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Flexible Work policy updates

A message from Vice President for Human Resources Elizabeth Zacharias about changes to our implementation approach to flexible work.
telework illustration of woman working in office and also working at home

Dear colleagues, 

This message provides some updates on Stanford’s approach to hybrid and remote work for our staff employees, in both academic and administrative units.

First, thank you for all you have done to continue the work of the university throughout the pandemic and during the recent Omicron surge. As shared in the Jan. 20 Campus Conversation, we look forward to reconnecting and returning to more normal business operations by the week of February 14 or sooner. This means resuming on-site or hybrid work arrangements that began in the fall or had planned to begin in January – though we continue to encourage managers to identify temporary solutions that support those whose personal circumstances require it in the short-term.

As you recall, the summer and fall quarters were a period of experimentation with flexible work. Given all we have learned so far, there are two insights I’d like to highlight:

  1. The importance of having sufficient flexibility for individual units to customize work arrangements, based on the nature of the work they do, and consistent with our guiding principles; and 
  2. The importance of having clear, operational definitions for the different kinds of work arrangements we offer at Stanford.

We are now making some important changes to our implementation approach to best meet the university’s operational needs while providing more flexibility to customize work arrangements. These updates provide:

  • More customization for hybrid work arrangements. Hybrid work arrangements require a regular cadence of on-site presence and are typically set as two, three, or four days per week. However, to better support the varying and unique requirements of each school/unit and different types of positions, the definition of hybrid arrangements no longer requires the same cadence each week. Instead, an individual’s cadence of on-site presence at their primary Stanford work location may be customized (e.g., weekly, monthly, or another regular cadence). Each school/unit leader will determine the appropriate pattern of on-site presence based on operational requirements and the importance of in-person interactions, with our expectation that most units will still require a minimum regular weekly presence. See Hybrid Work Arrangement on the Flexible Work Policies page for details.
  • Greater consistency of travel expense reimbursement for hybrid and remote arrangements. Employees located within a newly established 10-county geographic perimeter will not receive reimbursement for travel to and from their Stanford work location. Only employees who are both fully remote and outside the designated counties are eligible for reimbursement of travel expenses for the infrequent occasions they are asked to come on-site. Employees with hybrid work arrangements will not be reimbursed, even if living outside of the perimeter. See Expense Guidelines on the Flexible Work Policies page for details. 

You can read more about these updates on the Flexible Work microsite on Cardinal at Work, and further information about units’ specific plans will be coming from your school/unit leaders and HR Managers.

Resuming more presence on-site will be revitalizing, as shared by President Tessier-Lavigne during the January 20 Campus Conversation. In-person interactions contribute to the creativity and innovation our community is known for, further broad collaboration and strengthen our engagement and connection with one another, and with Stanford’s mission.  

We also know that flexible work arrangements are a part of our long-term future of work, and we will continue to refine the architecture for flexibility based on employee feedback and the ongoing experience of units across the university. Issues to consider in the coming months include how best to coordinate schedules across units to facilitate cross-functional collaboration; whether units should have some staff on-site every day of the week, which may be important for many units but not as necessary for some others, such as very small units; and how to best optimize space to maintain vibrant, engaging campuses. These are just some of the issues that we will be looking to tackle with your help and input.

We have been through a long period of change, disruption and uncertainty. Thank you again for your commitment to the university’s mission, and for your continued resilience as we continue to learn and refine our future of work. 


Elizabeth Zacharias, Vice President for Human Resources