Remote Work Arrangements FAQs

The staff Remote Work Arrangements (RWA) process is new to UVic and these FAQs will evolve over time. Please check back regularly and send suggestions for questions to vpfoproj@uvic.ca

Eligibility and approval

Who can apply?

Any staff member may request a remote work arrangement.

Who approves requests?

The approval is at the discretion of the departmental supervisor or manager.

What if we don’t agree?

Disagreements related to remote work requests may be reviewed by the Senior Management Excluded leader in the faculty, program, or division (Dean, Director or higher).

We have been working remotely since March 2020, why do we need a process now?

At UVic we have experienced working remotely with limited on-campus activities as part of our overall response to the pandemic. With the BC Restart Plan and the Provincial Health Officer supporting the return of staff, faculty and students to campus for fall 2021, our student and client service needs will once again require more on-campus presence.

Why are only part-time remote work arrangements being considered?

UVic seeks to provide a vibrant on-campus experience and responsive suite of services for our students. Connections to campus, students, clients and colleagues are necessary to some degree in all roles. Full-time or long-distance RWAs will not normally be considered, save for exceptional circumstances.

What kind of criteria for RWAs can a department establish?

Departments may establish criteria consistent with the principles for RWAs that includes, but is not limited to, the types of roles appropriate for remote work, number of requests approved at any one time, duration and review period of RWAs, remote work and on-campus work schedules, work assignments when working remotely, and team communications norms or standards to ensure effective communication and collaboration.

Can employee work remotely once in a while without a formal RWA?

Yes.  An occasional, ad hoc remote work day may be approved by the supervisor to address situations such as needing to be home for a service person, working at home when experiencing mild symptoms that prevent attendance on campus but don’t interfere with work, or to focus on a specific task without interruptions.  Any regularly occurring remote work is subject to a Remote Work Arrangement.

What is the expected duration of the initial RWA?

All initial RWA will be set up as temporary pilots as units and participants learn to adjust to hybrid working arrangements in the context of a full return to campus for our students, employees, instructors, researchers, and community. Pilots that are a minimum of 3 months and a maximum of 8 months are initially recommended. Aim for at least one full semester. Experiment with different practices and include open, honest discussions about them, keeping the ones that work and adapting the ones that don’t. This will mean embracing uncertainty and accepting that successful change won’t happen quickly.

What happens after the 3-8 month trial period?

RWAs may be cancelled with reasonable notice by either party, they may be adjusted based on feedback from the pilot experience, or they may be renewed for another period of time.

Equipment, office furniture and expenses

Can employees use their personal computers for remote work?

No. While some employees used personal computers during the early stages of the pandemic, moving forward, employees must utilize UVic standard computers provided through the Technology Solutions Centre that are managed by appropriate UVic personnel (e.g. University Systems Desktop Support Services).

Who pays for computer equipment for a remote workspace?

Purchasing the appropriate computer equipment for RWAs is normally a departmental responsibility, but computers may be an eligible expense for some employee Professional Development funds.  UVic owns and manages all computers used in RWAs, including those purchased fully or partially with Professional Development funds.  Budgetary constraints may limit the amount of computer equipment available and the number of RWAs approved at any one time.  Employees may need to transport equipment to and from work as needed.

Who pays for office furniture?

The employee is responsible for establishing an appropriate, professional and ergonomically optimized workspace with proper furnishings and adequate space that supports working efficiently and safely.  On a temporary basis, PEA and ME employees may access professional development funds to assist in workspace set-up. Any furniture purchased fully or partially with professional development funds remains the property of UVic per the appropriate policy. It must be commercial grade and adhere to UVic’s furniture quality standards.   https://www.uvic.ca/universitysecretary/assets/docs/policies/BP3130_6415_.pdf

All final purchases must be approved by Facilities Management.

How do I purchase furniture for home use with ProD and/or Uvic Department funds?

To purchase furniture using your ProD and/or UVic funds for home use please submit a FMIS request to Facilities Management (FMGT). An Interior Modifications Planner (Planner) will be assigned to your request and will assist you with selection.

Your FMIS request needs to state that the request is for RWA and that you will be using ProD and/or UVic funds to complete the transaction. The planner will take your information and confirm funds with Accounting, then work with you to select, procure and have your products delivered to your home. Your AO can help with submitting a FMIS request on your behalf.

Your Planner will provide you with information on what’s available in our Surplus stock. If your funds are limited this is a great option for gently used UVic Standard Furniture.

https://www.uvic.ca/facilities/service/planning/furniture/index.php

Note: Delivery and installation costs are included with the Greater Victoria area. Extra delivery charges may apply for areas outside Greater Victoria.

Note: Furniture purchased with ProD and/or UVic funds for home use while on RWA must be purchased through FMGT. These assets remain the property of UVic.

What is an ergonomically optimized workstation?

