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New policy and resources provide guidance and support for remote work

July 27, 2021 By Marilyn Gardner

The fall semester of 2021 will see a return to the vibrant residential campus community we knew before the pandemic. Many jobs will be conducted on campus to support UW–Madison’s missions of scholarship, teaching, and service.

At the same time, the pandemic has had a lasting impact on the nature of work on campus. Many employees have been working remotely, using the technology and tools available to work from home and connect with others virtually. Now, as campus reunites onsite, schools, colleges or divisions may provide employees with the option to engage in remote work.

A revised UW–Madison Remote Work Policy will take effect on August 1, 2021. The policy provides a framework for remote work, which is defined as a work arrangement in which some or all work is performed at an off-campus work site such as home or in an office space near home. Workplace flexibilities—defined as work performed at an off-campus work site on a sporadic basis that does not follow a regular, repeated schedule—are not considered remote work and are not covered under this policy. Because remote work has risks and liabilities, this policy also creates procedures and practices to mitigate these concerns. For example, maintaining the privacy and security of UW–Madison’s data can become more challenging when employees are working remotely.

The role of remote work in our campus community

UW–Madison recognizes the value of providing flexibility to its employees. Flexibility can increase job satisfaction and reduce turnover, increase the university’s ability to attract and retain talent, and maintain or enhance productivity for some roles.

At the same time, our university setting presents some unique considerations. A pillar of UW–Madison’s strategic framework is to create a vibrant campus community that advances the university’s missions of scholarship, teaching, and service. Remote work arrangements should not be implemented if they diminish the connections and experiences necessary to achieve this goal. Specific factors that will be considered when evaluating employees’ remote work requests are provided in the Remote Work Policy.

Remote work policy provides detailed guidance

UW–Madison’s revised Remote Work Policy, effective August 1, 2021, reflects the evolving nature of the workplace. It provides guidance for UW–Madison employees seeking flexibility in the future. The policy details remote work options and creates procedures and practices that can mitigate the risks and liabilities of remote work.

UW–Madison employees and supervisors are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the revised Remote Work Policy. The policy addresses the following considerations:

  • Employee roles and responsibilities
  • Criteria and conditions for remote work
  • Employee expectations, work schedules and overtime
  • Equipment, material and supplies
  • Data privacy and security
  • Review of denial, modification or revocation
  • Out-of-state remote work
  • International remote work

Employees can request a remote work arrangement using the Remote Work Agreement available under Personal Information > Update My Personal Information in MyUW. Each school, college, or division determines the specific procedures for evaluating and approving or denying an employee’s request for remote work. A remote work arrangement must be agreed upon by school/college/division leadership, divisional Human Resources, and the employee’s supervisor. Once a remote work request has been approved, it will be documented via a Remote Work Agreement.

Resources for remote work and reuniting campus

Additional resources are available online to help employees prepare for reuniting campus in the fall semester. Links to these resources can be found on the webpage for Remote Work: Guidance and Resources for Employees. Here, employees will find a checklist for completing a Remote Work Agreement; some information may require extra time to gather before completing the agreement, and this checklist can help employees prepare for successful completion of their Remote Work Agreement. Links are also provided to information about campus parking and transportation, family caregiving, and the safe and ergonomic use of technology when working remotely.

A companion website for Reuniting Campus provides a robust selection of thematic courses, toolkits, and other resources for employees who wish to develop new skills and navigate workplace changes. Employees can choose the options that best fit their schedules and learning preferences, including virtual courses, on-demand learning videos, self-guided activities, assessments, and more. All courses are available at no cost to UW–Madison employees.

The future of remote work at UW–Madison

As new tools and methods for connectivity become available, the university remains open to modifying its approach to remote work arrangements. “The nature of work is continually evolving,” says Chief Human Resources Officer Mark Walters. “During the pandemic, we learned much about how to use the tools available to us to work efficiently and effectively, connect with colleagues, and provide service to students and others. UW–Madison recognizes and embraces the dynamic, continually evolving nature of our work.”

Employees and supervisors who have questions about the Remote Work Policy or the procedures for requesting and evaluating a request for a remote work arrangement should contact the human resources department in their school, college, or division.