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Cornell University

Working Remotely at Facilities and Campus Services

Working Remotely at Facilities and Campus Services

August 2021


Facilities and Campus Services (FCS) has realized great benefits for both Cornell and our employees by utilizing a combination of on-site and remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic. This workplace model allowed for broader utilization of remote work arrangements as well as a front line staff who safely managed a 24/7 operation with significant team collaborations that kept our campus operating during the pandemic and while meeting ever changing needs. This hybrid model of remote and on-site working has demonstrated a continued ability to achieve excellence in the services we offer to the university community.

FCS Leadership supports flexible work arrangements for its workforce, where feasible, based upon organizational goals, position roles and responsibilities, and individual performance and preference. Position responsibilities within the division have been evaluated to determine if, and to what degree, remote work can successfully be performed. Employees whose roles have been determined to allow for any degree of ongoing remote work will be provided the option of utilizing remote work to the degree their responsibilities will support, as well as contingent upon their individual ability to continue working remotely. This flexible work approach is designed in a manner that allows staff to achieve high productivity and business results while providing increased work/life support.

FCS’s current remote work model is a pilot and will be re-evaluated in the spring of 2022.  In addition, federal and local health agency recommendations will continuously be referenced to inform decisions.

As per Cornell Flexibility in the Workplace Policy, FCS may discontinue any arrangement at any point if the arrangement is no longer meeting the needs of the organization and/or the individual in the role is not meeting the expectations of the position.

This document will outline FCS standards for this workplace model.  

Remote Work Options by Category

The types of work or activities that will require a physical on-site presence and those that require occasional or no on-site presence are identified below. The university-wide categories have been defined as Hub, Hybrid, and Home.

  • Hub: Work responsibilities requiring 100% on-site presence (less than 15 days/year remote
  • Hybrid/Hub: Work responsibilities with the ability to partially work remotely (1-2 days remote) on a regular basic
  • Hybrid/Home: Work responsibilities with the ability to partially work remotely (3 or more days remote) on a regular basis
  • Home: Work responsibilities with the ability to regularly work 100% remotely

Hub Activities

  • Activities that cannot be performed (or are not best suited to be performed) remotely:
  • Activities requiring regular face-to-face contact with a supervisor, other employees, university community members, campus partners, or the public.
  • Activities requiring work on maintenance and cleaning of buildings, grounds, utility infrastructure, commuter, fleet, parking services, or campus mail.
  • Activities requiring work with equipment too large/expensive to bring home and/or share with others.
  • Activities requiring work with materials or supplies which need to remain at an on-site location.
  • Activities the employee cannot perform successfully remotely due to insufficient equipment such as no access to internet service.

Hybrid Activities

Activities that can be performed remotely include, but are not limited to:

  • Reading, writing, editing
  • Preparing presentations
  • Conducting meetings where virtual connection (Zoom/Teams) is a viable option
  • Accounting/finance
  • On-line research
  • Responding to customer inquiries
  • Programming; web/graphic design
  • Event planning

An employee working remotely may need to come to campus for certain activities within their job responsibilities, including but not limited to:

  • Attending certain meetings, trainings, or opportunities to collaborate with coworkers where the employee's physical presence would be more beneficial
  • Accessing files or materials kept on-site
  • Supervising employees who must work on-site
  • Occasions when an employee's home internet access has been interrupted or is insufficient for their successful performance

Employees and supervisors are expected to discuss those activities that necessitate on-site attention. Hybrid workers must have effective internet access in order to achieve high productivity and business results and must be highly autonomous for the work arrangement to be successful.

Home Activities

Home activities include anything the employee can accomplish using internet access and a computer. Fully remote and predominantly remote workers must have effective internet access in order to achieve high productivity and business results and must be highly autonomous for the work arrangement to be successful.

Fully Remote Workers:  Fully remote workers may be required to be present on campus occasionally. It will be the responsibility of the remote worker to make and fund their own travel arrangements if required to be present on campus. All fully remote workers must work within the United States of America.

