Hybrid/Remote Work at Smith College
To attract and retain top talent, further diversify the candidate pool and address changing preferences in the workforce, the college must continue to adapt and change its way of working to ensure that Smith continues to be an employer of choice.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith College, like many employers, de-densified the campus by requiring many employees to work from home. This work from home mandate for all eligible employees naturally morphed into a hybrid/remote pilot program to see if this way of working might be successful in the future. The college carefully monitored the remote work pilot program, surveying managers and their employees about productivity, communication, departmental culture and service delivery. With that information in hand, we are moving to stabilize and formalize a hybrid/remote work policy that will enable employees in certain positions, including specifically positions that are not student-facing, to incorporate hybrid/remote work options. This is not entirely new to Smith; even pre-pandemic, we had a handful of employees whose primary worksite was off campus. Developing an intentional approach to hybrid/remote work will help Smith attract and retain top talent and is expected to help the college diversify its candidate pool.
Smith is a highly collaborative workplace that values face-to-face interactions and provides robust on-campus experiences for students, faculty and staff. The college has carefully considered the advantages of maintaining formal hybrid/remote work arrangements. Depending on the employee and the position, such advantages can include increased productivity and performance, relief of on-campus space constraints, enhanced employee recruitment and retention, environmental sustainability and greater work-life balance. Many roles at the college allow for some degree of flexibility in terms of where the work gets done. The college’s hybrid/remote work program is built on a commitment to flexibility that is rooted in:
- Collaboration: The ability for teams to engage in various and diverse ways.
- Community: The ability for employees to embrace and enrich the college’s culture, no matter where they are.
- Continuous learning: The sharing of learning and mindset shifts in how the college gets things done.
- Support: The ability for employees to work in ways that promote their well-being and quality of life, while receiving coaching and career development from their managers.
As such, Smith may offer flexibility for eligible employees to work a hybrid/remote schedule while remaining true to the collaborative nature of the college’s mission.
There are two types of employment options at Smith:
On-Site: Work performed on campus.
Hybrid/Remote: A work schedule that is a mix of on-campus work and work performed remotely.
As we move forward, we will approach the two types of work for all employees on campus using a four-step process in determining if hybrid/remote work is the right fit for your position within the college and for your personal work style.
- Hybrid/remote work hours will be consistent with the expectations of the role and departmental needs. Hybrid/remote employees are responsible for reporting all time worked and for adhering to all college attendance policies. Hybrid/remote employees are subject to the college’s policies on employee absences and leaves, to the same extent as non-hybrid/remote employees.
- Managers and employees should review the level of communication and responsiveness expected on remote workdays. Hybrid/remote employees should continue to use the college’s telephone system (via the app on at-home days).
- Managers and employees should review expectations for attendance at meetings and other interactions across the college and with customers.
- Hybrid/remote employees are responsible for maintaining a dedicated workspace that is free from distractions and is suitable and safe for the work being performed. All remote work must be performed at an agreed-upon location.
- Hybrid/remote employees are expected to have made appropriate dependent-care arrangements during remote work hours.
- Manager and department heads may require hybrid/remote employees to report to the college for work-related events on an occasional or regularly scheduled basis.
- Hybrid-remote employees are expected to provide the same level of service to the college as if they were working on campus.
- Hybrid/remote employees and managers are expected to conduct frequent check ins with each other.
- Managers and hybrid/remote employees should review their current performance standards and ensure that the work standards are specific, measurable and realistic.
Employees with an approved hybrid/remote work arrangement (“remote employees”) must agree to comply with college rules, policies, practices, and instructions and understand that violation of such may result in the revocation of the hybrid/remote work arrangement and/or disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
An employee may be eligible for a hybrid/remote work arrangement if the employee has been employed by the college for a minimum of three months, unless otherwise permitted by the employee’s manager and/or department head. The employee must have a satisfactory performance record.
In considering an employee’s request for a hybrid/remote work arrangement, the employee’s manager and/or department head will evaluate the suitability of such arrangement based on the following areas:
- Employee Suitability: Whether the employee may be able to successfully work remotely.
- Job Responsibilities: Whether the position meets the requirements of remote work.
- Equipment Needs/Remote Workspace: Whether the employee has a suitable remote work location and physical workspace.
