Flexible Work


The University is a decentralized organization with diverse work environments. There is no one-size-fits-all flexible work arrangement for every situation. However, many Penn environments can utilize at least one flexible work arrangement successfully if the job, person, environment, and work situation are appropriate and recommended protocols are followed.

 A Knowledge Link Course is easily accessible and provides an overview of flexible work and best practices.

The protocols, described below, are gleaned from best practices in corporate and academic environments.

Guidelines for managing flexibly and working flexibly:

  • Flexible work options have been in place at Penn for some time, either as a temporary, informal arrangement or for the long term. For any flexible work arrangement to succeed, it must support the organization's goals, including cost-effectiveness and customer service.
    • There may be limitations for new staff members with respect to off-campus work.
    • Eligibility for flexible work is determined by senior management or leadership within each School or Center.
    • Flexible work options may be requested by a staff member or initiated by a school/center.
    • Staff positions that were campus-based positions prior to the pandemic are expected to be campus-based positions following the resumption of regular operations.
    • Working off-campus should be limited to no more than two days per week and be conducted from a home office in Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Delaware. Further information about working off campus can be found in the Off-Campus Work Expectations Policy.

      In the event of a work stoppage causing transportation issues, such as a SEPTA strike, managers are asked to be more flexible for the duration of the event.
    • Staff seeking to work off-campus as a reasonable accommodation for medical reasons should follow the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Program’s process for requesting reasonable accommodations.
    • All Flex Place work and off-campus work should be piloted and reviewed after the outlined time frame. This provides a collective experience to evaluate what's working and what's not working prior to implementing long term.
  • The assignment must be appropriate for the flexible work arrangement and equipment, systems, or materials must be available during non-traditional hours or outside of the workplace.
  • The supervisor must approve the plan and be prepared to manage the work under the conditions of the arrangement. Each school and center  will determine the appropriate individual(s) to approve these arrangements in addition to the immediate supervisor. Note: the provisions of Penn's Staff Grievance Procedure do not apply to decisions regarding flexible work options.
  • The individual's work style and history must support the demands of the arrangement.
  • Special arrangements for communication and accountability must be established.
  • An effort should be made to maintain a collegial environment, through special opportunities for unit members to have shared hours and constructive interactions.
  • Written plans must be developed for the flexible work arrangement to document the understanding between all involved parties.
  • A pilot timeframe is often helpful for trying out a flexible work arrangement prior to making a long-term commitment.
  • The staff member and manager/supervisor should collaborate on a communication plan that includes provisions for communication with internal or external stakeholders, and meeting coordination.
  • All participants must be prepared to return to pre-flexibility arrangements if the situation requires.

Additional tips:

  • Take initiative to be present at key meetings.
  • Be flexible; supervisors/colleagues won't always be able to work around your schedule.
  • Establish standard and routine "office hours" approved by your supervisor, and clearly communicate them so that others in the office can contact you during those hours.
  • Ask for ongoing feedback from your supervisor for at least the pilot portion of your arrangement on how it is working.
  • Update your voicemail greeting to provide callers with information on how they may reach you, who to contact in an emergency, and when they may anticipate your returned call.