Staff Council to ask for consideration of alternative work arrangements

Policies pertaining to flexible schedules need consistency, group says
By Staff

The University of Colorado Staff Council will ask President Bruce D. Benson to begin the process that would allow campuses and departments to implement alternate work arrangements on a more formal basis.

Flexible schedules include compressed work weeks, performing duties from outside the office, or working nontraditional hours.

The Staff Council was asked in August 2008 to draft the resolution because of concerns about inconsistent policies at the university, said Lori Krug, Staff Council chair.

In some cases, departments exercised informal arrangements for flexibility, but in other situations, employee requests were turned down because supervisors believed work flexibility would not be allowed or was not appropriate. At CU, work flexibility "requests often are subject to a degree of bias with regard to which employees or departments are permitted to participate what are perceived to be 'special' work arrangements," according to the Staff Council's statement.

Employees increasingly continue to request flexible work plans to enhance work/life balance. Also, energy concerns, including high gas prices, have made alternative work arrangements more appealing, according to research.

The Staff Council's request for action also cites budget limitations and staff reductions as factors that favor allowing flexible work schedules. The circumstances have "created an urgent need to restructure and define employee work arrangements in the most effective and innovative manner possible," according to the request.

The council's proposal, discussed during a Nov. 5 meeting, maintains the University of Colorado has the infrastructure available to allow more alternative work arrangements. At the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, for instance, a pilot program allowed employees to work either a four-day week of 10-hour days, or to work one day each week outside the office. Because of the program's success, the UCCS human resources office is drafting a policy for use throughout the institution.

A variety of public and private institutions and companies also have implemented successful flextime policies. A study of 13 peer institutions around the nation found that nine of those universities have formal flexible schedule programs now while the rest are formalizing official processes.

Staff Council plans to deliver the request for action and supporting documents to Benson this week.

If the president approves the request, an administration policy statement will be drafted and then discussed by the policy committee. Other university groups will vet the policy before it would take effect.