The Office of Contracts and Grants (OCG) will consider flexible work arrangements that allow employees to balance work and personal commitments while ensuring the operational needs of OCG are met. Flexible work arrangements are agreed upon between the employee and supervisor and subject to approval of the Director of OCG and/or Deputy Director through the Flexible Work Arrangement Agreement Form. A flexible work arrangement is a business arrangement and not an entitlement.
Alternative Work Schedule – a variation from the employee's core hours in starting and departure times, but does not alter the total number of hours worked in a week. CU Boulder standard hours are 8am-5pm during the academic year and 7:30am-4:30pm during the summer.
Remote Work (Telecommuting) – work conducted at home or another off-site location, for a specified number of hours per week or month, on a consistent basis.
Compressed Work Schedule (Flex) – a traditional 40-hour workweek is completed in less than the standard number of workdays (typically 5). Will be phased out by August 31, 2020.
Occasional Use Flexibility – temporary change to start/end times or a work location that is agreed upon between a supervisor and an employee to accommodate working on a short-term project, during inclement weather, emergency or other situations. If these requests occur frequently, supervisor may request an employee to submit a formal telework schedule.
Reduced schedule options such as phased retirement, part-time or partial year appointment, medical leave/disability-related schedule adjustments, etc., all integrate flexible work practices. Note that part-time/reduced appointments may not be eligible for return to full-time appointments, as further explained below.
Staff members shall be eligible for telecommuting after completing at least twelve (12) months with the Office of Contracts and Grants and obtaining a good performance evaluation. After a staff member is fully trained, working wholly independently and highly performing with at least one (1) performance evaluation on record for the current position and has a proven track record of high productivity, she or he prepares a proposal for a telework arrangement. Employees with performance ratings of “not meeting expectations” shall not be eligible for a telecommuting arrangement. Remote working employees placed on a performance improvement plan shall have the remote work privileges rescinded.
Managers are eligible for telework arrangements, subject to the business needs of the office and the training needs of staff.
Director and Deputy Director can use their discretion on telework schedules for employees transferring to our department with the same position from a prior unit.
Employees shall initiate the request for a telework arrangement through a formal written proposal to their immediate supervisor detailing the proposed arrangement and how the proposed schedule will meet the requirements of their job description and the impact on the office and customer needs.
The proposal for telework will identify the tasks to be accomplished and the performance measures/metrics that will be used to monitor accomplishments. The proposal should also describe how the staff member’s home is conducive to a telecommuting arrangement. The employee’s proposal must be appended to the Flexible Work Arrangement Agreement Form.
Occasional Use Flexibility must be documented in an email between the employee and supervisor. The email should address the dates/times of the work days and outline clear expectations about tasks, availability, reporting of work completed, etc. In addition, supervisors must confirm prior to approving occasional use flexibility for telework that the employee:
- Has VPN established and functional.
- Employee is providing adequate equipment and software to perform the work or has been issued a CU Boulder laptop.
- Employee will maintain accessibility with the office and customers including telephone, email, Slack or other means during the agreed-upon work hours.
- Employee has a designated workspace off-site that is clean, safe and free of hazards and distractions.
Occasional Use Flexibility may be implemented ad hoc to accommodate emergency closures, special situations or inclement weather. Temporary arrangements are made on a case-by-case basis and documented and approved between the employee and direct supervisor.
The needs of the university and OCG take first priority in evaluating a telework arrangement proposal. Alternative arrangements may not adversely affect the delivery of customer service, employee productivity or the progress of individual or team assignments. Employee’s duties, obligations, responsibilities and conditions of employment with the University remain unchanged. Job responsibilities, standards of performance and performance evaluations remain the same as when working at the regular University work site. The supervisor reserves the right to assign work as necessary regardless of the work site.
Position eligibility will be evaluated based on such factors as type of customer service provided, types of tasks performed, task interdependence and the operational and staffing needs of the office.
Performance criteria to be considered include, but are not limited to:
- Most recent performance evaluation and status of current performance planning goals;
- Expertise and technological skills;
- Conscientiousness about work time, responsiveness and productivity;
- Limited need for supervisory direction;
- Self-motivation, discipline and ability to manage distractions;
- Ability to set priorities, meet deadlines and adapt to changing routines; and
- Availability to provide input and guidance to OCG staff
Off-site work environment that is conducive to a remote work arrangement will also be considered. The privilege of telecommuting is conditioned upon the employee not providing primary child care or any other type of personal care to a third party during work hours. This does not mean dependents or those needing care are required to be absent from the work location, but, rather, that they will not require the employee’s attention during work at home hours. The telecommuter must make dependent and/or elder care arrangements to permit concentration on work assignments.
