An update from UC Berkeley leaders on a return to campus for faculty, staff

Benjamin Hermalin, UC Berkeley’s vice provost for the faculty, and Eugene Whitlock, chief people & culture officer, sent the following message to the campus community on Thursday:

We’re writing to provide an update on our planning to begin returning larger numbers of employees to on-site work to prepare for the return of students and “close-to-normal” operations for the Aug. 18 start of the fall semester.

Beginning on June 16, 2021, consistent with current guidance from the state of California, we anticipate permitting employees who previously were working remotely to return to on-site work on a voluntary basis, subject to their supervisor and business unit’s approval.

Beginning on July 12, 2021, most employees will be expected to return to regular on-site work unless they:

  1. Have entered into a flexible work agreement (which provides for flexible work schedules and/or remote work) with their supervisor covering the period starting July 12 (more information about the flexible work agreement process will be provided in the coming weeks); OR
  2. Have obtained an approved accommodation for a disability (staff process or faculty process) that limits their ability to work on-site.

This does not mean that all staff will need to return on-site full time; some will continue working remotely for all or part of their schedules. Summer instruction will continue to be remote (except for a few approved exceptions), and the expected return on July 12 does not apply to summer instructors, although they may choose to return to campus, e.g. to deliver remote instruction.

In addition, given how dynamic the current situation is, plans for the campus and for your particular business unit are likely to evolve. Units have been asked to start working on their plans now in order to support the start of the fall semester. More detailed information about the process to return to on-site work, both on June 16 and July 12, will come from your unit leadership and/or your supervisor in the coming weeks as they work to develop operational plans in their areas. Please be patient as your units develop these plans, understanding that they will need time to work out many details before individual work schedules can be finalized.

We anticipate that many employees may continue to work remotely or in a hybrid model; that is, being on-site some days, working remotely others. The UC Berkeley Future of Work Committee and the Deans’ Working Group on Future of Work are both thinking about what work will look like in the long term. By early June, the campus will issue guidelines and a Flexible Work Arrangement Toolkit, in addition to providing training, to help managers and their employees make decisions about flexible work arrangements such as flexible schedules and remote work. Until this guidance is ready, we have prepared a “quick start guide” to help you to begin thinking and talking about what work will look like for you and your team beginning in July.

Ultimately, decisions about who has to work where (on-site or remote) and when (traditional schedule or flexible schedule) will be made by managers and supervisors, in conjunction with their leadership, based on what is in the best interest of the university as we work together to serve our mission of teaching, research and public service.

Flexibility will continue

We want to acknowledge that some of you may find it hard to imagine returning to on-site work at this time. The plans outlined above are dependent on high vaccination rates and the lifting of most public health restrictions, including restrictions on meetings and physical distancing, by June 15. These plans also assume that dependent care will be more generally available, and/or schools reopening full time, by the fall. For those still looking for summer camps, we have gathered some links to summer camp information.

As has been the case throughout the pandemic, we will continue to encourage supervisors to offer compassion and flexibility when making staffing decisions for the foreseeable future and encourage remote work where possible until all pandemic measures have been lifted by state and local government.

Lastly, we want to take this moment to acknowledge the many individuals who have been working on-site throughout the pandemic. While most of us were able to work from home you were on-site daily. Thank you for all your efforts over the past year.