Remote Work - Business Expenses

Guiding Principles

The University of Minnesota’s Work. With Flexibility guidelines provide employees with options for both where and when work takes place.  The University will continue to provide space, office furnishings, and appropriate equipment for faculty, staff, and student workers who choose to work on campus.  Individuals who choose to work from a remote location should understand that they will be responsible for most expenses related to their remote work location.  

This spending is guided by the Business Expense policy. The following information is specific to business expenses related to remote or flexible work arrangements. This is intended to minimize additional costs to the institution, ensuring that the University is not doubling the costs for office space, furniture, and equipment. 

Technology - Equipment

Only one package of equipment, including a computer workstation and software consistent with what would be provided in an on-campus work space, will be provided by the University.  All equipment located off-site should be secured in the remote work location and must not be used by the employee or others for personal purposes.

If the University provides equipment, the individual employee assigned the equipment is responsible for safe transportation and set-up of such equipment. 

Equipment that is purchased with University funds (including discretionary, start-up, and sponsored funds) and used at a remote work location must be returned when the individual is no longer employed by the University or changes departments.  If any equipment is not returned within five business days a bill will be sent to the employee for the value of the equipment.

Departments may create common use or shared workspaces on campus for remote workers to use while on campus.  These shared spaces should not cause departments to incur significant additional costs.

Technology - Services

The University does not pay for any telephone or internet services, including equipment or installation for such services for remote work.  

Office Furniture

The employee is responsible for establishing, paying, and maintaining an adequate remote workspace.  

For existing employees already working remotely as of August 2, 2021 who will continue to work remotely, if they already have University-owned furniture at their remote work location, it is acceptable to continue to use the furniture at the remote work location. When the individual is no longer employed by the University or changes departments the furniture must be returned. If any furniture is not returned to the University within five business days a bill will be sent to the employee for the value of the furniture.

Office Supplies

Employees must obtain any necessary office supplies from their primary campus location. Out-of-pocket expenses for supplies will not be reimbursed unless pre-approved by the Chief Financial Manager for the college or administrative unit. All supplies should be secured in the remote work location and must not be used by the employee or others for personal purposes.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is it allowable for the University to purchase technology for an employee to use for personal use and reimburse the University?

    The University cannot make purchases for employees to use for personal use.  This would be a violation of the University’s tax exempt status.

  2. Is a printer considered allowable equipment to be used at home?

    Any work that would require printing and distributing documents should happen at a campus location.

  3. Can a department provide laptops to be checked out by employees who will work at a remote location for a day or two?

    Departments may choose to offer laptops or other equipment to employees to use on a temporary basis, however, departments should ensure that the creation of a pool of equipment for checkout is of minimal cost to the department.

  4. What kind of ergonomic support will be offered to employees in remote work locations?

    The Department of Environmental Health & Safety (DEHS) can assist with ergonomic guidance, training, and assessments.  Any purchases of furniture or equipment for remote work locations are the employee’s responsibility.

  5. An employee will be working at a remote location 100% of the time.  Can a department pay for a desk, chair, or other furniture for the employee?

    Employees are choosing to work at a remote location 100% of the time and therefore, it is not the University’s responsibility to pay for their office furniture.

  6. An employee had an office chair at home during the pandemic and will now continue to work remotely.  Can they continue to use the chair at home?

    Employees who were employed and working remotely prior to August 2, 2021, brought furniture or equipment home to use and will continue to work remotely may continue to use their University-owned furniture or equipment at home.  If at any time that furniture breaks, or can no longer be used, it will be the employee's responsibility to pay for any new furniture that will be used at the remote work location.

  7. If an employee has an office chair at home and they change jobs or departments, what should they do with the University-owned office chair?

    The office chair should be returned to the department that paid for the chair.  If the employee will continue to work remotely they will be responsible for furniture expenses related to their remote work location.

  8. Can an employee claim mileage reimbursement if they are traveling for a one-day professional development workshop?

    Yes, Mileage for professional development is allowed.

  9. Can an employee claim mileage reimbursement if they need to make a trip to the post office, or office supply store?

    Local mileage reimbursement is no longer allowed.

  10. Can an employee who works a flexible work schedule be reimbursed for parking when they come to campus?

    Parking as part of a daily commute is the responsibility of the employee. 

    Parking when visiting off-site locations for work is allowable. 

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