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Faculty and Staff: New Alternative Work Strategies Policy and Planning Updates

Dear faculty and staff,

As the public health environment continues to improve, and we plan not only for Fall but also for a future through and beyond COVID-19, we are very pleased to share with you a new policy and planning framework that will support our safe return to campus and long-term workplace strategies.

The COVID-19 pandemic precipitated fundamental changes in the way we teach learn, and collaborate with one another. While the impetus for these changes was protecting the health and well-being of our community, the extended period of remote work revealed new capabilities and provided a unique opportunity to rethink the traditional workplace environment.

We have developed a new Alternative Work Strategies Policy based on many of our lessons from the past year. The policy will go into effect July 6, 2021.

We recognize that for many, this return to in-person operations will mark a change in your personal and professional routines. The return to campus will be a significant—and perhaps challenging—adjustment for some. That is why we are approaching the return deliberately and strategically over the coming months.

This policy preserves the value that is unlocked through our in-person interactions, which define Northwestern as a community. It also gives Northwestern’s schools and units the flexibility to support a variety of goals related to staff engagement and well-being, recruitment and retention, sustainability, service excellence, cost management, space utilization and the overall enhancement of the employment experience. At the same time, our expectation is that most staff will continue to work on site at designated campus locations for a majority of their work week.

Over the next several weeks, schools and units will develop Post-Pandemic Plans in which they will outline work expectations, including use of Alternative Work Strategies. Schools and units are encouraged to engage staff in open dialogues regarding the implementation of Alternative Work Strategies as part of their business and talent strategies.

As Northwestern explores new ways of working, we realize that our initial plans will need to evolve. Post-Pandemic Plans will be phased in between July 6 and Sept. 7, with the expectation of a full return to campus following the Labor Day holiday. Additionally, the Northwestern University Staff Advisory Council (NUSAC) recently sent a survey to all staff to assess attitudes toward and experiences with Alternative Work Strategies. We plan to incorporate results of the survey in our ongoing assessment of the effectiveness of the Alternative Work Strategies Policy. We will also ask schools and units to assess their Post-Pandemic Plans at key milestones.

Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we navigate new possibilities together. We appreciate your ongoing dedication to our shared mission. Your contributions remain as important as ever to build upon our experiences of the past 14 months.

Best wishes,

Kathleen Hagerty
Provost and Professor

Craig Johnson
Senior Vice President for Business and Finance

Manuel Cuevas-Trisán
Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer