Eugene Whitlock, chief people and culture officer, and Ben Hermalin, vice provost for the faculty, sent the following message to faculty and staff on Monday:
In the coming months, although the public health crisis will continue to evolve, the campus will begin gradually increasing on-campus operations, consistent with orders issued by public health authorities, and in close coordination with them. We are writing today to share information and direction on how we will proceed.
Those who can work from home should continue to do so
Between now and January 1, 2021, we expect those employees whose work can effectively and efficiently be performed remotely to continue to work from home. We anticipate that most employees who are working remotely right now will continue to work remotely through the end of the calendar year, although that period could be shorter if pandemic conditions improve and longer if pandemic conditions worsen.
We appreciate that some employees would like to return to their campus offices in the near future, but it will not be possible to accommodate all requests given a decision to keep the population density of campus buildings lower than normal throughout the fall term. Keeping the density low helps to slow the rate of potential COVID-19 transmission within the campus community. For this reason, many employees will likely be directed to work off-campus even if public health officials lift or lighten restrictions concerning on-site work. The determination of your appropriate work location should be made in collaboration with your supervisor (manager, department chair, etc.).
Some additional staff and faculty will transition from working at home to working on campus
There is work that can only be performed on campus (on-site) or that is more efficiently or effectively performed on-site. As permitted by public health guidelines, some of that work has continued to be performed on campus even while the shelter-in-place orders have been in effect. Some of that work has not been due to public health restrictions. As public health restrictions ease, more on-site work will resume and we will be asking those employees who have not been on-site, but whose work can only be performed efficiently or effectively on-site to return to campus to work. Please be assured that we are implementing the health and safety measures that need to be in place before we can ask and allow employees to return to on-site work. Those measures include employee self-screening for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure, enhanced cleaning of buildings, training of employees about new health and safety procedures, and the provision of required face coverings.
We expect managers, department chairs, and others with supervisory responsibility (“supervisors”) to do their best to limit the number of people who are required to come to campus. We also expect them to work with employees to help them manage difficult situations. Supervisors should be willing to accept some loss of performance efficiency in order to retain experienced and skilled employees who have temporary limitations due to COVID-19. Supervisors will only be permitted to require the return to on-site work of those employees for whom being on-site is necessary.
Timing of return to work on campus
Beginning today and continuing in a phased manner over the next weeks and months, some employees will be asked to return to campus to work. We will be providing more details about that process in the coming days.
If you are unable to or do not want to return to work on campus
We realize that many employees face challenging dependent-care issues, are a person or share a household with a person who is in a group especially vulnerable to a severe COVID-19 infection, have concerns about having to rely on public transportation, or have other concerns about returning to campus to work.
If you believe that you have been incorrectly designated as someone for whom working on campus is necessary, we ask that you please discuss the situation with your supervisor. If you are unable to resolve the situation, you should consult with Employee and Labor Relations or the Academic Personnel Office, as appropriate.
It is our sincere hope that we will be able to meet the needs of our staff and faculty during these incredibly challenging times. We are working hard to balance those very real needs with the pressing need to continue the work of our University and remain true to our mission.