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New Workplace Expectations Begin September 1

July 20, 2022

Dear Office for Research colleagues,

Yesterday, Northwestern announced its updated Alternative Workplace Strategies policy and guidance -- now referred to as Workplace Strategies -- that will take effect Sept. 1, 2022. This revised guidance establishes the general expectation that University staff members will be on campus three or more days a week.

The Office for Research welcomes this new guidance. The policy provides flexibility within a framework and recognizes the valuable opportunities to collaborate with one another in person, which plays a key part in OR's culture and operational effectiveness. At the same time, this policy gives OR discretion to make decisions about how best to meet our business needs as we advance the research enterprise and support our team members.

These business needs, as you know, vary from unit to unit as a function of job responsibilities. Some of you, due to the nature of your work, already are on campus more than three days a week. In other cases, some colleagues may find it challenging to work from home and so prefer to be on campus most of the time. Northwestern's new guidance enables us all to plan predictable weekly routines that also permit remote flexibility where feasible. My office will be working with directors and managers to develop workplace strategies for each unit to allow plans to be in place by early August. Again, some units may already be operating in ways that align well with the updated guidance and so their current plans may not change much or at all. In addition to the guiding principles shared by senior leadership yesterday, the University is providing resources to help teams frame and implement the workplace strategies. You also may reach out to OR's Director of Administrative Services Claire Landis or Associate Director of Administrative Services Beth Abbottwith questions.

We recognize that certain individuals or circumstances may require consideration for additional flexibility, something the new framework takes into account through various arrangements. Northwestern also has established a form to facilitate an arrangement other than what is established at the unit level. As well, the University continues its consideration of various accommodations through the Office of Equity. Senior leadership also remains aware of market-based competition and the role that a portfolio of workplace strategies can play in helping us recruit talent in today's environment.

As we prepare for the new Workplace Strategies policy to take effect in September, I sincerely thank you for your many contributions to Northwestern. You help drive our research excellence and impact, and your presence makes our campus a vibrant, collaborative community.


Milan Mrksich
Vice President for Research