Working with Flexibility

How we return to work post-pandemic

Pilot Phase (August 2021 – June 2022)

The past 15+ months have shown that a broader adoption of flexible work arrangements is important to the productivity, wellbeing, and work/life alignment of our faculty and staff as well as our ability to recruit and retain a diverse workforce in this post-pandemic world of work. Our school therefore joins the University of Minnesota community in piloting a flexible work culture.

We seek to balance the needs of our work with employee interests and recognize that this will be a learning period for our SPH community. Accordingly, we will embark on a year-long pilot phase of working with flexibility starting on August 2, 2021, with ongoing assessments and adjustments aligned with the University:

  • Test — August to December 2021
  • Evaluate — November 2021 to January 2022
  • Refine — January to June 2022

Guiding Principles

During this pilot phase, we envision a hybrid work model where there are a variety of fixed (onsite) and flexible space/time options across the school. As a general suggestion, the default work schedule for full-time faculty and staff will be three workdays on site / two workdays remote. Faculty and staff will be in the workplace more if their work warrants being onsite or if that is their preferred style for optimal work.

Individual and team work arrangements will be led by these guiding principles:

  1. Our experience throughout the pandemic has shown us the depth of our faculty and staff members’ commitment to serve the mission and people of our school. Many have benefitted from and performed well with the flexibility to determine where and when to do their work. We recognize that broader adoption of flexible work arrangements is important to the productivity, wellbeing, and work/life alignment of our faculty and staff as well as to our ability to recruit and retain a diverse workforce in this post-pandemic world of work.
  2. Determinations about work arrangements will be made with service to our school’s mission and our community foremost in mind. Ensuring the best quality service for students, staff, and faculty will primarily guide decisions about whether work should be performed in person and whether it needs to be performed during certain core business hours.
  3. We value collaboration and teamwork to accomplish our work, advance our mission, and provide the best service. An in-person, onsite presence for some faculty and staff is important for internal-facing and external-facing engagement, collaboration, and teamwork, and for the vitality of our school community. Requests to work 100% remotely are expected to be limited, and we will evaluate them equitably based on the individual circumstances. We anticipate a need to revise, assess, and adjust these guidelines and arrangements as we learn from our experiences together.

Collaborative Process

Individual faculty and staff, supervisors/PIs, and, as indicated, their work teams, will discuss and agree to work arrangements based on the nature of work, service needs and standards, and teamwork needs and dynamics. Supervisors/PIs will be supported through University-provided training and resources and SPH Human Resources Team consultations as they establish work arrangements with their employees.

As faculty and staff and their supervisors/PIs determine new work arrangements, they are expected to:

  • Engage in offered training and with provided resources to understand and become better equipped to articulate goals, roles, and accountability regardless of where and when work is performed. (See OHR website: Work. With Flexibility)
  • Work with each other to understand the rationale behind preferred work arrangements. (Note: division administrators have the spring staff preference survey responses for their divisions.)
  • Take steps to understand the service needs and expectations of those we serve and support (e.g., students, research participants, community partners, alumni, faculty, and staff).
  • Maintain supportive environments that foster the success and wellbeing of employees, supervisors/PIs, and teams.
  • Maintain open communications about work environment preferences, successes, and challenges, and make adjustments as needed.
  • Ensure that work environments support the high quality, effective delivery of our mission.
  • Employees requesting remote or hybrid work arrangements are responsible for ensuring ongoing childcare arrangements to allow for focused, fully engaged work time.
  • Adopt tools and other practices (including use of Google Calendar, on site signage, and email signature blocks) to ensure key partners and stakeholders are aware of when and how to contact individuals and teams.

To promote a fair, equitable, and well-functioning workplace, supervisors/PIs or their designates will complete a short form that captures the work arrangements of individuals or work teams. Division representatives, in partnership with SPH Human Resources, will review those arrangements to consider creative options and compare arrangements of similarly situated individuals and teams across the school. This process is further explained below.

