The University continues to monitor the impacts of COVID-19 to our work and educational environment. Florida State University is open and fully operational, but is encouraging employees to work remotely unless they are unable to do so.
FSU is committed to supporting FSU employees in meeting the public health challenge presented by COVID-19 by ensuring FSU employees can work from home or another remote location when feasible and with advanced approval. Additionally, due to the statewide closure of all K-12 schools and guidance from health officials, the University understands that many employees will need flexibility in allowing their responsibilities to be carried out at home. As such, the University has created Temporary Remote Work Guidelines.
Remote Work Definition
Remote Work is a work arrangement in which an employee's regular duties and responsibilities are performed from home or another off-site location. In general, regularly scheduled work hours should be adhered to. Any deviations from an employee's normal work schedule require supervisory approval in advance, including the earning of overtime. Typically, this type of arrangement would be approved through the University's Telecommuting Process. However, in an effort to expedite the approval process, and allow for additional flexibility for employees to care for family needs, the University is providing the Temporary Remote Work option as an enhanced policy.
Positions Best Suited for Remote Work
Remote Work is for positions with duties that can be done from any location and involve reading, writing, research, working with data, and communication that can be done via phone or email. In general, all or some components of a job may be done off-site without disruption to the flow of work and communication. All employees, including students and OPS employees, are eligible for this agreement if their work duties permit.
Positions Not Suited for Remote Work
Employees performing duties that require in-person contact and/or customer service or that rely upon specific equipment or supplies to work on site may not be eligible for remote work. This would include employees that must be on campus to perform those duties. As an example, because the University remains fully operational, front desk employees may be needed in departments to greet students, faculty, and staff and provide services needed for departments to continue to remain open. Supervisory roles also may be excluded from consideration unless a department does not have concerns about this arrangement.
Steps for Employees to Move to Remote Work
Communication is key in having a productive remote work arrangement. Approval from supervisors and Deans/Directors/Department heads must be obtained in advance of moving to remote work. Supervisors/Managers should set expectations with employees to build trust and understanding while we all work together to balance personal needs and the needs of the University. For employees moving to remote work, the following steps should be taken:
- Employees must complete the Temporary Remote Work Acknowledgement and submit to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Managers and employees agree upon a set schedule when the employee should perform the work. Flexibility is encouraged as outlined below.
- Managers and employees agree on the duties and assignments that will be carried out. In some instances, employees may not be able to carry out all of their duties from home, so they would need to work out the specifics of any special projects or assignments that would supplement. Supervisors should ensure the University's functions continue but may be flexible on postponing duties that are not time-sensitive and/or necessary to complete during this period of Temporary Remote Work.
- A communication plan should be developed so supervisors and employees have scheduled times they can communicate directly. Examples include a daily check-in, being responsive to emails, and a weekly Zoom conference meeting.
- Employees need to have appropriate equipment and technological access to ensure duties can be completed remotely. Please see ITS guidance on Employee Remote Work Essentials.
- Employees should review Key Tips for Transitioning to a Remote Work Employee
Flexible Arrangements and Social Distancing
We understand the importance of social distancing with the concerns surrounding the COVID-19 virus. Employees who are unable to do their work from home because their duties require them to be physically present on campus should work with their departments to devise an alternative arrangement. Departments and Managers should be flexible with these arrangements. In some cases, employees may need to be on campus for part of their duties, but they can perform some duties from home. Supervisors should be lenient in these situations, when possible, to allow as much flexibility as possible. These agreements may also include modified work schedules to allow later or earlier start and end times for the work to be performed on campus so as to promote social distancing.
We understand the dynamic situation has had a significant personal impact on our employees. The University will allow employees to care for children at home while on the Temporary Remote Work agreement. Unfortunately, the University will not allow minors in the workplace during these times. We urge supervisors to be as flexible as possible in approving remote work and alternative work schedules.
Questions? For faculty or staff matters related to this issue, please contact Tracey Pearson (staff) at (850) 644-3694 or Rebecca Peterson (faculty) at (850) 645-2202, both in the Office of Human Resources.
Key Tips for Transitioning to a Remote Work Employee
Due to the ongoing circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 virus and the promotion by health officials for social distancing, FSU will have a number of employees that will begin Temporary Remote Work. The below tips will assist employees with ensuring the work arrangement is successful:
Set up the Basics
You will need to set up a few items based on the new work agreement:
- If you have an alternate schedule in place, add the schedule to your email signature line.
- Set up your call forwarding on your work phone so that you can receive calls (if necessary) and access your work voicemail from home. You can also work with ITS to have your voicemail electronically delivered to your email.
- Review the Employee Remote Work Essentials from FSU- ITS to ensure you have all the tools needed to work remotely. You should also review any IT privacy policies to ensure compliance.
- Check out Zoom web conferencing to ensure you can continue to communicate via conference when needed. Plan for video calls/meetings with your colleagues/supervisors to stay in touch. If you are scheduled to facilitate a training contact Training and Organizational Development to work with them in adapting the training for remote delivery.
Identify Your Workspace
You might imagine yourself curled up on the couch with your laptop being as productive as you would be in the office. While this may work for some, most of us need a more defined workspace to get into “work mode.” We recommend establishing a designated space, such as a desk or even a kitchen table, to help your brain turn on “work mode.” This will also help if you need to walk away from your workspace to take a break, eat lunch, etc.
Goals, Goals, Goals
Because you will be working in an environment different from your usual workspace, it’s helpful to start your day with identifying daily goals. Be sure to track your progress in meeting your goals and share those with your team or supervisor.
To make your home optimal for productivity, remember to eliminate distractions as best as possible. For instance, you may need to plug in your headphones. Depending on your living arrangements, you may need a ‘do not disturb’ sign for your family members or roommates.
When evaluating your remote work practices, take some time to evaluate the privacy of your workspace. Can someone read your computer screen? Does your neighbor hear your conference calls from your patio? Make sure to lock your computer before stepping away and secure any private information. Your personal privacy matters too. Remember to remain conscious of things that are visible during a video conference call.
K.I.T. (Keep in touch)
Your colleagues are most likely working remotely too, so keep in touch! Daily questions and check-ins should remain the same. Would you have instant-messaged or stopped by their office with a question? Don’t hesitate to reach out.
Maintain a Schedule
While working remotely, you should ensure you are available during your scheduled work shift. For example, if your scheduled hours are from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (with a meal period), you should be available via phone, email, skype, teams, etc. during those hours. You must still be responsive to colleagues, customers, and supervisors. Be sure to regularly update your status in Skype or Teams to ensure that others know when you are available. If you need to make modifications to your schedule due to personal or family needs, remember to discuss the changes with your supervisor for approval.