Flexible Work Arrangements

The George Washington University confirms its commitment to assisting employees in developing a work-life balance by supporting the use of Flexible Work Arrangements when reasonable and practical and where operational needs will not be adversely affected.

Flexible Work Arrangements can benefit both the employee and the university. By offering flexibility to employees, Flexible Work Arrangements can:

  • Allow employees to better balance the demands of their work and home life
  • Reduce stress and improve morale
  • Reduce absenteeism and increase productivity
  • Provide opportunities for expanded service hours
  • Improve employee retention and enhance recruitment efforts

Within any of the Flexible Work Arrangements, non-exempt employees as defined in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), are still subject to all requirements of the FLSA. Employees who are exempt under the FLSA are expected to work the number of hours required to fulfill their occupational responsibilities.

Flexible Work Arrangements are not an entitlement nor are they classified as a university benefit. Flexible Work Arrangements do not change the at-will nature of employment with the university, and they can be altered or terminated by the university at any time pursuant to business needs.

EEO Notice: The George Washington University is an Equal Opportunity/Equal Access/Affirmative Action institution. The "EEO is the Law" notice provides information regarding applicable laws and procedures for filing complaints if you feel the law has been violated (English, Spanish, Chinese).

Telecommuting Guide

Telecommuting allows an employee to work from an alternative work location, such as their home, for all or part of their regular workweek. It is an arrangement that may be appropriate for some employees in some positions when job, employee, and manager characteristics are best suited to such an arrangement.

EEO Notice: The George Washington University is an Equal Opportunity/Equal Access/Affirmative Action institution. The "EEO is the Law" notice provides information regarding applicable laws and procedures for filing complaints if you feel the law has been violated (English, Spanish, Chinese). Telecommuters are encouraged to review this notice and contact GW's EEO office if they have any questions or concerns.

Before initiating the telecommuting assessment process detailed below, print out the appropriate Telecommuting Launch Checklist. This checklist is a roadmap for launching a telecommuting arrangement, either for an individual or a group of employees.

Telecommuting Individual Planning Checklist (PDF) - to support individual telecommuting arrangements between an employee and their manager

Telecommuting Team Planning Checklist (PDF) - for managers/managers who are considering rolling out telecommuting to a group of employees

Steps to Developing a Telecommuting Arrangement

1. Explore the many benefits of telecommuting

The university confirms its commitment to assisting employees in developing a work-life balance by supporting the use of telecommuting. Telecommuting can also benefit the university in numerous ways, including, potentially reducing costs as well as improving employee productivity and morale.

Better for the Environment

Telecommuting can help support GW’s sustainability efforts by reducing automobile emissions and cutting fuel consumption. Telecommuting also eliminates the high demand for heating, cooling, and lighting that is often required by an office building as compared to a home environment.

Encourages Work-Life Balance

Telecommuting can save an employee significant time that would otherwise be spent commuting to and from work. That extra time can allow employees to find a better balance between their work and their personal lives. This extra time can also help reduce stress, improve employees’ health, and therefore reduce health insurance costs – a win for both the employee and GW.

Increases Morale and Productivity

Employees whose responsibilities and preferred work environment are a good fit for a telecommuting arrangement are often more motivated and productive than when limited to the traditional office environment. Telecommuting also allows employees to escape the distractions at the workplace and better focus on their work. Finally, it allows employees to work in locations beyond the office or home, including the airport, a client site, or in the Marvin Center between meetings.

Improves Retention

Telecommuting can allow employees to successfully work not only from the next county over, but in some cases from hundreds or thousands of miles away. By supporting better work-life balance, telecommuting can also can help retain employees who may otherwise consider leaving due to changes in their personal life. Decreased employee turnover means GW is able to retain great employees and enjoy savings in recruiting and training costs, as well as provide a high quality of service.

Cost Savings

Telecommuting can achieve significant savings associated with real estate costs and overhead. GW can grow without the need to rent/build additional workstations, office spaces, and parking facilities. Employees also benefit from paying less in gas and mass transportation costs.

2. Assess eligibility for a telecommuting arrangement

In order to determine if an employee’s position is appropriate for a Telecommuting Arrangement, an employee’s manager will need to first assess the responsibilities of the employee’s position. The Telecommuting Position Assessment (PDF) has been created to help managers determine if a position considered for telecommuting is appropriate for such an arrangement.

Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employees

Like other employees, telecommuters can be categorized as either exempt or non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Federal law mandates the reporting of hours worked by non-exempt (hourly) staff for both in-house and telecommuting employees. All hours worked, including regular pay and overtime hours, must be well documented. Just as they would in the office, non-exempt employees are expected to use the university’s Time Reporting System to clock in/out using the telephone or PC. Managers should regularly review their employees’ payroll records and address any concerns immediately.

Duties/Responsibilities for Assessment of Telecommuting


Not Appropriate

Technical/analytical writing

Anything that requires face-to-face contact with internal or external customers (front-line support)

Communications development, graphic design

Anything that requires hands-on contact with onsite equipment

Individual work (non-collaborative)

Interviewing prospective employees or vendors

Software development

Clerical support (e.g., receptionist, file clerk)

Online data entry/data processing

Hardware-related services

Administrative tasks (e.g., email, status reports, budgets, etc.)

Training new staff

Web development, programming

Conducting meetings related to performance reviews

Certain research (e.g., online)

Close supervision of staff

Source: University of Virginia, Drafting a Telecommuting Plan

Security Issues

The protection of confidential data is of the utmost importance. All employees, including those telecommuting, are expected to comply with applicable policies, including GW’s Information Security Policy (PDF). Any files that contain confidential data should not be kept on local computers, or external media (e.g., CD-ROMS, external hard drives, USB flash drives, zip drives, DVDs, etc). These files should be stored in a secured network folder that is only accessible by authorized personnel. Email is inherently insecure and confidential data should never be sent via email unless encryption software is used.

All work computers should be password protected, and employees shall not share their passwords with anyone else. Pursuant to the Information Security Policy (PDF), employees are expected to secure all university-owned computers and other portable electronic devices by employing strong passwords and physical protections, such as locking cables, whenever these devices are left unattended.

Employees should not keep any hard copies of any documents that contain confidential data outside of the university, such as at their homes or other alternative work locations. Positions that require regular use of documents containing confidential data may not be appropriate for a Telecommuting Arrangement.

Client/Customer Support of Telecommuting Arrangement

In assessing the viability of a telecommuting arrangement, it is important to determine how well an employee’s clients or customers will accept such an arrangement. Clients/customers should still be able to easily communicate with a telecommuting employee and feel their needs are being met.

In some cases, this may mean helping clients/customers overcome their concerns with telecommuting. When telecommuting employees demonstrate that a telecommuting arrangement does not mean a lower level of service, clients/customers may quickly discover the inherent benefits of telecommuting, including decreased response time and increased productivity. As with any work unit, a department with telecommuting employees should encourage clients/customers to view the department as a team, so that if the telecommuting employees are not available in-person on a certain day, they can contact other staff who can assist them.

Managers should consider clients’/customers’ needs when deciding how many days a week an employee is able to telecommute. An employee may need to start with a limited telecommuting arrangement. An employee can always modify their telecommuting agreement in the future based on experience and feedback from clients/customers.

Telecommuting Feasibility Assessment

  • After the manager completes a Telecommuting Position Assessment (PDF) and determines that the employee’s position is eligible for a telecommuting arrangement, the manager will need to complete the Telecommuting Feasibility Assessment (PDF). This assessment will enable the manager to evaluate whether telecommuting is appropriate for the employee, whether the manager is ready to manage a telecommuting employee, and whether the respective department’s budget can support a telecommuting arrangement.

    Recommended Qualifications of a Telecommuter

  • Employee should be self-disciplined and capable of working with little on-site supervision. They should demonstrate the ability to maintain productive work habits (e.g., working 8 hours per day, or the agreed amount of hours per day or week).

  • Employee should be able to effectively use work time to complete projects.

  • Employee should have consistent, productive, and organized work habits, along with the ability to make independent decisions and access appropriate technological support.

  • Employee needs strong verbal and written communication skills, as well as appropriate knowledge of the use of e-mail, fax, and other appropriate computer technology.

  • Employee must have a good performance record, including a ranking of "Valued Performer" or above on their most recent performance evaluation.

  • Employee must have an excellent attendance record, and no documented unexcused absences.

  • Employee must be able to provide an appropriate telecommuting work environment, including a dedicated workspace.

Determining Equipment and Resource Needs

An employee and manager should consider the following questions when determining what equipment and resources are necessary:


What equipment or computer software will be provided by GW? By the employee?

  • All equipment for telecommuting should be purchased through iBuy

  • Using a GW-issued computer to access the GW system is strongly encouraged and in some cases may be necessary. If an employee will be telecommuting only one or two days a week and intends to use his/her personal computer during those times, it is important that he/she is familiar with all of GW policies pertaining to the protection of GW’s systems and information.

