Working during COVID-19

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 would look like for your team to go remote.
    • 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.

Guidance on work space equipment and furniture

The pivot from on-site work to telework happened quickly and many employees made do with what they had at home to set up their home work space during the first six months of the pandemic. As we move into an extended window of telework, you are likely getting more frequent requests for equipment and office furniture.

As you consider these requests, please keep equity, ergonomics and ethics in mind:

The following guidance should help you triage requests:

Equipment: You may allow employees to take home their computer and computer equipment (monitors, keyboards, mice, headsets and webcams). If an employee has been using their personal equipment that eventually needs to be replaced, it is appropriate for the department to purchase the equipment and lend it to the employee for work-related home use.

As you make decisions, think about how you would answer the question if the employee had been working in the office and needed new equipment to complete their work.

Furnishings: You may allow employees to take home office chairs, footstools, standing mats, etc. We don’t recommend approving the removal of larger furniture, but we understand that the request for sit-stand desks are fairly common. If your department budget allows, there are many options for low cost adjustable stands that can make any surface into a standing desk.

Having access to the tools to work productively is important regardless of work location. As your organization makes decisions as to what may be purchased and/or taken home, please remember to be consistent and equitable in the decision-making process and prioritize necessary items for positions that are dependent upon them.