Emerson College is committed to the safety of our community and recognizes the responsibility we all have to meet the challenge presented by COVID-19. All college employees are encouraged to work from home or another remote location whenever necessary in the coming weeks, should their responsibilities allow for it. We will revisit this guidance regularly and recognize that arrangements may change at any time. Widespread Work Anywhere arrangements are new for the Emerson community, so we encourage everyone to use this resource to navigate potential work anywhere scenarios.
These arrangements must be approved by your manager and may be modified at any time.
This guidance is for managers, employees, and departments to shift to temporary work anywhere arrangements successfully.
What does it mean to work anywhere?
At Emerson, Work Anywhere refers to a work arrangement in which some or all of the work is performed from home or another off-site location. Regular hours are worked and changes to that schedule require manager approval, just like they would for standard in-office work.
Which factors should departments consider when determining if work anywhere is possible?
Required daily tasks and operations
- Technology and equipment needed
- Productivity and performance of team members
- Data security
- Physical files needed
- Ability to keep accurate records that reflect time worked by non-exempt employees
Which jobs can be performed remotely?
Work anywhere is easiest for roles that require creative project-based work, reading/writing, taking phone calls, and working with data. A person’s role is suited to work anywhere if it can be done off-site without disruption to communication or results and does not place significant hardship on coworkers.
Which jobs cannot be performed remotely?
Roles that require in-person customer service or support, or that rely upon certain equipment, need to remain on site. Leadership will work to determine arrangements specifically for their teams based on the nature of the work being performed. While modifications are encouraged to support as many employees as possible, we recognize that this is not possible for all jobs.
There are three pillars to consider in order to effectively manage a remote team:
- Accountability & Knowledge
- Support & Engagement
- Strategy and Work
ACCOUNTABILITY & KNOWLEDGE
Use the Work Anywhere Expectations Worksheet to get on the same page
Use HR’s Work Anywhere Expectations Worksheet to ensure each team member knows what’s expected of them. It’s important to tell employees how often they should send updates on work plan progress and what those updates should include. Managers should also communicate how quickly they expect the employee to respond while working and the best ways for the employee to contact the manager while working remotely.
Review technology needs and resources
Review IT’s guide for working anywhere. This guide includes links and information about the tools we have available to us through Emerson. Make sure your team knows how to do these things as well.
Review work schedules
Be clear with your expectations with employees for maintaining their current work schedule. If changes from the normal schedule are approved, make sure that the whole team knows who is working at any given time. Establish guidelines for indicating when someone is away from their computer.
SUPPORT & ENGAGEMENT
Adopt a video-first mindset via Zoom
Instead of using the phone for every conversation, it’s important to be on video so that you can connect with your teams face-to-face. Be intentional about your interactions with your team by appearing on video and asking your team to do so as well.
Conduct regular check-ins. Start each workday with a phone, video or instant message chat. Your employees will be eager for connection and information during the disruption and the structure will help everyone create a positive routine. Every other day or weekly may be fine, so long as you are in contact frequently enough that your employees are in sync with you and/or with one another.
Build community and positivity
A positive attitude toward work anywhere and a willingness to trust employees is important to your team’s success. Try creating a private team slack channel and encourage your team to use it. Try using polls or photos to make your Slack channel more engaging. On Zoom, suggest things like a team breakfast, where everyone gets on their webcam with their breakfast and coffee, and chats informally before the day begins. Recognition is still important. Just because you’re not seeing your team face-to-face, that doesn’t mean people’s need for recognition goes away. Forward positive feedback up to your own boss when your direct reports do great work. Thank people for going above and beyond.
Adapt to work styles on your team
Some people will work best when it’s very early. Others may find the lines between home and work begin to blur, answering emails later into the evening. Some people may sign off completely for lunch, just like they do when they leave their office in normal times. Ask people what’s working and what’s not for them and adjust to their needs, as long as you are still holding them accountable and it doesn’t affect your team’s ability to get work done. Remind everyone to observe the Common Working Hours, part of the workday when you are expected to be available for meetings, responsive to emails and phone calls. Common Working Hours are from 10 - 12 pm and 2 - 4 pm EST on the East Coast, and 10 - 1 pm and 3 - 5 pm PST for ELA.
STRATEGY & WORK
Ensure deliverables are clear
As mentioned above, use the Work Anywhere Expectations Worksheet to provide clarity to your employees on what you expect from them. If they aren’t completing the work that they need to complete, managers should make that clear early and work with everyone to perform as expected.
Assess critical work and project/strategic work
All managers and leaders have a role to play in Business Continuity Planning. You should find out who your BCP leader is and ensure your team can complete that work. You should also think critically about your own team’s goals, beyond mission-critical services, and how they may be affected. Talk to your direct reports about where you want the team to be in six months and how working from home has potentially changed that outlook. Explain what, if any, projects have been reprioritized to accommodate this new environment.
Define your workspace
It can be difficult to stay focused at home, so it’s important that you find a clean, comfortable space in which to work. It might be a desk or a home office, or it might be your kitchen table. Either way, the consistency will help you remember that it’s time to work. Another way to help yourself remain focused is to dress like you’re coming into the office.
Master the basics
Review IT’s guide for working anywhere. This guide includes links and information about the tools we have available to us through Emerson, and it will be incredibly important in helping you navigate the tools you need to be successful.
Eliminate distractions and work on a set schedule
We know that at home, you might be taking care of pets, children, roommates, or others. Consider how you can set expectations in your household so that you can focus, uninterrupted, on work. You might need headphones to block out noise. Additionally, all Emersonians are asked to observe the Common Working Hours, part of the workday when you are expected to be available for meetings, responsive to emails and phone calls. Common Working Hours are from 10 - 12 pm and 2 - 4 pm EST on the East Coast, and 10 - 1 pm and 3 - 5 pm PST for ELA.
Prioritize privacy and security
Be sure to assess the privacy of your workspace. Can someone stand behind you read your computer screen? Can a neighbor hear your phone call through an open window? You should also remain vigilant for security concerns and report anything suspicious to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to also protect your personal privacy! Check behind you for things you wouldn’t want coworkers to see before you start a video conference, and be aware of what’s on your computer screen before screen sharing.