How to Manage Teleworkers Successfully
It is imperative that supervisors set clear expectations about the telework agreement. While most employees will work hard to make the agreement successful, address issues immediately if you encounter performance problems. It is okay to end a telework agreement if it is not working for an employee. Again, traditional telework is one to two days per week. Below are some management guidelines to manage your employees successfully while teleworking.
- Training is extremely important. Ensure that employees are well-versed in the organization’s telework policies and IT procedures.
- In advance, discuss and define your expectations.
- Ensure employees inform managers of their telework schedule so they can be held accountable.
- Monitor performance and hold employees to the same expectations as when in the office.
- Host check-in opportunities with mobile and in-office team members as needed.
- Stay connected with employees that are teleworking to clarify questions, project/office developments, deadlines, etc.
- Ensure employees know all the expected methods of communication. Be transparent by sharing calendars, data, and documents, and using instant messenger and/or video conferencing.
- Consider moving team projects to online collaborative platforms.
- Encourage interaction and communication between teleworkers and non-teleworkers.
Build a Trusting Environment
- Teleworking is an opportunity to build a trusting environment. Rather than micromanaging, establish clear goals and performance metrics to manage by results. Results are more important than face-to-face interaction.
- If you are able, try teleworking when you have the opportunity. This will help you see things from a teleworker’s perspective and make you aware of the benefits and challenges of teleworking.
Continuing Work During Social Distancing
The NC Telework website offers new ideas for working at home during extenuating circumstances. Be sure to read the following ideas from their website that can be found at https://nctelework.org .
Most of this website is set up to provide guidance for conventional teleworking and typical work situations. During an extenuating circumstance, different protocols and guidelines may be needed for a customized approach to managing employees and workload.
Health Related Emergencies
During a health related emergency, like the COVID-19 outbreak, practicing social distancing to decrease the severity and spread of the virus is essential. Additionally, many daycares and schools are closed, causing unique considerations for staff. We have compiled some resources below to help aid parents, specifically. All teleworking populations can take advantage of much of this content, but some is tailored specifically for work from home parents.
Beyond access to a laptop, there are some other basic tools and resources that can help you be effective working from home. See all suggestions on IT resources, including free communication tools and meeting streaming options, here.
Communicate your schedule
Communicate how you plan to put your hours in daily, and when to your supervisor. You may need to account for breaks to care for young children, or to assist older children or elder adults in your home with tasks. If you have a partner at home with you, consider taking turns providing hands-on assistance to dependents, while the other works.
- During a health crisis, your hours may not follow conventional 8am – 5pm scheduling, it may be helpful to work in clusters before children are up, or after they are in bed
- Consider times when your children may be occupied with school work or an afternoon nap as time you can also be productive.
Students and children that are used to daycare settings have daily schedules. Work to adhere to a similar schedule at home. This will provide stability for your children, and help everyone to have tasks and purpose. Some resources, outside of digital learning tools provided by your school district, include:
- Schooling from home resources for parents and students from UNC School of Education
- Learn from home resources for all age groups, from Scholastic
- Send your kids outside when they’re not doing schoolwork for free play. Remember to practice social distancing (6′ distance) to minimize the spread of the virus
- Being distant from friends may be hard on your children. Consider setting up skype calls with friends for video chats. Older children can help each other with school work, while younger children will enjoy seeing their friends
Recognize that for a while, life will follow slightly different conventions and norms. You can stay productive even with children also at home. Some suggestions include:
- Communicating a list of tasks you will work to accomplish weekly and daily with your supervisor
- Set up bi-weekly or weekly touch points with your supervisor and other key members of your team to communicate
- Set up a spreadsheet for your work-site with everyone’s cell number to easily communicate
- Consider adding an extra ad-hoc office space for your kids to get their school work done
- Tag team with other adults in your house to participate in important calls and online meetings – communicate with older children you will not be available during that time
With coronavirus being given such close attention, a good solution for the work we do continuing is encouraging employees to work from home. Telework can easily be set up and with the cell phone ‘conference call’ feature available, much work can continue from home.
Workflow Continuing Tips
- Telework- Follow this link Telework How-To Guide developed by the Triangle J Council of Governments to read about various tips and tricks for the “how to’s” of telework.
- Cell Phone – 1. Give staff quick trainings on the conference call feature on cell phones (that have the feature) and test in the office. 2. A few central employees should have cell phone numbers of all staff for communication if not everyone has home computer options. 3. Explore online options for conference call programs.
- Keep every surface wiped down daily.
- Exercise the “stay home if sick” option.
- Video Conference Feature – Explore programs such as Zoom, Skype, Teams and other programs.
- Cleanliness and wipes daily.
- Explore new ways to provide services.
- Develop toolkits for public “take out” of services.
- Ramp up your online presence.
- Exercise the “stay home if sick” option.
- Encourage those employees that can, to telework.
Please help keep everyone well by not panicking, but by practicing good workplace habits during the weeks and months to come.
Toolkit from Triangle J Council of Governments https://gotriangle.org/sites/default/files/teleworking_in_the_triangle_06212018.pdf
What is telework? (gotriangle.org)
Telework is a work arrangement that allows an employee to perform work, during any part of regular, paid hours, at an approved alternative worksite (e.g., home, telework center). It is an important tool for achieving a resilient and results-oriented workforce. At its core, telework is people doing their work at locations different from where they would normally be doing it. (Source)
Alternative Work Schedules
Alternative work schedules (also known as variable work hours) include flextime or compressed work weeks. Flextime is when employees work specified hours each week, but are given flexibility on when they arrive to work, take lunch and leave work. Compressed work weeks are when employees work more hours than typical but work fewer days per week or pay period.
By driving during off-peak times, you can avoid sitting in traffic, and emitting vehicle pollution from idling and get to work a whole lot faster. Some example schedules include:
- Work 40 hours over four days instead of the usual five, or work 80 hours in two weeks but only work nine out of 10 days.
- Set a new schedule to avoid the 7-9 morning rush and the 5-7 evening rush. Maybe try a 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. schedule a couple days a week.