To be consistent with the public health goal of minimizing unnecessary contact, unit
heads should be as flexible as possible and encourage employees to telecommute. Not
every employee can or will be able to work from home all of the time. For those unable
to work offsite, units should work to create a safe onsite work environment with an
emphasis on social distancing.
A unit’s decision as to whether a telecommuting arrangement is feasible will depend
The employee’s job responsibilities—if certain tasks and assignments can be performed
Availability of necessary equipment and materials to perform the work. As much as
possible, units should attempt to provide the equipment needed.
The home environment—if it is one in which the employee can work productively and
This guidance is for supervisors, employees and departments and is designed to help
set up temporary remote work arrangements quickly and successfully.
What is telecommuting and how does it differ from other forms of remote work? Telecommuting is a work arrangement in which some or all of the work is performed
from home or another off-site location. In general, regular office hours are worked
and deviations from that schedule require supervisor approval.
Which jobs are suited for telecommuting? Telecommuting is easiest to implement for jobs or tasks that require reading, writing, research,
working with data and talking on the phone. In general, and at management’s discretion,
a job is suited to telecommuting if the job or some components of it can be done off-site without disruption to the
flow of work and communication.
Which jobs are not as well suited for telecommuting? It is not uncommon to require employees in positions needing in-person contact/customer
service or that rely upon specific equipment or supplies to work on site. Management
and/or supervisory roles also generally may be excluded from consideration for telecommuting arrangements
unless a department finds such an arrangement practical in meeting job responsibilities.
Some jobs that may not seem appropriate at first may be modified so that employees
What’s most important to starting a productive telecommuting arrangement? Clearly outlined and executed telecommutingarrangements can prove beneficial to employees and managers alike. Managers should
articulate clear procedures regarding check-in times and hours of availability. With
proper planning, communications problems can be minimized.
How do I begin a telecommuting arrangement? The supervisor of the employee will electronically submit COVID-19 Temporary Telecommuting Request Form, which will be forwarded to employee for approval and acknowledgement of APSU policies
for telecommuting. When telecommuting, employees are still obligated to comply with
all APSU rules, policies and procedures. Violation of such rules, policies and procedures
may result in immediate cessation of telecommuting arrangement, and possible corrective
When telecommuting, employees are still obligated to comply with all APSU rules, policies
and procedures. Violation of such rules, policies and procedures may result in immediate
cessation of telecommuting arrangement, and possible corrective action.
Clerical and Support employees are not exempt from the overtime requirements of the
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). They are to accurately record all hours worked to
ensure compliance with the recordkeeping and overtime requirements of the law. Professional
and Administrative employees are exempt from the overtime requirements of the FLSA,
and are not eligible for overtime.
Employees are eligible for Workers' Compensation when telecommuting, and must follow
the university's procedure for reporting job-related injuries.
A telecommuting arrangement may be discontinued by the supervisor or the employee
with or without notice. At a minimum, the arrangement will be reviewed when the adverse
working situation comes to an end. A telecommuting arrangement that continues beyond
the end of the emergency or adverse situation is subject to the provisions of the
telecommuting guidelines for on campus positions in non-emergency situations.
Telecommutingworks best when employees and supervisors communicate clearly about expectations.
The following checklist will help you establish a foundation for effective teamwork,
continued productivity, and service to the Austin Peay community.
Review technology needs and resources. Identify technology tools staff use in their daily work and determine whether the
resources will be accessible when working from home. Also, ensure employees know how
to access the appropriate technical support should they need assistance.
Confirm that employees know how to set up call forwarding and how to access their
voicemail from home.
Determine which platform(s) you will use to communicate as a team, clarify expectations
for online availability and confirm everyone has access to the technology tool(s)
and support resources. APSU employees have free access to Skype for Business, Zoom
and your department may have additional tools or resources.
Review work schedules. Telecoummuting can be confused with flex work. Be clear about your expectations with employees for
maintaining their current work schedule or if you are open to flexible scheduling
based on employee needs.
Draft a work plan. Review the questions below with staff and work through answers together.
What routine responsibilities/tasks cannot be fulfilled while working remotely and
how will it impact operations or other people? What are ways to reduce the impacts?
What routine responsibilities/tasks require regular communication and collaboration
with others? Proactively contact each other to confirm how you will communicate while
everyone is working remotely.
Oftentimes employees experience fewer interruptions while telecommuting. Are there any special projects or tasks that you can advance while working remotely?
What events or meetings are scheduled during the time in which the temporary telecommuting
arrangement is in place? Will they be postponed or canceled, or will they take place
using technology? What follow-up needs to occur due to postponements or cancellations?
