Frequently Asked Questions about WorkFlex


Everyone’s needs are not the same, and people’s needs often change over time at different stages of their lives.

  • Flexible Start/Stop Times: Some people are fine with the regular office hours, others have specific reasons for needing to come in earlier or later than colleagues.
  • Hybrid Work: Many people enjoy the separation of their workplace from their home. They enjoy the interactions with their peers and find the organization of the office more conducive to getting their work done. You may be surprised at the small number of employees who want to regularly work from home. However, employees may have occasional need to work from a remote location, such as when family emergencies or severe weather make it difficult to come into work.
  • Compressed Workweek: Four 10-hour days also do not appeal to everyone, especially parents of young children. Child care is often not available for the 12-hour span that such a schedule would require, and parents would not want to arrive home so late, making the evening even more hectic.
  • Reduced Hours: Many employees cannot afford to reduce their incomes, even on a short-term basis. Among Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, just 2% of professional employees and 10% of hourly or administrative workers work part-time on an ongoing basis.
Each flexible option has its own benefits and challenges for each employee, and not everyone will want to change what may be working. The purpose is to help employees balance their work and their life while continuing to meet the university's mission. Since flexibility can improve engagement and productivity, it is to everyone’s benefit to find solutions that help create better balance for employees and ISU.
The 21st century workforce is diverse and has different needs at different times of their lives. No longer will one solution work for every employee. Treating employees fairly means giving their needs and desires equal individual attention and respect while also analyzing the business needs of the work unit and how work is accomplished through each position. Unit business needs must be a priority for all employees as well as the manager. When an employee is requesting a flexible work arrangement, the unit’s business needs, supervisor’s needs and co-worker’s needs all must be considered by both the employee and supervisor. Flexibility is a partnership with all parties affected. If approached together as a team, flexible arrangements can be beneficial for the whole group and can strengthen the trust and cohesion of a team.
Supervisors can continue to set in-person staff meetings on a regular basis even if employees work different schedules or off-site. There is no reason not to have times when all employees can be scheduled to meet together. Also, with cell phones, teleconferencing, email and electronic file sharing, team members can have meetings, work on documents together, and stay in touch in a number of different ways. Technology allows employees who might want to work from home as part of WorkFlex to stay connected to their supervisor and colleagues.
Supervision of an employee on a flex arrangement should not increase. As with all employees, work objectives must be defined and supervisors must use multiple strategies to communicate and monitor progress. With WorkFlex, issues such as the initial agreement, setting goals and objectives, managing to outcomes rather than time, distribution of work for the team, and communication strategies can be discussed in advance, put in writing and then reviewed regularly with the supervisor and employee.
The way co-workers communicate and work on projects with an employee who flexes may change, but the overall workload of co-workers should not increase. In the case of gradual return to work arrangements, co-workers may be asked to pick up some additional duties on a short-term basis, but this extra effort is preferable to the increased work and disruption that would be caused if a valued employee resigned to find a more flexible workplace. It’s also important for co-workers to remember that they may need to rely on their colleagues for similar support in the future.

Overtime rules do not prohibit alternative work schedules or work from home on a Hybrid arrangement as long as the employee has agreed to the arrangement and nonexempt employees are recording and being paid for all time that they are working per the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Overtime pay at time and a half is required only if the flexible arrangement includes working more than 40 hours in a single week. For most arrangements, this would not be the case.

Nonexempt employees, regardless of where they work, are expected to track their hours when they are engaged in work (regardless of the schedule). ISU’s current payroll policies such as Work Week and others will still apply. Additional information can be found here related to nonexempt time tracking.

The business needs of the department take priority over individual scheduling changes. Allowing staff to schedule coverage has been shown to produce positive results when business needs are clearly defined. If scheduling decisions cannot be resolved among peers, the supervisor can make recommendations such as rotating schedules or when the opportunity arises, hiring new staff with specific schedule times identified to assure coverage.
The need for ongoing supervision often applies to work where there are safety factors or in situations where there may be work performance-related concerns. In instances where performance is a concern, UHR should be consulted to determine options and next steps to address, which could include a return to the employee’s regular work location and schedule. Regardless of work location, managers should work with employees to identify a preferred mode and frequency of communication. This helps to ensure managers and employees are checking in with each other regarding ongoing work responsibilities and priorities. This can also help to identify any work performance issues or concerns early on.

