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Flexible Work Arrangements

Bentley understands that employees need to balance many competing demands in their lives and that some employees may desire and benefit from workplace flexibility. There are many types of flexible work arrangements, including working a reduced schedule, having a work schedule other than the university’s normal schedule, working remotely, or situational flexibility. Other types of flexibility may also exist depending on the employee’s and the department’s needs.

Managers and employees are encouraged to engage in an open dialogue about an employee’s request for a flexible work arrangement.  When engaging in such a discussion, both parties should address the following factors:

  • What is the desired work arrangement or schedule?
  • For how long does the employee want a flexible work arrangement?
  • Why does the employee want a flexible work arrangement? 
  • How would the arrangement impact the employee’s ability to get his/her work done in a satisfactory manner?
  • If the arrangement anticipates working remotely, does the remote location have a workspace that will allow for work free from distraction?  Does the department have the resources to provide the technology needed to work remotely (e.g., laptop with VPN access)?
  • Does the nature of the employee’s job lend itself to a flexible work arrangement?
  • What would be the impact on the employee’s colleagues and the department’s business needs?
  • Has the employee’s performance, attendance and effort been satisfactory?  Does the employee have a strong track record of responsibility and accountability?
  • Has the employee demonstrated an ability to work independently?
  • Is the employee in an exempt or non-exempt classification? Non-exempt positions generally are not suitable for working remotely, but other types of flexible arrangements may be appropriate.
  • Do other employees in the department already have flexible work arrangements?
  • Are there barriers that would make it challenging to accommodate the employee’s request?  Can the barriers be addressed?
  • How will the employee’s work be evaluated if the employee is working remotely?

Managers are strongly encouraged to give thoughtful consideration to a request for a flexible work arrangement, to engage in an open discussion, and to consider whether a flexible work arrangement might work, even if it hasn’t been done in the past.

If a manager and employee want to explore a flexible work arrangement, the manager should contact the department’s HR Business Partner as changes to regular schedules may impact benefits eligibility or may need to be reflected for the employee in Workday. The HR Business Partner is also an advisory resource for both employees and managers when discussing workplace flexibility.

When exploring an alternate work schedule, managers may want to require that employees work within certain parameters.  For example, that the employee be present during certain “core” business hours (e.g., 10:00 am – 3:00 pm), not work before or after certain hours (e.g., not before 7:00 am or after 6:00 pm), or work a regular, consistent schedule.

Employees should understand that not all positions lend themselves to flexible work arrangements and that business needs may not make a flexible arrangement feasible. The fact that one employee in a department has a flexible arrangement does not mean that other employees in that department will necessarily be able to have a flexible arrangement as well. A department may not be able to accommodate multiple flexible arrangements, although managers are encouraged to think creatively about how to balance flexibility for multiple employees. Again, the department’s HR Business Partner can advise managers in this process.

Employees should not ask to work remotely as a form of dependent care. Employees who work remotely should have alternative dependent care arrangements in place on the days they work remotely.                  

In order to ensure that a flexible work arrangement is successful for both the employee and the department, it is recommended that schedule changes should be tried out on a trial basis of six or fewer months.  After that, flexible work arrangements may continue, but should be reviewed at least annually so that the employee and the manager can determine whether the arrangement is working, if it needs to be adjusted or discontinued, or whether it is time to let other employees in the department have a flexible arrangement.  Employees with a flexible work arrangement should understand that they may be asked to return to a normal work schedule, or to work on-site at any time.