Now that the State of New Hampshire’s Stay-at-Home Order has been lifted, we can all begin to think about our return to work on campus. While there are still many questions about what work will look like for all of us over the next few months, and not all of us will be together on campus for some time to come, I write to provide some guidelines for returning, and to answer questions I have received about how work will be modified over the next few months.
Some of these guidelines may not apply to the work that you do, but may apply to co-workers or those you supervise. It is the College’s goal that all employees receive the same information so that everyone is aware of the College’s protocols and expectations.
I. Continuing to Work from Home
Many of you have been working from home, either on a full or partial schedule. In order to reduce the population on campus each day, and to make maintaining social distancing easier to accomplish, the College is encouraging employees to work with their supervisors and within departmental groups to allow employees to continue working from home when possible and desired. For now, and at least until students return, employees who are able to work effectively from home should continue to do so, and should limit the time they spend on campus.
Over the next few weeks, I or someone from HR will be reaching out to department supervisors to develop tailored Return To Campus Plans for each department. Your Department’s Plan may be that some employees are working from home all or most of the time, while others are reporting to campus all of the time. It may mean that some employees report one week and other employees report the next, or that some employees come to the office on certain days of the workweek and not others. Some departments may opt for flexible hours during the workday to reduce overall population in the office, with some employees reporting early in the morning and others staying later in the evening. A combination of flexible hours and scheduled days may also be necessary. When drafting the Plan, we will consider what work needs to be done, whether this work must be done on campus or can be done at home; individual employee’s needs and preferences; space available for work on campus; need to interface with students and/or other employees; and other factors as they arise.
Some employees have expressed a desire to return to work on campus, if possible, because working from home presents challenges or makes their jobs more difficult, while others have said they prefer to work remotely. Efforts will be made to accommodate employee preferences with respect to working at home or in the office, but please understand that accommodation may not be possible in all situations due to workflow, staffing and space needs. Those of us who will be returning to campus can expect to see additional, enhanced cleaning protocols, signage, and increased availability of cleaning products and hand sanitizer dispensers.
We will be encouraging each division head to work with supervisors and employees to establish parameters and expectations for working from home (i.e. when employees are expected to be available, providing accountability for work getting done, and ensuring that technology and information security needs are met).
Some jobs allow for more flexibility than others; our goal is to optimize flexibility for employees while maintaining efficiency and accountability for the work that must be completed.
II. Returning to Campus
Many employees will be returning to campus some or all of the time. Please be advised that those returning to campus will be asked to provide, on a daily basis, the following information: temperature (taken at home before coming to work); certification of lack of Covid-19 symptoms including cough, shortness of breath, chest congestion, etc.; and lack of potential exposure to Covid-19. This will be done via a form in the Paycom app or paycomonline.com. Instructions will be provided to all employees once the setup is complete. Before returning to campus, please ensure that you know how to access Paycom and have a current user name and password. Employees who are having trouble with Paycom should email email@example.com for assistance.
Employees who have heightened exposure risk may be asked to quarantine at home and not report to work for a period of time, and employees exhibiting any signs of illness are asked to stay home so as not to get others sick. In the near term, employees who are asked to quarantine will be paid using Emergency Absence Time. Employees who are sick or exhibiting symptoms will use sick time.
When on campus, all employees will be asked to adhere to sanitization and social distancing protocols including:
- Frequent hand-washing;
- Avoiding unnecessary movement throughout campus;
- Avoiding congregating in groups;
- Avoiding in-person meetings; and
- Wearing masks when in public spaces such as hallways and when in close proximity to others.
Masks are mandatory for all employees while they are in common areas or when they cannot socially distance. Employees do not need to wear masks while working at a distance from others (for example, an employee mowing a lawn would not be required to wear a mask) or in their own offices or work areas when they can socially distance. Employees interacting with other employees or with students are required to wear masks while working.
Employees are asked to provide their own masks if possible. Employees who are unable to provide a mask may request one from Human Resources or from their supervisor. There are many styles of masks that are effective, including homemade cloth masks. Employees should consider their masks to be part of their work attire. Masks should be washed frequently in hot water. Employees should not share masks. Employees requiring additional Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”) such as gloves or face shields in order to do their jobs will receive it from the College.
The College will be cleaning public areas and restrooms more frequently, and will be providing hand sanitizer dispensers. Employees may find changes to their work areas, particularly providing more space between desks where possible, or plexiglass in front of certain reception areas.
III. Accommodating Employees Affected by Covid-19
There are many ways that Covid-19 can impact our employees and their families. It is the College’s goal to both respect and accommodate, when possible, changes in work schedules and availability due to Covid-19. Some of the ways in which we are doing this are: 1) Offering flexibility in work hours for those who need it due to limited childcare options or changes in school and camp schedules; 2) Offering remote work options for those who need to care for a family member who has been exposed to Covid-19 or is at heightened risk; 3) offering remote work or leave of absence options for employees who are at heightened risk for Covid-19; and 4) listening to and respecting employee concerns regarding Covid-19 at work.
Employees who would like to discuss accommodation options for their specific situation may reach out to me or other HR staff.
IV. Covid-19 Testing on Campus
At this time, the College is not planning to require that all employees be tested in order to return to work. This may change if recommended guidance or government regulations change. The College is hoping to be able to to provide employees with access to free or reduced-cost testing on campus. More information about access to testing will be forthcoming.
V. Additional Questions
If you have questions or concerns that have not been addressed in this memo, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to your supervisor. I anticipate that the College will issue further details and guidance on a regular basis until the pandemic has passed.
Molly McKean, J.D., SHRM-SCP
Executive Director, Human Resources
Saint Anselm College
100 Saint Anselm Drive #1716
Manchester, NH 03102
p. (603) 641-7258
f. (603) 222-4014