Guidance for Telecommuting

University Human Resources has established guidance for working off campus, leave policies and resources for telecommuting.

Guidance for Telecommuting

Until further notice, Brown University faculty and staff who can telecommute to complete their work — in full or in part as determined by their supervisor — should continue to do so. During the pandemic, policy guidelines for approving telecommuting as an Alternative Work Assignment (AWA) have been relaxed to allow work on a remote basis while employees also provide childcare and eldercare. To confirm Alternative Work Assignment approval, an employee can rely on their supervisor’s communication that they can telecommute. Visit the Human Resources website to learn more about the University’s Alternative Work Assignments policy.

Managers are encouraged to maintain a sense of connection and community by holding meetings via Zoom, which allows up to 300 participants to participate in a live web video or audio conference. Features include multiple screen-sharing, chat, video sharing, mobile collaboration including co-annotation, and recording to the cloud or to your computer. Robust mobile apps for iOS and Android devices are available. New to Zoom? Start here.

This other sections of this page provide other telecommuting information and tips. Employees can also access the Redefining the Way We Work training module in Workday (requires authentication), and download a Tips and Best Practices for Working Remotely guide from University Human Resources and keep it in your work area for easy reference.

Computer Use, Network Security, and Mobile Resources

For guidance related to using computing equipment and technology during telecommuting, consult the Telecommuting Guide from the CIS IT Service Center, which outlines resources for working away from your primary work location.

Office Equipment and Furnishings

The following provides guidance relative to staff and faculty requests for furnishings for working from home:  

  • All Brown employees (faculty and regular staff) may temporarily remove computer equipment from their workspace and bring it to their home for use to perform their Brown work functions, as outlined in the “Using your campus computer equipment to work from home” process announced by CIS Sept. 8, 2020.
  • Faculty and staff who need special accommodation or equipment to work from home because of accessibility issues or disability should work through the Employee Accommodation Services process managed by University Human Resources.
  • All faculty and staff who are working remotely may remove their office chair and temporarily bring it to their home under the following conditions: a) they coordinate one-time access to their workspace with their supervisor in conjunction with their department's schedule; and b) department managers are responsible for tracking which employees have removed their office chair.
  • Departments may not order extra computers or computing equipment (supplemental to existing equipment), chairs, desks, or other furnishings, for employee offices or employees’ home use without written approval from either Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Barbara Chernow or Provost Richard M. Locke.  

For general tips on telecommuting, see the Telecommuting Tips section of this page.

Submitting Time for Pay and Leave

It is legally required that employees who are eligible for overtime who perform telecommuting work assignments must submit time for all hours worked in accordance to the University’s payroll deadline dates. Information about the University’s payroll deadline dates.

All employees approved for a telecommuting work assignment will be required to submit time off for vacation, sick, floating holiday, or Special Leave.

Access to Work Files

Review digital and non-digital files to ensure that they can be securely accessed. Create a list of non-digital files and submit that list to your supervisor before the start of a telecommuting work assignment.

Department Communications

Review upcoming in-person meetings that can be conducted virtually and inform meeting participants of the change to a virtual meeting as soon as possible. In accordance to previous University guidance, upcoming department events or programs should be either rescheduled or canceled.

Determine how incoming daily mail will be managed, including transitioning invoicing or bill payment to digital operations, where possible. If necessary, determine specific times throughout the work day that non-digital correspondences will be sent via email to respond to urgent mail correspondences.   

We do not advise staff to attempt forwarding your Brown phone offsite, as a large number of forwarded numbers may overload the phone network. Instead, follow the phone communications tips in the Telecommuting Guide.

Department Staffing Coverage

Create a list of back-up coverage of all staff members to manage scheduled absences in order to prevent minimal disruption to department operations. 

Telecommuting Tips

  • Set and maintain a work schedule. While flexibility may be needed throughout your day, recognize and respect regular working hours. Schedule time on your calendar for lunch and regular breaks, if appropriate.   
  • Ensure that tasks can be managed in a timely way and set aside time periodically to respond to emails while managing meetings and calls during work hours.
  • Create a workspace where work can be conducted without interruption or distractions and where non-digital files can be stored securely within the workspace.  
  • Ensure that workplace routines can be maintained to the best extent possible. If you are eligible for overtime, you will need to commit to taking your lunch and other work breaks at the same time. Overtime will continue to require advance approval from your supervisor.
  • If caring for others in your household, inform them of your need to respond to calls and meetings without distraction, so expectations are clear as far in advance as possible.

For additional questions regarding telecommuting at Brown, please contact University Human Resources (UHR) at [email protected] or (401) 863-2141.

Last updated January 7, 2021. Information on this page may be updated as the University’s planning evolves and/or public health guidance prompts a shift in Brown’s operations and protocols.