RESOURCES TO SUPPORT YOU WHEN WORKING FROM HOME
Inspire - Employee Assistance Programme
The University’s Employee Assistance Programme provides a confidential helpline to staff, which can be accessed at any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
On this page, you’ll find a selection of resources providing guidance, tips and tools to support staff working from home. If you have any suggestions, queries or comments, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
In response to the Public Health advice and Government guidelines issued due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a large proportion of staff across Queen’s University have been working from home since March 2020. This significant change to the way we work happened immediately with staff given no time to prepare. The nature of the situation means that guidelines are continually under review and subject to sudden change, which may have further implications for how we work.
We understand that this is a difficult and worrying time. Many staff are concerned about their own health or that of a loved one; while lots of us are juggling home working with caring responsibilities, including those facing additional childcare and home schooling demands due to the restrictions. Queen’s is committed to ensuring the safety of its students, staff and the wider community, but recognises that staff need additional support as they adapt to working from home.
You can access the following support here:
- Queen’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs
- Support for Queen’s Students
- Queen’s Health and Wellbeing support
- NI Executive Coronavirus Guidelines
- Public Health Agency (PHA) Information
- Travel and quarantine advice
- Homeschooling/Wellbeing Resources (Queen's Gender Initiative)
Getting set up to work from home
It can be daunting to have to work from home when you are used to the office environment. However, we have access to all the technology needed to ensure that staff can access their files and information safely and securely, allowing them to continue with their regular work activities as far as possible. You can access information about working from home on the Information Services webpage. This includes information on health and wellbeing, email and calendars, file storage, communication and collaboration, Office 365, connecting to the university network and staying secure.
Learning for All
Our Learning for All offer continues via online delivery, see topics below:
The LinkedIn Learning resource is freely available for all staff at Queen’s. The courses in the Remote Working: Setting Yourself Up for Success collection aims to support more effective remote working. Discover how to be productive and stay connected when working from home or elsewhere.
Throughout the pandemic, there have been prolonged periods when schools and/or childcare settings have been closed. As a result, many of our staff were and still are facing the difficult task of continuing with their work commitments while also home schooling their child or children. We want to reassure our staff that we understand how difficult this and remind you that we are committed to working with you to navigate through this period. Here are some tips to help you:
- In the first instance, we urge all staff who find themselves struggling to balance work and home life to speak to your line manager to discuss your options for making things work.
- You should also visit our Flexible Working webpage to see what options are available if you need to alter your working pattern or take leave to help manage the current situation.
- It’s important not to neglect your own physical and mental health. Please visit our Staff Wellbeing pages for further advice and support. If you are struggling and need to speak to someone urgently, please do use our Employee Assistance Programme via Inspire Wellbeing.
- Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. These are extraordinary times and we want to support you through them as best we can.
It's worth a reminder that home schooling is not a substitute for in-class learning and parents are not intended to do the role of teacher. However, we want to support our parents who are facing home schooling. Here’s a series of possible supports.
- LinkedIn Learning, which is freely available to all Queen’s staff, also offers some courses that support parents faced with home schooling responsibilities including Supporting Your Kids' Learning at Home and Balancing Work and Life as a Work-from-Home Parent.
- You can also find further advice on home schooling from Parenting NI.
- The QGI Team have taken a little time to source some Homeschooling/Wellbeing Resources, to include online educational resources and fun learning materials to support staff with remote working and homeschooling responsibilities during the current COVID-19 situation.
Support for Leaders and Managers
Managing a Remote Team
Managing a team that is no longer based in the one location is of course a challenge, and our leaders and managers have adapted to this since the restrictions were introduced last year despite having no time to prepare for the changes.
However, support is available and we encourage all those in leadership and management roles to review the resources below:
The LinkedIn Learning resource is freely available for all staff at Queen’s. The courses in the document below are specifically relevant to managing and leading remotely:For additional courses, please visit the full Leading and Managing Remotely collection via LinkedIn Learning.
Online Workshop for Managers
Looking After your Own Wellbeing
There’s often a lot of focus on your responsibility as a manager to look after your team and be mindful of their wellbeing. It’s just as important to make sure you look after yourself – and even more so when facing the added challenges brought about by our new working environment.
