Remote Work Policy
University business operations continued in a remote environment during the pandemic and University leadership recognizes that remote work provides flexibility for employees. As this benefit has been identified as an attractive option many employees wish to continue, we are excited to provide our community with a Remote Work Policy.
The guide has been designed to provide general expectations and toolkits for our employees.
The University of Hartford recognizes that, for a variety of reasons, our employees may seek flexibility in terms of where they work. Telecommuting allows employees to work at home, or another off-site location for all, or part, of their workweek or work schedule. Benefits of telecommuting for employees may include reduced commuting expenses, greater flexibility, and a better work-life balance. The University may benefit from a decrease in energy consumption, more available office space, increased performance and productivity, and greater employee satisfaction.
At the same time, the University prides itself on creating a personalized and robust on-campus experience for its students—much of which involves face-to-face interaction with faculty and staff. For this reason, employees are generally required to be on site. However, depending on the job position and employee, the University may consider telecommuting to be a viable, flexible work option. Telecommuting is not an entitlement, nor is it part of the benefits offered by the University—it in no way changes the terms and conditions of employment with the University. By the very nature of the University’s student-centered approach, many positions will simply not be conducive to telecommuting.
This policy is intended to provide a general framework for telecommuting arrangements. The policy is not intended to address the individual circumstances of each employee, nor is it intended to permit work arrangements that are inconsistent with the University’s policies and business needs. This policy applies to employees offered the option to telecommute. This policy does not apply to requests for reasonable accommodations arising from a disability or other extraordinary circumstances such as incidents of inclement weather.
University of Hartford staff members who wish to utilize the opportunity to telecommute should inquire about establishing an arrangement with their supervisor, dean, or department head. A Flexible Work Schedule Form (see page 13) must be completed and approved by the employee’s supervisor, then forwarded to HRD for final approval.
Telecommuting arrangements may be discontinued at will and at any time at the request of the employee or the University. The employee or the University shall make every effort to provide written notice 30 days in advance of such a change. However, there may be instances when it is not possible, or practicable, to provide a 30-day notice. In this situation, the employee or the University should provide as much notice as possible.
Flexible telecommuting arrangements must be reviewed by the staff member, supervisor, and HRD every 6 months to ensure that business needs are being met, that the arrangement continues to comply with this policy, and that it aligns with the Flexible Work Schedule process.
Under limited circumstances, a position or positions may be identified as a remote work within the job description. These positions will not require flexible work schedule arrangements.
Staff requesting formal telecommuting arrangements must be employed at the University for a minimum of 90 consecutive days and have a satisfactory performance review on file with HRD.
Before entering into any telecommuting arrangement, the employee and supervisor, with the assistance of HRD, will evaluate the suitability of such an arrangement, reviewing the following areas:
- Employee Suitability—The employee and supervisor will assess the needs and work habits of the employee and the supervisor, utilizing the Readiness Assessments in this policy. These assessments will help to determine appropriateness for telecommuting arrangements.
- Job Responsibilities—The employee and supervisor will discuss job responsibilities and if the duties are appropriate for telecommuting work.
- Equipment needs, workspace design considerations, and scheduling issues should be discussed as well as physical workspace needs and appropriate locations for telecommuting work.
- Taxes and other legal implications—The employee should consult a tax advisor to determine if there are any tax or legal implications under IRS, state or local government laws, and/or restrictions of working out of a home-based office. Responsibility for fulfilling all tax/legal obligations rests solely with the employee.
- Privacy and regulatory considerations on data protection and asset preservation.
Employees with approved telecommuting arrangements are expected to adhere to all University policies and procedures and comply with all departmental processes. Employees are expected to work agreed-upon hours and to record time worked (if hourly/non-exempt) in accordance with Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations and University policy. Failure to adhere to all agreed-upon arrangements or timely completion of work assignments may result in termination of the telecommuting arrangement.
Deans, department heads, and supervisors should also evaluate business needs to ensure an appropriate level of staffing is maintained within the department. While a specific minimum or maximum number of employees or percentage of required on-site staff will not be identified in this policy, it is important to understand that a “one-size-fits-all” plan will not work for all departments. Supervisors will be responsible for ensuring continuity of on-site business processes understanding that the positive and effective execution of these duties are instrumental to the education of the University’s students.
Employees will need to work with their individual department for equipment and software that is deems necessary (i.e. University issued laptop and headset, etc.) to enable employees to work remotely. University-owned resources must be used only for University business purposes when working remotely. The employee is responsible for ensuring all items are properly used and maintained. In the unforeseen event where the employee uses personal property to complete University work, the University assumes no responsibility for any damage to, wear, or loss of such property.
Consistent with the University’s expectations of information security for employees working on campus, telecommuting employees will be expected to ensure the protection of University information accessible from their home office. This includes, but is not limited to, securing files, cabinets, desks, and computers, as well as regular password maintenance and taking other measures appropriate for the job and environment.
