COVID-19 has continued to effect higher education globally in significant ways. During 2020, many institutions shifted learning online overnight as the sector closed its doors and opened new sites for remote teaching. This article reports on an international study [Phillips et al., 2021] that sought to capture how cross-sectoral teachers experienced these emergency changes during the first months of restrictions. The data, analysed using narrative identity theory, revealed concerns that fall into two broad categories: technologies and relationships. Significantly, it was not a loss of content delivery or changes to assessment that prompted the greatest anxiety for our colleagues, but that they held significant concerns about their students’ mental health; inequities of access to a range of services including technological; and challenges connecting emotionally with their students at a distance. The results provide actionable strategies for higher education institutions to apply in future emergencies where remote teaching is necessary.