A new policy is aligning alternative worksite options for staff employees across the University of Nebraska system.
Announced in a Dec. 5 email, the policy does not restrict remote work. Rather, it outlines an approval system that is the same across the board for all NU staff.
“As a university system, we embrace a flexible work environment with appropriate parameters,” university leaders wrote in the email announcement. “Colleagues who are able to work remotely may do so with approval — and we encourage supervisors to work with their teams to provide flexible options where possible.”
The policy, which goes into effect Jan. 1, requires that all staff who wish to start, adjust or continue remote work, must complete NU’s alternative worksite form. The form will be available via Firefly starting Dec. 12.
“The form is simple, and having a clearer picture of remote work practices across the system will help us ensure that we remain in compliance with relevant laws and regulations, and ensures that we are applying our policies equitably,” NU leaders said in the email.
Establishing a remote work arrangement
Staff who seek a structured remote work schedule should first discuss the option with their immediate supervisor. These discussions should result in clear and mutually agreed upon expectations.
Under the NU system policy, for those already doing or seeking to work remotely, staff must complete the alternative worksite form by Jan. 31. Those who desire a remote schedule for more than 50% of the workweek will need final approval from their immediate supervisor, the college/unit’s dean or director, and final approval from the vice chancellor of business and finance. Arrangements below the 50% threshold will be approved by immediate supervisors as well as the college/unit’s dean or director.
Staff who occasionally work remotely — for instance, those who take a day to work away from the office to focus on a project (or for some other personal or professional reason) — do not need to complete the form.
The forms are necessary to assure the university is in compliance with tax and related employment regulations.
Additional guidance for staff is available in this FAQ document.
Guidelines for supervisors
Supervisors are being asked to review the Alternative Worksite Policy and related guidance.
Topics that need to be considered when considering an arrangement for staff include:
If the nature of the work can be completed remotely while meeting the needs of students and the university community.
Consider the various types of flexible work.
Be sure that they account for the increased supervisory effort it can take to manage remote workers.
Establishing a method to communicate with employees while engaged in remote work. Including this in an overall work plan for the unit.
Plan to review all flexible/remote work effectiveness at least once a year.
Supervisors will be provided with additional guidance.
The NU system policy also outlines an expectation that most employees will work in Nebraska. A small number of staff who work in states that have tax and employment laws dissimilar to those in Nebraska will receive guidance from Human Resources on next steps.
The policy also outlines a process through which employees must follow if they choose to work outside of Nebraska in the future. Supervisors also must consult with human resources to determine if such requests can be approved.
“In the wake of the pandemic, many other universities and businesses are having similar conversations about the nature of work,” NU leaders said in the email. “Our policy makes sense for the University of Nebraska. It embodies our values as a student-focused public university, while giving us a valuable tool to compete in a market for talent that increasingly involves flexible work.”
The complete policy and related information for staff employees and supervisors, is available for review online.