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University of Maryland University College, the Adelphi-based online school with satellites spanning three continents, is preparing for employee growth with plans to revamp its workspaces and allow 20 percent of employees to work remotely.


The nation's largest public university (95,000 students) currently has 1,307 employees but projects a 20 percent increase to 1,565 within 10 years. On Thursday, UMUC officials told the University System of Maryland Board of Regents finance committee that they plan to maximize the use of their current facilities through shifts in workflow.

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UMUC officials outlined three options, all of which called for allowing 20 percent of their employees to work remotely.

Two options called for 80 percent of employees to still work primarily in an office but in converted spaces that UMUC officials called "work/learn locations" that can be used as both an office and classrooms.

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"It takes the old, traditional-style classroom and converts it into the new way of working and learning in the same space," said UMUC President Javier
Miyares.

"Tables and chairs will be arranged to fit the normal learning environment for faculty and students," Miyares said. On days the rooms are not being used for class
instruction, they can be used by employees who normally work away from the office, Miyares said.

One of the three options does call for the school to lease or acquire new facilities.

Still, Miyares said all three options will reduce the number of commutes and thereby reduce emissions, increase schedule flexibility and improve employee satisfaction.

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Two of the options, Miyares said, would also make the school more attractive to employees, Miyares said, and it means the school would be able to accommodate a 20 percent increase in work force "without needing any new facilities."

"The goals for the UMUC Facilities Master Plan are to manage growth through space utilization," said Miyares. "We also have as a goal to be an employer of choice, to provide flexible work schedules."

Regent committee member Frank Kelly Jr. questioned whether the move of 20 percent of employees from traditional work stations to one where they would have fewer face-to-face interaction would affect a workforce.

Miyares said that already many employees, particularly of younger generations, are accustomed to using social media for communication and their work day would be an extension of that. He added, "In the days they come to work, those collaboration areas will be used for them to work together."

joseph.burris@baltsun.com

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