Flexible Work Guidance for Unit Leaders

This guidance is intended to assist academic, research, and administrative unit heads, managers, and supervisors as they immediately implement social distancing strategies and discuss various continuity approaches due to specific concerns, such as the current issue of COVID-19 (coronavirus). With regard to COVID-19, it is important to keep in mind the following two goals moving forward:

  • Maintaining operations; and
  • Immediately implementing workable strategies for social distancing; and setting up flexible work arrangements as one of many social distancing strategies.

Many employees have flexible work arrangements in place and routinely work in this manner. The increased need for social distancing, as well as challenges created by school closures, quarantines, and increased absences to care for dependents, present opportunities for us to be proactive, thoughtful, and creative in our consideration of employees working remotely.

Categories of Arrangements

There are two broad categories of flexible work arrangements:

  • Schedule Flexibility
    Common examples of schedule flexibility include compressed work week (such as four 10-hour work days per week), and flex time (alternate work schedule with greater flexibility in starting and ending times of the work period).
  • Location Flexibility
    Location flexibility typically involves allowing employees to work from home, but could also include having employees work from an alternate work site to increase social distancing.

For more information on flexible work arrangements, please review the policy, procedures, and related HR guidance.

Important Considerations for Continuity Planning and Temporary Flex Work as a Measure to Increase Social Distancing

The following are scenarios and related flexible work arrangement questions we encourage you to consider as you think about options for immediate social distancing, response(s) to school closures and possible future closures should that occur. It will be important to note any technology you need so that Information Services may assist in coordinating and managing those resources university wide. View the Information Services website for more information about technology resources for working remotely.

Please consider the following questions now and take necessary steps to implement these actions immediately, in a manner consistent with guidance from your unit leadership.

Questions regarding flexible work arrangements as a social distancing technique and in response to staff needs to care for dependents at home due to school closures:

  • For student and public-facing positions: Are there remote opportunities to interact with those they serve, especially while on-campus populations, could be reduced during remote instruction? Please consider any statutory or licensure issues when contemplating this approach.
  • Is schedule flexibility an option for increasing distancing and completing the work safely and effectively on a temporary basis? If so, for what positions?
    • Are there opportunities for employees who must do their work in the office to come in outside of their regular hours to complete work and thus have fewer employees in the workplace at any one time to facilitate distancing? (Flex time)
    • Are there opportunities for employees who must do their work in the office to work longer hours a few days of the week and thus allow fewer employees to be in on any one day to facilitate distancing (Compressed work week)
  • Is location flexibility an option for completing the work safely and effectively on a temporary basis? If so, for what positions?
  • Can phones be forwarded to an employee’s home phone or cell phone, so they can continue to respond as if they were at their desk?
  • Are laptops or other technology options available to allow access to email, files, etc., if employees are working from a remote location?
  • If access to documents received via mail or fax is required for an individual to do their job, could it be scanned by an employee onsite for brief periods of time and then made available electronically for offsite work?
  • Can you limit face-to-face meetings and interactions temporarily? Could meetings and interactions occur via phone or video conferencing technology?
  • Is there project work (or other types of meaningful work) that could be assigned to employees whose routine activities cannot be completed remotely? Could they temporarily be assigned remote work for other units on campus?
  • What outreach can employees working remotely accomplish to maintain connectivity with university constituents and provide stability to those constituents during this time?

Questions to consider regarding staff shortages:

  • How many absences can our unit handle before business operations are interrupted?
  • What work must continue to occur and how best can this be accomplished remotely? Who needs to be involved?
  • What work could continue to occur and how best can this be accomplished remotely? Who needs to be involved?
  • What work can stop for a period of time with minor impacts on the office (e.g., paper filing)?