Successful teleworking requires clear expectations on availability, communication, performance, and outcomes. Clear, regular interaction between an employee and their leader creates an environment for employees to reach high performance while meeting the organizational objectives. This guide provides employees and leaders with a tool to establish expectations, maintain productive collaboration, reach desired outcomes.

Best Practices for Teleworking

  • Begin with trusting that “out-of-sight” employees are completing their work.
  • Set clear and specific expectations.
  • Agree on schedule of availability.
  • Determine modality of communication (email, Teams, Zoom, chat, phone, etc.) for the communication need.
  • Communicate about performance often and on a set schedule. Biweekly is the best practice.
  • Evaluate performance based on measurable results opposed to visual observations.

Step 1. Set SMART Performance Expectations

Employees and leaders should set performance expectations based on measurable outcomes that meet departmental objectives. This can be done using normal goal setting processes that are regularly completed during the annual performance review process and/or by identifying periodic deliverables (monthly, quarterly, etc.). It is the best practice for these expectations to be in writing. A template for setting performance expectations is (included at the end of this document.

Step 2. Set Logistical Expectations

Employees and leaders should use the (“Teleworking MOU”) to set expectations, including but not limited to, work schedules, in-person availability, availability, communications, and location. It may also be necessary to identify what factors could alter the agreement, e.g., needing to be on-site for specific meetings/events. Logistical expectations should be determined by the needs to meet departmental and individual performance objectives.

Step 3. Regular Performance Discussions

Leaders and employees should have regular, scheduled discussions about performance. Meeting biweekly and via video conference or in-person are best practices. Meetings should take from 30-45 minutes and will become more efficient over time. Leaders and employees should both be prepared and expected to speak about half of the time, while actively listening the other half of the time.

  • 75% of the time discussing work objectives, outcomes, and roadblocks
  • 20% of the time discussing communication and logistical concerns or successes
  • 5% reviewing follow-up actions for the employee and the leader and confirming the next scheduled meeting

A performance discussion tool is provided (below or link). Employees should complete the tool prior to the regularly scheduled meeting with the supervisor. These forms should be saved for future reference and annual performance reviews.

Step 4. Foster Meaningful Connections

Remote workers may feel disconnected from the team at times. It is important for managers to build positive relationships with and between team members and, for hybrid teams, it may require thinking differently than in the past.

First, make yourself available to team members, keep them ‘in the know’ and respond to requests for guidance or information timely. Remember to ask for input and listen to your team. Be sure to share positive feedback related to the individual’s work. Celebrate team successes and milestones. Discuss work life balance and emphasize the need for down time. Don’t forget about professional development and stretch opportunities for remote workers. Encourage team to utilize collaboration tools to engage and connect with each other.

Performance Discussion Tool

This performance conversation tool is designed to provide an outline for leaders and employees during regularly scheduled meetings evaluating objectives, outcomes, communication, and support.

Employee Name:
Supervisor Name:
Meeting Date:

Prior Objectives (Old Business)

ObjectiveStatusSuccessRoadblocksSupport Needed

Current Objectives (New Business)

ObjectiveStatusSuccessRoadblocksSupport Needed

Communication & Logistics

  • What communication methods (txt, chat, email, Teams, etc.) are working well?
  • What communication methods need improvement?
  • How does the current working modality (remote, hybrid, in-person) allow you to feel engaged and meet your performance objectives?
  • What is needed to improve engagement with co-workers, customers, the community or me?
  • What tools or technology would support you in meeting your objectives?
  • Is the frequency and content of this conversation meeting your needs? How should we adjust?
  • What do you need from me?