Human Resources Guide to Working Remotely
We recognize that in today’s climate, the university may need to transition a portion of the workforce to a virtual environment.
Currently, working from home has become reality for a wide swath of our employees. While we recognize that normal work patterns, modes of communication, and team dynamics will be disrupted, we are encouraging units to explore remote working arrangements with their teams to ensure that operations can continue as normally as possible.
Below you will find tips and strategies to help Managers and Employees continue to collaborate effectively and meet deadlines. They involve spelling out deliverables and roles repeatedly as circumstances require changes, making an extra effort to stay personally connected with people so teams don’t feel disconnected, and providing guidance, support and encouragement for working virtually.
Best Practices for Managing Employees
You need to make sure pertinent information is easily — and frequently — communicated.
Don’t rely solely on email to stay in touch with remote members of your team. Set up frequent meetings with each employee to touch base and keep the connection strong.
To avoid any misconceptions, make sure every remote worker knows what you expect of him or her. If employees need to be punctual and always available during work hours, make that crystal clear. If you are more flexible and focused on results rather than minutes spent on the clock, let your staff know.
Teams that suddenly change work patterns — particularly moving from co-located to virtual — need to rethink how to accomplish their tasks and ensure that essential duties and goals are met.
Include all your remote workers in meetings, whether strategic or planning, planning to make sure that they’re aware of updates as well as the big picture. It will also help them prioritize work and manage their time. All members of your team should know what deliverables they and the team are working toward, and how these deliverables will be met.
Let your staff know how and when they can reach you throughout the workday. Remember, team members who are off-site won’t be able to swing by your office to ask questions or get feedback.
Schedule a daily or weekly check-in meeting to ensure all tasks and deliverables are on schedule and any issues are addressed.
Perhaps you want a weekly email update from each member of your team, or you may prefer that people update a master spreadsheet of projects. Figure out what works for you, and make sure everyone knows.
Communication lag can be counter-productive for remote employee’s efficiency.
Receiving a response to an inquiry in a timely fashion encourages employees to remain focused and on task. Make sure everyone knows how to reach you when an issue is time-sensitive.
Remember to write a “good job” email to staff whose work you’d otherwise acknowledge casually in the office. You can also call out their achievement in your group chat platform.
Especially for telecommuters who are not used to working from home, it can be a good gesture to offer advice on how to work from home effectively. Ideas include information on how to set up home office spaces, how to establish working hours, and how to set boundaries with any family members who may be present in the home.
Best Practices for Remote Work for Employees
Getting a project started first thing in the morning can be the key to making progress on it throughout the day.
You should be available and work your normal number of hours each day.
Schedule what you’ll do and when over the course of the day.
Use an online calendar to create events and reminders that tell you when to shift gears and start on new tasks. Google calendar makes this easy.
If possible, dedicate a specific room or surface in your home to work. Having a place you go specifically to work helps you get into the right frame of mind.
Begin the workweek with the successes you want to achieve by the end of the week in mind.
Rather than taking time during the day thinking about what you will be doing, plan a “to do” list for the day.
Make sure any roommates, siblings, parents, children and/or spouses understand that you are working. Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you’re home.
Set aside time to take a lunch break each day to help keep yourself productive and focused.
Be clear, concise and direct with managers and make sure you understand each request or task.
To stay as productive and efficient as possible, try to keep distractions to a minimum.