Managing employees working remotely

Learn about


  • What do employees need to perform their work from home?
  • Has the employee set up an ergonomic and effective home office space?
  • Set clear expectations, and put them in writing. Establish reasonable deliverables to measure performance.
  • Develop guidelines for tasks that can be completed at home.
  • Consider a working from home agreement to document duties, modifications to hours, and other arrangements for working from home.
  • Think about how you will provide ongoing supervision.
  • Facilitate opportunities for staff on campus and staff working remotely to stay in contact.
  • Provide frequent updates and check in often to ensure remote employees feel supported and connected.
  • If occasional visits to campus are required, ensure the employees are aware of appropriate safety protocols before attending the worksite. The date and time of any visit to campus should be recorded.

Providing support

With any change, it is normal to experience fear, stress, anxiousness, and worry. This has been an emotionally overwhelming time for many people. Stress can be compounded by a number of factors, notably physical or mental health challenges and financial strain.

Some individuals returning to the workplace may feel worried, anxious, tired, and uncertain about coming back, while others may be enthusiastic, energized, and engaged.

Additional challenges you or your team may face include:

  • Childcare concerns
  • Change in caregiving role
  • Fear of COVID-19 exposure
  • Managing relationships

As a manager, it is important to recognize and support all responses and challenges. A supportive manager or supervisor can have a direct impact on the mental health and well-being of the faculty and staff they lead.

To be a supportive and effective leader and help your team transition as well as possible:

  • Be flexible.
  • Set clear expectations and ensure employees understand what’s required of them.
  • Measure performance with deliverables (not perceptions).
  • Check in with employees regularly.
  • Approach conversations with genuine care and concern.
  • Encourage open dialogue about how people are feeling.
  • Seek to understand struggles.
  • Prioritize work-life harmony and self-care.
  • Proactively and consistently encourage the use of the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP).
  • Learn about campus resources so you can share them with employees.
  • Connect with your employees frequently via phone or video chat to keep them feeling connected to the workplace.
  • Encourage good habits, such as having a workspace to themselves and following their normal workday routine as best as possible. Review the Quad post Tips for Working Remotely and Staying Healthy.
  • Prioritize and/or modify duties as necessary.

Campus resources for leaders:

Communicate regularly with your HR partner to inform your work and help them anticipate issues

If you’re concerned about the mental health and well-being of a faculty or staff member due to worrisome or troubling behaviour, and they are not responding to your offers of support, consider contacting Helping Individuals at Risk (HIAR).

Resources to share with your employees:

  • 24/7 counselling
  • Online resources and courses (resilience, taking control of stress, mindfulness, developing resilience, power of a positive attitude, maintaining good mental health) through the university’s Employee and Family Assistance Program

Helping employees balance work and personal responsibilities

Employees managing childcare

  • Employees are expected to consider all reasonable options for alternative childcare with daycares and schools closed.
  • If the employee has exhausted all options, supervisors/managers must consider alternatives including allowing the employee to work from home (either full or modified duties).
  • If they are already working from home, consider modified work hours or days of work to allow them to tend to their family responsibilities while still working.
  • If employees are unable to work due to childcare or other family or personal responsibilities, they may use vacation accrual or banked time, or request leave without pay. 

Employees caring for someone with COVID-19

  • Advise employees to take all reasonable precautions to protect themselves while they care for the person, and to follow the guidelines from Alberta Health.
  • If a member of an employees’ household is directed to self-isolate, they must also self-isolate.
  • Discuss options for working from home, including modified hours or duties.
  • Apply leave provisions per the collective agreement or terms and conditions of employment (e.g., compassionate leave).
  • Employees may use vacation accrual or banked time, or request leave without pay.

What to do if an employee feels ill