Supervisors are expected to thoughtfully review telework requests and arrangements by evaluating the individual’s performance, responsibilities and work style. At least one (1) performance evaluation shall be on record for a supervisor to use for approving a telework requests. Supervisors should coordinate with the Director of OCG and Deputy Director on telework arrangements to assure that best practices are implemented and determinations made in a manner that is fair, equitable and transparent for our staff.
Best Practices include the following criteria:
- Physical staff coverage in the office. Managed by each Team.
- Maximum number of regularly scheduled telework days per staff members is 2 days a week.
- Staff remote schedules should be reviewed on a yearly basis and changes will be allowed to increase/decrease days depending on requests made by staff on each team and overall coverage in the office.
Part-time work refers to a situation where an employee works less than a full workweek with compensation and benefits adjusted accordingly. A part-time employee may work fewer hours each day of the workweek or fewer days per week. Part-time/reduced time requests can be considered for phased-in retirement, as a transition period after a major life event or return from long-term medical leave, or if an employee requests, through a formal proposal, consideration for a reduced schedule.
A flexible work arrangement for part-time/reduced time has some additional considerations:
- The employee and supervisor should be aware that the department budget may be impacted, and therefore the employee may not be able to return to full-time should funding not be available.
- It is important to carefully analyze the requirements of the job and the employee’s history of performance when assessing a proposal for part-time/reduced time.
- The business needs of the office, including the impacts on other team members, must be thoroughly evaluated when considering this arrangement. A detailed plan of what work will be accomplished in the employee’s reduced hours and how the rest of that employee’s work will be handled or redistributed must be included in all proposals for part-time/reduced time.
- Reduction in work hours and the subsequent adjustment in compensation may change an employee’s exempt or non-exempt status, requiring potential changes in how an employee accounts for his/her time in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act.
- Employees working part-time/reduced time must maintain a consistent schedule. Schedules should not vary from week-to-week.
Employees are expected to sustain their level of performance, promptly discuss challenges regarding the arrangement with the supervisor and propose solutions. Telework is a privilege and therefore also requires employees to be adaptable to adjusting their flexible arrangements to accommodate the needs of the office. See Guidance for Employees and Supervisors.
Any telework arrangement may be withdrawn at any time by the supervisor or employee.
Instances when a flexible work arrangement shall be withdrawn:
- A need for teleworker to cover business needs in the office.
- A change in position and the need to train for this position on-site.
- Loss of equipment listed on the employee equipment loan agreement.
- Performance issues with the teleworker.
In case of injury, theft, loss or other liability, the telecommuter must allow agents of the University to investigate and/or inspect the work site. Reasonable notice of inspection and/or investigation should be given to the employee.
Job-related incidents or accidents that occur during work at home hours are to be reported immediately to the supervisor.
Costs of personal telecommunications equipment, computers, printers, residential insurance and utilities incurred by the telecommuter are the responsibility of the telecommuter. If OCG provides equipment, the teleworker is responsible for safe transportation and set-up of such equipment. If any University equipment is lost, the Supervisor and Manager of Operations must be informed of the loss and they will cooperate with the University on the investigation, including timely completion of and forms needed. A University Claims Adjuster will determine if the equipment is covered by insurance. Depending upon the Claims Adjuster’s determination, the telecommuter may be responsible for the deductible or computer replacement.
The employee will be responsible for:
- any intentional damage to the equipment;
- damage resulting from gross negligence by the employee or any member or guest of the employee's household;
- damage resulting from a power surge if no surge protector is used.
Failure to exercise due care with university property is considered a performance management issue and will result in a letter of expectation issued to the employee.
All staff must be aware that university records stored on personal devices can be public records. If a record relates to the performance of public functions or involves the receipt or expenditure of public funds, then it is a public record regardless of how it was created or where it is stored.
To the extent that telecommuting on a personal device creates such a record, then it would be public and accessible through a CORA request. Purely personal records (e.g. emails or other documents that have nothing to do with the employee’s public functions) would not be a public record under any circumstance, and it does not matter where they are stored or created.
Nonexempt employees are covered by the overtime and record keeping (e.g. electronic timekeeping) requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA defines overtime as any hours worked by a non-exempt employee that exceed 40 hours in a standard workweek. At CU Boulder, overtime pay is based on any hours paid that exceed 40 in a standard workweek. The standard CU Boulder workweek begins on Sunday 12:01 am and ends the following Saturday at 11:59 pm. If there is a holiday or you take leave in a work week you will be paid additional standard pay not overtime pay.
Therefore, as telework schedules are being considered, non-exempt employees and their supervisors must take these overtime implications into account. The employee and supervisor should clearly outline how time will be recorded in a flexible work arrangement. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that the telework arrangement adheres to the requirements of FLSA and does not create overtime situations that have not been approved by the Director.