  • Decisions about phone service should be based on the responsibilities of the position. Below are some basic guidelines:

    • Staff telecommuting part-time - GW telelcom phone service via computer

    • Staff telecommuting full-time or whose primary job responsibility is done by phone (e.g., call center), even if telecommuting part-time - GW issued cell phone (no data) plus computer-based telecom service.

    • Managers or above, telecommuting part or full-time - Smartphone

  • Other equipment and furniture are provided to a telecommuting employee at the discretion of the department.

  • All telecommuting equipment should be purchased through appropriate vendors. More information can be found on the Procurement website


  • How will supplies be requested and delivered?

    • All supplies should be ordered through the university iBuy system. As iBuy orders must be shipped to an on-campus address, telecommuters should plan ahead to pick up needed supplies during a scheduled on-campus day. If it is impractical for a telecommuter to pick up supplies, departments can mail supplies to the employee’s home using a GW FedEx account. Departments should determine in advance who in the department will be responsible for ordering, packaging and shipping supplies.

  • What documentation will need to be provided to request supplies and at what intervals?

    • The telecommuting employee and his/her respective manager should discuss this issue in advance to ensure supplies are effectively and efficiently utilized in the telecommuting arrangement.

  • Where will supplies be kept? What is an employee’s plan for ensuring that other household members do not use GW supplies?

    • Business supplies should be kept separate from household supplies and should only be used for GW-related purposes.

  • Ergonomics

    The telecommuting worksite should meet university-recommended ergonomic standards (PDF).

Telecommuting Self-Assessment

  • Once an employee's manager has determined that an employee is eligible for a telecommuting arrangement based on position, performance, readiness to manager a telecommuting employee, and the funding requirements of the department, the employee should complete a Telecommuting Self-Assessment (PDF).

    The purpose of this assessment is to assist an employee in ascertaining whether he/she is a good candidate for a telecommuting arrangement and if the employee has the appropriate home environment for a telecommuting arrangement.  It also gives the employee an opportunity to consider the suitable number of days to telecommute. However, a manager should not approve a telecommuting arrangement that allows for more days of telecommuting than initially determined to be appropriate in the Telecommuting Position Assessment (PDF).

    Completing the form does not guarantee that an employee will be granted a telecommuting arrangement. The decision to establish a telecommuting arrangement is at the discretion of the employee’s manager and senior management with guidance from Human Resources.

3. Completing a Telecommuting Agreement

Prior to executing a Telecommuting Agreement, a telecommuting employee and his/her manager should establish a specific work schedule, determine any modification of departmental operations or procedures that need to be completed prior to initiating the telecommuting arrangement, and determine the equipment and resources necessary for the telecommuting arrangement.

Once the appropriate steps are taken, the telecommuting employee will complete the Telecommuting Agreement (PDF) and it will be reviewed by Human Resources, and signed by all required parties.

After all appropriate documents have final approval, the telecommuting employee should inform the payroll department of the employee’s new work location.

Telecommuting employees should be mindful of the following:

  • Employees are still required to comply with all university policies and guidelines, including all departmental policies and procedures.

  • Employees must maintain the expected quantity and quality of work. Employees and managers should review university policy and departmental guidelines and practices regarding sick and annual leave to maintain compliance with them.

  • Employees are responsible for the safety and security of university equipment, software, data, supplies, and furniture at the telecommuting site. Employees and managers should review university policy and departmental guidelines and practices regarding the maintenance of data security and confidentiality.

  • Some equipment and related services may be provided and paid for by the employee’s department. Equipment such as computers, printers, software provided on loan by the university remain the property of the university, and must be returned upon termination of the telecommuting arrangement. For university equipment that is provided, each piece of equipment must be listed in the Telecommuting Agreement with its serial number by an employee when they take possession. Employees must return the equipment in the same condition in which it was originally received, minus normal wear and tear. Employees are personally responsible for missing or damaged equipment.

  • Employees are solely responsible for tax or other legal implications for the business use of their home.

  • The university assumes no liability for injuries occurring in an employee’s home outside of work hours.

  • If an employee lives in rented property, he/she should be aware that their lease may not permit business use of the premises.

  • The arrangement will begin with a 90-day trial period, and can be discontinued during or after that period at any time at the discretion of the employee’s manager if the arrangement does not meet the operational needs of the department and/or the employee does not comply with the Telecommuting Agreement.

  • At the conclusion of the trial period the employee and his/her manager will evaluate the arrangement and determine whether it should be continued, modified, or terminated.

