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Flexible Work Arrangements

Northwestern's work encompasses a wide range of positions to fulfill its mission. Understanding the many varied duties of staff members across the University, Northwestern recognizes that the implementation of a flexible work arrangement can often optimize the needs of the University and the staff member or work team and supports flex work arrangements where possible.

The availability of flexible work arrangements varies by school, unit, and position based on business and operational needs; the approval or denial of a request for a flexible work arrangement is at the supervisor's discretion. When appropriate, both individuals and teams may propose and use a flexible work arrangement if approved by a supervisor.

Policy on COVID-19 Alternative Work Arrangements

Northwestern has established a temporary provision for faculty and staff required to return to in-person campus work activities, or who support ongoing academic research, who request alternative work arrangements due to:

A school or unit's Return to Campus Plan may adequately address employee scheduling or flexibility needs. In these cases, the provisions of this policy need not apply. This policy is intended to address situations in which an employee requires additional flexibility. Employees will need to complete an  Alternative Work Arrangements Request Form (VPN required) . Faculty can complete this Alternative Work Arrangement Proposal Form to share with your department chair or supervisor.

The COVID-19 Alternative Work Arrangements Policy will be in place through June 20, 2021 and may be extended, discontinued, or modified at any time.

Download the policy

Training, Tips and Tools for Effective Remote Work Arrangements:

Types of flexible work arrangements

There are two types of flex work arrangements: occasional and formal. Occasional refers to one time or intermittent requests. Formal are arrangements that require some type of change in when or where someone works on a regular basis. Both require communication with and approval by the manager, however, it is suggested that a more formal arrangement be documented by using our flexible work arrangement proposal form .

The specific nature of the flexible work arrangement, whether occasional or formal, can take a variety of forms. The most common are:


A work schedule that permits flexibility in starting and quitting times without changing the total hours worked in a work week. Most flextime arrangements specify a core period of time during the day in which all employees must be scheduled to work.

Compressed Workweek

A full-time work schedule (37.5 to 40 hours per week) compressed into less than the traditional five-day work week.


A work schedule that allows employees to work part or all of their work hours from a location other than their regular work site. An example would be an employee who works from a home office 1 day per week.


A work schedule of at least 18.75 but less than 37.5 hours per week is considered part-time and may have prorated vacation, holiday and sick time. Employees who work less than 18.75 hours per week are not benefit eligible.

Job Sharing

A work arrangement in which the responsibilities of one full-time position are shared by two employees. Job sharing differs from part-time work in that job share partners are expected to be interchangeable in work assignments and represent a single employee in all respects.

Seasonal Arrangement

A work arrangement in which the employee uses a flexible work arrangement only during a certain season such as summer or after classes end for fall quarter.

Transition To/From Leave

A work schedule that allows employees who are about to go on leave or who are returning from leave to utilize flex time, remote work or other flexible work arrangements before or after their leave.


The main consideration in setting up an alternative work arrangement is how the work will be completed. It is recommended that the below guidelines be taken into consideration as well.

Flexible Work Arrangement Proposal