UCR strives to be an employer of choice, providing flexibility in line with today’s workforce needs
At UCR we also want to unearth new discoveries, deliver a high-quality educational experience, and provide services in support of student success. Ultimately, we need to consider work location in the context of both individual performance and community. How location impacts colleagues, professional development, our collegial network, output, space constraints, and sustainability goals are all to be considered.
What We Learned
On March 13, 2020, we received notice that we were to limit all campus activities to personnel supporting essential activities and all other personnel were required to work remotely. In a short period of time, we learned that many jobs could be performed effectively in a remote setting.
For some, the flexibility of working from home afforded opportunities for better work-life balance while performing their jobs, and for others there were challenges to overcome. Our faculty, staff and students have been incredibly productive over the past 14 months.
In June 2021, UCR launched the Staff Flexible Work survey. This confidential survey featured over a dozen questions on topics such as pre-pandemic and current work arrangements, and factors influencing employee and supervisor work preferences. Respondents were also asked open-ended questions on planning for the return to campus. To review the results of the survey, which will help inform the Operational Continuity Workgroup and Human Resources in developing recommendations to UCR leadership, please view the Staff Flexible Work Survey Results.
Moving Forward with Flexibility:
As we expand on-campus operations, we intend to do so through a model of shared responsibility. We must be inclusive, thoughtful and strategic in considering how to best move forward. It is also important to consider that what has worked while the majority of campus and instruction was remote, may not work when we return to more normal campus density and in-person instruction.
The campus is committed to remote delivery for spring and summer quarters, and we now estimate approximately 85% in-person instruction for fall 2021. It is important to evaluate what staffing is needed on campus in order to serve the students, faculty and staff for a repopulation of the campus. Units that must have staff on campus for the fall quarter, as determined by unit leadership, will need to assure some gradual transition back to campus for their staff, well in advance of the fall quarter start date.
Alternative (Flexible) Work Schedules Guidelines
Systemwide Human Resources has recognized the need to provide written guidance for locations to make the best decisions they can regarding flexible work, and has prepared “Guidance Regarding Flexible Work for Staff.”
- Memo Cheryl A. Lloyd, Interim Vice President, Systemwide Human Resources
- Guidance Regarding Flexible Work for Staff
The Chancellor has asked every vice chancellor and dean to begin conversations within their units to determine needs and plans. The campus will not impose work location decisions on any college, school, or unit, but will instead support local decisions that serve the interest of our mission.
Between now and July 1, most staff will likely continue in their current work arrangements as they have during the pandemic. Between July and the start of fall quarter, 2021, a return to campus will be implemented based on several guiding principles, which will be developed through a process that allows for feedback as well as consideration of the specific duties and responsibilities for the individual work units.
Timing for any return to campus will be driven by operational needs and the recognition that these needs differ across units and some employees may return to campus sooner than others.
Discussions should occur between the employee and their supervisor(s), and in order to help address overall consistency and equity within the organizational unit, it is recommended that the chain of command of supervisors be involved. These discussions should be initiated as soon as possible, if they have not already been ongoing. As we work through this transition to normal operations, we will continue to look at effective options to increase consistency across organizational units within the campus.
A Deliberate Process:
We do not anticipate an abrupt return to campus as the pandemic comes under control. This transition back to campus also will not be without challenges, however we know will get there through a collaborative process that embodies a shared sense of responsibility. Managers will do their best to provide 30 days advance notice of changes to current work arrangements and afford flexibility for staff.
A work schedule that includes some hybrid (or use flexible) remote options can be beneficial for employee recruitment and retention, and employee engagement and well-being, if feasible relative to addressing institutional requirements. However, in some cases an all-remote work schedule may not be optimal for the department and University. The specific duties and responsibilities of a position dictate whether remote work is an option.
Supervisors and employees should work together to assess flexible workplace options, manage workload, set expectations, and maintain communications, whether the employee is working in a remote or hybrid-remote environment, or utilizing another flexible arrangement.
The guidance will likely continue to change based on new information. It is difficult to project what the public health guidance will be for September. We will continue to follow the public health guidance relative to parameters for a safe campus operation. The fall quarter may be a transition from a pandemic to a more normal environment, and we encourage employees and supervisors to continue to evaluate and discuss the work schedule through the fall and beyond.
