University of Wisconsin–Madison

Remote Work: Guidance and Resources for Supervisors

On this page, you will find detailed information about the revised Remote Work Policy. We encourage all supervisors to become familiar with the policy and its provisions. You will also find links to resources that will support you in managing a hybrid team, leading through change, and supporting employees in their use of technology and other campus resources. Additional resources will be added as they become available, so please check back regularly.

Remote Work and the Evolving Workplace

The fall semester of 2021 will see a return to the vibrant residential campus community we knew before the pandemic. Many jobs will be conducted on campus to support UW–Madison’s missions of scholarship, teaching, and service.

At the same time, the nature of the workplace is evolving. The University of Wisconsin–Madison recognizes that providing flexibility to its employees can increase job satisfaction and reduce turnover, increase the university’s ability to attract and retain talent, and maintain or enhance productivity for some roles.

UW–Madison’s revised Remote Work Policy, effective August 1, 2021, reflects the evolving nature of the workplace. It provides guidance for UW–Madison employees seeking flexibility in the future. The policy details remote work options and creates procedures and practices that can mitigate the risks and liabilities of remote work.

Additional Resources for Remote Work Agreements

Remote Work Assessment for Managers (PDF)
A step-by-step guide to help school, college, and division leadership (or their designee) determine what positions are well-suited for regular or occasional remote work, and to help managers and human resources determine which employees are well-suited for regular or occasional remote work.

Remote Work Agreement Approver Workflow (PDF)
Remote Work Agreement Approver Workflow—accessible version (PDF)
This resource for approvers outlines the approval process for a Remote Work Agreement.

Approver Guide to Hard Stops, Risks, and Attestations in the Remote Work Agreement (PDF)
This document highlights key considerations for vetting agreements prior to a decision.

Employee Checklist for Completing a Remote Work Agreement (PDF)
This checklist provides information, guidance, and potential action steps to help employees prepare for successful completion of the Remote Work Agreement.

Employee Access to Remote Work Agreement (PDF)
This document for employees provides instructions on how to access and navigate the Remote Work Agreement in MyUW.

Remote Work Agreement Employee Workflow (PDF)
Remote Work Agreement Employee Workflow—accessible version (PDF)
This resource for employees outlines the approval process for a Remote Work Agreement.

UW–Madison Remote Work Policy Procedures Manual (PDF)
This manual serves as a “how to” guide for schools, colleges, and divisions and for supervisors. It provides comprehensive information related to employees working remotely in Wisconsin, in the U.S. (outside Wisconsin), or internationally.

Additional Campus Resources

Reuniting Campus
Thematic courses, toolkits, and other resources are available to all UW–Madison employees who wish to develop new skills and navigate workplace changes. Classes and other resources specifically designed for supervisors are included.

Summer and Fall 2021 Parking and Transportation Guide
This guide from Transportation Services provides different parking and transportation options to fit your work schedule.

Family Caregiving
This UW–Madison web page offers guidance and resources for both employees who are facing family caregiving challenges and their supervisors.

Questions?

If you have questions, please contact:

Language assistance is available from Cultural Linguistic Services.
Español, Hmoob, བོད་ཡིག, 中文, नेपाली
Spanish, Hmong, Tibetan, Chinese, Nepali

Maintaining mental and emotional well-being

The Employee Assistance Office (EAO) offers resources to help maintain well-being during times of transition. If you are experiencing stress, EAO can be a helpful resource. Confidential counseling for employees and their families is available through EAO and is offered 24/7 through LifeMatters.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is considered “remote work”?

    In the context of UW–Madison policy, remote work is a work arrangement in which some or all work is performed at an off-campus work site such as home or in an office space near home.

    • This definition does not include workplace flexibilities, research trips, sabbaticals, or permanent off-campus work sites established by the university (e.g., field stations, CERN, IceCube).
    • A “workplace flexibility” is a flexibility in which work is performed at an off-campus work site on a sporadic basis and does not follow a regular, repeated schedule.
  • When may remote work arrangements be an option?

    At UW−Madison, remote work is viewed as a cooperative arrangement based on the needs of a position, the department or unit, and the university. Remote work arrangements can be pursued in cases where the implementation of these arrangements advances the university’s mission. Remote work arrangements should not be implemented if they diminish the connections and experiences needed to allow UW–Madison to flourish as a residential campus community.

  • Who will decide where remote work is possible?