You should read through the ‘Looking after yourself and others’ section on this page, but also see below for some useful links aimed specifically at those in leadership and managements roles:
Managers are also encouraged to consider our Staff Coaching and Mentoring programmes.
Links to Useful Articles:
Note: In order to access the Harvard Business Review (HBR) articles below, you will need to click on the Supplier Platform. Under ‘Business Source Premier’, click on the date ‘01 Oct. 1922’ and it will take you to the interface, where you can search the journal with key words or select date and issues. To find the articles listed, click on ‘search within this publication’ and in the top search bar, insert one of the HBR titles listed below and click ‘search’.
Keeping Employees Engaged and Motivated
It is easy for employees to become disengaged when they are working at home and not part of the usual workplace environment. Here are some top tips and useful resources for managers to help keep your team motivated:
- Arrange a regular Teams call to check in. This could be a shared lunch or coffee break, and team members should be encouraged to turn their cameras on and say hello. You might want to make a focus for these catch ups: you could share recipes, have a team Bake Off or host a virtual quiz.
- Agree with your team how your new working arrangements will work for you. This may differ from team to team but you should agree core meeting/contact hours or make sure everyone in the team is aware of any staff who are working different hours to accommodate other responsibilities such as caring or childcare. If a colleague’s role or responsibilities has changed due to working from home, this should be communicated to the whole team.
- Keep your regular one-to-one check ins in place for all staff. This is a time to check in on work progress but also time for you to chat to staff about their personal working circumstances and make sure they are adapting to the changes in working environment. Be conscious that everyone’s personal circumstances are different.
- Remember to provide, and keep up to date, links to University sources of information and support. It may also be a good idea to remind staff of any existing sources of internal support, e.g. staff counselling and Staff Wellbeing services that they are eligible for, but which might get overlooked.
- Don’t forget to say thank-you. Everyone is working under greater pressure than usual and not everyone's circumstances are the same. Remember this when speaking to members of your team. Don’t forget to say thank-you for their efforts and acknowledge that they likely have a lot of other things going on besides work that are having an impact.
LinkedIn Learning offers some online courses that may be useful for managers and leaders. This is a free resource available to all Queen’s staff:
Useful Links and Articles:
Support for Researchers
Researcher Development online resources are available for staff including:
- Professional Skills for Research Leaders Queen's Online, under the 'Online Training' link
- Nature Masterclasses Online - Register via Nature Masterclasses website. On the Login page, select ‘Login with your institutional credentials’, further details available in the user guide
- Vitae supports the professional development of researchers, register via www.vitae.ac.uk
- Online course (PDP ROC): Professional Development Planning for Researchers
- Further Vitae resources on Career Development
- Stories on failure and overcoming barriers: Adapt to Thrive
Group online learning:A new series of online learning events, which focus on the development needs of researchers has been developed. Register via iTrent Self-Service.
Support for Teaching Staff
Our teaching staff have had to adapt to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 working restrictions. For the majority, this has meant pausing face-to-face teaching in line with the restrictions announced by the NI Executive requiring staff to work from home where possible.
For those members of teaching staff who need to continue face-to-face teaching for essential reasons, please read the COVID-19 Returning to Work on Campus Guidance.
The advice and tips below can help ensure all staff are supported as you continue to work and teach remotely.
- Our IS team have put together information on Remote Working Best Practice and Tools, to make sure you have access to all the technology needed to work from home
- The Staff Digital Literacies Hub allows staff to audit their digital skills and explore new areas for development to expand and enhance digital skills.
