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Working remotely is a new reality for much of UAB’s campus workforce, but a number of UAB IT employees have been successfully working remotely for a number of years. They offered some tips on working at home to help ease the transition for colleagues.

Refer to the remote work technology toolkit for the apps and services you need to work from anywhere, or to LinkedIn Learning for training and other resources. Want more tips? Check out the special remote working edition of podcast, TechKnow.

Meet with your family to set expectations.

During the current novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, many of us are sheltering at home with kids. The unique circumstance adds more pressure, but families can co-exist even when mom or dad is working. “Start with communicating what is going on,” said Michelle Zaiz, an applications engineer for UAB IT who has been a teleworker for nearly 20 years. “For kids, special toys and activities they get only when you are working can be helpful.”

Maintain regular hours.

And publish your office hours to colleagues. While the current limited business model at UAB has some people working harder to ease the transition, try to set a schedule and stick to it. Schedule breaks so that you can walk away from your computer screen or get some fresh air. The UAB School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery also has some mental health tips for those of us adjusting to the new normal.

Designate a separate area in your home as a home office.

Don’t work from your living room or an area that may be distracting. For those who don’t typically have a workspace at home, simply designate certain activities for work versus personal time. PC Magazine recommends that when you have a laptop hooked up to a monitor and keyboard, it’s work time, and when it’s on your lap, it’s personal time.

Connect with colleagues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams offer teleconferencing options, and both are free for UAB employees. Teams gives you the opportunity to chat with employees and collaborate in a number of ways. Just scheduling a video call with colleagues can help you maintain some social connections when most people are sheltering at home. But keep in mind these tips for video call etiquette.

Keep everyone in the loop.

With entire departments working from home, look for ways to continue communicating. During the limited business model, UAB IT has created a special Microsoft Team to archive daily updates from Vice President and CIO Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D., and links to important resources for UAB. On campus, UAB IT has digital signs in its buildings; the messages that play on those signs can also be accessed on the department’s internal SharePoint page so that anyone can access them, even from home.

Maintain a separate phone number.

If you have a VoIP (voice over IP) phone at UAB, you can download the Jabber app for your mobile device or computer so that you can answer calls that go to your desk phone. Forwarding your desk phone number to another number should be used only in critical business situations, to reserve capacity for healthcare needs.

Stay secure.

Use a secure internet connection, and remain vigilant about the potential for phishing attacks and other cybersecurity threats. During the limited business model, use a VPN only to access those systems or data that require it to help preserve capacity.