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Resources for Flexible Work Arrangements

Keep connected, productive and engaged with the following resources and tools to support your flexible work arrangements.

Looking for additional support and resources? Contact the Organizational Development team!

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Staying connected and engaged

Review curated content on the following topics to set yourself up for success in a hybrid work environment.

Review current McMaster meeting guidance to decide if your meeting should be an in person, hybrid or virtual meeting.

Other considerations:

Resources and reading:

Support your development by working through these LinkedIn Learning courses/videos.

Start with:

Health and well-being topics:

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning is available free for all McMaster students, faculty and staff. Many of the learning opportunities can be completed at your own pace and there is a wealth of options available to you. Some courses to consider are:

  • Develop Essential Skills to Manage in a Hybrid Workplace
    • Learning Path, December 2021
    • 4 hours, 42 minutes
  • How to be an Effective Remote Manager
    • By: Madecraft and Mitch Simon, June 2021
    • 1 hour, 9 minutes
  • Managing Skills for Remote Leaders
    • By: Madecraft and Mary Jean Vignone, March 2021
    • 1 hour, 12 minutes
  • Building Relationships While Working from Home
    • By: Dave Crenshaw, Sept 2020
    • 22 minutes
  • Managing Virtual Teams
    • By: Phil Gold, May 2019
    • 56 minutes

DeGroote Executive Management Program (EMP)

EMP courses are available to employees in TMG, are discounted for employees and can be paid for using your MPDA. Most courses are one day of learning, broken up into two half-day sessions. Completing five courses also provides a Certificate of Completion, with the opportunity for a specialization, depending on the courses you take. Signup is easy and can be done by connecting with Lynn Petruzzella – petruzl@mcmaster.ca. Some courses to consider are:

W Booth School of Engineering Practice and Technology – Industry Operations Leadership & Management Program

The Industry Operations Leadership & Management (IOLM) Program is an adaptable, modular, practical, applied program aimed at managers and supervisors in industry. An industry-first driven approach will enable candidates to learn directly from leaders in industry as well as academic instructors, to derive relevant, real-world insights and capabilities to drive transition and scale of their own industry business units.

This McMaster University Professional Certificate Program will inform, educate, mentor, and practically assess critical competencies needed to transform, sustain, and scale industry 4.0 operations. The IOLM Program is designed to be flexible and adaptable to meet specific individual & business needs.

The Program consists of five Industry-specific certification courses – Industry Operations Leadership Fundamentals, Tactical Planning & Execution, Industry Business Unit Operations, Advanced Leadership Skills, Advanced Operations Skills.

For Supervisors

 

Walking through the template hybrid work agreement with your employee is a proactive way to ensure the expectations are clear, questions can be addressed in advance and you and your employee are on the same page on what a successful hybrid work arrangement looks like. If questions or issues begin to surface, quick, clear communication is the best method to quickly address them with your staff.

 

 

The GROW Model guides your conversation so it is purposeful and two-way. The use of open-ended questions helps conversation flow. Employees feel heard and valued because they share their thoughts, insights and are receptive to feedback. The GROW model helps to build trust, is supportive and empowering of others. It’s all about the conversation.

GOAL

 

 

REALITY

 

OPTIONS

WILL
Agree on the topic and specific objective of session; set long term aim if appropriate Invite employee self-assessment; offer specific feedback with examples;  avoid or check any assumptions Brainstorm options; invite suggestions from employee; offer suggestions carefully; ensure choices are made Commit to action; identify any barriers and solutions; make steps specific with timelines; agree to support
Modify as it fits your speaking voice, communication style and relationship with your employees.
 

Sample Conversation Starters

I have some concerns with how the hybrid work arrangement has been going lately. Specifically, my concerns are:     

 

•  Outline your concerns, being as specific as possible and using examples, where applicable.

•  Diffuse defensiveness by clarifying that this conversation is not intended to be a threat to end the arrangement, but an opportunity to re-establish an understanding of what success looks like.

 

 

Sample Conversation Starters

Invite the employee to assess their performance while working remotely. For example, do they believe they have been as efficient as they can be, while working remotely? How has it been working for them?

 

•    Reiterate that this is not an attack or a threat to end the arrangement, but an opportunity to raise the concerns you have and have a two-way conversation on how to approach them.

Also reflect on whether there’s anything you could have done better to support the employee.

 

Sample Conversation Starters

Based on our discussion, what changes do you think are necessary to ensure success moving forward?

 

•    Does the employee recognize there is room for improvement?

•    They need to be part of the solution for it to be successful.

•    Offer the opportunity for a follow up discussion the next day, to allow them some time to consider some approaches they may take.

•    Provide any suggestions you have as well, while taking a supportive approach in providing feedback.

 

Sample Conversation Starters

Let’s confirm the strategies you’ll use moving forward and how we can ensure a successful, long-term hybrid work arrangement.  

 

•  Remember, this is a two-way conversation, so you can also outline strategies you’d like to see put in action.

•  Continue to hold regular meetings for regular discussion/feedback.

•  How will you support your employee to ensure they’re successful?

 

Topic and objective of discussion is confirmed.

