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New to telecommuting? Our top tips for social isolation success!

Publish date: Wednesday, March 18, 2020 update

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, many AMAPCEO members will be telecommuting for the next little while. Not only will this help keep members and their families safe, it will hopefully help flatten the curve, a term that refers to avoiding a spike in infections that would overwhelm our healthcare system.

Although telecommuting has been a provision in many AMAPCEO collective agreements for years, managers are now approving the action broadly, allowing many employees to work from home until at least April 3.

Working from home may sound like a dream – sleeping a little longer, more casual wear, no commute, and perhaps the company of a pet – but there are many elements that can pose their own challenges.

With the understanding that all units have different rules for telecommuting, we’ve assembled our top tips:

  • Make sure you have clear direction from your manager. Managers who are more hands off might want more check-ins during telecommuting, and the importance of projects may have shifted with the current pandemic. Make sure you have all the equipment and information you need and work with your manager to develop deadlines on deliverables to keep you on track.
  • Login to all necessary channels first. Do you have certain online platforms you’re expected to be logged into? Start each morning by logging on first thing before you get caught up in another task.
  • Spend each morning laying out your day. Some people benefit from tackling the biggest thing on their to do list first, others prefer to tick off a series of small tasks to get their momentum going. You don’t have to follow your schedule to a ‘T’, but spending a few minutes scheduling priorities will keep you on track. Don’t forget to carve out a defined block of time for lunch and breaks to make sure you don’t lose track of time, and hydrate (and wash your hands) regularly!
  • Create a defined work environment. You don’t need to have a formal home office, but having a dedicated space for your supplies can help you define work time and personal time. Be sure to consider things like lighting throughout the day, a comfortable chair with back support, and perhaps noise-cancelling headphones.
  • Set a timer to remind yourself to look away from your screen. Without colleagues around, set reminders to look 20 feet away from for screen for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Use the timer on your phone or consider a browser plugin.
  • Hold meetings, but not in person. It’s important to still connect with your colleagues, just not face-to-face for the time being!
  • Don’t Yammer your day away. Although web-based chats can be social and efficient, they can also distract when it’s time to get deep work done. Ask if your manager if it’s okay to turn off notifications for a defined period of time. Be sure to communicate this with your colleagues.
  • Dance like no one’s watching—because they aren’t! It’s easy to fall away from work-life boundaries when you’re working from home. Make sure you take your breaks at defined times and use them to do things you might not be able to do in the office, such as trying out the many online exercise classes that are popping up. 

More about AMAPCEO and our Members: Established in 1992, AMAPCEO is a bargaining agent that represents 14,000 professional and supervisory public servants, most of whom work directly for the Government of Ontario in every ministry and in a number of agencies, boards and commissions; in 130 communities throughout Ontario and in 12 cities outside Canada. We also represent employees outside the Ontario Public Service in: the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario; Health Quality Ontario; the Ontario Arts Council; Public Health Ontario; the Waypoint Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene; and in the former Offices of the Ontario Child Advocate and the French Language Services Commissioner (now part of the Ontario Ombudsman).