Steps for flexible work planning
Flexible Work Arrangements can increase productivity, enhance work-life balance, reduce space needs and environmental impact and help attract and retain talent.
Step 1: Get educated and develop a strategy
What is flexible work?
At Royal Roads, flexible work refers to an agreement between RRU and an employee that offers various options about where, how and when employees perform their work. It can involve things like taking time off when needed, having a schedule with flexible hours, or being able to work from an off-campus workspace.
The four FWA options currently covered by the Flexible Work Arrangements Policy are flexible time off, ad-hoc flex, flexible time and flexible location - or a combination of these options.
Some employees may have different options for flexible work arrangements outlined in their collective agreement. If you're unsure about any flexible work arrangements not mentioned in the Flexible Work Arrangements Policy, refer to your collective agreement for guidance.
Benefits of flexible work
Flexible work arrangements allow employees to have more control over their work schedules and location - some employees might work from different locations, while others might work fewer hours on certain days of the week.
These types of flexible arrangements can help employees better balance both work and personal responsibilities, reducing stress and improving their well-being.
By enabling employees to work flexibly, we are better aligned to achieve our vision - aligning with climate action and sustainability, and equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility goals.
Flexible work policy definitions
Anchor days are an optional element that may be added to an approved Flexible Work Arrangement Agreement. An anchor day is a designated day(s) where all unit employees, or identified specific employees, are required to be on campus.
Blended work refers to a flexible work arrangement allowing an employee to complete assigned work both on campus and at an approved off-campus workspace with an approved FWAA.
Core work hours are an optional element that may be added to an approved FWAA. Core hours refer to a period during which the employee must be “at work”. It’s about being live and available for collaboration and face-to-face time during certain periods so that we can make contact for the purposes of brainstorming, decision-making, information dissemination, and making the most of creativity.
Approved offsite workspace is the location within the employee’s residence or other location, as approved by the University, where the employee will establish a suitable, dedicated workstation. The employee is responsible for ensuring that the workspace is safe and can maintain the privacy and security of the employee’s and the University’s confidential information.
Extraordinary circumstances refer to a state that causes the University to consider a Flexible Location arrangement that would only sometimes be approved. In all cases, these decisions are solely made by vice presidents in consultation with legal counsel.
Flexible time refers to an FWA whereby employees’ scheduled work hours are varied – usually altering their working day’s start and end times.
Flexible location refers to an FWA allowing work to be carried out at an approved off-campus workspace.
Flexible work arrangements (FWA) describe various voluntary work options that provide flexibility around the time or location where the employee completes work.
Flexible work arrangement agreement (FWAA) is a formal document that defines the terms of the flexible work arrangement between an employee and their manager with final approval by the senior leader.
The regular worked time is normally 37.5 hours/week, or as defined by the University within an employment agreement or collective agreement.
The regular workday is normally 7.5 hours, or as defined by the University within an employment agreement or collective agreement.
Unified communications provide and combine multiple enterprise communications channels, such as voice, video, personal and team messaging, voicemail, and content sharing.
University business hours refers to the designated time frame during which administrative and operational activities are conducted at the University. These hours typically span from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and serve as the standard schedule for essential university functions.
Flexible work arrangements are not a substitute for an accommodation
Flexible work arrangements can be beneficial for employees, but it's important to note that they are not a replacement for accommodations that may be required under the BC Human Rights Code. Flexible work arrangements may be part of an accommodation plan, but they are not a substitute for a required accommodation.
Requests for human-rights-based accommodations concerning work arrangements should be submitted to your HR consultant.
Step 2: Consider department/unit requirements
Embrace these principles as you plan for your department/unit, team and people:
- Achieving the University’s vision, goals, working culture, and commitments is a priority and must be addressed in flexible work decision-making, work design, and scheduling.
- Flexibility options must adhere to the principles of academic and operational governance and put the priorities of teaching, research and service at the heart of decision-making.
- Flexibility must consider the employee's safety, health, and well-being, both physical and emotional, and meets University’s regulatory obligations.
- Flexibility is an option for all employees, with consideration for case-by-case decisions based on individual reviews, the function and responsibilities of the employee’s role, unit processes, operational outcomes, and legal considerations.
- Planning and decision-making must be transparent and occur with an open mind and attitude that supports and encourages flexibility.
- Promotion of equity, diversity and inclusion of faculty and staff are factored into flexible work practices.
- The impact on stakeholders is understood. Any FWA arrangement must sustain community, service levels, quality of work, productivity and timeliness without hardship on collaborating departments, colleagues, students, and the university community.
- All stakeholders acknowledge and commit to fostering the University’s desired culture by contributing to a vibrant community experience through in-person connections with colleagues and students online and on campus.
- Flexibility should sustain academic and operational functions by optimizing use of various spaces and technologies on campus – whether for privacy or collaboration.
Define on-campus needs
Effective support of the University's vision is our first priority.
All flexible work arrangements need to prioritize delivering excellent service to our students, employees, and research efforts, while also fostering a vibrant and connected campus community.
Considerations for on-campus needs:
- Days/times needed for in-person support of students or colleagues.
- Specific job functions that require being on campus.
- Number of staff and position types needed for on-campus support/functions.
