Remote Work Policy

PURPOSE

This policy implements the recommendations of the working group on staff remote/flexible work arrangements, which was charged in the summer of 2021 to review Williams’ remote work policy in light of the questions raised and lessons learned during the 2020-21 academic year. 

This sets forth the requirements and expectations of Williams College for employees who are granted approval for an alternative work arrangement as well as the supervisors, department heads and other managers who lead teams with hybrid and primarily remote employees. It also establishes a process for the development, review, approval and monitoring of these arrangements that is intended to be applied consistently and ensure that hybrid and primarily remote work arrangements are mutually beneficial to all involved.

SCOPE

This policy applies to Hybrid Work and Primarily Remote Work arrangements (collectively referred to below as alternative work arrangements), which are defined as follows: 

Hybrid Work

A regular schedule that is a mix of on-site and remote work. A hybrid work schedule can be based on a weekly schedule or based on specific times of the year. The schedule can be based on specific types of job tasks (e.g., those that specifically require a presence on campus vs. planning and administrative work) and schedules (e.g., bi-monthly data processing activities). On average, a Hybrid Work arrangement shall provide for less than fifty percent of the work week off-site. 

Primarily Remote Work

Work that is “primarily remote” is performed off-campus more often than on a regular, recurring basis. These arrangements are authorized in rare circumstances. Such arrangements are reviewed and evaluated periodically by the employee and the supervisor—at least once a year but preferably quarterly. Even remote staff members may be required to periodically travel to and work from campus, as needed.

Such options are assigned to specific positions. An alternative work arrangement does not change the position’s requirements, and is only appropriate if remote work will not compromise the levels of availability and responsiveness to co-workers and service to constituents. 

Eligibility is for employees in those positions who have demonstrated consistently high performance and the ability to work independently without compromising the quality of work, constituent service, or the overall team dynamic and performance. 

This policy does not apply to faculty. 

The college retains the discretion to authorize or implement temporary remote work arrangements outside of this policy, including in response to extraordinary circumstances.

REQUIREMENTS

The essential elements, limits, and conditions of remote work arrangements under this policy are as follows:

  1. Alternative work arrangements are structured and ongoing, with a designated remote work location with an approved work space. A clear schedule of days on- and off-campus, with specific hours and a location for each day of the week or week in the year, needs to be identified and followed. Occasional requirements to be on campus for meetings or events may supersede the schedule. 
  2. The agreement should clearly document expectations about the type and quantity of work to be performed; responsiveness, availability, and communication with colleagues, students, constituents and clients; and metrics of success.
  3. Out-of-state work arrangements have additional tax and legal complexities, and a remote work request may be denied on this basis alone. Individuals who wish to change their remote work location must submit new requests.
  4. Alternative work arrangements are not to be used to provide ongoing care for family members nor the occasional need to work from home.
  5. Alternative work arrangements are not to be used to work at other jobs or businesses.
  6. A review period should be established with regular, defined evaluations by both the employee and the supervisor to determine the effectiveness of the arrangement. We recommend the arrangement be reviewed quarterly, or annually at a minimum.
  7. Success will be measured based on the quality of work and internal and external client feedback including but not limited to the remote working arrangement’s impacts, if any, on overall team dynamic and performance.
  8. All equipment provided by the college as part of this agreement remains college property to be used for college purposes only, and only by the employee. No additional equipment will be provided by OIT beyond standard deployments. 
  9. Remote work under this policy is entirely voluntary. As part of any remote work arrangement through this policy, employees will agree to be responsible for expenses associated with the remote workspace, including but not limited to heat, electricity, internet service, phone, and printer. 
  10. Except with the prior written approval of the applicable senior staff member, the employee is responsible for the cost of any travel and/or accommodations required for on-campus work.
  11. Consistent with the college’s expectations of information security for employees working at the office, remote employees are expected to ensure the protection of any sensitive information that they have access to. Steps include closely following the college’s data classification and usage policy, using multi-factor authentication and strong passwords, the use of secured college-owned computers and locked file cabinets and desks, and any other measures appropriate for the job and the environment. Proposals from any employee with access to protected data must be approved by counsel and the director of information security.
  12. Employees are expected to maintain their remote workspaces in a safe manner, free from safety hazards. Human Resources will provide each remote worker with a safety checklist that must be completed at least once per year. Injuries sustained by the employee in a remote office location and in conjunction with his or her regular work duties may be covered by the college’s workers’ compensation policy. Remote employees are responsible for notifying the college of such injuries as soon as practicable and shall make the work site accessible to college representatives for inspection. The college is not responsible for any injuries sustained by non-employee visitors to the remote worksite, including members of the employee’s household.
  13. Remote employees who are not exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act and applicable state law will be required to accurately record all hours worked. Hours worked in excess of those scheduled per day and per workweek require the advance approval of the individual’s supervisor. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in the immediate termination of the remote work agreement.
  14. The agreements implementing Alternative Work Arrangements must include a timeline for review and can be revoked at any time by either party.

PROCESS

  1. Department heads initiate discussions within their units to assess the best strategy for Alternative Work Arrangements for their teams, using the Department Planning Tool for Alternative Work Arrangements. Coordinated proposals for how departmental priorities will be met with these considerations will then be submitted to senior staff for vetting and approval.
  2. Individual employees prepare proposals and seek approval from their immediate supervisor and department head. Employees wishing to propose an alternative work arrangement should start by filling out the Individual Planning Tool for Alternative Work Arrangement and reviewing the Remote Work Safety Checklist. The employee’s manager should review the Alternative Work Arrangement Guidelines for Managers. Together the employee and supervisor should work from the individual planning tool to develop a work plan and prepare a remote work agreement using the college template. These documents should demonstrate compliance with the requirements set forth above. 
  3. The proposed plan and agreement are reviewed and revised as needed by the employee, the department head, a representative from Human Resources and the applicable senior staff member. Approval is at the collective discretion of the supervisor, the department head, and the member of senior staff to whom the department reports, with input from Human Resources (and if necessary the college’s legal counsel) to ensure compliance with applicable tax and labor laws.

MISCELLANEOUS

Any employee who violates this policy may be subject to appropriate discipline, up to and including termination.

This policy remains subject to periodic review and revision.

To the extent that any provision of this policy is contrary to applicable law, the provision of the law will control, and this policy will be implemented in compliance with the law.

Policy Last Revised: January 13, 2022