UCF’s commitment to safely and effectively meet the public health challenge presented by COVID-19 extends to ensuring university employees may work from home, where determined appropriate, or another remote location whenever necessary in the coming weeks. Remote working (also known as telecommuting) arrangements are not new, but because they may be unfamiliar to employees and supervisors who have never done so, this resource will help you and your team navigate potential remote working scenarios. These arrangements must be approved by the department/college head or designee in collaboration with the respective HR lead of the department/unit or Central HR and may be modified at any time.
Included in this remote working resource page, you will find guidance for supervisors, employees and departments designed to help set up temporary remote work arrangements quickly and successfully.
Remote Work FAQs
Do I need permission to work remotely?
The Florida Board of Governors, which oversees state universities, has directed UCF, along with the state’s other public universities, to extend our period of remote learning through the end of the spring semester. This important and necessary action will protect the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.
Faculty and staff who are working remotely should expect to continue to do so for the immediate weeks ahead. We will continue to keep you informed about remote working guidelines as decisions are made about campus operations for the remainder of the spring semester.
Some employees will be required to be on campus because they support remote learning, campus operations, and other areas. It is supervisors’ responsibility to appropriately determine which employees have duties that don’t allow them to work remotely.
For positions that are able to work remotely, employees and supervisors should review the COVID-19 Emergency Remote Work Procedure and file the Remote Work Agreement with UCF Human Resources. Remote work can then begin immediately.
What is remote work?
Remote work is a work arrangement in which some, or all, of the work is performed from home or another off-site location. In general, regular office hours are worked and deviations from that schedule require supervisor approval.
Which jobs are suited for remote work?
Remote work is easiest to implement for jobs or tasks that require reading, writing, research, working with data and talking on the phone. In general, and at leadership’s discretion, a job is suited to remote working if the job or some components of it can be done off-site without disruption to the flow of work and communication.
Which jobs are not as well suited for remote work?
It is not uncommon to require employees in positions needing in-person contact/customer service or that rely upon specific equipment or supplies to work on site. Management and/or supervisory roles may be excluded from consideration for remote working arrangements unless a department finds such an arrangement practical in meeting job responsibilities. Some jobs that may not seem appropriate at first may be modified, with your college or division HR lead’s approval so that employees can work remotely.
As a supervisor, how can I make sure I'm managing remote employees effectively?
Remote work works best when employees and supervisors communicate clearly about expectations. The following checklist will help you establish a foundation for effective remote working, continued productivity, and service to the University community.
1. Review technology needs and resources.
Identify technology tools employees use in their daily work and determine whether the resources will be accessible when working from home. Also, ensure employees know how to access the appropriate technical support, should they need assistance.
- Confirm that employees know how to set up call forwarding and how to access their voicemail from home, if available. The UCF Cell Phone Policy may apply.
- Determine which platform(s) you will use to communicate as a team, clarify expectations for online availability and confirm everyone has access to the technology tool(s). UCF employees have free access to Skype for Business, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and your department may have additional tools or resources.
- Ensure alternative worksite safety.
2. Review work schedules.
Remote working can be confused with flex work. Be clear about your expectations with employees for maintaining their current work schedule or if you are open to flexible scheduling based on employee needs.
- For employees who are eligible for overtime, certain activities — such as travel to and from required meetings that occur during scheduled work time — are included as hours worked.
- OPS employees should continue to work, as long as there is work available, as agreed to by department/college head and HR lead. Timesheets or LAPERS will be managed through email as attachments to ensure employees will be paid for their remote work leave and hours worked. Submit LAPERs and timesheets to your supervisor and payroll processor.
3. Draft a work plan.
Review the questions below with employees and work through answers together.
- What routine responsibilities/tasks cannot be fulfilled while working remotely and how will it impact operations or other people? What are ways to reduce any identified impacts?
- Are there cross-training opportunities to identify backup employees who can do critical work within or between departments? Plan for employee absences.
