Flexible Work Arrangements Guidelines for Supervisors
Supervisors are a key part of making a flexible work arrangement a success and are best positioned to assess which jobs and employees are suitable for flexible work arrangements. They should be prepared to manage the work under the conditions of the arrangement, and set and manage the expectations. Managing flexible work arrangements requires the same skills as managing everyday issues.
- Assessing a Flexible Work Arrangement
- Confirming a Flexible Work Arrangement
- Managing a Flexible Work Arrangement
- Frequently Asked Questions
Assessing a Flexible Work Arrangement
When a supervisor receives a request for a flexible work arrangement, he/she needs to consider all of the issues and implications of the arrangement and discuss them with the employee. This will help both the supervisor and the employee determine if their job, environment and/or work history are suitable for specific flexible work arrangements.
Supervisors should think through potential challenges and ways to overcome the challenges before approving a flexible work arrangement. Supervisors may consult their HR Generalist for guidance.
Questions to consider:
1. Is a flexible work arrangement right for this position?
- Will the organization's overall mission be met with this arrangement in place?
- Do you have your own manager’s support with respect to implementing flexible work arrangements in their department?
- Is it necessary for all staff members in a similar job or in a unit to work the exact same schedule?
- Can the job be done at hours outside the range of traditional work week hours?
- Will the customers' needs continue to be met?
- Does the job include managing people?
- The maximum number of staff members in the unit who can work at home at before any work flow or productivity is impacted?
- How will the performance be measured?
- Can the job be done at a location outside of the office or regular workspace?
- Is face to face interaction an important component of the work?
- Does the job require access to specialized equipment or files?
2. Is a flexible work arrangement appropriate for this employee?
- Is the employee highly motivated and can he/she work independently?
- Will it be necessary to monitor arrivals and departures?
- Has the employee demonstrated ability to solve problems without supervisor intervention?
- Is the employee able to manage his/her own time?
- Does the employee have access to the necessary equipment and systems?
3. What are the signs of success?
- Are operational and/or business needs and results being met?
- Are planned meetings held as scheduled?
- Is the arrangement seamless to co-workers, customers and clients?
- Are the employee’s goals and/or objectives being met?
- Is the employee effectively communicating with his or her supervisor?
Confirming a Flexible Work Arrangement
Following the request, the supervisor will review the FWA request, taking into consideration the operational needs of the department. The supervisor will be responsible for communicating a decision to approve or deny such request. If approved, the supervisor and employee will determine an implementation plan. In the event that a request for a flexible work arrangement is declined, employees may appeal such decisions to their appropriate dean or department head. For suggestions on documenting the arrangement, contact your HR Generalist.
Managing a Flexible Work Arrangement
Supervisors have found that staff members with flexible work arrangements are more inclined to practice self-management work productively and experience improved morale. In order to achieve these results, special attention should be paid to the following:
- Communication. All department employees need to be kept informed of their colleagues' schedules. This calls for extra attention to communication for the first few weeks until everyone is familiar with any new arrangement. If staff member schedules change, communication about the changes need to be constant and consistent. To avoid confusion and misunderstanding, work out and communicate flexible schedules in advance so that conflicts or problems can be identified and resolved.
- Availability. There may be fewer employees in the workplace at the same time due to flexible work arrangements. Consider establishing core hours for all employees, and altering meeting times to take place during those hours. Departments can leverage technology to implement alternative methods for communication and meetings.
- Out of sight does not mean not getting work done. It can be challenging to overcome the mindset that work is done more effectively during traditional work hours and in the traditional work place. Individuals who care about their performance and are committed to the organization will alter a flexible arrangement if it is not working. Individuals with productive work histories typically will remain productive with a changed schedule.
- Manage for results. Criteria for and measurements of success should be established at the beginning of the arrangement. Supervisors are strongly encouraged to use the FOCUS Performance Management tool. FOCUS will enable the supervisor to measure performance and manage by results. By setting outcome goals, milestones and timelines, production can be measured and fears of lost productivity allayed.