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Telework resources during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many state employees are working from home. This has forced employees and supervisors to find innovative ways to keep services going. The information on this page provides various resources to help employees be successful as they continue to navigate extended telework.  

Getting started with mobile work

Each agency and workgroup will have unique circumstances that will inform telework policies. Make sure to check with your manager and human resources for more specific information.

  1. Get "ready" for work each day. This will help your mindset to shift to a work-related focus.
  2. Create or use a separate area to conduct work. It can be tempting to work in front of a TV or from bed. However, the key to successful mobile work is creating an environment that allows maximum focus.
  3. Be comfortable. In your work set up, strive to maintain good posture. Work with your agency's ergonomics representative for resources or tips to help make your work setting comfortable for you. 

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Staying connected to work groups

Research has shown that many full-time employees spend more time among coworkers than their own families. Social distancing and extended telework as a result can feel isolating, leading to disengagement from work. It will be critically important in the months ahead to not overlook our workplace connections.

  1. Periodically, check-in with your supervisor and team. We are all going through this pandemic together. It will be vital for us to check-in with and support each other during this trying time. 
  2. Utilize technology. One enormous benefit we have is the ability to stay connected to others without physical interaction. Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, among others, are just a few of the resources that allow us to see and hear each other. 
  3. Keep your office contact information updated. Yes, most of us should be home during this period. Help your team know the best times to reach you and the best means of doing so by keeping your calendar updated.

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Maintaining your health and wellness

Our work environments, communities, and overall daily routines are going through profound changes. With these disruptions, your health and wellness can take a hit with increased anxiety. The Employee Assistance Program is an outstanding resource for times like this.

  1. It's ok to be anxious. It is absolutely normal to have some level of anxiety or depression about the effects of the coronavirus. However, our minds can easily be tempted to amplify our fear and worry. Make sure to monitor your mental health and take steps to practice resiliency. Seek out appropriate resources and support if necessary. 
  2. Take time to get outside. While there are current restrictions on the types of activities we can do, we still have the ability to take walks, ride bikes, and exercise. It can be a great way to spend your breaks during your workday while helping reduce stress. 
  3. Help others. A powerful way to deal with anxiety around coronavirus is helping others. Donate to the food bank or blood bank, reach out to family and friends, wash your hands, and follow recommended social guidelines.

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Being organized and productive 

Working from home can offer benefits and unforeseen obstacles. Many employees will be balancing childcare, eldercare, along with the anxiety of the overall situation. Staying organized and maintaining productivity will be crucial to sustaining the services and expectations of the people we serve. 

  1. Set "office hours". Obviously, there will be distractions but this will help encourage those close to you to limit disruptions during certain periods of the day. 
  2. Create a plan for what you want and need to accomplish. This can be something you and your supervisor plan out or a personal roadmap to setting goals and strategizing how to complete tasks.
  3. Keep track of what you accomplish. This will help when you have check-ins with your supervisor and team. It will also help motivate you!

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Opportunities to learn and grow

During this extended period of telework, you may find an increased ability to learn more about topics related to your job. The good news is that there are plenty of paths to pursue that don't require travel or many resources. The Department of Enterprise Services has created an Online Learning Resources webpage for state employees stock full of development opportunities. 

  1. Take advantage of online learning resources. There are a ton of resources available, at no cost. Your agency may have resources available too. If your workload allows for it, utilize them. 
  2. Get caught up on mandatory online trainings. It can be tough to fit mandatory trainings into the typical work week. Now is a great time to make sure you are up to date on trainings that are required. Some might be offered online. 
  3. Be on the lookout for webinars. You may be surprised at the sheer amount of free webinars that are available. Keep checking this page for new ones in the coming weeks.

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Dealing with mobility hurdles

Undoubtedly, you may find yourself dealing with hiccups and hurdles, especially around technology. Make sure you work with your agency on specific policies and/or technology support in the event issues arise. 

  1. Work with your local IT team on technology issues. Make sure you have the contact information for the IT team in your agency for when you run into any technology issues. Also, keep tuned in for any agency wide advisories from the IT team.
  2. Work with your supervisor on equipment needs. You may find the need for certain tools or resources in order to work from home successfully. Note these hurdles when checking in with your supervisor to game plan a resolution.  
  3. Take your usual breaks. Just like you would at the office, make sure you take your normal breaks. If the weather is nice, take a walk. Also, make sure to note them on your work calendar.

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Supervising remote employees

While employee access to teleworking is positively correlated with their supervisor’s job performance, some supervisors may be unprepared for supervising in a new virtual environment. Some of you may be shifting from monitoring office presence to judging performance and productivity. The training and resources below could also benefit in-office supervisors, since “if a staff member works from home and consistently misses deadlines then they are likely going to miss those deadlines in the office. Location doesn't change people.”

  1. Be intentional with your employees. Set up virtual coffee or virtual water cooler meetings. You can use apps or advance planning. Plan for onboarding staff.
  2. Agree on how you are going to monitor their work. Have objective criteria for assessing how they are doing. Put these in teleworking agreements between you and employee.
  3. Rethink promotions. Successful virtual supervisors have different skills than in-office supervisors. Diversifying supervisor skills will help develop organizational resilience.

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Last updated
Tuesday, October 27, 2020