For all employees, especially those whose work cannot easily be done remotely (including hourly, limited work off site, and student workers), managers and employees should work together to develop a telework work plan to complete special assignments, projects, job- related reading, or training. In developing a telework or remote work plan, managers should be mindful of employees who may not have internet access or technology that can be used remote. Some training recommendations are included at the end of this message.
As a reminder, our employees have different jobs and responsibilities and the modifications we can make to their work will vary based on those differences. Options may include reallocating resources to shift the workforce in more critical areas of needed support, providing reduced work schedule as employees balance work and personal needs, or providing shift work or alternating schedules if work is need on site. There will not be one solution that works for or is right for everyone, and some individuals, due to the nature of their work, will be asked to continue to report to work.
Subject to the needs of the University, managers should consider flexible work arrangements such as having employees work on-site with reduced shifts (fewer hours or fewer days). This can be coupled with remote work assignments, including online training, for the time not spent on-site.
Managers may also find it useful to create shifts or rotate shifts to meet the demands of the employee and/or department for continued coverage of activities or needed on campus support.
Reallocation of Resources
When positions cannot be supported either in part or in whole, by remote work, managers may reallocate staff into departments or positions that have a need for additional personnel support. This may be within the same division or may be needed to support other areas of campus. Managers should reach out to their campus partners and work with Human Resources if looking to redeploy staff into other schools or divisions.
We appreciate the burden that these significant operational changes place on our employees and thank you in advance for your cooperation. Your flexibility and support are indispensable as we move forward together as a community. Please contact Human Resources for assistance in managing any employment-related issues.
Training, learning and development recommendations
As part of developing a remote work plan, managers should work with their employees to identify opportunities for both training and learning & development.
development book study for engagement and learning activities while managing a remote workforce.
Remote work resources
- Tips for managing a remote workforce:
- Be sure your employee has proper technology to conduct work remotely;
- Be sure you have current phone numbers for contacting employees when needed; Be sure your employee has the connectivity needed to work remotely;
- Does your employee have a designated workspace that allows for minimal distractions during the scheduled work hours; Does your employee have headphones or earbuds to participate in conversations that require more privacy;
- Keep your scheduled 1:1 meetings with your staff for a check on work status as well as continued availability; Make sure you have designated a means for video conferencing and conference phone calls;
- Have your employees create a log of activities for the day so that you can address ongoing needs or shift work responsibilities if needed;
- Have employee set up call forwarding and know how to retrieve voice messages to remain accessible to contacts;
- Expect consistency in remote work schedules and ask staff to notify you when unable to work a regularly scheduled day.
- Plan for the video call
Your colleagues will be able to see the background behind you and what you are wearing. Maintain professional standards for dress and appearance. During video meetings, the other participants can see (and be distracted by) everything in view of the camera so take that into consideration of how you set up your workspace.
- Login five minutes early
This gives you a chance to work through any technical issues (if any) so you are in the meeting on time. Also, being even a few minutes late feels much, much longer when virtual than when in person.
- Position the camera correctly
The camera should be as close to eye level as possible so people are seeing you as they would in a face to face conversation.
- The camera and microphone built into your laptop are probably sufficient
However, if you have headphones with a mic or earbuds, it will likely greatly improve the sound quality and prevent feedback.
- Test your technology options
Your phone might work better for video calls than your computer or vice versa. Zoom has a phone app, which may work better for joining meetings. This is a particularly good option if your work computer is a desktop without a camera or mic.
- Mute yourself except when speaking
This prevents background noise and feedback from becoming a meeting distraction.
- Use chat functions well
Many video conferencing options have chat functionality that allow participants to write in comments and questions. Determine at the start of the call if the chat will be monitored and ensure that your chat comments are relevant, succinct and clear. Remember that chats may be saved as part of a call record, so your contributions via chat are the same as other types of business communications.