  1. After discussions, by Monday, July 19, supervisors/PIs or their designates will complete and submit a short Pilot Work Arrangements form to sph-hr@umn.edu outlining the work arrangements for their direct reports/team members. Note that:
    • Staff who work with more than one team should coordinate with their supervisor of record (i.e., the individual responsible for their annual performance appraisal).
    • Faculty not included on a team form and staff who don’t have a formal team or unit should complete their own individual Pilot Work Arrangements form or convey them to their division head.
    • Individuals need only submit or be included on one Pilot Work Arrangements form. If they happen to be included on more than one form, that is all right. Similarly, more than one team could be listed on a form if that’s easier for the supervisor/PI.
    • Include graduate assistants and student workers on team forms or individually if you can at this time. Otherwise, their arrangements can be captured later once discussed and known.
  2. Upon receipt, division administrators will review the work arrangement forms for their divisions in collaboration with the division heads and in partnership with the SPH Human Resources Team. They will initiate conversations with supervisors/PIs when there are questions regarding application of these guidelines and principles, possible equity or similar concerns, and any situations needing clarification due to special considerations. Additionally, academic leaders and those of certain functions, such as the enrolled student experience or faculty affairs, will be involved to support and ensure parity, service levels, and shared tools across teams.
  3. The dean will resolve or assist with any concerns that cannot be fully addressed at the division level.

Special Considerations

  • Living Outside Minnesota: Because we are a land-grant institution that serves the state, the University will continue to — in most cases — expect employees to live in Minnesota. Any supervisor/PI considering hiring an employee who lives outside of Minnesota and any current faculty or staff member considering moving outside of Minnesota needs to consult with the SPH Human Resources Team beforehand. New University procedures effective August 2, 2021, will require SPH to request an exception and follow processes taking into account pertinent employment, tax, and workers’ compensation laws. Questions about working internationally will be handled on a case-by-case basis in consultation with University offices.
  • Disability Accommodations: An employee with medical concerns may request a flexible work arrangement as an accommodation. In order to ensure compliance with our obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Disability Resource Center will be responsible for reviewing the request, directing the interactive process, and, in consultation with the unit, determine whether the requested accommodation is reasonable or an undue hardship.
  • Fair Labor Standards and Recording Hours: Current processes for logging hours worked in MyU remain in place. If an hourly employee works on site or remotely, it is critical that they track all hours worked and are paid for those hours. Exception-hourly employees need to log hours when they have some exception to their regular schedule such as overtime or a shift differential. An employee is not eligible for shift differential pay if they request to flex or change their typical hours as a matter of convenience or preference.
  • Caregiver Duties: Employees requesting remote or hybrid work arrangements are responsible for ensuring ongoing childcare arrangements to allow for focused, fully engaged work time. Flexibility is extended to meet intermittent childcare needs such as during illness, snow days, etc. Existing policies and processes for vacation, sick/medical, and other leaves continue.
  • Supervisor Support: Leadership and Talent Development in the Office of Human Resources has developed resources to help supervisors build the skills needed to make decisions about working with flexibility and managing flexible teams. (See OHR Supervisor Support.)

(More detailed information on these and other special circumstances is available in the Preliminary Work. With Flexibility Operational Guidelines on the OHR website.)

Space and Technology/Equipment Arrangements

Onsite Employee (fixed space) Hybrid Employee (works both onsite and remote) Fully Remote Employee
On-campus work space Individual dedicated workspace provided  (office or cubicle) Depending on circumstances after the test period of the pilot, hybrid employees may not have dedicated workspace and/or may be encouraged to use shared and reservable spaces when working on site. Note that these types of spaces will need to be developed beyond current availability and are dependent on individual dedicated workspaces being utilized differently. Employees who are fully remote will use shared and reservable spaces when occasionally on site.
Technology equipment SPH-provided equipment to be used in the employee’s primary workspace (onsite, individual, dedicated workspace).

 

Same SPH-provided equipment to be used in the employee’s primary workspace (home or on-site SPH space). Any additional equipment needed would be the employee’s responsibility.

