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Navigate through this page to learn more about virtual commute options, including telework, flexwork and distance learning!
Teleworking offers employees the flexibility to work from a more convenient location and save the time and expenses associated with daily commuting. Establishing a telework schedule can provide clear benefits for both employees and university departments, including:
•Increased employee satisfaction and productivity
•Reduced commuting expenses and time spent commuting
•Ability for employees to work more flexible schedules and work during campus closures
•Accommodation for departmental workspace constraints
•Helps UW reach its greenhouse gas and commute trip reduction goals
UW allows employees to take advantage of these benefits by establishing a telework arrangement with supervisor approval. UW Human Resources and Commuter Services provide many comprehensive and useful tools to help employees and their supervisors evaluate the feasibility of teleworking.
UW Speaks – UW Teleworkers and Managers
Alisha LaPlante is a full-time exempt employee who supports the human resources function at the UW’s Information School. While she is on campus in her office daily, she works a non-traditional work schedule that allows her to get her work done while accommodating the schedules of her school-age children. Alisha says this flexibility has allowed her to maintain and grow her career while enabling the UW to retain an experienced employee.
Sara Joseph is a web and marketing specialist at the UW’s Center for Reinventing Public Education. She navigates the South Lake Union traffic and construction zone three days a week during her commute to the center’s offices. Sarah teleworks from home two days a week and says her productivity and focus is greater on the days she works from home.
Michelle Birdsall is the Human Resources Manager at the Evans School of Public Affairs. She began teleworking after the birth of her first child more than five years ago. According to Michelle, her job and duties have not changed much. But there are some work tasks that are better completed at home and some that need to be done at the office.
Dr. Kenneth A. Schenkman is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Critical Care Medicine. He has an active research program in the UW Bioengineering Lab studying biomedical optics, which uses light to monitor the medical condition of patients. He and his research group find that flexible schedules and teleworking are very conducive to their research. So much so that one of his team members has had a telework arrangement in place for ten years.
Linda Lake is an Associate Dean at the Evans School for Public Affairs. She is a veteran manager of teleworkers and believes that they can be good arrangements if they are managed properly and take into account all of the different facets of a job.
Julie Angeley is the Operations and Communications Manager for UW’s Center on Reinventing Public Education. As a branch of the UW-Bothell Campus, the center studies national k-12 education policy and reforms. Because of the nature of work, which requires a lot of travel, nearly every employee in the organization teleworks. In addition, their office is located in Seattle’s changing South Lake Union neighborhood, where construction and traffic have created parking and commuting challenges for some staff. Telework arrangements have been able to reduce some of the stress of increased commute times and parking expenses.
Setting up a telework arrangement is a simple, three-step process that requires thoughtful discussion and evaluation from employees and supervisors. Both parties must collaborate throughout the process to ensure that teleworking is meeting the needs of both the employee and the department.
Step 1: Develop a Telework Proposal
In certain cases, employees are required by their departments to telework, but more often than not, these arrangements are established out of employee requests. Employees wishing to initiate a telework arrangement should start by reading through the information available on the UW Human Resources teleworking webpage and preparing a telework proposal for their supervisor. The material on the webpage explains the technological and logistical considerations that need to be accounted for when drafting a proposal. A successful telework proposal should address any concerns a supervisor may have with a telework arrangement.
Step 2: Discuss and Formalize Teleworking Logistics with a Supervisor
After a supervisor approves an employee’s telework proposal, the next step is to discuss and work through the logistics of the arrangement. UW Human Resources provides several documents on their website to help guide this discussion and formalize an agreement. The Telework Feasibility Worksheet contains a list of discussion questions relating to the technological and logistical needs for teleworking. Additional technological guidance can be found in the Teleworking Technology Guide and Checklist. The Telework Assignment Document formalizes the discussion points into a contract to be signed by both the employee and the supervisor. Lastly, both parties should sign the Voluntary Telework Agreement, which states that the telework arrangement will be in compliance with University policies.
Step 3: Try it Out!
Once a telework arrangement is discussed and formalized by the employee and the supervisor, the employee should begin teleworking and continue talking with their manager about how the arrangement is working for both parties. A teleworking schedule may be terminated at any time if it is not beneficial for the employee or the department.
How do I know if I am eligible and able to telework in my position?
