MUS Developing Remote Working Plans for Employees

March 16, 2020

To the UM campus community:

We would like to share the message below sent from the Montana University System leadership late last night on the steps we're taking to enable remote work to the greatest extent possible and prevent further spread of COVID-19.

UM leadership is working today to develop plans to ensure continuity of operations for the University while minimizing spread of COVID-19 and assuring our campus remains accessible to our students, faculty and staff who depend on the essential services we provide.

We appreciate your partnership and cooperation in this effort and will share additional information as further plans develop.

Thank you,

Seth


Leaders:

This message is sent on behalf of the Commissioner and Presidents, who today conferred on a number of subjects in support of the amazing work that our faculty, staff, professional and administrative team members are doing to serve students and the public in these challenging times.

First and foremost, your administrative leaders extend to you and to every person on your campuses the deepest gratitude for the hard work and professionalism put forth by our dedicated campus personnel across Montana.

This communication deals with campus staffing, activity and traffic, i.e., the “people” kind of traffic that has an impact on work places and facility spaces and group sizes. With the number of students on campus greatly reduced via remote instruction until further notice, there is still a vital need for core services to be maintained on campus.

To further improve the type of distancing and optimal space encouraged by health agencies at this time, we encourage campuses of the Montana University System to use greater flexibility in work-from-home or so-called “telework” arrangements, where feasible, for relatively non-essential services in this time of reduced campus-based activity and traffic.

I will provide Chief Human Resource Officers with a sample or template of a work-from-home or “telework” agreement. The document can be used to establish expectations for employee-supervisor contact and accountability during the temporary off-campus work arrangement.

Core services remain so essential to campus life regardless of the number of students on campus. Part of the reason to look at work-from-home arrangements for relatively non-essential positions is to lessen the traffic and exposure to health risks for our essential service providers whose responsibilities cannot be exercised off campus.

Staff in residence halls, dining services, university police departments, physical plants, student health clinics — we realize that these duties cannot be performed off campus. We encourage managers in these programs to do everything possible for staff needs in the days ahead.

There may be a number of staff positions, within or outside of the service areas noted above, that do not have feasible off-campus worksite potential. In the challenging days ahead, especially with K-12 public school temporary closures, we encourage managers to work with staff members who have heightened family needs at home to consider alternate or flexible work hours where possible to meet the needs of our dedicated staff.

Your pride in and support for the talented faculty, staff and professional team members on your campuses is abundantly evident. We know you will take and convey this message as good news. Please use these parameters as best you can to keep your institutions flexible and balanced to manage places and spaces and keep people working in the healthiest environment possible.

Thank you.

For the Presidents and Commissioner,

Kevin McRae

Deputy Commissioner for Human Resources