Based on its experience with remote working arrangements over the past months, and in line with developing best practice among employers, the University has elected to offer remote staff work arrangements to facilitate the ability of its staff to meet the needs of the institution, while harnessing technology to provide a modern, competitive work environment. Remote work arrangements are a privilege, not an entitlement or a University-wide benefit; however, as these Guidelines recognize, unrelated to the current global pandemic, such arrangements may enhance a number of institutional goals, including staff recruitment and retention, business continuity, enhanced support for strategic plan initiatives, and environmental sustainability. The expectation is that staff will be on campus for the majority of their workweek, but the Guidelines are aimed at providing appropriate flexibility for individual colleges and departments to meet the needs of both their mission and their staff.
8.02 Scope of the Guidelines
The Guidelines apply to only regular staff. The Guidelines do not apply to faculty, staff who are members of a bargaining unit (unless otherwise agreed between the applicable union and the University), temporary employees or student employees. No staff member is required to work remotely. In addition, there may be positions the nature of which and/or units the circumstances of which render remote work arrangements impractical or imprudent. No staff member is obligated to enter into a remote work arrangement. All staff members may continue to work from their University office each and every work day.
As a condition predicate to consideration of a remote work arrangement request, a staff member must meet the following criteria: (1) not be on a performance improvement plan and not have been on such a plan within the prior 60 days; and (2) be in compliance with all University Covid-19 policies and protocols (including providing proof of vaccination, unless an exception has been granted). If a staff member is placed on a performance improvement plan, a remote work arrangement will be withdrawn until the performance issue is resolved.
8.04 Mandatory Residency Requirements – All Employees
It is the official policy of the University to employ into all positions only residents of the States of Illinois and Indiana; provided that the University may, in its sole discretion, establish positions that are intended by the University to be based in a location other than Illinois or Indiana. Except with respect to positions that are intended by the University to be based in a location other than Illinois or Indiana, anyone who is employed by or who becomes employed by the University in any position must reside in one these states within 30 days of the commencement of employment with the University and must remain a resident of one of these two states throughout their employment. Nothing in these Guidelines is intended to permit, and shall not be deemed to permit, any University employee to work remotely other than as a resident of the State of Illinois or Indiana or, in the case of a position that is intended by the University to be based in a state other than Illinois or Indiana, the state designated for that position. Any University employee found to reside in a state other than as provided for herein is subject to termination.
8.05 Request and Approval Procedures
- Requests. Eligible staff members must initiate the remote work process as provided for in these Guidelines. A staff member may request to work remotely up to two days per week (equivalent to forty percent (40%) per month). Approved remote work arrangements can take effect any time on or after Monday, September 20, 2021. To request a remote work arrangement, a staff member must complete an online Remote Work Approval Form, which is described in (d) below. Supervisors may also require that staff members provide additional information relevant to the staff member’s position, job duties or the needs of the department.
- Required Approvals. Remote work arrangements must be first be reviewed by the staff member’s supervisor, who shall make an initial recommendation on the request. Supervisors are to evaluate requests based on the needs of their respective units and the standards contained in these Guidelines, in particular those set forth in Sections 8.06 and 8.13. Thereafter, the request along with the supervisor’s recommendation will be sent to the appropriate dean or vice president (or designee) for final approval. Deans and Vice Presidents are to evaluate requests based on the same criteria as supervisor and are to review remote work arrangements to see that they are being approved (or not approved) consistently within a unit and, to the extent practicable, across the units that report to them.
- Exceptional Situations. In exceptional circumstances when the decision to do so is in the substantial interest of the University, deans and vice presidents may, but only after notice to and prior consultation with the Associate Vice President for Human Resources, consider allowing staff to work remotely more than two days per week.
- Remote Work Approval Form. As provided for in (b) above, a staff member must complete and submit an online Remote Work Approval Form as the first step in the remote work arrangement approval process. A representative from the Office of Human Resources will then obtain from the recommendation of the staff member’s direct supervisor as well as the final approval of the relevant Dean or Vice President (or designee). Human Resources will confirm with the staff member once all approvals have been obtained. A remote work arrangement can only commence if and when all approvals have been obtained.
