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 sent to Human Resources & Payroll.
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.
University Policy Number 2202 Flexible Work 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. With reasonable notice, supervisors and employees can change or terminate a Flexible Work arrangement. Reasonable notice may vary depending upon the department and the circumstances. 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.
Exempt and non-exempt (overtime eligible) employees are not eligible for more than 8 hours of holiday pay per holiday day. If the holiday falls on the employee’s regularly scheduled work day, the employee will be credited with 8 hours of holiday pay for that day. Employees on a Flexible Work arrangement may use annual leave (or other appropriate leave) to cover their hours of pay for that day, or they may opt to work additional hours during the pay cycle.
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. Both the Telework/Remote Work Agreement and the Flexible Work Agreement stipulate that 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.
Yes. One of the great things about Flexible Work is that it is indeed flexible. With your supervisor and department head permission, you can utilize multiple Flexible Work options in one agreement. In fact, the Telework agreement includes a section on page 1 called “Secondary Flexible Work Option.” It’s 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 out in Flexible Work 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.
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.
I’ve been working at Mason but am leaving the area. As a retention tool, my supervisor and department head have agreed to try Remote Working. What happens if it doesn’t work out?
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.
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 in 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.
Answering the following questions when assessing whether the positions in your area are conducive to Flexible Work will help you make well-informed decisions:
- 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)?
I’m uncomfortable with the thought that I may be pressured by my staff to utilize Flexible Work options. How can I put this in perspective?
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, due dates and then reviewing projects on an ongoing basis can keep the employee and the supervisor 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.
My children or elder relative are self-sufficient and do not need my care. Can they be in the home when I’m Teleworking?
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:
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.
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 Telework/Remote 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.
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.
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 Telework/Remote Work Agreement on file with Human Resources & Payroll.