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Ways of working

The coronavirus outbreak and the move for many to working at home or at other locations means we must make some rapid and flexible adjustments to the ways we work. The health and wellbeing of ourselves, our teams and our loved ones is paramount – we need to look after each other and have regular wellbeing check-in’s.

We understand that many of our colleagues will be worried about coronavirus (COVID-19) and its potential impact. We also recognise the additional difficulty that COVID-19 could place on our managers and their teams. We encourage all managers to think creatively about how you can best support your teams in caring for their health and reducing their risk of exposure to COVID-19, while continuing to enable them to perform the important work they do.

This page provides information to prepare colleagues and teams to work together effectively in our new circumstances. It is a starting point for teams to review and adapt to suit their new ways of working. You can adapt the language and tone of this guidance to make it appropriate to your teams. You could hold a virtual team meeting to test out and develop the guidance – please also revisit and evaluate the guidance regularly with your team.

The overriding objective is to continue to deliver outstanding service in all that we do, including how remote working operates in practice. Responsibility for making this work rests equally with individuals and managers, who together need to assess the opportunities and challenges, openly and honestly, including the need to ensure equality of opportunity across teams. Careful advance consideration, planning and agreement will help.

In the spirit of supporting efficiency and flexibility for King’s staff, we have produced the following guidance on remote working on an ad hoc basis to supplement King’s College e-Working Policy (internal).

General

  • Working hours: consider maintaining regular hours, with adjustments for established flexible working arrangements.
  • Contacting colleagues: people should be available during their working hours by either phone, Teams or Skype. You should make it clear how you can be contacted through your Outlook calendar.
  • Contact details: individuals can consider sharing their contact details with their line manager.

Digital skills

  • King’s laptop check: is it in good working order and can you access what you need from home? If you don’t have a laptop, discuss with your line manager.
  • Do you have the relevant accessories, eg charger, laptop bag, headset?
  • Do you need a headset? Order a headset [select 'Dell & Non-Standard Equipment Order Form] (internal).
  • Do you need a carry case for your laptop? Equipment Order Form (internal).
  • Consider moving meetings to Microsoft Teams. See guidance about using Teams (internal).
  • OneDrive can be used to transfer access and shared personal files. Alternatively, SharePoint can be used for sharing files with diverse groups, through the creation of a dedicated site.
  • Find out how to get started with using OneDrive and SharePoint if you haven’t used them before (internal).
  • Keep your Outlook calendar up to date: this should be open and shared with your team.

Comfort and health

  • Working environment: make sure your home environment is safe and suitable.
  • Follow relevant DSE good practice (internal). Speak to manager if you have concerns.
  • Take breaks: We encourage you to take breaks from your workstation. Make time for proper meals, drink water regularly and leave your desk for lunch.
  • Distinguish between work and home mode: consider what you will do in your usual commute time, eg breakfast, exercise.
  • Routine: Try and establish a regular routine, it helps maintain focus.
  • Set boundaries to the working day. For example, you could take a 20-minute coffee break in the morning and exercise right after work to close the day.
  • Manage your mental health: focus on what you can control and follow trusted sources only.

Communications and staying in touch

  • Consider regular check-in meetings using Microsoft Teams.
  • Consider setting up a Teams site to use for more important comms during periods of home working.
  • Be sociable: loneliness is one of the most common reported challenges of remote working. Try to keep in touch with people by regular face-to-face interaction online through video calls, regular manager check-ins.
  • Avoid isolation: consider having work-from-home buddies for a regular daily chat.
  • Be explicit: in a written environment, your tone of voice and body language are no longer available to you to communicate key messages, so choose your words and punctuation carefully. Every adjective, full stop and exclamation mark matters.
  • Written comms: keep all written correspondence short and concise, leaving no space for misinterpretation.
  • Daily coffee break: experiment with a daily 15-minute coffee break for all staff on teams.

Virtual meeting etiquette

  • Who leads the meeting? Assign a team member who is technically interested/intuitive to support the team’s virtual meeting.
  • Having voices heard: in group meetings there may be extraverts and introverts. Allow everyone time, go round the group so everyone can have their say.
  • Include questions for the host in the chat function (for those who haven’t spoken up).
  • Stay on mute until you wish to speak, to avoid background noise.

Setting goals and expectations

  • Set goals as individuals and/or team: what do you want to achieve with remote working? What are your goals?
  • Consider a structure to your time. For example, working in 45-60 minute chunks of focused work followed by a short break.
  • Consider what will you be missing as a team by not seeing each other face to face?