WPI recognizes that offering remote and flexible work options has the potential to improve job satisfaction, enhance employee recruitment and retention, optimize building and space planning and achieve a more fulfilling work/life balance, while continuing to support WPI’s vibrant and inclusive culture. WPI encourages employees and managers to explore the remote and flexible work options described in this Policy.
The purpose of these Guidelines is to help employees and managers understand WPI’s Remote and Flexible Work Policy and to assist employees and managers in their discussions about potential FlexWork arrangements.
As used in these Guidelines, “FlexWork” describes any non-traditional work arrangement that includes any combination of Remote Work and/or Flexible Work as defined in WPI’s Remote and Flexible Work Policy.
A Guide to FlexWork Arrangements
Division Heads (or their designees) should consult with managers in their divisions to discuss their Division’s plan for FlexWork before a manager determines the suitability of FlexWork for an employee.
There are four steps to determining the suitability of FlexWork for an employee:
- Step 1: Managers should determine which jobs in their organization are suitable for FlexWork.
- Step 2: Managers should consider the responsibilities of supervising their employees working with a FlexWork arrangement. Training is key to success.
- Step 3: Managers and their employees should discuss potential FlexWork arrangements.
- Step 4: The specific FlexWork arrangement for each employee must be reflected in a written FlexWork Agreement.
Step 1: Managers should determine which jobs in their organization are suitable for FlexWork.
A job may be considered suitable for FlexWork if some or most of its responsibilities can be performed at an alternate work location and/or on a non-traditional work schedule without any negative impact on productivity, customer service, operational efficiency, or team collaboration.
The determination should first be based on the type of work, not just on employee preference or their past performance.
Tasks that may be suitable for FlexWork: Tasks that may not be suitable for FlexWork: Budgeting Building Security Data Analysis Custodial Work Data Entry Driving Editing Infrastructure Repair Programming In-Person Customer Service Project Management In-Person IT Support Research Physical Inspections and Testing Software Development Building Repair and Maintenance Writing Grounds and Landscaping Work Food Preparation/Cooking
Each job should be considered individually, per the responsibilities of the role. When discussing the suitability or unsuitability of job for FlexWork with their employees, managers should consider explaining to employees the reasoning behind a determination, to limit any dissatisfaction.
Additional key considerations include:
1. Student and Customer Interaction:
WPI prides itself on its interactive and in-person student experiences and recognizes the importance of in-person connections with our students, our colleagues and the broader WPI community, which means that not all positions are amenable to FlexWork. Managers should carefully consider whether the job is a student- or customer-facing position that requires the employee to be in-person to provide the most effective experience, and/or meet the manager’s, customer’s, or student’s needs.
2. Office Space and Commuting:
The nature of an employee’s FlexWork arrangement will dictate whether the employee has a dedicated on-campus office or whether the employee will utilize shared workspace when on campus. The manager and employee should discuss on-campus office space as a part of the FlexWork arrangement.
Managers should ask:
- What is more important to the employee/manager – maximize remote work, if possible, or maintaining a physical office on-campus?
- What percentage of the workweek will the employee be working remotely?
The following guidelines apply to office space and will be reviewed by Facilities on at least an annual basis:
- New employees working sixty percent (60%) or more remotely will not be provided a dedicated workspace on campus.
- Existing employees who currently have a dedicated on-campus office will be expected to de-commit to their on-campus office space if they are working sixty percent (60%) or more remotely.
- Managers will document whether employees with FlexWork arrangements will have a dedicated on-campus office and report the building and room number to VP for Campus Planning/Facilities Management.
- If an employee who works sixty percent (60%) or more remotely and the employee needs to work on campus, the employee may book unassigned shared workspace (“hoteling space”) for those days.
If the employee and manager agree that a FlexWork arrangement is suitable, the FlexWork Agreement should reflect whether the employee’s remote status is for WPI’s benefit (e.g., a donor relations officer assigned to a particular region of the country) or for the employee’s benefit (e.g., the employee prefers to work remotely and the manager agrees the job may be done remotely). If an employee works one hundred percent (100%) remotely for WPI’s benefit, WPI will reimburse the employee for commuting expenses when they must travel to campus on certain occasions. If an employee works less than is one hundred percent (100%) remotely, then any commuting expenses incurred for travel to campus will be borne by the employee only.
3. Office Equipment:
WPI will provide each employee with only one set of office equipment (i.e., desk chair, laptop computer, docking station, monitor, mouse, keyboard, headset and any equipment or assistive technology for employees with disability accommodations approved by Talent & Inclusion). FlexWork employees who wish to have a second set of equipment at their alternate work location must purchase the equipment with their own resources, subject to applicable policies (including the Computer Systems Purchasing Policy).
For employees with a FlexWork arrangement that includes both on-campus and work at a remote location, the employee will have the ability to utilize shared space when on-campus. All other required equipment will be supplied as part of the shared space on-campus.
All printers, copiers, scanners, fax machines, shredders, white boards, and other traditional office supplies will be located at WPI.
Managers should ask:
- Do the employee’s core responsibilities require access to equipment, materials, and files that can only be accessed at WPI?
- How do FlexWork arrangements for my department assist WPI in building and space-planning efforts to ensure that office space is not sitting empty and unused?
4. Phone and Internet Access:
High speed internet access and telephone services are required to work remotely. Employees must provide their own Wi-Fi connectivity at their alternate work location at their own cost. All employees are assigned a university phone number. FlexWork employees have the option to use their personal phone or WPI’s VOIP phone technology through their computer with a headset at their alternate work location.
