Thursday, April 7, 2022

As the second Future of Work at Iowa pilot phase nears its end, the University of Iowa has released its final report and recommendations for how flexible work should be implemented across campus, beginning July 1.

The report acknowledges that most faculty and staff roles require on-campus work in order to provide the residential experience Iowa’s students expect.

Flexible work is not the new norm for most jobs, says Cheryl Reardon, associate vice president and chief human resources officer, but it is an option for specific roles that can be performed effectively from remote locations or on alternative schedules.

“When used effectively, flexible work options can expand university services, save space and money, support employee well-being, and help the university compete for talent,” says Reardon. “The Future of Work pilot phase demonstrated that it is possible to balance flexibility with the on-campus experience our students expect.”

Key takeaways from the pilot phase include:

  • Providing select services online (with remote or on-campus staffing) expands options for students and opportunities to engage with communities across Iowa.
  • Saving space and funds through flexible work will allow the university to reinvest resources in student-facing priorities.
  • Offering mission-driven flexible work helps the university recruit and retain talent and can improve employee performance and engagement.
  • Studying the impact of flexible work practices on the culture will provide information to determine the most effective strategies for promoting engagement, inclusivity, and success.

Using a set of guiding principles, the committee recommended that Iowa implement flexible work practices developed during the pilot phase. Policies and principles governing flexible work should be set at the university level, while specific decisions about policy application and implementation should be made at the college and administrative unit level.

Among the key recommendations:

  • Because many university jobs require on-campus work, available work arrangements must align with job functions.
  • Colleges and units must provide business rationales that show flexible work supports the university’s core missions (e.g., how specific arrangements enhance the student experience, expand services, redirect resources, or support employee recruitment and/or retention).
  • Workplace culture must support both the individual and the unit, with the focus on engagement, inclusivity, and well-being.
  • Colleges and administrative units will make org-specific decisions about flexible work implementation in keeping with policies set at the university level and should apply flexible work practices consistently across their orgs.
  • While long-term remote work suits only certain jobs, Iowa’s workplace culture should embrace intermittent flexibility that helps employees meet day-to-day needs and support flexibility for all.
  • The university, orgs, or work groups may designated on-campus priority days where most employees are expected to work from campus locations.
  • Remote work from locations outside Iowa requires expanded review and approval at the university level.
  • Employees working in remote or hybrid arrangements generally should not be assigned dedicated personal on-campus workstations. They should have shared spaces available to them when working on campus in order to improve space utilization.
  • All flexible work arrangements shall be reviewed annually at the college or unit level as part of the annual performance review cycle.

“Flexible work is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Rather, it provides an opportunity to support our academic mission and student success while encouraging a people-first approach across our culture,” says Reardon. “Through flexible work, Iowa can lead the way in innovative higher education work practices that support service excellence university wide.”

UI Health Care has established its own set of guidelines that focus on meeting patient care needs.

Guiding Principles

The Future of Work committee established guiding principles for campus when developing specific flexible work policies, implementing decisions, and assessment. These principles include:

  • Support Iowa’s residential campus mission and values
  • Maintain or enhance service to students, visitors, employees, and stakeholders
  • Align with a culture of engagement and inclusivity
  • Leverage good stewardship of resources