Remote Work Toolkit

Published: July 31, 2020

The following guide is intended to provide more information about working remotely for:

GUIDELINES FOR MANAGERS AND SUPERVISORS

Remote Work Quick Start Guide For Supervisors PDF

Understand relevant policies.

Review the related policies and practices below. Managers should ensure they and their employees have read and understood the policies.

As a reminder: non-exempt employees who work remotely should follow all rules related to breaks, meal periods and overtime. For example, they may take lunch, two 15-minute breaks and track over time. For more information, visit the Work Schedules section of our Staff Compensation Policy page.

Review technology needs and resources.

Become familiar with the technology tools available at the university, and make arrangements for staff to use these resources when working from home. We recommend you begin testing the technology to ensure it functions properly. Ensure employees know how to access technical support should they need assistance.

Additionally, we recommend divisions test the technology needed to start working remotely. These tests may include:

Draft a work plan.

Review the questions below with staff and work through answers together.

  • What routine responsibilities/tasks cannot be fulfilled while working remotely and how will it impact operations or other people? What are ways to reduce the impacts?
  • What routine responsibilities/tasks require regular communication and collaboration with others? Proactively contact each partner to confirm how you will communicate while everyone is working remotely.
  • Are there any special projects or tasks that you can advance while working remotely? Oftentimes employees experience fewer interruptions while working remotely.
  • What events or meetings are scheduled during the time in which the temporary remote work arrangement is in place? Will they be postponed or canceled, or will they take place using technology? What follow-up needs to occur due to postponements or cancellations?

Make a communication and accountability plan.

Managers should inform employees of their expectations regarding how often to send updates on work plan progress and what those updates should include. Managers should also communicate how quickly they expect the employee to respond while remote working and the best ways for the employee to contact the manager while working remotely.

  • If you normally make daily rounds to visit employees at their desks, you can give them a call during this period. Maintain team meetings and one-to-one check-ins, altering the schedule if needed to accommodate any alternative schedules that have been approved.
  • Conduct regular check-ins. Start each workday with a phone, video or instant message chat. Your employees will be eager for connection and information during the disruption and the structure will help everyone create a positive routine. Every other day or weekly may be fine, so long as you are in contact frequently enough that your employees are in sync with you and/or with one another.

Our Notre Dame values and respect for the dignity of all should be at the forefront of our actions.

As always, we are committed to our core values of accountability, teamwork, integrity, leadership in excellence and leadership in mission. Maintaining a positive attitude toward remote working and showing a willingness to trust employees will be key to ensuring a successful and productive arrangement. Rather than focusing on how many hours staff are working, focus on measuring results and reaching objectives—regardless of the work arrangement. The employee’s completed work product will be the primary indicator of success.

TIPS FOR DEPARTMENTS WITH WIDESPREAD REMOTE WORKING STAFF

With many teams moving to remote work quickly, departments may want to adapt the following suggestions:

  1. Consider designating a remote work task force. Depending on the size of your unit, consider implementing a task force to manage remote work protocols and procedures for your department.
  1. Engage your team. Setting up a group to work remotely is different than setting up an individual employee to work remotely. Effective remote teamwork requires entire units to embrace technology and proactive communication in ways that may be new and challenging to traditional ways of working. Support the success of your team by:
  • Scheduling a conversation about what it would look like for your team to go remote.
  • Identify needs and tool preferences of team members for remote work.
  • Document and share remote work practices/plans.
  1. Enable and encourage ongoing communication. Ongoing communication is the most important part of effective remote teamwork. Working online can be isolating without regular contact with supervisors and colleagues. By creating the expectation that an entire team will communicate regularly with one another, members will feel connected regardless of where they are.

GUIDELINES FOR STAFF

Once they start, employees often learn that working remotely is different than they expected and that it requires specific skills and habits. The following tips will help you get to work while at home.

Remote work tips for employees

  1. Define your workspace. It can be easy to sit on the sofa with your laptop and expect to get work done. Experienced remote workers will tell you they tried that and it simply doesn’t work! We are creatures of habit and most of us are used to lounging with our laptops to read the news, watch TV, play games and chat with friends and family. Establishing a workspace, even if it is your kitchen table, gives your brain a cue that it is time for work and not play.
  1. Master the basics.
  • Add your remote work schedule to your email signature line.
  • Set up call forwarding and learn how to access your voicemail from home.
  • Know how to remote into the ND network and other online tools you regularly use.
  • Use Zoom or Google Hangouts to stay connected to colleagues.
  • Plan for video calls/meetings by making sure you know how to turn on your computer’s camera and microphone and being aware that your colleagues may be able to see the background behind you.
  1. Set daily goals, track them and share your progress. You may be surprised by how differently the work day passes without the comings and goings of an office to break things up or influence what you do next. Start each day of remote work 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. Communicate with your supervisor and/or colleagues if you think your remote work plan needs to be adjusted.
  1. Eliminate distractions. If home is where your heart is then remote work can mean pets, children or a favorite hobby are only a few feet away. Depending on your living arrangement, you may need to hang a “do not disturb” sign so your family members don’t interrupt you. Pets often need a closed door to keep them away and you might need headphones to block the neighborhood noise.
  1. Prioritize privacy. Whether you are in your home or a common area, take five minutes to assess the privacy of your workspace. Can someone standing behind you read your computer screen? Are your windows open so your neighbor can hear your phone call? What information do you need to secure before grabbing a cup of coffee or heading to the restroom? Your personal privacy matters too, so see if there anything around you that would not want visible during a video conference with your boss.
  1. Stay connected. Many people say they do not call or instant message colleagues who are working remotely because they don’t want to bother them. Remember, they are working, not vacationing at home! You should feel confident about calling or messaging an employee who is working remotely anytime you would walk to their office or call them if you were working on-site. You can even keep your daily coffee run – simply plan to call or video chat with a cup in hand at the time you would normally take a coffee break together.
  1. Dress for work. Just like sitting on the couch can make us feel a little too relaxed, wearing pajamas all day makes it hard to get into work mode. Dressing casually is definitely a perk of working at home but getting “ready for work” is a daily ritual that many remote workers swear by.
  1. Assess the overall safety of your remote workspace. Our work environments, including offices, are designed to be OSHA-compliant. This ensures a level of safety is factored into the equipment and tools we use to complete work-related tasks. With many of our employees working remotely, our homes or alternate work areas may not meet the same OSHA criteria, presenting unique challenges and safety concerns. Which means it’s up to each of us to protect ourselves. The following checklist is designed to assess the overall safety of an alternative worksite: Safety Checklist For Remote Work Space