March 31, 2021
Planning for remote work in the future
Submitted by Charles Taber and Jay Stephens
Last spring, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university moved to a "Safer At Home" state of operation and many of our employees transitioned to remote work. That decision was made to preserve the safety and health of everyone on our campuses and provide the kind of flexibility needed to meet the challenges we all faced. The rapid transition to remote work was made possible and has been sustained by the heroic efforts of our faculty and staff colleagues — those who remain at home today, those who never left the workplace, and those who have come back as we moved into our Phase 3 operational status last fall.
On Feb. 24, President Myers announced our intent to move to phaseout of our university's reopening plan, beginning Aug. 1. This is inevitably leading to questions about whether we will make any changes to our remote work policy as most of us return to our physical campus workspaces during August. Prior to COVID-19 the university already had a telecommuting policy in place, PPM 4045. This policy focused on individual positions and requests to "telecommute." The policy was limited in scope and needed revision even before we transitioned so many to remote work. Our current emergency clearly pushes us in the direction of a new policy for today and the future of what remote work looks like at K-State. We want to be able to strategically utilize a new policy to the benefit of our mission and our faculty, staff, and students.
Earlier this spring, K-State Global Campus received approval to move to fully remote services, becoming our first unit to do so. Over the last few months, the Office of the Provost, Human Capital Services, ITS, Risk and Compliance, the Office of General Counsel, and the Division of Financial Services have been meeting with and collaborating with K-State Global Campus to assist them with planning to transition to a remote work operation and vacate their current office space at the end of their lease on June 30. As part of this effort, we will be developing an updated remote work policy to replace our current telecommuting policy.
During the summer, we will engage with campus stakeholders, including shared governance groups, in updating our remote work policy, based on lessons learned with the Global Campus initiative. We will also develop and deliver training and guidance and think strategically about how this policy fits into our vision and mission for K-State. This will include consideration of future space needs, what kinds of positions make sense for remote work and which do not, and probably most important, what are the expectations of our students and our university community. We anticipate finalizing a new remote work policy with full rollout in the fall after we transition back to normal university operations in the phaseout stage of our COVID-19 reopening plan.
We met an unprecedented crisis last spring with remarkable speed and flexibility. As we return back to our workspaces we have the opportunity to be very thoughtful about K-State's culture and what our campus looks like when we all come back. Post-pandemic we will have a better view of what worked, what didn't and what that flexibility looks like moving ahead.
Chuck Taber, provost and executive vice president
Jay Stephens, vice president for Human Capital Services