While the University has targeted Aug. 2, 2021, as the date when everyone can plan to return to campus, Harvard Medical School announced in March 2021 that it would wait to transition back to campus most administrative units—those not directly involved with labs, educational programs, and on-campus services—in phases starting Sept. 1, 2021.

Prior to and since that time, we have been planning simultaneously for the near-term flexwork pilot phase and the longer-term future of flexwork, both informed by the community feedback provided as part of the HMS Remote/Flexwork Initiative, by discussions with department and unit leaders, and by guidance from Harvard Human Resources, among others.

Over the past year, we have successfully adapted to and identified a continued desire for flexibility in where and how we work. Therefore, as we transition toward the fall, the Flexwork Initiative Committee has recommended the continued piloting of flexwork models with sustained program oversight to track community feedback and continue to structure and refine our practices to support longer-term opportunities for flexwork at HMS.

  • The Case for Flexwork

    The future of where and how we work is changing on a global scale. HMS recognizes that flexwork is critical to both retaining and attracting top talent. And we believe flexwork can be a strategic tool to achieve institutional goals, empower employees to do their best work, foster individual and collective well-being, support a diverse and inclusive work environment, maintain business continuity, enable space efficiency, and redefine cultural norms.

    Based on survey feedback gathered during our Remote/Flexwork Initiative, HMS employees indicated a clear desire to continue hybrid and remote work options post-pandemic: 87% of administrative, education, and dry research survey respondents indicated they would like to work remotely two or more days per week post-pandemic if able and given the choice, while 93% to 96% of supervisors in these areas indicated their teams could work in a hybrid or remote model.

  • Workplace Models & Application

    Building on the flexwork frameworks and definitions established by the University, we have established HMS-specific workplace models defined as follows and associated with space allocation and supports:

    • Primarily On-site: Works 3-5 days on-site (weekly average) for typical working hours.
    • Hybrid: Works 1-2 days on-site (weekly average), with time scheduled between on-campus and remote locations for typical working hours.
    • Primarily Remote: Works less than 1 day on-site (weekly average), with the majority of time being remote for typical working hours.

    Department and unit leaders will apply these flexwork models to their teams equitably, without bias, and based on their unique business needs, the operational needs of the School, and the nature and duties of an individual’s role and job requirements as part of their team.

    Based on recent re-occupancy survey results collected from department/unit leaders, members of HMS’ senior administrative leadership team—representing 71% of all administrative staff, including campus planning and facilities, communications, Countway Library, finance, HR, institutional planning and policy, IT, and research administration—have indicated that they anticipate 22% of staff will work primarily remote, 36% hybrid, and 42% primarily on-site as we enter this fall pilot phase.

    Department and unit leaders are now in the process of finalizing their flexwork pilot plans and will determine the exact start date for this phase, which, for most, will be in or before October 2021. You should expect to hear details from them or from your supervisor soon if you have not already. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your supervisor directly.

    Once finalized by department/unit leaders, flexwork pilot plans will be collected and tracked by HMS Human Resources and by Campus Planning and Facilities for campus-planning purposes. Please note that the approval process is managed at the local leadership department/unit level for this pilot phase.

  • Pilot Timeframe

    The flexwork pilot will launch on the specific date determined by your department/unit leadership or supervisor, which, for most, will be in or before October 2021, and will run for up to 12 months.

    This is considered a pilot because it will give departments/units, supervisors, and employees the time necessary to experience the flexwork model, identify what’s working and what’s not, and adjust as needed. Ultimately, this test-and-learn pilot phase will help inform decisions about the longer-term future of flexwork at HMS. Therefore, staff should not consider this pilot phase permanent because it may change.

  • Resources for Staff

    • Flexwork at Harvard: This website includes resources, information, guidelines, policy statement, and principles of flexwork arrangements at Harvard.
    • Tools and Resources: This collection of information has been compiled to help staff and managers navigate the flexwork process and includes information on ergonomics and disability resources, tips for recognizing and addressing burnout, and work/life and well-being resources and toolkits from the Harvard Center for Workplace Development.
    • Working Remotely Courses: Available on the Harvard Training Portal, these modules provide tips on how to increase productivity and stay connected while working remotely.
    • Flexible Work Arrangement Documentation: This form is not required by HMS during this flexwork pilot phase, but employees who would like to request other forms of flexwork based on their location or schedule should complete this form and submit it to their supervisor for review.
    • How IT supports remote work: This website provides IT tips and resources that support remote work.  
  • Resources for Managers/Leaders

  • Returning to Campus Information

    We have transformed the HMS coronavirus website into a new resource focused on Returning to Campus: Information for the HMS Community. There, you can access information on current guidelines on masks and face coverings, physical distancing, events and gatherings, testing, vaccines, and safety protocols, as well as information on parking, public transportation, dining, and other campus services. An FAQ with information specific to returning to campus is also available.

  • FAQs

    Has HMS established specific flexwork models for this pilot phase?

