Options

Flexible Work Arrangement Options

There is an array of flexible work options available at GVSU including flextime, telecommuting, compressed work schedules, and alternative work assignments. 

Although not all options may be available in all departments or for all positions, these guidelines can offer employees suggestions that may help them manage their work schedules while continuing to meet business needs.

Initially, all flexible work arrangements should start on a 3-month trial basis to determine the success of the flexible schedule and its feasibility as a regular arrangement.

Flextime is a variable work schedule, in contrast to traditional work arrangements requiring staff members to work a standard 8am to 5pm day.  Flextime usually involves alteration of the start or end time of the work day.  Flextime is the easiest to manage and the most cost effective flexible work option. It offers flexibility in arrival, departure and/or mealtimes, typically within normal business hours. For example, staff members could work 8am to 4:30pm with a 30-minute lunch. 

ADVANTAGES

  • Most flextime arrangements involve slight variations in the staff member's normal schedule. As a result, they are among the easiest flexible work arrangements to manage.
  • Staggering the beginning and ending times of staff members in a particular department can improve work area coverage and extend the hours of service to internal and external customers.
  • Flexibility and variety of hours worked can vary commute times.
  • Allows staff members to schedule work around their needs.

CHALLENGES

  • Loosely structured flextime arrangements may present several challenges, including 
    • adequate department coverage and customer service, and
    • ability to monitor overtime for hourly staff members.
  • In areas where several staff members work flextime schedules, it may be a challenge to coordinate staff members' schedules for adequate department coverage and customer service.
  • It may be a challenge to sustain morale among staff members who do not have the opportunity to work a flexible work arrangement but see others who work FWAs.
  • If a FWA is agreed to, typically a staff member will be able to return to their original work arrangement.  However, this should be discussed during the approval process. 

Telecommuting is the practice of using telecommunication technologies to facilitate work at a site away from the traditional office location and environment.
Telecommuting:

  • Enables a staff member to work from an off-site location for all or part of the regular workweek,
  • May be appropriate for only some staff and jobs,
  • Must comply with federal, state and municipal laws that apply to staff at GVSU. This includes, but is not limited to, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA),
  • Will specify the number of hours to be worked at home and the specific time in which this will occur (eg., every Tuesday, the first Monday of the month, etc.),
  • Is not an organizational-wide benefit that is available to all staff, and in no way changes the standard policies, terms, and conditions of employment with GVSU.

Other considerations:

  • GVSU does not cover or provide for the additional cost of an off-site office, including that of additional telephone lines, telephone use charges and Internet Service Provider (ISP) charges, etc.
  • Staff members working under a telecommuting arrangement will come on-site for periodic meetings and interactions with the unit head/supervisor.
  • Telecommuting does not connote the professional or management practice of working at home after hours to work on reports or presentations or to catch up on reading.
  • If children or adults in need of continuing or extended care are in the home during the employee's at-home working hours, another individual should be present to provide the primary care.

Get the form to request a Telecommuting Agreement.  

ADVANTAGES

  • Telecommuting reduces or eliminates a staff member's daily commute, which can lead to lower stress levels and lower personal expenses.
  • Staff members who telecommute are likely to be more productive because of fewer interruptions.
  • Telecommuting may be a good arrangement for staff members doing project-oriented or independent work. It is also a good arrangement for staff members whose work requires long periods of quiet, focused time. 
  • Telecommuting has the potential to attract and retain staff members and decrease absenteeism and tardiness. 
  • Telecommuting may promote a more environmentally friendly work arrangement due to the decreased usage of fuel for commuters.

CHALLENGES

  • Staff members who telecommute have fewer opportunities for face-to-face communication with their supervisor and co-workers; as a result, they may find it difficult to avoid feelings of alienation - "out of sight - out of mind."
  • Telecommuting will be difficult to implement successfully unless there is a high level of trust and ongoing communication between the appointing officer, unit heads/supervisors and staff.
  • It may be difficult to implement a successful telecommuting arrangement if a staff member uses telecommuting as a substitute for their regular dependent care arrangements.
  • The initial cost for a home office set up may be expensive: technology, telephone, safety, tech support, etc.  GVSU does not pay for such costs (see request for Telecommuting Agreement Form).
  • Depending on the off-site location, local tax implications may apply.  Contact Payroll at payroll@gvsu.edu or 616-331-2237 for assistance.   
  • If a FWA is agreed to, typically a staff member will be able to return to their original work arrangement.  However, this should be discussed during the approval process. 

