COVID-19: Supervisor Guidelines for Remote Work
COVID-19: Supervisor Guidelines for Remote Work
In order to allow continuity of operations and continue to serve our students, UCCS is allowing many employees to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The sudden transition to remote work is a challenge for both managers and employees. This page contains helpful resources, best practices and guidance related to supervising remotely while campus operations are limited due to COVID-19.
Evaluate the employee’s job description and consider duties which can be completed remotely. Be direct and clear about what the employee’s priorities should be during remote work. Set goals for what they should accomplish each day and expectations for how they should document progress. Be in constant communication regarding expectations, performance, deliverables and timelines. More communication is better.
Consider ways to adjust in-person work so that the employee can successfully complete it remotely. For example, if the employee regularly met with students on-campus, recommend tools that will allow them to meet with students virtually. Evaluate if positions that do not traditionally lend themselves to remote work can be temporarily modified to allow for remote work by focusing on other work elements such as online training, documentation, etc. The university encourages supervisors to afford maximum flexibility during this time to help minimize the spread of the illness.
To work remotely, all employees need a desktop or laptop computer with a power supply and internet access. Software should be up to date to ensure security. While working remotely, employees must adhere to UCCS Policy for Responsible Computing. Employees who do not have access to a university computer may use their own computer but are responsible for adhering to all university practices and policies to maintain security on their device. UCCS OIT has a webpage with resources for remote work here: https://oit.uccs.edu/remote. Check in with every employee to be sure they are comfortable using the agreed upon collaboration tools and they have what they need to be successful.
To the extent possible, collect cell phone and/or home phone numbers for all employees you supervise. Discuss how and with whom this information will be shared. Be proactive about staying in touch with employees. Use collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, email, or just pick up the phone. Consider conducting regularly scheduled meetings virtually using Teams. OIT provides a list of available campus resources here: https://oit.uccs.edu/remote.
Document Agreements & Expectations
Complete an Alternate Work Schedule/Location Request and Agreement and send the form to HR (for staff) or Student Employment (for student employees). Be sure the employee has a copy of the agreement. The employee should also have the agreed upon schedule, work deliverables, communication approach and expectations in writing.
Time & Performance
Discuss with employees how time and performance will be managed. Once remote work begins, focus on the output and the completion of deliverables when evaluating performance. Ensure employees continue to enter time in My Leave and submit timesheets at the end of each pay period. Review time submitted and check with the employee if you have any questions about time submitted. Remember to review and approve timesheets prior to each payroll deadline.
All employees should work with their supervisor to determine if work can be completed remotely. If the supervisor approves, all employees must:
- Complete an Alternate Work Schedule/Location Request and Agreement
For departments with a large number of employees working remotely, please send a list of all staff working remotely to firstname.lastname@example.org with a separate list of student employees to email@example.com. Alternate work location request forms should still be completed for all employees and can be submitted to HR or Student Employment as soon as possible.
Employees should follow the technology guidelines issued by their department. While working remotely, employees must adhere to UCCS Policy for Responsible Computing. Employees are strongly urged to use a UCCS-owned computer, laptop, or other device when working remotely whenever possible. If the only option is to use a personally owned computer, laptop, or other device, the employee is still responsible for following all university practices and policies to maintain security on their device. Personal devices are not insured by UCCS. Employees are required to have their own internet and phone access.
Help with Technology
- The Help Desk is the first line of contact for the Office of Information Technology and can assist you with your connection, service requests and general questions about the above tools. You may contact them through phone, chat or email. Contact information can be found at https://oit.uccs.edu/get-help
- BlackBeltHelp 24x7 Support: OIT is now using a third party to provide support outside of normal business hours. They are available 6pm-8am MDT, weekends and during school closures. They may be reached by calling 719-255-3536, or starting a chat with UCCS OIT, then selecting the link to BBH.
- Faculty Resource Center - www.uccs.edu/frc
New technology makes it possible for meetings to be held virtually. Microsoft Teams is the preferred real-time communication method for faculty, staff and students at UCCS.
Best practices for virtual meetings:
- Add a Teams link to all meetings at the time you schedule them. If you use Microsoft Outlook, once you download Teams to your computer, you should see a button to create a Teams meeting when you use the Outlook calendar to schedule a meeting. This will add a link to join a virtual meeting directly to your calendar invitation.
- Log in early to test your audio and video settings.
- Use your webcam if appropriate to increase interpersonal communication. If you expect distractions, limit use of your webcam. Be mindful of your surroundings and anything in the background you might not want others to see.
- Use mute to reduce background noise when you are not speaking. Meeting hosts can also mute participants. Note that even if you aren’t talking, typing or other background noise can make it difficult for other participants to hear.
- If there are many participants, consider using the in-meeting chat function to ask questions if they don’t apply to everyone.
Trust is the foundation of a successful remote team, and remote work typically leads to increased productivity. However, remote work during a stressful time is not the same as long-term self-selected remote work. Managers need to manage expectations about productivity and start by trusting that every team member is working to the best of their ability during this time.
Managers should also schedule synchronous conversations with their teams, and one-on-ones as needed, to discuss these expectations and provide opportunities for team members to share their concerns.
Communicate News & Decisions
When changes are made to how, when, and where work is getting done, it can be challenging to ensure everyone is kept properly aware of news and any decisions that have been made. Consider how information will flow and what steps may be needed to limit gaps.
Managers shifting from seeing everyone at their desks working to not seeing anyone at all is a mindset change. A manager should clearly outline what the output expectations are from each team member and have routine check-ins (by email, phone, Zoom, etc.) to understand progress and challenges.
Managers Working Remotely
There may be situations where a manager is working remotely and managing fully remote staff or blended on-site and remote staff. The same principles of communication, performance management, etc. apply but will likely require added effort.
Health & Wellbeing
Speak to employees about managing their health and wellbeing, as outlined further in this document.
Encourage all employees, both remote and on-site, to care for their wellbeing. Remote employees should factor their wellbeing into their home office set-up by maintaining good posture, working in comfortable lighting, etc. Encourage employees to leave their workstation for 5 minutes of every hour – this helps circulation, eyesight, and other elements of wellbeing.
Employees who do not typically work remotely may experience challenges adjusting to a different environment, especially if they are accustomed to working very physically. Loneliness is also a common concern. Physical isolation at home combined with a feeling of work loneliness can be challenging for an employee. Use phone calls and video chats to increase interpersonal interaction.
Unplugging from work can be more challenging for remote workers. Encourage employees to unplug when their work is done and to focus on their self and family care.
Children and Other Dependents
- UCCS is not responsible or liable for the health and safety of employee dependents while they are working remotely, or for their health and safety while they are delivering care to dependents. It is up to the employee to determine whether work can be conducted safely.
- Employees are expected to determine what they can reasonably accomplish while dependents are under their care (whether healthy or ill), and the amount of time they expect to be able to work.
- If an employee is sick or caring for a sick family member they should not be asked to work remotely and should record their time in My Leave as sick or family sick leave.
Human Resources – firstname.lastname@example.org
Student Employment – email@example.com
IT Helpdesk – firstname.lastname@example.org
Virtual Training for Remote Work
Consider these LinkedIn Learning courses about working remotely: