Responding to Flexibility Requests
Establish a CONSISTENT process for employees to request a flexible work arrangement. Emphasize your willingness to consider options as long as the needs of URI are being met. Develop or access available alternative work arrangement proposal forms employees can submit. Some unions already have these available. Direct employees to the What About Me page on this website. Fairness and consistency is key in ensuring an equitable work environment.
Use discretion in addressing individual requests. Flexibility is a management tool, not an individual favor, and everyone’s needs are different. You do not necessarily need to know the exact reason why a request is being made. Be flexible within the constraints of the solutions available and the needs of the institution. And sometimes “no” is the appropriate answer.
Ensure that both you and the employee have carefully considered the business and personal impacts, both positive and negative, short- and long-term, of a proposed alternative work arrangement, before coming to a decision. Be collaborative and work together to arrive at a solution that serves the employee and URI.
Establish a means to measure the success of the flexible work arrangement. A review of performance objectives and timelines should be included in the discussion. This will provide valuable information as policies and practices are refined. Do NOT hold the employee to a higher standard because he or she has an alternative work arrangement.
Develop a Communications Plan – establish how and when to communicate with employees who are off the job – where to leave messages, availability for meetings by phone or in person, how key information or computer files can be accessed if needed, etc. Both personal and business issues should be considered.
Flexibility can mean flexible arrangements while at work, such as approved time to take care of personal business via phone or electronically when pressing situations arise, with the work hours adjusted accordingly. Another good example of flexibility while at work is the need for new mothers returning to work to schedule lactation time during the day.
Alternative Work Arrangement Proposal Forms
World at Work: Flexible Work Arrangement Request