Over the last several years, many HUCTW members discovered the benefits of remote work, including increased productivity, better work/life balance, and less time commuting. According to our 2021 survey, 92% of members want to build remote work into their schedules on a long-term basis, beyond the pandemic.
Reports from members indicate that many HUCTW staff have had success negotiating for long term work-from-home arrangements (both hybrid and fully remote). But some departments and managers are still uncomfortable with remote work arrangements or only allow flexibility within narrow constraints.
Harvard and HUCTW have longstanding contract language that supports remote work and flex schedule arrangements, and we recently added new, stronger language in our last round of negotiations–all of which may be useful in your discussions with your supervisor around remote/hybrid work. A key theme of the contract language is the idea that flexible work requests (including remote work requests) cannot be unreasonably denied. We’ve shared some key excerpts from the contract here. If you would like advice about making a remote work proposal or if you have made a proposal and it’s been rejected, don’t hesitate to reach out to your HUCTW organizer for a confidential discussion. If you are unsure of who this is, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will connect you with the right person. All conversations are confidential.
A truly flexible work environment balances the needs of the individual and the operational needs of the work unit, department or school. Harvard University is a diverse institution where a wide variety of activities support its teaching and research. In order to support the many diverse activities of the University, a high degree of flexibility for supervisors and for employees is required. Moreover, that flexibility fosters opportunities for creative growth, development and work life balance of the employees who support these many activities. Each employee brings to the workplace unique skills, needs, and aspirations. Staff members’ needs for flexibility include but are not limited to education, dependent care (including child and eldercare), and commuting concerns. Both the University and the employee work better when it is possible to accommodate this mutual need for flexibility using different types of work arrangement including but not limited to remote and hybrid work, compressed work weeks, and other creative options. Therefore, as the University conducts its day-to-day business, flexibility should be considered in the application of the policies in this Manual.
In order to promote flexibility in the workplace, supervisors should discuss with employees their need for a flexible work arrangement with early, open, and ongoing communication. Open communication about flexibility requests provides opportunities to explore ways to accomplish the work of the department while recognizing the personal styles, needs, work life balance and career goals of each employee. In discussions about workplace flexibility, the needs of the work unit and the individual must be balanced when making decisions about workplace flexibility, hybrid, and remote work. Members and managers alike are trusted to communicate often and openly about how to maintain productivity and a healthy work life balance in a dynamic workplace. Requests should be considered and not unreasonably denied. Determinations around a member’s request will be based on that member’s individual job responsibilities and the operational needs and objectives of the work unit, department, or school.
If a requested flexible schedule arrangement cannot be reached between an employee and supervisor, the request will be explored further in consultation with the human resources department and HUCTW. If an agreement cannot be reached, the employee will be given a reason for the decision Based on the member’s individual job responsibilities and the operational needs and objectives or the work unit, department, or school.
Within the context of commitment to the successful operation of the local workplace, flexible arrangements and changes to them may be appropriate. If a proposed change to an established flexible arrangement will have a significant effect on any employee in the local unit, every effort will be made to review the flexible schedule arrangement to ensure that the needs of the individual and work unit are met. Changes will not be implemented without discussion and reasonable notice. If unexpected and/or atypical needs arise, temporary changes to an established flexible schedule may be necessary. These temporary changes will be made with as much notice as feasible and with the acknowledgement that sudden schedule changes can be disruptive and difficult for an employee.
Flexible Schedule Options
An employee with a flexible schedule works hours that differ from a traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule, or from the hours worked by other employees in their department. Managers and members are encouraged to explore the following but are not limited to the options listed below.
Typically this is an arrangement where two people fill regular part-time jobs and share the responsibilities of one regular full-time position, or one plus a fraction of a second position (e.g., each person works a total of three days per week.) When a person job shares, that person is part of a team; i.e., two people share one job and are both responsible for the satisfactory performance of the job.
Compressed Work Week
A staff member’s total weekly hours may be condensed into fewer work days: for instance, rather than work a five day week, the member can work more hours per day in fewer days (e.g., a 35 hour/week employee could work four days of 8.75 hours each).
Alternative Work Week
A schedule which is different than the standard Monday through Friday work week; for instance, a work week could span different days such as Tuesday through Saturday.
Daily Flexible Schedule
An employee sets their own work hours, in consultation with a manager, and considering the core hours or operational needs of the work unit or department (e.g., an employee whose regular schedule is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. may work instead 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.).
An employee reduces hours for a temporary or seasonal period of time, or as a permanent change (e.g., reducing to 80% from 100% FTE for a specified period of time).
An employee works both remotely and on campus for a specified number of hours per week or number of days per month. Hybrid schedules may vary throughout the year, depending on the operational needs and objectives of the unit or department.
Fully Remote Schedule
An employee has no designated office/physical space in Harvard facilities and conducts all work remotely. There may be times when the member is required to be on campus with discussion and reasonable notice.
In some circumstances, it may be appropriate to implement a collaborative work design effort when developing flexible schedules in a work unit, department or school. Contact HUCTW or consult Agreement (Article I) regarding work redesign projects.
Hybrid and/or Remote Work Expenses
Members must be actively supported in their efforts to successfully perform their assigned job duties, whether they work on campus or remotely. Members and managers should discuss the equipment, tools, and supplies required to perform their work both on campus and remotely. It may be appropriate for the department to purchase or reimburse a member for equipment and supplies necessary to be effective in working remotely, consistent with University and local policies.
Please reach out to your HUCTW organizer or write to email@example.com if you would like to schedule a confidential meeting or phone call with your HUCTW organizer about flexiblity or remote work.