    • Building on the flexwork frameworks and definitions established by the University, HMS has established specific workplace models defined as follows and associated with space allocation and supports:
      • Primarily On-site: Works 3-5 days on-site (weekly average) for typical working hours.
      • Hybrid: Works 1-2 days on-site (weekly average), with time scheduled between on-campus and remote locations for typical working hours.
      • Primarily Remote: Works less than 1 day on-site (weekly average), with the majority of time being remote for typical working hours.
    • Department and unit leaders will apply these flexwork models to their teams equitably, without bias, and based on their unique business needs, the operational needs of the School, and the nature and duties of an individual’s role and job requirements as part of their team.

    Who will choose my flexwork model during this pilot phase?

    • Department and unit leaders will apply HMS-specific flexwork models to their teams equitably, without bias, and based on their unique business needs, the operational needs of the School, and the nature and duties of an individual’s role and job requirements as part of their team.
    • Department and unit leaders are now in the process of finalizing their flexwork pilot plans and will determine the exact start date for this phase, which for most will be in or before October 2021.
    • You should expect to hear details from them or from your supervisor soon if you have not already. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your supervisor directly. Once finalized by department/unit leaders, flexwork pilot plans will be collected and tracked by HMS Human Resources and by Campus Planning and Facilities for campus-planning purposes. Please note that the approval process is managed at the local leadership department/unit level for this pilot phase.

    Who is eligible for the flexwork pilot?

    Consistent with Harvard’s flexible work arrangement policy, non-teaching exempt and overtime-eligible staff are eligible for the HMS flexwork pilot. Bargaining unit staff should consult their collective bargaining agreement to review any flexibility provisions.

    Is there a formal approval process for department/unit flexwork pilot and re-occupancy plans?

    • The approval process is managed at the local leadership department/unit level for this pilot phase.

    When will my flexwork pilot start and end?

    • The flexwork pilot will launch on the specific date determined by your department/unit leadership or supervisor, which, for most, will be in or before October 2021, and will run for up to 12 months.

    Why is this considered a pilot phase?

    • This is considered a pilot because it will give departments/units, supervisors, and employees the time necessary to experience the flexwork model, identify what’s working and what’s not, and adjust as needed.
    • Ultimately, this test-and-learn pilot phase will help inform decisions about the longer-term future of flexwork at HMS. Therefore, staff should not consider this pilot phase permanent because it may change.

    What is the long-term future of flexwork at HMS?

    • The test-and-learn flexwork pilot phase will help inform decisions about the longer-term future of flexwork at HMS. Therefore, staff should not consider this pilot phase permanent because it may change.

    Can I request other forms of flexwork?

    • Employees who would like to request other forms of flexwork based on their location or schedule should complete this Flexible Work Arrangement Documentation form and submit it to their supervisor for review.

    Are there specific requirements I must adhere to while working remotely during the flexwork pilot period?

    We anticipate there being much learning through the flexwork pilot period that will need to be incorporated in a longer-term strategy. In the meantime, there are some important basic principles that should be followed by individuals who will be working remotely or teleworking partially or fully, including:

    • You have reviewed and understand Harvard’s Information Security Policy and IT Security Tools for protecting Harvard information at various data levels.
    • You have reviewed and understand the Ergonomics Fact Sheet and Ergonomic Tips developed by the Harvard Environmental Health & Safety team.
    • If you are an overtime-eligible employee, you understand that all hours worked must be reported and that overtime requires supervisor pre-approval even when a flexwork arrangement exists.
    • You understand that major activities, such as full-time dependent care or intensive work on a personal project, are not appropriate while teleworking. Occasional flexwork in unusual circumstances must be discussed with your supervisor.
    • You understand that you must discuss with HR any considerations about working outside of the state of Massachusetts.

    Will employees who continue to work remotely receive technology (laptop, monitor, docking station, etc.) and any stipends to accommodate their home workspaces?

    • HMS IT is working to understand the technology needs for the fall return to campus and the flexwork pilot phase.
    • Employees who are working in a remote or hybrid manner should work with their supervisor and their department administrator to determine the appropriate technology necessary to do their jobs. For questions on purchasing computer equipment, please contact your IT Support Team.
    • Please note HMS expects one computer per eligible employee. Therefore, we strongly recommend the adoption of laptops due to their portable nature, which, in combination with a docking station, keyboard, and mouse, should meet the majority of administrative staff needs.
    • HMS, in concert with the University and other Harvard schools, continues to evaluate potential policy changes related to home workplace costs. In the meantime, please contact your Office of Finance analyst for any related financial considerations.
    • Required security software must be installed on any system connected to the HMS network or used to conduct HMS business. Installation of the required security software can be done via self-service or with assistance from your IT Support Team.

    Are there plans to enhance the technology on campus to accommodate meetings with a mix of in-person and remote participants?

    • To support both in-person and remote collaboration, there are currently 115 Zoom-capable spaces across the HMS campus.
      • HMS IT will provide reference guides for these collaboration spaces to guide users on connecting to a Zoom meeting.
      • The HMS IT website will contain more in-depth knowledge articles on connecting to a Zoom meeting. 
    • HMS IT is piloting solutions to expand the number of Zoom-capable collaboration spaces on the HMS campus.
      • HMS IT will make these spaces available for the community to test during the flexwork pilot phase.

    Please refer to the Returning to Campus website for answers to additional FAQs.