Working Through COVID-19

As we all navigate this unprecedented situation with the COVID-19 outbreak, the Human Resources office is committed to assisting Mercer employees through this time.  The information provided in the sections below will hopefully assist you and answer some of the questions you may have.  Our office is available to answer any additional questions or provide you with direction on where to find those answers.  We will be adding additional content in the coming days, so please continue to check this website for further information.

Emotional/Physical Health & Well-being


When You Are Working Remotely


Technology Resources

  1. You access your Mercer email, calendar, address book, and tasks on any computer through a web browser.
  2. Visit the Office 365 sign in page: https://www.office.com
  3. Enter your email address in the Microsoft Sign in box. (e.g., Smith_JA@mercer.edu)
  4. Click Next.
  5. Enter your password in the Password field.
  6. Click Sign in.
  • You can explore additional technology resources on the IT website.

Managing a Remote Workforce

Technology needs and resources

  • Ensure employees know how to set up call forwarding and how to access their voicemail from home.
  • Determine which platform(s) your team will be using to communicate and clarify expectations for online availability. Mercer’s Information Technology office has further information on using Zoom and Microsoft Teams, which are great resources for connecting with your employees.
  • Confirm everyone has access to the technology tool(s) and resources.

Work schedules

  • Be clear about your expectations regarding whether employees maintain their current work hours or if you are open to flexible scheduling based on employee needs.
  • Let your employees know when you expect them to be available to respond to requests by phone and/or email.

Work plans

Review the following questions and work through answers together with your employees:

  • What routine responsibilities/tasks cannot be fulfilled while working remotely and how will it impact operations or other people? What are ways to reduce the impacts?
  • What routine responsibilities/tasks require regular communication and collaboration with others? Proactively contact each person to confirm how you will communicate while everyone is working remotely.
  • With fewer meeting and interruptions, more time may be freed up during the day. Are there any special projects or tasks that can be advanced while working remotely?
  • What events or meetings are scheduled during the time in which the temporary arrangement is in place? Will they be postponed or canceled, or will they take place using technology? What follow-up needs to occur due to postponements or cancellations?

Communication and accountability

  • Tell employees how often they should send updates on their work progress and what those updates should include.
  • Communicate how quickly they are expected to respond while teleworking and the best ways for the employee to contact their supervisor while working remotely. 
  • Maintain team meetings and one-on-one check-ins with employees whether they are working remotely or in the office.
  • Conduct regular check-ins. Start 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.
  • Be available to your employees. Have your phone nearby during working hours and set up messaging options like Microsoft Teams.
  • Model the behavior you expect of them.

Be positive

A positive attitude toward telecommuting and a willingness to trust employees to work remotely effectively is key to making such arrangements successful and productive. Telecommuting presents an opportunity for managers to become better supervisors. By focusing on employees successfully completing their work, supervisors will improve their organizational abilities and their own skill in managing through goal-setting and objectives.

Additional Resources

4 Tips for Keeping Your Newly Remote Team Engaged

A Guide to Managing Your (Newly) Remote Workers

Keep Your Team Productive

Leading Through Covid-19: Making Smart Decisions Amid Uncertainty

Virtual Presentations, Meetings Require New Approaches for Success

Using Sick/Vacation Leave

Employees who do not work their full schedule must take leave. The prior authorization to use any form of accrued leave and the advancement of up to 2 weeks of sick leave for those with insufficient leave accruals will end as of Friday, April 17th. Beginning Monday, April 20th, employees who need to take leave must do so in accordance with the University’s Sick/Vacation Leave policy

Employees must communicate with their supervisor when they will need to be absent from work for qualifying reasons under the sick leave policy or request vacation leave in advance. Also, employees should continue to use the appropriate leave code to track their leave usage on their timesheet or Bear Time report. 

Timesheets and Leave Reports

  • Non-exempt staff must track their time on an hourly basis. While most non-exempt employees are paid on the monthly payroll, some may be paid on the biweekly payroll. Completed timesheets should be sent to the Payroll office per the dates indicated in the pay schedules below.
  • Exempt staff only need to track their time away from work (i.e. vacation, sick, etc). Bear Time Leave Reports should be completed and sent back to BearTime@mercer.edu every month, even if you did not take any leave.
  • Faculty who are on a 12-month contract should contact their Dean's office for the policy and guidelines on tracking their leave.

Sick/Vacation Leave Balances
For non-faculty staff and administrators who submit timesheets or Bear Time reports, please go to https://mercerreports.mercer.edu/reports and log in with your Mercer username and password. Open the MyPayroll folder and click on the Vacation and Sick Leave Hours icon. This will display your vacation and sick leave balances as of the end of the previous pay period. If you are a supervisor, you will see the balances of the employees that report to you either directly or indirectly. Please note that any leave taken during the previous pay period may not yet be reflected in these balances.

Faculty should contact their department chair/Dean regarding tracking their vacation leave and to obtain their current leave balance.

For additional questions regarding leave accurals or leave usage, please contact the Benefits and Payroll Office.

Volunteer Opportunities
Consistent with our mission to serve, in your spare time, if you’re wondering how to chase boredom away and stay engaged, consider reaching out to others in our community that are in need. The United Way of Central Georgia, the United Way of Greater Atlanta and the United Way of the Coastal Empire supporting the Savannah area have provided several links to volunteer opportunities in the community related to COVID-19.

Making Face Masks for Yourself or to Donate

Activities To Do At Home
If you are going a little stir crazy, here are some things you can try! Or do you need some ideas for your kids? Give this link a look.