A guide to managing and working remotely


The Defence Team guide for managing and working remotely

April 29, 2020 – Defence Stories

During this unprecedented period, flexibility is a necessity in order to ensure the safety and well-being of all employees and to achieve Department of National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces (DND/CAF) objectives. Pre-existing policies, guidance and tools may no longer be applicable in this new environment. We are committed to offering the best possible guidance and information to support managers and employees as they continue to contribute to the DND/CAF mission in the most effective way.

The following are key elements in managing and performing work remotely during this period.

Define new ways of working, focus on collaboration and outcomes

  • Managers must make every effort to provide their teams with clear guidance and direction. It may be necessary to regularly revisit understanding of priorities as they may shift quickly and often.

  • Reconfirm the hours of work of your employees and be flexible in your expectations. Define work objectives to ensure achievable results/outcomes within reasonable timelines.

  • You are encouraged to establish “Interim Agreements” with your employees to help clarify work objectives and priorities. Establish clear guidelines on best ways of communicating and collaborating within the team and with clients. Make sure employees have the right tools to do their best work.

  • Use this opportunity to foster and enhance collaboration and teamwork. Discuss and develop team goals, making sure each employee understands how they contribute to these goals.

  • Treasury Board Secretariat has suspended deadlines for the completion of 2019-2020 employee performance reviews. You should not access the Public Service Performance Management Application (PSMP App) to complete assessments but you are encouraged to have performance conversations with your employees, based on past performance, and to set new expectations. Focus on the strengths that they have demonstrated in the past that will help them work effectively through this challenging time.

Maintain connection and establish effective communication

  • The power of teamwork and collaboration is fuelled by strong, frequent communication and engagement. Working remotely presents unique challenges but learning to use new tools and technology will ensure you are setting your team up for success. Reinforce the importance of interpersonal and organizational connection within the team and beyond.

  • Consider how to optimize the use of shared calendars, email and virtual and collaboration tools for quick and efficient online dialogue between colleagues. Whenever possible, use video communications to enhance the sense of connection.

  • Assistant Deputy Minister (Information Management) (ADM(IM)) has begun rolling out the Defence O365, a Microsoft (MS) Office suite of tools for the DND/CAF to support teleworking and collaboration. The suite includes MS Teams, OneDrive, Outlook, and other familiar tools like Word and Excel. More information will be communicated soon.

  • Ensure all team members (yourself included) are comfortable with using new communication and collaboration tools – if they are not, support their learning efforts and encourage more tech-savvy team members to share their knowledge to build the team’s ability to leverage technology.

  • For help getting started or working with and maximizing virtual collaboration tools, connect with the Learning and Career Centres for advice and training. Support is available for both managers and employees at all stages of learning.

  • Be as responsive to direct reports or colleagues as you expect them to be with you.

Support employee wellbeing

  • If an employee has symptoms while teleworking, urge them to self-assess to determine whether they may need further assessment. If they are diagnosed with COVID-19, tell them to call their care provider or a local public health authority.

  • Check in regularly with your employees to gauge their physical and emotional well-being.

  • Identify moments to demonstrate regular gratitude to team members for their dedication and work effort, helping employees to feel valued and appreciated.

  • Encourage employees to talk about their issues and concerns. Be prepared to listen, express empathy, and take action to address needs as quickly as possible.

  • If warranted, suggest relevant resources such as the Employee Assistance Program and LifeSpeak.

Reinforce health and safety

  • Your employees’ health and safety is very important. Review these helpful Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS) tools:

  • Ensure they have access to useful information to help them know how to prevent injury while teleworking.

  • If an employee is injured while teleworking, they must report it immediately to you. You must, in turn, report the incident through the established workplace injury process. 

  • Only critical service employees are permitted on DND premises at this time.

  • Encourage your employees to use this Guide for Ergonomic or Support Equipment for Telework to determine whether they can pick up the equipment In order to qualify, they must:

    • Be a DND/CAF personnel who provides a critical function

    • Already have ergonomic equipment assigned to them at work

    • Require the equipment to conduct work

    • Have your approval to use their ergonomic equipment at home.   

  • Remember to track the equipment being removed and coordinate with building control authorities and security to approve or facilitate access in safe manner.

  • If an employee requires other peripherals like printers and scanners as part of their work requirements, they will need to know that this is to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

  • Consult DND/CAF Security Guide for Teleworking during the COVID-19 Response, for how to work remotely securely, and contact you L1 Cloud representative to be onboarded on the Defence O365.

Learning and development

  • The Canada School of Public Service (CSPS) is open again for online courses. As you or your team gains skills and comfort in working remotely, encourage online training to help upskill your workforce and achieve team outcomes. Priority learning themes are: HR-to-Pay Stabilization, Healthy Workplaces, Diversity and Inclusion.

  • The CSPS also offers second language maintenance tools. Take this opportunity to improve your second language skills.

For all your HR-related questions, please contact HR Connect HR at 1-833-RHR-MDND (1-833-747-6363).

Additional resources

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