UC Berkeley staff encouraged to work remotely to curb coronavirus spread

Associate Vice Chancellor of People and Culture Eugene Whitlock sent the following message to campus supervisor and managers on Friday, March 6, 2020:

We recognize that the COVID-19 outbreak and our decisions in response to that outbreak affect our entire community, including the staff, students, and faculty who work and study here. This means that for many of you, the steps we are taking to protect the health of our community may involve significant inconvenience and personal sacrifice. With your crucial assistance, we have managed our way through power outages, air-quality concerns, and more. Please accept our thanks for your continued cooperation, patience, and understanding.

As a reminder, people should not come to work if they feel ill. In addition, vulnerable populations, including older individuals and those with underlying medical conditions, should strongly consider ways to work remotely and limit exposure to the larger campus community.

Alternative Work Arrangements

We are encouraging all managers and supervisors to think creatively about how to support all their employees in caring for their health — and reducing their risk of exposure to COVID-19 — while still enabling them to continue to perform the important work they do.

One effective strategy for minimizing the spread of COVID-19 is greater “social distancing” through alternative work arrangements. In situations where work can temporarily be performed from home or an alternate location, we encourage managers and employees to work together to identify opportunities to allow employees to work remotely (telecommute). If alternative work arrangements are not a possibility, employees should continue to come to work as usual, unless the situation changes.

Social distancing can also be accomplished by using technology (Zoom or teleconferencing) to reduce the number of meetings involving large numbers of people.

Represented employees and student workers

Please be mindful that hourly, represented, and student workers may have different levels of job flexibility; hence, please take that into account in your strategy and responses.


For guidance on working remotely, please visit the Telecommunications Policy Website. For managers seeking additional guidance on how to manage remote workers, we encourage you to take advantage of our LinkedIn Learning resources. Technology-related guidance and resources for telecommuting are available on the Technology Resources page.

Please contact Regional HR managers or People & Culture for assistance in managing any employment-related issues.

Next steps

As we continue to work through the uncertainty caused by the spread of COVID-19, we hope that we can be sensitive to each other’s needs in this situation and make accommodations when we can. Campus leaders are continuing to meet daily to think through these issues and assess options should circumstances require the campus to take broad action to reduce potential exposure.

We have every confidence in our community’s ability to pull together with kindness, care, and compassion. And we count on every member of our community to guard against the stereotyping and xenophobia that sometimes accompany disease outbreaks.