STAFF MATTERS: Time is right to talk about time


The week following the switch back to standard time from daylight saving time is difficult, with many making changes in their routines. In an evolving workforce, some have the opportunity to make these adjustments a little easier.

Increasingly, employers are being more flexible with their employees and their time, providing options for employees to adjust their work schedules to meet personal needs, allowing for better work-life balance. This flexibility takes the form of completing the established number of weekly hours and work expectations in a variety of ways outside of the standard 9-5 framework — longer days (four 10-hour days), later or earlier start times, virtual work, etc.

More remote work opportunities are being offered as well. Many jobs can be done outside of the traditional workplace/office environment, and Pitt has already become a part of the trend, having established the Working from Remote Locations Policy in May 2017.

Beyond better opportunities for work-life balance, getting to Oakland, in particular, is difficult. There are short-term traffic challenges like building construction on Forbes Avenue and road improvements to Bigelow Boulevard.

Long-term institutional planning recognizes Pitt’s impact on Oakland through parking and transportation. Going even further, working space on campus is increasingly more difficult to come by. Allowing people to work from home or “hoteling” desk space can alleviate space concerns and facility costs. Flex work and telework opportunities can help alleviate the pressure on Oakland.

Transitioning to a more progressive work environment requires a mindset shift in the way we think about employee efficiency, outputs and their well-being. While some work is already done to codify new opportunities (Remote Work Policy above), everyone can play a role in reimagining work at Pitt.

Staff: Have the discussion with your supervisor if one of these arrangements can work for you. Develop strategies for ease of communication and to ensure that your work objectives will still be met. Build your case. Be honest with yourself about how it might play out. We know you’re not trying to get out of coming to Oakland — our campus is a beautiful place to work (and in case you need a reminder, Staff Council is hosting campus tours for staff this month).

Supervisors: Listen to your employees and give honest feedback. Be creative about your teams and office structure. University policy dictates that department administrators may use their discretion to make flexibility a part of the work environment. No arrangement needs to be set in stone. Adjustments can be made if it doesn’t meet your needs.

Directors, department heads and administrators: Trust your supervisors and employees. Let them find new ways to approach the work environment in different ways. Be supportive of moving toward a more inclusive and diverse workplace, supporting child and elder care needs for staff. All of this, while increasing employee satisfaction and contributing to the retention and recruitment of talented staff. Take ownership of your successes (and misses) and talk about them to colleagues, University leaders and Staff Council. (We want to hear about it!)

We invite you to attend our next monthly general meeting from noon to 1 p.m. Nov. 20 in 102 Benedum Hall. Future meetings are on the University calendar.

Follow @upstaffcouncil on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, or share your thoughts or concerns by emailing, calling 412-624-4236, or by visiting our office in B39 of the Cathedral of Learning.

Andy Stephany is the president of Staff Council. He is also an associate administrator in the Department of Medicine.