- The Digital Learning and Development Enhance page includes L&D, resources and support on Canvas the VLE for learning and teaching, courses and workshops from the Centre for Educational Development and web resources to support digital learning and development
Onboarding New Staff While Working From Home
As the response to COVID-19 continues, it is inevitable that new staff will continue to join our teams. This poses new challenges for those responsible for staff onboarding staff and will also be an unusual experience for those joining Queen’s but working from home. Here are some useful tips to support all those involved with remote onboarding:
- Stay in touch with new employees prior to their start date. Make sure they know what to expect
- Get equipment ready – try to make sure arrangements are in place for technology, devices and access/login to systems
- Structure – managers need to ensure remote workers joining the team have structure for their first day, first week and beyond. The lack of in-person interaction will make this more difficult. If this does not happen, a new employee will feel demotivated
- Ensure new starters still ‘meet’ the right people via video calls. Virtual introductions, bring new employees into meetings to gain insight into roles and responsibilities of others
- Ensure virtual tours of processes and systems are thorough
- Try to engage new staff socially with colleagues – informal meetings will help people to get to know each other and integrate with the culture of Queen’s, the department/team
Adapted from People Management
When a new member of staff joins your team, you should share the following information with them:
- The Central New Staff Welcome Event
- Our Campus video
- A link to the Staff Gateway as the main online source of up to date comms and information
Other useful resources and articles
Looking After Yourself and Others
Health and Wellbeing
It’s important to maintain your health and wellbeing while working from home. Here are some top tips and useful resources:
- Follow a daily routine. Set your alarm and get up and dressed for work as normal. Plan your daily and weekly activities, try not to schedule back-to-back Teams meetings and make sure to take regular breaks during the day.
- Get up and get outside. Step away from your screen and follow the PHA advice to get 10,000 steps per day. Try to schedule a walk or some exercise at some time during the day that works for you, and get outside when you can.
- Prioritise your sleep. Don’t move from the laptop screen to the TV screen. Try to stick to your regular bedtime and get restorative sleep every night.
- Be mindful of your diet and alcohol intake. Try to eat a balanced diet and stick to the recommended alcohol unit intake.
- Don’t overlook your own mental health. It’s normal to feel anxious at the moment. Remember to reach out and seek help if you are struggling.
Our Wellbeing Team have compiled lots of useful information and resources for staff which you can find on the COVID-19 Staff Wellbeing pages.
All Queen’s staff can access our Employee Assistance Programme, run by Inspire Wellbeing. This is a confidential and free helpline for staff that can be accessed at any time. Further support and information is also available for staff through the Inspire Wellbeing Hub.
Working from home can often mean the lines between home and work life become blurred. You might find that members of your team are working different patterns now and that might mean that you’re receiving emails emails. Read our guide to Preventing an ‘Always on’ Culture, for some tips on how to manage this.
LinkedIn Learning Resources
LinkedIn Learning is freely available to all Queen’s staff, it offers some courses which might be helpful when considering how you can improve your wellbeing while working from home. The Support your Mental Health During Challenging Times collection includes advice on:
- Enhancing resilience
- Dealing with Grief, Loss and Change as an Employee
- Supporting your Mental Health While Working from Home
- Avoiding Burnout
- Mindful Meditations for Work and Life
- Managing Your Emotions at Work
It can be hard to adjust to working from home when you are used to a busy office environment and regular conversations with colleagues. Maintaining strong relationships with the rest of your team can help boost your mood and keep your productivity high, so why not try these tips to keep your team connected while working apart?
- Schedule a weekly group check-in. This could be a shared coffee or lunch break where everyone is encouraged to turn on their cameras and say hello in person.
- Encourage at-home exercise or host a daily steps or workout challenge.
- Share recipe ideas or start a virtual book club.
- Set up a shared space such as a Teams channel where colleagues can post questions, start discussions or share ideas with one another.
- Establish a buddy system within your teams. This ensures that everyone has a point of contact aside from their manager, someone they can check in with and have a chat.
- Encourage staff to engage in our Staff Mentoring Programme to expand their networks and build connections.
- Promote our Staff Coaching Service, as a way of staying connected.
- Keep staff updated with any volunteering opportunities that arise as part of Queen’s response to COVID-19, for example, supporting at Asymptomatic testing units or helping with Track and Trace.
Flexible Working and Time Off
You might find that you are unable to fulfil your work commitments as a result of changing circumstances due to COVID-19. This may be because of a lack of available childcare or other caring provision, the necessity to home school children, a need to self-isolate or care for members of your family/bubble who are unwell with COVID-19 or for some other reason.
Queen’s is committed to supporting our staff throughout the pandemic and we urge you to remain in close contact with your line manager and colleagues and in particular, to keep your manager updated regarding your circumstances. If you do need to work flexibly to accommodate your circumstances, please speak to your manager about changes that can be made, for example, different working patterns.Note: If you are unable to complete your work via flexible working arrangements and need time off, please speak to your manager. You can also visit our Flexible Working webpages.