Terminating a Telecommuting Agreement

A Telecommuting Agreement may be terminated at any time at the discretion of the department or the university. Although efforts will be made to provide reasonable notice of such a change to accommodate personal commitments, such as childcare and commuting requirements, there may be instances when notice is not possible.

An employee may discontinue participation in a telecommuting arrangement only with the university’s approval. In some instances, established departmental operations may require telecommuting. Therefore, an employee must provide his/her manager with written notification of a request to terminate or modify the telecommuting arrangement and may not proceed with any changes until the university approves the request.

In the event that a Telecommuting Agreement is terminated, Human Resources should be notified of the termination. If telecommuting was a requirement of the employee’s position at the time of hire, and the employee or the employee’s department wishes to terminate the telecommuting arrangement, contact Human Resources to discuss the potential consequences of terminating the arrangement.

4. Telecommuting Resource Library

Telecommuting Related Policies

There are a number of GW policies that are important for telecommuting employees and their managers to be aware of when working in a virtual environment. You are also encouraged to review the university policy website to review additional policies specific to your position. 

Telecommuting employees should keep up to date on current GW policies that may have an impact on a Telecommuting Arrangement, which are provided below:

Flexible Work Arrangements Policy (PDF)

This policy is intended to establish some flexibility in university work arrangements when conditions are suitable for both employees and their respective department.

Information Security Policy (PDF)

This policy sets forth requirements and guidelines for the incorporation of information security practices into daily usage of university information systems.

Application and System Access Policy

This policy sets forth requirements to assist in securing and protecting the university’s applications, systems, and data against information security related threats and dangers.

To review additional GW policies that may affect your telecommuting arrangement, please visit the policy website.

Communication Guidance

Telecommuting employees, their managers, and their colleagues are encouraged to use the following tips and resources to work effectively in a virtual environment:

  • Become familiar with the different conference calling options GW's Division of Information Technology offers;

  • Schedule regular check-in times with your manager and colleagues for updates on work, to ask questions, and to learn about any office news;

  • Hold regular staff meetings for everyone in the group or department. If telecommuting employees regularly come into the office at least once a week, it may be beneficial to schedule these meetings on a day when everyone is in the office. Otherwise, an employee can join the aforementioned meeting by phone or video calling software.

  • Use GroupWise Messenger or another instant messaging (IM) system to stay in immediate contact with team members. This often alerts others to an employee’s availability and it may be easier for a colleague to send a quick question over an IM than to send an email or make a phone call.

  • Complete a weekly report to provide your manager with an update of your work. The APP weekly report templates are great formats for providing regular updates.

GW Technology and Procurement Resources

Refer to the Division of Information Technology's Technology Checklist for Telecommuters for details.

5. Telecommuting Evaluation

All Telecommuting Arrangements begin with a 90-day trial period, and during or after that period, they may be discontinued by the department and/or the university at any time for any reason. In order to assess the success of the Telecommuting Arrangement, the manager must complete the Flexible Work Arrangement Evaluation, discuss the completed evaluation with the telecommuting employee, and submit the completed signed evaluation to Human Resources for review.

Telecommuting Arrangements must also be renewed on an annual basis. An employee and manager should discuss how the current arrangement is working, review the employee's new performance goals and how they pair with a telecommuting arrangement, and complete a new Telecommuting Agreement.

Human Resources is ready to help you with any questions or issues regarding flexible work arrangements, including telecommuting. Contact your HR representative for additional guidance.

Compressed Work Schedules

Compressed work schedules are arrangements that allow a full-time staff member to work 40 hours in less than 5 working days (exempt and non-exempt) or to work an 80 hour two week work period during 9 days and have the tenth day off (exempt only).

Compressed Work Weeks

A compressed work weeks allow regular, full-time exempt and non-exempt employees to work a full week’s schedule in less than five working days. The most common example is an employee working four 10 hour days in a workweek. This is categorized as a 4/40 Compressed Work Week. As with flex time schedules, a non-exempt employee’s work day schedule must incorporate a 30 minute, 45 minute, or one hour bona fide meal period. Exempt employees are expected to follow departmental guidelines regarding meal periods and to work the number of hours required to fulfill their responsibilities.

