With the majority of staff now working from home, what is the best way to maximise productivity, and maintain good physical and mental health? The following eight steps summarise guidance from the University on how to maintain your effectiveness while working from home.
Remember, the University is committed to safeguarding the health and wellbeing of all staff and students. If you feel ill and are displaying symptoms of COVID-19, follow NHS advice and self-isolate at home. Please let your line manager know if you need to self-isolate or become ill so we can support your accordingly.
- Set up your home office
The majority of University IT services can all be accessed from home, including your M:Drive and any and departmental drives that you use. Simple things like twinning your desk phone to your mobile or adding Outlook to your home computer will also mean you won’t miss any important emails or calls. Plus you can get Microsoft Office (which includes Outlook) for free for use on up to five of your devices. Check out CSD’s Guide to Working from Home and IT Starter Kit to find out more.
All staff have access to Office 365, which combines traditional Office applications, such as Word and Excel, with new tools like your OneDrive and Teams, which is great for managing both informal chats with colleagues as well as more formal online meetings. To access Office 365, simply go to portal.office.com and log in with your University credentials – remember to enter your username in the format email@example.com. You’ll find loads of helpful guides on using Office 365 here.
Teaching and learning services can also be accessed from home. Use this link to log on to VITAL using your MWS credentials. You can also install Stream Capture on your staff (MWS) laptop. Find out more here
- Work securely, work safely
Ideally all staff working from home should be using devices provided by the University, such as a work laptop, iPad and/or phone. However under the current circumstances, we understand that this may not be possible for everyone. For guidance on how to keep your personal devices secure read this CSD advice.
Unfortunately we are seeing a growth in cyber security threats via email, many of which are using COVID-19 as ruse to get your personal details. Please follow CSD guidance to keep yourself safe online, and remember, Computing Services will never email you asking for your password.
The Safety Adviser’s Office have uploaded guidance, covering everything from setting up your work station and creating a healthy working environment at home to reporting incidents and the importance of taking regular breaks from your screen. Please make sure that you carry out a risk assessment on your home working arrangements. You’ll find guidance on how to do this here.
- Establish your new home working routine
Having clear guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day will help you maintain a healthy work-life balance. This is even more important now as access to the wider world outside our front door is so curtailed. So set a start and finish time. Remember to update your email signature and out of office notifications with details of your working hours.
We know that many staff are juggling remote working with home schooling and other caring responsibilities at this time. Should you require a different or more flexible working pattern in order to meet your other commitments, please discuss this with your line manager as soon as possible. Where possible, the University will endeavour to accommodate your needs through, for example, enabling you to work outside your normal hours or on different days of the week.
- Take regular breaks
Even though you are working from home you should still schedule regular breaks from your computer screen and stop for lunch. If you normally have an hour for lunch, take it. Use any spare time to take some exercise, get dinner ready or chat with friends and colleagues. You will feel much more positive and be more productive when you do come back to your computer and start working again.
Detailed guidance on working from home is available here from HR.
- Ask for help when you need it
All University services are now offering online help and support, including CSD and HR, so if you have problem don’t hesitate to get in touch. Make sure you talk to your line manager if you are finding home working difficult or need additional support.
The University’s Employee Assistance Programme also offers support 24/7, free of charge and on a confidential basis, including counselling support and various information services. Further details are available here.
- Socialise with colleagues
Working away from the office doesn’t have to mean that you lose touch with your colleagues and team-mates. Using tools such as Microsoft Teams, it is really easy to set up virtual coffee mornings and meetings or just have a quick chat online. Chat to your colleagues and line manager about the different ways you can stay connected with each other. To find out more read this quick start guide to Microsoft Teams.
- Continue to book time off
It is really important that all you use your annual leave entitlement to have a proper break from work during this challenging time. The University’s leave policies remain unchanged, and you will still only be able to carry over 5 days leave into next year’s entitlement. So make sure you book time off between now and the end of the academic year.
- Keep informed
It’s vital that you keep up-to-date with the latest guidance on how the University is responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. Please continue to check your University email account for updates from the Senior Leadership Team, and the FAQs page which is regularly updated in response to Covid-19.