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Flexible work arrangements

What is work flexibility?

Flexible work arrangements are any arrangements that provide an employee alternatives to working regularly scheduled hours in the office or typical work location. Flexibility can be accomplished without changing a department’s regular hours of operation or altering the responsibility or authority of supervisors. We suggest the following principles for workplace flexibility (as defined by the When Work Works project from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation):

  • Flexibility is a management tool that can help get the job done, not an employee perk or accommodation.
  • Flexibility can be used by employees in a range of jobs or levels.
  • Employees’ reasons for wanting flexibility should not matter unless required by law as a reasonable accommodation.
  • Not everyone wants flexible arrangements.
  • Flexibility should be applied creatively.
  • Flexible work arrangements can be short-term or long-term.

Flexible work arrangement form

This form is intended to help both the supervisor and the employee have a clear, shared understanding of the employee’s flex work arrangement. Each arrangement is unique depending on the needs of the position and employee. The form is not a contract of employment and does not alter the at-will status of any university employee.

Access the Telework arrangement form | PDF version

If you are having trouble accessing or completing the  form, please contact your campus IT department. If you have questions about how to complete this form, please contact your HR Business Partner/Consultant or unit leader.


Please choose one of the below options to uncover additional information.

Why flexible work?

For the university

Pros

  • Rich talent pipeline
  • Reduced real estate cost
  • Appeal to workforce (recruitment and retention)
  • Reduced absenteeism, health insurance costs

Cons

  • Managing various work options
  • Security threats
  • Technology gaps

 

For the employee

Pros

  • Flexibility and lower stress
  • Work-life integration, improved satisfaction and wellness
  • Commute time and cost savings
  • Control over schedule and environment

Cons

  • Lack of workplace social interaction and feelings of isolation
  • Potential burnout

 

 

Guidelines for flexible work

This information is designed to support departments in exploring flexible work arrangements. The university is a complex organization and no one practice can be appropriate for all situations. These guidelines are provided to assist you in determining the feasibility of flex arrangements within your area.

  • Flexible work arrangements should support the mission, goals and functional role of the employee, department and university. The ultimate decision to approve flexible work arrangements rests with the supervisor.
  • Consider the needs of your whole team and encourage team-based thinking about how to meet employees needs for flexibility.
  • Check with HR when developing a flex arrangement outside of the ones described on this page to make sure it meets requirements of applicable wage and hour laws.
  • Determine which employees are interested in a flexible work arrangement to determine feasibility of all requests while ensuring department coverage.
  • Clearly communicate employee performance expectations and hours that an employee will be working when establishing your plan.
  • Once you’ve approved a flexible work arrangement, check in regularly to see if the arrangement is working (at least every six months).

Note: Flexible work arrangement guidelines and related information are not intended to serve as policy. If there is a conflict between information in any flexible work arrangement documents and information contained in benefit plan documents, contracts, HR Policy, or the Collected Rules and Regulations, the flexible work arrangement documents defer to the controlling legal documents.

 

Types of Flexible Work Arrangements

Telework arrangements

Part or all of one or more work days/weeks may be completed from a remote location. Due to the nature of the regulations set forth by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), supervisors must use caution if they are going to permit non-exempt employees to work remotely.

Examples

  • An employee can work at home Monday and Tuesday every week.
  • An employee can work from the library on Thursdays and work from home on Friday.

Recommendations

  • When possible, schedule staff meetings during a time in the schedule when all employees are available (in person or virtually).
  • Employees should ensure they have adequate technology connectivity to perform all required work activities.
  • Employees are responsible for protecting University records and information from unauthorized disclosure or damage while teleworking, as well as complying with all other university rules, regulations, and policies while teleworking, including but not limited to HR-106 Reporting Hours Worked, HR-211 Overtime, HR-409 Work-Incurred Injury or Illness, HR-507 Conflict of Interest, and HR-518 Computer Utilization. Access these resources and learn more in HR-522 Telework Arrangements.

Flexible work schedule

Flexible times of day employees can start and stop work while maintaining awareness of what core hours need to be maintained. This arrangement must not cause or contribute to the need for additional staff or for overtime hours.

Examples

  • Some employees within the department may choose to work a 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. schedule with a half-hour lunch break while others may have an 8:30 a.m. -5:30 p.m. schedule with an hour lunch.
  • Individualized start and quit times may vary daily. However, the same number of hours are worked every day.
  • Individualized start and quit times with varied daily hours but consistency in the total number of hours worked every week.
  • Shortened lunch period to leave earlier than the standard workday.

Recommendations

  • When possible, schedule staff meetings during a time in the schedule when all employees are available (in person or virtually).
  • Consider overtime and other implications when requiring employees to attend events outside of their alternative work schedule.

Compressed work week

Employees work 40 hours per week in less than five days (e.g., a four-day, ten-hour schedule).

