Remote work resources and regulations
February 18, 2022
Remote work resources and regulations
It’s been close to two years since COVID-19 spread across the world impacting how and where we work and live. For many University of Alaska employees that meant learning how to work remotely, or significantly reducing time spent working on site, in order to mitigate transmission risks. While COVID-19 remains a risk to our communities, our UA campuses will continue to remain flexible in their operations. We hope that once the COVID-19 risks are sufficiently reduced, our campuses can return to a new normal. In the meantime, much has been done to address the needs of employees, supervisors and departments in the remote work environment.
Updated Remote Work Regulation
Last year, project team members across the system worked with UA Human Resources to research long-term remote work arrangements and make recommendations to revise the university policy and regulation accordingly. The project team concluded work last fall, and Interim President Pitney approved updated remote work regulations, effective November 1, 2021.
Remote Work Website
To share the best practices learned through that process and throughout the duration of widespread remote work, UA Human Resources created a new Remote Work website. It provides information about the updated regulations, administrative guidelines for remote work and also tools and resources for employees and supervisors.
Assessment and Planning Tools
Supervisors and employees can use the Remote Work Assessment tool to determine if remote work is a good fit for specific jobs and remote work locations. If the assessment indicates that remote work is a viable option, the Remote Work Expectations Worksheet will help supervisors and employees identify and set expectations on ways to communicate, collaborate, and fulfill job responsibilities while working remotely. Remote work requires supervisor approval and arrangements are granted on a revocable basis.
Remote Work Agreement
UA Human Resources maintains a formal remote work request and agreement process. The purpose of a formal remote work agreement is to:
- document the arrangement, including the work schedule and location;
- ensure tax compliance, and;
- document mutual understanding of university regulations.
A formal remote work agreement is mandatory when:
- the remote work recurs on a regular basis and is significant (more than 20% of biweekly time), or;
- the remote location is out of state for 30 days or more per calendar year.
University system leadership has agreed that all employees whose remote work schedules regularly meet the terms of the formal agreement need to have one on file. Employees who are primarily working remotely, even if it is a result of campus restrictions due to COVID-19, need to go through the formal process. This does not preclude supervisors or campus leadership from retaining the right to make temporary decisions without requiring a formal remote work agreement to protect the health and safety of their employees in response to changing COVID conditions such as having employees work from home as a short-term mitigation strategy after a known exposure incident.
Employees should talk with their supervisors, understand the regulations and restrictions involved with working remotely, and document their remote work agreement. This agreement can be discontinued or modified as conditions of employment or circumstances change.
To formalize a remote work arrangement, the supervisor completes the electronic Remote Work Agreement form. Before returning fulltime to the on-site location, employees or their supervisors complete the Remote Work Agreement Cancellation form.
Returning to onsite work
Many employees are wondering when we will go back to “normal” where onsite work is the norm and when formal remote work agreements will be mandatory. There is not an answer that applies to all employees in all campus locations. Many UA employees have been working onsite throughout the entire pandemic, while others may not have stepped foot on a campus in close to two years. No matter where they fall on the spectrum, the tools and resources provided to employees and supervisors on the Remote Work website can be useful to navigate this challenging situation.
Another advantage of requiring the formal remote work agreement for everyone working remotely or in a hybrid arrangement are the benefits and clarity it provides. Keep in regular communication with your supervisor, and read updates from university leadership outlining campus operations and restrictions. Most importantly, do not go on campus if you feel sick, and get tested at the first sign of exposure or the onset of COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild.