Types of Flexible Work Arrangements
A detailed comparison of flexible work options.
Not sure which kind of arrangement will best suit your needs and those of your team? Consider these points:
Alternative Schedule Definition
An alternative work schedule is a scheduling arrangement that permits 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.
Types of Alternative Schedules
The starting and departure times may be fixed and selected periodically for a specified period with the same numbers of hours worked per day. Or, the starting and departure times can vary daily with a personalized work schedule, where a staff member may arrive at work and leave at a different time each day, provided the same number of hours are worked each day. This window of time may vary by hours or minutes on either end of the day.
Benefits of Alternative Schedules
Possible benefits include better office coverage, extended service hours, enhancement of staff morale, reduced tardiness and absenteeism, increased employee ability to better manage personal life, increased productivity because an employee may choose to work during their own peak times.
- Access to public transportation and dependent care options can often be a challenge. For access to dependent care resources, please contact Work/Life. Information on commuting options is available from Commuter and Parking Services.
- Scheduling of various flexible work requests to ensure office coverage.
Compressed Schedule Definition
A compressed work schedule allows an employee to work a traditional 35-40 hour workweek in less than the traditional number of workdays. Many compressed work schedule options may be negotiated. For example, a full-time employee scheduled for 40 hours per week could work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days. Or, an employee could opt to work 8.9 hours per day, and take one full day off every two weeks (exempt employees only).
Possible benefits include energy savings for the university, extended office coverage/customer service periods, alleviation of traffic concerns for employees, the employee’s ability to better manage his/her personal responsibilities, and an additional day off for employees while preserving their full-time income.
Challenges may include limited access to public transportation and dependent care options and figuring out coverage of responsibilities during the off hours of the employee. Extended workdays can also be physically/mentally draining for some employees. For access to dependent care resources, please contact Work/Life at (607) 255-5298. Find out more about commuting options from Transportation Services.
To successfully implement a compressed work arrangement, the employee and department should take into account the following concerns. For non-exempt staff, supervisors must pre-approve all hours to be worked in excess of the regularly scheduled 39-40 in any workweek. In order to avoid overtime concerns, non-exempt staff opting to work a compressed work week should plan to take the time off earned within the week it was earned. For example, a bargaining unit staff member may be required to work 4-10 hour days and take one day off per week vs. work 4-9 hour days and take one day off once every two weeks. In the second scenario, the employee must be paid overtime during the first week. Read more about the impact of flex on overtime.
Holidays and Time Off
A staff member on a flextime schedule who is granted paid leave time, such as vacation or health and personal leave, will deduct the number of hours scheduled to work on the day(s) off. For example, 10 hours of vacation would be deducted if a staff member uses vacation on a day with 10 scheduled work hours. This method of using paid leave time applies to all paid leave time options. Any regular staff member will receive pro-rated pay equal to 1/5 of his or her standard workweek for a university holiday.
Remote Work Definition
A remote work arrangement is an option that allows an employee to work at home or another off-site location, for a specified number of hours per week, month, etc.
Benefits of remote work include increased performance/productivity because the employee may have "quiet time" to complete projects uninterrupted, reduced energy consumption, reduced parking/travel costs/stressors, and often the feeling by employees of empowerment and control of their work.
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 remote work arrangement. They should take performance evaluations into consideration, as well as the reliability and work styles of their employees. Supervisors are encouraged to speak with their local human resources representative or Work/Life if they have questions on whether flexible work arrangements are possible in their unit. See the Remote Work for Managers tipsheet.
hourly employees are permitted to work remotely according to the Flexibility In the Workplace Policy 6.6.13. However, employees and supervisors are still required to comply with all timekeeping and overtime regulations defined by policy. Hourly employees who work remotely are required to be cognizant of these policies and structure their remote work just as they would in a typical workplace. Hourly employees may be managed by results, supervisors must ensure accurate recording of hours worked. For employees who are represented by a collective bargaining agreement, it is important to refer to the particular contract for related language on this topic.
Types of suitable work for hourly staff
- Customer service/response and scheduling: Use tools such as phone forwarding and group calendars
- Training: Improve office skills using SkillSoft, LinkedIn Learning, or other online learning resources.
- “Back Burner Projects:” Remote work time can be ideal to have your team member tackle delayed projects such as writing manuals or other types of documentation.
- Research: Ask the employee to do benchmarking research on a topic the department is interested in pursuing.
- Planning: Is there planning that needs to occur in your department? For example, do you run an annual meeting or conference in several months where the planning can start earlier?
- Data-Crunching: Compile department data to generate reports/metrics
- Updating Websites: Review department websites (and other promotional/written materials) for information that needs to be updated.
Salaried 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 those individuals. Even though the law allows this latitude, exempt staff members still need to discuss specific scheduling arrangements with their supervisors and obtain their approval.