Recommendations

  • When possible, schedule staff meetings during a time in the schedule when all employees are available (in person or virtually).
  • Consider overtime and other implications when requiring employees to attend events outside of their work schedule.
  • As with a normal work schedule, encourage employees to schedule outside appointments, etc. during their days off.
  • When absent a whole day, employees must report time used equivalent to their compressed work schedule (e.g., missing one day of a four-day, ten-hour schedule means 10 hours would be reported).
  • All regular staff members receive paid time off for designated university holidays. During weeks where paid holidays occur, the work schedule must be adjusted so the eight hours of holiday pay does not result in hours beyond an employee’s standard hours.
  • See HR-217 Emergency Closure and Suspension of Operations regarding emergency closures.
 

Planning and Tips for Supervisors

Is telework work right for my team?

While many faculty and staff are required to be on-site for their work, when necessary and feasible, supervisors are encouraged to provide telework options to those whose job duties can be performed remotely without disrupting university operations.

If you need support as you determine whether an employee is ready for a flexible work arrangement, use the assessment below to find out.

 

Strongly disagree

(1 pt.)

Disagree

(2 pt.)

Agree

(3 pt.)

Strongly Agree

(4 pt.)

The employee can manage work responsibilities by planning ahead.        
The employee can manage work responsibilities by prioritizing what's important.        
The employee regularly meets deadlines.        
The employee can problem solve and resolve issues independently.        
The employee is focused and productive when working.        
The employee communicates well with you and keeps you informed.        
The employee is a team player.        
The employee communicates well with coworkers and keeps them informed.        
The employee is prepared to meet the level of availability and responsiveness required to meet the university's needs.        
The employee understands how their work requirements contribute to the university's success.        
The employee understands the results they are responsible for.        

 

Calculate the total points by combining the points for each rating. Your employees overall score will determine the category that person falls into, below.

Invest in the employee (score 0-27)

  • Identify reasons this employee may not be ready
  • Discuss needed areas of improvement
  • Work with the employee on goal setting
  • Recommend additional training
  • Be open to considering another request

Growing every day (score 28-38)

  • Review areas where the employee can improve
  • Provide ongoing feedback
  • Ensure that the employee keeps communication channels open
  • Ensure the employee demonstrates improved productivity

You've got it (score 39-44)

  • The employee has the organization, time management and communication skills he or she needs to work flexibly

Managing telework

Now that you have determined telework is feasible for your employees, follow these tips to set up a foundation for productivity and success.

  1. Review telework policies. Make sure you understand all telework-related policies and guidelines. Employees who will be working remotely should review and understand remote work IT resources. Help employees to identify the applications and files they will need access to while working remotely. Encourage employees to test out their equipment at home to make sure their access works as expected.
  2. Review employee work schedules and draft a plan. Telework should not be confused with flex scheduling. It is important to be clear about expectations for employees to maintain their regular work schedule or if you are open to flexible hours. If the position requires customer service, ensure that appropriate coverage is provided.
  3. Develop an accountability plan. Employees with a telework arrangement should be able to effectively accomplish their regular job duties, regardless of work location. As a supervisor, you should be clear that all aspects of their job duties should continue, and that employees are expected to be productive while teleworking. Monitoring performance includes both measuring performance and providing feedback.
  4. Enable and encourage ongoing communication. Make a communication plan and share it with your team. Continuing your normal meeting schedule with staff who are teleworking helps employees to stay connected with you and their colleagues, and helps keep a positive routine.  For example, if you normally have a daily check-in, continue to have that time set aside as a Zoom meeting or call.
  5. Stay positive! A positive attitude is essential to making telework arrangements successful. Recognize employees for their performance. Giving a shout out during a Zoom meeting with staff helps to promote positivity and encouragement.

 

Additional information and support are available through our UM Telework Planning Guide.

 

Tips for Employees

Are you ready to work remotely?

Employees who telework often learn that working remotely is different than they expected and that it requires specific skills and habits. If you're ready to start planning flexible work, review the steps below to help ensure your success.

  1. Define your workspace. Establishing a defined workspace is critical in helping you stay organized and keep your focus when it's time to work. Find a space in your home with good lighting, a door you can close and a comfortable chair. 
  2. Setup your technology and give it a test run. Think about the files and applications you need, make sure you follow our security standards and check out the university's remote work resources.
  3. Set daily goals and share them . Schedule check-ins with colleagues or a supervisor so you can update them on your work and productivity. 
  4. Eliminate distractions. Closing a door, hanging a “do not disturb” sign, or wearing headphones are ways to eliminate distractions. Boundaries need to be established if others will also be home while you work. 
  5. Stay Connected. It is easy to feel disconnected when working at home. Plan to touch base with your colleagues or supervisor regularly. 
 

Training and additional support

The university is committed to supporting employees and supervisors in all working arrangements. Training resources are available for supervisors who are managing employees as they utilize flexible work arrangements as well as those employees who are using flex work options. When selecting a training option below, be prepared to log into myLearn with your university SSO information. For questions or additional assistance, please contact your Human Resources Partner.

Employee training

Supervisor training

Additional information and answers to specific questions can be found on the Telework Human Resources Q&A.

 
 

Note: Flexible work arrangement guidelines and related information are not intended to serve as policy. If there is a conflict between information in any flexible work arrangement documents and information contained in benefit plan documents, contracts, HR Policy, or the Collected Rules and Regulations, the flexible work arrangement documents defer to the controlling legal documents.

Reviewed 2021-03-26