Guidelines for Remote Work for Employees
Find tips and resources for managing yourself and your team while working remotely
Working remotely offers a unique set of opportunities and challenges. Whether you are adjusting to managing a team remotely, or are looking for strategies and tools on how to maintain your own productivity during this time, Organizational Development and Learning is committed to providing faculty and staff with just-in-time, relevant resources and support.
While we may not be together physically, our need to maintain our relationships at a distance is more important than ever before. Stay connected by joining a group of your fellow faculty and staff members for regularly-held facilitated workshops on topics trending in our community.
Join other BU faculty and staff for short (90 min or less) bimonthly Zoom sessions to:
- connect with other members of the BU community
- learn new skills and strategies to be more effective while working from home
- facilitate an exchange of ideas for managing yourself and others during this time
- share learning resources
Upcoming Session Friday, June 12th
Title: How to Have a Difficult Conversation Remotely
Date: Friday, June 12, 2020
Time: 9:30am – 11:00am
Description: Organizational Development & Learning partners with the Office of the Ombuds to offer this 90 minute Zoom session on initiating and participating in difficult conversations in a remote work environment.
Attendance: The session is open to all but spots are limited and filled on a first come, first serve basis. Please sign up here.
Expand your knowledge through a variety of self-directed, just-in-time learning resources curated by the OD&L Team.
The following are free resourced materials from LinkedIn Learning and Harvard Business Review.
- Managing Virtual Teams: Providing consistency and structure in a virtual team
- Working Remotely: Setting clearly defined goals
- Working Remotely: Structuring my day
- Working Remotely: Staying in touch
- Working Remotely: Managing conflict
Note: A LinkedIn account is required to access free content through LinkedIn Learning.
Need a customized resource or training? We’re here to help! To set up a consultation, email email@example.com.
How do I monitor work performance?
The best way to monitor productivity is to start with clear goals and deadlines. Select a shared file/folder in which updates will be stored. Schedule regular status meetings; these should be scheduled for the same time and day each week depending on the task or goal. A good rule of thumb is to have a copy of the meeting material sent to you ahead of time so you can see the progress and speak intelligently to it during your discussion. In the meeting, inquire as to any milestones or roadblocks that were encountered and provide insight and assistance, as needed. At the end of the day, this is about trust and the relationship you have with your employee. It is always better to err on the side of positive intent.
Managing Remote Projects
How do I make sure our team is fulfilling its responsibilities, while respecting that it can be hard for employees to be as productive as they would be under normal circumstances?
It’s important to recognize that, during extraordinarily challenging times, we need to have both achievement of goals and an adjustment to our expectations. During these times, not only have living and working conditions changed, but also our priorities often change. Employees need time to align themselves with the new priorities, along with adapting their established patterns under the new living and working conditions. It can be challenging for managers to know what’s reasonable to expect, as well as for employees to adapt. Managers can help their teams be productive and pivot towards new orientations by communicating their expectations clearly, checking in with employees on their progress, and calibrating their expectations in real-time as everyone settles into the new setting.
How do I maintain collaboration and a sense of connection across the team?
With a change in priorities and conditions on the ground, methods for collaborating and connecting have likely changed too. Technology plays a greater role than ever before, and it turns out there is a possible silver lining: these tools can result in greater participation than usual and allow for more diversity. Having shared goals is key to collaboration and connection across a team. Ironically, it is often in times like these that shifting priorities and new, urgent tasks are the vehicles for those intersections. Try to step back from the way you usually think about work to think outside the box and find new ways for team members to work together. Start off team meetings by sharing struggles and breakthroughs, particularly during the early days of big changes. While it may seem “squishy” or time-consuming, the investment you make in helping team members learn and care about each other’s situations pays off in helping members to settle in and distribute supportive behaviors. Don’t forget to schedule purely social time with your team as well. Be intentional about creating opportunities to connect with one another without discussing work. Planning a regular trivia night or happy hour are just a few examples of how you can find time to socialize at a distance and let off some steam.
How can I continue to have productive team meetings?
Using BU’s Zoom and Microsoft Teams, managers can and should continue holding regular staff meetings. In fact, with teams dispersed remotely it is especially important to meet as a team. More frequent, short team check-ins are a good practice, such as a morning huddle or an end-of-day check-in. Best practices for in-person meetings also apply to remote meetings. Meeting leaders should set a clear agenda, with a goal and time-frame for each agenda item. Managing participation can be difficult with remote meetings, as it can be challenging not to talk over one another. With that in mind, a good practice is to “go around the table” to make sure everyone has an opportunity to contribute. Also, encourage participants to use the “raise hand” feature in Zoom and Teams. Meeting remotely is a different experience, but with time teams will find remote meetings can be as effective as in-person meetings.
How do I keep the team focused on our goals and priorities?
It is always important to set and communicate clear goals and priorities. This is especially so when teams are dispersed remotely and even more so in times of uncertainty. Having clear goals and priorities help employees stay focused and grounded. It gives them a sense of purpose and meaning, which is stabilizing. Focus on short-term goals and priorities. Set weekly team goals and priorities. Allocate individual tasks that are tied to those team goals and priorities. With remote teams, transparency and shared understanding are important. Include all team members in communications related to goals, priorities, and task allocations. This will make sure work is aligned and help employees see their role in the team’s work. Celebrate individual and team accomplishments. This will reinforce each person’s importance to the team and help build momentum.
Setting Clear Goals in a Remote Team
How do I give employees feedback?
Regular feedback helps employees adjust their focus and performance to meet the needs of their roles and the team. With remote workers, feedback is best given using a video meeting with Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Avoid giving feedback by email. All feedback, whether positive or constructive, should be specific. After the feedback is delivered, offer the employee an opportunity to give their perspective, as they might have valuable information to share. As always, give regular and timely feedback.
Providing Feedback to a Remote Employee
How do I help my team avoid feeling isolated?
Working remotely can create a sense of isolation which impacts mood, morale, decision-making ability and productivity. There are four important tactics managers can use to help staff feel connected, focused, and part of a team.
Make sure your team creates ways to connect on a regular basis.
Remember the higher purpose we serve—why our work is important.
Use technology to engage for both work and social connection.
Don’t be afraid to take short breaks throughout the day to cognitively relax and take time to connect to others.
Keeping the human aspect in our day is critical to our ability to avoid feeling isolated.
How to Prevent Feeling Isolated
Need Additional Support?
We are all dealing with an extraordinary amount of stress as we grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. To offer support and assistance during this time of crisis while maintaining safe physical distances, the Faculty and Staff Assistance Office is now offering free and confidential counseling and consultation sessions to BU faculty, staff and their immediate family members via a HIPAA compliant Zoom platform. Schedule an appointment through their contact us form or by phone at 617-353-5381.