Managers should ask:
- Will the employee have access to necessary equipment to perform their job function at their alternate work location?
- Will the employee have access to Wi-Fi at their alternate work location to be able to complete their tasks, and communicate with their manager and team?
- Is the FlexWork arrangement aligned with the need for the employee to be physically present for face-to-face meetings?
5. Security of Information:
Employees working at alternate work locations, and their managers, must adhere to all applicable WPI security policies and procedures to ensure the confidentiality and security of data, including but not limited to the: Acceptable Use Policy, Confidentiality Policy, Data Classification and Usage Policy, Information Technology Security Exception Policy, Network Security Policy, Records Retention and Destruction Policy, and Restricted Use Data Clean Desk and Clear Screen Policy.
The employee must sign and submit an appropriate confidentiality agreement before a FlexWork Agreement is finalized. The manager must confirm with Talent & Inclusion that the employee has signed (or will sign) an appropriate confidentiality agreement.
All products, documents and records that are used, developed, or revised during the FlexWork arrangement remain the property of WPI.
Managers should ask:
- Are there any concerns about an employee’s potential FlexWork arrangement because of the type of information or data to which they have access?
- Will it be unnecessarily burdensome or difficult to ensure the security of information in a FlexWork environment?
Step 2: Managers should consider their responsibilities of supervising their employees working with a FlexWork arrangement. Training is key to success.
For an employee whose alternate work location would be outside of Massachusetts (i.e., an employee that does not live in Massachusetts and will be working from home), the manager must contact Talent & Inclusion to confirm that WPI is registered with that state for tax purposes and set up for payroll and benefits purposes at least thirty (30) days prior to the expected start date of the FlexWork arrangement, as that will be a determinative factor of whether a FlexWork arrangement is possible.
Assuming the alternate work location would not disqualify an employee from a FlexWork arrangement, a manager should consider their own management and supervision style, their level of trust in the employee to perform their assigned job duties in a FlexWork environment, team scheduling/coordination, and the workload impact, if any, on the manager and the team.
A successful FlexWork arrangement must be supported by a robust and effective training program for the FlexWork employee, the manager, and other team members who may (or may not) have a FlexWork arrangement.
Training consists of logistical training on the FlexWork Policy and these guidelines, as well as developing the FlexWork Agreement. WPI will also provide training on supporting managers, FlexWork employees, and their team members.
Step 3: Managers and their employees should discuss potential FlexWork arrangements.
If the manager has determined that all or some of the employee’s responsibilities can be performed through a FlexWork arrangement and/or the employee is interested in a FlexWork arrangement, the manager must determine if the employee is suitable for a FlexWork arrangement. The FlexWork approval or denial determination is made by the employee’s manager on a case-by-case basis. FlexWork should be considered when interviewing candidates for a FlexWork position. Managers must keep their Talent & Inclusion business partner apprised of FlexWork discussions, and ultimately final FlexWork Agreements, with their employees.
Some of the factors that may be considered when assessing whether a particular employee should be approved or denied a FlexWork arrangement are:
- The employee’s recent performance history.
- Whether the employee requires close, in-person supervision.
- Whether the employee manages time well.
- Whether the employee understands their role and expectations.
- Whether the employee is organized, highly disciplined and conscientious.
- Whether the employee is a self-starter.
- Whether the employee consistently meets deadlines.
A few other items to keep in mind:
- If the employee is not well suited for FlexWork, or if their FlexWork request is denied based on a previously documented performance issue, managers should communicate that reasoning to the employee. Managers who are unsure of how to approach this conversation with their employee should contact their Talent & Inclusion business partner for guidance.
- Managers must retain documentation of FlexWork arrangement approvals and denials for each employee and send such documentation, including the final FlexWork Agreement, to Talent & Inclusion to be maintained in the employee’s personnel file.
- The employee is responsible for setting up their workspace at their alternate work location. Specifically, employees should designate “office” space, get IT support for their setup, minimize distractions in this area, be cognizant of how their environment appears during video meetings or phone calls, get Environmental Health & Safety support for the ergonomic concerns, and be aware of their dependent care needs during FlexWork hours.
- If dependent care is a significant constraint, the manager may wish to explore a FlexWork arrangement that realistically anticipates or establishes when the employee will be able to focus on work tasks without interruption and when the employee will need to shift their focus to providing dependent care (if such an arrangement meets the manager’s business needs).
- Employees should work with managers to establish their work hours. Consider requesting these work hours be added to the employee’s email signature.
Step 4: The specific FlexWork arrangement for each employee must be reflected in a written FlexWork Agreement.
After determining that both the role and employee are suitable for FlexWork, it is time to create a FlexWork Agreement that establishes the specifics of the arrangement. Managers must utilize the FlexWork Agreement template.
This template is designed to be user-friendly and assist the employee and the manager in thinking about the key considerations that will help define a successful FlexWork arrangement. If you require assistance, please contact your Talent & Inclusion business partner.
For employees who live in a state other than Massachusetts, before signing the FlexWork Agreement, the manager must have contacted Talent & Inclusion to confirm that WPI is registered with that state for tax purposes and set up for payroll and benefits purposes at least thirty (30) days prior to the expected start date of the FlexWork arrangement. In addition, the employee should contact Talent & Inclusion to discuss the impact of the FlexWork arrangement on taxes and employee benefits, such as healthcare.