Resources for Safe Return to Campus
Sent on: July 7, 2021
We hope this message finds you enjoying your summer and taking time for some fun and relaxation before we shift our attention to preparing for the return to campus and start of the academic year.
As Dr. Washington noted in his June 28th message, the university is focused on a return to campus for the fall 2021 semester that will pilot a hybrid work environment that supports and encourages up to two (2) days a week of telework. This hybrid model presents an opportunity to provide the flexibility faculty and staff need as they transition back to the workplace and strive to meet personal and professional responsibilities.
The flexibility of work schedules will be a critical part to a successful hybrid workplace, so changes have been made to the process and associated forms that establish a telework or remote work arrangement. If an employee will be teleworking (working at an alternate approved site that may be their home, another Mason campus, or other supervisor-approved location), they will need to first complete a new Employee Telework Self-Assessment to help determine and assess the responsibilities that can be performed via telework. Additionally, a new Manager Telework Assessment will help supervisors to more accurately assess the feasibility of these arrangements and manage performance. These assessments will guide the conservations that will design the telework agreement and ensure that it provides clarity on the individual’s role and their role within the larger team. The Telework Agreement then serves to memorialize what was agreed upon in these conversations and to facilitate evaluation of the arrangement at future milestones.
We also recognize there may be individual situations that have resulted in an employee’s move or relocation to a different state, while maintaining employment with Mason, and have updated our Remote Work Agreement and the approval process for these arrangements. This change is to make sure we are properly noting when an employee’s work location is in a different state, as different laws and regulations may apply, and different tax consequences incurred.
Accommodation, Adjustment, Modification (AAM) Process
As faculty and staff work with their supervisors on their individual and team work schedules, there may be continued need for some type of accommodation, adjustment or modification (AAM) to support their ability to perform their job. Recognizing the changes that have (and may continue to occur) around COVID-19, the process of requesting an AAM will change and the form(s) updated appropriately. Going forward, if an employee needs to submit a request for an accommodation or flexibility based on a personal medical condition, those reasonable accommodation requests will be handled and decided by the ADA coordinator in the Office of Compliance, Diversity, and Ethics. If an employee needs to submit a request for an adjustment or modification due to the medical condition of a member of their family, someone they live with, or someone for whom they provide care, those requests will be handled by the benefits team in HR and Payroll. The new AAM Request Form is being finalized and will be active and available July 16th.
Supports and Resources
Lastly, we want to offer support and resources to help address some of the challenges that might arise as we perform our individual job responsibilities and work as a member of a team in this “new” way. We will be expanding our playlist of resources in MasonLeaps and offering additional workshops and programs to help tackle a variety of issues unique to the hybrid work environment - to include employee engagement, managing performance of hybrid teams, optimizing virtual meetings, and many more. We have also created a training specifically for supervisors to provide guidance on policies and practices that should inform their decision making and help them handle employee’s workplace questions and/or concerns. The Fall 2021 Supervisor Return to Work training will be accessible via MasonLeaps on July 9. View our Safe Return to Campus page on July 9 for the training details. We will also host three (3) open forums beginning the week of July 19 that will cover the guidance shared in this training and answer questions that surface. The dates and times of these forums will be shared in a separate email with a link for registration via MasonLeaps.
It is our hope that these different resources and tools are helpful and support faculty and staff in transitioning into the hybrid work environment. We are certain there will be lessons learned along the way – as there are with all pilots – and we encourage you to share your feedback as we go along to help us understand what worked well, what was challenging, and other resources or support may be helpful. Even though there may be some uncertainty around what this transition may bring, we in HR & Payroll are committed to partnering with and supporting faculty and staff to successfully work in a hybrid environment and thrive together.
Looking forward to seeing you on campus,
Lester L. Arnold, Sr.
CHRO | Vice President for Human Resources and Payroll
Shernita Rochelle Parker, JD
Deputy CHRO | Asst. Vice President, HR Strategy & Talent Management