Creating a positive arrival

We’ve been away a long time - returning won’t be like coming back after vacation or a long weekend. Some employees will be excited, while others will be nervous or anxious. Just as it took some time to get used to remote work, it will be an adjustment to return to campus. 

There are many things managers and supervisors can do to create a positive return-to-campus experience. 

Establishing and maintaining a personal connection with your team is critical to assisting your employees in making a smooth transition and being positive about their return experience. Ensure you connect with employees in advance to enable them to be prepared to return to campus with the following information:

  1. Explain the workplace changes they will experience
    • Ensure all staff are made aware of the safety measures and controls in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
    • Ensure availability of cleaning and sanitizing supplies. See Safety Measures Directives for information on purchasing.
    • Will staggered start times be necessary to avoid crowding in elevators? 
    • Ensure the space your employees occupy is clean and tidy, and identify which cleaning and hygiene supplies will be available in the workplace. Consider providing each employee with a “care package” that could include items such as hand sanitizer, a non-medical mask, tissues, or other self-care items.
    • Identify other workplace access concerns such as building access limitations, available campus services (like food vendors and coffee shops), available lunch and break rooms.
  2. Prepare a department- or job-specific orientation. Topics could include changes in work routines or standard operating procedures, assignment of tasks, scheduling, or even guidelines for use of meeting rooms and other common spaces. Define the work priorities, including the goals and priorities for first days/weeks of return.
  3. Ensure all returning employees complete the required Returning to Campus COVID-19 e-training course. This 10-minute program will help employees understand the hazards and risks and what they can do to protect themselves, their colleagues, and families from COVID-19.
  4. Ensure other logistics are in place
    • Do employees have transportation arrangements in place? Confirm they have arranged for parking, transportation, and/or are aware of changes to public transit schedules.
    • Confirm what equipment employees will be bringing back to campus when they return and how it will be transported. Does equipment need to be sanitized?
  5. Consider a welcome or thank-you activity for your staff.
    • Any activity should respect social distancing and other public health restrictions.
    • Avoid sharing food or drinks.

Check in with staff early on their first day back to ensure they have what they need and answer questions.

Employees continuing to work remotely

As many employees continue remote work, possibly on an ongoing basis, ensure both you and your employees understand the University of Alberta Guide to Working Remotely

  • 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. Your HR Partner can provide guidance. 
  • 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.

For further guidance, refer to Managing Employees Working Remotely