As in any work environment, units may have experienced temporary staffing shortages from planned vacations and unexpected absences. These interruptions will still happen during this program and supervisors should continue to refine their plans.

When business needs are established in advance, supervisors can work with the team to see how much flexibility is feasible. In some instances, employees may have to temporarily rearrange their schedules to meet the unit’s needs. In other instances, there may be an agreement for employees to take turns to ensure the unit is covered. If some employees work a compressed work week (e.g., four 10-hour days) their schedules may be organized so that each one works a different four-day schedule to ensure 10-hour coverage for all five days of the week.

No, you should first consult with University Human Resources. UHR can discuss your specific concerns with you and help determine what option is most appropriate for your situation. This could be utilizing the disability accommodation process, requesting time off or leave through the Family Medical Leave Act, or other process as applicable.
If you or your household member is immunocompromised and therefore at higher risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19, you should consult with University Human Resources in order to determine your options. You may be eligible for the COVID-19 Immunocompromised Work Modification Program, which should be utilized for applicable situations rather than the WorkFlex program.
Supervisors have to balance the needs of their workforce and the work they are responsible for delivering. ISU leadership supports this program in balance with meeting the needs of the university and asks each supervisor to give reasonable consideration of any flexible requests. The request form discusses ways you might address concerns about how the work will get done, which will help address some of the concerns of your supervisor. As supervisors think through WorkFlex requests, 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. You may reach out to HR Delivery if you have concerns or want to talk through your situation before making a request. Ultimately, it is the supervisor's decision, but making a good case will help them make the most informed decision.
In general, an employee injury or illness is compensable under workers’ compensation if it arises out of and in the course of employment, regardless of the location where the injury occurs. “Arising out of” refers to what the employee was doing at the time of the injury, and “in the course of” refers to when the injury happened.
An employee who sustains a work-related injury while working remotely should notify their supervisor of any injury as soon as possible and complete a First Report of Injury (FROI) through the ISU Incident Portal. The FROI may also be completed by your supervisor.
Supervisors should require their remote employees to create a safe, designated workspace and set fixed work hours, with considerations made for when employees will have meals and rest breaks during the work day.
University Human Resources (UHR) is the ISU contact for workers’ compensation issues. UHR can answer workers’ compensation questions, assist departments with appropriate and timely return to work for employees with physician restrictions, and assist with questions concerning payroll reporting for employees receiving workers’ compensation benefits. You may also visit the UHR website, which has additional information and resources regarding the workers’ compensation process. UHR can be reached at 294-8917 or workcomp@iastate.edu.
All incidental costs, such as cell phone costs, residential utility costs, internet service fees or cleaning services, are the responsibility of employee.
The WorkFlex program assumes an agreement for anything over 3 months. If the employee requires limited flexibility for a short period of time, the supervisor and employee can discuss what is possible in much the same way this occurs now.

Supervisors have to balance the needs of their workforce and the work they are responsible for delivering. ISU leadership supports this program in balance with meeting the needs of the university and asks each supervisor to give reasonable consideration of any flexible requests. The request form discusses ways you might address concerns about how the work will get done, which will help address some of the concerns of your supervisor. As supervisors think through WorkFlex requests, 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. You may reach out to HR Delivery if you have concerns or want to talk through your situation before making a request. Ultimately, it is the supervisor's decision, but making a good case will help them make the most informed decision.

However, if you feel your request was not considered in a way that aligns with the above, employees should first try to discuss with their supervisor to attempt to resolve informally. If this does not address your concerns you can move up the organizational hierarchy or reach out to HR Delivery. Both Merit and P&S have the ability to file a grievance (Per Merit Rules and Dispute Resolution policy, respectively) but it is strongly recommended that above options are explored first. If a formal grievance is filed, there will be an initial review to determine if the grievance meets the criteria to be eligible to continue through the respective formal grievance process.

If you have a valid agreement on file there is no need to do anything in the interim. However, whether you have an agreement in place or not, the expectation is that if the arrangement is to continue the employee must submit a request going forward.
This program is not meant to impact jobs that by their very nature are remote or transitory. E&O may have additional guidelines that they will promote and/or publicize to staff.