As we continue to react and respond to the unprecedented situation facing our personal and professional lives, our Redbird community remains unwavering in our support of one another and our campus community. While some of us have returned to campus – to work, live and attend classes – others remain at home or remote, supporting our university through a virtual connection. Regardless of our location, the community support that we offer one another is tantamount to our physical, social and emotional well-being.
Expert tele-work professionals will stress the importance of having a designated work-space or location from which they do their work. It is easy to blend your work into your regular environment, but also important to have some separation where possible to establish and continue to foster a healthy work-life balance.
If you have a reason to be off-work during this time, due to illness or requesting vacation time, communicate this with your supervisor. Employees needing to use vacation, sick or personal time (as appropriate) should do so and request and report this as you normally would while working on site.
Wifi, bandwidth, Zoom, Jabber, Office 365, call forwarding and using Microsoft Teams are just some of the ways you might be working and thinking differently during this time of telework. Become familiar with a variety of tools and tips on how to use them through the Office of Technology Solutions and IT Help. In addition, they have published the most requested tips and advice on technology.
If you have a need for equipment during this time at home, or you have equipment you have brought home for work reasons, you should make your manager/supervisor aware so they can complete the appropriate paperwork for property control.
Working at home may allow you to see some tasks performed much more quickly than when performed on-site and others that take a little longer to complete. Be sure you are having regular communication with your supervisor and teammates so that you are accomplishing what is expected and able to continue to feel pride in your work. A brief description of the work to be accomplished at home should be prepared and regularly revisited as necessary.
You should assess daily if you feel you will be able to achieve your daily goals; and then review your progress at the end of your shift/day. This will help you identify where you are clearly succeeding and where you may need to adjust your focus.
It is important during this time, as members of your team and University community may not able to walk down the hall and knock on your door, to be available at a regular number and your computer/device. Your team and your supervisor should know your availability and the best communication channel for reaching you. A telephone number where you can be reached during your work schedule, and conversely where you can reach others is essential; as is watching email and other channels regularly. This will assist with checking in and receiving new assignments as needed.
“Regular feedback and communication should occur with the employee” is even written directly into our pre-COVID-19 Work At Home Policy (3.1.31).
“Regular feedback and communication should occur with the employee” is written directly into Work At Home Policy (3.1.31). Check in with Zoom, phone, Microsoft Teams, email, or other communication channel as needed. The office of Technology Solutions has many pieces of advice and tools available for regular communication while working remotely. By policy and with best practice you should have a phone number where the employee can be reached during the work schedule, and know their work schedule/routine/tasks in order to keep current with activity.
If you were having regular team meetings on campus, you should try to keep this schedule as much as possible while you are working remotely. This will allow team members to express what is going well, what challenges are being faced, and allow you to make decisions as appropriate for distributing tasks.
Make sure you have communicated general expectations regarding productivity/volume of work, quality of work, and timelines. Written expectations will allow for a point of reference for both you and your employees during this time. A brief description of the work to be accomplished at home should be prepared and regularly revisited as necessary.
If you are expecting professional development, research on recommended procedure/policy, documentation of procedures and/or work to be done during this time, be sure to have that conversation with your team and/or employee.
Sometimes when communication is handled only digitally, it can be easy to misinterpret. If you feel like digital communication is causing unnecessary conflict, this might be a time to phone or video chat to clarify the written word and intent.
Regular expectation check-ins and regular team meetings might also help also ensure issues that are rising to the level of conflict are brought forth and discussed before becoming a burden on team performance, relationships, and productivity.
Maintaining civility and respect (one of Illinois State University’s core values) is essential during this time. The circumstances that brought on this stay at home directive are beyond the control of the employee, the supervisor, and even the entire unit/college/department. Remember that many things are happening during this time, including stress and concern over health, family, and finances. Students could be displaced during this time and regular life routine will be adjusting during this time as well.
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