Telework Questions and Answers
August 4, 2020
Adjustments to Teleworking Arrangements
Question: Are decisions now made about working onsite or teleworking permanent, or can they later be revisited, as conditions evolve and the university status changes?
Answer: Yes, decisions about onsite or telework can be revisited. The Virginia Tech teleworking agreement states that the telework arrangements can be changed; the employee should work with a supervisor and give a notice of at least two weeks before the desired change.
Equipment for Use While Teleworking
Question: Can departments and schools purchase equipment that teleworking faculty or staff members need to work from home?
Answer: Yes, with the proviso that the equipment belongs to Virginia Tech, must be tracked, and must be returned.
Question: How will we ensure shared office spaces are cleaned between uses?
Answer: Virginia Tech Facilities has implemented enhanced cleaning procedures, linked here. Administrative offices must communicate with Facilities about which offices are essentially empty and which ones are used by multiple people.
Phone and Internet Service
Question: Can teleworking employees receive university support for internet and/or phone?
Answer: Network Infrastructure & Services has phone and internet services to support teleworking. Department and schools that opt to pay these expenses should use NIS or seek approval from NIS if using the reimbursement method for another service provider. You will need prior approval before submitting a reimbursement request for phone or internet services.
Question: Can departments and schools provide moving support for faculty and staff members who are vacating an office permanently?
Answer: Yes, departments and schools are permitted to hire a wage employee to pack up an office and move boxes.
Use of Faculty Space by Others
Question: If a faculty member wants to work primarily remotely, but needs to continue using the assigned campus office occasionally, what arrangements allow for additional use of that space by instructional staff, including graduate teaching assistants, while maintaining health and sanitation standards?
Answer: The faculty member should work with their department head/chair on a schedule outlining when others are permitted to use the space.
Moving Responsibilities with Students Off-Campus
Question: If a faculty or staff member’s responsibilities involve frequent interactions with students, thus raising the risk of exposure, can those activities be conducted primarily remotely, while the faculty or staff member retains use of an office for other activities?
Answer: Some responsibilities (such as advising) can be arranged to be carried out via Zoom instead of in-person while retaining an office for daily non-interactional activities, such as processing paperwork or working on a desktop.
Adjusting Work in High-Traffic Spaces
Question: Some offices are located in spaces with high traffic of students, employees, and the public. What arrangements are available to employees to adjust hours, increase remote work, or relocate to another space to limit exposure to the public?
Answer: The college is working to provide alternate spaces when available, and supervisors have been encouraged to be flexible in terms of staff work hours whenever possible. In addition, departments and schools may procure personal protective equipment, thermometers, screens, and other equipment to protect employees in high-traffic areas.
Office Staff Telework
Question: Do the administrative offices of departments and schools need to be open five days a week on campus? If so, how should front-line staff, such as those fulfilling a reception role, reconcile this requirement with the need to telework?
Answer: It is important for the college’s functioning that visitors be able to connect with someone in the event they need in-person assistance. It is possible for this role to be carried out by a work-study student who has a way to immediately contact office staff for guidance via Zoom or cell phone. It is also acceptable for there to be prominently displayed information that allows a visitor to know how to make immediate contact via phone or Zoom with an appropriate staff member. This information should make it clear who the student should contact based on specific needs (advisor, assistant to the chair/head/director, front office staff, etc.). The college is certainly willing to give staff the opportunity to try this arrangement, with the proviso that changes will need to be made if it proves problematic.
Submitted by Tasia Persson, Executive Assistant to the Dean