A compressed work schedule is an alternative work arrangement that allows a staff member to work their traditional workweek in less than five days. For example, a full-time staff member could work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days.

ADVANTAGES

  • Staff members working compressed work weeks may spend less time commuting during a given week.
  • Staff members working compressed work weeks have more time outside of work to take care of personal responsibilities; as a result they can be more focused on the tasks at hand during their scheduled work time.
  • Staff members working compressed work weeks may be more productive during the hours outside of the traditional workday, when fewer staff members are present.
  • Compressed work weeks can improve work area coverage and extend the hours of service to internal and external customers.
  • Another option is a nine day/two week work arrangement, which allows for two weeks of work to be compressed into nine or nine and a half days of work. This is popular with staff members who want some flexibility in their schedule and do not mind extra time built into the beginning or end of the work day, but do not want the long days compressed work week require.  This does not apply to hourly staff due to FLSA requirements.

CHALLENGES

  • The longer workday may be physically and mentally draining, resulting in less productivity. 
  • It may be a challenge to sustain morale among staff members who work long days but do not have the opportunity to work a compressed work week.
  • Trust issues may be a factor.  For example, if a staff member is scheduled to come in one hour before the supervisor and the rest of the staff, are they at work at the agreed upon time?
  • Staff members may find it difficult to arrange dependent care or transportation around the longer workday.
  • The nine day/two week is not an option for hourly staff members. According to the FLSA, all hourly staff members who work in excess of 40 hours in a standard workweek or 80 hours in a pay period are eligible for overtime pay. Overtime pay is calculated at the rate of 1.5  times the staff member's regular rate of pay. Additionally, the Department of Labor and GVSU payroll practices dictate that may be received in the period in which the work is performed. It would be very difficult to work out varying pay amounts weekly to respond to alternating work schedules to accommodate this arrangement. For example, for a total of 70 hours over two weeks of work, 40 hours one week and 30 hours the next would require an hourly staff member to receive different pay for each week of work.
  • If a FWA is agreed to, typically a staff member will be able to return to their original work arrangement.  However, this should be discussed during the approval process.

A job share arrangement is a full-time job split between two individuals, each with responsibility for the success of the total job. Job sharing allows two staff members to share the responsibilities of one full-time position, typically with prorated salary and paid time off. Creative and innovative schedules can be designed to meet the needs of the job sharers and the department. Job-sharing arrangements can be 50/50, 60/40, or any similar combination. The schedules may also overlap as needed or desired. Successful job sharing arrangements usually place responsibility for a functional arrangement on the individuals sharing the job (job partners) rather than the supervisor. Both job partners should agree up front that if one of the job partners is not meeting the needs of the organization or decides to leave the job, the other will revert to a full-time schedule, permanently or until a replacement job partner is found within a reasonable time frame. If a new job partner cannot be found and the remaining job partner does not want a full-time job, they shall agree to resign from the job to be replaced by a full-time employee. This is considered a voluntary resignation and does not qualify the individual for unemployment benefits. Job Sharing for hourly staff shall be entered into according to the Job Share Classification section in the collective bargaining agreement.

ADVANTAGES

  • Job sharing partners can provide more consistent service to internal and external clients than two part-time staff members.
  • Job sharing partners can fill in for one another during scheduled and unscheduled absences.
  • Two heads are better than one. The job sharing partners' customers, supervisor and co-workers, and the partners themselves, can benefit from the varied perspectives, strengths, and skills each job sharing partner brings to the job.
  • Staff members in job sharing arrangements have more time outside of work to take care of personal responsibilities; as a result, they can be more focused on the tasks at hand during their scheduled work time.

CHALLENGES

  • It may be a challenge for a staff member who is interested in job sharing to find a job sharing partner with whom they are personally and professionally compatible.
  • Job sharing partners may find it challenging to maintain the constant communication required to keep one another informed about scheduling (meetings, training, travel, etc.) and status of shared work.
  • May have an effect on your benefits, so the staff member should discuss this with their supervisor. 
  • May decrease the potential for advancement. 
  • If a FWA is agreed to, typically a staff member will be able to return to their original work arrangement.  However, this should be discussed during the approval process.

Abbreviated schedule or part-time work is a regular arrangement consisting of a work week that is less than the standard 40 hours per week. Abbreviated schedule and part-time work can attract and retain trained and experienced staff who cannot work full-time due to personal commitments.

