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Update on plans leading up to fall quarter for staff and faculty

Dear faculty and staff colleagues,

We would like to share the university’s plans for returning to on-site work this spring and for developing more flexible work arrangements for staff as we move toward our future and a new way of working at Stanford.

As you saw in a communication from the Provost earlier this week, we are planning for a fall quarter that is as close to normal as possible, with modifications as needed for our teaching and research activities and with more flexible work opportunities for our staff employees. The spring and summer quarters are an opportunity to challenge pre-pandemic business assumptions and begin looking at flexible work models for staff, testing a hybrid workplace that incorporates flexibility of time and place, on-site work, telecommuting and fully remote work options.

Supporting research and education – spring 2021 plans

Most staff continue to telecommute; faculty access to offices for research and scholarship expands

At the Campus Conversation on March 17, we shared the university’s gradual and measured approach to bring more employees back to campus. While our progress in the county and state is promising and the COVID vaccine rollout is accelerating, our community must remain diligent in restricting on-site access to those whose roles directly support the safety, well-being, teaching and residential experience for all of our students, as well research and patient care. This gradual approach, along with continued safety protocols such as testing, physical distancing and the use of face masks, will help minimize disruptions in the event of an increase or resurgence.

Additionally, we are in the process of evaluating whether we will have COVID-19 vaccination requirements for any on-campus populations once vaccines are fully and easily available to all. Right now, vaccination does not affect your on-site status nor change the protocols we are all expected to follow on campus. We will keep you informed as more decisions are made.

We expect most exempt and non-exempt staff to continue telecommuting through mid-June 2021. With more students returning to campus for the spring quarter and certain activities gradually resuming, more in-person staff may be needed to support the university’s operations. But, as has been the case up to now, each school/unit dean, vice provost, vice president or assigned designee is responsible for determining which roles need to return on-site based on university guidelines and the ability to ensure we can keep densities controlled. Staff employees should be in touch with their unit leadership if they have questions, and more information is available on the Cardinal at Work website.

We also know that many faculty are eager to have access to their offices for research and scholarship. The university has adopted an updated policy, effective the week of April 12, expanding access to academic office space, subject to local approval, for faculty, research staff, postdocs, graduate students and instructors. The policy gives local units responsibility for approving access to offices and provides guidelines for prioritizing requests. Researchers and instructors can learn more about the updated Office Policy guidelines on Cardinal Recovery.

Faculty are encouraged to keep in mind that many staff employees who support academic departments will continue to work remotely during the spring quarter, and that the return of staff employees to on-campus work is up to each school/unit vice president, dean or assigned designee.

Stanford’s long-term recovery – summer and fall 2021

Summer pilots leading to a new way of working for some staff in the fall

We know that many of you are looking forward to returning to your Stanford workplace, and for others, there may be a preference to continue telecommuting longer. For staff employees, a Flexible Work Committee made up of representatives from the Human Resources community, Land Buildings & Real Estate, Business Affairs and External Relations is working on implementing Flexible Work recommendations that were approved by university leadership in the winter. The plan being developed by the committee is based on a set of principles that will guide school/unit decisions on workplace flexibility for staff employees. These guiding principles take into account the university’s mission, considerations of equity and the diverse needs of our community, the overall employee experience, technology and system infrastructure, and the training and support needed to foster a new way of working. Our goal is to provide flexible work arrangements that allow us to excel in meeting both Stanford’s and school/unit business needs, as well as encourage work-life integration and support our workforce in addressing continuing affordability challenges.

The implementation will be phased, with limited return to on-site work in the spring, pilots and experimentation in the summer, and a more broad return to the workplace in the fall. As the committee develops the pilot process, organizations will have the opportunity to volunteer to return to the workplace in new ways. For instance, certain departments or groups may design staggered schedules where certain teams or portions of teams are on-site on different days or times. All pilots will be implemented by working with our building managers to ensure appropriate density requirements are not exceeded. The goal of these pilots will be to try out new ways of working, adjust groups and schedules, and determine technology, infrastructure and communication needs for flexible work.

Your role in the planning process

We will follow up again and share more about our flexible workplace plan and the return to on-site work in late spring. The latest information can also always be found on Stanford Today. Additionally, we will seek ongoing feedback throughout the process, which will inform the flexible work approach over time.

We look forward to the time when we may all gather and fully return to our workplaces and our beautiful campus. Until then, we thank you for your continued commitment and patience as we prepare for the fall and our long-term recovery.

Kind regards,

Persis Drell, Provost
Elizabeth Zacharias, Vice President for Human Resources