Our campus community has had to adjust quickly to a new way of doing business. With a majority of the university’s employees working remotely or on administrative leave, the change to daily operations is monumental. The change brings many challenges and requires each of us to find new ways to do things, often outside of our comfort zone. Some employees are working from home for the first time, which means figuring out how to stay on task in a new environment that may not lend itself to productivity. Keep in mind you can still deliver results without going stir-crazy.
We encourage you to revisit this page periodically as resources will be updated. Please know University Personnel is here to help and support you.
Tips to Successfully Support Remote Work
Here are some tips to help support you working remotely. Feel free to print them out and keep them close by as a reminder!
Making your Home Office Feel Like an Office
Be ready to work by having all your needs. If you typically take notes on paper, be sure you have a dedicated notepad and pen at your desk.
Workplaces typically have some level of noise. If quiet bothers you or you like to listen to music while working, prepare for that in advance. Podcasts, audio books, Spotify, and Apple music are all good options. If you are looking for a free option, local libraries and some streaming services offer free music.
Think of your office space like being out of the home. While it may be convenient to fetch things as you think of them, the interruptions can be detrimental to your mental work frame.
Space and Equipment
Helpful Tips for Setting up a Home Workspace
- Have a dedicated space for work, free of clutter
- Try to physically separate the work-space from your home life activities
- Choose a quiet room with minimal distractions
- If there are other people at home, try and choose a location that is away from others that are not also working. Rooms with doors are usually the best.
- Be sure to have the necessary workspace including a comfortable chair, sturdy work surface, plenty of light, access to power, and other necessities.
A properly set up workstation is important to increase safety and comfort, including at a home office. Visit the CSUMB ergonomics webpage, review the Healthy Workstation Guidelines infographic and watch the ergonomic workspaces video to learn more about setting up your desk, chair, and other workspace features to maximize your workspace wellness.
Standing, stretching, and taking regular, short breaks are important parts of workplace wellness. Be sure to set and take regular rest and meal breaks.
Working safely and securely is important to protect student and financial data. Virtual Private Networks (VPN) coupled with responsible home network management and general IT security alertness and prevention help to protect the University’s data.
If you need set up assistance for VPN or need technical support related to using a VPN, first review the self-help article to resolve common questions and issues. If you still need help, call the IT Help Desk 831-582-HELP (4357)
A common way to meet and connect is using Zoom. The CSU has a contract with Zoom so it is important to always use your official university account. IT security office recommends that you use the available features in zoom to properly secure and control access to your zoom meetings and classes. For basic support and helpful tips, watch the Zoom online tutorial. If after watching the tutorial you need additional assistance, call the IT Help Desk 831-582-HELP (4357).
AdobeSign (replacing DocuSign)
If you are new to AdobeSign, here are some links to Adobe's online sites and Webinars.
Work Life Balance
With a focus on work-life balance for those who support remote learning for their children, care for the daily needs of family, and managing ongoing work demands, options for 2021 is a frequent question. Referencing leave options in the union contracts, including combinations of an alternate work schedule, partial unpaid leave, use of the Family Medical Leave (FML), and use of paid leave accruals. UP will work with administrators and employees in determining whether a request can be accommodated such as partial paid or unpaid leave, alternative and flexible work schedules, or other accommodations. For leave advising or more information, email our leaves staff at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Health and Wellness
If you find you are distracted by unfinished household tasks, like cleaning, laundry, or organizing, do those on your lunchtime to free your mind of the stress. It is best to avoid mixing work and home tasks as it may lead to a lack of focus and increased stress. A key to managing this is to try and divide your work time and home time, even when in the same space. Try viewing 6 Tips to Improve Your Work Life Balance.
Experiencing stress? Take a break and walk away from the computer. Have a drink of water, practice cleansing breaths, or go for a short walk outside. Visit our Wellness Resources page for more resources and information on support services.
At the end of your day, make time for yourself to decompress. Go for a walk, start preparing dinner, or get ready for your evening. As you do not have a commute, give yourself time to adjust, at least 15 minutes to remove yourself mentally from what you did throughout the day. Try these SumTotal Mindfulness Exercises, Matless Yoga and Intention Meditation, and to help you unwind.
