Transitioning to Remote Work for Staff
Updated Monday, March 16
In order to ensure a smooth transition and to continue to support students who are still moving out, we will seek to move our operations to remote work starting Wednesday, March 18 and continuing through Friday, March 20. Supervisors will work with staff members to prepare during this time period, and remote work can begin starting Wednesday once the preparations are made. All preparations must be made by Friday.
While we had hoped that this move would not be necessary, division officers and managers, as part of our preparation efforts, have been developing business continuity plans that include protocols for remote work operations. These plans also include identifying which positions will exclusively work remotely, which positions will work remotely most of the time but may be required to have a limited on-campus presence, and which positions would be defined as “essential” or positions requiring a more significant or regular on-campus presence in a pandemic response. Our goal is to be as broad as possible in defining which positions can work remotely and to provide remote work alternatives wherever possible. These plans may also include altering work assignments and duties as necessary.
While it is our expectation that everyone who can work remotely will work remotely, we must also understand that we will have some students remaining on campus. Therefore, we must have some staff present and available on campus to provide essential services to these students. In addition, the campus must be able to continue operations and college business must continue so that we can be ready to resume normal operations when it is safe and appropriate to do so. The work of running the college cannot stop during this time. Instead we must find alternatives to continue to do this important work in creative, virtual or remote ways.
In order to put our remote work plans into effect, starting today, supervisors will begin informing their staff about their transition to remote work or their designation as essential staff, in addition to the timing of their transition and any details specific to their work expectations or schedules. We will be providing additional resources and information to assist supervisors and staff in their preparation and transition to remote work.
As of Saturday, March 21, 2020, only those employees defined as essential staff will be permitted on campus and have access to campus buildings. After this date, if anyone has a need for a short-term visit to campus or a specific building, prior arrangements must be made with your supervisor.
All staff will continue to be paid during this temporary transition to remote work operations. It is our hope that the college will be back to normal operations by May 6. We will continue to monitor the situation and will reassess this timeline if circumstances and conditions warrant and will communicate any changes.
Work and Department Related Considerations
Originally posted Friday, March 13 and updated on Monday, March 16
- The college is taking steps to increase our cleaning efforts and crews will work to disinfect in areas that are likely to have high-traffic or where greater numbers of people may be present.
- In light of the unique challenges presented by this situation, staff may be asked to assist other departments and/or perform other duties on a temporary basis to best support our students and college operations. Your cooperation and flexibility is appreciated.
- In order to be as prepared as possible, if they haven’t already, departments should work together to develop plans for how to continue to deliver services and continue operations in ways that are consistent with social distancing and remote service delivery.
- If you already have a college provided device that supports remote work, please be sure to bring it home with you every day. If you have a personal device that you would intend to use for remote work, you should be sure to take extra steps to ensure that your device is secure. If you have questions about devices or technology related needs, please be sure to enter a support ticket in the I.T. Helpdesk – Service Request.
- The college has suspended all college-sponsored travel, until further notice. Staff should cancel any tickets and reservations as well as registrations to conferences or other work related events. We also encourage staff to take precautions and carefully consider any personal travel plans.
- Wheaton College has updated its self-quarantine procedures, which were originally sent on March 2, 2020. Effective immediately, any community member who has traveled internationally is not permitted to access campus for 14 days after the date they returned to the U.S. We encourage them to return to their family home or to an off-campus residence, to self-quarantine AND practice social distancing. Please be sure to contact Human Resources or self-disclose this information via the college’s central reporting form (Note: To access this Google Form, you’ll need to be logged into your Wheaton College GMail account.).
- The college has suspended on-campus and off-campus college events, until further notice. If you or your department are the sponsor or program organizer for an event, you should explore the use of remote technology to deliver programming virtually, if appropriate.
- Staff should carefully consider any scheduled in-person group meetings, regardless of size, and identify alternate ways for conducting meetings including Zoom, Skype or conference calls.
- When possible, we are encouraging staff to limit any off-campus visitors to campus. Consider conducting meetings or visits with external business partners remotely.
- Vendors that the college works with can continue to come to campus to provide services and deliver goods until further notice.
- We should be prepared but remain calm and be considerate of our colleagues. This is a time to engage with one another and offer support, not to make unwarranted assumptions or engage in unkind behavior or statements.
- If you are not feeling well please stay home and rest until you are well. Someone who is sick and comes to work runs the risk of spreading germs and making others sick which directly impacts the health and well-being of members of our community and productivity. If you are sick, you should use your sick time. If you do not have sufficient accumulated sick time, please talk with your supervisor and consult with Human Resources. We do not want anyone coming to work if they are sick because of concerns about their sick time. Human Resources will work with employees to provide support.
- Keep work areas and surfaces clean. If readily available, use disinfectant or household cleaning supplies to keep work surfaces and shared spaces clean. At this time, supplies for hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes are generally very limited. The college is currently working to try to obtain additional supplies and will provide more information when materials are available.
- Review and practice steps to avoid getting sick or spreading a virus. Follow the advice from the CDC.
Questions and Concerns Specific to COVID-19
If you become sick with symptoms consistent with COVID-19
If you are sick with symptoms such as a fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc., please stay at home and contact your health care provider to explore whether you should be tested for COVID-19. If you do not have any sufficient accumulated sick time, please talk with your supervisor and consult with Human Resources. We do not want anyone coming to work if they are sick because of concerns about their sick time. Human Resources will work with employees to provide support.
If you been exposed to someone who is sick with COVID-19, or if you live with someone who is sick with COVID-19
People who have been exposed to someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 should closely monitor their health and immediately contact their health care provider. If you develop symptoms that could be COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.) or if you have been advised by your healthcare provider or a local official that you may be contagious even before you are symptomatic, you should stay home from work and notify your supervisor. Human Resources will work with you and your supervisor to make arrangements to work remotely or to make other accommodations.
If you have a serious health condition and/or compromised immunity
COVID-19 is more dangerous to those who are on chemotherapy, have weakened hearts or diabetes, or who have conditions that impact their immune systems. Should COVID-19 be present in or close to our community, employees with conditions that make them more vulnerable may request to work remotely or some other accommodation by contacting Human Resources. We will have a confidential process for managing these type of requests.
Please keep in mind that in considering how to best plan, respond to issues and address specific questions, the college’s primary objective is to ensure that the college can continue operations as best as possible while also making certain that our staff are not negatively impacted, economically or otherwise, by this unprecedented situation. We fully understand that no one could have planned for this kind of a situation or the measures we have already had to put in place. The college is committed to identifying reasonable solutions and alternatives that allow us to continue to pay staff regardless of the situation.