Hybrid/remote employees must abide by the code of conduct and Employee Handbook expectations. Violations of the code of conduct, college policies and procedures, or federal, state, or local laws and regulations, may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
Hybrid/remote employees are expected to perform their work remotely during normal college business hours, although reasonable amounts of time for rest/meal breaks are permitted. If a remote employee is not available, or the college learns that a remote employee is not working during college business working hours, it may result in the immediate termination of the hybrid/remote work arrangement, and disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.
Remote employees who are not exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act are required to accurately record all hours worked using Workday. Nonexempt employees may not work hours in excess of their regularly scheduled workday or workweek without the advance approval of the employee’s supervisor. Failure to accurately record all time worked, or working unscheduled time without advance approval, may result in the immediate termination of the hybrid/remote work arrangement, and disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.
Hybrid/remote employees should report their time off as they would on a nonremote workday or in a nonremote work arrangement. If a pattern of unscheduled absences in connection with the employee’s hybrid/remote work arrangement becomes noticeable, and/or the employee’s manager/department head suspects abuse, the manager/department head may address the situation with the employee in consultation with human resources. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in the immediate termination of the hybrid/remote work arrangement, and disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.
Use of Leaves
Employees cannot use a hybrid/remote work arrangement in place of other types of leave (e.g., sick, family, medical, Workers’ Compensation).
Hybrid/remote employees are covered by Workers’ Compensation for job-related injuries that occur in the course and scope of employment. Employees who work out of state in one location for more than 30 days need Workers’ Compensation coverage specific to that location. Remote employees must contact the human resources and payroll teams if they plan to perform work outside of Massachusetts. A request for a hybrid/remote work arrangement will be denied if an employee requests to work in states where the college does not carry Workers’ Compensation insurance.
Working Outside of Massachusetts
Remote employees must contact the human resources and payroll teams if they plan to perform work outside of Massachusetts. Hybrid/remote Employees who perform work in a state other than Massachusetts are responsible for verifying that their home (primary) address is correct in Workday. State and local taxes and other required withholdings may be different depending on the state where the employee performs work. The college is unable to support hybrid/remote employees who work internationally.
An adequate home or other office is the preferred alternate work location for hybrid/remote work arrangements. The hybrid/remote worksite should allow employees to work with others in an uninterrupted manner and in an environment that appears professional. It is not advisable for employees to regularly work remotely from public places. Nevertheless, it is recognized that in certain situations or in an emergency, it may not be possible for an employee to work from their designated remote workspace. In these situations, employees are expected to take all necessary steps to ensure that the temporary remote site is secure.
Hybrid/remote employees should not perform outside employment or provide regular dependent care on their remote workdays. If a manager or department head is concerned that a person(s) in need of primary care, who is present in the remote work location, will interfere with an employee’s ability to perform work during the remote working hours, the employee may be asked to demonstrate that another individual will be present to provide care for the dependent individual. The department may request whatever reasonable verification it finds acceptable, such as a good faith representation by the employee, a credible representation from the care provider, or other confirmation.
A trial period can be a valuable tool to assess the feasibility of a proposed hybrid/remote work arrangement. In hybrid-remote work situations, a trial period of 60 to 90 days—depending on the frequency of hybrid/remote work, may constitute a sufficient trial period.
Costs of Remote Work
Managers must approve in advance any work-related expenses or reimbursement requests arising from a hybrid/remote work arrangement. Generally, the college is not obligated to, and will not, assume financial or legal responsibility for operating costs, home maintenance, or other costs incurred by remote employees in the use of their homes as alternate work locations.
Hybrid/remote employees must safeguard college information accessed while working remotely. Consistent with the college's expectations of information security for employees working in the office, when working remotely, hybrid/remote employees are expected to ensure the protection of proprietary college and customer information accessible from their home office. Steps to ensure this include the use of locked file cabinets and desks, regular password maintenance, and any other measures appropriate for the job and the environment.
Modification or Termination of the Hybrid/Remote Work Agreement
A Hybrid/Remote employee’s supervisor, in consultation with the Office of Human Resources, may modify or terminate the hybrid/remote work arrangement for performance concerns, changing business needs, or any other nondiscriminatory or nonretaliatory reason. The remote employee may also terminate the hybrid/remote work arrangement at any time, unless it was a condition of employment. The college requests that a remote employee provide at least two weeks’ advance notice prior to terminating the remote work arrangement.