Employees are expected to maintain their home workspace in a safe manner, free from safety hazards. Injuries sustained by employees in a home office location and in conjunction with their regular work duties are normally covered by the University’s workers compensation policy. Telecommuting employees are responsible for notifying their supervisor of any such injury in a timely manner. Supervisors must report all injuries to HRD. The employee is liable for any injury sustained by visitors to their home worksite.
Telecommuting is not designed to be a replacement for management of personal, non-work-related issues or responsibilities. Although an individual employee’s schedule may be modified to accommodate personal needs, the focus of the arrangement must remain dedicated to job performance and meeting business needs and deliverables.
Telecommuting employees who are not exempt from the overtime requirements of the FLSA will be required to accurately record all hours using the University’s timekeeping system in the Employee Self Service Center (ESS). Failure to comply with this requirement may result in immediate termination of the telecommuting arrangement and/or discipline, up to and including termination of employment.
Temporary arrangements may be approved for such circumstances including, but not limited to, inclement weather, special projects, or other travel. These arrangements may be approved on an as-needed basis only, with no expectation of an ongoing telecommuting arrangement.
The purpose of the guide is to provide employees and supervisors with tools and resources for working remotely. In the policy, you will find:
Readiness Assessments: This information will help you determine if an employee is ready to work remotely. Understanding readiness will assist with conversations with supervisors, colleagues, and other constituents. For supervisors, the readiness assessment will help you understand your capability to successfully manage employees who are working remotely.
Role of Employees and Supervisors: Employees and supervisors have shared responsibilities to ensure ongoing business continuity and the successful delivery of customer and student services in the remote environment.
Technology Needs and Expectations: This section outlines the tools and technologies you may need to explore to ensure that you are ready to work remotely.
Flexible or Remote Work Schedule Proposal: This is the application employees are required to submit to managers when requesting remote work.
Best Practices and Principles
Individual Factors–Remote work is most successful when employees:
- Have demonstrated the ability to follow University policies and procedures
- Can manage time and workload
- Have technological proficiency
- Have clear communication skills
- Have high self-management and self-discipline
- Have the desire and flexibility to work independently
- Are results orientation
- Are good problem solvers
- Are dependable
- Have a strong performance record
Institutional Factors–Remote work is most successful when:
- There are clear expectations about how and when work is completed
- Tasks can be independently completed
- Employees have appropriate technological solutions to complete work
- There is a supportive culture from supervisors
- There is transparency and communication among team members
- There is opportunity for socialization and mentorship
Recommendations–the 7 C’s:
- Coordination of tasks: you must determine what job functions lend themselves to remote work. The ability to identify and coordinate work and tasks that are best suited for remote work is a key to success.
- Comfort with technology: Supervisors need to make clear what technology solutions are needed and employees must make sure that they are comfortable with those technologies.
- Conflicts with remote work: Employees are responsible for ensuring that non-work events (e.g., family demands, personal responsibilities) do not interfere with remote work. Make sure that you have a comfortable and quiet space to work to reduce distractions.
- Cohesion, support, and trust: Supervisors should provide a common understanding with employees about remote work arrangements. It is important to convey the vision surrounding remote work and the positive benefits. Find opportunities to informally build trust and cohesion within your staff through meetings, conversations, and check-ins.
- Calendars, schedule, and structure: Employees who have more control over their work schedule have less conflict, greater job satisfaction, and higher levels of well-being. However, not all jobs are conducive to flexible work. Therefore, it is critical that supervisors and staff communicate about performance and scheduling expectations. Just because you are working remotely, does not mean that you have a flexible work arrangement.
- Clear objectives: Supervisors must be clear about performance expectations and allocation of responsibility while working remotely. Employees should meet their goals by ethical means in a timely fashion without disturbing the workflow of others.
- Climate and culture: Remote work will promote a climate of commitment and trust. Be sure to regularly check in with staff and management about how things are going and what you need to be successful.
Shared Responsibilities of Supervisors and Managers
As an employee engaging in remote work, here are some steps you should follow:
- Committing to a remote routine with your supervisor
- Creating a productive work environment in your workspace
- Communicating frequently with your supervisor and team
- Completing all of your assigned and required work tasks
- Avoiding unproductive conflict with team members and supervisors
- Being respectful of team members in all virtual modalities (video chat, email, text, call)
- Switching off at the end of the day and engaging in a self-care routine
- Striving for excellence
As a manager leading a remote team, you should commit to the following:
- Establishing and maintaining personal connections
- Being responsive and available through email, phone, and face-to-face meetings
- Engaging in regular check-ins with your staff
- Keeping remote team members involved
- Making performance, task, and scheduling expectations clear to staff
- Routinely checking in on staff to ensure work is getting completed
- Troubleshooting issues with your team
- Evaluating staff and providing performance feedback as needed
- Switching off at the end of the day and engaging in a self-care routine
- Striving for excellence