General

Whether you are an employee or a supervisor, the first step is to review the policies, procedures, and agreements associated with Flexible Work. The next step is to develop a proposal and discuss it with your supervisor and/or department head.

During the discussion, ascertain whether the arrangement is feasible and how it would impact the department. Bear in mind that sometimes it may be best to start with a modest proposal and then move to a more significant change after assessing its impact.

Once an agreement has been reached between the employee and supervisor, all appropriate paperwork (including necessary signatures) needs to be complete.

Beginning March 2019, Flexible Work Agreements can be submitted online using Dynamic Forms. All flexible work options are combined in one form and can be accessed at any time.

Employees complete this form online and can have it automatically sent to supervisors and department heads for signatures.

To aid this transition, we created a walk through video, which can be accessed below.

You can access your pending, completed, or previous forms at any time on the Dynamic Forms site by clicking “Pending/Draft Forms” (for pending agreements) and “Forms History” (for completed and previous agreements) on the homepage.

Yes. When an employee fills out a Flexible Work Agreement, they may attach any additional documentation needed using the upload feature, located under the “Additional Comments” box on the form.

Yes. After the 90-day trial period, the agreement is renewed annually keeping in mind that it can be terminated at any time by a supervisor or the employee with reasonable notice. Reviews can occur more frequently at the discretion of the department, the supervisor, and/or the employee.

The Flexible Work policy (University Policy Number 2202) requires that all new Flexible Work Agreements undergo a 90-day trial period. After the trial period, the agreement is reviewed and modified if necessary. Subsequent reviews and renewals should be conducted annually.

Yes. Supervisors and employees can change or terminate a Flexible Work arrangement. If the employee wishes to modify or end a Flexible Work Agreement, the employee must provide at least 5 business days’ notice. Management will provide at least 5 business days’ notice if the Flexible Work Agreement is to be terminated.

The first priority for both supervisors and employees is that their departments and offices have appropriate staffing. Should something unexpected happen, a supervisor may have to alter a Flexible Work arrangement on short notice. This is why everyone involved should be sensitive to the needs of their colleagues, department, and university.

Yes. Flexible Work is not mandatory, universal, nor an entitlement. The goal is to create a win-win situation that effectively balances the needs of the department and its employees. Flexible Work arrangements work best when they contribute positively to employees’ work/life balance, while not negatively impacting their productivity and availability. Supervisors need to assess the impact of Flexible Work arrangements on their department’s continuity of operations, customer service, and goals when making scheduling decisions.

In many cases, Flexible Work is a successful option but not always. The key to making it successful is flexibility on the part of both the employee and the department. Staffing, work flow, project demands, and the kind of position you have all impact Flexible Work arrangements.

Flexible Work is never going to allow everyone in a department to work a compressed schedule of four 10-hour days with every Friday off, but it may allow everyone a chance to take a day off with the right arrangement.

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Compressed Schedule

Employees with compressed schedules receive 8 hours of holiday pay and/or compensatory leave, depending on the situation, regardless of their compressed schedule hours.

There are three possible scenarios. These examples are based on a full-time, schedule. Leave and pay are pro-rated for part-time employees. For non-exempt employees with a compressed schedule, they will record 8 hours of holiday leave on their timesheet on the day of the holiday:

  1. With supervisor approval, the employee can choose to temporarily work a traditional work schedule for the week

• The employee would work 8 hours each day of the week then receive 8 hours of holiday pay on the holiday

  1. If the employee chooses to continue their compressed schedule and the holiday falls on a day when the employee would normally work:

• The employee needs to account for their full compressed schedule work hours for the day that falls on the holiday

• The employee receives 8 hours of holiday pay

• For the remaining hours, the employee can either make up the hours during the week or take additional leave on the holiday

• For example: If the employee normally works 9 hours on the day of the holiday, they will receive 8 hours of holiday pay and either work an additional hour during the week or take one hour of leave on the day of the holiday

3. If the employee chooses to continue their compressed schedule and the holiday falls on a day when the employee would not normally work:

• The employee will enter 8 hours under compensatory leave earned when they complete their timesheet

• The employee will then have 8 hours of compensatory leave they can use, with supervisor approval, within one year from the pay period in which the hours are accrued (State Policy 3.10)

Employees working a Compressed schedule must account for all required hours worked and leave taken. If an employee working a 10-hour day is out sick, he/she will need to record 10 hours of sick leave. If they wish to apply Holiday, University, or Compensatory Leave to their 10-hour day, they will have to work and account for an additional 2 hours because leave that is not accrued or awarded annually is limited to up to 8 hours per day. The employee must account for the difference in their Flexible Work day by working the relevant number of additional hours during the pay period or by using appropriate leave (e.g. Annual, Recognition, Compensatory, etc.).