Clerical Staff Members: The term "part-time staff members" shall mean a staff member whose normal schedule of work is less than thirty (30) hours per week and is twenty (20) hours or more per week on a regular basis. Part-time Maintenance Grounds and Service staff members work at least 20 hours per week but no more than 25 hours per week. These staff members are eligible for benefits as outlined in applicable union contracts. During the trial period which may consist of going from a full time to a part time position, there may be a change in your benefits. Please contact Human Resources, Benefits Department, to discuss.

Salaried staff who are regularly scheduled to work at least 20 hours per week and less than 30 hours per week are considered part-time salaried staff. As with all salaried staff members, part-time professionals are paid for the job they do rather than the number of hours required to complete the job. They are not eligible for additional pay for additional hours worked. However, if a part-time professional regularly works more than the weekly scheduled hours, the work schedule and/or job expectations may need to be re-evaluated.

ADVANTAGES

  • Abbreviated or part-time staff members often manage their time well and are very productive.
  • Abbreviated and part-time staff members have more time outside of work to take care of personal responsibilities; as a result, they are often very focused on the tasks at hand during their scheduled work time
  • Abbreviated and part-time schedules may be a good arrangement for staff members doing project-oriented or independent work, or for staff members making a transition back into the work force after a leave of absence.
  • Abbreviated and part-time arrangements may help retain staff members that need more time to meet personal responsibilities but want to continue to make a contribution to the University.

CHALLENGES

  • Although an abbreviated or part-time schedule should not be detrimental to a staff member's career development or promotion opportunities, the staff member's career development may be slowed because of limited availability for training opportunities, special projects, and the like.
  • Abbreviated or part-time schedules may present communications challenges since the staff member is not always present during regular business hours.
  • Abbreviated and part-time schedules may not be a good arrangement for staff members whose work requires continual contact with internal and/or external customers.
  • Shorter work hours mean less money in the paycheck.  During the trial period which may consist of going from a full time to a part time position, there may be a change in your benefits.  Please contact Human Resources, Benefits Department, to discuss.
  • If a FWA is agreed to, typically a staff member will be able to return to their original work arrangement.  However, this should be discussed during the approval process.

A 9 and 10 month work arrangement allows full-time staff members to apply annually to reduce their 12-month work schedule to a 9 or 10 month period of time where job responsibilities permit. During the corresponding months of leave, the staff member retains eligibility for benefit plans. These arrangements work well when positions are in support of 9-month faculty appointments or in departments with fluctuating work demands. At the end of the leave, the staff member is expected to return to their full work schedule and position.

ADVANTAGES

  • Where the work design permits, and with the concurrence of the supervisor/manager and the respective dean or equivalent, full-time status can be retained, providing the individual works at least 75 percent full-time equivalency.
  • These arrangements work particularly well when staff positions are in support of 9-month faculty appointments or in employing departments where there are fluctuating work demands.
  • Staff member has extended period of time to focus on personal needs.

CHALLENGES

  • It may be difficult and take additional time to adjust to the work culture after the time away from work.
  • No pay for the period away from work, unless the time away from work is covered by accrued vacation or holidays. This means your overall annual salary will be reduced.
  • If a FWA is agreed to, typically a staff member will be able to return to their original work arrangement.  However, this should be discussed during the approval process. 

Considerations

The main consideration in setting up a flexible work arrangement is how/when the work will be completed. Although personal needs are often a factor in any such arrangement, University/Department requirements remain the primary consideration.

Employee Considerations

  • What type of flexibility would I like?
  • Do I have the necessary resources?
  • What type of flexibility would work in my position?
  • How will this change affect my pay and benefits?
  • How will my flexible work option affect my co-workers?
  • How will my flexible work option affect my supervisor?
  • How will others have to change to accommodate my schedule?
  • How will this affect my family?
    • Additional/fewer child care hours needed?

Supervisor Considerations

  • Are the operational needs of the specific department and the University being fulfilled?
  • Will the department be able to maintain appropriate staffing levels during regular business hours and peak periods?
  • Impact on communication, e.g. staff meetings
  • How will:
    • assignments and performance expectations be clearly communicated?
    • accountability be maintained?
    • results and productivity be measured?
  • Is regular feedback and oversight from a supervisor necessary?
  • Will additional technology be required?
  • Are there safety concerns or building access issues?