VandenBosch: Process for remote working agreements after Sept 1, 2021

This message was e-mailed to all CALS faculty and staff on June 29, 2021.

As public health conditions improve, I hope you have been able to enjoy the beginning of summer. In my May 26 email to CALS employees, I said in CALS we aim to provide flexibility to employees while still maintaining a high-quality, in-person experience for the CALS community that advances our mission of research, teaching, outreach, and service.

Chancellor Blank said in May, “We best fulfill our teaching, service and research missions when we work, learn and connect together in-person. On-campus interactions build connections between employees, facilitate quick exchange of information and help integrate new staff into office culture and operations…In many cases where remote work was necessary over this past year, it may not be the right choice in the long run for offices that require frequent communication, coordination, and training among employees.”

As the Chancellor’s comments indicate, the business necessity of each unit may either constrain or encourage remote work. CALS expects most job responsibilities to be carried out primarily on-site. Additionally, many college activities will return to in-person. Beginning with the fall semester, the college plans for governance meetings, including the APC, CASI, EDC, to occur in person, along with CALS Coffees and other community building activities.

Department/units within CALS must consider equitable application of the UW–Madison updated Remote Work Policy. We ask that each department or unit in the college develop a policy reflecting their philosophy on remote work that will be applied equitably and consistently across roles. For example, this may mean staff within a department work 80% on-site each week. Additional details on how departments/units can craft their policy will be available in the coming weeks. As the campus policy describes, remote work requests require an approval process. Details relating to the process for requesting, assessing, and approving remote work agreements are expected to be released in late July. All remote work agreements in CALS will require supervisor and divisional Human Resources approval.

Please be aware remote work agreements may need to be routed through the approval process in the month of August. In consideration of the challenges a busy August on campus can bring, CALS supervisors are encouraged to allow formalized remote work agreements to become effective September 1 or later. More information will be provided as soon as it becomes available. In the meantime, feel welcome to see these web resources and professional development options related to reuniting back on campus.

This will be a transitional year, with initial remote work agreements running through the fall semester. We will evaluate the efficacy of college remote work policies and procedures based on experiences during this transition period to determine whether adjustments need to be made.

It is important to note that remote working agreements only pertain to employees with remote work on a recurring, weekly schedule. Off-site work arrangements resulting from accommodations, for example for medical reasons, will continue to follow the existing, separate process. Remote work agreements are unnecessary for workplace flexibilities, such as attending a dentist appointment. These nonrecurring flexibilities will continue to be agreed upon by employees and supervisors in accordance with UW–Madison leave policies.

Finally, I hope you will save the date of Thursday, September 2 from 3-4 p.m. for a CALS staff and faculty reunion to kick off the academic year.

Thank you,

Kate VandenBosch
Dean and Director