Exempt employees are not covered by the overtime and record keeping, e.g. electronic timekeeping, requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Therefore, there is inherent flexibility in work scheduling for them. Even though the law allows this latitude, exempt staff members still need to discuss specific scheduling arrangements with their supervisors and obtain their approval.
Set clearly defined, measurable benchmarks with your supervisor and agree on expectations so that you can demonstrate success.
Clearly communicate your capacity to take on work, both your limits and your ability to expand your responsibilities. Something as simple as sending updates, even unsolicited, demonstrates you are actively working toward organizational goals and achieving results.
Cooperate with co-workers. Employees may need to consistently, and politely, remind coworkers of their schedule, since coworkers don’t always remember. Be clear about your inability to make a meeting if your schedule conflicts, and rather than taking it personally, accept that it may take some time for everyone to adjust to the new arrangement.
Calendar your telework schedule in Outlook and post your schedule appropriately so that there is a clear understanding of how and when to contact each other. Make sure anyone who might need you knows exactly when they can get you, what to do if they feel it's urgent, and how long it will be before you return their voice-mail or e-mail message.
Modify your voicemail greeting to provide callers with information on how they may reach you, who to contact in an emergency, and when they may anticipate your returned call.
Must be present at key meetings and trainings.
Be flexible and adaptable. Supervisors/colleagues won't always be able to work around your schedule. If you are on a flexible schedule, you may have to come in on some days that you ordinarily work from home or take as a day "off." These occurrences should be expected especially in the event of crucial meetings or peak times. You should discuss these with your supervisor in advance.
Reschedule your day/time off or away from your worksite, if necessary, so you do not miss office social events. Business often gets accomplished during informal settings, whether planned or not.
Request feedback from your supervisor for at least the first few weeks on how the telework arrangement is working and then monthly or quarterly after the initial period.
Set clear expectations. Define the normal working hours within which the flexible work arrangement is to occur or when the employee can work outside those hours. Clearly define productivity standards and expectations. This may mean setting response time expectations for departmental and PI inquiries, establishing an ‘average’ number of actions to be completed per week or month, etc. Clearly define how work completed should be reported. Providing parameters can minimize performance-related issues down the road.
Focus on results. Supervisors who successfully manage employee performance through a results-oriented approach with metrics to measure achievement.
Make a decision. Supervisors need to make sure that the work of their unit is being accomplished in a timely manner and with solid results. Supervisors need to determine whether the work that is being done can be accomplished in just an as effective (or more effective) manner by utilization of a flexible schedule arrangement. They should take performance evaluations into consideration, as well as reliability and work styles.
Plan and communicate. Consider the potential improvement of business/department needs when assessing telework schedule proposals from employees. Develop systems and structures that allow employees to respond to ever-changing work demands, such as having a back-up plan for coverage and communication. Communicate consistently about standards for accountability, quality and timeliness.
Include employees. Make sure to include employees in the development and improvement of the department’s flexibility offerings. When arrangements are made, clearly communicate them with all employees, so that they fully understand their role and how their work lives will be impacted, as well as the telework options available.
Business requirements. Decisions should be based completely on the employee’s ability to achieve required business outcomes in the context of the team and ongoing business requirements. Decisions should not be made based on the life responsibilities for which the employee is requesting the arrangement.
Assess success. Supervisors should consider redefining staffing success by job design and outcomes; hours, visibility (face-time), process and location are not measures of success. Business outcomes, employee productivity and engagement are what make a difference in the work environment.
Touch base regularly. Let your employees know that they are still a part of the office and that you are available to help resolve issues and see that things are running smoothly. Contact your staff by email or Slack throughout the day. An employee with an active, supportive manager is much more likely to perform better than one who feels disconnected from the office. Reach out regularly with specific feedback.
Create a supportive environment. Managers should find creative ways to promote an environment in which all employees feel supported to request flexibility.
Utilize performance management tools. Management of poor performance should be addressed in a timely, constructive and ongoing way, not as a newly-introduced reason to refuse a request for flexibility. Performance-related concerns should be addressed separately, if the cause of the problem is not related to the telework workplace arrangement. Reward a job well done and give them the tools that they need to improve on areas that may be weak. By showing your employees that you are invested in their success, they will be more likely to give you their best effort.
Conduct quality assurance monitoring. Ensure high performance, accountability and uniformity by establishing QA standards and conducting routine QA monitoring. Set metrics for your group and the expectations you have for each staff member. Communicate that expectation.
Duty to document. To assure telework arrangements are handled and managed equitably across the office, a supervisor has the duty to document performance issues, such as a telecommuter’s non-accessibility, negative feedback from clients affected by the arrangement and instances of the telecommuter’s failure to meet performance measures.
Eligibility. When granting telework arrangements, focus on objective eligibility criteria (e.g., position, discipline history, performance record), rather than the reason for the request, to avoid unconscious decisions that may have legal implications.