You should meet with your supervisor or manager to discuss the feasibility of teleworking in your position. While teleworking is not an option for every position, employees are welcome to submit a telework proposal to their supervisor. Establishing teleworking schedules is ultimately the decision of supervisors and departments.
Does teleworking have any impact on my terms of employment?
No, teleworking has no impact on salary, benefits, leave, job duties, or any other terms of employment.
What are the technology requirements for teleworking?
Employees will likely need access to their email, calendaring applications, and system files when teleworking. There may be additional hardware, software, and security requirements necessary for your offsite workstation, depending on your position. Please refer to the Teleworking Technology Guide and Checklist for details about ensuring that your offsite workstation is technologically compatible.
How much does it cost to install the necessary technology for teleworking?
Costs to install teleworking technology vary based on an employee’s current at-home system and the technology required for the duties of the position. In general, employees will need a high-speed internet connection, access to UW email, access to personal files, computer security features, and a reliable phone connection.
Will UW reimburse me for my internet/phone bills if I telework?
The UW does not reimburse employees for startup costs or internet/phone bills relating to teleworking. However, UW departments occasionally issue cell phones to employees for University business use, which can be used while teleworking.
Can I still attend meetings while teleworking?
Employees are often able to call into meetings while teleworking. However, there may be occasional meetings that require in-person attendance and employees must comply with supervisor requests to attend in-person meetings.
This document provides information about setting up the at-home technology necessary for teleworking at UW.
This resource contains general information about setting up a telework arrangement, as well as tips for improving telework skills.
This public-private partnership focuses on developing telework best practices and publishes The Teleworker journal.
Online Courses for Students
A wide range of degree and certificate programs are available online through UW’s Professional and Continuing Education Office. Students enrolled in these programs can choose to take courses completely online or combine classroom instruction with online instruction. With either format, students have the ability to save a significant amount of time and money by telecommuting for their courses. Please visit Professional and Continuing Education for more information.
Flexworking is a simple option for employees to decrease their weekly commute trips to campus. A flexwork, or flexible workweek, schedule can be arranged in a variety of ways that fit the needs of both the employee and the department. Most commonly, flexworking consists of employees working longer than traditional shifts on certain days of the week and working fewer or shorter shifts on other days. These schedules are an excellent method for reducing commute costs and avoiding peak-hour commuting.
Establishing a flexwork schedule is a three-step process, which requires employees and managers to discuss and evaluate the compatibility of flexworking with the demands of an employee’s position.
Step 1: Develop a Flexwork Proposal
Employees looking to begin a flexwork arrangement should start by reviewing the material available from UW Human Resources and drafting a flexwork proposal for their supervisor. The UW Human Resources website provides examples of flexwork schedules, information about leave reporting, as well as tips for preparing a flexwork proposal.
Step 2: Discuss and Formalize Flexworking Logistics with a Supervisor
Once a manager approves an employee’s submitted proposal, the two parties must discuss the logistics of the arrangement, including how the schedule might interfere with customer relations and which days the employee will work. Unlike with teleworking, UW Human Resources does not provide any contracts for establishing a flexwork arrangement, so it is up to supervisors and employees to formalize these arrangements on their own.
Step 3: Try it Out!
After a flexwork schedule is agreed upon by the employee and the supervisor, the employee should start working this new schedule and continuously report to his or her supervisor to ensure that it is meeting the business needs of the department. Flexwork arrangements are non-binding and may be terminated at any time.
How do I know if I am eligible and able to work a flexwork schedule in my position?
You should meet with your supervisor or manager to discuss the feasibility of working a flexwork schedule in your position. An employee’s ability to flexwork is ultimately the decision of supervisors and departments.
How is holiday leave handled for employees on a flexwork schedule?
If a holiday falls on a day an employee is scheduled to work fewer hours than the hour value of a holiday, the employee receives credit hours for the difference. These credit hours can be used for time off at a later date. However, if a holiday falls on a day that an employee is scheduled to work more hours than the value of a holiday, the employee will owe the University the difference in time between the hour value of the holiday and the hours the employee was scheduled to work.
How does flexworking benefit departments?
Flexworking has the potential to increase employee satisfaction and productivity, as well as reduce employee absenteeism. Employees on flexwork schedules are also able to respond to customer needs and requests during earlier and later hours.