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Post-Covid 19 reboarding at Dulwich College Shanghai

Waves breaking on the rocks


As China emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses are having to negotiate how they will operate in this new normal.

Dulwich College Shanghai recognised the need for additional support for staff members as they faced the challenges of reboarding.

Employees have weathered significant difficulties during the lockdown, including ongoing stress, fatigue, separation from family and travel challenges. Many have also suffered trauma and bereavement.

Most individuals felt ready for the challenge of re-opening but also anticipated uncertainty and anxiety about the specifics of how the re-opening would work.

DCS worked with Impact to create a custom-designed reboarding programme that could be rolled out to staff at scale and at speed in order to help them manage the crisis.

In order to assess the programme needs and to gain a detailed picture of the situation, Impact conducted 29 one-to-one discussions with DCS team leaders.

The results of these interviews identified the critical need for a strong and effective cohort of team leaders ready to accomplish the tasks at hand, support their teams, and lead their people out of this phase of the crisis.

The results of the discussions also yielded insight into important objectives for the design of the programme, such as the need to cater to both face-to-face and virtual workers (with some staff still overseas).

Given that workloads were high and many staff were still facing significant anxiety or trauma, it was also critical that the interventions were short and focused, with the intention of helping staff to manage the reboarding experience rather than adding to its demands.

The programme develops:

  • Effective reboarding of teams 
  • Fundamental facilitation skills 
  • Team development principles 
  • Leadership skills for thriving through disruption

In collaboration with DCS Impact designed a three-week programme consisting of three facilitated team workshops, two team sessions with DCS team leaders, and vital bridgework connecting these elements together and ensuring continuous learning and progress.

The first workshop focused on giving leaders the experience of a productive reboarding session, so that they could understand the benefits.

The second workshop provided participants with foundational facilitation skills to enable team leaders to create psychologically safe spaces in which to support their teams.

The third workshop saw participants reviewing and applying their learning to drive future team successes.

The DCS-led team sessions centred on sharing experiences, learnings and reflections in order to develop empathy and connection, and to apply those learnings to the task of creating successful, resilient and high-performing teams ready for the challenge of reopening.

Facilitation skills improved by 33% on average.

Confidence to apply skills improved by 37% on average.

“The programme not only helped us return to work in a way that acknowledged our collective humanity and the difficulties we have endured, it also kick-started the culture shift we need to thrive in the new normal. Impact’s design managed to bring all of our leaders along despite many of them being in different places physically and emotionally. The Impact team are always insightful and easy to work with – but it was their flexibility in approach and delivery that I most deeply appreciated this time.”

Caroline Taylor – Head of College

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“Session One provided opportunities for my team to discuss their experiences in a reflective way without getting drawn into a moan fest."