To the Staff of the University of Nebraska System:
Today we are sharing with you a new policy that clarifies our practices on worksite arrangements for University of Nebraska staff. This policy is the result of many months of discussion about what work can and should look like at our university, and we are pleased that we now have a clear, consistent set of processes that will apply across our four campuses.
The full policy, which applies to administrative, managerial/professional, office and service, and student employees, is available here. A detailed Q&A is here. It formally takes effect on January 1. Here’s what you need to know:
1) Students want a dynamic campus environment and it is essential to the success of the University of Nebraska. Therefore, most employees are expected to work on-campus.
A vibrant, in-person campus culture is part of the very fabric of the University of Nebraska – whether we’re doing experiments in the lab, discussing a work of literature, or gathering for a musical performance or sports event. As we’ve heard time and again from our students, those in-person experiences can’t be replicated. We ask our faculty to be on campus teaching and doing research, and the same should apply to staff who play an equally important role in supporting the university’s mission.
2) Flexibility is not only a necessary part of our day-to-day lives as employees and human beings, it is also crucial to our ability to attract and retain talent. As a university system, we embrace a flexible work environment with appropriate parameters.
Colleagues who are able to work remotely may do so with approval, and we encourage supervisors to work with their teams to provide flexible options where possible. The following process applies:
- If remote work is already part of your schedule and you want to keep it that way, simply fill out the university’s Alternative Worksite Form, which will be available in Firefly beginning next Monday, Dec. 12, and submit it to your supervisor. If you want to work remotely for more than 50% of your time, you will also need approval from your campus Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance. We expect remote work arrangements to be subject to an annual approval process.We realize the paperwork is a minor inconvenience for those already doing remote work with their supervisor’s support. The form is simple, and having a clearer picture of remote work practices across the system will help us ensure that we remain in compliance with relevant laws and regulations and that we are applying our policies equitably. We ask you to fill out the online form no later than Jan. 31. There is no need to change your schedule in the meantime. In other words: If you’re already doing remote work, this policy will not take any flexibility away from your current schedule.
- If you’re not working remotely now but would like to do so on an ongoing basis (e.g., if you’d like to work from home every Tuesday and Thursday), fill out the Alternative Worksite Form and submit it to your supervisor for consideration.
- If you only work remotely occasionally (for example, an occasional Friday at home, or periods of work away from the office for any personal or professional reason), you don’t need to take any formal action.
3) As a state agency, the university expects most employees to work in Nebraska.
We realize there are some instances where employees will work outside Nebraska. In those limited situations, employees may work from states where tax and employment laws are similar to Nebraska’s (such as Iowa). A list of those comparable states is available here.
The very small number of colleagues who work in states where tax and employment laws are not comparable with Nebraska’s will receive further communication from Human Resources on their next steps.
4) Flexible work is a privilege, not a right, and should be treated as such.
The pandemic demonstrated that many of us can successfully work from any number of places – and indeed your ability to be flexible is a primary reason why we were able to maintain our momentum through Covid-19. But the pandemic also provided a clear reminder that while some of us are lucky to have flexible work options, other colleagues – healthcare professionals at UNMC, childcare workers, our colleagues in custodial, landscape and dining services, and others – do not have the same level of flexibility. We should be mindful of these differences, and appreciative of those who come to campus every day to help deliver our mission.
Particularly in the wake of the pandemic, many other universities and businesses are having similar conversations about the nature of work. Our policy makes sense for the University of Nebraska. It embodies our values as a student-focused public university, while giving us a valuable tool to compete in a market for talent that increasingly involves flexible work.
Again, we invite you refer to our Q&A for more details, or to contact your supervisor or campus Human Resources office with questions.
As always and especially during this time of gratitude, we thank you for all you do for the University of Nebraska and our 50,000 students.
President, University of Nebraska System
Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.
Chancellor, University of Nebraska Medical Center
Ronnie D. Green, Ph.D.
Chancellor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Douglas A. Kristensen, J.D.
Chancellor, University of Nebraska at Kearney
Joanne Li, Ph.D., CFA
Chancellor, University of Nebraska at Omaha
President and CEO, University of Nebraska Foundation