Working Outside New York State
Work that is conducted remotely outside of New York State requires additional steps to be taken prior to the arrangement beginning. See Guidelines for Working Outside of New York State (pdf).
The supervisor/department must decide how much of the needed equipment they are willing to provide and who will be responsible for its maintenance, as well as compliance with data security policies.
Job Sharing Definition
A job share arrangement is a form of regular part-time work in which two people share the responsibilities of one regular, full-time position. These positions are regular part-time and as such must involve at least a 50% commitment. Therefore, the time commitment of each of the two individuals participating must be at least 20 hours per week.
Job sharing can provide many benefits, including reduced absenteeism, improved recruitment and retention of valued staff who may not want full-time employment, improved scheduling and continuity, increased breadth of skills and experience, allowance for unusual schedule needs of staff, and experience in working as a successful team.
Challenges of job sharing include the increased need for communication between the job share individuals, their colleagues and supervisor, so that division of responsibilities is clear; and the additional cost to the department to have two people on benefits for one position.
Either a staff member or a supervisor may recognize the need for job sharing, and either may introduce the option. When the supervisor recognizes the need for job sharing or an employee approaches a supervisor with interest in a job sharing position, the supervisor should consider:
- advantages of a job sharing situation
- ability to restructure the position for clear division of responsibilities
- availability of space and equipment
- training and other indirect administrative overhead, and
- schedule/continuity concerns.
If a job share arrangement is appropriate, discuss the arrangement in detail with the individuals who will be involved. Follow the standard university procedures for filling a vacancy and contact your local human resource representative for assistance.
If a staff member is interested in requesting that their full-time position be modified to that of a job share, they may submit a written proposal to the appropriate supervisor, which should include:
- advantage to the unit
- proposed work plan
- proposed schedule
- plan for communication/cooperation
- plan for continuity
If the job share position is one that is being created at the request of the current full-time incumbent, it is recommended that the incumbent participate in the interview process for the vacant half of the position.
Holidays and Time Off
A staff member working in a job sharing arrangement who is granted paid leave time, such as vacation or health and personal leave, will deduct the number of hours scheduled to work on the day the time off is taken. For example, 4 hours of vacation would be deducted if a staff member uses vacation on the day he or she was scheduled to work 4 hours.
All regular staff members will receive pro-rated pay equal to 1/5 of their standard workweeks for university holidays.
Occasional Use Definition
In instances where an employee does not need a consistent flexible work arrangement, an occasional use agreement may be applicable. Occasional use flexibility is the most commonly used form, and is most critical in supporting the work/life navigation of employees.
Employees and supervisors who consider establishing an occasional use agreement will need to establish parameters regarding the following (at minimum):
- Frequency in which the flexibility is considered appropriate
- What projects/tasks will be accomplished on flexible working days
- How the employee will communicate schedule changes to their supervisor and colleagues, and how far in advance notification must occur
Sample Situations for Occasional Use Flexible Scheduling:
- Special project or task requires intensive long periods of focus
- Inclement weather
- Employee or family member with weakened immune system or vulnerability to flu noted by physician
- The employee has a life need where instead of requesting personal/vacation time, they can successfully conduct their work remotely.
While an agreement form is unnecessary, a confirmation email can be used as documentation for the arrangement. By proactively creating this kind of agreement, both the employee and the supervisor become clear on expectations and business continuity will be supported.
Sample Confirmation Email
Dear [employee],This letter is to provide written follow-up to our recent conversation on establishing an occasional use flexible work arrangement. As discussed, we agreed to your ability to [adjust your hours to: OR work remotely on occasion], at roughly [frequency] per year. The purpose of this arrangement is to give you the necessary time needed to work on specific projects or accommodate life situations as they arise.When you have determined an appropriate day or length of time that would be conducive for this schedule adjustment to occur, the expectations are as follows:
- You will send a request to me as your supervisor, via [establish methods – phone, email, etc.], with as much advance notice as possible and include what day and time period you are requesting the ability to adjust your schedule. In the event the remote work situation is to help accommodate a life need (e.g. a doctor’s appointment), it is expected that you will inform me of what amount of time you can reasonably be expected to contribute during your work day.
- You will identify what measurable projects or tasks you will be working on during the period of time identified and inform me of progress made during the work time period.
- You will notify your colleagues (or any other individual that may need to reach you) of the duration and change in your schedule.
- You will change your voicemail greeting as appropriate, to inform individuals of how to reach you.
- [Other expectations as discussed]
This occasional use agreement will begin on [date]. We will revisit this agreement annually at minimum, and more frequently if warranted. The intent of the agreement is to support business continuity and productive work amid other workplace distractions and life needs. If at any point the arrangement becomes a detriment to business needs, we will revisit the arrangement and make changes as necessary. It is my hope that this arrangement will help us continue to meet our business needs while also providing you with some flexibility to conduct your best work.