Updates to Guidelines for Workplace Flexibility
Dear Members of the Carnegie Mellon University Community:
We write with important news about the future of work at CMU. As you recall, in November of last year, the university announced an extension of workplace flexibility through the end of 2022, in recognition of the unpredictable nature of the pandemic at that time. Now we are providing, as promised, new guidelines for staff to be implemented beginning January 1, 2023. Informed by input from across our community, these guidelines will help to define and shape the future of workplace flexibility, collaboration and campus life.
More detail is below regarding some key changes based on these guidelines:
- For the most part, staff will be working in person at least three days per week
- Based on supervisor approval, some roles or groups of roles may require unique arrangements
- Individual requests for exceptions will undergo review by the Flexible Work Committee.
The changes we are making, and the principles upon which they are based, take into account the feedback we have received from this community through several avenues, including recent town halls, ongoing data collection from various levels of the organization through HR, and a survey we administered earlier this fall. Our community has indicated that they recognize both the value of flexibility that hybrid work arrangements provide as well as the value of coming together in physical space. Also of note is that students have been sharing that they also value in-person interactions with faculty and staff to drive relationship development, community and connection, while also recognizing the value of leveraging virtual interactions to support flexibility in how they engage with faculty and staff.
While the specific guidelines provided by Human Resources are intended for staff, it is our hope that the following guiding principles will be embraced by both staff and faculty as we shape our workplace culture together. These principles serve to inform our collective decision-making, allowing teams to balance what we have learned throughout the pandemic about intention, flexibility and in-person connection in the workplace, while keeping the mission of the university front and center.
1. Advance the mission of the university.
Every faculty and staff member contributes to the university’s mission to deliver excellent education and research; we are predominantly a residential university and any flexibility will be considered in the context of the mission and not based solely on a specific group’s or individual’s preferences.
2. Support the effectiveness of teams and individuals.
Flexibility in the workplace will be balanced with organizational objectives and job function. Decisions on flexibility will consider both team contribution/collaboration requirements and an individual’s effectiveness. It is critical that services, resources, technology and physical space align with flexible work models.
3. Recognize and appreciate the benefits of being physically together.
It will take all of us — working together — to sustain the positive CMU culture and community by engaging through in-person experiences that promote collaboration and opportunities for building relationships, including informal and unscheduled conversations and interactions.
4. Value the opportunity for flexibility.
Supervisors and employees will work together to decide appropriate work models to grant flexibility in a way that supports the well-being of staff and continues to support the overall mission of the university.
Moving forward, supervisors and employees will use these principles to work together to decide appropriate work models to grant flexibility in a way that supports the well-being of staff and continues to support the overall mission of the university. So that staff understand expectations, supervisors will document work arrangements and communicate expectations to their teams. The work arrangements that begin January 1, 2023, will be assessed throughout the year and may be adjusted to meet business needs. Decisions will continue to be guided by our principles, flexible work arrangement tools and support resources available on the HR website, such as supervisor guidance, training programs and frequently asked questions.
Questions about how to support flexibility and work-life balance while also advancing the fundamental mission of an organization are not new; the pandemic has simply accelerated many of the trends in our society and re-shaped the future of work. In much the same way that CMU has accelerated innovations in our approach to technology-driven education and experience, which includes melding both virtual and in-person learning and interaction, we also are working to bring renewed energy and innovation to staff and faculty engagement. We want to acknowledge Michelle Piekutowski, associate vice president for Human Resources, and her hardworking team in HR for their leadership throughout the past several years, as well as the support of our academic and administrative leadership, including department heads and managers, as we formulated and now will implement these principles and guidelines.
In closing, we wish to thank all of our staff and faculty for your extraordinary efforts during the last few years, especially in light of the unprecedented personal and professional challenges our community has faced. We are grateful that we are in a position to come together again and enjoy the vibrant community that makes Carnegie Mellon so special.
Henry L. Hillman President’s Chair
Provost and Chief Academic Officer