Working from Home Guidance for College staff

With the increase in home working arising as a result of the spread of Coronavirus, this guidance has been produced for managers and staff to help them maintain productivity whilst supporting your wellbeing.


Keep in contact with the College

It is important you keep checking the College website for further updates.

We intend to ensure that the college IT systems continue to be able to be accessed remotely (e.g. VDI, Outlook (emails). We will also make sure that key systems such as Finance (including payroll) will still operate.

You can use College systems and file stores as usual, via remote access (https://vdi.newdur.ac.uk/) or Office365 via online office portal (https://login.microsoftonline.com)

 

Keep in contact with your colleagues

As well as maintaining contact with the College, you should keep in touch with your colleagues.  The social aspects of work can have a positive impact on your wellbeing and the absence of this can leave individuals feeling isolated.

Maintaining morale, team cohesion and your own wellbeing is really important during this difficult time.  Contact may take a range of forms and could be through email, Skype, phone calls, etc.  For example, teams within the College have set up Skype/Microsoft Teams forums to chat each day.  Everyone within the team can join the meeting should they wish and have a catch-up with colleagues.

 

Have a space to work in

You are advised to designate somewhere in their house where you can work.  For most people this is unlikely to be a dedicated space and may well be the kitchen or dining room table.  Whilst you may finding working on the sofa comfortable at first, it is likely to be bad for your posture after only a short time if you are working on a laptop. 

As far as possible you should reflect the arrangements at work when setting up your workspace at home.  Laptops and screens should positions to stop twisting and bending the neck, tables and desks should be at a suitable height and chairs should provide as much support as possible.  Please also see Health and Safety below.

It is important for you to be able to get some separation from work at the end of the day.  Ideally, and where space allows, working in a separate room will allow you to close the door on work at the end of the day.  Where this is not possible, you should clear everything away when you have finished working so you can switch off. 

 

Working at home with children present

Those with young children will realise that you cannot both parent and work at the same time; you simply won't manage to get any work done.  As more schools close this is likely to become a bigger problem for which there is not a single solution; the normal grandparent arrangements may not be appropriate due to social distancing guidance and older people being more vulnerable.

In these situations, managers are encouraged to try and be flexible about working times and arrangements.  For example, you may be more productive at times when a relative or partner is able to take over childcare responsibilities.

 

Information and System Security

Appropriate security must be obtained for all College information stored on a computer and there must be secure storage for any confidential information. You are responsible for ensuring the security of College property and all College information, files, documents, data etc. within your possession, including both paper and electronic material. Anyone who has off site working arrangements is required to adhere to the College’s policies and guidance on data security.

 

Have time to work in

You should set a routine and designate when you are and are not working.  This may reflect the normal work day or may need to be adjusted to address any domestic issues you face during the current situation, though significant changes should be discussed with your line manager.   The working day for anyone in an office has commutes either side of it, but these aren't there if someone is working from home and the risk is that the time between when you are on-shift and when they’re off will merge into each other. 

You should put appointments in their Outlook calendar to show your start and finish times and that you are working from home.  These appointments should be categorise as periods when you are free so that Skype and other systems can show that you are available.   This will enable managers and other staff to contact you as required but only when you are working. 

At the end of the working day, turn off your lap-tops and devices so you can have a clear definition between working and not-working.  Feeling that you have to be constantly available can grind you down and impact on your wellbeing.

 

Remember to eat

You should look after your health whilst working from home, and this includes eating properly.  It is recommended that you try and set times meal times and eat healthily at these times.  Some find that they forget to eat when working, whilst other graze all day. 

 

And don’t forget health and safety …..

Working from home can present a number of health and safety considerations, primarily around musculo-skeletal risks resulting from poor posture or badly set up work spaces. 

You should undertake DSE assessments of your work spaces and detailed guidance on how to do this is at  https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/ck1.pdf

Just because you are at home, you should still follow normal health and safety requirements.  For example, if a power cable is damaged there is a risk of electrical shock so this should not be used and you should contact your manager to arrange a replacement.