Working from Home

The following information is applicable to employees working from home due to public health restrictions. Visit the Work From Home Program web page for guidance as a participant of the Work From Home Program.

Tips for Working Remotely

Learn more about setting a routine, setting up your workspace, caring for yourself and others, managing time and holding inclusive virtual meetings.

Healthy work practices
  • Practice change management. Give yourself time and space to adjust to a different work environment. Your workspace is different; we don’t have access to the same things we used to; we might not have multiple screens; things may take more time. Acknowledge the amount of change management you have already had to do in a very short time.
  • Be mindful of proximity bias— the incorrect assumption that when people are not physically at work, their productivity and work quality decreases. Remember that for some, it can be difficult to actively participate in virtual conversations.
  • Take time for professional development. Lunch and Learns are available online, and there are many e-courses that are free to access through the Employee and Family Assistance Program provider. Please remember to watch the LearnCentre catalogues for upcoming course offerings from providers.
  • Be present. When you are meeting with colleagues and co-workers online, give them your full attention. Try to focus your attention specifically to the meeting rather than trying to do other things on your computer or phone at the same time. It is important that your colleagues and friends feel they have your attention.
  • Set boundaries. Just because you are working from home does not mean your responses to emails, calls, and text messages must be instantaneous. Log off at the end of the day and, as much as your job allows, try to avoid email and other work tasks on the weekend.
  • Pay attention to the hours you are working and make sure that you build in both regular breaks during the work day and clearly defined “off” hours. Note that Settings in Google Calendar allows you to select “speed meetings” as the default setting: 60-minute meeting slots become 50 minutes and 30-minute slots become 25. For those university employees who are interested in tracking their time, you can use a free service such as Clockify.
Your workspace
  • Ensure you have necessary software and hardware. In order to be successful, it is essential you have the necessary software and hardware. If you do not have the technology to perform your responsibilities, speak to your supervisor about who you can ask and how they can support you or help troubleshoot your request. For more information, visit Information Services and Technology's Guidelines for Working Remotely.
  • Check the ergonomics of your setup. Whether working off a kitchen table or in a home office, there are a variety of tips and best practices you can consult in order to maintain health and prevent future problems. Take an ergonomic self-assessment and learn more about the ergonomics of working from home.
Show empathy towards yourself and others
  • Be mindful of proximity bias, the incorrect assumption that when people are not physically present at work, their productivity and work quality decreases.
  • When possible, use two-way video conferencing for meetings so that non-verbal cues are not lost.
  • Remember that it can be difficult to participate in virtual conversations. Verify that everyone can hear, follow the dialogue, and contribute to the conversation.
  • Adopt strategies to proactively enhance inclusion, such as suspending judgement, active listening, and seeking to understand.
  • Be intentional in providing feedback and praise during the transition to working remotely.
  • You can also adopt proactive strategies to enhance inclusion such as suspending judgement of colleagues, active listening, and seeking to understand.
Virtual meetings
  • Select the most appropriate tool; video conferencing is preferable because it allows non-verbal cues
  • Provide the meeting purpose, discussion and decision items in advance of the meeting
  • Verify everyone can hear and is following during your virtual meetings
  • Practice active listening yourself
  • Be intentional in providing feedback, praise, and support
  • Use the tools offered in virtual meetings to everyone’s advantage:
    • Have participants make use of chat functions and the option to phone in
    • Offer the option for people to incorporate gender pronouns in their screen names
  • Follow up with a meeting summary, action items and opportunities for further contribution
  • Take a moment to look around your home work area for slip/trip, electrical, fire, or other hazards. Keep the area well organized and the floor free of clutter.
  • Establish regular times to connect with your supervisor and other colleagues. Develop an emergency contact list so you can reach out when you need help from your supervisor.
  • Learn what you need to know about domestic violence
Your routine
  • Prepare as if you are going into the office.
  • Set an alarm, get up, get showered, and get ready for the day ahead.
  • Prioritize your day. Decide what you need to get done and organize a work plan.
  • Where possible, minimize distraction. Not all of us will have the “perfect” home work environment, but are there ways we can minimize distractions and give ourselves a better opportunity to focus.
  • Take regular breaks. Get some fresh air, take one of your breaks outdoors, or go for a quick walk to change things up. If you find it helpful you can schedule breaks or lunch in your calendar so that a reminder goes off for you to take that time.
  • Evaluate your day. Did you get the things done you were hoping to do? Are there changes you need to make to be more productive? Do you have the technology required? If not, ask for what you need whether it be from family (limited interruptions during the work day) or from work (a piece of software you need on your home computer).

Work from Home Technology, Equipment and Supplies

Here's what you need to know about borrowing university equipment, and purchasing and picking up supplies.


Borrowing equipment

Arrangements to borrow equipment such as laptops, desktops, computer screens, office chairs, etc. can be made. Please ensure that you do the following:

  • Before taking any items, speak with your supervisor first. Supervisors are required to provide approval before items can be borrowed.
  • Once approved by your supervisor, record the borrowed item(s) in your unit’s inventory tracking tool. If your unit does not have it’s own tracking tool in place, please use the Equipment Asset Loan Form.
  • Ensure that health and safety practices are followed in moving the equipment, such as proper lifting protocols, assessing and controlling hazards such as tripping, etc. You can always visit the Environment, Health & Safety website for advice and procedures. 
  • Speak with your IT support team to find out how your borrowed equipment will work in your remote work space. For example, they’ll be able to let you know if you will need items such as an ethernet cable. 
  • Keep your computer equipment secure by following IST’s recommended and required best practices and policies for remote work. 

Before taking any items, speak with your supervisor first. Supervisors are required to provide approval before items can be borrowed.

Purchasing and Obtaining Supplies

If supplies are required to facilitate working from home, the following process should be followed:

  • If the supplies are readily available at your place of work, arrange with your supervisor for an appropriate time to pick them up.  
  • For those ordering supplies, remember that our regular vendor agreements remain in place. 
  • All supplies ordered through SupplyNet and P-Card will continue to be delivered to central receiving at the university. Distribution Services is still providing regular delivery to campus locations.
  • If you require supplies that aren’t already in stock in your unit’s office, follow normal supply order procedures. This should involve placing a request with the individual who normally orders supplies for your office.
  • The individual who purchased the supplies can advise you when the supplies will be available and delivered to the office for pick-up. Don’t forget to confirm pick-up plans with your supervisor.
  • Any unused supplies or equipment must be returned to campus once the university returns to normal operations.

Reimbursement for equipment

Employees are encouraged to speak to their supervisor about eligible work expenses under the University of Alberta Expense Reimbursement Procedure and use their existing funding and reimbursement programs to cover work-at-home expenditures.

You can borrow equipment using the steps above.

Setting up your workspace

Your first move should be to speak with your manager; let them know what’s not working and why. Assess your home ergonomic setup. Use the Self Assessment Tool and e-course to help make the necessary adjustments to your workspace.