Make a communication and accountability plan. Supervisors should tell employees how often they should send updates on work plan
progress and what those updates should include. Supervisors should also communicate
how quickly they expect the employee to respond while telecommuting and the best ways
for the employee to contact the supervisor while working remotely. Current performance
standards are expected to be maintained by employees.
Conduct regular check-ins. Start each workday with a phone, video or instant message
chat. Your employees will be eager for connection and information during the disruption
and the structure will help everyone create a positive routine. Every other day or
weekly may be fine, so long as you are in contact frequently enough that your employees
are in sync with you and/or with one another.
Be positive. A positive attitude toward telecommuting and a willingness to trust employees to telecommute
effectively is key to making such arrangements successful and productive. Telecommuting
presents an opportunity for managers to become better supervisors. Re-emphasize a
focus on measuring results and reaching objectives—regardless of work arrangement.
The employee’s completed work product is the indicator of success, rather than direct
observation. By focusing on the employee’s work product, telemanagers will improve
their organizational abilities and their own skill in managing by objectives.
Debrief after normal operations resume. Employees and supervisors should review work plans when work returns to normal, assess
progress on the employee’s work plan and prioritize any unresolved or new work that
resulted from temporary operational disruption.
Employees who telecommute often learn that working remotely is different than they
expected and that it requires specific skills and habits. The following tips will
help you get to work while at home.
Define your workspace. Experienced telecommuters will tell you that its often difficult to stay focused at
home. We are creatures of habit and most of us are used to our normal home routines.
Establishing a workspace, even if it is your kitchen table, gives your brain a cue
that it is time for work. Wearing attire that you may wear to the office even if it
is your “casual Friday” attire may cue the brain. You should remain capable of reporting
to work if your presence is requested by your supervisor.
Master the basics.
Set up call forwarding and how to access your voicemail from home.
Know how to login via VPN to access Banner and other tools you use regularly.
Use Skype for Business, Zoom, or another instant messaging client to stay connected
Plan for video calls/meetings by making sure you know how to turn on your computer’s
camera and microphone and being aware that your colleagues may be able to see the
background behind you.
Set daily goals, track them and share your progress. You may be surprised by how differently the workday passes without the comings and
goings of an office to break things up or influence what you do next. Start each day
of telecommute by writing down what you need to achieve and then track your progress.
Pay attention to how long tasks take you and start adjusting your daily goals to match
your current rhythm. Communicate with your supervisor and/or colleagues if you think
your telecommute plan needs to be adjusted.
Eliminate distractions. Home can mean pets, children or a favorite hobby are only a few feet away. Depending
on your living arrangement, you may need to hang a “do not disturb” sign so your family
members don’t interrupt you. Pets often need a closed door to keep them away and you
might need headphones to block the noise.
Prioritize privacy. Whether you are in your home or a common area, take five minutes to assess the privacy
of your workspace. Can someone standing behind you read your computer screen? Are
your windows open so your neighbor can hear your phone call? What information do you
need to secure before grabbing a cup of coffee or heading to the restroom? Your personal
privacy matters too, so see if there is anything around you that you would not want
visible during a video conference with your boss or colleague.
Continue to employ security best practices. Situations like this are prime phishing opportunities. Remain vigilant for security
concerns and be sure to report suspicious emails email@example.com.
It should be noted that caution needs to be taken when dealing with personal health
information (“PHI”) and HIPAA matters while working from home or another off-site
Stay connected. Many people say they do not call or instant message colleagues who are working remotely
because they don’t want to bother them. Remember, they are working, not vacationing
at home! You should feel confident about calling or messaging an employee who is telecommuting
anytime you would walk to their office or call them if you were working on-site.
With many teams moving to telecommute quickly, departments may want to adapt the following
Consider designating a telecommute task force. Depending on the size of your unit, consider implementing a task force to manage telecommute
protocols and procedures for your department.
Engage your team. Setting up a group to work remotely is different than setting up an individual employee
to telecommute. Effective remote teamwork requires entire units to embrace technology
and proactive communication in ways that may be new and challenging to traditional
ways of working. Support the success of your team by:
Scheduling a conversation about what it may look like for your team to work remotely.
Identify needs and tool preferences of team members for remote work.
Document and share telecommute practices/plans.
Enable and encourage ongoing communication. Ongoing communication is the most important part of effective remote teamwork. Working
online can be isolating without regular contact with supervisors and colleagues. By
creating the expectation that an entire team will communicate regularly with one another,
members will feel connected regardless of where they are.