Predominantly Remote Workers:  Predominantly remote workers may be required to be present on campus on days that are not their typical on-site day. It is the expectation that predominantly remote workers will will be flexible regarding their on-site schedules to accommodate business needs.  Supervisors are expected to be respectful to the existing schedules by providing as much notification as possible if alterations in schedules are needed.

Employees Working Out of State or Non-Commutable

Prior to any unit approvals for existing staff or new hires to work remotely outside of New York State, the unit must contact FCS Human Resources in advance before such approval can be granted. 

Some items the unit and FCS HR will consider include:

  • Can Cornell conduct business in the planned destination state?
  • Employee will still be subject to NYS employment taxes if the position home remains in Ithaca. This is determined by NY Convenience of the Employer Rule.
  • Are there extra expenses and/or challenging employment practices in the destination state/locale which may create too much of a burden on the department?

Those employees who have been approved to perform all activities at home, and who work or plan to work outside of New York state, will be asked to follow Human Resources' Guidelines for Employees Working Outside New York State.  Employees are responsible for understanding tax-related implications of working at Cornell while living outside of the state and are strongly encouraged to speak with a personal tax expert. Employees who live outside of Ithaca or outside of the state will not be reimbursed for travel expenses if there is a need for travel to campus.

Remote Workforce Management

Supervisors who manage remote workers are not required to expend more effort to measure productivity than they expended in the on-site environment. Likewise, supervisors' expectations of their employees must not be more stringent or more lenient than they would be in an on-site situation. Significant concerns about an employee's performance will be addressed through the normal performance management process.

With this direction in mind, supervisors can measure productivity in a number of ways, including project milestones and completion, the number of issues resolved, the number of transactions  processed, deadlines met, feedback from campus partners/clients, communication, etc. The important thing to measure is work outcomes/results. For more guidance, refer to HR’s guidance on Managing Remote Teams and Expectations for employees.

Maintaining FCS Culture and Values

FCS is a values-based organization where teams are committed to fostering a culture of inclusion, embracing diversity, and treating each other with respect.  Our organizational values represent our expectations of how we work together to serve the University community and create a climate in which all staff can thrive and grow.

In a new workplace model where the staff population will work in a hub, hybrid/hub, hybrid/home, and home capacity, we must consciously consider how to maintain our values along with an engaged workforce where staff feel valued, respected and provided with equal opportunities, regardless of the work arrangement. Some areas to consider include:

  • Meetings – ensure all meetings (whether in-person or not) have a Zoom link provided.
    • Remote workers should not have to ask for a Zoom link to be generated.
    • Example: While you might think all participants are attending a meeting in-person, plans may change requiring someone to be remote. Having a Zoom link already available will help create an environment that embraces such flexibility.
  • Team connections for culture and collaborations.
    • Ensure opportunities for remote workers to share opinions and ideas.
    • Create opportunities for open dialogue and sharing.
  • Support supervisors on how to balance the needs of hub, hybrid/hub, hybrid/home, and home based employees.
  • Provide career development for all staff regardless of hub, hybrid/hub, hybrid/home, or home status.
    • Encourage staff to advocate for their own career development.
    • Provide opportunities for conversations or virtual networking.
    • Ensure all employees, regardless of work location, are equally considered for growth opportunities such as special projects, committees, or assignments.
    • Find opportunities, such as invitations to attend meetings, for all employees to gain exposure to leadership.
  • During large meetings such as Division meetings, discuss culture and new communication and connection norms.
    • Create a group to recommend ideas that might add to further success.
  • Recognition events at summer or winter gatherings – include options for remote workers to participate.

Employee Availability and Flexible Work Arrangements

Each unit within FCS may have its own core business hours.  It is the expectation that all remote workers (whether hybrid or fully remote) must still perform a full workday each day and must be available during unit-specific core business hours, unless other arrangements have been agreed upon.

