Remote Work: Communications and Engagement

The nature of flexible work requires constant communication and expectation setting in order for an employee and supervisor to remain connected, engaged, and supportive of the arrangement.

The following guidelines help promote effective communications and engagement:

Prioritize communication.

Employees working remotely can feel disconnected from information and can often feel like they are out of the loop. Concerted effort to communicate regularly can help alleviate feelings of disconnect.

  • Consider scheduling a regular check-in to see how employees are doing with the work arrangement and if you can do anything to help them perform their work.
  • Be sure to communicate any important university or unit news so employees have the information they need to successfully do their job.
  • Pay attention to communication among team members (to the extent appropriate) to encourage and ensure that they are sharing information with each other as needed.

Remember that communication is a two-way street. Take the time to listen to any concerns employees may have.

  • Remote employees may start to feel isolated, so it's important to remind them that they're not alone and that they are a valuable part of the team.
  • Encourage employees to utilize resources available to them for support and assistance with their mental and physical wellness such as Canopy, our employee assistance program provider, and professional development opportunities.

Set clear expectations.

Clearly communicate your expectations to remote employees. Employees appreciate knowing expectations and are motivated to meet them.

  • If you want employees to be online during specific hours of the day, communicate that verbally and in writing.
  • If you want a regular report of what they are working on, be sure to ask.
  • Let your employees know the best way and time to reach you during the workday (e.g., “I tend to be more available late in the day for ad hoc phone or video conversations, but if there’s an urgent need earlier in the day, feel free to send me a text.”)
  • Ensure that employees know that our workplace policies still apply. For example, non-exempt employees must continue to take meal periods and rest breaks as required, and track and submit their hours worked timely and accurately. All employees must continue to treat colleagues in a respectful manner.

For remote workers, use technology to build a sense of community.

Employees tend to be more engaged when they feel like they're part of a team. As a manager, take responsibility for making sure employees understand that even though you may not be in the office together, you're all working together toward the same common goal.

You can encourage a collaborative team culture by:

  • Encouraging team members to have their camera on during virtual meetings; this helps build a sense of connection and allows you to read body language if someone has questions or is disengaged in the conversation.
  • Ensuring that all employees have an opportunity to participate in meetings, if some employees are in person and some are remote. Be mindful of side conversations in the room, as that can be difficult for remote employees to follow.
  • Purposefully leaving space at the start of virtual meetings for small talk.
  • Encouraging habits that support personal well-being and finding creative ways to connect — posting pet photos on a Teams channel, hosting a virtual group lunch, initiating a virtual run/walk — will go a long way toward sustaining a positive outlook.

Encourage Work-Life Balance.

Remote employees may have difficulty establishing a healthy work-life balance. Since there may be less physical separation between their workspace and their personal space, employees may feel like they need to be available for work 24/7, which can lead to unnecessary stress and, eventually, burnout.

  • Communicate to your employees the importance of creating boundaries.
  • Suggest that they work their normal hours and then step away from the computer until it's time to start working the next day.

Stay connected with UO.

Take pride in our campus community and the awesome work taking place all around by taking time to share the good news with your team. Reflecting on the bright spots reinforces a sense of pride for being a Duck.