Tips for working remotely

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
Safety
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).