Managing experience gathering and establishing a new common practice

After more than a year of changed working conditions due to Covid-19, employees and managers are once again faced with the task of establishing new work practices as the university begins to reopen. This page contains inspiration and tools to help you manage the process.


Reopening – exploring experiences and establishing common practice

The experience gained from the closed campus, keeping critical functions going, and working remotely have provided many with new work routines, some of which may be worthwhile continuing in future work practice.

During this process, it is important that, as a manager, you are aware of the reactions and experiences your employees have undergone during the changed working conditions under Covid-19. This applies regardless of whether employees were working from home or whether they maintained critical functions on campus.

In order to establish a solid basis for future common practice, as a manager you can benefit from working actively with the experience gained by employees and the unit during Covid-19.

For help with this process, watch the video (in Danish) to the right and read the dialogue frameworks below.

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Three possible frameworks for local dialogues

THE SMALL FRAMEWORK FOR DIALOGUE – includes experiences during Covid-19

This dialogue framework focuses primarily on gathering knowledge gained during Covid-19. Focus is on bringing the most important elements from this time into the unit’s future common work practice after reopening.

The main themes of the dialogue framework are:

  • Focus on the Covid-19 period - what have we learned from our experience?
  • Focus on future common practice – what should we bring into the new common practice?

Using the question guide and the dialogue framework, discuss what has been in focus in relation to "tasks", "collaborative communities", "collegial relationships" and "other", as well as what employees consider important for well-being during the reopening phase. At the bottom of this page, you can read more about these concepts.

Download the dialogue framework, question guide and facilitation suggestions: 

THE EXPANDED FRAMEWORK FOR DIALOGUE – includes experience before and during Covid-19

This dialogue framework draws on your experience from everyday life on campus before Covid-19 and your experience during Covid-19. The advantage is that you can vary your dialogue on future work practice on the basis of the overall experience you have as a unit.

The framework is particularly useful for units in which some employees refer to the time before Covid-19 as optimal conditions, or where the employee group have different perceptions of which period (during Covid-19 or before Covid-19) should influence the future common practice in the unit.

The two perspectives will help you identify both good and challenging practices from before Covid-19, which you may take for granted when working on developing the future common practice.

The main themes of the dialogue framework are:

  • Employees’ focus areas before Covid-19
  • What employees were focused on and/or what changes they noticed during Covid-19
  • The future common practice – what can we establish together using our insight into the period before and during Covid-19

Using the question guide and the dialogue framework, discuss what has been in focus in relation to "tasks", "collaborative communities", "collegial relationships" and "other", as well as what employees consider important for well-being during the reopening phase. At the bottom of this page, you can read more about these concepts.

Download the dialogue framework, question guide and facilitation suggestions: 

THE AGILE FRAMEWORK FOR DIALOGUE – continuous experience gathering

In some units, experience gathering and adjusting common practices have already taken place (systematically) over the past months. You may already have consciously worked on and adapted a new common work practice. Other units may have held one or two experience gathering meetings. You don't need to look all the way back to the time before Covid-19, you only need to look at the most recent period.

The agile dialogue framework is intended as a tool to "build on" previous experience gathering, since you have continuously worked on gathering experience.

The main themes of the dialogue framework are:

  • Since the last meeting – what did we focus on bringing into the new common practice?
  • During - What changes have we focused on and/or noticed recently?
  • Future common practice – based on what we have focused on and the changes we have noticed, what would be beneficial for us to bring into the new common practice?

Using the question guide and the dialogue framework, discuss what has been in focus in relation to "tasks", "collaborative communities", "collegial relationships" and "other", as well as what employees consider important for well-being during the reopening phase. At the bottom of this page, you can read more about these concepts.

Download the dialogue framework, question guide and facilitation suggestions:


Preparation ahead of experience gathering

Each dialogue framework includes a suggestion for how, as a manager, you can facilitate experience gathering – both in person and online. There is also a question guide for inspiration for when you start your work on experience gathering.

When establishing a future common practice, it can be expedient to combine individual interviews and group dialogues. Assess and decide which method is most appropriate for your unit. Focus in particular on psychological well-being.

For optimal results, employees should be able to print out the relevant dialogue framework, but it is also possible to write responses directly into the models.

If you need any advice on facilitating experience gathering, you are welcome to contact Stine Trolle Elmholdt, HR consultant.

Terms used in the dialogue frameworks

Horizontal axis

  • Focused on: Columns one and two in the "Expanded framework for dialogue " and in the "Agile framework for dialogue " use the words “focused on”. This refers to what you were focused on as employees and managers during the specific period, both in relation to what worked and what was challenging. In the third column, it is a good idea to try and describe what you are interested in changing, both in terms of what you found challenging and what you want to bring forward into the new common practice.
  • Future common practice: Working with the third column will require that, as a unit, you define the practice you would like to establish before the next experience gathering session. Imagine that you are at the next experience gathering meeting and you are looking back, describe the practice you would like to have established by that time. For example, think in terms of signals and signs of the new practice and the forms of collaboration you want to achieve. For example, this could be “Flexible working hours”. What signs can we see that indicate that this is working in the time to come? What signs indicate that it does not work?
  • I/we: As a manager, you can decide to begin experience gathering via dialogue with employees individually (I) or you can jump straight to group experience gathering (we). This is marked by I/we on the horizontal axis.

Vertical axis

The vertical axis is divided into four categories. You CAN us these four categories as the basis for the unit’s experience gathering. However, if you discover that the unit has other themes in mind, you should start with those.  

  • Tasks: Under the category labelled “Tasks”, as a unit you can work with "Core task related", "Administrative" and "Strategic" tasks. The three categories are inspired by Bendix’ leadership triangle (2012). However, his fourth category has not been included because it primarily concerns personnel management. It is important to stress that these task sub-categories are ONLY for inspiration and can either be removed or replaced by other tasks. 
  • Collaborative communities: Collaborative communities focus on what we do together to successfully complete AU’s core tasks. How does a collaborative community work during Covid-19? What is a collaborative community during unpredictable times and how do we meet our targets for the tasks? Under this category, a unit can also examine how working from home/remote work has affected the performance of tasks and well-being, both negatively and positively. The following articles (in Danish) provide greater insight into what to be aware of with regard to maintaining the collaborative community after reopening: ‘Sådan får I arbejdsfællesskabet til at hænge sammen, når kontoret åbner igen’ and ‘Ti råd til når jeres arbejdsplads åbner igen’ (Arbejdsmiljøweb). 
  • Collegial relationships: This category addresses how you as colleagues can generate task-related development and spar with each other. It is also touches on how and to what extent you create and safeguard your social relations.
  • Other: This category covers everything that is not included in the above, and which you consider important in this process. For example, general well-being, concerns related to working from home and the reopening, as well as physical and psychological challenges.

For more inspiration

Websites, webinars and knowledge fora: 

Reports and academic perspectives: