Employees and Researchers

SPH Work. With Flexibility Guidelines

On Aug. 2, we shift to pilot a newly imagined post-pandemic workplace where there are a variety of fixed (onsite) and flexible space/time options across the school. As a general suggestion within the School of Public Health (SPH), the default work schedule for full-time faculty and staff will be three workdays on site / two workdays remote. For more information, view the Working with Flexibility in the School of Public Health Guidelines.


FAQs on Work. With Flexibility in SPH

With others on my team/colleagues not being in the office on the same days, how can we communicate with each other effectively?

Having meetings and using email are options although generally it’s good to work towards limiting the number of meetings and emails faculty and staff need to juggle. Several teams have adopted different tools to stay connected and share updates. These are some possible tools for teams to use:

How should we handle meetings when some people will be on campus for the meeting and others will be working remotely?

How to have effective meetings with some level of equity in the participants’ experience is an area we’ll be figuring out together over these next months. Here are some ideas on approaches:

  • First, consider whether a meeting is necessary and assess whether alternative modes of communication would work.
  • Identify what the goal of the meeting is and let that drive the logistics
    • Meetings geared towards setting strategy, harnessing innovation and creativity, and forging new relationships likely are ones best to have in person.
    • Information sharing and most problem solving meetings are amenable to a remote or hybrid format.
  • Consider adopting a practice where certain meetings will be fully in person or fully remote.
  • For parity in experiences during hybrid meetings, some good practices include:
    • If employees have laptops, have everyone in the room join the virtual meeting on mute but with their cameras on so the people at home can see all participants; use the conference room audio if available. Remote attendees should have their cameras on so people in the room can see them as well.
    • Try to structure interactions in such a way that everybody gets to participate. Go around the virtual room giving everyone a chance to speak. Have attendees, both in-person and virtual, raise their hands before they can chime in. If people are being silent, the meeting facilitator can call on them for input or ask questions relevant to their expertise.

How do we keep our employees and items safe when we have less people working on campus?

  • Employees on campus should always be aware of security issues and keep individual offices or drawers of valuables locked when no one is present.
  • Many offices and work groups will have core days and hours where a number of individuals will be working on site. For less populated days and hours, if possible, lock main office doors and have visitors call or knock loudly to enter public areas where staff offices are located.

Will building access be limited?

  • Buildings in the Health Sciences District will continue to have limited access with all doors requiring a valid UCard for access.
  • Non-Health Sciences buildings will be setting public access hours that will vary from building to building. A valid U Card will always grant access to these buildings. Therefore it is critical that all faculty, staff, and students carry their U Card with them at all times.

I’m concerned about walking to and from my parking on campus.

  • The University has multiple services and resources available to faculty, staff and students.
  • The University has hired three new police officers and will be installing at least seven additional “blue light” security kiosks on campus near the Dinkytown area.
  • The University’s Department of Public Safety website has information on crimes, advice on using our safety resources, and importantly, the phone number for our SafeWalk Service which is available 24/7 to walk or bike with anyone on campus at no cost. Call 612-624-WALK (4-9255 from any campus phone)
  • The University’s Safe Campus website includes a variety of helpful safety tips
    • Gopher Chauffeur is a service that provides free rides home for students, 7 days a week starting the first week of fall semester.
    • Rave Guardian personal safety mobile app is a free smart-phone app that provides students, faculty, and staff with access to a “virtual walking buddy” and links to other resources.

How do I communicate my schedule and availability to others?

It will be important to communicate with others about how and when they can reach you. Here are some ideas on how to convey your availability:

  • Everyone in SPH should be on Google calendar. You can use GCal to indicate your core hours of work. Regardless of privacy settings on GCal, you should be able to view normal hours.
  • Use your email signature block to indicate your core hours of work and which days you’ll be on site and which days you’ll be working remotely. You may also want to indicate any open door/office hours or days/times others could schedule time with you.


First Last Name
Title | School of Public Health | sph.umn.edu
University of Minnesota | umn.edu
x.500@umn.edu | XXX-XXX-XXXX | c. XXX-XXX-XXXX | Office: Mayo XXX

On campus hours:
Monday, Thursday, Friday: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Remote hours:
Tuesday, Wednesday: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Building Equity, Driving Justice: Commit | Challenge | Change
Learn about the UMN School of Public Health Strategic Plan for Antiracism.

  • Use your out of office auto response to let people know if you’re deviating from your regular work schedule.
  • At your on-site office/cubicle, post your core hours of work and which days you’ll be on site and which days you’ll be working remotely. Consider including your email or other preferred contact method. SPH Communications is developing a template that will be available soon.

How does our office/team communicate our availability?

Use signage on main entry ways, such as entrances to administrative offices, to indicate the core hours (days and times) when an office will be open to the public. Consider providing contact info regarding who can be contacted for what issues electronically.

On Campus Resources

Supervisors toolkit

Information and resources for reporting and managing COVID-19 cases for employees:

University Updates

University of Minnesota COVID-19 updates:

Human Resources Answers

Office of Human Resources Covid Workplace Guidance:

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Information for Faculty and Instructors with Family Responsibilities

Helping in the time of COVID-19

Emergency Paid Leave for COVID-19

For faculty, staff and student workers: ending early to mid-September. The University hopes to provide adequate time to communicate this change with faculty, staff, and student workers so alternative options can be identified for anyone who may be affected. View the University’s current emergency paid leave information.

Parking and Transportation


  • In July, the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) halted the sunrise research process. While sunrise plans are no longer required, SPH remains committed to reducing the spread of COVID-19 to protect the health and safety of our community. Research activities involving face-to-face human participants should be done using best practices in infection spread. We should be especially cautious with studies on high-risk, vulnerable populations (e.g., immunocompromised, elderly, non-English speaking, unvaccinated participants). See guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health. This includes encouraging vaccination and physical distancing, following mask requirements, and ensuring good air ventilation.
  • Also note that any researchers who may be conducting research on and off campus should follow the requirements of those specific facilities. The Epidemiology Clinical Research Center and Mayo Building have specific requirements for masking and physical distancing.

The University has updated guidance to ensure a safe return to campus that the OVPR asks research teams to consider and follow:

Remember: Just because the sunrise plan has ended does not mean research risks are negated.

For University research spaces involving face-to-face contact between researchers and potentially vulnerable participants, please consult with Marizen Ramirez, professor and associate dean for research, to develop guidelines for best practices for controlling infection spread.

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