Care and Equity for Staff
The Care and Equity team has collaborated to provide information regarding issues such as flexible schedules and remote work considerations. Find out more information below!
Are you thinking about having a conversation regarding flexible schedules? Here are some important consideration points…
- Ask your employees what they are looking for in a flexible schedule. Is it flexible hours within the work day? Or working different hours/days of the week (evening and weekends)?
- Do your staff have an interest in compressed work schedules (working longer days but less days each week--4/10s is the most common example).
- Do your employees have child care challenges? Perhaps working later hours once children are put to sleep or early in the day before children are awake will work best for some staff.
- Do your employees have elder care responsibilities? Are they required to care for parents by transporting them to appointments and/or providing basic care at home?
- Do they have younger children learning at home through remote education? Will your employees need to spend part of their day helping their children with homeschooling? If so, what does the school schedule look like and how might that impact the employee’s work schedule?
- IMPORTANT! When you have any conversations to better understand the points above (or similar points), the approach should be conducted in such a way that is not intrusive or invasive of privacy. For example, during a one on one meeting, a leader can ask if the staff member is experiencing any work difficulties and share a few examples of situations that might be stressful. Allow the staff member the opportunity to openly discuss if appropriate.
- Does your employee have to share workspace, technology, and other resources at home with other family members? If so, what impact does this have on the ability to get work done and would a flexible schedule help manage this?
- If your staff are going to keep schedules outside of the typical Monday-Friday, 8am to 5pm, how will customers know this? A signature at the bottom of their emails? Posted to the website? Parameters set in google calendar? Will there be office coverage (answering the phone) during ‘normal’ business hours?
- Have you, as a supervisor, set expectations around response time to emails, phone calls and messages? For example, do your staff know that you expect emails and phone calls to be returned within X period of time (24 hours? Faster or slower?).
- As a leader, how often are you meeting with your staff? Is it weekly? Monthly? Or not at all? Take this opportunity to reflect on the cadence of scheduled meetings to see if opportunities exist for having good conversations about work.
How do we use technology to make life easier to manage?
- Is everyone in the department using google calendars? Calendars are useful when alerting others to “offline” time or other periods of unavailability. If staff need to be offline for even one hour or an afternoon, get in the habit of marking time away and encourage others to check calendars.
- Does your department have google chat set up for everyone? Do you have chat groups setup for certain topic areas or specific teams? Group chats are a great way to stay connected with teams and get instant feedback on questions.
- Is your department using email groups (set up easily in MCommunity) to take the burden off one or two staff members who typically have responsibility for answering general email inquiries (similar to “forwarding” your phones)? If a staff member is out of the office, someone else can take the question (reducing the pressure on the staff member who is out to feel the need to stay “checked in”).
- Have you as a supervisor considered using the “schedule send” feature in gmail to delay email messages to be sent during normal business hours or when an employee is on vacation or out of the office?
What do we do if staff don’t feel like they can take time off?
- What type of work boundaries have you established for your department (if leading a department) and yourself (if individual contributor)? For example, setting a standard where emails sent after 5pm do not need a response until the morning (or something similar). Another example would be to only use cell phones after a certain time of day for emergencies only.
- Have you clearly defined what an emergency is?
- Do your employees feel like they are the only ones who can handle certain tasks/situations? If you don’t know the answer, would a discussion be useful?
- What type of cross training can you do within teams so that work can be managed and/or covered for short term absences? How would longer term absence be covered? Having a plan in place reduces some of the guilt that staff may feel when taking time off.
- Consider reaching out to HR to see if there are any staff across campus that could fill in for longer absences or need work as a result of furlough/RIF.
We already have enough to worry about so how am I supposed to manage performance and productivity during this difficult time?
- As leaders, this will be the year we will introduce as much flexibility as possible into the way in which we complete our work. With child care and elder care challenges as well as children being home-schooled, deadlines might need to be extended on projects or more help might be needed in order to complete some tasks and projects.
- As we assess workloads for our staff, we must prioritize what is most important and determine what needs to be done first. Such expectations will need to be communicated to staff so they are clear and understand what is being expected from them.
- As leaders, we can encourage staff to let us know if they have been given a deadline they feel is not possible to achieve *or* to ask what other work could be postponed or reprioritized. Often, we do not know that a staff member is feeling pressed for time or overloaded. Working remotely and scheduling events virtually many times takes more time than in-person events. A conversation would help reorder the priorities as needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: As we continue to work remotely, I find myself needing office supplies and other materials from my office. Can I go to campus to retrieve them?
A: Yes, you may be able to obtain certain items from the office. You can retrieve any office supplies necessary plus other items such as a printer or your office chair - whatever your office on campus contains that you need in order to complete your work and job duties. Please refer to the Campus Access Webpage for information on how you can gain access to your office during this time. Please try to plan your trip ahead of time so that you can take everything you need in one trip. Finally, please remember that the items you take home with are still the property of the university and must be returned to campus once individuals return to campus for work.
Q: I retrieved necessary office supplies but I need to order an ink cartridge or other office supplies because I used them up. If I place an order, where will it get shipped to - campus or is there a way for it to get delivered to my home or apartment?
A: Procurement Services has made a COVID-19 exception and has allowed the delivery of items to non-university addresses to support teaching, research, and learning, as well as a remote workforce. As of now, the exception runs through 4/30/21. Please read the Temporary Exception Process for Shipping Items to Non-University Addresses closely as it contains a lot of important information. Again, please note that anything ordered is still property of the university and needs to be returned once individuals return to campus for work.
Q: Am I able to answer my office phone from home?
A: Yes, UM-Dearborn staff, department or office phone numbers can be answered remotely! Phone numbers can be converted to a “softphone” which ITS can help install on a computer to be answered from home with a headset. This can be set up so that more than one person can answer the number at different times. The cost is generally ~$100-$125 of one-time setup cost per line. Alternatively, phone numbers can be set up to be forwarded from a physically distant location. See link for more information to determine what service is right for you; direct requests to the ITCOM Service Request System (the requester must be an authorized signer on the department shortcode being used).
Q: With the Wellness Center being closed, are there resources available for at-home workouts?
A: Yes, there are resources available. MHealthy staff members have been producing at-home workouts that require little or no weights or other workout materials. You can view the workouts live or watch them anytime on Workplace. For information on exercise class schedules and how to sign up for Workplace, check out the Exercise and Relaxation Classes webpage.
Q: Is there a way I can get a more personalized workout?
A: Yes. UM-Dearborn Wellness Center Coordinator Taylor Langley is available to virtually meet with faculty and staff members individually to go over workout goals and develop a workout plan that meets your needs and utilize the equipment you may have at home. Anyone interested can email Taylor at: email@example.com.
Q: Is FASCCO still able to meet with faculty and staff during the pandemic?
A: Yes, FASCCO counselors are still available to meet with faculty or staff virtually. In addition to one-on-one meetings, they also offer Support Groups and Emotional Health Presentations. More information is available on the FASCCO webpage. In addition to FASCCO, faculty and staff are able to join CAPS for A Mindful Moment that occurs Monday-Friday, 1:00pm-1:15pm, and Meditation Mondays which will occur every other Monday beginning January 11 and running through May 3, 3:00pm-3:15pm.
Q: Are there other resources available to help with working from home or other challenges that have occurred during the pandemic?
A: Yes, MHealthy’s Resources during the COVID-19 Pandemic webpage has many resources available to faculty and staff including financial, mental and physical well-being and ergonomics that can help make working from home comfortable. You are also encouraged to reach out to the Human Resources Office if you have any questions or concerns that you would like to confidentially discuss.
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