Support for leaders

Implementing RWA with your team

If you are considering remote work arrangements for the first time, these resources will help you determine criteria for RWAs in your area, work with your team to manage the change, and address some of the logistical considerations of implementing remote work arrangements.

Returning to campus reintegration guide

Most UVic workplaces returned to the office or hybrid work environments through fall 2021. Regardless of where you are at in the process, the Workplace re-integration resource guide will support leaders through an intentional process of reconnection, transition, clarifying team norms and future planning.

Implementing Remote Work Arrangements

Getting started with RWA: Review the Working Remotely Package, including program information, forms, checklists, conversation guides, and FAQs to familiarize yourself with the program.

RWA implementation guide: An Implementation Guide for Supervisors was created as part of the initial pilot progam and may be useful for leaders considering remote work arrangements for the first time.

Developing Departmental CriteriaOne of the first things to do is to develop criteria for remote work based on your department’s operations and the RWA principles and framework. 

Providing appropriate technology: It is the department’s responsibility to provide appropriate computer equipment and peripherals.   Employees must utilize UVic standard computers provided through the Technology Solutions Centre that are managed by appropriate UVic personnel (e.g. University Systems Desktop Support Services). Employees may not use their own computers to work remotely.

Optimizing remote workspaces: Ensure your employee has access to the resources they need to optimize a remote work space.

Regular review of RWA

Identify regular review periods to discuss the effectiveness of remote work arrangements with employees and your team.  The RWA Review Guide provides resources and sample questions for individual employee conversations and joint team conversations to ensure RWAs continue to meet the principles of the program.

Supporting a remote or hybrid team

Leaders play a vital role in bringing people together and ensuring everyone feels safe, communicates well with each other, and trusts each other to carry out the work of the team.  The way teams work together has changed as we went from fully in person, to fully remote and back to a hybrid work environment. Each change impacts team norms, social patterns and how people relate to each other.  Teams may need to re-vist the basics of team building each time our work environment shifts.

Leading and engaging remote or hybrid teams

There are several ways you can prepare for, and choose to lead, through the various iterations and nuances of team members working from home, navigating distanced working relationships and coordinating efforts to move back and forth between home and on-campus workspaces. The following are articles and ideas to consider as you foster engagement and positive work cultures for hybrid, home and on campus workspaces.

Psychological safety is the belief that one can speak up without risk of punishment or humiliation. It is well established as a critical driver of high-quality decision making, healthy group dynamics and interpersonal relationships. The nature of a hybrid workplace changes what psychological safety can look like for those working at home and those in the office.  Read What Psychological Safety Looks Like in a Hybrid Workplace.

Team norms are protocols and commitments developed by each team to guide members in working together. Norms help team members to clarify expectations regarding how they will work together to achieve their shared goals.  Hybrid workplaces require renegotiation of team norms, and new implicit norms that have developed should be made explicit for everyone.  Use the Team Norms guide to collaboratively develop new team norms and revisit them regularly.

Plan for Great Meetings

A hybrid work environment adds a layer of complexity to ensuring meetings are effective, engaging and inclusive.  Spending more time planning and communicating helps ensure meetings are meaningful.

Meeting considerations and norms

With planning, technology and good design, team meetings can be effective in any format. See the Team Norms document for help with team meetings in a hybrid workplace.

Tips for inclusive and engaging online meetings

Inclusivity and engagement can be more challenging online than in person. See Tips for Inclusive and Engaging Online meetings to remove barriers to access and to increase engagement.

Clarifying expectations, setting goals and giving feedback

Leading hybrid teams creates a different context for clarifying work expectations and monitoring performance.  How employees set their work goals, collaborate on work assignments and track work progress may have evolved in our remote or hybrid work environments.  Leading hybrid or remote teams requires more intentional communication, new systems, and increased trust.

Tips for setting goals and expectations for remote or mixed teams

  • Determine the appropriate level of oversight for the work, employee, and situation.  As a leader your role is to balance the provision of clear expectations with trust that employees know what to do.  Not enough direction?  Employees can feel unsure or confused about where to focus time and energy, which can impact productivity.  Too much direction?  Employees can feel micro-managed and undervalued, which can impact engagement.   One way to strike a balance is the process Mark Colgate calls Tight Lose Tight.  Click the link to find out more.

  • Review existing work plans and goals to determine what needs to be slowed, stopped, or can continue at pace given the rapidly changing context.  Gather feedback from your team so they can provide input about what might need to be adjusted as priorities change.

  • Clarify methods for communicating about work progress.  Be clear up-front about what information you want to be kept informed about, and discuss with employees ways to communicate that works for both you and them. Set regular check-ins to review both progress and systems for communication.

  • Communicate working norms so you and your team know what to expect.  Your team may need to work more flexible hours when working remotely. When these norms are not communicated, some people may misinterpret an alternate work schedule as a performance issue. During this time, it is helpful to focus on work outcomes rather than work schedules, provided the expectations for availability and attendance at meetings, remotely or in person, are clear.

  • Be patient with your team; if an employee is struggling to work remotely or to adjust to a changed working environment back on campus, check in with them to see what they need.  Does the employee need more assistance from you?  Do they need coaching? Do you need to restate and clarify your expectations? If an employee is struggling to meet performance expectations, please connect with your Human Resources Consultant.  

The Performance and Development Cycle in remote or hybrid work environment

Consider the following shifts in your normal Performance and Development Cycle process in a hybrid or remote work environment:  Adapted from Queens IRC webinar: Performance Management in Virtual world by Ian Cullwick and Ross Roxburgh

  • Accountability – while accountability has always been an important part of performance, the shift to remote working, and hybrid teams has increased the emphasis on personal accountability for work prioritization, quality and quantity of work. Here are some tips for creating a culture of accountability on virtual teams.
  • Goals and objectives – review PDC Step 1 goals and metrics based on the current context. Consider how objectives and priorities might need to be adjusted for your team to successfully meet the anticipated needs of it’s stakeholders in the coming year. The Setting Key Goals handout helps you to think about three different types of goals: those that are related to the job, the individual or to UVic. 

  • Measuring Success – as the realities of post secondary education evolve, the way we measure success may shift as well. Quantitative metrics may be a less reliable indicator of performance and productivity when the future is uncertain.  Consider using more qualitative measures of success such as adaptability, communication, collaboration with others, and reflecting UVic values.  See the UVic Competency model for other examples.

  • Learning and Career Plans – pre-pandemic career planning activities may be gradually resumed. Learning plans may shift to include timely and relevant topics such as the use of collaboration technology, improving communication skills, or diversity and inclusivity.  Learning plans are also a good way to reinforce your commitment to your team’s mental health and wellbeing by including learning activities that support employee wellness, safety and recovery from the effects of COVID.

  • Engagement and Coaching – Your role as a direct supervisor can have a huge impact on employee's level of engagement. Increase your focus on employee engagement and coaching by checking in regularly, and make efforts to connect employees to your unit’s priorities and to each other.  Simple questions include:
    • What’s working well for you at the moment?
    • How have your priorities shifted due to the changes of the past several months?
    • Where are you feeling stuck, and how can I help? Who else can help?
    • What are you doing to maintain your mental health and wellbeing as we adapt to new ways of working?

What else might be going on?

Workplace issues that are not related to remote work arrangements are sometimes amplified or magnified if the employee is working remotely or wants to work remotely. Rather than making the assumption that remote work is either the cause of or the solution to an issue, it can be helpful to ask “what else might be going on?”