- What key processes have been identified for each area/or department? Will there be specific platform access necessary to fulfill these processes?
- What routine responsibilities/tasks require regular communication and collaboration with others? Proactively contact each other to confirm how you will communicate while everyone is working remotely.
- Are there critical work activities that are vulnerable to the absence of a small number of key employees?
- Identify which teams or individuals have limited or no experience with remote work.
- What training will be necessary for remote work tools and technology?
- Identify and agree on strategic priorities during this time.
- Implement a test exercise to test your plan.
- Oftentimes employees experience fewer interruptions while working remotely. Are there any special projects, tasks, or online training that you can advance while working remotely?
- What events or meetings are scheduled during the time in which the temporary remote working arrangement is in place? Will they be postponed or canceled, or will they take place using technology?
- What follow-up should occur due to postponements or cancellations? What circumstances require on-site attendance?
- Identify employees who may need special requirements or currently have work accommodations, and plan accordingly.
- Identify employees who will have access to the building, labs, or facilities.
- Provide resources or the process for technical support.
4. Make a communication and accountability plan.
Supervisors should tell employees how often they should send updates on work plan progress and what those updates should include. Supervisors should also communicate how quickly they expect the employee to respond and the best ways for the employee to contact the supervisor while working remotely. Current performance standards are expected to be maintained by employees.
- If you normally make daily rounds to visit employees at their desks, you can give them a call during this period. Maintain team meetings and one-to-one check-ins, altering the schedule if needed to accommodate any alternative schedules that have been approved.
- Conduct regular check-ins. Consider starting each workday with a phone, video, or instant message chat. Your employees will be eager for connection and information during the disruption, and the structure will help everyone create a positive routine. Every other day or weekly check-ins may be fine, so long as you are in contact frequently enough that your employees are in sync with you and/or with one another.
- Prepare an emergency communication plan. Identify key contacts (with backups), chains of communications for tracking business and employee statuses.
5. Be positive.
A positive attitude and a willingness to trust employees to effectively work remotely is key to making such arrangements successful and productive. Working remotely presents an opportunity for supervisors to become better managers. Instead of focusing on how many hours your employees are working, re-emphasize a focus on measuring results and reaching objectives—regardless of work arrangement. The employee’s completed work product is the indicator of success, rather than direct observation. By focusing on the employee’s work product, supervisors will improve their organizational abilities and their own skill in managing by objectives.
6. Debrief after normal operations resume.
Employees and supervisors should review work plans when work returns to normal, assess progress on the employee’s work plan and prioritize any unresolved or new work that resulted from temporary operational disruption.
What are some tips for working remotely?
Define your workspace
Establishing a workspace, even if it is your kitchen table, gives your brain a cue that it is time for work. Wearing the same attire you do to the office even if it is your “casual Friday,” may be a helpful cue. You should remain capable of reporting to work if your presence is requested by your supervisor.
Master the basics
- Set up call forwarding, and be sure you know how to access your voicemail from home, if available. The university’s cell phone policy may be applicable.
- Know how to remote into the UCF network and other online tools you use regularly.
- Use Skype for Business, Zoom or another instant messaging client to stay connected to colleagues. Additional support for campus employees can be found at it.ucf.edu/faculty-and-staff-support
- Plan for video calls/meetings by making sure you know how to turn on your computer’s camera (if available) and microphone and being aware your colleagues may be able to see the background behind you.
Set daily goals, track them and share your progress
Consider starting each day of remote work by writing down what you need to accomplish and then tracking your progress. Pay attention to how long tasks take you and start adjusting your daily goals to match your current rhythm. Communicate with your supervisor and/or colleagues if you think your telecommuting plan needs to be adjusted.
Home can mean pets, children or a favorite hobby are only a few feet away. Depending on your living arrangement, you may need to hang a “do not disturb” sign so your family members don’t interrupt you. Pets often need a closed door to keep them away, and you might need headphones to block the noise.
