The following is a guide designed to assist management with working remotely.
We are all having to adapt rapidly to new ways of working, whilst also potentially feeling anxious and concerned about coronavirus and other personal concerns.
It is vital that we look out for each other and support each other. Managers need to be there to support each member of staff with this change. Please do check in with your team regularly and encourage them all to check in with each other. We encourage managers to also be aware of the support networks that are available to them at this time.
Initial planning for remote working
At this stage, managers should now have:
- set up a Microsoft TEAMS account
- gathered personal phone numbers from staff you manage, if staff feel comfortable. Reassure staff that these numbers will only be used in emergencies
- provided your personal phone number to your team
- checked if your team have suitable devices (smart phone, laptops, computers) to be able to carry out their work remotely
- checked that your staff know how to use the technological tools for remote working
- ensured that staff have read the new workstation (DSE) guidance for their remote work location. If staff wish, they can undertake a DSE assessment on their work location
- made a record of any staff member who will not have access to technology to carry out their core duties but will be working remotely
- discussed alternative appropriate work that staff without access to appropriate technology can carry out whilst working remotely
Considered the following to plan for your staff to work remotely:
- As we move to remote working, there is likely to be a reduced service capacity and capability. To mitigate this, managers should consider which business needs are to be prioritised and can be reasonably carried out from home by their staff.
- It is important for managers to identify which members of their staff will be responsible for specific projects and tasks. This must be agreed with staff so it is manageable and appropriate in relation to their circumstances at the current time.
- It is important to communicate details of responsibilities of specific projects and tasks to the teams so that every team member is aware of who is doing what. This is particularly important as these tasks may be different to those that staff would normally undertake.
- As managers, you should advise your staff how they will be kept up to date with overall work plans and of any changing priorities whilst they are working remotely.
- In preparing for your staff to work remotely for an unknown period of time, it is important to take into account and show compassion, empathy and support for staff who may have challenges at home which are exacerbated during this current climate, e.g. dependants, pre-existing health conditions, isolation, mental health.
- More generally, if work is quieter than normal this could be a good time for professional development. This could be completing suggested reading, sharing knowledge with colleagues, or undertaking e-learning. Have a look at what OPD offers here. There are also various online learning platforms offering free courses.
Managing and supporting staff remotely
Managing staff remotely requires normal good management practice but perhaps applying this even more consciously will be required. Staff may be worried regarding expectations, outputs and their usual work arrangements.
It is important that you:
- Remind your staff that you are aware they will do their best to manage their work and personal commitments during this unprecedented period.
- Reassure your staff that all University employed staff will continue to be paid as usual during this unprecedented period and that the University appreciates that at times staff may not be able to deliver what they are usually able to. See more information here on the University’s position.
- Set clear and realistic expectations, with input from your staff members in light of their individual circumstances, in terms of work outputs/outcomes.
- Be clear with your staff members about how these will be measured from the outset. Encourage staff to clarify any aspects they are unsure about. When communicating outcome objectives ensure that they are SMART:
Specific – clear what the required outcome is.
Measurable – know what success looks like, so you can both track progress. Consider quantity as well as quality.
Achievable – it should be stretching but possible.
Relevant – to your Department, the University.
Time bound – a deadline or how often the task will be done. If it’s a long- term task consider breaking it down into smaller chunks and have milestone dates.
Be aware that due to changing circumstances, these objectives may change to reflect ability of staff.
- Agree up front on how you will keep up to date on the progress of work. This may be in 1:1 meetings and/or in a weekly ‘round up’ email which sums up what your staff member completed that week, and what they plan to focus on for the week commencing.
- Check in with staff outside of a scheduled 1:1 meeting to see how they are getting on with their work, e.g. in the same way that you would casually ask if you were in the office.
- As managers, you have a duty of care to all your employees. In managing staff remotely, it is even more important to ensure that you are aware of your staff’s welfare. Should you have any concerns about a member of staff’s welfare please contact your HR Adviser for further advice.
- Acknowledgement is a key factor in employee happiness and confidence. Working remotely may pose difficulties for many staff, so it is important to show recognition of their efforts and thank them for doing their best in this challenging time.
- If your staff members are feeling strained or stressed, consider completing the Individual Work Related Stress Risk Assessment Form [DOC 61KB] with them (a HR Adviser may assist if required). It may prove useful for all involved to see which factors are causing stress, and what actions may be able to be taken in an attempt to minimise this.
- Managers may also find the following links useful:
Managing your team’s working hours
- You should encourage staff to maintain the same working hours as when working on campus where possible and practical. This will enable the day-to-day office collaborations to continue and is a way for managers to check in on staff’s welfare.
- If working hours need to be adjusted whilst working remotely, this should be supported to enable staff to manage their personal and work commitments to the best of their ability. Whilst meetings and deadlines must be taken into account, supporting your staff in these times remains a priority.
- If staff are concerned about working flexibly when they have caring or other significant responsibilities, please direct them to this webpage.
- Agreed existing flexible working arrangements are still applicable while working remotely, if this works for the staff member.
Staying in touch and TEAMS support
- Keeping in touch with your staff is important for maintaining your social interactions and professional collaborations. Discuss the regularity and types of contact you expect to have with your staff and that they want with you.
- Be mindful of those members within your teams who may benefit from increased contact over and above your normal 1:1 meetings and team meetings. Discuss these needs with relevant team members so that measures can be put in place.
- Staying in touch regularly is also important for keeping your staff informed about your Department’s and the University’s business.
- Microsoft TEAMS is a great way to be able to stay in touch whilst working off-site. Managers should ensure that all of their staff have a basic practical awareness of how to use Microsoft TEAMS. When working remotely TEAMS will be key for being able to stay in touch undertake work. To download click here
- Set up your staff as a team on TEAMS in order to live chat with each other. This is useful for sharing ideas and engaging in discussions.
- You can also have one to one and team meetings by using the video conferencing features.
- You can make phone calls to colleagues through TEAMS to save you from using your personal mobiles or domestic house phones.
- Microsoft Outlook remains a familiar tool which can be used sending work emails to colleagues throughout the University whilst working remotely. It will also be one the main communication tools for keep you updated by the Principal whilst you are working away from campus.
Step-by-step guides and further information for using TEAMS:
Technology to support remote working and file storage
It is important that you ensure that your staff are aware of the following to enable remote working.
- Accessing Queen Mary applications when working remotely - You can find information on this here
- Prior to working remotely, staff should copy all essential files that they may need to access remotely from their G:drive (home drive) onto their OneDrive. Files from the J: drive (shared drive) can also be copied across if necessary. Staff with a managed Queen Mary laptop will retain access to the J and G drive remotely, so will not need to copy their files, but may still choose to do so.
- OneDrive is a Microsoft cloud service (part of Office 365) which provides storage for your individual files and is accessible on and off campus. Copying your files will mean you are able to access them remotely and if needed, from home. You can find a step-by-step guide on how to use OneDrive below.
- Please note that individual research participant data and other sensitive data should not be transferred to Teams, OneDrive, or SharePoint. Always follow Queen Mary Data Governance Policy guide.
Step-by-step guides and further information for OneDrive: