What is a Flexible Work Arrangement?

A flexible work arrangement is an alteration to the time and/or place (flex-time and flex-place) that an employee regularly performs their work that is expected to last for more than three months.

Where can I find information on flexible work arrangement possibilities at Lafayette?

Why should I consider approving a flexible work arrangement?

Research has found that flexibility is a correlating factor in employee commitment and loyalty in support of work life balance. Flexible work options can improve morale, increase productivity, reduce absenteeism and turnover, enhance customer satisfaction, and improve competitiveness for job candidates.

What types of flexible work arrangements are available at Lafayette?

Both flex-time and flex-place arrangements may be considered.

Can I create a flex-place position that is fully remote?

Yes, fully remote positions may be considered, but have a number of implications including payroll, state taxes, etc. that must be addressed prior to creating such a position. For this reason, you should not pursue a fully remote position before speaking with Human Resources. Requests for such positions must be approved by Human Resources, Finance and the division head.

Are all employees eligible for a flexible work arrangement?

Any full- or part-time employee may apply for a flexible work arrangement, but certain positions cannot accommodate flexibility in time and / or place. Some positions require employees to be on campus at all times and some positions may not have as much flexibility to accommodate schedule changes.

Are hourly/overtime employees eligible for flexible work arrangements?

Yes, non-union hourly / non-exempt / overtime-eligible employees can be considered for flexible work arrangements. Supervisors must keep the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in mind when designing or implementing flexible work arrangements for non-exempt (hourly) employees since they are eligible for overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a workweek.

Are there specific procedures or forms that need to be completed and followed?

Yes. An employee interested in a flexible work arrangement should review the flexible work arrangement guidelines and complete the Flexible Work Arrangement Request & Agreement Form.

The website contains instructions and forms to complete the process. Additionally, if you have questions or would like someone to assist you, you may contact Human Resources at 610-330-5060 or hroffice@lafayette.edu.

Who decides whether or not to approve a request for a flexible work arrangement?

The immediate supervisor receiving the flexible work arrangement request will discuss it with the employee. The supervisor / manager will then consult with their division head and, if appropriate, someone from Human Resources. Division heads have ultimate approval authority for flexible work arrangements in their respective division. (See approval process guidelines)

How long should a flexible work arrangement be in place?

Flexible work arrangements generally last for three months or more. The immediate supervisor and employee must engage in regular reviews of the arrangement to monitor effectiveness and make improvements or enhancements that may be necessary. Each agreement should have a start and end / renewal date and be formally reviewed at least every six months. Review timing could also be based on a semester basis.

If my employee is currently in a flexible work arrangement, do I need to formalize it?

Yes. All flexible work arrangements must be formalized using the procedures outlined in the guidelines and using the Flexible Work Arrangement Request & Agreement Form.

Can an established flexible work arrangement be terminated?

With reasonable notice, a flexible work arrangement can be terminated or amended at any time. The supervisor or employee may change or terminate an arrangement based on personal needs, operational changes, staffing changes, leadership changes, performance, etc. Generally, the supervisor and employee should make every effort to provide at least 30 days’ notice, preferably in writing.

The first priority for a supervisor is to have an appropriately staffed operation. Changes within the department may prompt changes in existing flexible work arrangements including amendments or discontinuation. In the event of an emergency, or if the flexible work arrangement is terminated for poor performance, a supervisor has the option to change an employee’s flexible arrangement immediately.

Can a request for a flexible work arrangement for a position with the same or similar titles be handled differently? Can one be approved and the other denied?

Yes. Since every position and employee’s performance and situation are different, the same decision may not be appropriate for similar positions. Supervisors know the operations of their departments best and are responsible for final decisions on how to accomplish the necessary work. Supervisors have the authority and responsibility to approve or deny flexible work arrangement requests on a case-by-case basis. Supervisors can also postpone consideration of flexible arrangement requests.

Can a supervisor determine work arrangements for an entire department?

Yes, a supervisor may change work schedules and arrangements to accommodate organizational needs. This would not be considered a flexible work arrangement. For example, if changing operational needs requires extended hours or weekend coverage, thus requiring a change to an employee’s hours of work, this is a job requirement, not a flexible arrangement.

