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Telecommuting Guidelines

Tufts University Telecommuting Agreement (Fill-in Form)
Employee Handbook

Eligible employees in certain positions may telecommute with prior approval.

Employee Eligibility

As a manager, you should consider the following factors to determine if a member of your team is eligible to telecommute:

  • The employee has positive performance evaluations and no ongoing performance issues
  • The employee can work independently
  • 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. The following conditions make telecommuting unsuitable:

  • Equipment, materials, and files necessary to the position can only be physically accessed on Tufts property
  • 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

If you agree that telecommuting is a workable option for a member of your team, you and that employee should complete a telecommuting agreement. The agreement is intended to capture all of the specifics of telecommuting. Please use the template Telecommuting Agreement  and add extra pages as necessary to set forth additional information. After you, the designated supervisor, approve the agreement, it must be approved by the employee's dean, vice president or designee before it can be implemented. 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 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, telecommuting should not create significant additional costs for university operations, for instance, furnishing a home office when a campus office is available. 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 with Colleagues and Constituents

Once you and your employee agree to a telecommuting arrangement, you should notify other colleagues and relevant employees in advance of the arrangement and provide contact information (email address, cell phone and other telephone numbers) and make sure that coworkers feel free to contact the telecommuting employee as they normally would if that person were at the regular work location.

Telecommuting Safety

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there is no provision in the law that excludes workplaces 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 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

Tufts staff cannot provide hands-on assistance for any equipment or connectivity issues to employees working remotely outside the university. Tufts Technology Services may be able to access university-owned computers remotely to resolve issues. 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
  • 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 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.

Next Steps

After reviewing these guidelines, if you and your staff member agree on a suitable telecommuting arrangement, fill out the Telecommuting Agreement form. Keep one copy of the form and submit another copy Tufts Support Services to be included in the employee's personnel file.