A Helpful Guide
Creating Standardized Working Norms
To eliminate the potential for staff burnout and create an environment of inclusivity, we strongly encourage departments and units to establish standardized working norms, including meeting hours, team norms, and health and well-being best practices. Working norms across the Institute will allow staff to maintain a better work-life balance and give them time to accomplish collaborative activities, as well as administrative work within a reasonable set of hours. Below are a few examples departments can discuss and adopt based on their team needs and individual working preferences:
Set 25 and 50-minute meeting limits in Outlook/Teams to allow breaks between meetings. This procedure can be done manually when creating new meetings in Outlook.
Create core meeting hours for no more than six hours per day (can vary per department/unit).
Establish a regular in-person meeting opportunity, where those not working fully remote or with an ADA accommodation that prohibits them from working on-campus can convene together for teambuilding and collaboration.
Establish expectations of respect and etiquette for teams and their work schedules.
Under the discretion of team leadership, other ideas could be deployed including “reduced meeting days” or “camera-free days.”
Setting Remote Employees Up for Success
Now that you have agreed on flexible work arrangements for your employees and set expectations, it’s important that you consider the following steps and recommendations for an optimal experience:
Schedule regular meetings and communication with team members.
- Establish informal check-ins with individual employees
- Establish formal one-on-one meetings with individual employees; employees can utilize a One-on-One Meeting form to share information and serve as the meeting agenda
- Establish informal and formal team check-ins and meetings with the entire team
- NOTE: When working remotely, conducting these types of conversations on a more frequent cadence will be important
- Consider employees providing more formal status updates on a regular cadence (e.g., weekly, biweekly, etc.); employees can complete a One-on-One Meeting form to document information and share with manager
Define a work schedule for the workday and workweek for employees
- Establish start and end times for each workday (as needed/desired)
- Establish a schedule for the workweek (as needed/desired)
Set clear communication expectations between management, team members, and/or customers
- Establish service level agreements for responding to emails and phone calls
- Establish service level agreements for completing tasks/work needed or requested by other employees and groups
Determine what equipment and applicable software/systems access will be required for remote work. Contact ServiceNow to request equipment and set-up for employees. Consider the following resources and complete necessary documentation, noting availability is dependent upon the resources within each individual department:
- Computer Monitors
- Telephone/Cell Phone
- Other applicable hardware
Note: Per the Georgia Tech Flexwork Arrangements policy, an Equipment Loan Agreement form is required for remote business operations. Managers should submit the completed form to their department’s property control coordinator and/or a copy of the form may be uploaded to the associated ServiceNow request ticket.
Determine the best collaboration tools/software to use for meetings and discussions with employees:
Review/discuss Georgia Tech Cyber Security information, processes, and resources with employees, including:
Managing Hybrid Team Meetings
Managing hybrid team meetings can be successfully accomplished once you understand best practices and space capabilities across campus. Visit the Georgia Tech Professional Education’s resource guide for effectively managing hybrid teams.
Keeping Remote/Hybrid Employees Engaged
It may seem overwhelming to think about how you will keep your remote employees engaged; however, many of the same employee engagement principles apply that would for all employees:
- Communicate clear goals and expectations – When employees know they are a part of something bigger and are working collaboratively to accomplish shared goals, they will be more committed and engaged. Ensure communication is readily given, even more so, to remote employees and that routine check-ins are established.
- Keep consistent meetings and encourage in-person attendance periodically, if needed – When employees know what to expect, they are more connected and prepared. Ensure you maintain a regular meeting cadence, both individually and as a larger group with all team members. At times, it may be imperative that the entire team meet in-person. If so, ensure you communicate that expectation early and often to all team members.
- Facilitate opportunities for team members to connect – Ensure that while the entire team may not physically be together, you’ve created opportunities for them to collaborate, get to know one another, and celebrate accomplishments.
- Create opportunities for teams to connect in fun and engaging ways through online games and activities and team-building exercises.
- Establish a shared communication channel where team accomplishments can be celebrated.
- Recognize employees’ special moments or achievements
Build trust - Trust is essential for engagement, regardless of the employee’s work location. As a people leader, it’s important that you establish a transparent and honest work environment where employees feel valued and are encouraged to thrive.
- Ensure equitable arrangements for all employees.
- Allow team members to share leadership responsibilities. For remote workers, they may feel a greater disconnect to the team. By allowing them opportunities to be responsible for a project or initiative, you foster a greater sense of importance and meaning for them, all while promoting collaboration and creativity.
- Communicate with transparency and clarity. Once you are aware of information, make sure you inform your team in a timely manner, regardless of their working location. Allow for employees to process information and ask questions. Recognize that it’s ok if you don’t have all the answers – your employees will value your honesty and humility more than if you provided incorrect information.
