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Flexible Workplace Project

Flexible Workplace Project

Ohio University is embracing a model for the workplace that enables flexibility, adapts to evolving team and university needs, optimizes collaborative work while respecting the need for focused individual effort, and seamlessly integrates our virtual and physical environments. Leveraging early adopters, the purpose of this project is to develop innovative and financially sustainable workplace models that can be readily scaled across the OHIO system. In addition to creating designed space prototypes, the models will include a process for moving through essential discussions and decisions as a team to ensure a positive outcome.

Learn more about the success measures, implementation process, and working groups on the About the Flexible Workplace Project page.

A group looks at a screen during a conference call
An employee works on a tablet at a coffee shop
An employee works on a laptop computer at her home

FAQs

What is a Flexible Workplace?

A flexible workplace can mean many different plans depending on the role and function of the unit and individuals who make up its work force.  

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, some elements of a flexible plan may include: 

  • Flexible schedule 
  • Remote workspace 
  • Shared workspaces that focus on collaborative or creative interaction 
  • Reservable space at various locations on our campuses 
  • Rotating or variable schedules  

A flexible workplace plan will vary based on how employees interact with the campuses they serve. For example, some offices that are primarily “back office” may be able to operate effectively with employees who are partially or fully remote. Other offices that are “front-facing” for student, colleagues, or the public, may be effective with modified remote schedule.  

 Some important terms related to flexible workplace plans:   

  • Remote Work - the practice of an employee working at their home, or in some other place that is not an organization's usual place of business. 
  • On-Site – The practice of employee working at the organization’s usual place of business.  The employee may have a permanent work location, or a flexible work location made available to the department and schedulable by the employee. 
  • Hybrid Work - The practice of an employee practicing a combination of remote and on-site work as needed to perform the expectations of their job duties. 
  • Core Hours - Period of hours each day/week when department must be staffed at an appropriate level. 
  • Peak Periods - Cyclical times of the year when business activity or work volume is high during which the department must be staffed on site at specified level.  Employees may be required to work on campus for their regular schedule. * 
Why is OHIO initiating the Flexible Workplace Project (FWP)?

Traditionally Ohio University has been an on-site employer with our faculty and staff coming to their place of employment to perform their job duties. The COVID-19 pandemic required us to migrate most of our workforce to remote work to reduce the risk to our fellow Bobcats, the university invested in the tools and technologies to foster collaboration in our new remote workplace.

The Flexible Workplace project’s goal is to provide the institution with a set of policies and guidelines that will allow a manager to offer their employees a flexible work location as permitted by an employee’s job duties. This project began as a small pilot of offices but following the rapid shift to more remote work necessitated by the pandemic, the university decided to study, design, and implement a project for the entire university. 

Some goals of the FWP: 

  • To meet changing needs of university and to support the interest of individual employees in a more flexible work environment 
  • Recruit and retain employees in areas of expertise that are in high demand or may be difficult to recruit locally 
  • To develop collaborative and creative environments that provide resources and workspaces that allow more flexibility than a standard private, shared office space, or conference rooms
  • To reduce the university footprint by optimizing use of space 
Who is eligible to participate?

All administrative and academic units are encouraged to explore whether some aspect of flexible workplace is applicable and appropriate for that unit. While some functions may only be completed in a campus location due to the type of work performed, the facilities or equipment needed, or the type of service provided, there may be some duties that may be performed on flexible schedules or with a flexible space arrangement. If you are interested in exploring a FW arrangement for yourself or your unit, please speak to your supervisor about your interests and ideas.  

Employees must continue to meet the requirements of the position and the needs of the office or department. Employees working on-site or remote must be accountable for their performance regardless of the location or schedule worked. 

All campuses may participate in FWP.

When will the FWP be complete?

Recommendations, processes, and practices, that enable other units to embrace flex work environments more easily, should be finalized by October 1, 2021.

The FWP will be an ongoing project, beginning with early adopters in 2020, the project was expanded to include other units that expressed interest in exploring as an option. The FWP has adopted an agile, iterative project plan: the goal is to learn from early adopters and continue to improve our model as we gain feedback during the project and beyond. 

