On this page, you will find detailed information about the revised Remote Work Policy. We encourage all employees—especially those who may be seeking flexibility—to become familiar with the policy and its provisions. You will also find links to resources that will support you in remote work or as a member of a hybrid team with individuals working remotely and on-site. 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.
Employee Checklist for Completing a Remote Work Agreement (PDF)
This checklist provides information, guidance, and potential action steps to help you prepare for successful completion of your Remote Work Agreement.
Thematic courses, toolkits, and other resources are available to all UW–Madison employees who wish to develop new skills and navigate workplace changes.
Summer and Fall 2021 Parking and Transportation Guide
This guide from Transportation Services provides different parking and transportation options to fit your work schedule.
This UW–Madison web page offers guidance and resources for both employees who are facing family caregiving challenges and their supervisors.
Use of Technology
Technology for Working Remotely (UW–Madison DoIT)
How to Stay Safe Online While Accessing Campus Remotely (UW–Madison DoIT)
Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources (Regent Policy Document 25-3)
Overview of Video Conferencing and Webinar Tools (UW–Madison DoIT)
Ergonomics for Telecommuters (infographic)
Ergonomics: A Guide to Setting Up Your Computer Workstation (5-minute self-guided training)
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.
What factors will be considered when determining if my 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).
Who can suggest that I 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 my responsibilities as an employee if I work remotely?
Employees who work remotely are responsible for all of the following:
- Working with their supervisors and other identified staff to ensure compliance with applicable laws, policies, and procedures;
- Making any necessary adjustments for their personal income taxes and benefits; and
- Working with campus IT staff to ensure any technology necessary to perform their work roles is compatible, secure, and in good working order.
How do I seek approval to work remotely?
You will be asked to complete an online Remote Work Request Form. (This form is currently under development and will be available soon.)
Who needs to approve my 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 I receive 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.
Will I 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 my request to work remotely is denied, what is the next step?
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.
If my remote work request is related to my disability, can I still make a request through the Remote Work Policy without disclosing my disability, or must I 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.
I would like the flexibility to work out-of-state. How does the remote work policy apply to me?
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.
My position involves international work. How does the remote work policy apply to me?
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.
I am working remotely internationally and am unable to return to the U.S. due to immigration and travel restrictions associated with COVID-19. How does the remote work policy apply to me?
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.