Information Technology & Equipment
- Hybrid/remote employees are responsible for returning all college property and equipment to Stoddard Hall at the end of their employment, when an upgrade is due or if the equipment requires in-person technical support.
- The college will provide equipment it deems necessary in accordance with each hybrid/remote employee's responsibilities.
- The college will not provide hybrid/remote employees duplicate resources for both on campus and remote work locations.
- Printers, copiers, scanners, shredders, white boards, office chairs and other traditional office supplies will be located on campus. Remote employees who wish to have these items at their remote worksite will need to purchase them with their own resources unless approved by their manager or department.
- Hybrid/remote employees must provide a separate work area to safely use assigned college equipment. This means a stable desk or surface, appropriate power connectivity and internet access.
- While working remotely, hybrid/remote employees must use college-owned equipment only for legitimate college purposes. Remote employees are responsible for protecting Smith-owned equipment from theft, damage and unauthorized use. ITS will maintain, service and repair college-owned equipment used in the normal course of employment.
- In the event that the hybrid/remote work arrangement is discontinued for any reason, the employee must return all college property immediately.
- If a hybrid/remote employee leaves the college, the employee is responsible for returning equipment and covering any costs incurred. If the employee chooses to ship equipment back to the college, any equipment with a value of $500 or more is required to be shipped with signature required for proof of delivery at the individual's expense.
Managers are responsible for notifying ITS about a hybrid/remote employee’s separations to initiate the process of reacquiring equipment and to provide direction for facilitating the transfer of data and other account information.
When working remotely, hybrid/remote employees are responsible for providing internet connectivity at their own cost. Smith College cannot provide technical support for home internet issues; employees will need to work with their local internet provider.
ITS Support Options
- Submit a ticket via email@example.com
- Call ITS at 413-585-4487
- Visit the digital support site
- Visit the ITS website
- In-person support by appointment at the Stoddard Hall IT Support Center
Hybrid/remote employees who experience theft or damage of their assigned remote equipment, should immediately report this to ITS. College equipment located at a remote location is not insured by the college.
Acceptable Use Policy
Employees must safeguard college information accessed while working remotely in accordance with Smith’s Policy on Acceptable Use of Computer Resources.
College Property & Data Security
Reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that college property is used in compliance with current ITS policy, including complying with all software licensing agreements. The security and confidentiality of college records must be maintained. Sensitive data should not be placed on a personal computer or device but instead should be accessed via secure Smith VPN technology.
The following frequently asked questions should help you better understand hybrid/remote work policies at Smith College (the “college”). A “hybrid/remote employee” denotes employees who work a hybrid schedule, both on campus and remotely, during the workweek on a predetermined schedule (a “remote work arrangement”). If you have further questions, please contact your human resources partner.
What are the time and attendance requirements for hybrid/remote employees?
Work hours will be consistent with departmental needs and expectations of an employee’s position. Hybrid/remote employees are expected to work during their regularly scheduled work hours and report timely to work, either in person or remotely. Hybrid/remote employees are responsible for adhering to all college attendance policies, reporting all time worked, absences and leaves.
How should nonexempt employees report work hours?
Nonexempt employees must record and report all hours worked using Workday consistent with current policy. Please note that nonexempt employees may not work hours in excess of their regularly scheduled workday or workweek without the advanced approval of the employee’s supervisor. Failure to accurately record all time worked, or working unscheduled time without advanced approval, may result in the immediate termination of the remote work arrangement, and disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.
Do I need to complete a hybrid/remote work agreement form to stay home for an emergency, such as a service appointment, sick child or inclement weather?
No. If an emergency occurs, please contact your manager to determine if work can be performed remotely or if you should use accrued time off.
How do I make changes to the hybrid/remote work agreement?
Employees interested in changing their hybrid/remote work agreement should contact their manager to determine the feasibility of the request. Any change to your hybrid/remote work schedule must be approved by your manager.
Can my manager require that I work onsite on a predetermined remote workday?
Yes. Managers may require an employee’s onsite presence on a day that is normally a remote day for that employee. Managers should inform employees of the onsite expectations as soon as possible for planning purposes.
Can I receive equipment for when I am working from home?
Employees may be eligible to receive college-issued equipment in order to perform the employee’s job responsibilities. College-issued equipment typically includes items such as a laptop computer, monitor, mouse and keyboard. Any equipment issued by the college to a hybrid/remote employee remains the property of the college and must be returned by the employee upon termination of employment.