Perhaps. Employees and supervisors should discuss this question during the development of the Flexible Work agreement. It is important to remember that the work of the university and the department must not suffer as a result of Flexible Work arrangements. Flexibility is a two-way street. There will be events, meetings, etc. that cannot be scheduled around your Flexible Work schedule. The employee may have to attend meetings, etc. on days when they would customarily be off.

If an employee is working a Compressed schedule and the university has an unscheduled closing on his/her non-work day, the employee does not receive university leave for that day.

No. Non-exempt employees (overtime eligible) do not have quite as many options as exempt employees (non-overtime eligible) because they may not use a Compressed schedule that will result in working over 40 hours without incurring overtime. Click here for examples of Compressed schedules.

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Flextime

Yes. One of the great things about Flexible Work is that it is indeed flexible. With supervisor and department head permission, you can utilize multiple Flexible Work options in one agreement. It is important to remember, however, that Flexible Work is contingent on ensuring that the work gets done and that office coverage is maintained. Those just starting a Flexible Work option may want to keep their agreement modest to ensure that the department work flow can be maintained.

A Flexible Work Agreement needs to be completed if the employee’s Flextime start time begins more than 1 hour before or after his/her regular start time. For example, if an employee’s customary start time is 8:30 a.m., a Flexible Work Agreement only needs to be completed if the Flextime start time is before 7:30 a.m. or after 9:30 a.m.

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Job Sharing

As with any classified employee, a supervisor may change the job responsibilities of a position at any time. In the case of Job Sharing, should your partner leave his/her position, you will still be at the FTE level you were before your colleague left. You may discuss with your supervisor and your department whether or not the agreement will continue.

A classified employee at .5 FTE or greater will earn service credit for each month of service at the salary and rate of a .5 classified employee.

When considering a Job Sharing arrangement, it is important to understand the full and complete impact it may have on your benefits. It is strongly recommended that you schedule an appointment with a Benefits Administrator in Human Resources & Payroll before you initiate any discussion with your supervisor about a Job Sharing Flexible Work option.

Maybe. In order for two classified employees to remain classified and share a position, they each must work 50% because a position cannot remain classified if it is less than .5 FTE.

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Remote Work

Employees frequently choose Remote Work to retain their positions with the university; however, if the arrangement is not efficacious for the university and/or the employee, the agreement may not be extended.

Steps on completing an I-9 form remotely are available on the Forms page.

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Telework

As with many questions, this one depends. Even older children or a self-sufficient older relative can distract you from your work. It’s important to be honest with yourself and your supervisor. Are your children old enough and mature enough to be self-managing? Do family members understand the boundary between work and non-work? Will you be able to commit your full attention to your job?

Child Supervision Guidelines:

Arlington County
Fairfax County
Loudoun County
Prince William County (Click on “C”)
Washington, D.C.

Supervision Fact Sheet (SCAN of Northern Virginia)
Children Home Alone (Virginia Department of Social Services)
Leaving Your Child Home Alone (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

While not definitive, these guidelines can help you and your supervisor determine if your family members can be in the home while you’re teleworking. If an elder adult needs attention, you will want to have someone there to assist them or have them visit a senior center when you are Teleworking.

Senior Centers:

Arlington County
Fairfax County
Loudoun County
Prince William County (Page 39)
Washington, D.C.

A formal Flexible Work arrangement is negotiated in advance, initiated through the Flexible Work policies and procedures, documented using the approved forms, and is reviewed and assessed after 90 days. Additionally, if the Flexible Work Agreement is approved to continue after the 90-day trial, the agreement is renewed at least annually. Individual departments can administer their own policies on Flexible Work, but they should be reviewed by Human Resources & Payroll and must meet the minimum stipulations outlined in the university policy.

An informal Flexible Work arrangement is ideally discussed in advance and worked out between the department, the supervisor, and the employee on an as-needed basis. Informal Flexible Work arrangements are, by their very nature, temporary and of limited duration.

