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The employee’s field guide to returning to on-site work

A man and a woman wearing masks are seated at a table; two men wearing masks walk nearby.

We’ve learned a lot from those who worked on-site throughout the pandemic, navigating the early days without much of a roadmap. And while we continue to deal with uncertainties, the university has a path forward, continually monitoring and responding to the trajectory of the pandemic to keep you healthy and safe.

For Erick Lobos from Stanford Redwood City operations, spring 2020 was a blur of busy, long days working on a deserted campus with a cloud of uncertainty hanging over him and his crew, much like the Lysol his wife sprayed around him when he came home. No one really knew what was going to happen, or for how long. They didn’t know when employees would be back en masse, but they knew the facilities needed to be ready.

“We didn’t have vaccines; we didn’t even have reliable testing then,” Erick recalled. “Yet we needed to go back and check on things, secure buildings.” 

Erick is the associate director of SRWC Operations for Land, Buildings and Real Estate (LBRE), and while he was able to do some work from home, he was on-campus a lot with his technicians. He speaks with heartfelt gratitude for his team, and for everyone working on-site every day, for how they navigated the unpredictability and stress—without a map, without a blueprint—while they safely did what they needed to do. 

For Erick, the stress gradually dissipated as the university implemented and refined health and safety protocols, including face covering guidance, enhanced cleaning procedures, contact tracing and free testing, as well as collecting and sharing community vaccination data. Slowly, a path forward emerged.

“I think I feel more comfortable about being at work now than being at the grocery store. Think about that. We don’t know the procedures people there follow… at work, at least I know what is being done,” he said. 

“This is not the best way to work,” he added. “But we’re in a good place and I’m grateful for that.”

How we're prepared

As Provost Persis Drell has reaffirmed throughout the summer, Stanford is prepared for increased campus activity this fall, which means having many more of us in university facilities. And that transition, alongside pervading variants of the virus, comes with continually adjusting protocols for those of us on-site, including: 

In addition to the health and safety protocols, in August the university updated two interim policies for employees to alleviate some of the concerns around this unsteady state.

  • Quarantine Pay has been extended through March 31, 2022, and can be used by those feeling well but unable to work while under quarantine due to a COVID-19 exposure.
  • COVID Flex Hours have been extended through December 17, 2021, and provide up to 80 hours of paid time to address employees’ COVID-related needs, including family care and self-care.

Erick said he understands the questions from employees who are now coming back on-site, confronting some of the same uncertainties his team has. With kids and family members at home who are at higher risk for infection, he acknowledged the range of concerns: The possibility of exposure, of disrupted work, of irregular school schedules, of family members in quarantine—even with the protocols in place, even with a university community that reports a high rate of vaccination and a low rate of transmission, they still exist.   

“Why am I motivated to keep going? Our job is to support teaching and research, and in my case, it’s looking after the quality of life for the people who support this work, all of the people in the buildings.”

As we lean into the fall, all across Stanford’s facilities, teams like Erick’s will continue to do what they can to support you and your team when you come on-site.

How you can prepare for your on-site routine

University HR joins University Occupational Health, University IT and Stanford Transportation in helping you design your new on-site routine:

  • The Return to Workplace page on Cardinal at Work includes quick links to: 

    • The latest requirements for Returning to Work on Stanford Campuses 

    • Stanford Transportation Return-to-Your-Commute Toolkit

    • Operating Standards for Student-Facing Staff

    • Technology Checklist to support Your Return to On-Campus Work 

Other helpful resources for you to use: 

Did you miss the campus conversation with Dr. Lloyd Minor, Dean of the School of Medicine? He addressed some of the most pressing health related questions from our community. See the recording here.

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