Teleworking Arrangements

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Teleworking arrangements are not new, but because they may be unfamiliar to employees and managers, this resource will help you and your team navigate potential teleworking scenarios. 

This guidance is for supervisors, employees and departments and is designed to help set up temporary remote work arrangements quickly and successfully.

  1. What is teleworking and how does it differ from other forms of remote work?
    Telework is a work arrangement in which some or all of the work is performed from home or another off-site location. In general, regular office hours are worked and deviations from that schedule require supervisor approval.
  2. What’s most important to starting a productive teleworking arrangement?
    Clearly outlined and executed teleworking arrangements can prove beneficial to employees and managers alike. Managers should articulate clear procedures regarding check-in times and hours of availability.

 

Supervisor Checklist for Supporting Teleworking

Telework works best when employees and supervisors communicate clearly about expectations. The following checklist will help you establish a foundation for effective teamwork, continued productivity, and service to the Georgia Tech Community. 

  1. Review technology needs and resources.
    Identify technology tools staff use in their daily work and determine whether the resources will be accessible when working from home. Also, ensure employees know how to access the appropriate technical support should they need assistance.

    • Confirm that employees know how to access their voicemail from home.
    • Determine which platform(s) you will use to communicate as a team, clarify expectations for online availability and confirm everyone has access to the technology tool(s) and support resources. Georgia Tech employees have free access to Blue Jeans, Microsoft Teams and WebEx.
  2. Review work schedules.
    Telework can be confused with flex work. Be clear about your expectations with employees for maintaining their current work schedule or if you are open to flexible scheduling based on employee needs. View the university’s Flexwork Arrangements. http://www.policylibrary.gatech.edu/flexwork-arrangements for more information.
  3. 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 other to confirm how you will communicate while everyone is working remotely.
    • Oftentimes employees experience fewer interruptions while teleworking. Are there any special projects or tasks that you can advance while working remotely?
    • What events or meetings are scheduled during the time in which the temporary telework 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?
  4. Make a communication and accountability plan.
    Supervisors should tell employees how often they should send updates on work plan progress and what those updates should include. Supervisors should also communicate how quickly they expect the employee to respond while teleworking and the best ways for the employee to contact the supervisor while working remotely. Current performance standards are expected to be maintained by employees.

    • 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.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.
  5. Be positive.
    A positive attitude toward teleworking and a willingness to trust employees to telework effectively is key to making such arrangements successful and productive. Teleworking presents an opportunity for managers to become better supervisors. Instead of focusing on how many hours your employees are working, re-emphasize a focus on measuring results and reaching objectives—regardless of work arrangement. The employee’s completed work product is the indicator of success, rather than direct observation. By focusing on the employee’s work product, managers and supervisors will improve their organizational abilities and their own skill in managing by objectives.
  6. Debrief after normal operations resume.
    Employees and supervisors should review work plans when work returns to normal, assess progress on the employee’s work plan and prioritize any unresolved or new work that resulted from temporary operational disruption.

 

Teleworking Tips for Employees

Employees who telework 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.

The employee is responsible for maintaining a safe and secure work environment.

  1. Define your workspace.
    Experienced teleworkers will tell you that it is often difficult to stay focused at home. We are creatures of habit and most of us are used to our normal home routines. Establishing a workspace, even if it is your kitchen table, gives your brain a cue that it is time for work. Wearing attire that you may wear to the office even if it is your “casual Friday” attire may cue the brain. You should remain capable of reporting to work if your presence is requested by your supervisor.
  2. Master the basics.
    • Learn how to access your voicemail from home.
    • Know how to remote using the VPN and other online tools you use regularly.
    • Use Blue Jeans, Microsoft Teams and….. 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.​
  3. Set daily goals, track them and share your progress.
    You may be surprised by how differently the workday passes without the comings and goings of an office to break things up or influence what you do next. Start each day of telework 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 telework plan needs to be adjusted.
  4. Eliminate distractions.
    Home 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 noise.
  5. 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 is anything around you that you would not want visible during a video conference with your boss or colleague.
  6. Continue to employ security best practices.
  7. 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 teleworking anytime you would walk to their office or call them if you were working on-site.

 

Tips for Departments with Widespread Telework

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

  1. Consider designating a telework task force.
    Depending on the size of your unit, consider implementing a task force to manage telework protocols and procedures for your department.
  2. Engage your team.
    Setting up a group to work remotely is different than setting up an individual employee to telework. 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 may look like for your team to work remotely.
    • Identify needs and tool preferences of team members for remote work.
    • Document and share telework practices/plans.
  3. 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.
     

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