When we launched the university’s Classified Staff Flexible Workplace Policy in May of 2021, we indicated that Lehigh would also be publishing a policy regarding fully remote work. The Classified Staff Fully Remote Work Policy has now been approved and published.
How Fully Remote Work Differs from Flexplace Agreements
Lehigh’s Classified Staff Flexible Workplace Policy (Flexplace) is intended to provide employees with work/life balance options through a hybrid home/on-campus workplace arrangement. While not all positions at the university are suited for such an arrangement, in general, this opportunity is available to a large percentage of staff members.
In contrast, the Classified Staff Fully Remote Work Policy establishes a formal structure for full-time work from home. However, it is only available when it is determined, through a formal process, that remote work supports a strategic objective of the University. It is not anticipated that most employees will be eligible for full-time remote work arrangements.
Additional Criteria for Fully Remote Work
If a position is deemed eligible for fully remote work, the employee
Must be located within the United States, in a state formally approved by Lehigh, and
Must have a proven ability to perform all functional components of the position to a satisfactory level of expectation determined at the sole discretion of the supervisor, and
Must have an approved formal Remote Work Agreement.
The Remote Work Agreement Process
All Remote Work Agreements will be reviewed and approved at the senior leader level through a formal process that will include multiple approval steps, ending with the required approval of the Provost and Vice President for Finance and Administration. A DocuSign powerform has been created and must be used by the supervisor to initiate and complete the approval process.
In general, Remote Work Agreements will be initiated by supervisors who will need to document how such an arrangement will be of strategic benefit to the university. Employees currently holding positions that are classified as eligible for fully remote work may initiate a request for a remote work agreement through a preliminary discussion with their supervisor. If the supervisor agrees, they will then begin the formal approval process.
A staff member’s work location is an important consideration in determining the feasibility of a Fully Remote Work Agreement. The university must review the city and county ordinances regarding taxes, minimum wage, paid sick leave and other employment obligations of the staff member’s proposed work location. The university will consider the cost and administrative burden of complying with such obligations when determining whether a remote work arrangement is appropriate.
A supervisor must review every item in the Fully Remote Work Agreement with the candidate for remote work to ensure the candidate for remote work understands all of their obligations and agrees to each of those obligations, including the requirements for accurate timekeeping, if applicable, the need for a secure workspace and relevant information security policies. Review this section of the policy thoroughly to ensure you are fully complying with policy and its processes.
Supervisor Training Opportunity
To ensure supervisors are prepared to implement the new policy, Human Resources will be offering several sessions of a new workshop that addresses the needs of Lehigh teams with a variety of workplace arrangements. The course, Leading Flexplace and Remote Teams, contains content that is similar to two courses we offered previously: Leading in a Flexplace Environment and Crash Course for Managers: Inspiring and Motivating Remote Teams. If you are a supervisor and aren't sure whether or not you've taken either of these courses, follow these instructions to access your development plan in PageUp. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
For More Information
We have developed a webpage with the information and resources that supervisors and staff members will need when considering or initiating a Fully Remote Work Agreement request. There you will find a link to the new policy as well as the DocuSign powerform, and instructions for completing the application.
Should you have any questions regarding this new policy, please contact Lori or Chris in Human Resources.
Associate Vice President for Human Resources
Director of Talent Management