Flexible locations, hours may be option for some staff by spring

Under the new WorkFlex program announced to supervisors this week, staff will have options for flexible work arrangements should they make sense for their job duties and the university's mission.

Supervisors will evaluate employee requests for flexibility by taking into consideration the needs and staffing of the unit and Iowa State's research-intensive and residential campus, which puts an emphasis on in-person learning, support and services.

Maintaining excellence in teaching, research, extension and outreach, student support and other operations must remain front and center when considering staff requests. But Iowa State's excellence depends on skilled employees, senior leaders noted in messages to administrative officers and supervisors.

"As the work environment is evolving and more organizations are providing flexible work arrangements, ISU must be competitive in recruiting and retaining top talent," wrote President Wendy Wintersteen, the three senior vice presidents and vice president for university human resources (UHR) Kristi Darr in their memos.

The WorkFlex program will provide professional and scientific and certain merit staff (excluding ISU Police) with options that include:

  • Flexible start/stop times -- working outside the standard work hours
  • Compressed work weeks -- fewer but longer days (for example, four 10-hour days)
  • Hybrid work -- working from home or another designated location up to 60% of the time
  • Reduced hours -- moving to part-time
  • Gradual return to work -- gradually increasing hours following leave
  • Retirement transition -- gradually reducing hours when approaching retirement

In the initial rollout of the WorkFlex program, full-time remote work arrangements will not be allowed. Remote work pilot studies currently underway will need to be further evaluated before considering expanding the WorkFlex program beyond hybrid options.

The WorkFlex program was developed with input from focus groups of P&S and merit staff, faculty, Faculty Work-Life Advisory Committee members and supervisors of all staff types.

The program was designed with a four-week application window for staff to submit their requests. Rather than a first-come, first-served approach, supervisors will review all requests after the application window closes.

Administrative officers and supervisors were first to learn about the WorkFlex program this week to give them time to understand the options and the process. Detailed information for employees, including how to submit a request, will be released later this month as indicated in the timeline below.


Timeline for WorkFlex program



Oct. 6

Administrative officers and supervisors received detailed program information.

Oct. 8-29

College and unit leaders and HR delivery teams work with supervisors to understand expectations, guard rails and key considerations for WorkFlex, preparing supervisors for employee requests.

Week of Oct. 18

Employees receive detailed program information. A Professional and Scientific Council seminar series event on WorkFlex is set for Oct. 19 (2-3 p.m., via Webex), rescheduled from Oct. 12. 

Nov. 1-26

First employee application window.

Nov. 29-Dec. 23

Supervisor decision window for requests received during the first application window.

Dec. 23-Jan. 14, 2022 Supervisors work with staff to prepare for approved arrangements. 
Jan. 18 First day WorkFlex arrangements can be effective.