are working on campus or simply running to the grocery store for necessities. It can be very overwhelming.

“When you’re feeling disconnected, practicing mindfulness can be helpful to reset and live in the present instead of the past or future,” See explained. “If it’s nice, go outside, take your shoes off and put your bare feet on the grass, dirt or pavement. This is called ‘grounding’ to the earth. We become so disconnected with nature due to our jobs and isolation, so it’s important to reconnect! We are made up of more bacteria than human cells, so even digging in the dirt/gardening can help with your mood! When you ground your feet, close your eyes, stop your thoughts/feelings and just experience your senses. Smell the air, focus on your breath, feel the breeze, listen to the birds. Slowing down like this and allowing yourself to connect to the present moment is very healthy for both your physical and mental health.”

Anyone who feels isolated due to working remotely, or who is having any type of difficulty adjusting to working from home, has no-cost wellness options available to help them. Via telehealth options, employee assistance counselors and health coaches are ready and willing to assist, no matter your work location. Schedule with a health coach or employee assistance counselor to get started:

Counseling, offered through Purdue’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), is a no-cost resource available to the Purdue community, currently being offered via telehealth. EAP counselors offer confidential, professional counseling. Campus-specific information can be found on the web pages below:

  • West Lafayette campus EAP – offered through the Center for Healthy Living. Note: in this time of need and uncertainty, CHL counselors are available for appointments outside of the six-visit limit, without charge. Call 765-494-0111 to schedule.
  • Fort Wayne campus EAP – available through Bowen Center. Call 800-342-5653 (open 24/7)
  • Northwest (Hammond and Westville campuses) EAP – provided by New Avenues. Call 800-731-6501, select option 2.

Anthem – Purdue’s medical plan administrator – also provides an EAP, now offering free, confidential help at

Health coaches are available at both the West Lafayette and Fort Wayne campuses and currently both are offering telehealth appointments.

To learn more about health coaching, take a look at the “Questions and Answers about Health Coaching” web page.


Contact Human Resources on your specific campus with any questions regarding remote work.

More information about COVID-19 and its impact on Purdue University, refer to the following resources: