Remote Work Framework
Pilot: Fall, 2021
Bates College offers a residential, in-person, living and learning environment. We place a premium on face-to-face instruction, both in our curriculum and in co-curricular experiences. Supporting our students and the faculty and staff that provide that high-touch experience requires the work of all of the college’s offices, with each office playing a unique and vital role. The on-campus community and experience, generated by students and employees, is a critical part of the college culture.
Although the in-person nature of the Bates experience is paramount, the experiment with remote work forced by COVID-19 has demonstrated that providing increased flexibility in how and when administrative departments provide their unique set of services has the potential to both improve the services we offer to our prospective and current students and their families, faculty, staff, and alumni while also improving the life/work balance for our employees. Therefore, with the expectation that all courses will be taught and taken in-person this fall, Bates will begin the semester with the possibility of remote work for eligible staff, on a pilot basis. Given the breadth of services offered at the college and the multiple ways in which they are delivered, departmental managers will have the discretion to determine whether their team members are eligible for remote work and, if so, the nature of that arrangement.
Managers are asked to consider the following principles as they determine whether and how to allow remote work within their teams:
- Bates’ community is one of its most distinctive strengths, and we have a responsibility to work in a manner that respects all members of our community and that fosters connection through active engagement. Managers should prioritize at least some in-person time for all employees except in rare circumstances.
- We must be student-centric in all that we do, and consider the public-facing nature of many offices. As presented in the Bates College Employee Handbook, core hours for the college’s administrative services are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. The individual needs of some departments may require schedules that vary from these hours. Some departments require 24-hour coverage while others need coverage beyond the core hours.
- Physical space on our campus is limited. Managers are encouraged to consider how new work arrangements could optimize the use of campus spaces.
- The people we serve and support are often from other campus offices, so implementing a remote work plan may have implications for important interactions beyond individual administrative departments.
When evaluating the prospect of remote work arrangements, managers may find the following questions helpful:
- Of the services your team provides, which would your constituents expect to be handled face-to-face and which can be handled virtually or electronically? How can you ensure that in-person options are available?
- The college has standard business hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., yet many offices have different hours than those and many provide services for much longer time periods. What hours of the day and days of the week are your constituents expecting to be able to interact with you and does this differ if the interactions are face-to-face or virtual?
- How does your team interact with other offices on campus? Are there groups who are dependent on you and groups on whom you are dependent? If so, how does that impact your approach to remote work and hours of service?
- Are there times when it is crucial for all members of your team to be physically together? Is coming together regularly an important part of creating your workplace culture? When you do require physical attendance, are you maximizing the benefit of that time together?
- Are there needs for additional cross-training within your team that would allow for greater flexibility?
As noted above, the exploration of remote work arrangements for administrative staff, with discretion left to managers, will be done on a pilot basis this fall and will be reevaluated by senior staff and Human Resources for the winter semester of 2022.