- Miscommunication just got easier
Social cues are more difficult and people can end up talking over each other or misinterpret more easily than an in-person meeting. Many people won't speak up because they don't want to talk over anyone else. Others plow ahead regardless of who is talking. Any lag in video or sound exacerbates the situation. Also, make sure to clarify who is responsible for what by when at the end of every meeting.
- Ask for input
Ensure that other participants can see and hear you properly and check in with your remote participants periodically if you are running the call. They will appreciate the acknowledgment and you will be better equipped to have a more effective call with their active participation.
- How to look your best in a video conference
As noted above, communication and social cues aren’t the same as in person meetings. The BBC has tips and articles on how to look your best in a virtual meeting.
- Additional resources
Harvard Business Review has an article on What It Takes to Run a Great Virtual Meeting with additional advice and suggestions.
n the event of emergency or natural disaster, UST staff and faculty may be instructed to work from home or another remote location. The following resources will enable you to access online resources and effectively collaborate with colleagues so that you can continue to support the university from a remote, Internet-connected location.
Available Software Platforms
Many software platforms that Baylor provides to enable you to accomplish your work are available via the Web or can be installed on a home computer.
When working remotely, frequent and regular communications become even more important. In an effort to facilitate effective communication, the University of St. Thomas has purchased a large number of Zoom licenses for video conferencing. To request a Zoom license, email ZoomAdmin@stthom.edu.
VPN (Virtual Private Networking)
Using some UST systems remotely (for example, the shared network drive or N: drive) requires a virtual private network (VPN) connection. VPN establishes a secure connection between your remote device and the UST network that enables you to access campus systems as if you were working on a wired connection in your office. If you haven't used UST's VPN in a while, it might be a good idea to test it and see if it still works properly. Please note: When you connect to VPN you may experience network latency on video streaming platforms. To request a VPN, email ITHelpDesk@stthom.edu.
Moving Your Office Desktop Computer for Remote Working
As part of the university's transition to remote working for qualified employees, approved faculty and staff may take their UST-issued desktop computer units and auxiliary equipment to their place of residence. These guidelines will help make for a smooth transition. However, prior to doing so certain approvals may be required. For the purchase of any technology tools or to check the availability of technology tools that UST already has purchased, contact ITHelpDesk@stthom.edu.
As always, UST’s IT support team is here to empower the Celt community and to fulfill its mission to support administrators, faculty, staff and students. Call 1-800-630-8715 or email ITHelpDesk@stthom.edu for assistance.
Managing your team and your team’s work is a little different when everyone is remote. It can be more difficult to keep up with where employees are focusing their effort, progress being made, barriers and stumbling blocks, and how to best plan who does what work and when. This section includes several tools and templates to help manage people and work even when everyone is remote.
Teleworking Expectations is an optional form to help you think through and communicate changes in tasks and responsibilities resulting from switching to working remotely.
The Daily Time Log is an optional tool to help employees keep track of what they are working on and how much time they are spending. This is a template that can be modified to better fit your specific needs.
The Daily Status Update form is an optional tool developed to help identify, plan, and keep up with work when everyone is remote. Feel free to modify to better fit your specific needs.
Onsite/Virtual Schedule Template is an optional tool to help plan and identify who will be in office, remote, or out of office each day of the week.
One on One Meeting Template is an optional tool to help your employees prepare for one and one meetings with you. There are a lot of one on one templates on the internet. This is a very simple one to help you and your employees identify priorities, discuss issues, and track progress on goals.
For many people, transitioning to working from home is a completely new experience. Although everyone’s experience is different based on their situation, skills, job duties, and previous remote working experience, there are some constants worth remembering:
- It will be new.
- It will sometimes be awkward. It will be a learning experience.
- Many things you try won’t work the first time.
- Things will sometimes break, not work, or work differently than expected. It will require patience, adaptability, and grace.
- Things will just be different.