What happens if an employee working in a flexible work arrangement wants to return to their previous schedule?

Generally, the employee should discuss any changes with their supervisor at least 30 days before the date they wish to resume the previous schedule. The supervisor may or may not be able to approve the request immediately, depending on department needs.

What happens if an employee with a flexible work arrangement transfers to another department?

The employee and the employee’s new supervisor should discuss the situation and determine if the employee’s current flexible work arrangement is appropriate for the new position and /or department. The employee must complete a new Flexible Work Arrangement Request and Agreement Form and have it approved by the new supervisor and division head.

Who initiates a request or takes primary responsibility for completing a request for a flexible work arrangement?

Flexible work requests are generally introduced by an employee seeking a flexible work option. However, supervisors may also suggest flexible work options for some or all employees. The employee and the supervisor are encouraged to discuss their needs and to work together to develop the best possible arrangements.

What happens if a meeting, training session, or significant event is scheduled when my employee is not scheduled to be in the office?

It is important to remember that the work of the College and the department must not suffer as a result of employees using flexible work options. Generally, events or meetings cannot be scheduled around a flexible schedule and the supervisor determines the acceptable form of attendance. In some cases, the employee may have to come in or attend virtually. The schedule for non-exempt employees would have to be adjusted so that overtime is avoided.

If a supervisor receives multiple conflicting requests, how should they consider which requests to approve?

Decisions for approving or denying flexible work arrangements should always be based on organizational needs. Objective criteria, such as seniority, special skills, or office needs, should be considered. Human Resources can help you develop objective criteria to use and a strategy for communicating your decision.

Decisions should not be made based on the relative merit of the employees’ reasons for requests. You may choose to gather the requesters together to discuss how to handle multiple requests across the work unit.

It is important to communicate the decision and rationale to each requester. Documenting the basis for these decisions is always a good idea in case questions arise later.

We may have peak periods during the year when flexible arrangements may prove difficult. Is there anything I can do?

Some work units have peak times when everyone needs to be in the office during regular business hours. Supervisors may need to suspend flexible work arrangements during these times and should include this variable in employees’ flexible work agreements, if possible.

What are some tips for ensuring my employees working in a flexible workplace are productive?

All employees are expected to meet the same performance standards. Supervisors are expected to use the same performance management criteria in place for all employees. The flex-place agreement should detail how the employee’s productivity and performance will be evaluated. Supervisors should conduct the same type of periodic check-ins for employees with flexible work arrangements as they are expected to do for all employees.

What are some tips for handling perceptions of fairness or redistribution of work?

Part of good management practice is to ensure employees are treated equitably and that no one is overloaded with work due to other employees’ flexible work arrangements. If you are concerned that members of your team may perceive flexible work arrangements are unfair, you should meet with your employees to define work parameters and answer questions before the new arrangement is implemented. It would be helpful to agree to procedures for the following:

  • Methods of briefing staff — e.g., on new tasks, progress, continuing tasks
  • Methods of dealing with forwarding information — e.g., calls from the office, urgent correspondence, other correspondence
  • Assessing performance — how and when this will be accomplished
  • Scheduling meetings — how and when meetings will be scheduled and conducted. For example, will it be required for the flex-time / flex-place employee to meet in person or is virtual attendance acceptable?
  • Discussing problems relating to the flexible working arrangements — how and when will problems be addressed. All flexible work arrangements should provide a benefit to the office / department.

As a supervisor, you need to be able to communicate the benefits of such arrangements with employees. You must also be able to demonstrate how the work being done is integral to the department’s operations. Flexible work should not be seen as a way to get out of work responsibilities. All employees should be viewed as an essential part of the workgroup and should be part of regular meetings and gatherings. The College relies on your management and judgment to understand and prepare for your team’s needs. If you need help, you can call Human Resources at 610-330-5060.

What types of flexible work arrangements have the College already approved?

Over the years, the College has considered and implemented limited flex-time and flex-place schedules to address individual situations.

Who can help me think through a flexible work arrangement?

Human Resources will be happy to help you handle and manage flexible work arrangements and requests.