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Remote Work Tips and Best Practices

Find tips and best practices for UC San Diego staff members who are telecommuting or working in a remote off-campus location.

Set Up Your Home Workspace

Best Practices for Remote Teams

The following guidelines are meant to help us continue to work well together in a remote work environment: 

  • Log on to Skype when you start your day, and update your status when you’re in a meeting or away from your desk for an extended period to let your team know when you will return. 
  • Alternatively, sign into Outlook for the web to access your email and Skype chat within the same window, utilizing the Skype button in the upper-right.
  • Set an expectation for expected response times via chat or email. 
  • For questions and brief conversations with your team that would spawn too long of an email chain but don't require a Zoom meeting, use a Slack channel dedicated to your project. 
  • When holding Zoom meetings, use the webcam feature whenever possible.  Human communication has a huge non-verbal component (body language, facial expressions, etc.) that can be lost when using audio only. 
  • For the core team on your projects, create a shared space only accessible to the core team (Google Docs, OneNote, Collab, shared drive) with each person's cell phone numbers and their preferred method of contact (phone call, email, chat, or other).  
  • Discuss with team members what the best way would be for you to "ping" them if you need something more urgently than waiting for a reply to email — that might be Skype for Business, Slack, text message, or a phone call.
  • Be sure to update your Outlook calendar with times you will not be available (e.g., if you have child care or other responsibilities that require you to be unavailable during set hours).
  • Don't be afraid to just pick up the phone and talk to your team — sometimes a 2-minute phone conversation can be far more effective than a half hour of going back and forth. When you're remote, making occasional 1:1 phone calls to your team is an important replacement for those "hallway conversations" we'd otherwise be having in the office. And “phone call” can mean Skype Voice, an impromptu Zoom video call, or whatever you prefer.
  • Have a standing morning Zoom “call” to touch base with everyone on what they are doing and what their day looks like. Schedule this for 30 minutes, but set expectations that it can end sooner.  Review top priorities and ask team members to go over issues they are working through. This is a great chance to see where one team member has time to help another team member who is overburdened. When you’re in the office, this is often visually clear, but not when telecommuting.
  • Use your fellow teammates as a resource. If you're having a problem with remote work, the odds are good that your teammates are experiencing similar frustrations, and can share advice.

An Example Telecommute Day

  • 8:30 a.m.:  Log onto computer and start email, Skype, etc. Check emails and chat for project updates
  • 8:45 a.m.: Join the Zoom meeting for the daily team status updates
  • Throughout the day:
    • Break out into 1:1 or smaller meetings for more detailed and targeted discussions that come from the status updates 
    • Collaborate on tasks/projects using Skype, Zoom, etc. 
    • Keep Outlook calendar updated with scheduled meetings and personal errands. 
  • Eat lunch and take breaks!
  • At the end of your work day, log your time as required by your department

Tech Tips for a Smoother Remote Work Experience

  • Install the Zoom plug-in to easily create meetings.
  • Disconnect from VPN when it’s not needed; this may help with the Zoom video and audio quality.
  • If you have back-to-back meetings throughout the day with your core team, use the same Zoom ID to save time jumping in and out of calls.
  • In your meeting invites, include the full Zoom invitation with the various options to join (at the minimum, the Zoom URL and dial-in phone number).
  • To save a mouse click, set your default Duo authentication preference.
  • Have Duo remember you for 7 days so you don't have to authenticate each and every time you log into a tool.

Access Free or Discounted Software / Internet / Data During COVID-19 Period

  • Adobe Creative Cloud:
    • As a result of the campus closure, access to Adobe Creative Cloud in labs and classrooms is not available. Adobe is providing temporary at-home access for impacted students, staff, and faculty, so that they can continue their work remotely. Follow the instructions to enable access to Creative Cloud Desktop Apps on your personal device. Adobe's current end-date for this program is May 31, but that may be extended.

  • Altice USA:
    • Altice Advantage 30 Mbps broadband solution for free for 60 days to any new customer household within the service area for households with K-12 and/or college students who may be displaced due to school closures and who do not currently have home internet access.
  • AT&T:
    • Unlimited Home Internet data: All AT&T consumer home Internet wireline and Fixed Wireless Internet customers can use unlimited internet data.
    • World Connect Advantage: Business customers currently on or who purchase an AT&T World Connect Advantage package receive 50% off the current rate in a monthly bill credit.
  • Charter/ Spectrum
    • Charter will offer free Spectrum broadband and WiFi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription and at any service level up to 100 Mbps. Installation fees will be waived for new student households.
    • Charter will continue to offer Spectrum Internet Assist, high speed broadband program to eligible low-income households delivering speeds of 30 Mbps.
    • Charter will open its Wi-Fi hotspots across our footprint for public use.
  • Comcast:
    • Free Xfiniti WiFi hotspots, unlimited data for 60 days, no disconnects for late fees, free internet essentials, free educational collections 
  • CoxCox is offering the following over the next 60 days, through May 15:
    • A $19.99 offer for new Starter internet customers with a temporary boost up to 50 Mbps download speeds, no annual contract or qualifications to help low income and those impacted from Coronavirus challenges, like seniors and college students.
    • Eliminating data usage overages beginning today to meet the higher bandwidth demands. Customers with a 500 GB or Unlimited data usage add-on plan will receive credits.
  • Sprint:
    • Waiving all activation and upgrade fees, free next day shipping,
    • T-Mobile partners with multiple spectrum holders to light up additional 600 MHz spectrum for the next 60 days, expanding network capacity
    • Sprint customers to get expanded roaming access to the T-Mobile network.
    • Unlimited data for metered plans, and free hotspot. 
  • T-Mobile
    • Follows FCC agreement, plus unlimited data to existing customers, and, coming soon, will allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge.

Consultations

If you'd like to schedule a consultation to determine your best remote-work options, contact ITS.
Have a tip that might help others? Email wts@ucsd.edu so we can share it.