Be kind to yourself, have patience and grace with your manger and teammates. It will get easier. The most important thing to remember is to just get started. We are all in it together and figuring it out as we go. If you are unsure or have concerns please raise your hand and ask questions.
Right now, the transition to working from home is what’s best for the students, the faculty, and the staff. It’s not a light or easy decision, but it is the one that keeps Baylor running and living its mission even (especially) in this time of uncertainty.
But where to begin?
- 1. Prepare for being out of office
If possible, test your equipment at home before you begin to work remote full time.
Update your contact information and your emergency contact information by notifying Human Resources at email@example.com. Ensure that people with whom you routinely work know the best way to contact you.
Learn how to set up call forwarding with your office phone and how to access voicemail remotely.
Maintain your calendar and set up out-of-office messages as appropriate.
Create a hard copy of contact information for key people so you can phone or text them even if there are technical issues (such as a temporary power or internet outage).
- Establish a workspace
It's best if you can designate a separate room for quiet and privacy while doing work. However, if that's not possible, try to set up an area that is used only for work and as removed from distractions as possible. Also, during video meetings, the other participants can see (and be distracted by) everything in view of the camera so take that into consideration of how you set up your workspace. Some people hang curtains or use a shoji screen to create a sense of separate space when creating a home workspace.
- Make sure you have the equipment and software you need
Work with your supervisor to determine which tools and resources are needed to complete your work remotely. As appropriate, take your work computer home and make sure you have the correct software on it to work remotely. For example, Zoom, VPN (virtual private network) and Google Voice. Know which systems you are expected to use to stay in touch with your manager and co-workers and become familiar with how to use them. Additional information is available at: https://www.baylor.edu/its/index.php?id=967615
- Manage interruptions and distractions as best as you can
Especially if you are now at home with family, it is important to anticipate interruptions, and explain guidelines and expectations for family members on when you are working and when you can be interrupted.
- Set daily goals, track them and share your progress
Maintain your normally worked schedule unless alternate schedules are approved by your supervisor. Sticking to a regular schedule mentally prepares you to go to work. Start each day by writing down what you need to achieve and then track your progress. Pay attention to how long tasks take you and start adjusting your daily goals to match your current rhythm. Report progress on work tasks to your supervisor and colleagues as requested or necessary.
- Recognize productivity expectations may change
Some things are easier to get done without the distractions of being in the office. Some things are more challenging because communication is more difficult or you don't have all the resources of the office in your home workspace. Your manager may follow up more often than when you are in the office or ask for more updates, and that’s a completely normal part of remote work.
- Prepare for the social and communication dynamics to be very different
Communication may suddenly feel more difficult because you aren't having face-to-face conversations. It's much easier to feel left out of important conversations. Some people experience loneliness and a sense of isolation. Knowing this from the start helps you plan ways to maintain connections with others, even virtually.
- Dress for work
Dressing casually is definitely a perk of working at home but getting “ready for work” is a daily ritual that helps keep you on task. Also, people can see you when you are on video calls. Dressing for work gets you mentally ready and allows you to take video calls on a moment's notice.
- With your manager's help, set work hour expectations
This works both ways by providing any necessary flexibility during the day and ensures you are able to separate from work in the evening.
- 10. Working remotely is a skill to be developed
Watch Dr. Sara Perry discuss working from home on the Being Human podcast. Also, LinkedIn Learning has a range of classes on working from home, such as: Time Management: Working from Home.
- Remember, nothing will be perfect
Switching to working from home may be a radical change for you, any members of your household, and your manager, coworkers, and constituents. Approach telework as an experiment and keep trying new things to find out what works best for you. We are all figuring this out together, so having patience, flexibility, and grace with yourself and others is important.
- Ask for help when it's needed
Our campus community is working together to create a successful environment for our students, faculty and staff during this unprecedented time, feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org whenever we can assist.
- Additional resources
Harvard Business Review has A Guide for Working (From Home) Parents with advice and suggestions for parents trying to work from home while also taking care of kids.