Telework Policy

I. Introduction

Telework is a flexible work arrangement under which a staff member performs the duties and responsibilities of their positions from a site off campus within Washington State, typically from home. The University of Puget Sound considers telework to be a viable, flexible work option when both the position and the staff member are suited to such an arrangement, and it serves the needs of the department and university as determined by the supervisor and with approval of the department head in consultation with the area Vice President/Provost. Telework requests will be carefully considered in light of the university’s mission as a residential liberal arts college that values in-person engagement and a strong sense of community. Telework may be appropriate for some positions and staff members, but not for others, and is not an entitlement or a benefit. Telework does not change the terms and conditions of employment with the university.

II. Eligibility and Scope

All staff members in full-time or part-time positions are eligible.

Telework can be an informal and occasional short-term arrangement, such as working from home for a short-term project. Short-term arrangements are approved on an as-needed basis only, with no expectation of ongoing continuance. All short-term and intermittent telework arrangements are approved on a case-by-case basis, focusing first on the business needs of the university. Telework can also be a formal, set schedule of working off campus. Either a staff member or a supervisor can suggest telework as a possible work arrangement, subject to approval by the department head, in consultation with the area Vice President/Provost.

Any telework arrangement may be discontinued at will and at any time by the supervisor and/or the department head, and the staff member can at any time request a change in the arrangement. Every effort will be made to provide 30 days’ notice of changes to formal telework arrangements in recognition of commuting, dependent care and other issues that may arise from the termination of a telework arrangement. There may be instances, however, when the university can provide only minimal or no notice.

III. Establishing a Telework Agreement

A telework agreement requires the staff member, supervisor, and department head, in consultation with the area Vice President/Provost, to approve the arrangement.  Before seeking department head approval for any telework agreement, the staff member and supervisor, with the assistance of Human Resources, will evaluate the suitability of such an arrangement, reviewing the following areas:

  • Departmental needs.  The staff member and supervisor will discuss the impact of the potential telework arrangement on the department as a whole. There may be a limit to the number of approved telework arrangements within a department given in-person service needs and overall departmental and university needs consistent with the university’s mission, strategic initiatives and goals.
  • Staff member suitability. The staff member and supervisor will assess the needs and work habits of the staff member, compared to traits customarily recognized as appropriate for successful teleworkers. For example, the work can be performed independently of others with minimal need for support and little face-to-face interaction, and the staff member has demonstrated a consistent ability to manage their time well, produce high quality work, and meet deadlines.
  • Job responsibilities. The staff member and supervisor will discuss the job responsibilities and determine if the job is appropriate for and conducive to a successful telework arrangement.
  • Internet, phone, equipment, software, and workspace. The staff member and supervisor will acknowledge that the teleworker is responsible for provision of internet service, phone and appropriate furniture (e.g. suitable desk and chair) and home workspace to successfully complete their work.  They will discuss university provision of required equipment, software and supplies as outlined within this policy.
  • Schedule. The staff member and supervisor will discuss and identify a work schedule that meets departmental and university needs, including provision of timely service and responses to constituents and participation in departmental meetings and university functions, as applicable. Unless approved in advance, the teleworker will be available and reachable during normal business hours and any other work schedule will be appropriately communicated with colleagues and constituents. Please refer to the Work Schedule Policy.
  • Communication. The staff member and supervisor will discuss the expectation that they communicate at a level consistent with staff members working on campus or in a manner and frequency that is appropriate for the job and the individuals involved. Evaluation of telework performance will include regular interaction by virtual meeting, phone and/or e-mail between the staff member and the supervisor.  Evaluation of telework performance will be consistent with that received by staff members working on campus in both content and frequency.
  • Dependent or elder care. Telework is not designed to be a replacement for dependent or elder care. Although a staff member may request a schedule that better accommodates their dependent or elder care needs, the focus of the arrangement must remain on successful job performance and meeting departmental and university needs.

If the staff member and supervisor come to agreement on a telework agreement, they should proceed to complete the university’s telework agreement form and seek department head approval. 

IV. Document the Telework Agreement

The purpose of a telework agreement is to ensure that both the staff member and supervisor have a shared understanding of the telework arrangement and that department head has approved it as required by this policy. 

The staff member, in partnership with the supervisor, should discuss the expectations for teleworking, complete the telework agreement form, and forward it to their department head for consideration. Telework agreements should be reviewed and renewed at least annually or when there is a substantive change. Any modifications should be documented by revising the agreement and forwarding it to the department head for approval. Telework agreements are both position-specific and person-specific.  A change in position within the university will require a new evaluation and telework agreement.

V. Equipment

The university will supply the staff member with appropriate equipment and supplies as deemed necessary (including hardware, software, and other essential office equipment) for approved telework arrangements. Technology Services will serve as a resource in this matter. University work should be performed on university-issued computing devices and using only approved university-licensed software. Equipment supplied by the university will be maintained by the university. The university accepts no responsibility for damage or repairs to staff member-owned equipment. The university reserves the right to make determinations as to appropriate equipment, subject to change at any time. Equipment supplied by the university is to be used for university purposes only.

The staff member must provide their own internet and phone service. The university will not be responsible for costs associated with internet, phone or the setup of the staff member’s home office, such as remodeling, furniture or lighting, nor for repairs or modifications to the home office space. Basic office supplies will be provided.

Upon termination of the telework agreement or employment with the university, the staff member must promptly return to the university all university-owned documents, equipment, supplies and other items.

VI. Security

Consistent with the university’s policies and expectations of information security for staff members working at the university, teleworkers will be expected to ensure the protection of university information accessible from their home office. Steps include the use of locked file cabinets and desks, regular password maintenance, and any other measures appropriate for the job and the environment.

Teleworkers must abide by all university policies, including the university’s Information Use and Security Policy and any manufacturer’s software licensing agreements. No personally owned software should be installed on university equipment.

 VII. Safety and Liability

Staff members are expected to maintain a designated home workspace, an extension of the department workspace, in a safe manner and free from safety hazards. Injuries sustained by the staff member in a home office location and in conjunction with their duties are normally covered by Puget Sound’s Workplace Safety policy. If an on-the-job injury occurs within the approved work schedule and in the designated work location in the course of the actual performance of duties, staff members are responsible for notifying Human Resources and their supervisor of such injuries as soon as possible. The university is not liable for any injuries sustained by household members and other visitors to the staff member’s designated home workspace.

VIII. Time Worked and Work Hours

Staff members who are not exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) will be required to promptly and accurately record all hours worked. Hours worked in excess of those scheduled per day and per workweek require the advance approval of the staff member’s supervisor. It is important to define the staff member’s work schedule with core work hours as part of the telework agreement. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in the immediate termination of the telework agreement.

Origination date: August 20, 2020