 

Goals are reviewed against priorities and employee role and capabilities. Set and confirm goals for next cycle. Commitment and action plan is confirmed.
Issue Possible solution
You can’t track how much time your employees spend on the job if they don’t work in the same location during the same hours as you do. Flexible work arrangements imply managing by watching the results – that employees are completing their tasks on time and the quality meets expectations – not by watching them doing their work. It demonstrates employee trust and supports empowerment. Set standards and expectations with all employees, not just those using flexible work options.
The employee’s job can’t support a flexible work arrangement. Make sure you seek advice from HR and your supervisor/Director or AVP when needed. After consideration and discussion with the employee and others in the work unit, provide clear and specific rationale for the decision. On the whole, try to be open to all requests. When the request just isn’t feasible, show your willingness to support something else that works for both you and the employee.
You become aware that a flex time employee is not adhering to early start or late finish times. Perceived inequity can lead to morale issues within and across teams. The manager must speak to the employee immediately to understand what is happening from their perspective, and consider ways to address this. It may be as simple as confirming an understanding and agreement about hours of work or adjusting the work schedule to times that work better for both. Addressing issues clearly and promptly is the most effective way to ensure issues don’t linger. Please see the GROW model for tips on initiating this conversation.
You want to keep track of how the arrangement works out. Regular review intervals should take place to present an opportunity to discuss concerns, assess progress and plan for the future. Reviews should happen at least annually, but more frequently (quarterly, semi-annually) is preferred. You should agree with the employee in advance on a means of measuring or assessing performance under the flexible work arrangement agreement. The performance expectations should be the same as those that apply to other employees with the same duties.

The DO’s:

  • Trust your flex workers.
  • Focus on your management/leadership skills and manage by objectives and results, building strong trusting relationships and empowering employees.
  • Outline how success/performance will be measured. Set clear expectations and clear, measurable objectives.
  • Set core hours based on operational requirements and communicate service standards and expectations to employees.
  • Communicate on a regular basis. Let the flex workers know your expectations and that you’re there for them.
  • Establish standards for communications within workgroups; schedule regular updates with employees both individually/team; identify methods and frequency for communication.
  • Provide regular feedback
  • Include your flex worker in goal setting.
  • Delegate assignments fairly among all employees.
  • Include the flex workers in day-to-day activities; keep on the lookout for clues that a flexible worker is feeling isolated.
  • Expect that things will not go smoothly all the time. Consider opportunities for learning and debriefs with the team to help with continuous improvement and communication.
  • Be prepared to let the employee adjust or cancel the arrangement – or look to discuss to adjust or cancel it yourself – if it is clearly not working in its current form. Document and discuss issues and attempt to address them before making this determination.
  • Ensure flex worker has regular “in office” time or meetings to maintain ties. Consider other opportunities for connection and culture building.

The DON’Ts:

  • Don’t just say no to a flexible work proposal – review it with the requester and give clear feedback if you are denying it, or modify if there’s an opportunity for an acceptable compromise.
  • Don’t just check up on your flex worker, e.g., calling early in the morning to make sure they are at work.
  • Check-in instead! See how things are going and if they need any support. Don’t ignore your flexible work workers.
  • Don’t allow one unsuccessful attempt to give flex work a bad name.
  • Don’t expect everyone to want to be a flex worker.

Please visit the templates webpage for the downloadable templates.

For Employees

Issue Possible solution
You are concerned that your supervisor will turn down your request. Once you know what you want, take the time to explore the impact such an arrangement could have on your work unit. Talk to co-workers and think it through for yourself. Use information contained in this guide to assess yourself and your interests. By being prepared, you are demonstrating the responsibility needed to support successful flexible work arrangements.
Your supervisor turns down all or part of your request. Ask for reasons if they are not provided. Try to address specific issues raised, and perhaps modify your request. Be open for discussion and some compromise. Be open to the possibility that such an arrangement may not work for your job or work unit at this time, depending on the nature of your role.
You are not sure if a flexible work arrangement is worth all the work it requires to put it in place. Most flex workers wish they had done it earlier, and find they focus better on their job and are more productive. A trial period allows you to test out whether it is worth it for you and adjust for any changes that would benefit you and your work unit.

 

Coordination of work

 

Issue Possible solution
Co-workers express reservations about your work arrangements. Begin by recognizing your co-workers’ contributions to making your arrangement work. Recognize that you have to be flexible yourself for others to be flexible in helping to establish these arrangements. It may be necessary to come to key meetings on remote workdays or times when there are scheduling conflicts. You can also gain support within your work unit by asking co-workers for their opinion. Listen to the feedback, both positive and negative. Find ways to address concerns and discuss what modifications you can make to work around these issues.
Co-workers tell you they don’t know your schedule. Stay in touch with your colleagues. Post your schedule in a place where others will see it or where they can find it easily. A shared electronic calendar is a great way to keep each other informed. 

The DO’s:

  • Value your flexible work arrangement and commit to success by meeting the expectations outlined by your supervisor.
  • Take the time to explore how your flexible work arrangement could affect your work and be prepared.
  • Ask co-workers for their opinion to gain support on your work arrangement – whether it’s a team or individual request.
  • If not all parts of your request for a flexible work arrangement are approved, modify your request.
  • Stay in touch with your colleagues and communicate your schedule through tools such as outlook calendar, voicemail, email, or Microsoft Teams.
  • Be flexible in helping to establish your colleague’s work arrangements.
  • Communicate regularly on how the arrangement is going with your supervisor.
  • Cancel or revisit the arrangement if it is not meeting your needs.
  • Employees are responsible for informing individuals who set up meetings of work schedule and ensure calendar is up to date.
  • Remember that flexible work arrangements are a privilege.

The DON’Ts:

  • Shift your schedule daily without communicating to your team and manager.
  • Cancel important meetings scheduled on your work from home day.
  • Notify your manager of a need to work from home on short notice.
  • Don’t expect perfection – allow adjustment.

Please visit the templates webpage for the downloadable templates.

Productivity and well-being best practises

Questions? Contact us!

Melanie Garaffa headshot

Melanie Garaffa

Associate Director, Talent, Equity and Development, Organizational Development

Christine Costa headshot

Christine Costa

Organizational Design and Development Consultant

headshot of Kyle Armstrong

Kyle Armstrong

Program Manager (Acting), Engagement and Wellness