New remote work policy discussed by GOCC board

CENTREVILLE — A possible new policy for remote work at Glen Oaks Community College was discussed for the first time at GOCC’s Board of Trustees meeting Thursday.

No official action was taken on the draft policy, nor were details of it shared during Thursday’s meeting. However, HR Director Jamie Yesh said workplace flexibility was in “high demand” for many employees.

“The college has already lost several employees to other institutions or organizations that offer that flexibility, so it’s already starting to impact our staffing,” Yesh said. “They felt there was some opportunity for us to be able to offer that, if the pandemic has taught us anything, but we wanted to be able to put some guidelines and fence posts around it to make sure there was accountability, that productivity, efficiency, and service to our students is considered as we look at who can work remotely and who can’t.”

Currently, the draft of the policy is being circulated among staff for review and comment before a final approval at a later meeting of the board. Yesh said the policy is specifically for salaried administrators, as whether faculty work remotely or not is determined by the academic schedule and the collective bargaining agreement between the college and the faculty. Hourly employees are not covered under the policy as well.

Prior to the draft being presented to the board, GOCC President Dr. David Devier said, there were “heated discussions” about what to do at the leadership level with a “broad range of thoughts” about the subject of remote work. He also mentioned some groups of employees, such as maintenance workers and janitors cannot work remotely, and mentioned it was true the college “let people go home during the worst days of COVID.”

One of the issues that brought the situation “to a head,” as Devier called it, was that there was interest among a “small number” of employees to not return back in person, saying they worked better remotely than in person, and that there wasn’t a policy to cover remote work.

“This is an attempt to try, as Jamie said, to put up some fences to make it plausible to do it, and there will still be quite a bit of supervisory oversight and input,” Devier said.

Trustee Carol Higgins said this issue is an important one to deal with.

Yesh said one of the concerns she’s heard the most from employees is that some people can work remote and some people can’t work remote, adding that certain groups and positions adapt better than others to remote work.

“When we consider the issue of is that fair or is it not fair, I look at the flipside of that same coin: is it fairer to the nine employees who have that capability than to deny them that flexibility? It’s a hard balance for sure,” Yesh said.

Devier observed there wasn’t any “resistance” to the idea from the board. Board Chair Bruce Gosling agreed, noting that remote work was the “wave of the future.”

“Definitely, the wave of the future is the way to go,” Gosling said.

In other business…

  • The board heard a presentation from Glen Oaks Community College Foundation Director Vonda Marrow updating them on the foundation’s activities and accomplishments from the last few years.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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