The term "Flexwork" refers to work arrangements other than the traditional 5 consecutive 8 hour day work week.
Job flexibility is important for many employees and flexwork options can help maintain employee morale by allowing employees to meet their personal needs while contributing to the organization. Offering flexwork options may also help with employee retention and recruiting.
Flexwork options are not an employee entitlement, however the UW supports their development
when a manager determines that such an arrangement meets the needs of the unit and the employee.
Typically an employee will propose a flexwork arrangement, though managers may also assign a position to an alternative or flexible schedule to accommodate unit work requirements.
When describing flexwork options, the term 'work schedule' is used when referring to arrangements for overtime eligible classified and professional staff. The term 'work plan' is used when referring to arrangements for overtime exempt classified and professional staff because such positions are always expected to work as necessary to meet the requirements of the position.
Alternative Work Arrangements or plans are anything other than five (5) consecutive equal length work days in a seven (7) day work week.
Flexible Work Arrangements or plans have the following characteristics:
- A fixed, core block of work time during which the employee is always at work
- A daily work start time that can vary within a specified range
- A daily work end time that adjusted each day in accordance with that day's start time
Flexible work arrangements/plans can initially be somewhat complicated to administer, so it is especially important that such arrangements be well documented and understood by the employee, manager, and coworkers.
Other work arrangements may be developed to fit unique or unusual work requirements. Questions about work schedules or unique scheduling needs should be discussed with the unit's Human Resources Consultant.
Holiday Leave Record Keeping
Administering part-time or full-time alternative work schedules requires that special attention be devoted holiday-related leave accounting. See Alternative & Flexible Work Schedule Examples for leave accounting issues that may need to be considered.
Evaluating Flexible Work Arrangement Proposals
If an employee asks you to approve a proposed flexible work arrangement, think about the following points to evaluate your ability to successfully implement the proposal.
- Consider the effect of the proposal on your department’s goals and commitments, including costs, customer service, safety, and security.
- Consider whether the employee’s productivity and overall work record demonstrates the ability to fulfill the terms of the proposed arrangement.
- Determine whether equipment will need to be purchased, its cost, and availability. If you are considering a telework proposal, review the telework policy and guidelines for establishing a telework arrangement.
- If the work will involve use of the employee’s home computer, evaluate your unit's system security needs to make sure that the employee’s home computer is adequately secured and that it will not present an undue threat to your department’s or the University’s information security or computing resources.
- If the employee is covered by a union contract, review applicable contract and discuss any questions with your Human Resources Consultant.
- Respond to the employee’s proposal in a timely manner.
If you decide that you cannot approve the employee's request, explain your decision based on your analysis of the proposal's impact on department operations, and/or the employee’s work record in your department.
Managing Flexible Work Arrangements
Consider the following points in developing a plan to effectively manage the work of individuals working a flexible work arrangement:
- Establish a plan that ensures clear communication and accountability.
- If the arrangement involves flexible hours or an alternative work location, specify the days and times when the employee will be on site for meetings and to communicate directly with other team members.
- Review leave record keeping implications with the employee.
- Before agreeing to long term proposal implementation, establish the arrangement on a pilot basis with a designated review period. During the pilot period, either the employee or supervisor can end the arrangement.
- If an arrangement results in a reduction in the employee’s scheduled work hours, make sure that the employee understands that you cannot guarantee a return to the previous schedule outside of the trial period, should the employee request it.
- Make sure all parties understand the terms of the arrangement, and that once the arrangement is implemented, its continuation depends on the arrangement's working effectively for both the employee and the department.
- Document all pertinent details of the arrangement, including work hours and schedule, performance plan with measurable outcomes, and a review schedule and provide the employee with a copy.
Questions & Answers
- Should I limit the numbers of people in one work group who can have a flexible work arrangement so that I can be sure I can manage the work?
- Determine the work configuration that will function best for your unit. Some units have found it workable to allow a great deal of flexibility. For other units, only a limited number of positions lend themselves to flexible work arrangements. If you are not sure what will work for your unit, limit flexibility initially with a commitment to review your practices as you and the workgroup gain experience.
- How can I avoid having to change my own work schedule to effectively manage employees with flexible work arrangements?
- You need to be confident that the work will get done whether you are present or not. Establishing an arrangement on a pilot basis can allow you to determine whether the arrangement is likely to work on an on-going basis. You should also determine the results you need in order to evaluate the effectiveness of a particular arrangement.
- How can I ensure that employees do not assume that alternative work schedules are “permanent”?
- Establish a clear, common understanding of the terms of an arrangement by putting them in writing. Share a copy with the employee and place a copy in the employee’s department file. Make sure that the written agreement states that the arrangement is subject to revision based on departmental work requirements.