Additionally, here is a healthy dose of inspiration!
Remember that change is the issue with which most must grapple. Empathia, Inc. "How to Successfully Work Remotely" webinar is a good place to start with helping to identify how each person chooses their response to the change.
Working remotely poses new and different challenges. Given the lack of physical proximity, it is important to make an effort and reach out to coworkers and supervisors. Let others know what you're working on and how you're doing. Make an effort to maintain interpersonal human connections. In a remote work environment, it is important for each team member to do their part in maintaining the feeling of community. These are challenging times for everyone and important that we stay connected and help to raise each other’s spirits. Work with your team members to plan some team building and engagement opportunities like a virtual scavenger hunt, create a Facebook group, have virtual coffee talks, share movie reviews, or have dressed in the same color day - it is a fun way to show team spirit on Zoom matrixed team meetings.
If you have others in your home when working, set clear boundaries about your work time and expectations so that you can focus on your responsibility and balance your work and home life in the same space.
Managing a virtually connected workforce has challenges different than the traditional office environment. It is important to remember that team members still have the same basic needs from a manager: direction, purpose, support, feedback, validation, and praise. The distance makes it harder to drop in for a quick chat, and managers may miss important behavioral queues that signal the need for feedback or support. It is the manager's obligation to make the extra steps necessary to maintain a healthy and productive workforce, and this means planning is more essential than ever in a virtual office environment. Below are tips to help in supporting employees and supervisors to manage in a virtual team environment. For more information, consider viewing the following videos: How to Successfully Manage Remote Employees and Transitioning to Remote Work During COVID 19.
Working Remotely May Be New for Both the Employee and the Manager
This arrangement takes a great deal of planning and discipline to provide the same level of customer service when the arrangement is new. There are ways to help verify that employees are on task. Be sure to set clear expectations, then talk to employees if a pattern of not meeting that expectation is observed.
- Reinforce that employees are still a representative of their organization all rules regarding conduct
- Pay attention to responsiveness of employees
- How fast do they respond to emails?
- Are they available when called?
- Are projects being completed on time?
Plan Ahead to Carry out Your Normal Activities as a Supervisor
It is important to keep regular connections and interactions with your team. In addition to video chats, use Google hangouts for small group or one-to-one fast interactions. This is a good way to leverage electronic communications tools to conduct desk-side drop-bys or fast hallway meetings that typically occur in an office. Be mindful that these tools can also be distracting, so don’t over-do-it.
It’s common to fall prey to the out-of-sight out-of-mind fallacy. Just because a manager cannot see work being done, does not mean that an employee is not working hard and being productive. At all times, not just in virtual offices, it is important to set clear goals and expectations with employees. These are a few tips for making the product of work visible to managers.
- Create and assign projects that have deliverables
- Provide employees clear timelines for deliverables
- Check-in on the status of longer projects to provide help and support.
- Ask for written to-do-lists of employee work with the respective status on regular intervals
Utilize Video Conferencing and Webinar Tools like Zoom
A large portion of communication is body language, including facial expressions. Humans create better connections and communicate more effectively when we can enrich our understanding through visual cues and voice inflection. Using video conferencing helps to bridge the gaps distance creates.
University Personnel, with assistance from the CSU, provides a number of resources, training opportunities, and communications to help support you. Below are resources that you may find helpful when working remotely.
Learning Bundles for Staff and Faculty (SumTotal)
- Meeting Organizers
- Team Managers
- Team Members
- Mindfulness Meeting Exercises
- Matless Yoga
- Intention Meditation
- Coping with Stress and Uncertainty During COVID-19
Learning Bundles for Student Employees (SumTotal)
Emotional and General Support for Staff and Faculty
COVID19 Related Communications
- Archive of emails to Faculty, Staff and Student Employees about COVID19 changes
- UP COVID-19 related Forms
- General UP information about COVID19
- CSU COVID-19 Temporary Paid Administrative Leave (CPAL) Request and Calendar Form
- Acknowledgement Form for 65+/ Chronic Medical Conditions
- Non-Telecommuting Workers Leave Request Form