The college does not issue printers, copiers, scanners, fax machines, shredders, white boards, office chairs and other traditional office supplies to hybrid/remote employees; however, these resources may be available for use onsite. Hybrid/remote employees who wish to have these items at their remote worksite will need to purchase them with their own resources, unless otherwise approved by their manager or department.
How will my performance be evaluated in this model?
The performance of a hybrid/remote employee will be evaluated by the employee’s manager in the same manner, and at the same time, as a non-hybrid/remote employee. However, an employee’s manager, in consultation with the Office of Human Resources, may modify or terminate the employee’s hybrid/remote work arrangement at any time for performance concerns, changing business needs, or any other nondiscriminatory or nonretaliatory reason.
How are equity and fairness incorporated into the program?
The availability of a hybrid/remote work arrangement is based on the employee’s ability to effectively perform responsibilities remotely while meeting operational and departmental needs. Managers and supervisors will conduct a job analysis to determine if an employee is eligible for a hybrid/remote work arrangement. Hybrid/remote work arrangements are granted on a case-by-case basis, depending on the employee’s work history, performance, position and job responsibilities.
Will all employees with the same title, e.g., administrative assistant, be eligible for hybrid/remote work?
No. For example: Administrative Assistant 1 has responsibility for providing direct student support and serving as a resource for students who come into the office in need of assistance. This role is not likely conducive to remote work. Administrative Assistant 2 works in a department where most of the team works remotely and is not required to provide in-person support to students or other campus stakeholders. This role is likely conducive to remote work. While these two positions have the same title, the actual roles are very different.
Will the Performance Management Process be different for employees with a hybrid schedule?
The Performance Management Process will be the same for hybrid/remote employees as for onsite employees. Employees who work remotely are expected to meet the same standards of performance whether working on campus or remote.
What if a hybrid/remote employee incurs a work-related injury while working remotely?
If a hybrid/remote employee incurs a work-related injury while working remotely, they must notify their supervisor immediately and complete all necessary and/or management-requested documents regarding the injury.
What are the college’s expectations for an employee’s remote workspace environment?
Hybrid/remote employees must have a workspace that is sufficiently free from distractions and private enough to ensure that the confidentiality of college information is maintained. Hybrid/remote employees must also provide a secure location for college-owned equipment. To the extent a hybrid/remote employee is issued college-owned equipment, the employee must be the only person using such equipment and only for college business.
Is my hybrid/remote work agreement still valid if I change jobs?
No, if you change jobs you will need to begin the discussion regarding a new hybrid/remote work agreement with your new manager.
What if I am a new employee and want to work remotely from day one?
Generally, an employee may be eligible for a hybrid/remote work arrangement if the employee has been employed by the college for a minimum of three months, unless otherwise permitted by the employee’s manager and/or department head. The employee must have a satisfactory performance record.
- Do the essential duties of the requesting employee’s job require ongoing access to equipment, materials and files that can only be accessed onsite?
- Do the essential duties of the requesting employee’s job require face-to-face contact with managers, employees, clients or the public?
- Do the essential duties of the requesting employee’s job require extensive time in meetings or performing work onsite?
- Does the employee have access to the equipment and/or resources to perform their job remotely?
- Does the employee have access to high-speed internet to complete their tasks and communicate with their manager and team while working remotely?
- Do you have any concerns or anticipate any issues with the requesting employee working remotely?
- Would you as the employee’s manager, or anyone else that the employee coordinates or collaborates with, need to make significant changes for the employee’s remote work arrangement to be successful?
- Have the requesting employee describe their remote workspace and their plans to ensure that it is free from distractions.
- If the requesting employee has dependent children, is the employee seeking to use a remote work arrangement in lieu of childcare?
- Have you set clear expectations for what work will be performed while the employee is working remotely and when the employee is working on campus?
- How will the requesting employee maintain data confidentiality and security while working remotely?
- Is there any equipment that the remote employee will need to come to campus to use?
- Have you discussed your expectations of the employee for remote work hours, email response times and meeting availability?
- Do you have any questions or concerns about these requirements, or otherwise about the requesting employee working remotely?
Note: Not all positions will be eligible for remote work, so it is important to have clear communication with employees on why they may not be able to work remotely. For these conversations you should refer to your Remote Work Analysis Tool you completed for this employee and their position.
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