Considerations for Teleworking Employees

Employees who telework often learn that working remotely is different than they expected and that it requires specific skills and habits. The following tips will help you get to work while at home.

Define your workspace. 
Experienced teleworkers will tell you that its often difficult to stay focused at home. We are creatures of habit and most of us are used to our normal home routines. Establishing a workspace, even if it is your kitchen table, gives your brain a cue that it is time for work. Wearing attire that you may wear to the office even if it is your “casual Friday” attire may cue the brain. You should remain capable of reporting to work if your presence is requested by your supervisor.


Master the basics. 

  • Set up call forwarding and how to access your voicemail from home. 
  • Know how to remote into the Kent State network and other online tools you use regularly. 
  • Use Microsoft Teams or another instant messaging client to stay connected to colleagues. 
  • Plan for video calls/meetings by making sure you know how to turn on your computer’s camera and microphone and being aware that your colleagues may be able to see the background behind you.

Set daily goals, track them and share your progress. 
You may be surprised by how differently the workday passes without the comings and goings of an office to break things up or influence what you do next. Start each day of telework by writing down what you need to achieve and then track your progress. Pay attention to how long tasks take you and start adjusting your daily goals to match your current rhythm. Communicate with your supervisor and/or colleagues if you think your telework plan needs to be adjusted.


Eliminate distractions. 
Home can mean pets, children or a favorite hobby are only a few feet away. Depending on your living arrangement, you may need to hang a “do not disturb” sign so your family members don’t interrupt you. Pets often need a closed door to keep them away and you might need headphones to block the noise.


Prioritize privacy. 
Whether you are in your home or a common area, take five minutes to assess the privacy of your workspace. Can someone standing behind you read your computer screen? Are your windows open so your neighbor can hear your phone call? What information do you need to secure before grabbing a cup of coffee or heading to the restroom? Your personal privacy matters too, so see if there is anything around you that you would not want visible during a video conference with your supervisor or colleague.


Continue to employ security best practices. 
Situations like this are prime phishing opportunities. Remain vigilant for security concerns and be sure to report suspicious emails to report to phish@kent.edu

  • It should be noted that caution needs to be taken when dealing with personal health information (“PHI”) and HIPAA matters while working from home. 
  • VPNs can also allow you to safely connect to a remote network of computers as if you are there. If you are dealing with sensitive information and want to explore VPN, you can learn more at https://www.kent.edu/keeponworking/connecting-university-resources 
  • The staff member has responsibility for maintaining the security and confidentiality of university files, data and other information that are in the off-site work place in accordance with Chapter 9 of the Policy Register – Information Technology and Security
  • If you have a security incident, reach out to security@kent.edu.

Stay connected
Many people say they do not call or instant message colleagues who are working remotely because they don’t want to bother them. Remember, they are working, not vacationing at home! You should feel confident about calling or messaging an employee who is teleworking anytime you would walk to their office or call them if you were working on-site. 

Note:  Being paid while teleworking assumes that you are engaged in work and available for assignments. If, during a period of such remote work you take a day – or even several hours – off for personal reasons (e.g. a doctor’s visit) this time must be accounted for as sick or vacation time. This would be the same as if you were working on campus.


Be Empathetic to the Situation 
These are uncertain times. Feelings of added stress and anxiety are to be expected. We will get through it together and by supporting and recognizing one another’s feelings and concerns. If you or a co-worker are feeling uneasy or anxious, lend a friendly and empathetic ear. Remind one another that they are not alone. This may also be a good time to utilize the resources of our Employee Assistance Program through IMPACT. If you or a colleague find yourself feeling anxious, depressed, or in need of speaking with a counselor or other professional, please reach out to IMPACT. IMPACT services are available to all full and part-time faculty and staff, their spouse/partner, dependent children who reside in or outside of the home, parents and parents-in-law.

During this time, IMPACT is encouraging use of the online counseling services (video, web and chat) in place of in person services. Online counseling appointments are typically scheduled within 24-48 hours. To reach IMPACT, available 24/7 and 365 days a year, please call 1-800-227-6007 or visit their website at www.MyImpactSolution.com, username is KENT.
 


Need help? Don’t hesitate to reach out to the HR Employee Wellness Team as we continue working remotely. You can reach any member of our team at wellness@kent.edu or by dialing 330-672-7505 or 330-672-0392 with questions. We will also continue to send weekly updates to faculty and staff on our “virtual” offerings to promote health and wellbeing during this time.

Back to Remotely Teleworking during COVID-19