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Tips and Resources for Working Remotely

March 30, 2020

Drexel’s shift to a remote working environment for non-essential personnel in response to the COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted many of our normal work routines. This move was made out of necessity in order to continue business operations while practicing social distancing, but we acknowledge that this shift can be difficult, particularly for those who have never teleworked before.

To help ease your transition, Drexel Human Resources has compiled the following tips and tools that are considered best practices for remote work. For specific questions or concerns regarding managing your team remotely, please contact your HR Business Partner.

Develop a Communication Strategy

  • Schedule and maintain regular meetings/check-ins with your team (daily, weekly, monthly, one-on-one or team meetings); these can be as brief as 15 minutes.
  • Create flexibility for unscheduled check-ins, as needed. Communicate with your team the best way of contacting you (via phone, email, Teams, etc.).
  • Inform your team of preferred platforms for communicating (Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc.).
  • Create standard agendas and get input from your team as to what should be included.

Managing Performance in a Remote Environment

  • Have daily check-ins with your direct reports; whenever possible, these should be one-on-one and face-to-face via video conferencing.
  • Communicate often with your team, per the communication strategy you have developed. Practice both formal and informal communication. Communicating regularly, even if you don’t have new information to share, is important in maintaining transparency through a crisis. Providing frequent updates is the ultimate expression of good faith, empathy and genuine concern for your team.
  • Take advantage of technology, but try not to overwhelm your team with too many technology tools. Stick with the same platform when communicating with the team, if possible.
  • Manage expectations:
    • Reset expectations for how work gets done remotely.
    • Clearly define realistic expectations by focusing on achievable tasks.
    • Define scope of work—tasks, deadlines, expected outcomes, etc.
    • Use regularly scheduled check-ins to review progress/provide coaching.
    • Document calls/action steps/follow-up, as appropriate.
  • Focus on outcomes/results, as opposed to hours worked. Consider alternate schedules for staff members who may need additional flexibility.
  • Resource your team:
    • Make sure they have tools/resources to work remotely. Drexel IT has a resource page outlining web conferencing and collaboration tools, as well as guidance on how to connect remotely to Drexel resources and services.
    • Continually gauge stress and engagement levels. Make it clear to your team members that your chief concern is their well-being.

Be Flexible

  • Understand your team has a lot going on given the current circumstances.
  • Think about what productivity really means.
  • Trust your team to find a schedule that works and meets personal and business needs. Many employees are juggling childcare, K-12 education and household needs while maintaining their Drexel work responsibilities.

Physical and Mental Wellbeing

  • Create a dedicated workspace and a location for video calls.
  • Take time to sleep, exercise and hydrate.
  • Connect with co-workers to have non-work-related discussions about their day and how they may be coping with working remotely.
  • Share tips with each other on managing stress during the day.
  • Schedule breaks throughout the workday to maintain focus and promote wellbeing.
  • Take advantage of Drexel’s Employee Assistance Program, and share information about it with your team and/or colleagues.

For additional tips and best practices, check out “A Guide to Working From Home” from the Goodwin College of Professional Studies’ Blog and the March 2020 edition of the HR @ Your Service newsletter, which highlights tips for staying healthy while working remotely and benefit offerings you should be aware of.