Model well-being and encourage employees to do the same – To stay engaged in meaningful work and avoid burnout, it’s important to take time for yourself to focus on your well-being and encourage your teams to do the same. While working remote, ensure that you aren’t in constant communication at all hours of the day. Keep a consistent schedule, take breaks and time for yourself, and prioritize activities that bring you joy within your day. Visit our site for additional well-being resources.
Celebrate successes, however small - As we continue to learn and evolve, it’s important that you recognize successes of team members, both large and small. Create mechanisms for teams to express gratitude to one another, through establishing a “Staff Shout-Outs" portion within team meetings or establishing a remote celebration channel on Teams or Slack. Ensure your team knows you appreciate their efforts and be intentional of displaying heartfelt gratitude often.
Managing Remote/Hybrid Employee Performance
When managing a remote or flexible workforce, establishing regular meetings and communication opportunities with team members is key. One-on-one meetings between managers and their employees provide a valuable opportunity to enhance individual and team productivity, foster great working relationships, provide positive feedback and support, and address issues before they become significant problems. It is recommended that managers meet with their employees weekly or biweekly. Our 1:1 Meeting form is designed for use by an employee to prepare for a one-on-one meeting with their manager. In the instance that a meeting must be cancelled or is deemed unnecessary, this completed form can be sent by the employee to their manager to function as a status report so valuable information can be shared.
The Georgia Tech Performance Management Process normally consists of a four-phase cycle: planning, managing, reviewing, and rewarding performance. Georgia Tech recognizes the unique work environment both managers and employees are facing. If an employee is not performing duties, managers are first encouraged to have an informal conversation to determine what barriers are preventing an employee for accomplishing his/her duties. If the issue is not resolved, additional interventions can be used.
People leaders should not feel alone in managing performance in our new workforces. GTHR Employee Relations Consultants serve as a resource to help facilitate discussions between the manager and employee.
Ensuring Successful Remote/Hybrid Teams
Leading a hybrid team can be a new challenge for many of our people leaders, creating issues around equity, communication, expectations, and team engagement. However, as a people leader, you can create environments where both your in-person and remote employees are working collaboratively together, which simultaneously builds fairness and flexibility into your team.
- Be compassionate and offer support – Take time to actively listen to your employees and offer them the support where needed to ensure their ultimate well-being, which in turn will support their productivity and engagement on the team.
- Set expectations that are agreed upon by both you and your team - We can’t stress enough the importance of open and transparent communicate between people leaders and their employees/teams. Ensure that both you and they understand the expectations agreed upon and that, as a best practice, they are recorded to reference in the future.
- Prioritize tasks and then allow for flexibility to achieve outcomes - It’s important that regardless of where or when an employee works, they understand the priorities and goals of the team. Discuss them regularly in team or 1:1 meetings and speak up immediately if outcomes do not meet either party’s expectations.
- Ensure inclusivity for all parties - As people leaders and even team members, we will all need to be more cognizant of inclusion and accessible practices as team members’ working locations may vary. Determine what approach may work best for you and your team. An inclusive approach may mean that even though most of the team is working on-campus, you utilize a virtual meeting format to ensure your remote workers are included and connected.
- Equitably give of your time and attention to all team members - If you and a team member are in the same space, it feels second nature to walk into their workspace to have a conversation. However, when your location may differ from that of your employees’, it becomes imperative that you intentionally find times to connect over the phone or virtual connection.
- Reflect on what’s working and reevaluate, if needed – Flexible working arrangements are fluid and should be evaluated regularly (we recommend at least quarterly in the onset) to determine if both the Institute’s and employee’s needs are being met. As we continue to learn and evolve, flexible work arrangements can continue to change to ensure a successful experience for all involved.
- Create flexible workspaces for remote employees’ schedule - An identified benefit to flexible work is the sharing of resources and space within the Institute. As employees adopt a hybrid schedule, consider creating shared flexible spaces within your unit, complete with the necessary supplies and tools for employees to succeed. Ensure all parties who use the space are aware of any necessary policies or procedures involved with sharing the space.
- Develop communication mechanism for determining team members’ schedules - In a hybrid workplace, confusion may result with employees who have varying schedules and working locations of their peers. As a best practice, establish a centralized calendar employees can reference to ensure they have ease in connecting with their teammates.
- Identify signs of burnout – in both your team members and you - Burnout can occur when chronic stress is not addressed in the workplace. Identify the signs of burnout early on, if possible, not only in teammates but also in yourself, and connect employees to the correct resources to receive assistance.
- Have fun and be kind to yourself – Working at Georgia Tech can be rigorous, but it should also be fun and rewarding. Don’t forget to take the time to reach out for coffee, tea, lunch, or a laugh break, whether virtual or in-person. You give many hours a week to your job – it's important you enjoy what you do and have fun doing it!