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Office of the Chancellor

Hybrid Work Arrangements: Telecommute & Remote Work

Hybrid work options offer creative approaches for completing work while promoting balance between work and personal flexibility. These arrangements may involve varied work hours and/or work location(s). At UC Merced, all remote work and telecommute arrangements, along with alternate or flexible schedules, are referred to Hybrid Work Arrangements – agreements between an employee and their supervisor documented in a Telecommute Agreement or Alternate Work Schedule.

As you prepare to return staff to on-site, it’s critical that you communicate your expectations with employees with enough notice (ideally 30 days) before the first scheduled on-site workday. To assist you, we’ve provided resources for completing the process.  
 
Please note, if supervisors need to modify existing work schedules as part of on-site planning, please consult with Employee & Labor Relations at labborrelations@ucmerced.edu to address any Policy and Collective Bargaining Agreements obligations. You may also read the Hybrid Work FAQ for details on planning, completing and implementing Hybrid Work Arrangements.

 

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Telecommute Agreement Instructions

A.  General   

The following guidelines are intended to help managers, supervisors and employees develop telecommuting arrangements that are equitable, clearly understood by all parties and ensure minimal disruption to the organization. Managers, supervisors and employees are expected to follow these principles in establishing and approving telecommuting arrangements.

B.  Definition

Telecommuting is a work arrangement in which an employee regularly performs work at an alternative or an off-campus site for a specified portion of the workweek. Occasional or temporary work off-site, including for example work while traveling on University business, does not constitute telecommuting and does not require the formal arrangement described in these guidelines.

Remote work situations are those in which 100% of the work is performed at a location other than a UC Merced site. Remote work differs from telecommuting in that it is intended as a means of working from home or an alternate site on a full-time basis. Any establishment of a remote worker agreement outside of California may carry additional tax and/or legal implications. Remote workers outside California should review the Resources for Remote Workers Outside California section for tax, workers’ compensation, and other important information. 

C.  Authority

Managers may approve telecommute agreements only after consultation with their Department Head or Dean. To promote an equitable process, the Department Head or Dean is responsible for consulting with their Vice Chancellor or EVC/Provost, respectively, on distribution of the division’s/school’s work modalities, i.e., on-site vs remote. The telecommute arrangements need to be discussed and assessed prior to approval to ensure that operational needs and impact are considered. Managers and Department heads are encouraged to give serious consideration to all reasonable requests but shall give the highest priority to the effective functioning of the department and division/school..

D. Guidelines 

The primary criterion for determining approval of telecommuting for any employee is whether or not the arrangement meets the business needs of the department. Eligibility may vary for different types of work arrangements and may depend on the nature of particular jobs, especially those required to deliver direct customer service, manage or direct groups of employees, or provide business-critical support at the primary work location. 

All proposals should be treated equitably, regardless of the employee’s reason for making the request. The following guidelines are applicable:

  • In any work arrangement, employees will be expected to meet the same performance standards as otherwise required, and supervisors/managers will be expected to use the same performance review criteria that were previously applicable. 
  • Employees who propose a telecommuting arrangement should ensure a safe and suitable workspace that is appropriately confidential and free of distractions and interruptions that may interfere with work. 
  • All telecommuting work arrangements are subject to ongoing review and may be terminated at any time, with at least a 30-day notice period provided by either party, based on business and operational considerations. 
  • The University owns any/all software, data, reports, text and graphics created as a result of work-related activities.
  • All terms and conditions of employment with the University (e.g. duties, responsibilities, benefits, salary, etc.) remain unchanged as a result of the telecommuting arrangement. 

E. Performance Management

Regardless of whether an employee is working on-site or remotely, they must be held to fair performance expectations and accountable for their performance and conduct. Employees will be evaluated on their performance in accordance with campus protocols and practices in the same manner as if they were present at the primary location.

Performance management is an ongoing process of communication between a supervisor and an employee that occurs regularly throughout the year, in support of accomplishing the strategic objectives of the organization. The communication process includes clarifying expectations, setting objectives, identifying goals, providing feedback, and reviewing results.

F. Process Overview

Decisions on which positions are eligible for telecommute are based on operational and business needs and must be made without bias or favoritism to ensure an equitable process. Department/unit leadership should first consider the unit’s mission, objectives, services and service hours, then consider each staff member’s job duties to determine if that position can be done effectively with a Hybrid Work Arrangement. Not all positions and staff are suitable for alternate work schedules or remote (partially or fully) work.

1)  Employee Responsibility:

  • Schedule a time to discuss proposed parameters of a telecommute agreement with supervisor, i.e., duration of agreement, service modality, hours of work, primary and secondary work location, equipment, and notification for return to onsite. 
  • Once you and your supervisor have come to agreement regarding parameters of telecommute agreement, you may initiate a request using the online Telecommute Agreement. You will be prompted to use single sign-on to access the form.  Please read and follow the instructions listed on the Telecommute Agreement.
  • Once you’ve submitted a request for Telecommute Agreement, you will receive notification confirming receipt of request.

2) Supervisor Responsibility:

  • Consider each request for telecommute on its own merits, give equitable consideration to all requests, and respond to each request in a timely manner.
  • Keep focused on the organizational benefits derived by supporting the request that potentially include reduced absenteeism and turnover and increased productivity and commitment.
  • If the request, as proposed, does not meet the business and service needs of the department, be supportive and, if practical, suggest alternatives.
  • Before approving a Telecommute Agreement, consult with your Department Head/Dean to ensure equitable practices within your department and to gain approval of Department Head/Dean.
  • If the request cannot be supported, provide rationale for why you cannot approve the request.
  • Once the Telecommuting Agreement is approved, determine milestones for checking progress and measure success.
  • Meet regularly with the employee to review the effectives of the arrangement, especially within the initial period.

3) Modification/Termination of an Approved Telecommuting Agreement:

Since a Telecommuting Agreement is a business decision, it can be modified or terminated, if necessary, with appropriate notice. Some examples follow that could trigger a modification or termination of a telecommute arrangement:

  • Business needs are no longer being met.
  • Job or job requirements change.
  • Performance rating falls below an acceptable level.
  • Current coverage or staffing needs change.
  • Unexpected staff shortage develops.
  • Valid negative client or co-worker feedback is received.

As circumstances, business needs, and job requirements evolve over time, adjustments and modifications may become necessary. As with any other work arrangement, telecommuting arrangements should not be considered permanent. Both supervisors and employees must be responsive to change and should monitor the arrangement to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of the department. In some situations, it may be necessary to discontinue the original plan or seek modification of existing terms. The process used in revising or ending a work arrangement should be just as carefully thought through as when initiating one.

If either the supervisor or the employee determines the telecommute arrangements need to be modified or terminated, the employee will be provided advance notice consistent with the terms of the telecommute agreement.   

If the employee needs to make modifications to an existing agreement, the employee will need to submit a new request that will supersede existing agreement.

Important Consideration Regarding Process: If no decision is recorded by the supervisor on the Telecommute Agreement within 6 days of receipt of submission, the request will auto-cancel and the employee will be required to resubmit the request.

G. Tools & Resources

1) Resources for Completing Telecommute Agreements

2) Resources for Remote Workers Outside California

 
Working Forward
Publish: May 7, 2021
Revised: June 8, 2021