Guidance for managers
The University recognises that the sudden transition to remote working for the majority of staff has been challenging for both staff and their managers. You'll be adjusting to new ways of working whilst also trying to do your best to support your teams and all of this while you support and care for your own family members.
The following guidance provides some initial practical advice on remote working which we hope you will find helpful. We'll add to this guidance in the weeks ahead.
Plan regular communication
Communication is key for an effective team, especially where people are working remotely from different locations. It's one of the things you need to think about and be deliberate about.
It's important to stay in touch with your team regularly – not just for effective working but also to ensure the welfare and wellbeing of your team. Working as a virtual team has its challenges and can be potentially isolating for team members if effective communications are not in place. Some of your team members may live alone or be worried about how they will balance their University duties with caring responsibilities.
You're in a great position as a line manager to be able to reassure and support your team members at this time, and communication is key to that. You need to think about communicating with your team as a team, but also ensuring that there are regular ‘touchpoints’ with every team member on an individual basis.
Agree the technology for communication
As there is a range of technology that can help you keep in touch with your team including Zoom, Skype for Business and WhatsApp, one form of technology to be used for communication should be agreed on with your team. Further details are available on the staying connected webpages.
Ensure you are aware if any members of your team are not connecting in this way. In some cases, you'll know this is because they're unwell, or focused on the caring duties which must take precedence at this time. However, if this isn’t the case and you're worried, please contact them directly and speak with your HR team to talk this through. Members of your team may be vulnerable at this time so your intervention and offer of support could be incredibly important.
It's not just about work!
Communication doesn’t just need to be about work. It's also important that teams have the opportunity to talk about things outside of work and this should be raised with the team or individually.
Have a bit of fun, take time for team downtime. You could suggest using group online gatherings for sharing sessions as an alternative to work matters. For example, some of you have told us you're holding virtual team lunches, with staff being told not to worry if children or dogs interrupt – the only rule is bring a sandwich and try not to talk about work!
Doing things like this will help you maintain a sense of team. However, it's important to recognise that while some of your team enjoy socialising through work, others may wish to spend time with family and friends away from work as well as taking some exercise or enjoying their hobbies.
When you’re not working face-to-face, it's important to make sure that your colleagues are clear about what is expected from them. It may be helpful to replicate your usual meetings and activities online as far as you possibly can. This helps retain the communication structure and frequency, and will make for an easier transition when we return back to normal working arrangements.
Focus on outputs (what you need the staff member to achieve as a priority), rather than inputs (how long a member of staff spends at their new work station). Spend time thinking about the results you need the team to deliver and how each member of the team can contribute to the overall success of your group and discuss with each team member what they can contribute based on their personal situation.
The University recognises that the closure of schools and nurseries due to the Coronavirus means that staff may have difficulties arranging alternative care for their children and has committed to working flexibly with staff to support them during this time. Your team members may also have other caring responsibilities that require additional flexibility at this time.
If a member of your team’s ability to work is affected because of caring responsibilities you should discuss flexible and agile working with them. Talk to them about what they are able to contribute in the context of their particular home situation. This is time for give and take on everyone’s part – the aim will be to continue with the business of the University in a way that's fair and appropriate to all parties, recognising the critical role which parental and family care is playing at this time.
If you or your team are working at different times outwith normal working hours it's important to recognise this and make sure your team know that you don’t expect them to reply in their downtime.
Promote health and wellbeing
Getting the right balance between home and work life can be challenging particularly when working at home and when the boundaries between home and life can become blurred. Colleagues may also have concerns regarding caring responsibilities or other matters outwith work so it is important to regularly check in with your team on their health and wellbeing, especially those who may be more vulnerable at this time.
Encourage your colleagues to follow the guidance on positive mental health and wellbeing and staying physically well, and lead by example ensuring that you make time for your own health and wellbeing. It's also important that you keep in regular contact with your own line manager to ensure you get the support that you need at this difficult time.
Any individual who is concerned about their health and wellbeing as a result of home working should be encouraged to contact our confidential staff counselling and employee assistance programme.
If you, as a manager, have concerns about the health and wellbeing of a member of your team while they are working from home, it's advisable to speak with them directly and go to Human Resources and Occupational Health for further information. If you need further advice contact Human Resources and Occupational Health directly by email:
If you have concerns about a member of your team or have more general questions about supporting your team with remote working further support and guidance can be obtained from your HR Team. We'll be continuing to add to this guidance in the days and weeks ahead.
Additional support for you
In the current climate of remote working, Continuous Improvement team have developed The Effective Team Remote Working Course, which provides an overview of some tools and techniques to allow you to effectively manage a team remote. This training course is fundamentally targeted at Strathclyde Leaders with direct reports. Others who may find benefit in the course are leaders with no direct reports but activity or project ownership.
The training offers, at a high level, support strategies that allows the departmental work to progress effectively and efficiently while supporting the team members wellbeing. During the 1 hour session, the benefits of planned and systematic communication vs an ad hoc style will be proposed. The necessary combination of tools and techniques to create a communication plan that supports achieving business objectives while maintaining an engaged team will be explored. If you are interested, add your name to the waiting list.Register for waiting list
As you adjust to the challenges and the opportunities of remote working and supporting your team who continue to work from home, it’s crucial that you are aware of the many opportunities that exist for specific and ongoing CPD, and which can be accessed remotely.
OSDU are making changes to their training programme delivery, moving as much as possible to online Zoom training and this will be indicated on the course descriptors for each course. Please view the OSDU Interactive Learning and Development Brochure and the OSDU Online Resources Development Brochure.
It may be helpful to raise awareness of your colleagues to the training available online in the Free access to online learning section.