Manager FAQ

Before approving an employee’s request to work at an alternate location, you’ll want to be sure you have a full understanding of the pros and cons of such arrangements, as well as of JHU policies and procedures.

We encourage managers and supervisors to take our online, self-paced course for a better understanding of flexible work arrangements at JHU. The course, Flexible Work Arrangements: A Guide for Managers, makes the business case for flexibility, identifies and sharpens the skills needed to manage flexible work arrangements, and offers practice in choosing and managing employees on flexible work arrangements.

Frequently Asked Questions

As a manager, am I obligated to agree to an employee’s request for flexible work arrangements?

No, you’re not obligated to approve flexible work arrangements. You should consider each proposal individually to determine if it can work successfully for the employee, the department, and you.

Are there restrictions on which or how many employees can request a flexible work arrangement?

Any employee may submit a proposal, but not all jobs are suitable for flexible work arrangements. Consider the job’s main functions and whether they can be fulfilled under the proposal.

Should I limit the number of people in one work group who can have flexible work arrangements so I can be sure I can manage the work?

Determine the work configuration that will function best for your department. Some units have found it workable to allow a great deal of flexibility. For others, only a limited number of positions lend themselves to flexible work arrangements. If you’re not sure what will work for your unit, limit flexibility initially with a commitment to review your practices as you and the work group gain experience. You also can establish a set of “core” hours when the office is fully staffed.

How can I avoid having to change my own work schedule to effectively manage employees with flexible work arrangements?

You need to be confident that the work will get done whether or not you are present. Employees seeking flexible work arrangements are asked to submit proposals that outline how work will be accomplished. You will have the opportunity to review and make suggestions to the proposal before implementation of the flexible work arrangement. Establishing an arrangement on a pilot basis can allow you to determine whether the arrangement is likely to work on an ongoing basis.

How can I ensure that employees don’t assume that flexible work arrangements are permanent?

Establish a clear understanding of the terms of an arrangement by including them in the employee’s proposal that will be signed by both of you. Make sure the employee understands that the arrangement is subject to revision based on the needs of the department.

Can I revoke the flexible work arrangement if it’s not working out?

Flexible work arrangements are subject to ongoing review and may be terminated at any time based on performance concerns or business needs. Generally, at least 30 days’ notice should be given before ending or changing an arrangement, business needs permitting.

Should I ask an employee why he or she is requesting a flexible work arrangement?

When reviewing a proposal for a flexible work arrangement, it is unnecessary to ask why your employee wants the arrangement. In fact, doing so could put you in the awkward position of making value judgments about one employee’s reason versus another’s. Your focus should be on whether the employee can meet or even enhance business needs under the flexible work arrangement.