Early adopter offices will move to new workspaces in summer 2021. Second wave and subsequent adopters will work with the University on their FWP plans.

Where will I find flexible spaces on OHIO’s campuses?

Types of flexible spaces that are currently being designed: 

  • Hub Space (dedicated to specific units) 
  • Flexible reservable space (open to all university employees)  

Flexible Workspace is located in three buildings on the Athens campus:

  • The Ridges Buildings 13, 14, 18, located on the Ridges Green, will be open to reserve space beginning in mid July 2021. This work space is located on the second floor and includes over 50 work stations, in both private, semi-private and open work configurations, as well as numerous conference and collaboration rooms. 
  • Grosvenor West, located on West Green,  will be opening in September 2021. This work space is located on the first floor, and will include private and open work stations, as well as small conference rooms. 
  • Grosvenor Hall, located on West Green, will have a number of conference rooms that will be available to be scheduled on the second, third and forth floors. 
  • Lindley Hall, located on the College Green, will have work space available to reserve on the first floor beginning in September. Space will include approximately 10 private work stations and small collaboration rooms, as well as 1 conference room.  

In addition to the above list of flexible workspaces, many departments have additional 'hub' space that is dedicated to a specific unit or department. Many hub spaces include additional drop-in or reservable work stations, conference or collaboration rooms that are available for use by specific user groups.  

How can I get up-to-date information about the FWP?

If you are in the Early Adopter or second wave/cohort Group:

  • Talk to your supervisor about your unit’s progress in the project 

If you are interested in learning more about how to join a future phase of Flexible Workplace Project: 

  • Talk to supervisor about your unit’s options for flexible workplace planning  
  • Inquire with Flexible Workplace Project leads (Shawna Bolin Wolfe and Christopher Ament) 
How is the Flexible Workplace Project different than pandemic-related return to campus?

Flexible Workplace Project is a long-term initiative that seeks to leverage workplace flexibility for engagement and productivity.  Return to Campus is a short-term plan to safely re-densify campus with evolving public health guidance and COVID-19 safety protocols.  

In March 2020, Ohio University abruptly shifted to nearly fully remote work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and public health directives designed to reduce the spread of the virus. While some employees, due to the nature of their duties, have not worked remotely, many offices and work areas have remained fully or partially remote.  With the wide availability of vaccines and plans for ongoing testing, tracing and quarantine as needed, Ohio University will resume a more normal campus experience for fall 2021. Therefore, more employees, both faculty and staff, will resume duties on our campuses.  

All units are currently considering how they will return to campus. As the campus community has learned from our experiences this past year, we have understood the numerous advantages of remote work:  meetings via Teams or Zoom allow full participation and inclusion for faculty and staff from various locations, student services such as advising are convenient for students, student support staff, and faculty. Virtual office hours are also popular with students. Therefore, we seek to discern what pandemic-related remote practices are also best practices for convenient and engaged interactions. Some of these decisions will be made in the near term as part of fall planning for return to campus. Some of these decisions will be part of a formal Flexible Workplace plan that impacts office space and individual work arrangements.  

 The Flexible Workplace Project is a planful approach to future work environments. FWP seeks longer-term ways to optimize space and talent. Leadership and supervisors who are part of the Early Adopter cohort have worked with University Planning to evaluate the duties and responsibilities of individual employees and the needs of students and colleagues they serve or with whom they partner to optimize the workspaces they will inhabit.  

Some “Early Adopters” will return in the new “Flexible Workplace Model,” as they have studied, reviewed management needs, and completed space projects to enable this change. If your unit has not yet been through the Flexible Workplace Model Strategy and you are preparing for the pandemic-related return to campus, please contact your supervisor to review plans. In addition, if your unit is interested in participating in the Flexible Workplace Model, talk to your supervisor or unit leader about initiating a planning discussion with University Planning.  

Will flexible workplace be available for faculty?

The FWP is currently focused on administrative units and offices. Departments, schools and programs that are interested in exploring opportunities may reach out to co-leads Chris Ament and Shawna Wolfe.