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Alternative Work Strategies Policy Extension and Long-term Workforce Planning

The reality is that the ways in which we work are fundamentally changing.”

Dear staff,

Last summer, in response to the pandemic and other workplace dynamics, Northwestern implemented an Alternative Work Strategies policy that gave school and unit leadership the flexibility to implement unique workforce strategies — including but not limited to on-campus, hybrid and remote work — in accordance with their varied operational needs.

This policy empowered Northwestern’s successful return to in-person classes, services and activities in the fall. While some of us worked on campus throughout the pandemic, others came back to workspaces that had hardly been touched since March 2020 and once again interacted with colleagues we hadn’t seen in person in more than a year. Our collective return to campus marked a turning point in Northwestern’s response to COVID-19 and set the foundation for a successful academic year.

As many of us now begin planning for summer, we announce today that the Alternative Work Strategies policy will be extended through Aug. 31, 2022. While this policy continues to provide flexibility for remote work and each unit’s needs will differ, we know that in-person interactions are an essential part of fulfilling Northwestern’s mission. One of the qualities that makes Northwestern such a great place to work is the people. We encourage all staff to come to campus for work as frequently as their unit’s plan requires, and to look for additional opportunities in which working in-person can provide meaningful collaborations and synergies.

While Northwestern’s introduction of alternative strategies such as remote work was a response to the pandemic, the reality is that the ways in which we work are fundamentally changing. We know that for many of you, flexibility has become an important part of your job, and it is something the University can and will consider as we make plans for how Northwestern operates beyond the pandemic.

Over the coming months, the Office of Human Resources will engage with the community to better understand our challenges and opportunities and to plan long-term strategies around flexible work policies that balance the necessary and meaningful in-person interactions with continued opportunities for remote work. Our goal is to enhance Northwestern’s status both as an academic leader and as an employer of choice for talented and motivated individuals. We will share our learnings and our plans for fall and beyond no later than Aug. 1.

We thank you for your commitment to Northwestern and look forward to working with you as we develop our long-term strategies for staff success.