Arrangements for hybrid work will require consideration of computer availability. Staff currently using a desktop computer will need special arrangements if a computer is needed at the secondary location.

Printing, scanning, and other services provided through shared equipment should be arranged when on campus.

Same SPH-provided equipment to be used in the employee’s primary workspace (home). Any additional equipment needed would be the employee’s responsibility.

SPH-provided laptop or desktop and accessories may be used at home — desktop PCs may need wireless network adapter added and may need webcam/mic/ speakers for participating in remote meetings.

Printing, scanning, and other services provided through shared equipment will require special consideration. Print jobs can be sent to office printers, if needed.

Internet connection Internet connectivity provided through UMN. Reliable high-speed internet service is a necessity for working remotely. A minimum speed of at least 2Mbps/upload is required for Zoom video to work well, and a higher speed may be needed for data-intensive uses.

This speed exceeds the basic DSL service in many homes and may not be available in all remote work locations.

Per UMN policy, SPH cannot offer financial support for home internet service.

Reliable high-speed internet service is a necessity for working remotely. A minimum speed of at least 2Mbps/upload is required for Zoom video to work well, and a higher speed may be needed for data-intensive uses.

This speed exceeds the basic DSL service in many homes and may not be available in all remote work locations.

Per UMN policy, SPH cannot offer financial support for home internet service.

Security standards Employees are expected to:

Same expectations as onsite employees with greater care to be demonstrated on public or otherwise unsecured networks.

Keep in mind that access to servers and other online data may require using VPN and is likely to be much slower than on campus.

Computers that are not routinely on campus may require regular software updates.

Same expectations as on-site employees with greater care to be demonstrated on public or otherwise unsecured networks.

Keep in mind that access to servers and other online data may require using VPN and is likely to be much slower than on campus.

Computers that are not routinely on campus may require regular software updates.

Office Equipment SPH-provided equipment in UMN office locations Same SPH-provided equipment as in office locations — some items may be borrowed and moved home with the understanding that this will mean the office will not have that item.

Duplicate items will not be purchased for both office and home locations.

As a general rule, employees choosing to work remotely rather than in an SPH office are expected to furnish and maintain a safe and ergonomically appropriate workspace.

Some SPH-provided office equipment may be borrowed and moved home (examples would include an office chair or sit-stand unit).

SPH will not purchase additional equipment for home use. Exceptions will be considered for unique situations and may be made if recommended by the University’s DEHS and the Disability Resource Center.

Employees are required to return items purchased by the University and/or borrowed from the office, and supervisors/PIs are responsible for ensuring compliance with this requirement.

Helpful tips:

Phone service Consider whether telephone service is needed or whether other communication tools work better.

A UMN-provided land-line telephone can be installed in the employee’s primary workspace (onsite, individual, dedicated workspace) if needed.

If team members work remotely, be sure that everyone on the team is able to use tools like Zoom as needed for meetings.

Assume employees do not need a land-line telephone and address on a case-by-case basis after the test period of the pilot.

Use enterprise- supported communication tools, such as Zoom, Google Meet, and Google mail. Clearspan Communicator might be an option for phone service.

Assume employees do not need a land-line telephone.

Use enterprise- supported communication tools, such as Zoom, Google Meet, and Google email. Clearspan Communicator might be an option for phone service.

Primary Contacts

Biostatistics:

  • Beth Olson, Division Administrator
  • With HR partnership from: Tracey Kane, Assistant HR Director

Environmental Health Sciences:

  • Debb Grove, Division Administrator
  • With HR partnership from: Stacey Ripka, HR Consultant

Epidemiology and Community Health

  • Liz Hinske, Division Administrator
  • With HR partnership from: Stacey Ripka, HR Consultant

Health Policy and Management:

  • Kelli Johnson, Division Administrator
  • With HR partnership from: Tracey Kane, Assistant HR Director

School-wide Units and Dean’s Office:

  • Susan Rafferty, Chief of Staff

 

For information technology issues:

  • Jeff Johnson, IT Director

For non-division-based finance and space questions:

  • Tamara Hink, Assistant Finance Director
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