Title: Supervising/Managing

Supervising/Managing
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1. Does an employee have to work in a job for a certain length of time before he/she can apply for a FWA?

No.  It is recommended that supervisors allow an employee to complete their probationary period (6 months) before considering a request.

It is the supervisor’s responsibility to review the needs of the office and ensure adequate coverage.  Traditional schedules meet the needs of the office and the vast majority of employees.  Employees who do request flexible work arrangements most often ask for slight changes in their daily arrival and departure times, changes that pose the least challenge for an employee's supervisor and co-workers.

For other arrangements, the supervisor may elect to stipulate certain time periods to accept requests, stipulate the types flex arrangements and schedules available to the office or make adjustments to existing flex arrangements.  Supervisors should consult their Human Resources Business Partner for additional guidance.

2. If a supervisor receives multiple requests and all cannot be accommodated, how does he/she rate the needs of the requesters to decide which requests to approve?

Reasons for the requests should not be used as the only factor in making a decision. If the employees' requests are similar in terms of their ability to continue to meet job requirements, seniority and performance may be factors in determining which request to approve. The supervisor may ask the employees for input into a solution that would enable the employees to meet their individual needs as well as the needs of the department.

3. As a supervisor, how do I deal with the possibility that everyone is going to want to have Friday or Monday off?

Decisions for approving or denying flexible work arrangements should be based on organizational needs, as well as the needs of the employee. Objective criteria, such as seniority, special skills, or office needs, should be considered. You may need to get all of the requestors together to figure out how to handle it.

4. As a supervisor, may I require someone else to change their schedule to accommodate others who want a flexible work schedule?

While supervisors may change work schedules and arrangements to accommodate the needs of the department, this is not advised.  It may appear that you are favoring certain employees.  Consult with your HR Business Partner for additional guidance.

5. Can flexible work arrangements be used to deal with busy times of the year when there is a need for an office to be open earlier or later?

Your department may need to open earlier or later during the beginning of a semester or during the summer if you're working with students. If this is a short-term arrangement, then it is not necessary to fill out the FWA paperwork. Supervisors should be clear on these expectations when employees are hired or as soon as it is evident that there will need to be a change in the future.

6. Can employees work on a Saturday or Sunday as part of their flexible work schedule?

Only if the needs of the department are being met with an employee working on a weekend. The supervisor needs to remember that additional resources (additional heating/cooling) should not be utilized for this purpose.

7. We have several employees with flexible work arrangements in my office, but I am worried that coverage is going to be a problem during busy times of the year. Is there anything I can do?

Many departments have peak times when everyone needs to be in the office during regular business hours. Supervisors can require that flexible work arrangements be suspended during these times.

8. How do you supervise employees working at home?

If employees work at home as an established flexible work arrangement, then supervisors should set up a structured system for evaluation and management. Performance measures should be agreed upon and then monitored. Communication is very important for those working at home.  Reminder: Non-exempt employees must report all time worked while at home.

9. How will I know that employees working from home are productive? Can I require documentation to support an employee's performance? How do I provide feedback to someone who is not in the office?

All employees will be expected to meet the same performance standards as otherwise required. Supervisors are expected to use the same performance review criteria that have been in place. The flexplace agreement should detail how the employee's productivity and performance will be evaluated.

10. Can I require that someone with a flexplace arrangement be here for meetings or other events?

Yes, you can. That discussion should be part of the original agreement.

11. Can someone with a flexplace arrangement also have flexible hours?

Yes, that can happen. The flexplace agreement should clearly define the hours the employee is expected to be available to others in the office and customers.

12. How can I manage my flexplace employees who are also part of a work team?

The flexplace agreement should detail expectations of the employee's working with others in the office. If the work team has regular meetings onsite, the flexplace employee can be required to attend those meetings, either in person or via teleconference.

13. Can an employee work from a location outside of Virginia?

Yes, in very rare instances.  Payroll will need advance notice of this type of a request to register as an employer in the state to withhold appropriate state taxes.  

14. Once a flexible work arrangement has been approved, how can it be introduced smoothly into the work group to address perceptions of fairness or redistribution of work?

It is necessary to make sure everyone is consulted when new working arrangements are introduced. Part of good management practice is to ensure employees are treated consistently and that they are not overloaded with work as the result of a flexible work arrangement by another employee. Where there is a worry that colleagues may find the flexible work arrangements unfair, supervisors, at the planning stage, should meet with the work group/department to define work parameters and develop a system to manage the work group/department's work schedule. For example, it would be useful to agree to procedures for the following:

  • Methods of briefing staff - e.g. on new tasks, progress, continuing tasks
  • Methods of dealing with forwarding - e.g. calls from the office, urgent correspondence, other correspondence
  • Assessing performance - how and when this will be done
  • Scheduling meetings - how and when they will be scheduled and how meetings will be conducted.  For example, will it be required for the flexing employee to meet in person or is a conference call acceptable
  • Discussing problems relating to the flexible working arrangement - how and when these will be dealt with

15. How should a supervisor handle a situation where it may be appropriate to approve one person's request for flexibility and deny the request of another?

All decisions should be focused on organizational needs and objective criteria related to work performance and job demands. A consistent approach to analyzing the situation should be applied. Then, it is important to communicate to each requestor the decision and its rationale. Documenting the basis for these decisions is always a good idea in case questions arise later. Business Partners can help you develop objective criteria to use and a strategy for communicating your decision.

16. Some of my employees who do not have a flexplace arrangement seem to be jealous of those who do. Any suggestions?

All flexible work arrangements should provide a benefit to the office/department. As a supervisor, you need to be able to share those benefits with the other employees. You must also be able to show how the work being done is integral to the operations of the department. Flexplace work should not be seen as a way to get out of work responsibilities. The flexplace employee should be viewed as an important part of the work group and should be part of regular meetings and gatherings.

17. What is the best way to handle an employee that wishes to take advantage of a flexible work arrangement, but it doesn't work for your office?

You can sit down with this employee and explain why the FWA won’t work. You can also try to come up with an alternate solution. If a compromise can be made, then try it. HR is here to help you if you should need it.

18. What is the appropriate level supervisor who should be involved in approving an employee's flexible work arrangement request?

This may vary by department/school/entity. If you are a supervisor who has been asked to review a flexible work arrangement request and you are not sure if you are the appropriate person to start the process, consult with your supervisor.

Upon receipt of a flexible work arrangement proposal, the supervisor receiving the request will discuss the request with the employee.  The supervisor will then consult with their Department/Division leader prior to consulting with their Human Resources Business Partner. The President’s Cabinet member must approve any flexible work arrangement in his or her respective division, in consultation with the employee’s supervisor and/or department head.

19. If an employee would like to flex during the summer months between graduation and the start of school, do they need to apply through this benefit?

No, for ad hoc or short-term arrangements (less than 4 months) supervisors are free to use their best discretion, consistent with applicable law and University policies, to address such short-term or unexpected needs.

20. How often should the flexplace and flextime agreement be reviewed? How long should I give the arrangement before I make any changes?

FWA must be reviewed annually.

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