As we move from the COVID-related work from home orders into a new context for RWAs, the expectation for safe and healthy workspaces will be that home offices are intentionally set up to reduce the risk of injury. There are excellent resources videos and checklists in the Office Ergonomics Guide for Employees.

Who pays for internet fees?

Employees are responsible for providing internet connectivity that functions consistently with sufficient bandwidth to work effectively and meet the expectations of the role.  Internet is not eligible for reimbursement. Professional Development funds may not be used for internet fees for remote workspaces.

How will employees make long distance calls from home?

University Systems offers a software version of campus VoIP phones that can be used remotely. Individuals who have an existing campus VoIP phone and local can use this service at no additional charge.  Request this service via the Buy Now link under the Cisco Jabber Softphone section of the following site: https://www.uvic.ca/systems/support/computerssoftware/technologysolutions/phones.php

Can parking and mileage be expensed for days in the office?

Parking and mileage for coming onto campus are not eligible for reimbursement.  UVic will continue to offer the Flex 25 parking option for those employees who drive to work.  The Flex 25 parking option is well suited for employees working 1 or 2 days a week on campus.

What home office expenses can I claim on my tax return?

Canada Revenue Agency has not updated the 2021 requirements and eligibility information on the declaration of employment guidelines, and we are expecting more information to be updated on this by the end of the year or early 2022.  Employees are encouraged to keep track of home costs such as heating, hydro and water as well as noting the square footage of their office area used and total square footage of their residence. Employees should also retain receipts of any purchases not reimbursed or eligible for reimbursement from the university.

Will employees need to give up their office if they have a RWA?

Employees with a RWA may be asked to relocate to a shared workspace in order to maximize workspaces on campus.  This will be determined at the unit/department/division level based on need.

Health, safety and security

Why do employees need to complete a Home Office Safety Self Inspection?

Employees with approved RWAs are covered for injuries that arise out of and in the course of employment, and compensation will be limited to the designated remote workspace within their home or other agreed-upon work location. The Home Office Safety Self Inspection will help ensure a safe work environment that minimizes the risk of injury.

How can we ensure the safety of employees who are working alone?

Not all employees working remotely will be working alone.  Employees and supervisors should discuss the situation as part of the request process and make arrangements for check-ins by a supervisor or a colleague if appropriate.

What are the cleaning responsibilities for shared offices?

Employees should consult their Safe Work Plans and develop a cleaning schedule accordingly, or follow proper communicable disease planning after July 15, 2021.

What if an employee gets injured while working remotely?

If an employee suffers an injury while in their designated remote workspace, they should immediately seek assistance, report the incident to their supervisor as soon as possible, and document the incident on the UVic report form available from OHSE, including any WorkSafeBC claim forms, if applicable.

What if an employee is sick on a remote workday?

When employees are unable to work remotely due to illness, they will continue to have access to any applicable sick leave provisions. When experiencing a mild illness that would otherwise prevent them from attending campus but does not interfere with their ability to do their work, employees may continue to work remotely if able to do so.

Hours of work and scheduling

What is the definition of part-time remote work?

Simply put, part-time is not full-time, and the rest is up to the department. In our principle-based approach RWAs must maintain some connection to campus.

Can RWAs include a non-standard work schedule?

Each unit or department manager will determine the type of requests that will be considered. Operational effectiveness, client support and team communication are some considerations that may limit non-standard scheduling of hours of work.  Some departments may permit non-standard scheduling of hours of work within the workday.  RWAs do not change the total number of hours worked per day and per week.

Do the remote days need to be scheduled and consistent?

Each unit or department manager will determine the type of requests that will be considered.  Some departments may implement set schedules in order to meet operational requirements and to share workload among staff.  Some departments may be able to approve a more flexible approach to scheduling remote workdays than others.

What does long-distance mean?

In our principle-based approach, RWAs must maintain some connection to campus and employees may be asked to come onto campus at any time for a team meeting, event, operational needs and/or urgent issue. While occasional temporary remote work may be permitted for special circumstances, note that WorkSafe BC may not apply to out of province work. Please confirm with your OHSE contact. 

Office Arrangements

Will office space be reassigned for those working remotely?

One of the benefits of RWAs is the ability to reallocate space, reducing occupancy in lower quality workspaces and freeing up additional space for growing teams.  Staff participating in RWAs may be required to give up dedicated on-campus office space and be assigned to on-campus space that has been configured for part-time use.

How will teams communicate effectively with some team members working remotely?

Each team will need to establish team norms and methods of communication for a hybrid office environment.  Examples might include one day a week where everyone is in the office, the investment in meeting room technology to allow for hybrid team meetings or agreed upon communication norms around when to use email, online meetings, telephone, or in-person communication.

Can an employee be asked to come into the office on their normal remote workday?

Yes.  In order to maintain services or respond to an urgent situation, supervisors may need to ask employees to come to campus and employees may need to adjust their RWA schedule to do so. Supervisors will provide as much notice as possible.