Answers to questions about alternative work pilot program

Written by 

UAB will launch a limited six-month pilot program Sept. 1 among  Workgroup A staff in some central administrative units to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of alternative work options for positions that do not require a daily on-site presence. Staff in schools and colleges, which are planning and adapting to start the fall semester, will have the opportunity to join the expanded pilot in January 2022.

At this time, UAB’s pilot is the only one among UA System campuses, and it is an opportunity for the university to take a unique leadership role in more formally studying logistics, measures of success, policies, benefits and implications of identifying long-term remote and hybrid work arrangements that are equitable and sustainable.  

The information gathered during the pilot will guide decisions on the future of remote/hybrid work structures as UAB strives to maintain excellence in every area of its mission and attract and retain top talent.

Some of the more frequently asked questions are answered here:

Q: Many employees worked remotely for nearly 17 months. Why do we need another pilot? 

In March 2020, UAB senior leaders decided to reduce the number of people on campus due to safety concerns. It was not a structured pilot, and there were no set measures or definitions of success.

During the past 17 months, feedback on this experience — from employees and supervisors — has been both positive and negative. Developing structure, guidelines and productivity measures to manage the program effectively in the future are some of the goals of this pilot.


Q: Why are the schools and colleges not included in the initial pilot? 

Staff in schools and colleges were originally included in Phase I of the pilot, but the resurgence of COVID through the Delta variant made the Sept. 1 start date unrealistic for schools, which are starting the fall semester. Academic units will have the opportunity to join the pilot in January 2022.


Q: Why does the pilot program only allow 5% of a workgroup to be fully remote and 25% to have a hybrid schedule?

A pilot, by definition, is limited in scope and time, and this size will enable us to maintain a strong on-site presence and assess the long-term benefit and viability of remote/hybrid work for UAB. Finding the proper balance to support all aspects of the UAB mission is essential and aligns with the university’s shared values of stewardship and accountability.


Q: If the Workforce App says I am eligible, why does my supervisor say I am not?

The UAB Employee Workforce App identifies job titles/roles that can be considered for an alternate work schedule in Phase I, but any proposed hybrid or remote work schedule must be made based on the business need of the job, work group and institution.

Supervisors are encouraged to exercise discretion to determine the unit staffing structure that is best for the institution, and not all eligible units will select individuals to participate in the pilot.


Q: Will UAB use a single method to assess productivity? 

No. UAB will not require a specific tool. Options are included in the tool kit for participating leaders, but they will determine the productivity tool(s) that work best for their teams.


Q: Have decisions been made regarding the equipment provided or space allocated to employees working remotely? 

Any long-term decisions, such as space and equipment purchases, will be delayed until the pilot results have been reviewed and decisions on work arrangements are final. 


Q: If my department is not participating in the pilot, can I make other changes to the five-day, normal business hour week?

Staggered schedules and flexible work hours are options that supervisors may use to support business operations, but they are not intended to supplement the scope of the pilot.


Answers to other questions are included in the UAB Reporter’s recap of the Aug. 17 Town Hall.