Telecommuting Guidelines 

Eligible employees in certain positions may telecommute with prior approval.

Employee Eligibility

Factors to consider when assessing an employee’s eligibility to telecommute include whether:

  • The employee has positive performance evaluations and no ongoing performance issues;
  • The employee can work independently; and,
  • Despite the telecommuting arrangement, the employee has the flexibility to periodically work on campus due to business requirements and with reasonable notice.

Position-specific Considerations

Certain positions do not lend themselves to telecommuting. Factors to consider with respect to the appropriateness of a telecommuting arrangement for an employee include whether:

  • Access to equipment, materials, and files can only be physically accessed on Tufts property; and,
  • Face-to-face contact with supervisors, other employees, clients, or the public on Tufts property is a regular and integral part of the position responsibilities.

Despite the suitability of positions or employees to telecommuting arrangements, departments must ensure that sufficient personnel are available on campus to provide service to the campus community during scheduled business hours.  As a result, there may be limited opportunities for employees to make use of telecommuting arrangements.

 The Telecommuting Agreement

The department and employee should complete a telecommuting agreement. The agreement is intended to capture all of the specifics of telecommuting. The template Telecommuting Agreement should be used, and extra pages may be added as necessary to set forth additional information. Before implemented, the agreement must be approved by the employee’s supervisor in addition to the employee’s dean, vice president or designee. A copy of the executed Telecommuting Agreement should be retained by the HR department.

Terminating the Telecommuting Agreement

The appropriateness of the telecommuting arrangement should be assessed regularly or at least every six (6) months. The Telecommuting Agreement can be terminated by either the department or the employee with reasonable notice. Entering into a Telecommuting Agreement does not and is not intended to change an employee’s employment status.

Cost

Because the university has already provided for a fully equipped campus office, participation in telecommuting should not result in significant additional costs to university operations as a result of equipping both campus and remote office locations. Costs should be discussed and agreed upon in advance by the employee and supervisor.

Work Site

The location from which the employee will telecommute should have the necessary equipment for the employee to perform the requirements of the position. Further, the location should be one that will not interfere with participation in telephonic or video meetings.

Communication to Colleagues and Constituents

Once an employee and supervisor agree to a telecommuting arrangement, supervisors should notify other colleagues and relevant employees in advance that a particular employee will be telecommuting, and provide contact information (including email addresses, cell phone and other telephone numbers) so that coworkers feel free to contact the telecommuting employee as they normally would if the employee were at the regular work location.

Telecommuting Safety

According to (OSHA) “Occupational Safety and Health Administration”, there is no provision in the law that excludes workplaces that are located in a home. Because of this, employees working from home should take reasonable steps to ensure that the work environment is safe and free from hazards. If an injury does occur at home while the employee is considered “working”, the employee must notify his/her supervisor immediately.

Emergency Situations

In emergency situations, despite the absence of a signed Telecommuting Agreement, Tufts may direct non-essential service employees who are not physically needed on campus to work remotely. In those instances, employees will be informed of the start and end time of the remote work assignment.

IT Support

When working remotely outside of Tufts University, Tufts staff cannot provide hands-on assistance for any equipment or connectivity issues. In some instances, university owned computers may be accessed remotely to resolve issues. However, if that is unsuccessful, the employee may need to bring the computer to campus for troubleshooting, repairs, or replacement. IT support will be best-effort for non-Tufts owned devices or older platforms that may be unsupported by the vendor or by the software manufacturer.

Support for a network connection to Tufts University is specifically limited to establishing a connection through Tufts’ virtual private network (VPN) after you have established internet access with your Internet Service Provider. Operating system problems, software and configuration issues that prevent the installation of the Tufts’ virtual private network (VPN) cannot be supported.

Tufts can install licensed software or media on university-owned and managed systems and in many cases on personally owned systems as allowed by individual vendor license agreements.

Telecommuting Technology and Information Security Guidelines

Concerning a remote working environment, the employee will be responsible for complying with all University policies and guidelines. The employee working remotely is responsible for protecting Tufts data and systems that are both remote and those accessed remotely that are located at Tufts facilities. Prior to working remotely via personally-owned and/or Tufts provided and managed technologies, the employee must read the following policies and guidelines: Tufts Information Stewardship Policy, Use of Institutional Systems Policy, Data Classification and Handling Policy, Information Roles and Responsibilities Policy, and the Telecommuting Technology Guidelines. In addition, there are other applicable policies by Tufts Technology Services and Digital Collection and Archives that the employee is responsible for following. The policies can be found online at tufts.edu/home/faculty_staff/policies/. The Telecommuting Technology Guidelines can be found at https://it.tufts.edu/ispol. The employee is also expected to routinely monitor and comply with changes in these policies and guidelines.

Physical Security

For working remotely, it is the employee’s responsibility to follow the same best practices for protecting physical and electronic information and resources as is required at all Tufts University locations. The employee must ensure the physical security of the equipment used to access Tufts information and resources. This includes protecting Tufts information and remote-working equipment from being stolen or accessed by unauthorized persons. This also includes the security of information in paper format including ongoing storage, back-ups, and proper disposal. Hardware, software and data destruction of confidential materials must be done securely and disposed of at the termination of business need, and in conjunction with the Tufts University data disposal policy. Remote working arrangements should be equipped to facilitate this activity (a cross-cut shredder) or include the employee bringing materials to Tufts to be disposed of through standard on-site processes.

University data also must be backed-up or stored originally on Tufts network drives which are all available via Tufts Virtual Private Network (VPN) or through the Tufts Box.com service.   Users may not store any Tufts University confidential or personal information (PI) data on their personally owned devices. Data handling policies can be found online at tufts.edu/home/faculty_staff/policies/.

Next Steps

In order to arrange for telecommuting, first meet with your supervisor and review these guidelines. If a suitable arrangement is approved, fill out the Telecommuting Agreement form. One copy of the form should be kept in your department and another copy should be submitted to TSS to be included in your personnel file.