The good news is that we know that we have the ability to support remote work on a large scale. However, as we reimagine work, there's not going to be a one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone’s needs are different, and an individual's needs often change over time at different stages of their lives. It's likely that we'll see a mix of work styles based on what fits for our people and our work. For example:
Today's workforce is diverse and has different needs at different times of their lives. No longer will one solution work for every employee.
Treating employees fairly means giving their needs and desires equal individual attention and respect. Also, unit business needs must be a priority for all employees as well as the manager. When an employee is requesting a flexible work arrangement, the unit’s business needs, manager’s needs, and co-worker’s needs all must be considered by both the employee and manager.
Flexibility is a partnership with all parties affected. If approached together as a team, flexible arrangements can be beneficial for the whole group and can strengthen the trust and cohesion of a team.
Many of us have experienced just how effective we can be, thanks to technology and our commitment to one another. Zoom, email, collaborative documents, and other tools have made it easier than ever to work in a variety of places and at a variety of times.
However, the needs of each unit are different. So it may be important for managers to set in-person staff meetings on a regular basis, even if employees work different schedules or off-site. Do what works best for your team, and meets the requirements of your work. And remember, no matter how you work together, be sure to have regular touchpoints. Social connection is vital for each of us.
As with all employees, work objectives must be defined and managers must use multiple strategies to communicate and monitor progress. With flexible work, issues such as the initial agreement, setting goals and objectives, managing to outcomes rather than time, distribution of work for the team, and communication strategies can be discussed in advance, put in writing and then reviewed regularly with the manager and employee.
The way co-workers communicate and work on projects with an employee who flexes may change, but the overall workload of co-workers should not increase.
In the case of gradual return to work arrangements, co-workers may be asked to pick up some additional duties on a short-term basis, but this extra effort is preferable to the increased work and disruption that would be caused if a valued employee resigned to find a more flexible workplace.
It’s also important for co-workers to remember that they may need to rely on their colleagues for similar support in the future.
Overtime rules do not prohibit alternative work schedules or work from home as long as the employee has agreed to the arrangement.
Overtime pay at time and a half is required only if the flexible arrangement includes working over 40 hours in a single week. For most arrangements, this would not be the case.
When a flexible arrangement is being developed with a union employee, the union contract should be consulted to confirm that the arrangement is permitted.
In most cases, when an employee asks for a flexible accommodation, the union contract will support the request. In fact, it may be unionized employees who are most in need of flexible arrangements, given the high cost and limited availability of child care, the cost of gas, and long commutes.
Union contracts may need to be revised to address flexible work options.
When there is a climate of trust, employees appreciate the opportunity and perform to meet expectations. In the few instances where performance is questioned, disciplinary action can be taken or standard work schedules can be returned to for those employees in question.
When business needs are established in advance, managers can work with the team to see how much flexibility is feasible. In some instances, employees may have to temporarily rearrange their schedules to meet the unit’s needs. In other instances, there may be an agreement for employees to take turns to ensure the unit is covered. If some employees work a compressed work week (e.g. four ten-hour days) their schedules may be organized so that each one works a different four day schedule in order to ensure 10 hour coverage for all five days of the week.
Several options are available depending upon the employee’s schedule. For part-time staff, holidays and vacation or sick hours are pro-rated in relation to their scheduled hours. For others, such as those on 10-hour days, they may revert to a standard schedule on holiday weeks so that each holiday is allotted eight hours. Or, many units pro-rate time by the hour, so if there is an eight-hour holiday and the person works a 10-hour shift, adjustments are made accordingly.
Review the Remote Employment Policies and Agreements content for information about compliance.