Whether you are in your home or a common area, take five minutes to assess the privacy of your workspace. Can someone standing behind you read your computer screen? Are your windows open so your neighbor can hear your phone call? What information do you need to secure before grabbing a cup of coffee or heading to the restroom?
Your personal privacy matters too, so see if there is anything around you that you would not want visible during a video conference with your boss or colleague. Keep in mind the work employees do while working remotely, even on their personal devices for University work conducted, remains subject to University and other applicable regulations including Public Records law, FS 119.
Continue to employ best security practices
Situations like these are prime phishing opportunities. Remain vigilant for security concerns and be sure to report suspicious emails as recommended by the UCF Security Incident Response Team (SIRT).
- Caution needs to be taken when dealing with personal health information (“PHI”) and HIPAA matters while working from home or another off-site location. If you have questions, contact your department/division HIPAA officer or HR Lead.
- VPNs can also allow you to safely connect to a remote network of computers as if you are there. If you are dealing with sensitive information and want to explore VPN, you can learn more on the UCF IT UCF Virtual Private Network (VPN) Access page.
- Additional information can be found within the UCF Faculty and Staff Guide for Working Remotely.
- You are expected to follow the telecommuting equipment safeguards outlined in the university’s Telecommuting Manual.
Many people say they do not call or instant message colleagues who are working remotely because they don’t want to bother them. Remember, they are working, not vacationing at home. You should feel confident about calling or messaging an employee who is working remotely anytime you would walk to their office or call them if you were working on-site.
Which factors should departments/units consider when determining if remote work is possible?
- Operational requirements
- Security of work data
- Technological capabilities and equipment necessary to perform job duties
- Accuracy of records reflecting time worked by non-exempt employees
My department is still doing some work on campus. What should we consider as we transition to working remotely?
Supervisors and employees should discuss whether some or all of a position’s duties may be performed remotely. If so, they should review the COVID-19 Emergency Remote Work Procedure and submit the Remote Work Agreement to UCF Human Resources. Remote work can then begin immediately.
UCF IT provides multiple resources for working remotely and has put together a helpful guide as you start thinking about your personal and departmental plans.
If I work from home as a result of the coronavirus, will UCF reimburse my internet and phone bill?
Consistent with the university’s telecommuting manual, we will reimburse for high-speed internet when employees incur additional costs to their personal home internet access. For example, if an employee does not have high-speed internet access, the university will reimburse for the installation and monthly service for a dedicated business-related access line for the pro-rata time period in which the employee works from home. If the employee has personal internet access and incurs additional costs associated with working remotely such as increased data needs or bandwidth, the university will reimburse for the pro-rata time period in which the employee is working from home. If employees already have access to high-speed internet and will use the same access for university business and incurs no additional costs, no reimbursements will be paid. Departments may temporarily assign Wi-Fi hotspots to employees while they are working remotely, if available.
Cell phone reimbursements will be paid according to the UCF Policy 4-009. We encourage departments to limit reimbursements to only additional costs employees may incur while working remotely.
Can faculty and staff return to campus to get their belongings?
Yes. If you are an employee who will be working remotely either all or part of the time while the university is encouraging remote work options, then you can come to campus to collect the items from your office that you need to work effectively.
People are not banned from campus at this time; however, conditions may change as this situation develops. Right now, the university’s goal is to reduce campus traffic and reduce campus population, which is why many employees are temporarily authorized to work from home.
Many campus buildings will be locked to avoid entry by members of the public, but after-hours ‘swipe-in’ access (for those buildings that have it) will be functioning. If your building is not generally accessible to you after hours, then you will need to make arrangements for someone to let you into the building.
Can student employees work remotely from home?
Yes, if their supervisor deems that remote is feasible and can provide adequate supervision for the student.
In addition, according to updated guidance from the U.S. Department of Education on Federal Work-Study (FWS), FWS students may be paid even if they are unable to work this term due to COVID-19. This is great news for our students who rely on this federal aid.
