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Working Forward

Re: Working Forward
To: All Staff
April 26, 2021
 
Dear Campus Colleagues,
 
UC Merced is on a rapid trajectory to increase student enrollment and success and to advance research productivity. To continue to excel on the heels of a global pandemic, we must begin to return additional staff safely to on-site work in support of our core mission.
 
Student instruction in Fall 2021 will be delivered primarily in person, the number of students living on campus will increase significantly, and additional researchers and faculty members are already returning to campus under approved plans to ramp up on-site work. As more students and faculty return and as students move back into the community, staff support will be critical.
 
It is no surprise that the increase in remote service delivery throughout the pandemic has changed stakeholders' views about providing and receiving remote vs. in-person services. As we continue to learn, we must continue to adapt. Tapping into a growth mindset, we are asking that division and school leads work with their unit managers and employees to think creatively and critically about service delivery modalities, and to develop work plans for staff over the next several weeks (here is the timeline for the process). The request is for leaders to work with their teams to create plans that balance service needs, staff contributions to on-site vibrancy and individual staff flexibility.
 
Some feel that despite how the pandemic has changed us, the need for in-person human connectedness has never been greater. Others feel that 100% remote work allows them to be the most productive and connected version of themselves in the workplace. It also is important to acknowledge we each have varying life circumstances that shape our views on returning to on-site work. Equity is driven by these varying circumstances and a single solution may not work for everyone.
 
As plans are developed to start returning more staff to on-site work beginning July 1, it is important that managers provide a space for employees to share their thoughts and feelings about returning to the workplace.
 
Returning to on-site work is not a flip-the-switch moment. Industry best practices tell us that on-site work should focus on collaboration and networking, both of which are critical to advancing organizational goals. As a campus community we will need to identify purposeful, high-collaboration on-site work as we create new norms for our operations. As always, our continued planning for return to on-site work will be informed by state and local health guidelines. We will continue to share details about campus planning by email and in town hall meetings for faculty, staff and students.
 
Please use this Thought Guide as a resource to help develop your on-site plan for safely and successfully re-engaging with on-site work and supporting those who have hybrid work schedules. And please visit the Working Forward section of the Campus Ready site for more information.
 
Next week, we will offer additional resources around hybrid work options and further guidance about ergonomics and workstations.
 
Thank you,
 
Luanna K. Putney, Ph.D.
Interim Chief Human Resources Officer