Future of Work Report

The Future of Work@Iowa project team released their full report in June 2021, building on preliminary guidelines from March 2021. Download the report (PDF) or read the executive summary below.

Download the Report

Executive Summary

Established in November 2020, the Future of Work@Iowa project aimed to reimagine how and where University of Iowa employees work after COVID-19.

The project focused largely on understanding the long-term potential for remote and hybrid work, flexible schedules, and other types of work arrangements that have proven effective—but not without challenges—during the pandemic.

Our key observations and recommendations:

  • Developing reasonable, realistic options for work arrangements—primarily at the college/division level—will help the university compete for talent and satisfy employee calls for more options.
  • Greater adoption of remote/hybrid work may yield space-management and cost-saving benefits by reducing demand for on-site space (whether university-owned or leased).
  • Strategic, mission-driven adoption of remote work is good for the state of Iowa. Savings may be redirected to student-facing programs, competitiveness may attract more world-class teachers and researchers, and flexibility will help some university employees stay in their Iowa hometowns rather than moving for work.
  • Many university jobs require on-campus work. Teaching and health care, in particular, depend on in-person interaction.
  • Work arrangements must put university mission needs and service expectations first. They need to be implemented intentionally and equitably, backed by mission/service rationales and subject to review.
  • Colleges, divisions, and central service units should continue progress toward a work-arrangement pilot for fall 2021. Colleges and divisions should determine which jobs are suitable for remote/hybrid work or flexible schedules, document specific arrangements with employees, and track impact on costs, productivity, engagement, and other factors.
  • Any long-term remote/hybrid work or flexible schedule arrangement requires formal documentation, reporting, and periodic review. Short-term arrangements of 30 days or less (14 days or less for international remote work) do not require formal documentation.
  • Improved process for out-of-state and international work ensure these arrangements support mission needs and keep the university competitive with research institutions in other states. Out-of-state remote-work arrangements lasting more than 30 days and international arrangements lasting more than 14 days require additional review by University Human Resources and other central service units.
  • University Human Resources should develop new resources and training to support remote/hybrid work, particularly for supervisors managing remote employees and/or hybrid teams.
  • All university employees should have access to professional development, support services, and other resources regardless of their specific work arrangements.
  • Mental health resources, family caregiving programs, and other supports for employees are essential as most work shifts back to campus and as the university establishes long-term options for work arrangements.
  • In most cases, the university should provide employees working remotely with university-owned computers. Use of university computers rather than personal equipment is strongly preferred.
  • In general, the university will provide equipment only for an employee’s primary work location. The university can provide IT equipment, some non-IT equipment (e.g., office chairs), and supplies for remote-work locations.
  • Employees working remotely will provide their own workspaces and large furnishings (e.g., desks) as needed. Employees working remotely must minimize distractions and keep environments conducive to quality work.
  • Employees working remotely will be responsible for their own internet service and home network, ensuring bandwidth and coverage necessary to participate in work activities.
  • Gauging long-term impacts on campus space utilization and management will take time and data from the fall 2021 pilot. Space-related recommendations are expected by mid-2022.
  • Space-management decisions should follow established practices that balance college/division interests with university-wide needs.
  • Greater adoption of remote/hybrid work may require the university to develop and manage new kinds of work spaces. Planning and piloting for those developments should begin now.
Contact Information

Future of Work@Iowa