As always, the hours that students work should be documented on a timesheet and submitted to payroll for normal processing. UCF Human Resources will be communicating directly with departmental payroll processors and authorizers about how to pay FWS students who are unable to work.
All students who work remotely need approval from their supervisor and must submit a COVID-19 Emergency Remote Work Agreement.
Can I work remotely if I am ill?
Communication with your supervisor is more important than ever when you are working remotely. You should keep your supervisor informed about your health status and decide together whether you are well enough to work remotely or need to use accrued leave to cover any hours not worked.
What’s most important to starting a productive remote work arrangement?
Clearly outlined and executed remote work arrangements can prove beneficial to employees and supervisors alike. Supervisors should articulate clear procedures regarding check-in times and hours of availability. With proper planning, communication problems can be minimized.
How do I complete the I-9 form if I’m working remotely?
Per federal regulations, the employer must physically examine original documents presented by the employee in order to complete the I-9 form. However, the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE), has issued a press release providing some flexibility to the requirements
Effective March 27, 2020, as Orange County has issued an emergency stay at home order, UCF hiring departments may follow the procedure outlined in the above press release.
Please note the following options:
1. Schedule an appointment with the new hire and come into UCF for a brief time to complete the I-9 form.
2. Coordinate with another colleague who is not working remotely who has access to the electronic I-9 system to meet with the new hire for completion of the I-9 form. Confer with your department to ensure that you have appropriate back-up support in your department.
3. Office of Human Resources has contracted with our I-9 Vendor, Equifax Workforce Solutions, for a remote I-9 option. There is a cost of $45/per I-9 form charged to the department. If your department selects this option, complete the form and submit to Garnette.Garricks@ucf.edu.
I have been directed to work on campus as an essential employee during the Orange County Stay at Home Order. May I choose to go home if I don’t want to be exposed to a sick coworker?
With supervisory approval you may leave work; however, you must use your own accrued sick or annual leave or request an absence without pay, unless your illness qualifies under the federal Families First Act, in which case you may be eligible for emergency leave pay. Alternatively, with your supervisor’s approval, making up the work in the same workweek or working a different schedule may be options available to you.
My child’s school is closed due to an incident of the coronavirus and my child is not sick. I have no other child care arrangements. Can I work remotely with my child at home?
Bringing a child to work is not recommended or advisable whether you are working remotely or on site. However, we recognize the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 emergency and understand that working remotely with your child may be possible, and in some cases, necessary. Decisions can be made on a case-by-case basis by your department head or designee.
If you are not able to work remotely with your child, the following options are available, although not all options will be available in all situations depending upon the nature of your job responsibilities:
- Use accrued sick or annual leave, due to the threat of exposure to illness.
- Make up the work on an hour-for-hour basis during the same workweek for non-exempt (hourly paid) employees with supervisory approval. UCF’s workweek begins at 12:00 a.m. on Friday and ends at 11:59 p.m. on the following Thursday.
- Exempt employees may make-up the work on an hour-for-hour basis during the same pay period with supervisory approval, or if absent for a full workday, may use accrued leave.
- Request a Leave of Absence (annual leave usage for pay) or Leave of Absence (without pay) if you will be out more than 10 days.
- Use a combination of the options above.
Please note that on March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law and will become effective on April 2, 2020. University leadership is now working to understand how this new law may apply to UCF employees. More information will be provided when it becomes available, so please check back for details in the coming days.
I have a lot of questions. Where can I go for more information?
The COVID-19 emergency is an unprecedented situation that is developing rapidly. Employees and supervisors alike have a lot of questions, so it is critical to keep lines of communication open and be patient with each other as we move forward together into uncharted territory.
Employees are encouraged to reach out to UCF Human Resources with questions about working remotely, benefits, and leave. HR is continuously updating its COVID-19 Information page with answers to new questions and available resources as we respond to the COVID-19 situation.
Critical updates and information are available on the UCF Coronavirus website.
- Coronavirus FAQs