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10 Takeaways from Staff Town Hall

On Tuesday, June 15, Dave DeJong, senior vice chancellor for business and operations, joined Pitt colleagues at a return-to-campus planning town hall to share information and answer staff members’ questions. More than 1,200 people tuned in live. 

“The foundation of everything we’re doing continues to be safety,” said DeJong. “We see a post-pandemic future as vaccination rates continue to increase, and I urge all of you to get vaccinated if you have not already done so.”

He also recognized staff who have been working on campus throughout the pandemic, expressing gratitude to individuals who have led and sustained the University’s on-site operations.

Andy Stephany, associate administrator of the Vascular Medicine Institute and president of Staff Council, moderated the virtual town hall, which also included panelists Mark Burdsall, assistant vice chancellor of human resources; Scott Bernotas, associate vice chancellor of facilities management; and Kevin Sheehy, assistant vice chancellor of business and auxiliary services.

Here are the highlights:

1. A gradual campus return is slated to begin in July.

Supervisors will work with their staff to develop tailored plans for their units, with transitions beginning in July.

2. A new interim flex work policy and resources are available.

Many employees will return to campus this summer in preparation for the upcoming academic year and to support faculty and students. They’ll be joining those whose positions have required an in-person presence throughout the pandemic. DeJong noted that others will transition to hybrid schedules and some may be fully remote.

“Flex work is something we began as a part of the Shaping the Workplace initiative in Human Resources well before the pandemic, which has now propelled forward. We will continue to embrace flexibility as an organization, including where work gets done,” he said.

The University’s interim flexible work arrangements policy announcement is now available on the Office of Human Resources’ website and includes a link to the Flex Work section on SharePoint, with details such as:

  • an overview of flexible work arrangements,
  • an interim flexible arrangements policy,
  • possible flexible work scenarios to consider,
  • flexible work arrangements forms,
  • frequently asked questions, and
  • contacts for additional assistance.

Importantly, remote work status does not affect employment standing, annual review or salary. All employees will be treated equitably across work modes and locations.

Supervisor training on the policy is under way.

Organization Development resources to lead teams through flex and remote work mode transitions also are available on the Office of Human Resources’ SharePoint site to assist staff.

3. Flex work forms will confirm flexible work arrangements.

The panel encouraged supervisors to have discussions over the coming weeks to determine whether in-person, hybrid or remote work plans are appropriate and what timing would look like.

Flexible work arrangement request and agreement forms are required to ensure an understanding between supervisors and employees and to detail when an employee will work remotely and where they will work as well as to provide an opt-out process for departments that need to work fully on site to support the University.

Forms are available on the Flex Work website and will be routed electronically through DocuSign, with decisions made by supervisors and responsibility center (RC) heads based on each position’s needs. Disability Resources and Services also will work with supervisors and staff to make accommodations where exceptions are approved.

4. Safety training and compliance with Pitt’s health rules are required.

If employees have not already completed it, safety training is required for all staff and should be finished before an employee comes to campus.

For those who return to campus, please remember to continue following Pitt’s health rules. As stated in new guidelines effective June 7, everyone—regardless of their vaccination status—must continue to wear face coverings inside University buildings. Vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a face covering when outdoors on campus. Physical distancing is no longer required at this time, with the exception of when in elevators, bathrooms and designated spaces. Pitt strongly recommends getting vaccinated to protect yourself and others

To ask a safety question or report a concern regarding campus health and safety, please contact the Pitt Concern Connection.

5. There is a continued focus on facilities cleaning, sanitizing and air quality.

Pitt has taken tremendous precautions to support the safety of our campuses, including enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures, proper air handling and filtration and installing hand sanitizing stations across campus.

Facilities Management uses a comprehensive, multipronged approach that includes frequent cleaning and sanitizing, evaluations of all HVAC systems and the use of CDC- and EPA-approved cleaning supplies. In addition to Facilities Management cleaning protocols, supplies will be provided for employees and students to clean shared workspaces and classrooms.

If units would like to adapt or reconfigure workspaces reconfigured to support flexible work arrangements (for example, to arrange new “hoteling” spaces), the Planning Design and Real Estate team is available to discuss and design space layouts. Please discuss your area or department needs with your supervisor or RC head, and they can email PDRE [at] pitt.edu for assistance.

Departments also can request signage and plexiglass barriers through Facilities Management.

6. Building access procedures have changed.

Employees are now able to access the campus spaces they could enter before the pandemic with a Pitt ID, which is required to swipe or tap into buildings for access at this time. Concierge stations are in place at building entrances to assist you. Guests may be permitted with an approved guest form.

7. There are child care resources available for employees.

An expanded list of child care resources is available on the Office of Human Resources website, including child care options and child care finder tools. 

8. Commuting and mobility options have been updated.

To prepare for returning to campus, a wide range of commuting and mobility options are available, including the continued partnership with Port Authority with enhanced safety protocols in place, carpooling and vanpooling, biking resources and flexible daily parking through the ParkMobile app.

New mobility options in the works include flexible parking permits, a Commute with Enterprise Carpool alternative and satellite park and ride locations.

To discuss mobility options, please reach out the parking and transportation office; they are available to assist with a personalized commuting plan and solutions.

9. All employees have access to health and wellness resources.

We know this has been a difficult period for many and that new challenges may emerge in returning to the workplace. Health and wellness supports are available, including the following:

Please reach out to our HR team for additional support requests or questions.

10. Get more return-to-campus details.

Review Pitt’s Business and Operations website for details and updates. The new site provides a central hub for operational information on return-to-campus planning across six business units: public safety and emergency management; human resources; facilities management; planning, design and real estate; business and auxiliary services; and sustainability.