Return to campus planning

May 3, 2021
Kim A. Wilcox
May 3, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

Over the last couple months, while developing return-to-campus guidelines, we have been reviewing remote work options in relation to the needs of our entire community. I recognize that work flexibility and remote work are discussions of significant interest, not only at UC Riverside, but in workplaces nationwide. Our staff and faculty have been incredibly productive over the past 14 months, and as we expand on-campus operations we intend to be thoughtful and strategic to learn the lessons from this season while also fulfilling our mission of creating and sharing knowledge.

Since we are a residential research university, we know that in addition to classes and labs, our students need access to certain services on campus. Researchers are engaged in projects in laboratories and research facilities. Others want to create in studio and makerspaces. For some, working on campus is essential to fulfilling the needs of their educational or performance requirements. And, of course, there are many UCR employees who have continued working on campus throughout the pandemic.

But we also know that in 2020, the world changed. In a short period of time, we learned that many jobs could be performed effectively in a remote setting. For some, the flexibility of working from home offered opportunity for better work-life balance, while performing their jobs as needed. Others reported improved accessibility or environments that showed in their improved performance.

At UCR, we want to remain an employer of choice, providing flexibility in line with today’s workforce needs. We also want to unearth new discoveries, deliver a high-quality educational experience, and provide services in support of student success. Ultimately, we need to consider work location in the context of both individual performance and community. How location impacts colleagues, professional development, our collegial network, output, space constraints, and sustainability goals are all to be considered.

As next steps, I am asking that every vice chancellor and dean begin conversations within their units to determine needs and plans. To guide these conversations, I have asked Human Resources to develop guidelines, which are soon forthcoming, for work location decision-making. Campus engagement on this topic will continue as needed.

Ultimately, I will not impose work location decisions on any school or department but will instead support local decisions that serve the interest of our mission. To all of you, thank you for commitment to UCR as we work through this transition together.