Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Whether you are an employee or a manager/supervisor, you might have questions about job flexibility at MIT.

Have a concern or question that isn't addressed here? Please contact your Human Resources Officer or the MIT Work-Life Center.

General Questions

1. What is the typical duration of a flexible work agreement? Can it be open ended?

A flexible work arrangement may be short term (for example, for the summer) or long term (for a year or longer). The arrangement may be open ended with ongoing performance reviews conducted at certain intervals—typically every 6 to 12 months. Any flexible work arrangement may be terminated at any time by the manager/supervisor or by the employee. Common reasons for termination include performance issues, employee preference, or a change in business needs.

2. What are reasonable expectations regarding the employee's communications with the office, colleagues, and manager/supervisor?

Expectations for communication should be consistent with those put in place before initiating the flexible work agreement, and may need to be adjusted to address new needs. Supervisors and employees are encouraged to review expectations together and to agree on any changes needed to minimize potential challenges that the new arrangement may present to the employee, the manager/supervisor, colleagues, or clients.

3. Does providing child care or elder care during work hours rule out a flexible work arrangement?

Employees cannot provide regular child care or elder care, or take on other significant tasks, while scheduled to work at MIT, including those on a formal flexible arrangement. However, with supervisor approval, an employee may be able to work from home on an occasional or one-off basis while caring for a child or adult, such as when a child is mildly ill or on a snow day.

4. Whose responsibility is it to obtain or provide office equipment and to cover any costs associated with an off-site work arrangement?

In most cases, it is the employee’s responsibility to cover costs associated with a telecommuting arrangement. These may include equipment costs, networking fees, office supplies, or expenses that help make the work environment ergonomic or free from hazards and distractions. Since some equipment, software, or maintenance may be provided by the DLC, employees are encouraged to discuss these or other expenses with their manager/supervisor.

5. Can support staff request a flexible work arrangement?

Yes, a support staff employee can request a flexible work arrangement. However, the decision to approve or deny a request lies with your manager/supervisor. It is important to note that not all positions lend themselves to all types of flexible work arrangements and that your job responsibilities may not be able to be met while working a flexible work arrangement. For more information on tracking support staff hours while working a flexible work arrangement, see question 10.

6. What sort of business-related questions should I address in a flexible work arrangement request?

Flexible work arrangements will affect business practices and needs; employees and managers should address these together in the approved flexwork agreement. Important questions to consider include:

  • How will hourly employees track their time?
  • What will the impact be to clients due to the employee’s restructured schedule?
  • How will the employee ensure that customer-service needs continue to be met?
  • What will the impact be on co-workers?
  • Will the employee be able to adequately protect any confidential information?

7. If MIT closes due to an emergency while I am working off-site, am I still required to work from my remote location?

If MIT closes due to an emergency, and your off-site work location is in an area that is affected by that emergency, you are not required to work off-site. If you are working outside of the emergency area, however, you will still be expected to work off-site. If you experience an emergency at your off-site work location that precludes you from working on a day that MIT is open, that time is not eligible for emergency closing pay; instead, you may choose to take any available vacation or personal time (for support and service staff) in order to be paid for that time.

Employee Questions

8. Should I provide a written job flexibility proposal before or after speaking with my supervisor?

While every situation is unique, it is generally a good idea to share a draft proposal with your supervisor at the very start of the process. This will help your supervisor understand the type of arrangement you are requesting, and how potential challenges may be addressed. Sharing a proposal in draft form—and being clear that you welcome feedback and are willing to make changes—also can be helpful if you are open to considering different flexibility options.

9. Is there an appeal process if my flexible work arrangement proposal is denied?

While there is no designated appeal process, you may find it helpful to speak with your Human Resources Officer. He or she may be able to address your concerns about the process and help you explore alternate flexibility options.

10. How is my time reported when I work in a flexible arrangement?

Hours worked as part of a flexible arrangement are reported in the same manner as you would normally report them in a traditional work schedule.

When hourly paid staff work a flexible schedule, they should report the hours worked on each day. For example, if they work four 10-hour days, then they should report 10 hours worked on those four days. No special designation is needed on the time sheet. Similarly, if that hourly paid employee takes a full vacation or sick day on one of those 10-hour workdays, he or she should record 10 hours of sick or vacation time.

11. If I am a salaried (exempt) employee, how should I approach the issue of work hours in my proposal for a full-time or part-time alternative work schedule, since full-time hours are not defined?

While it is true that full-time hours are not defined for salaried (exempt) employees as they are for hourly (non-exempt) employees, MIT uses a 40-hour workweek as a guiding principle for establishing alternative work schedules, understanding that the nature of professional work requires working the hours needed to get the job done; this is true even if the "standard" workweek in that department is more or less than 40 hours per week.

Therefore, someone working 50% effort is expected to work about 20 hours per week. If the person usually works 22 hours per week, that kind of fluctuation is not unusual for exempt-level jobs and no additional action is needed. If, however, the person generally works 30 hours per week, the employee and his or her manager should discuss the work to see whether some tasks can be transferred to someone else, whether some work can be done differently, and, if not, whether the percent effort should be adjusted.

12. Is my supervisor allowed to change my flexible schedule in the event that it conflicts with another employee's flexible schedule?

Yes, your supervisor has the ability to unilaterally terminate, alter, or suspend a flexible work agreement for any reason. If there is a conflict with another employee's schedule, there may be several options for resolving the conflict, including a reexamination of schedules. Supervisors are strongly encouraged, when possible, to provide reasonable notice (at least four weeks) before implementing a change or terminating a flexible work arrangement.

13. How accessible must I be when working from home? If I'm an exempt staff person, may I determine my own hours?

Since it's important that your supervisor and co-workers know how and when they can reach you, most likely your off-site work arrangement will specify the hours that you will work. If you would like to change your scheduled hours of work, you should include this request in your flexible work arrangement proposal.

14. What if I need a flexible work arrangement to accommodate a medical condition?

If you require a flexible work arrangement due to medical reasons, please see the webpage on accommodations.

Manager/ Supervisor Questions

15. Can a manager/supervisor work off-site?

Yes. There are MIT managers/supervisors who work off-site. A manager/supervisor who works off site must be able to effectively supervise employees and track work progress. The manager/supervisor must also be aware of the impact on work processes, productivity, and morale if he/she works off-site.

16. What is the best way for teams to coordinate meetings and interactions when some or all members work off-site? 

There are several ways that teams can stay connected when telecommuting. To learn more, visit "Technology Resources" and "Team Practices."

17. Should I conduct the annual performance review process differently for employees who work off-site?

Generally, no. However, this may be a good opportunity to touch base on how the off-site work arrangement is working for you and the employee, including whether he or she feels included in team communications and adequately recognized.

18. What are the best practices for tracking the work that the employee performs off-site?

The manager/supervisor and employee should discuss the approach that works best. However, in many cases, it may be similar to the way you tracked work before the flexible work arrangement was put in place. Best practices for tracking progress and performance include daily updates, morning check-ins, weekly meetings, weekly reporting by email, or task lists. You and your employee should discuss what works best.

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