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Online crossword puzzles help keep DePaul staff socially connected during teleworking

The New York Times Crossword Puzzle
Staff members in DePaul's Office of Information Services complete a New York Times crossword puzzle via Microsoft Teams on March 19. The group started solving the puzzles together during lunch every weekday, and have carried on the tradition from afar. (Photo courtesy of Brendan Fusco)
When team members within DePaul’s Information Services unit got the word that teleworking was the new normal for the foreseeable future, there was little discussion as to whether their lunchtime crossword puzzles would continue.

A daily occurrence for the last few years, the group has solved 1,181 puzzles from The New York Times as of Friday. The group alternates between the current day’s puzzle and older ones from the online archives, which date back to 1993, says Brendan Fusco, an infrastructure technical architect in IS’s infrastructure division.

“We started doing the puzzle during lunch after we couldn’t decide on a TV show to watch as a group,” Fusco says. “I thought it might last a week, but we’ve been at it for a couple of years now.”

The daily occurrence usually draws 5-10 participants on average, but upwards of 25 joined in during one of IS’s holiday parties.

“It’s definitely built camaraderie within our group,” Fusco says. “Some of the more frequent reused answers have led to inside jokes among us. It’s a different type of thinking than what’s required in our day-to-day jobs, which makes it a fun way to relax for a little bit during lunch.”

Now, during this extended teleworking time frame, the group is solving the puzzles via Microsoft Teams, using their collective brains to answer clues like an Apple variety (iMac) or a News Orleans side dish (okra).

“It works surprisingly well online,” Fusco says. “It’s important during this social isolation period to keep as many routines as possible; trying to crack the New York Times crossword puzzle is one that our team loves doing every day.”


In order to better serve the DePaul community during this period of social isolation, a new team — Engagement During Social Distancing — is working to put together online events and discussions that will cover a variety of topics. The first three are scheduled, with more information below. Stay tuned to Newsline Daily for additional events over the coming weeks and throughout spring quarter.

Coping with COVID-19
Wednesday, March 25
Noon - 1 p.m.

Join Health Promotion and Wellness staff Katie Bellamy and Katrina Wagner for some education and Q&A around coping with COVID-19. This will be a time for our DePaul community to come together and reflect on how COVID-19 has affected our health and well-being. We understand that our lives have been turned upside down and that we’re experiencing many emotions, thoughts and changes. This will be a space for self-care, reflection and healing as we move forward into an unknown future. We welcome students, staff and faculty to join us.

Brown Bag Lunch Webinar: “Working Parents and Coronavirus: Leadership Skills for Challenging Times"
Thursday, March 26
Noon - 1 p.m. 
RSVP Required (With RSVP, you will be sent necessary Zoom information to login to the webinar.)

DePaul’s working parents are facing an unprecedented challenge: How to do their jobs amid school and childcare closures associated with coronavirus. Fathers and mothers are confronting the daunting realities of remote work and shifting job expectations, while also caring for children, households and communities. The science of leadership can help. It is possible for working parents to harness the power of this science to guide themselves and those they care about through these turbulent times.

Drawing on her extensive experience as a researcher, educator, coach, advocate and parent, Alyssa Westring, associate professor in the Department of Management & Entrepreneurship in the Driehaus College of Business and a 2019-20 DePaul Presidential Fellow, will lead this webinar. The program is designed to help working parents gain a greater sense of purpose, control and connection as they strive to meet the demands of our new normal. It will provide actionable insights for how to apply the key ideas and tools from her book “Parents Who Lead,” co-authored with Stewart Friedman, which can help parents learn to thrive in our re-shaped world. The authors’ practical, evidence-based approach — which has been resoundingly praised by business leaders, scholars and policy advocates — has been disseminated widely over the past several weeks in outlets such as Business Insider, Harvard Business Review, Vox and the World Economic Forum. Five e-book copies of Westring’s book will be raffled off among those participating in the session.

Wellness Wednesday's with HPW
Wednesday, April 1
Noon - 12:30 p.m.

Join Health, Promotion and Wellness for our brand new Wellness Wednesday’s series. We will be talking about all thing related to health and wellness during this 30-minute bite sized session. We will be checking in with one another, diving deep into holistic well-being and offering a time to re-energize and rejuvenate during the busy work day. This session will be co-hosted by our HPW professional staff and HEAT peer educator students. Join us for our first Wellness Wednesday, and we hope to see you on Zoom every Wednesday. We welcome students, staff and faculty to join us.