- Requests for Reconsideration. A staff member whose request for a remote work arrangement is denied may seek reconsideration of the decision using the process set forth in Section 8.08.
- Management Discretion. Decisions regarding remote work arrangements, including decisions on requests for reconsideration, are at the discretion of management and are not subject to the Staff Grievance Procedure set forth in Section F 3.00 of the University’s Employee Policies and Procedures Manual or any other appeal or review process.
8.06. Evaluating Requests for Remote Work Arrangements
- Supervisors should carefully evaluate all requests for remote work arrangements using the guidance below. Supervisors may only consider requests from eligible employees. (See Section 8.02.) Supervisors may elect to approve a remote work arrangement on a trial basis. Supervisors may decline to approve remote work arrangements on a unit-wide basis if they have determined that the arrangement would have a negative impact on the operations of the unit.
- Core Principles.
- Institutional Mission: The University is a vibrant residential research university, and intense collaboration and in-person interactions between students, staff and faculty are essential. Remote work arrangements must support this mission.
- Quality of Student Services: Remote work arrangements must not detract from the student-centered nature of our residential research university.
- Quality of Research Environment: Remote work arrangements must not impact the research activities that are physically based in University laboratories and offices.
- Business Operations and Goals: Remote work arrangements must support business operation efficiency so as to ensure the success of each college or department and the University as a whole in meeting and exceeding overall goals.
- Employee Retention and Recruitment: Remote work arrangements will support talent recruitment and retention and contribute to the University community and employee morale.
- Nature of Position. Remote work arrangements must be appropriate for the specific position and job duties. Not all positions are appropriate for remote work arrangements due to the nature of the role, the job duties and the University’s needs. Roles that lend themselves to remote work arrangements are generally those that:
- Involve work that can be accomplished independently with limited direct supervision;
- Do not require frequent face-to-face contact with students, supervisors, staff, faculty or the public on the University’s campuses that cannot be accomplished as effectively via Zoom, Google Meets or similar media platforms;
- Do not require access to equipment, materials or information that can be accessed only while on the University’s campuses; and
- Do not need to be conducted on campus because of security, logistical or other business-related reasons.
- Abilities. Supervisors should consider whether a staff member has demonstrated the following:
- Ability to work independently;
- Consistently high levels of productivity;
- Strong problem-solving capabilities;
- Strong organizational skills;
- Effective communication skills;
- Ability to work within timelines and meet deadlines; and
- Ability to work efficiently in an informal, non-office environment.
8.07 Ongoing Review of Remote Work Arrangements
Staff members with approved remote work arrangements are expected to meet all performance standards of their college or department and to be as productive as if they were working on campus.
Supervisors will review approved remote work arrangements regularly, including during a staff member’s annual performance evaluation, to determine whether they should be continued, considering staff member job performance, operational needs, team dynamics and other relevant considerations. Reviews should be conducted at least annually and more frequently for new remote work arrangements. Supervisors have the discretion to revoke remote work arrangements at any time upon 30 days’ notice, with the approval of the applicable dean or vice president (or designee).
8.08. Reconsideration Process
The reconsideration process allows a staff member whose request for a remote work arrangement has been denied to seek reconsideration of the decision. Requests for reconsideration must be directed to the applicable dean or vice president. Specifically, to request reconsideration of a denial of a remote work arrangement, the staff member must send an email to the appropriate dean or vice president articulating the reason for requesting reconsideration, the rationale for the remote work arrangement, the submitted remote work request, and any prior written correspondence to or from their supervisor relating to the requested remote work arrangement. A decision will be made as soon as practical, typically within 10 business days from receipt of the reconsideration request. Reconsideration decisions are final. A dean or vice president may designate another administrator (other than the staff member’s immediate supervisor) to decide reconsideration requests on their behalf. In any event, the person making the reconsideration decision must consult with the Associate Vice President for Human Resources before rendering their decision.