An infrequent Telework arrangement can be formalized by selecting the “Emergency or Intermittent Telework” option on the Flexible Work Agreement.

Perhaps. It’s best to work out these questions in advance with your supervisor so that if a situation arises, expectations and procedures are clearly defined. If you need to implement Flextime or Telework for a limited time, you would work with your supervisor to create an “informal” Flexible Work arrangement that does not need to be documented, but that does need to be approved by your supervisor and be limited in duration.

No. Telework must be treated similarly to working in your Mason office. Telework cannot be a substitute for child or other dependent care.

Yes. One of the business-case reasons to encourage Telework and Remote Work is continuity of operations. Additionally, the university’s policy on Flexible Work requires that employees working from home during a university closing are expected to continue working unless it is not possible due to power outages or other conditions that prevent them from working. Employees Teleworking from home during an authorized closing do not receive compensatory time off.

It is important that communications not suffer when you utilize a Flexible Work arrangement. Instant messaging, Facetime/Skype, e-mail, telephone, and videoconferencing (including desktop conferencing) can all be used to keep people connected. For some tips on how to stay connected when you are working off site, see How to Stay in the Loop, A Teleworker’s Tip Sheet.

No. ITS has technology tools to ensure a secure connection from remote locations. For information on Virtual Private Network (VPN) and other teleworking tools, visit the Technology Tools section of this site.

Mason is not responsible for operating costs, home maintenance, or other incidental costs related to Telework. Reimbursable expenses such as long distance phone or ISP costs are discussed by the employee and the employee’s department. Additionally, Accounts Payable will not reimburse an employee for costs associated with Telework unless there is a Flexible Work Agreement on file with Human Resources & Payroll.

Check out Telework and Remote Work: What’s the Difference? for details on the differences between these two options.

If you and your supervisor have agreed that Telework is an option for you, you both will work out the details of whether Mason will supply equipment or whether you will use your own.

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Supervisor

Dynamic Forms allows you, the supervisor or department head, to review your employees’ agreement(s) and either approve or reject the form. Rejecting the form allows the employee to make changes. Please click here to learn how to review an agreement using Dynamic Forms.

Yes. Once an agreement is approved, you may view and save it in PDF form by clicking “Forms History” on the Dynamic Forms homepage (shown below).

A supervisor is not obligated to approve every Flexible Work request. If there is a business need for an employee to be physically in the office, you can reasonably deny the request. Use the information on this site to help you make appropriate Flexible Work decisions. It is hoped that supervisors will take into consideration all options when determining whether or not to approve Flexible Work requests.

The following questions will help assess whether the positions in your area are conducive to Flexible Work and will help you make a well-informed decision:

• Will the department/office workflow be either neutrally or positively impacted by Flexible Work? Can instant messaging, e-mail, telephone, and videoconferencing be used to adequately manage and fulfill the responsibilities of the Flexible Worker?

• Can the positions under consideration be managed on an outcome-based assessment by setting clear expectations, goals, and frequent measurements?

• Are the positions under consideration currently held by people who are solid performers?

• Could the work/life balance of these individuals be improved through Flexible Work?

• Could the flexibility offered be a management tool to retain a valued employee?

• Can Flexible Work contribute to the overall effectiveness of your department and/or its workflow (e.g., could Flextime arrangements extend your office’s availability to customers)?

As a supervisor, you are the ultimate arbiter of whether a Flexible Work option is appropriate for your staff. It is important that you fairly and consistently consider each employee’s request, but you are not obligated to approve every proposal. Flexible Work policies, procedures, and agreements provide guidelines that must be taken into account when making Flexible Work decisions. The Resources section of this site includes useful information to help you manage Flexible Work employees to successfully meet your department’s goals and obligations.

Outcome-based management is effective with employees who are not physically in the office. Discussing goals, assignments and due dates, and then reviewing projects on an ongoing basis can keep the employee and the supervisor stay on track. For some tips on how to manage employees on a Flexible Work schedule, see the Resources section of this site.

Interaction with an employee who you may not always see can be accomplished successfully through e-mail, instant messaging, and telephone. Open, regular communication is very important, as are clearly laid out work assignments and due dates.

No. Some positions may not be well suited to Flexible Work. Use the information in this web site to help you determine a position’s suitability for Flexible Work.

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