- Needs for staff connection on-campus (meetings, collaborative work, etc.)
Establish core hours
Core hours are a set period of time during the workday (typically between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.) when all employees are required to be available for meetings, collaboration, or other essential activities. This helps ensure that everyone is working together at the same time, making it easier to coordinate projects and ensure timely communication. This is especially important for teams that need to work closely together or depend on each other's contributions to complete a project.
Core hours provide a balance between the flexibility of flexible work arrangements and the need for structure and coordination within a department or team. They can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals, even while working remotely or on a flexible schedule.
As departments consider implementing new flexible work arrangements, it's important to also consider communication standards. Maintaining clear and consistent communication channels ensures that teams can collaborate efficiently, stay connected, and achieve their goals even when working remotely or with varying schedules.
Considerations for communication standards:
- Establish expected response times.
- Clarify means of communication (phone, MS Teams, Zoom, email, texting, etc.).
- Consider if team meetings can be effectively conducted virtually or as a mix of virtual and in-person.
Forms and resources
Step 3: Assess flexibility of all roles and individuals
Assess role and individual flexibility
To ensure equity and objectivity, it’s important that each position is assessed for its flexibility.
As you consider which positions can have some elements of flex location and/or flex time, try to think creatively about flexible work opportunities. For example, can positions that are typically on campus be set up with flex time or occasional flex location time for training or administrative tasks?
Considerations for assessing the flexibility of roles and individuals:
- Do the functions of the role support flexible work?
- How many hours could the position be flex location?
- Could the position support flex time options?
- Is the individual interested in flexible work arrangements?
- Are there any performance issues with the individual?
Approving or denying requests for flexible work
It is important for managers and employees to know that flexible work options are not guaranteed - not all positions lend themselves to flexible work arrangements.
Flexible work arrangements should be reviewed after the first six months and reviewed annually each subsequent year. Arrangements can be changed or cancelled by either the employee or the University, if the agreement is not meeting the needs of the University or the unit.
To ensure objective, equitable decision-making:
- Requests should be elevated by the manager to the senior leader for review/approval.
- If the manager and senior leader determine a request should be denied, before the decision is communicated to the employee, consult with the designated vice-president to ensure a fair and equitable outcome.
- A rationale for denying an FWA will be shared with the employee to help support understanding and consideration of any decisions made.
Step 4: Formalize Flexible Work Arrangement Agreements and workspaces
Define schedules and expectations
Clear guidelines and expectations are foundational to successful flexible work arrangements. Defining work schedules and expectations ensures that both managers and employees have a shared understanding of the framework in which we work.
Considerations for defining schedules and expectations:
- Establish schedules and expectations regarding on-campus/off-campus work time for each employees.
- If employees have flexible work schedules, define expectations for core hours when all employees should be available/working.
- Clarify expectations regarding communication methods.
Plan on-campus and off-campus workspaces
Whether working on-campus or off-campus, effective workspace planning is critical to creating efficient and effective workspaces that meet the unique needs of every employee.
Employees who work on campus at least 60 per cent of their regular worked time will be provided with a dedicated or shared workspace on campus.
On-campus workspace options:
- Dedicated workspace or offices (assigned to one person)
- Shared workspace or office (for use by two or more people)
- Hoteling workspace (unassigned, available for intermittent use)
Employees who work off campus more than 40 per cent of their regular worked time typically are not provided with a dedicated workspace on campus and should have access to a shared or hoteling workspace.
Additional requirements for employees working off-campus include:
- Ensure the employee has a safe off-campus workspace that fosters productivity. Verify employees have completed the required Hybrid Work Safety Assessment on Moodle.
- Keep an inventory of all university equipment being used off-campus.
Complete FWA agreements
- After assessing and planning unit and individual flexibility levels, managers and employees are ready to fill out the Flexible Work Arrangement Agreement form.
- Employees are required to fill out their proposed flexible work schedule details - including all applicable appendices - and forward them to their manager for approval.
- Managers should determine a date for review and renewal of the agreement (flexible work arrangements should be reviewed after the first six months and reviewed annually each subsequent year) and provide their recommendations on the arrangement to the senior leader of the unit.
- Units should keep a copy of all FWA Agreements locally and forward a copy to human resources for record-keeping and payroll purposes.
Review and approval process
Once managers have established a plan for their team, forms should be submitted to the senior leader in their unit for approval.
Senior leaders will make reasonable efforts to approve an FWA agreement and a rationale will be provided if an FWA is denied.
This process ensures that as an institution, RRU is objective and as fair as possible in our assessment of flexible work feasibility, and provides some awareness of how flexible work arrangements are being used across the university.
Human resources consultants are available to support managers in reviewing and assessing FWA requests.
Step 5: Roll out the plan, monitor and adjust
Communicate and monitor
- Communicate to employees when FWA agreements are approved or denied.
- Test out the proposed Flexible Work Arrangements Plan to identify challenges and successes and make any adjustments.
- Establish a specific time limit for each agreement, providing scheduled opportunities to assess its effectiveness for both individuals and the team. This approach encourages necessary adjustments that can better meet everyone's needs, while also acknowledging the changes and adaptations that arise in response to evolving work demands.
- Monitor going forward to identify challenges and successes.
Forms and resources