Best Practices for Flexible Work Arrangements

Requesting Flexible Work Arrangements

The process begins when a staff member submits a request. It is encouraged that a verbal conversation takes place before a written request is submitted. See the Flexible Work Arrangements Toolkit for guidelines staff can use can use to submit requests.

Evaluating Requests for Flexible Work Arrangements

Consider a Flexible Work Arrangement request as "reason neutral", ie. the reason for request is not one of the variables used to determine feasibility. If a request is approved based on the employee's needs and not on feasibility, other problems or issues may result for the staff member or unit. If a request is denied based on preconceived notions as to what is or is not a valid reason, the process may be seen as questionable and biased. When a request is received, there are several variables used to determine feasibility. 

Instead, use this variables to determine feasibility of a flexible work request:

  • Unit programs/projects, including deadlines
  • The requesting staff member's area of responsibility and job description
  • The staff member's performance history, problem-solving abilities, sense of collaboration, and fit with the request
  • How the request fits the unit's mission, staffing needs, and resources

Place the approval in writing. The toolkit contains approval form letters.

If a request is not approved, provide a written denial with the rationale. Denial should be based upon objective criteria such as the staff member's past performance, poor fit to the position, financial viability, or unit needs. The toolkit contains example language to use when writing a denial letter.

Please note: Approving a request is at the discretion of the unit/department. When a change in schedule is not possible, other support services may be appropriate. Several resources are available through University Human Resources Organizational Effectiveness.

Tracking Flexible Work Arrangements

Tracking approved flexible work arrangements is encouraged. Use Employee Self Service/Administration/HR Online Update and HR Reports.

If a division or college wishes to self track, identify who will track the information and how. Track the name of the staff member, type of arrangement, beginning date, length of the arrangement, review dates, and department. If an arrangement ends, record the reason.

Other Best Practices to Consider

  • Set supervisor and employee expectations for coverage within the department/unit up front. Establish guidelines for when the arrangement may need to change temporarily to accommodate co-worker vacation or illness.
  • If staff are telecommuting from home, children or other family members should not be present in the home. Establish a plan for their care in advance.
  • Put the arrangement in writing.
  • Establish how success of the arrangement will be measured.
  • Set a trial period of three months (recommended) to determine if the arrangement is effective.
  • Review the arrangement annually (recommended).
  • Determine how the arrangement will end.
  • Be creative in considering how flexibility may work in your department/unit.
Contact Information

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