Compressed Two Week Work Period Defined

(Regular Full-Time Exempt Employees Only)

Compressed two week work periods allow a regular full-time exempt employee within the 10 workdays of a two week work period to work 9 days, totaling 80 hours, and have the tenth day off. This is categorized as a 9/80 compressed two week work period. Due to FLSA overtime provisions for non-exempt employees, this alternative work schedule is available to exempt employees only. Exempt employees are expected to follow departmental guidelines regarding meal periods and to work the number of hours required to fulfill their responsibilities

With the 9/80 Compressed Two Week Work Period schedule, in the first week, the employee would work five 9 hour days for a total of 45 hours; in second week, the employee would work three 9 hour days and one 8 hour day for a total of 35 hours; or vice versa; combined, the two workweeks result in a total of 80 hours worked in the two week work period. However, managers and employees must keep in mind that exempt employees are expected to work whatever number of hours is required in order to meet the expectations of their jobs and to follow departmental guidelines regarding meal periods.

The following is an example of a Compressed Two Week Work Period – managers and employees may agree upon other workday configurations

Day of the Week






Hours Worked

















In order to create and Compressed Work Schedule, you and your manager will need to complete the Compressed Workweek Request Form (PDF) or the Compressed Two Week Work Period Request Form (PDF) (exempt employees only).

Leave and Pay Specific to 4/40 Compressed Workweek (Exempt and Non-Exempt Employees)

  • An employee who is unable to work due to illness must request and use accrued sick leave in accordance with university policy and departmental procedures. Managers should be careful to confirm the number of hours of leave taken in light of the longer day worked. For example, an employee on a 4/40 compressed workweek who needs to take a day of sick leave is taking 10 hours of sick leave, as opposed to an employee on a regular work week who is taking 8 hours of sick leave.

  • An employee who wishes to be relieved of responsibility for work on a particular day or days for reasons other than illness must request and use available annual leave in accordance with university policy and departmental procedures. The amount of annual leave charged will be equivalent to the hours the employee was scheduled to work and managers should calculate the leave based on the considerations noted above under the sick leave explanation.

  • No exempt or non-exempt employee is eligible for more than 8 hours of holiday pay per holiday. If the holiday falls on the employee’s regularly scheduled work day, the employee will be credited with 8 hours of holiday pay for that day. Non-exempt employees may use annual leave to maintain their hours of pay for that day, or they may opt to work additional hours sometime during the workweek. For exempt employees, managers need to take into consideration the exempt employee’s status of “paid to get the job done” when determining whether the exempt employee needs to utilize annual leave for the difference between the hours of holiday pay and their typical hours for that day.

Adjusted Meal Periods

An Adjusted Meal Period is an arrangement that allows a full-time staff member to work a full work day with an extended meal period of up to a maximum of two hours.

The standard meal period at the university is 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or one hour. The adjusted meal period schedule allows a regular, full-time, exempt or non-exempt employee to extend his or her meal period to take care of personal business while still working a full workday. An employee can take an extended meal period of up to two hours.

This approach can assist, for example, employees who are enrolled in degree programs and need to take a class during working hours to complete their degrees. The following are examples of adjusted meal period schedules:

Department With Core Hours of

10:00 am to 3:00 pm

Start Time

Bona Fide Meal Period

End Time

Hours Worked

Employee A

8:30 a.m.

2 hours

6:30 p.m.

8 hours

Employee B

7:30 a.m.

1.5 hours

5:00 p.m.

8 hours


In order to create an Adjusted Meal Period, you and your manager will need to complete the Adjusted Meal Period Request Form (PDF).

Flex Time

Flex Time is an arrangement that allows a full time exempt or non-exempt staff member to work with his or her manager to set workday starting and ending times that may differ from others in the unit. Flex time requires that an employee work the core hours identified by the department. For non-exempt employees, it must include a bona fide meal period.

Flex time schedules allow regular full-time exempt and non-exempt employees, with the concurrence of their manager and within certain limits, to set their starting and ending times for the workday. All employees are required to work a standard eight-hour day that includes “core hours” defined by the department. The workday schedule for a non-exempt employee must incorporate a 30 minute, 45 minute, or one hour bona fide meal period, which is time not worked and therefore time not paid. Exempt employees should follow departmental guidelines regarding meal periods. Below are examples of some flex time schedules:

Department With Core Hours of

10:00 am to 3:00 pm

Start Time

Bona Fide Meal Period

End Time

Hours Worked

Employee A

10 a.m.

30 minutes

6:30 p.m.

8 hours

Employee B

7 a.m.

45 minutes

3:45 p.m.

8 hours

Employee C

8:30 a.m.

1 hour

5:30 p.m.

8 hours


In order to create and Flex Time schedule, you and your manager will need to complete the Flex Time Request Form (PDF).