8.09 Availability for On-Campus Work
Staff with approved remote work arrangements may, from time to time, be required to be on campus at times when they typically are scheduled to work remotely. Additionally, organizational needs may require temporary suspension of a remote work arrangement to support unusual projects or conditions in the college or department. Colleges and departments may have specific requirements that staff with remote work arrangements be on campus for certain events. Supervisors must give notice of the need for unanticipated on-campus presence or temporary suspensions of remote work arrangements as soon as practicable, but no particular notice period is required. Such decisions are at the discretion of supervisors and are not subject to requests for reconsideration or any grievance or appeal. A staff member who fails to return to campus as so requested will be deemed to have an unexcused absence, and such action by a staff may result in the suspension or termination of their remote work arrangement.
8.10. Work Hours, Dependent Care Arrangements and Absences
- Work Days and Hours. Remote work arrangements do not modify the days of the week or the hours of the day that a staff member works. See Sections B.1 and B.3 of the University’s Employee Policies and Procedures Manual. Staff members are required to follow their regular work schedule when working remotely. The University’s policies regarding hours of work (including meal periods, rest periods, overtime and time reporting) apply to work performed remotely as well as on campus. See Sections B.1 and B.3 of the University’s Employee Policies and Procedures Manual. Non-exempt staff may not work more than their regularly scheduled hours without prior, written approval of their supervisors, and must accurately report all hours worked. See Sections B.2 of the University’s Employee Policies and Procedures Manual.
- Attendance. Staff members must comply with the University’s policies on attendance and authorized absences from work (including vacation leave and sick leave) while working remotely. See Sections B.3, C.5, C.6 and C.7 of the University’s Employee Policies and Procedures Manual.
- No Non-Work Activities. Staff members working remotely are not to engage in or attend to personal activities or matters during their normal work hours, including, but not limited to: running errands, taking care of family issues, and engaging in non-University employment or work as well as any activity that would not be allowed or appropriate if they were working on the campus.
- Leaves of Absence/Disability Accommodation. Remote work arrangements are not intended to be a replacement for disability accommodations or family or medical leaves of absence. Staff can find more information about disability accommodations in Section F.1 of the University’s Employee Policies and Procedures Manual and leaves of absence in Section D of the University’s Employee Policies and Procedures Manual.
8.11 Safety and Health
Staff working remotely must maintain a safe and secure workspace free from hazards. Unless the University is informed otherwise and approves, a staff member’s remote workspace is understood to be a work surface (e.g., desk or table), seat, computer and accessories, telephone and, if applicable, a location for storing hard copy records. Work performed outside of this remote workspace is not authorized by the University. Staff must report any work-related injuries that occur during remote work to their supervisor and the Department of Human Resources at the earliest reasonable opportunity, but in no event, more than twenty-four (24) hours.
- Staff who voluntarily request to work remotely will not be reimbursed for home office equipment or services, unless otherwise required by law and/or expressly provided for in the University’s reimbursement policy. The University is not responsible for the operating costs, maintenance, property or liability insurance, or other expenses for a staff member’s home or other remote work location. University insurance does not cover staff members’ personal property used for remote work. Commuting costs to a staff member’s on-campus or remote work locations are not paid by the University.
- Staff who are required by the University to work remotely will be provided or reimbursed for, in accordance with the University’s reimbursement policy and applicable laws, certain equipment or expenses as agreed upon with the applicable college or department. Grant or contract funds may not be used to purchase remote work equipment or reimburse remote work expenses unless such purchases or expenses are explicitly budgeted and approved in the award agreement.
8.13 Workspace, Technology/Equipment, and Data Security
Colleges and departments offering remote work arrangements and staff with such arrangements must ensure that the physical space, technology and data security requirements below will be met. Colleges and departments may also adopt additional requirements specific to their work, including specialized requirements for ensuring confidentiality of information.
