3.1 Flexible Work Arrangements

This policy was last updated June 23, 2021. See the update history page for more information.

Flexible work refers to any schedule different from the DLC’s standard operating hours or any work location other than the DLC’s usual physical location. Alternative schedules may include flex time, compressed workweek, or job sharing; alternate work locations may be hybrid (partially on-site and partially remote) or fully remote (rare or no on-site work).

The primary consideration in evaluating flexible work arrangements is any effect on the DLC’s work. Flexible work arrangements must allow the DLC to maintain or exceed its usual effectiveness.

In evaluating possible flexible work arrangements, managers and DLCs should consider preferences of individual staff and teams about work schedules and locations; note, however, that individual employees are not entitled to a flexible work arrangement. The manager and DLC should also consider: equity among similarly situated staff; ensuring that its services and staff remain available to colleagues, students, and customers; any impact on the culture of the DLC; potential increased burdens on co-workers or managers; any increased costs; and safety or security. See MIT’s Work Succeeding site for guidance on considerations.

In addition, any schedule (whether alternative or not) that involves employees working alone at an MIT facility under potentially hazardous conditions must comply with MIT's policy on Working Alone.

Individual Requests
Individual employees who seek a flexible work arrangement should discuss their request with their immediate manager. Employees who seek a flexible working arrangement due to a disability should consult with the HR Disabilities Services and Medical Leaves Office. Flexibility for a service staff member requires discussion and approval from Campus Labor Relations. The Considerations above may also apply, particularly if the request is part of a larger number of flexible work arrangements in the DLC.

The department head, as well as the direct manager, must approve all flexible work arrangements. The department head may delegate this approval responsibility to an administrative officer, a human resources administrator, or other administrator in the department but in all cases, someone in addition to the direct manager must approve the flexible work arrangement. Department heads will also inform their dean, vice president, or other member of Academic Council about the flexible work arrangements in their areas for their awareness. See MIT’s Work Succeeding website for guidance and templates.

Any flexible work arrangement, whether an alternative schedule, off-site work location, or both, is subject to ongoing review as stated below. See MIT’s Work Succeeding site for recommendations and guidance on documenting the arrangement.

Review and Changes
The manager should do an initial review of a flexible work arrangement with the employee within three to six months after the arrangement begins. The manager should ensure that the flexible work arrangement is reviewed with the employee periodically after that, at least annually.

Flexible work arrangements that have been approved may be changed or terminated by the DLC at any time if, in the judgment of the DLC leadership, the arrangement does not fully meet operational needs. Managers are expected to give reasonable notice to employees of the termination or change of a flexible work arrangement, to the extent feasible. In addition, if performance issues arise that might be improved by a change in the staff member’s location or schedule, the DLC may change the flexible work arrangement, again giving reasonable notice as feasible.

Employees may also request a change in an approved flexible work arrangement at any time. In considering that request, the DLC should review the Considerations stated above, plus any additional issues (e.g., the effective date of the change, impacts on space if an employee will be on-site more frequently).

Standards of Work
Employees with a flexible work arrangement must maintain the usual standards of work of the DLC, and must be at least as productive as if they were working on-site and during regularly scheduled working hours.

Hourly paid staff are required to account accurately for all time worked, wherever that work is performed; over-reporting or under-reporting hours worked may result in discipline up to and including termination. As with work on-site, any overtime work performed away from MIT must be authorized in advance by a departmental manager. See Sec. 5.4.2, Notice and Assignment of Overtime.

Managers must oversee an employee’s performance sufficiently to be confident that the quality and quantity of work is comparable to what would be done if the employee worked a regular schedule on-site. (See Section 5.1, Responsibilities of Managers and Individual Employees in Payroll Matters.) Managers may not ask or suggest that hourly paid employees report less time than was in fact worked. As mentioned, if the manager believes that performance would be improved by a different work location or schedule, they may change the Flexible Arrangement, giving appropriate notice.

3.1.1 Alternative Schedules: Additional Considerations

Managers are generally responsible for establishing the working hours for the employees who report to them, consistent with the practices of their DLC.

