Guidance for Emergency Telework

Review frequently asked questions, best practices, school closure guidance and sample survey questions related to emergency telework.

FAQs on Teleworking Expenses

Q: Can a department allow employees to take state-issued equipment home?

A: Yes, each department has the discretion to allow employees to take state-issued equipment home. This includes computer equipment required for the job and ergonomic equipment. Before allowing employees to take equipment home, ensure you have a process to track state-owned assets. The employee’s responsibility to maintain and return the equipment should be outlined in the telework agreement. Additionally, ensure that appropriate security measures have been taken, including encrypting any storage devices or media.

Q: Can we reimburse staff for expenses related to telework?

A: During the period of transition from emergency telework to the 2021 Policy, please defer to your department’s Labor Relations Office.

Best Practices

Ensure staff have a single source of accurate information related to Emergency Telework that includes:

  • How to participate (e.g., complete a telework plan or agreement)
  • Clear expectations (in terms of work hours, tools, availability, communication protocol, etc.)
  • Approximate term of the telework plan (subject to change at the department’s discretion and business needs) and notify staff when they are expected to return to office.

Maintain continuous communication with distributed staff:

  • Ensure protocols are in place to maintain communication with staff both in the office and telecommuting
  • Hold regular staff meetings and 1:1 meetings using audio video conferencing where possible
  • Make use of collaboration tools that enable chat or instant messaging, screen sharing, the ability to work on documents in real-time, and conferencing

Ensure staff feel supported and part of larger team:

  • Encourage staff to participate in video calls to help foster connectedness
  • Conduct regular check-ins with staff via email, text, or phone
  • Encourage staff to take their regular breaks and take time for a short walk or stretch

Teleworking through school closures

Guidance for employees

Working from home with children who are not in school or daycare presents a unique challenge. Here are some tips to support you.

Know your options

Please refer to your department’s Office of Human Resources to see what benefits are available to you during an Emergency Telework situation. Among others, you may be eligible for:

  • Employee personal leave (Personal Leave Program (PLP), Professional Development Days (PDD), sick, vacation, etc.)

Please refer to your department’s Office of Human Resources for additional information, as there are some positions exempt from the above leave benefits. 

Routines for the win

Set yourself up for success – Schedule activities and establish a routine for yourself and your children.

Communicate with your supervisor

Increase communication with your supervisor to avoid any misunderstandings or issues you may encounter. Suggest a daily five-minute check-in meeting to clarify expectations and obtain feedback.

Important conversations

Have age-appropriate conversations with your children explaining the very unique situation we are all in.

Stay connected

Many people do not reach out to colleagues who are teleworking because they don’t want to bother them. You should feel confident about calling or messaging an employee who is teleworking anytime as if you were working on-site and walk to their office or call them.

Minimize interruptions

Although an occasional or brief interruption may occur when a dependent is present in the home, do your best to keep such interruptions to a minimum in order to avoid disruption to your work.

Adjust work-life balance

Balancing childcare while working can be overwhelming. If you feel you are unable to perform your official duties, please advise your supervisor of the situation and request appropriate leave for that time or determine whether your work schedule can be changed to better accommodate your situation.

Be realistic

Give yourself and your children a little bit of grace. Things aren’t going to get done as quickly as they used to, and they aren’t going to be perfect. Perform your most complex duties during quiet times, such as when children are napping, reading or studying.

Self-care

Recognize that this is not an easy situation. Ensure you are taking care of your own physical and emotional health. Exercise, eat healthy, and prioritize sleep. Don’t forget that your department’s’ Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help! This free, confidential program offers a variety of services and is a valuable resource for support and information during difficult times.

Guidance for managers

Self-care for you and your team

Recognize that this is not an easy situation for you or your staff. Ensure you are taking care of your own physical and emotional health, and your staff is experiencing a healthy work-life balance.

Understand and use EAP

Don’t forget that your Department’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help! Get comfortable recommending EAP and mention it during team meetings. This free, confidential program offers a variety of services, and is a valuable resource for support and information during difficult times.

Keep your routine, but be flexible

Create a sense of normalcy by keeping your commitments. Maintain your one-on-one meetings and team meetings and prepare agendas in advance.  If you or your staff have school-aged children at home, it is good practice to check in and see if standing meetings may need to be adjusted to accommodate their schedule.

Stay up to date

Monitor the news for information about school closures and keep in close contact with your team about what information they are hearing from their school districts.

Foster openness

While respecting privacy, ask your staff what they need from you. Managers can help by simply showing interest in the school year and asking how a staff member’s family is doing.

Model expected behavior

Demonstrate integrity, respect and trust. Treat employees as professionals and expect professionalism from them. Fairness instills trust between management and employees, which is critical to building a culture supportive of work-life balance.

Be empathetic

If an employee approaches you with a scheduling need, be open to discussing their options.

Set clear expectations

Encourage employees to be as proactive as possible in creating plans to meet deadlines and commitments as they adjust to this abnormal back-to-school season.

Celebrate milestones and foster discussion

Teleworking with dependents at home can be stressful, so try to continue to celebrate staff birthdays and accomplishments. Schedule virtual team-building events to boost morale or incorporate them into existing meetings. Be mindful of employees who seem less engaged or have difficulty with telework, and make special efforts to ensure they feel part of the team.

Be informed of employee leave options

Please refer to your department’s Office of Human Resources to see what benefits are available to your staff during an Emergency Telework situation. Among others, they may be eligible for: 

  • Employee personal leave (Personal Leave Program (PLP), Professional Development Days (PDD), sick, vacation, etc.) can be used when the options above are exhausted.

Please refer to your department’s Office of Human Resources for additional information, as there are some positions exempted from the above leave benefits.

Teleworking and office space sample survey questions

Take the pulse of your department to discover their telework experience today and what they might request for teleworking in the future.

Download Teleworking and Office Space Sample Survey Questions in Word or PDF.

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