Flexible Work Arrangements (FWA)
Overview of Flexible Work Arrangements
Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) are a business strategy that can help employers recruit and retain talented employees. FWAs can contribute to to a greater work-life balance, which in turn may lead to greater employee satisfaction, fewer unscheduled absences, increased retention, enhanced individual performance and increased business productivity.
FWAs are a variation in where a job is performed (e.g., teleworking) or the time the work is performed (e.g., flexible schedule). The following are some examples of FWAs:
- Teleworking: routinely working one or more days per week at a location that is not the regularly assigned place of employment.
- Flex-time: varying an employee’s schedule on a regular or non-regular basis while the employee is still completing the required 40 hours per week.
- Compressed work week: working more hours on some days of the week to complete the required 40 hours per week in fewer than five 8-hour days.
UT Austin permits FWAs as long as they are in the best interest of the university, will enhance the productivity of the employee and will follow university rules, procedures and policies.
How to Establish an FWA
First, respond to the two questions below. Next, you may use the following table to assess the current position to see if it is a good fit for an FWA and use the helpful tips for establishing an FWA.
Can the job responsibilities be performed just as well or better during the hours or at the location of the FWA being considered? Yes/No
If the position’s work schedule or location is modified, will co-workers’ responsibilities remain the same? Yes/No
If you answered “No” to either of the above questions, an FWA may not fit the situation. If you answered “Yes” to the above questions, continue through the following questions within the table to plan a strategy.
Assessing Positions for Flexible Work Arrangements Table
Assessing Positions for Flexible Work Arrangements
Use this chart to help assess whether an FWA would be a good fit for a specific position. If any of the answers are “yes,” can a solution be worked out? If so, describe possible solution(s).
Do the job tasks require the employee to be at the workplace during regular work hours?
Is there any way in which the proposed work schedule changes could negatively affect our team?
Is there any way in which the proposed work schedule changes could negatively affect our unit’s productivity?
Is there any way in which proposed work schedule changes could negatively affect customer service?
Is there any way in which the proposed work schedule changes could negatively affect communication with the manager or team?
Is there any way in which the proposed work schedule changes could affect the job responsibilities or tasks?
Would these proposed changes make it more difficult to supervise the employee and their work?
FWA Request Proposal Approval Process
Once you have determined that the position is a good fit for an FWA, complete the following:
- Complete the UT Flexible Work Arrangement Form- the form must be completed and signed by the employee and supervisor. Your CSU may also require additional approvals, so please consult your local HR representative.
- Review and sign the appropriate Flexible Work Arrangement expectations document.
- Flexible Work Arrangements that do not involve telework, use the FWA NON-Telework expectations document. This would be for FWAs that involve flexible hours, occasional flex, etc.
- Flexible Work Arrangements that have Telework as a component, use the FWA Telework expectations document.
FWA Resources for Employees
Tips for proposing an FWA
- Make a business case to your supervisor. Why is this good for your department and advantageous for the position?
- Minimize focus on your personal situation. Focus primarily on your position.
- Suggest a trial period. After this period reevaluate the agreement and make changes if necessary.
- Types of Flexible Work Arrangements
FAQs: Building Your Case for an FWA
What is the best way to approach my supervisor about flexible work arrangements?
Think about this as if it were an interview for a job you really want or a big presentation that you worked on for a long and time and want to go really well. That means you have to prepare. Figure out what you want. How can the FWA be of benefit to the workplace as well? Use the Assessing Positions for Flexible Work Arrangements table above to help you structure your conversation with your supervisor. In addition to those questions, be prepared to talk about how an FWA could benefit the department and to demonstrate concrete examples of how a flexible schedule would work in your situation.
Include information on your assets (what do you contribute, what unique skill sets do you have, and what institutional knowledge do you have due to your length of service with the university). Put your request in writing. Specify exactly what hours you would like to work and when you would like to begin that schedule.
What if my supervisor responds negatively?
Part of your initial preparation should be preparing and practicing replies. Anticipate what the objections might be. Prepare responses and solutions to those objections. Practice your responses to objections in role-plays with a friend, family member, or someone in the HealthPoint Employee Assistance Program.
Common objections are statements like:
“We’ve never done this before.”
“If I let you do this, everyone else will want to do it too.”
“It’s not our policy to offer this sort of arrangement.”
“I want you here if I need to tell you something.”
How can I make this proposal as attractive to my supervisor as possible?
You have to prepare – this is an important conversation. You should prepare to discuss how you’ll cover vacations, overtime and work peaks. How can you be contacted if you are working at home? Will you check e-mail or voicemail when you are out of the office? Do you have the equipment you would need to work at home? What about meetings when you are working at home or have the day off? What about staying in touch with the office when you are not physically there?
Talk to your supervisor about employer benefits: employee retention, avoiding recruitment and retraining costs, or research that shows a positive influence on productivity, absenteeism and morale. Avoid talking about how a flexible schedule will let you attend Little League games or improve your bowling score. Focus on how the work will get done. Suggest a six-month trial period to see how it works.
I’d like someone to help me with this pitch. Where can I go?
The HealthPoint EAP staff can help you role-play your presentation to your supervisor and offer suggestions on how to present your proposal for an FWA. Strategic Workforce Solutions in Human Resources can answer your questions about policies, laws relevant to work schedules, written expectations, and timesheets.
Employee responsibilities once an FWA is established
- Maintain a healthy and safe environment at your remote worksite.
- Do not let non-work-related events and activities interfere with your work; this includes using your scheduled work time to care for your dependents.
- Work with your supervisor to identify measures of productivity.
- Turn in weekly time reports and any other work hour records your supervisor requests.
- Get your supervisor’s approval for overtime and state compensatory time before earning it.
- Get your supervisor’s approval for time off.
Optional Flexible Work Arrangement Assessment
- Optional Flexible Work Arrangement Communication Plan between Manager & Employee
Optional Flexible Work Arrangement Communication Plan between Manager & Employee (PDF)
- Alternative Flexible Work Arrangement for Employees with an Immunocompromised Resident Household Member
A temporary Alternative Flexible Work Arrangement (FWA) is available for employees with individuals residing in their household with certain immunocompromised medical conditions.
FWA Resources for Managers
Tips for Managers
- Look for the business case. Why is this good for your department and advantageous for the position?
- Identify specific measures of productivity for this position.
- Consider specifying how long a new employee must work for this department before being considered for an FWA, and be consistent.
- Specify a trial period for implementing an FWA and a date for review.
- Consult with the Employee Assistance Program, the Office of Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution, or Strategic Workforce Solutions.
- Set clear expectations and guidelines, e.g., forward phones, respond to email in a set amount of time, come into the office if needed, etc.
- Assess information security needs for the work to be performed.
- Consider replacing old desktop computers with laptops. Consider designating a laptop to be checked out by employees who are working remotely.
- Consider the impact on communication, e.g., meetings, security concerns and availability for phone calls while teleworking. Consider information security needs as you choose a solution. Examples of solutions used by departments on campus include the following:
- Clear signage on office doors.
- If you decline an employee’s proposal due to performance concerns, are you coaching the employee on how to meet and exceed expectations?
- Optional Flexible Work Arrangements Self-Assessment for Managers
Optional Flexible Work Arrangements Self-Assessment for Managers (PDF)
The following offices can provide consultations on proposing a flexible work arrangement and provide tips on how to make a FWA successful.
- Employee Assistance Program (EAP): 512-471-3366
- Office of Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution: 512-475-7930
- Strategic Workforce Solutions (SWS): 512-475-7200
- Telework and Flexible Work Tools
- Remote Working Resources (PDF)