Employees may request to work hours that differ from the normal operating hours of the unit, whether as part of a remote working arrangement or not. Managers are encouraged to consider those requests where compatible with operational needs and the ability to fulfill the DLC’s mission. See Considerations above. Alternate schedules are subject to approval by the DLC department head or designee as well as by the employee’s manager, and are included in the department head’s report to the dean, vice president or other member of Academic Council about flexible work arrangements. (See Approval above)

Managers may also need to change an employee’s schedule due to operational needs (that is, not at the employee’s request). In cases of unilateral change by the manager, the manager is expected to give reasonable notice of such a change to the employee, to the extent feasible.

3.1.2 Off-Site Work: Additional Considerations

In off-site work arrangements, some or all of the work is done away from the usual office or other MIT facility. Off-site work arrangements may be hybrid, where an employee works partly from an MIT work-site and partly from a remote site, or remote. Work is considered “remote” if the employee will be on-site no more than one full day in a two month period or no more than eight full days per year.

Hybrid schedules normally have set days for on-site and off-site work, though with DLC permission, the days for on-site work may fluctuate weekly or monthly. Employees with an approved hybrid or remote work arrangements may be required to work on-site at times other than those regularly scheduled. Managers must give reasonable notice of additional or changed days of required on-site work, to the extent practicable.

The off-site location for hybrid or remote work may be the employee’s home or other suitable location that is sufficiently equipped and free from distraction that the employee can focus and fully perform their work. Off-site work may not be regularly performed while caring for a child or dependent adult or while undertaking other significant responsibilities.

Equipment and Expenses
Generally, the Institute will provide employees regularly working off-site, whether in a hybrid or remote arrangement, with the essential technological tools to do their jobs off-site. In most cases, this includes a computer with MIT-licensed software and other standard MIT software packages, a keyboard with mouse, cables, and headset (for phone and/or computer). Additional costs for remote internet and utilities are not reimbursed. Before determining what equipment to provide, the DLC should consider equity among similarly situated employees.

Any equipment paid for by MIT remains the property of the Institute and must be returned when the employee terminates employment. If an employee transfers to another DLC, the two DLCs should discuss any equipment previously provided to the employee. See guidance from Human Resources on providing equipment for working remotely.

Employees working off-site in a hybrid or remote arrangement will also be provided a place to work when they are on-site, possibly a shared space. Employees usually will bring in their own laptops for on-site work; other technology will be provided as needed.

The DLC and/or IS&T provides technical support for MIT-owned technology. Again, DLCs should consider the needs of the job and equity among similarly situated employees when providing equipment for off-site work.

As with fully on-site work, commuting costs to the usual work site for hybrid and remote staff members are not paid by the Institute, including travel from outside Massachusetts.

Security, confidentiality, and safety
Employees must take reasonable steps to ensure the confidentiality of electronic and other work-related information, similar to the security of their on-site work. Similarly, they must protect the confidentiality of work-related information as if working on-site. See tips from IS&T on security for remote work. Employees must also ensure that their remote worksite is safe and free of obvious hazards, such as tripping hazards.

Unexpected work required on-site
Approved flexible work arrangements may be changed temporarily or permanently due to unexpected conditions, such as emergencies or immediate staffing needs.

For positions where on-site presence is likely to be needed for emergencies, the manager and employee should discuss this when discussing any off-site work.

Work during an emergency
For remote work during an MIT emergency, see Section 5.8, Emergency Closing or Early Release. As stated in that section, a local emergency, power outage, or disruption that disrupts an employee’s off-site work but does not affect the Institute or the employee’s regular on-site work location is not an “emergency closing” and the employee is not eligible for emergency closing pay.

Work outside Massachusetts
Work regularly done outside the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is covered by the provisions of Policies & Procedures Section 7.10, MIT Employees Working Outside Massachusetts (Domestic or International). In general, work outside Massachusetts but in the United States may be approved by the DLC, while work outside the United States requires additional approval. Section For any work regularly done outside Massachusetts, whether domestic or international, both the employee and the DLC have responsibilities to notify appropriate offices (e.g., Benefits and Payroll). Section

Special restrictions on the location of work may apply to foreign nationals (non-United States citizens and non-permanent residents) on or expected to secure MIT-sponsored visas. See Policies & Procedures Section 7.11 Employment or Appointment of Foreign Nationals.