Remote workers will be expected to respond to coworkers' and customers' inquiries in a consistent and timely manner during core business hours (except for periods of planned/unplanned absences) just as they would if they were on-site. Remote workers are expected to be available by phone, email, or collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

Employees who wish to request a flexible work arrangement (including a remote work arrangement and/or working outside of unit-specific core business hours), must discuss the situation with their supervisor and submit a flexible arrangement request form.   Note:  Options are being explored within Workday that may allow for flexible arrangements to be managed within Workday in lieu of completion of the flexible arrangement request form. As more information on this topic is available, it will be shared.

Equipment, Supplies, and Other Resources

FCS will work with employees whose primary work arrangement is remote (home or hybrid/home) to provide a Cornell-issued computer and related equipment (monitor, keyboard, mouse) where needed to perform the responsibilities of their position at their home work space.

FCS is not responsible for providing equipment for more than one work location. The work location being supported will be the primary work location.

Cornell supplies, computing equipment, and software are limited to work-related use and are not intended for the employee's personal use.  See Equipment and Workspace for more information.

Employees will be responsible, as normal, for maintaining the security and confidentiality of university files, data, and other information in the off-site workplace in accordance with the university's policy on information security. Confidential files or other sensitive materials must not be physically and permanently stored in the employee’s home and must be stored on-site or in digital format in a secure location. Guidance on storing data electronically is available on IT’s Regulated Data Chart.

All employees working remotely must return all Cornell-issued property upon separation (notes, data, reference materials, memoranda, reports, records, equipment, software, supplies,  etc.) in accordance with university policy.

All employees will be provided appropriate computer equipment and the necessary software and supplies needed to perform their required duties. Cornell does not supply internet or phone service, per University Policy 3.24, Mobile Communications Devices unless required by law in states outside of New York; therefore, all employees who will be working remotely are responsible for acquiring and maintaining an internet connection with sufficient bandwidth to perform their jobs.  All employees are expected to abide by the practices outlined in the Security Practices When Working from Home policy when using Cornell-issued computing equipment at an off-site location.

Equipment and Supplies

Staff who, during the pandemic, took equipment from their Cornell office will be expected to return those items to campus.

Staff whose predominant work location is remote, will be considered for a $500 taxable stipend (see Stipend Guidelines below) to purchase desired equipment.


Employees may pick up the following supplies that are already present in their specific unit office:

  • Pens/pencils/highlighters
  • Sticky notes (e.g., Post-It)
  • Paper
  • Notebooks
  • Binders
  • Folders
  • Batteries (for wireless mouse or keyboard)
  • Envelopes
  • Labels

Note: Printers, paper, ink/toner will not be available for those who are working predominantly remote.  If work responsibilities require significant printing, the remote work plan should be re-evaluated.

Stipend Guidelines

A one-time taxable $500 stipend will be considered for those employees who meet the qualifications listed below:

  • The employee’s predominant work location has been approved to be remote
  • Given the approval for predominant remote work, the employee will no longer maintain assigned, individual space at the university
  • The predominant work location is expected to continue for at least 12 months
  • The stipend will be offered to new hires working predominantly remote and/or employees newly moving into predominantly remote arrangements

The stipend will not be offered for retroactive remote work (e.g., those employees who worked remotely during the pandemic). Employees who leave the university will not be required to return the stipend or any equipment purchased with it.

Ergonomic Consultations

The employee will be responsible for proper ergonomic set-up. Virtual ergonomic consultations for home offices are available at no cost to departments or employees through Cornell's Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention Program (MIPP).  It is highly recommended that employees consult with MIPP prior to purchasing items with their one-time taxable $500 home workspace set-up stipend.  This consult can help identify the best equipment to meet their personal well being needs.

FCS will provide reasonable accommodations based on disabilities, as required by University Policy 6.13, Disability Accommodation. FCS’s ability to provide other recommended equipment based on a justifiable critical need is dependent on available resources and approvals, in accordance with HR’s guidance on Equipment and Workspace.


Those employees whose predominant work location is remote (Home or Hybrid/Home), will no longer maintain assigned, individual space at the university. FCS is exploring options for hoteling space.  Therefore, if hoteling space is necessary, remote workers should discuss this with their supervisor to identify a location(s) for their planned trips to campus.