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 internet expenses related to telework during this emergency?
A: Under the current statewide model policy, it is up to each state entity to determine whether or not they will provide reimbursement for telework related expenses when they implement their departmental telework policy. This decision should take into consideration the following:
- Whether an employee is teleworking full-time or part time
- Whether the employee had to secure internet in order to telework
- Whether the employee had to secure increased internet service in order to perform essential functions
- Availability of emergency programs that reduce internet costs or provide free internet during the emergency
- The percentage of time the teleworker is using the internet to work
- Availability of appropriate departmental funds and reasonableness of cost
Q: Will the state reimburse the cost of utilities for employees on telework?
A: No. The utility costs associated with teleworkers will not be covered by the state.
Q: Will the state reimburse teleworkers for use of their personal phone (cell phone or land line) for business related calls?
A: At the discretion of the department, if the costs are outside of the employee’s normal costs for telephone service, the department may reimburse the employee for those additional costs associated with performing their essential functions. The employee must provide documentation showing the additional cost incurred.
Q: Can staff be reimbursed for office supplies?
A: Office supplies should be provided by the office and made available for pickup.
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
The federal government enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes both the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act. You may be eligible for:
- Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act
- Allows for 12 weeks of leave (first two weeks are unpaid)
- Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA)
- Allows for the payment of up to 80 hours of pay at the employee’s regular rate
- Once used, it cannot be used again
- Employee personal leave (Personal Leave Program (PLP), Professional Development Days (PDD), sick, vacation, etc.)
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act expires on December 31, 2020.
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.
Have age-appropriate conversations with your children explaining the very unique situation we are all in.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Effective April 1, 2020, the federal government enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act,* which included both the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.
- Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) provisions allow for 12 weeks of leave (the first two weeks are unpaid).
- Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) allows for the payment of up to 80 hours of pay at the employee’s regular rate. Once used, it cannot be used again.
- Employee personal leave (Personal Leave Program (PLP), Professional Development Days (PDD), sick, vacation, etc.) can be used when the options above are exhausted.
*The Families First Coronavirus Response Act expires on December 31, 2020.
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
1. What is your division?
- [Text field, or drop-down list]
2. Do you supervise other team members?
3. What type of work space do you currently use at your office?
- Shared workspace
Telework beyond COVID-19
10. If the goal is to promote increased telework, how many days per week would you prefer to telework on a regular basis?
11. What days each week would you prefer to telework on a regular basis? (check all that apply)
12. Does your willingness to telework depend on being able to telework on specific days of the week (e.g., Monday vs. Thursday)?
13. Does your willingness to telework depend on being able to telework a minimum number of days per week?
14. What is the minimum number of telework days each week that would make you willing to telework?
15. Would you choose to telework on a regular basis if teleworking required you to give up your unshared workspace at the office?
16. If you were to telework every day, how often do you think you would need to come into the office for work? (‘work’ means utilizing a cubicle/desk/table for an extended period of time)
- Less than once a month
- 1 time per month
- 2 times per month
- 3 times per month
- 4 times per month
- More than 4 times per month
17. Do you have the resources needed to telework effectively on a regular basis after the COVID-19 emergency is over?
18. If you don’t have everything you need for teleworking after the COVID-19 emergency is over, please tell us what you need to telework effectively on a regular basis.
- [text field]
19. What are your main reasons for wanting to telework? (please rank the options below, 1 being the most important and 6 being the least important)
- Better ability to focus on work
- Saves on commute time
- Better work/life balance
- Lower personal cost
- More flexibility on work start/stop times
20. If you don’t plan to telework regularly after the COVID-19 emergency is over, please tell us why you prefer not to telework on a regular basis. (please rank the options below, 1 being the most important and 6 being the least important)
- Need to process work at the office
- Miss the in-person interaction at the office
- I don’t have the tools I need at home
- My home is not conducive for work
- I’m more productive at the office than at home
Telework during COVID-19 emergency
4. On average, how many days per week are you currently teleworking?
5. On average, how many days per week do you currently work at the office? (‘work’ means utilizing a cubicle/desk/table for an extended period of time)
6. When you work at the office, is it most often on a regularly-scheduled basis or on an as-needed basis? (‘work’ means utilizing a cubicle/desk/table for an extended period of time)
7. Do you have the resources needed to telework effectively during the COVID-19 emergency?
8. If you don’t have everything you need for teleworking during the COVID-19 emergency, please tell us what you need to telework effectively.
- [text field]
9. If you are not teleworking now, please tell us why (check all that apply).
- My job cannot be done remotely
- My boss will not allow it
- I do not have a suitable work space at home
- Other (please specify)
- [text field]
Telework questions for supervisors only
The questions in this section are for supervisors only
21. How many days per week, on average, would be the optimal amount for your direct reports to telework?
22. How often would you want all of your direct reports to work in the office at the same time? (‘work’ means utilizing a cubicle/desk/table for an extended period of time)
- 1-4 times per month
- More than 4 times per month
23. What additional resources do you need as a supervisor to ensure that your team is successful in a long-term arrangement?
- [text field]
24. What additional resources do your direct reports need to be successful in a long-term telework arrangement?
- [text field]