The COVID-19 pandemic has put stresses on virtually every aspect of our personal and professional lives. None is more acute than the challenge of caring for children who are not able to attend school in person, or for a dependent who is sick or frail, while simultaneously working full-time. Although Rochester is currently in Phase 4 of New York State reopening, a spike in COVID-19 cases in our region may necessitate a pivot once more to restrictive and physically distant operations for K-12 schools, nursing homes, daycare and elderly care facilities, and many parts of the University of Rochester campus.
There are many University employees who must work on-campus or on-site, or with specific schedules and shifts, for example frontline workers, student- and patient-facing colleagues, public safety officers, and environmental service workers. These valued and indispensable colleagues are essential to ensuring that our campuses and healthcare facilities operate as they should, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But for many others, the pandemic has afforded them the opportunity to think differently about the traditional workplace.
With these challenges, uncertainties, and opportunities in mind, the University’s Committee on Family Friendly Practice and the Genesee Staff Council, in concert with the Department of Human Resources, have developed the following flexibility considerations for managers and employees as our campuses reopen. We hope managers will keep these in mind when a flexible approach to work is possible. As a reminder, employees who can work remotely and meet their job expectations are expected to continue to work remotely.
- Be supportive in finding ways to allow employees to continue to work remotely if possible.
- Be open to flexibility in scheduled work hours as much as possible in order to accommodate the unpredictable demands of caregiving or other circumstances.
- Be mindful when scheduling meetings, and provide documentation and opportunities for input for those who may not be able to attend the scheduled meeting due to flexible schedules.
- Be creative in job assignments: set clear priorities about what must be accomplished and when, and emphasize collaboration among team members.
Employees who would like to request flexibility in their current work arrangements should start by discussing their needs with their immediate supervisor (manager, department chair, program director, or unit leader). Supervisors are encouraged to work with their employees and their HR Business Partner to determine if such flexibility is possible.
As we all continue to navigate the current environment, a flexible approach to work will not only support our colleagues but also allow the University to move forward in fulfilling its educational mission.