Working Remotely During COVID-19

Go To:

Information for Supervisors

In response to COVID-19, President Gabel has said that those faculty and staff members who are able to work remotely should continue to do so until at least August 2, 2021. Formal telecommuting agreements are not required at this time.

Remote work during the pandemic means that faculty and staff at every level of the University are experiencing a collision of personal and professional demands. These unique circumstances present challenges that require innovative solutions, which might include allowing faculty and staff the flexibility to determine where, when, and how their work is carried out. In cases where your faculty and staff may need or be required to work remotely, you may find these best practices helpful.

Create flexibility. Initiate conversations with your faculty and staff about the type of flexibility they need. Allow your employee to determine where, when, and how they complete their work, but be clear about your expectations regarding their working conditions. Perhaps that means adjusting working hours (e.g., four 10-hour days or alternative schedules with early start times, midday breaks, and late afternoons, etc.).

Talk with your team about establishing norms that allow for flexibility and self-care. If you find yourself in back-to-back Zoom meetings, set maximum meeting time to 20 or 50 minutes to allow for breaks between meetings. Consciously plan times for emails and expected responses. Remember to model and respect the boundaries your team establishes around work.

Re-establish priorities. Focus your efforts on only the projects, initiatives, and tasks that align with your college or unit’s essential function to support the University’s strategic plan. Evaluate all of the work in front of your team against the core purpose of your college or unit and focus your efforts on “must do” items. Remind your team that to continue to carry out the very basic function of your unit in the face of great difficulties is something to celebrate.

Re-establishing priorities may require that you adjust project expectations, responsibilities, and timelines when possible. As you make adjustments, it’s important to work together and ensure a shared understanding of work responsibilities and expectations.

Check in. Prioritize the health and wellbeing of yourself, your colleagues, and your teams. Make a point to go beyond the standard “how are you?” to show empathy to the people whose work you supervise. Use this time to express your gratitude for their work, acknowledge that the pandemic has affected us all differently, and encourage them to find ways to take care of themselves.

This is also an opportunity to discuss workloads and deadlines so that you can make adjustments and be realistic about what is actually achievable based on the essential function of the college or unit.

Communicate. Use team meetings to provide updates, discuss team goals, manage expectations for productivity during this time, and make adjustments when necessary. Ask your team for input and collectively find solutions to address the need for flexibility. An important component of these conversations is fostering open, honest conversations about both the personal and professional impacts of COVID-19 for the members of your team.

Express gratitude and recognize contributions. Presume that your faculty and staff are doing their best and acknowledge their contributions to your team. Gratitude and recognition for these contributions is necessary to continue to move forward with motivation and unity. Use your one-on-one meetings to acknowledge that the pandemic has had a unique effect on all of us and the strengths that each faculty and staff member brings are valuable.

Emergency paid leaves are available for eligible faculty, staff, and student workers affected by the COVID crisis. Here is information on the types of leaves and how to use them.

Resources for Supervisors

  • Leadership and Talent Development consultants are available to coach supervisors on issues such as flexible work design and fostering employee engagement with a remote workforce. Complete this request form and a consultant will contact you to set up a 30-minute meeting.
  • This Quick Guide to Resilience highlights effective coping strategies when managing stress in the workplace.
  • The Establishing Norms and Expectations Quick Guide provides a refresher on steps to foster psychological safety. This is an important step you can take to make sure your team is communicating openly and is productive in resolving misunderstandings and disagreements.
  • Despite the challenges we’re facing, we can all find ways to support employee engagement in our new work environment with these principles in mind.

Tips for Working from Home

Keep your typical routine. Wake up at a similar time, get dressed, eat a healthy meal.

Set up a dedicated space for your work. This can help you reduce distractions and get into the proper frame of mind for completing your tasks. Make sure that your equipment is functional and that you have everything you need. Create a workspace that supports your body with tips from the Work-from-Home Ergonomics Fact Sheet.

Check-in with your team and colleagues frequently. Whether through email, Zoom, or chat, maintaining regular communication is the only way to continue to move work forward smoothly and efficiently. Plus, connecting with colleagues can help us to remain engaged and connected while working in different locations.

Set boundaries. Be intentional about defining work versus personal time. For example, block out time on your calendar for when you will be away to care for yourself or a loved one. Similarly, identify the distractions that compromise your ability to focus and make adjustments when possible.

Ask for help. If you find yourself overwhelmed with managing competing personal and professional demands or are facing heavy workloads and unrealistic deadlines, talk with your supervisor about the kind of support that you need. Whether it’s adjusting your working hours, workload, or deadlines, talk with your supervisor about the kind of flexibility you need to be successful and manage your wellbeing.

Back to top

We recognize this is a stressful time for many University faculty and staff

If you, or someone who reports to you, are unsure about how to cope with these changes or feel overwhelmed and want to talk with someone, free and confidential counseling is available through the Employee Assistance Program through Sand Creek. Additional community resources including UPlan coverage for psychiatry and therapy, Wellbeing Program offerings for mental health and wellness, and other options are available on OHR’s Mental Health Resources page.

Also take advantage of the University’s Wellbeing Program resources including:

  • Virtual mindfulness courses
  • Healthy recipes
  • Self-guided courses for creating healthy situations, reducing stress, sleeping well, and more.

Employee Resources for Working Remotely

The Office of Information Technology has a page dedicated to resources for working remotely including connecting to the network with VPN, accessing systems with DUO, scheduling a Zoom meeting, and collaborating with Google.

Child care resources, including service providers, reviews and ratings of quality, cost and savings opportunity information, and in-home nanny and tutor hiring resources, are available on the OHR Child Care Resource Page

The Disability Resource Center provides digital accessibility resources and best practices, accommodations/access information for instructors who have students with disabilities in their courses, and Disability Resource Center related FAQs. Students are also encouraged to work with the DRC and their instructors if they need accommodations.

Back to top