Foundational activities should occur prior to discussing FWAs with individual employees.

Determine which positions are eligible for remote work

Departments should review the positions in their department and determine which (if any) are suited for remote work. Without this step, there is a risk that decisions to approve FWAs may be seen as arbitrary. The primary criterion for determining if a position is eligible for an FWA is if it meets the business needs of the department. The arrangement must align with the office or department’s goals, including productivity, cost-effectiveness, and service to internal and external customers. Eligibility may vary for different types of arrangements as some options may not be appropriate for: 

  • Jobs that require a physical presence on campus to perform the job duties.
  • Employees whose documented performance has not demonstrated the skills and qualities necessary to succeed in the proposed FWA.

Set the non-negotiable principles

  • Employees who telecommute are not permitted to work at other jobs, run their own businesses, or provide child care or elder care during their scheduled work hours.
  • Before getting into the details of individual schedules, decide how your business objectives dictate the department schedule. For example, the principles of your unit might be:
    • Telephone coverage must be in place five days a week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    • Everyone must attend Tuesday-afternoon staff meetings
    • Everyone must be available for a weekly check-in at a mutually convenient time, and
    • Everyone must be reachable by phone or email during regular business hours, Tuesday through Thursday (remember, this is just an example. Mondays are mandatory for employees to be available unless they are out of office)

Establish core business hours

The hours in a workday when the department determines that all staff are needed. Meetings are typically scheduled during this time. Examples: every day from 9 to 11 a.m., or all day Tuesdays, or Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Establish scope for the alternative schedule

  • Determine the earliest time employees may arrive and the latest time they may leave.
  • Determine the number of allowable telework/remote days.

Establish core obligations

The employee must be present for certain commitments, agree to be reachable during normal working hours, be available to come at short notice and be prepared to work on a regularly-scheduled day off within reason. Supervisors and employees may schedule flexible hours around core obligations.

Communication and consensus with the entire department are critical for establishing FWA availability. Discussion about what may or may not be possible can relieve the burden of managing expectations away from individual managers, and avoid inconsistencies among units.