- Physical Space: Staff working remotely should work from a space that is appropriate for the type of work being done. The space should generally be private so that others cannot overhear confidential conversations or meetings or view computer screens that contain sensitive information.
- Physical Documents: Staff working remotely should take home the minimum number of physical documents needed for them to complete their work, and they should return these documents to the University as soon as possible. Staff who work with physical documents must have a secure location to store those documents and a secure method to destroy papers or media that contain sensitive information. Colleges and departments must consider how physical documents or media are exchanged between the staff member and the University to ensure the security is adequate.
- Prohibition on Meetings: Staff members may not hold in-person work meetings at their remote work location.
- Equipment: Staff in positions requiring a computer must be provided by their supervisor a list of required equipment prior to the commencement of their remote arrangement, and staff must confirm that they have such equipment. As a general rule, colleges and departments will not provide staff who work remotely at their own request with additional computers or accessories (e.g., mouse, keyboard, external monitors) for on-campus offices or remote work locations. The University also will not provide other home office equipment (e.g., furniture) to staff who work remotely.
- University Equipment: All equipment the University provides to a staff member, whether used on campus or in connection with a remote work arrangement, remains the property of the University and must be returned upon separation from employment or upon notice from the University.
- Internet Connection: Staff with remote work arrangements must have a stable, non-public internet connection with sufficient bandwidth to participate in video meetings and other regular activities.
- Telephone Access (VoIP): Staff must use the Clearspan software available through the University to serve as their primary office phone when working remotely. See https://ots.iit.edu/voice-communications/user-guides.
- Technology-Related Challenges: Staff are responsible for addressing technology-related issues at the remote work location, except for issues with equipment provided by the University, which should be coordinated with the Office of Technology Support’s Support Desk and communicated to a staff member's supervisor.
- Prohibition on Personal Use: Staff members may not use University equipment for personal use.
- Data Security: Staff are expected to adhere to the following University requirements at all times:
- Secure all devices that will access, use or store University data;
- Ensure that devices and the software they run are patched and updated;
- Ensure that physical security measures are in place to prevent damage, harm, theft or loss of personally-owned devices;
- Do not share your university account or passwords with family members or any other unauthorized individuals;
- Ensure that devices are running software to protect them from viruses, spyware and other malicious programs;
- Use the University's VPN to access University information systems; for information pertaining to the University’s VPN, please see the document which can be found here: https://ots.iit.edu/policies/virtual-private-network-vpn-procedues; and
- Ensure that University data is stored only in appropriate University systems, databases, or repositories as required by the Department and the University's Record and E-mail Retention Policy (Procedure No. Q.4), which is posted at https://web.iit.edu/general-counsel/resources/policies-and-procedures, and not on personally owned devices.
- Incident Response: In the event that a device used to access or store University data is lost, infected with a virus or malware, subject to a phishing attack, or otherwise compromised, the staff member must notify the Office of Technology Services (OTS) Support Desk immediately. In the event a cybersecurity incident impacts a personal device used to access or store University data, the staff member must fully cooperate with the University's investigation, which in some cases may involve providing the device to OTS for forensic investigation.
- Additional Relevant Policies: With respect to technology and data security, staff with remote work arrangements are reminded that they must continue to comply with the following University policies: Use of Computer Resources (Procedure No. Q.3); Records and E-Mail Retention Policy (Procedure No. Q.4); and Technology and Telephonic Infrastructure Capabilities (Procedure No. Q.5), all of which are posted at https://web.iit.edu/general-counsel/resources/policies-and-procedures.
8.14. University Property
All equipment the University provides to a staff member, whether used on campus or in connection with a remote work arrangement, remains the property of the University and must be returned upon separation from employment or at any other time upon notice from the University.
8.15. Nature of Employment
Nothing in the Guidelines alters the at-will nature of employment for any staff member, and staff members working remotely remain subject to, and are expected to comply with all applicable University policies and procedures to the same extent as if they were present on campus.