Flexible Workplace Guidance for Employees

The following guidance is designed to help employees think about and request workplace flexibility. University leadership has supported being flexible in the past, particularly to help manage through the pandemic. However, to provide flexibility going forward requires a reassessment of past practices and incorporating new ways of thinking about how work gets done at ISU, how managers manage their teams, and how everyone can collaborate and create a culture of trust. The following will help employees, supervisors, and teams think through how they can enable and support flexibility based on their own unique circumstances as campus returns to a new normal.  As employees think about their needs for flexibility, strong consideration of the university’s and department’s or college’s mission, goals, and customer service requirements must drive this process. If it is determined that the request does not align with the defined mission and goals, it is likely the request as provided will not be approved. 

Talking About Flexibility

When thinking about creating a culture of trust, it helps to recognize the concerns of employees and managers to help understand each other’s perspectives.

  • Decisions will be based on preference with biases and potential discrimination.
  • I will be treated differently for requesting flexibility.
  • My supervisor is unlikely to allow any of the options.
  • How will decisions be made?
  • What if my request is denied?
  • Multiple requests will make it impossible to grant every request and run the unit.
  • Flexibility will make it difficult to know who is available when.
  • How will customers of services know about people's availability?
  • How do I make fair decisions when there are conflicting requests?

Employee Guidance for Requesting Flexibility

Your manager may not be aware of your situation or needs and it is important that employees and managers discuss each other’s perspectives and needs. Thinking through all the implications and finding solutions to potential issues will go a long way in helping managers make a decision. Ultimately, it is the manager’s decision and even agreed upon flexible arrangements may need to be changed to meet the needs of the unit.

Primary Questions to Consider Before Requesting Flexibility

  • What type of flexibility would you like? What type of flexibility would work best in your position?  
  • How would your request affect you personally, how would it affect your ability to do your job, and what impact would it have on your team?  
  • How might flexibility relieve personal stress caused by other time restrictions (such as child care or elder care demands, your commute to work, class schedule, doctor appointments, etc.?)  
  • Would your personal productivity improve if you could alter your current work schedule?  
  • How will your flexible work option affect your customers, co-workers, and manager?  
  • What would others have to do to accommodate your request, and how could you make it easier for them?  
  • How will this affect my family?  

For Hybrid Work

  • Do I have an appropriate space to work at home? 
  • Will I miss the camaraderie of the office? 
  • Do I want to do this all the time or some of the time? 
  • Will I be able to devote my full attention to work when physically at home? 
  • Will I need to block time that is dedicated to work?
  • International employees - Will this change in work location impact my immigration status? Contact the International Students and Scholars Office at issoscholar@iastate.edu for guidance before making this choice. A change in work location may require pre-approval for immigration purposes.

For Reduced Work/Hours (time off, temporary part-time, leaves of absence)

  • Can the work still be done with the reduced schedule? 
  • Will someone have to pick up the work? Who could it be? 
  • Am I able to coordinate with my co-workers or supervisors to ensure coverage for the semester? 

For Compressed Workweek

  • Will my energy be sapped by long days? 
  • Do I have enough work to fill 10-hour days? 
  • How do I handle weeks with a holiday falling on my off day? 
  • Will I be able to provide adequate customer service? 
  • Will long days negatively impact my family situation? 

Making a Business Case for Flexibility

  • If you decide to pursue this program, it’s important to write a thoughtful, concise proposal or business case for initiating WorkFlex.
  • Put yourself in your supervisor’s shoes and help them identify ways to ensure the work continues to meet and exceed expectations. 
  • Include suggestions about how you might be flexible to cover peak time coverage, meeting times, special events, communication with clients, co-workers, your supervisor, etc. 
  • Identify if there are any additional changes that need to take place in order for you to meet your job specific performance goals and objectives. 
  • See the list of frequently asked questions about WorkFlex and consider how you might address questions or concerns that your supervisor or co-workers may have. 
  • Aim to be flexible and have a back-up plan when changes are needed to meet your department's business needs. 
  • Check with HR Delivery to review your plan and see if there are any unit or policy considerations. Keep your HR representative in the loop as you develop your request.