WorkFlex Options

Listed below are the primary types of work currently included in what is known as “WorkFlex.” They can be used alone or in combination. All implemented WorkFlex arrangements will require periodic review and/or renewal to ensure that the objectives stated in the original request for WorkFlex are being met, including continued employee performance. There may be other, emerging variations that have not been defined here. As part of an institution of higher learning, Iowa State University managers should be aware of and understand the benefits of using such strategies to recruit and retain a highly skilled workforce. At the same time, because ISU has so many and varied types of employment, it is important for managers to assess when and how it is appropriate to use WorkFlex, and to talk with employees about what might be the best options for their particular positions.

The following descriptions and reference tables outline some potential ways to enable flexibility. Often the focus is on remote work given the circumstances; however, there are a number of options that can help maximize an employee’s work-life balance while still supporting the university's mission. This is not an exhaustive list and other options may be useful given the type of work and team setting.


Arrangement Description Benefit Examples

Flexible Start/Stop Times or Flex Day

Work day starts and ends at different times than the established standard, while still working the same number of hours

Provides control over your time

Allows you to commute outside of peak hours

Improves efficiency if you work when you're most productive

Daily flex: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day

Short-notice schedule changes

Core hours: must be present between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., outside of which is your choice

Compressed Workweek

Working longer days in exchange for equivalent time off each workweek

Provides more days or time off

Reduces total commute time

Increases productivity working during quieter times of the day

4/10 workweek: four 10-hour days

9/80 workweek: 80 hours in 9 workdays over a two-week period (e.g. every other Friday off)

4.5 day workweek: 9 hours every day with one afternoon off

Flexible Start/Stop Times (Flex Day)

Starting and/or leaving earlier or later than the “normal” office hours. This type of flexibility is becoming more and more common as we move beyond time-bound types of work that were typical in the factories of the 20th century. In fact, this type of flexibility is currently so common that many do not think of it as WorkFlex. Flexible start/stop times change an employee’s regular schedule to one outside the standard office hours of a unit. So, an employee who works in an office open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. requests that they come in from 8  a.m. – 4 p.m., or 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Or they may request to change their schedule in a similar way a few days per week rather than every day.

Compressed Workweek

Work scheduled within fewer than the normal five-day week. The most common compressed schedule is “4 10s” – meaning four 10-hour days rather than five eight-hour days; or perhaps three 12-hour days and an additional 4 hours. Another variation that combines a part-time and compressed schedule might be working MWF for 10 hours each day rather than M-F for six hours per day.

Coordination with Time & Absence

Supervisors and employees should be aware of, and adhere to, all applicable time and absence state and federal rules and policies. More information can be found at the Time & Absence webpage. Please also consider potential impacts related to non-exempt employees to ensure that these employees are accurately recording their time and compensated for all hours worked.


Arrangement Description Benefit Examples

Hybrid Work

Working from home or other designated location for specified times each week. This option is being defined as up to, but no more than, 60% offsite.

Reduces commute time

Limits office-based interruptions

Allows time for responsibilities at home

Remote work on set days

Remote work when needed

Work from alternative locations (e.g. coffee shop, alternate office)

Hybrid Work

A job performed at a site other than a university office part of the time. This could be done from home or from a remote location such as a satellite office, or even a public location like a coffee shop or library. Technology opens many opportunities for this type of work. Confidentiality policies regarding sensitive data need to be addressed, as do ergonomic and worker’s compensation issues in terms of workplace set up. Many companies routinely use off-site work in order to decrease the cost of company office space and utilities. Employees benefit by decreased travel and other work-related costs.

Employees considering hybrid work arrangements should review:

Hybrid Work Tips for Employees

Setting Up Alternative Work Sites

Note: If your employee holds H-1B or J-1 immigration status, a change in work location (including work from home) requires pre-approval and/or an amended H-1B petition before the employee can begin hybrid work. Before approving a WorkFlex request for an international employee, please contact the International Students and Scholars Office at to discuss immigration and financial considerations.


Arrangement Description Benefit Examples

Reduced Hours

Working fewer than 40 hours or less than a full-time appointment

Provides more time for family obligations or personal interests

Part-time work schedules

Seasonal time off or part-year work (e.g. summers)

Gradual Return to Work

Working less than full-time schedule following a leave

Allows you to transition back to full-time work

Working a 4-day workweek or part-time schedule every day

Retirement Transition
(Phased Retirement, etc.)

Gradually reducing your hours as you approach retirement

Provides a transition to retirement, cross-training, and continued income

Reduced schedule to part-time

Seasonal part-time

Project-based work

Phased Retirement program

Reduced Hours

A position that is less than 40 hours per week. This option is very popular for units with limited funds, as well as with employees who have other obligations such as attending school or caring for young children/school-age children or elderly/disabled relatives. ISU benefits are generous (benefits for those working 20 hours per week or more).  Except for retirement, ISU benefits are not available for employees working less than 20 hours per week.

Gradual Return to Work

A gradual increase in hours after a leave of absence for birth, adoption, illness, injury or other life-changing event. This option is very attractive to new parents and others returning after illness or trauma as it allows for gradual acclimation to the workplace, greater bonding time for new parents and less stress for anyone experiencing a major life event. It is a win for employers in that it keeps talent on board and engaged rather than risking losing valuable employees and the resulting costs of turnover.

If you are interested in a gradual return-to-work based one of the situations tied to a leave of absence listed above, please work closely with your human resource delivery team.

Retirement Transition

A gradual decrease in hours and responsibilities before full retirement. This option is very attractive to employees nearing retirement as it allows them to continue to be productive and engaged rather than experiencing a dramatic shift from full time employment to full retirement. It is attractive to employers as it allows for knowledge transfer and retains highly skilled employees longer than might otherwise be the case. Issues with Social Security, health insurance and Medicare eligibility need to be addressed.