Remote Work Resources
Each day staff face the challenge of balancing their family and work responsibilities. Our campus is committed to policies and programs that enable staff to be productive members of the campus community and to meet their family care obligations. Alternate Work Schedules are a part of the campus Work/Life program and allow staff and departments some flexibility in defining when, where and how work is done. This flexibility is a critical driver of employee well-being and performance and is responsive to the changing professional and personal demographics of the multi-generational workforce.
The alternate work schedules available at UCR include the compressed workweek, flextime and remote work. When properly managed, alternate work schedules have been shown to increase productivity, increase employee engagement and retention, provide extended coverage and cross training opportunities, and decrease unplanned absences. In addition, it promotes diversity, and has a positive impact on workplace culture and employee morale. For many people, even a small amount of flexibility can make a tremendous difference in successfully balancing responsibilities at work and at home. Flexible work arrangements are not an employee entitlement or requirement, but a work assignment mutually agreed to by the employee, supervisor and department head. The arrangement must be in the best interest of the University. The focus in flexible work arrangements must be on results.
Non-represented employees are eligible to request alternate work schedules. Represented employees may participate as allowed by their respective collective bargaining agreements. An employee initiates the request for an alternate work schedule by submitting a proposal to their supervisor and/or unit/department head.
Forms and Documents
The Alternative Work Schedule Considerations
Alternative (Flexible) Work Schedules - Exempt Employees
Alternative (Flexible) Work Schedules - Non-Exempt Employees
Alternative (Flexible) Flextime Schedule Guidelines
Guidelines & Agreement
|As a first step in preparing for employees to return to campus please review the Coronavirus and Campus Return sites and follow all necessary steps for a safe return including COVID-19 training, masking, proper hand hygiene and completing the daily wellness check. All supervisors must complete and submit an online Work Site Specific Plan. This is the requirement as of the date of these guidelines, but it may change with more direction from the state and CalOSHA.|
To support staff who may begin working remote in light of COVID-19 and UC Riverside’s commitment to ensuring a safe and healthy environment for the Highlander community, Information Technology Solutions (ITS) has compiled a list of basic IT resources on the Keep Working webpage. These resources provide information on how to access and use essential IT tools when working remote.
HR Resources for Remote Work
Items Purchased for
Reimbursable Expenses/Items Purchased for Remote Use
Employees working from home or other alternate locations are not on travel status and not eligible for meal reimbursement. Similarly, meals taken at home or other alternate locations (or delivered) during a Zoom business meeting are not reimbursable based on guidance received from the UC Office of the President, per policies G-28 and BUS-79.
Only business-related non-inventorial equipment that can be returned to the office at the end of the arrangement should be purchased using normal procurement methods, and either picked up by the employee or shipped to their home address. Department financial officer/managers must have processes in place to track the location of these assets and ensure their return at the end of the remote assignment.
If any purchased item needs to be installed, charges related to the installation are the responsibility of the employee.
Other expenses (e.g. utilities, rent, furniture, etc.) related to remote work are not eligible for direct purchase nor reimbursable.
Departments will evaluate on a case-by-case basis where the direct purchase and/or reimbursement is necessary for employees with specific needs not already met with existing resources and only allowable if the University-issued office equipment (e.g., computer, printer, keyboard) cannot be relocated or the employee does not already have personal equipment at the alternate worksite to enable them to perform their work duties.
An employee may request reimbursement for the business use of an internet or similar service if it is needed for the employee to perform their job duties and it would not be practicable or cost-effective for the University to separately purchase and the internet or similar service does not currently exist in the employee’s alternate remote workspace. Reimbursement shall be made for partial business use of internet, cellular or similar services purchased with an employee’s own funds if the individual incurs additional charges over the plan limit related solely to the business use. An employee may request reimbursement for the business use of a cellular phone or similar device purchased with the employee’s own funds if the individual incurs additional charges. In such a case, the reimbursement will be at the excess minute rate, contingent upon receipt of supporting documentation. No reimbursement will be made for business calls or a percentage of total business calls made within the package minutes covered under the employee’s plan.
Expenses will be reimbursed only if the manager agrees to the purchase in advance. Below are University of California policies on reimbursable expenses:
For questions or additional information, please visit UCR Business & Financial Services.