    School/college/division leadership, in conjunction with supervisors, will be responsible for deciding where remote work is possible and where it may hinder the performance and mission of the unit. In many cases where remote work was necessary during the pandemic, it may not be the right choice in the long run.

  • Is remote work an option at the time of recruiting or when hiring?

    Yes. There may be instances in which positions, at the point of advertisement/recruitment or during the hiring process, are determined to be eligible for partial or full remote work arrangements.

  • What factors will be considered when determining if a position is suitable for remote work?

    Remote work arrangements are considered on a case-by-case basis by evaluating all of the following factors:

    • Job responsibilities (e.g., jobs that require physical presence for effective performance are not suitable for remote work);
    • The effective functioning of the overall unit (e.g., trainees may need in-person assistance; flow of information may be shared more quickly among those physically present; etc.);
    • Potential cost savings to the university, school/college/division, and department;
    • The needs and preferences of the employee;
    • Employee performance;
    • Equipment needs, workspace design considerations, office space, and scheduling issues; and
    • Adverse impact between employees with similar job responsibilities in the work unit (prevent inequities).
  • How do performance standards apply to remote work arrangements?

    The supervisor should communicate in advance what assignments and tasks are appropriate to be performed remotely and what assessment techniques will be used to measure success in meeting performance standards. Performance standards must be consistent across similar roles, regardless of whether employees work remotely or onsite.

  • Who can suggest that an employee work remotely?

    An employee or supervisor may recognize the benefits of a remote work agreement, and either can suggest remote work as a possible work arrangement.

  • What are an employee's responsibilities when working remotely?

    Employees who work remotely are responsible for all of the following:

    1. Working with their supervisors and other identified staff to ensure compliance with applicable laws, policies, and procedures;
    2. Making any necessary adjustments for their personal income taxes and benefits; and
    3. Working with campus IT staff to ensure any technology necessary to perform their work roles is compatible, secure, and in good working order.
  • How does an employee seek approval to work remotely? Updated

    To request a remote work arrangement, an employee will initiate a Remote Work Agreement, available in MyUW under Personal Information > Update My Personal Information. Instructions on how to access the agreement are available in the document Employee Access to Remote Work Agreement.

    Updated July 26, 2021

  • Are there steps employees should take in preparation before initiating a Remote Work Agreement? New

    Employees are strongly encouraged to discuss a remote work arrangement with their supervisor before initiating a Remote Work Agreement.

    In addition, employees should review the Employee Checklist for Completing a Remote Work Agreement. This checklist provides information, guidance, and potential action steps to help employees prepare for successful completion of the Remote Work Agreement. While some of the information employees will be asked to provide will be readily available to them, other requested information may take extra time to gather.

    Updated July 26, 2021

  • Who needs to approve an employee's request to work remotely?

    Each school/college/division determines the specific procedures for evaluating and approving or denying a remote work request. A remote work arrangement must be agreed upon by school/college/division leadership, divisional Human Resources, and the employee’s supervisor. School/college/division leadership may delegate approval of remote work arrangements to supervisors.

  • If an employee receives approval to work remotely, how will the arrangement be documented?

    An employee approved to work remotely must enter into a Remote Work Agreement. The Remote Work Agreement documents the terms and conditions of an employee’s remote work arrangement. It will include information about the employee’s work schedule (including when they are expected to be present for onsite activities), necessary equipment and services, guidelines for maintaining communication and work engagement, onsite and remote locations, and other details as appropriate.

  • How often should remote work agreements be revisited?

    Remote work agreements should be reviewed and updated at a minimum annually, or as warranted due to changes in work responsibilities, availability of equipment, or evolving workplace practices.

  • What is the supervisor’s role if a remote work agreement needs to be modified or revoked?

    A remote work agreement may be modified or revoked by a supervisor or employee. If a supervisor determines that an agreement should be modified or revoked, the supervisor must discuss the reasons for the modification or revocation with the employee and provide a reasonable notice period before the revocation or modification goes into effect.

  • If an employee’s request to work remotely is denied, or if their work agreement is revoked or modified, can the employee request a review of the decision?

    If an employee requests a remote work arrangement and the request is denied by school/college/division leadership, divisional Human Resources, or the employee’s supervisor, or if a supervisor modifies or revokes a remote work agreement, the employee may request a review of the decision by the vice chancellor, dean, or director of the employee’s school, college or division. The decision of the vice chancellor, dean, or director is final and may not be appealed.

  • How are work schedules determined in remote work arrangements?

    The work schedule of a remote work employee will be determined by the supervisor and employee with approval by the supervisor and divisional HR before the start of the remote work. This schedule will be documented in the Remote Work Agreement.

    An employee who works remotely (full or part-time) is expected to follow the same expectations as employees performing similar duties onsite. This includes, among other expectations, maintaining regularly scheduled and approved work hours and communicating with their supervisor and colleagues as necessary to meet operational needs and the requirements of the position.

  • Can employees who are in remote work arrangements be expected to attend meetings and functions onsite?

    Yes, employees can be expected to attend meetings and functions onsite, which may include days they would customarily work remotely. These expectations should be articulated in the Remote Work Agreement.

  • Will employees be provided with equipment, materials, and supplies for remote work?

    Equipment provided to remote work employees, and its related costs, are determined, approved, and tracked by supervisors or divisional Human Resources. In general, employees are provided with a single computer (e.g., laptop) for performance of their responsibilities, unless additional equipment is otherwise required. Employees with remote work arrangements are generally expected to provide, at their own cost, internet connectivity at a quality necessary to support their work tasks, including the ability to use university-supported video conferencing tools. For employees who work both remotely and onsite, the university will generally not provide a fully equipped workspace at both locations (e.g., provide laptop for use in all work locations).

    An employee must ensure that their remote workspace has the privacy, physical and technical security, appropriate equipment, software, and internet access to adequately perform their work responsibilities. Employees should reach out to their supervisor or divisional Human Resources for assistance as needed.

  • If an employee’s remote work request is related to their own disability, can the employee still make a request through the Remote Work Policy without disclosing their disability, or must they ask for remote work as an accommodation request?

    The UW–Madison Remote Work Policy provides a formal process for employees to request a remote work arrangement. An employee with a disability who makes a request through the Remote Work Policy is making a request in the same way as a peer without a disability. If an employee chooses to make a request for a remote work arrangement, they do not need to (nor should they) disclose a disability or medical information. The employee’s request will be evaluated in the same manner as other remote work requests, and not as an accommodation request under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

    An employee with a disability may also choose to begin their request for a remote work arrangement as an accommodation request under the ADA and not under the Remote Work Policy process. Supervisors will questions should contact their Divisional Disability Representative (DDR).

  • How does the remote work policy apply to employees who would like the flexibility to work out-of-state?

    The university reserves the right to determine in advance whether it will approve an employee’s principal work location to be out-of-state, based on the operational needs of the university and whether the employee can meet performance expectations working out-of-state. School/college/division leadership, divisional Human Resources, and the employee’s supervisor decide whether to allow an individual to perform out-of-state work. An employee who works remotely out-of-state must enter into an Out-of-State Remote Work Agreement.

  • How does the remote work policy apply to employees who would like to work remotely outside of the United States?

    A school, college or division may employ an international remote worker only if the remote work is for a documented and approved business necessity. Business necessity is defined as a legitimate business purpose that fulfills the mission and objectives of the university and is not solely for the personal benefit of an employee. Prior to approval for international remote work, the complex legal risks and liabilities of international remote work need to be addressed between the school/college/division, identified campus offices or departments, and the employee. The final arrangements will be reflected in the International Remote Work Agreement.

  • How does the remote work policy apply to employees who are working remotely internationally and are unable to return to the U.S. due to immigration and travel restrictions associated with COVID-19?

    Under the Remote Work Policy, a school, college, or division may employ an international remote worker only if the remote work is for a documented and approved business necessity. The definition of “business necessity” under the Remote Work Policy will be interpreted to include immigration and travel restrictions associated with COVID-19 that prevent an employee from returning to the U.S. This interpretation does not apply to employees who prefer to work remotely internationally but who are not prevented from returning to the U.S. due to immigration or travel restrictions associated with COVID-19. This interpretation of “business necessity” applies through the end of the 2021 fall semester. If international remote work is approved for an employee in this circumstance, an employee must fill out a remote work agreement and the request must be routed through the same approval and review processes as any other remote work agreement.

  • Will UW–Madison’s approach to workplace flexibility continue to evolve?

    UW–Madison recognizes and embraces the dynamic, continually evolving nature of work on campus. As new tools and methods for connectivity become available, the university remains open to modifying its approach to remote work arrangements.