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Flexible Work

Learn more about the university's plans to challenge existing assumptions and re-imagine the way we work.

The pandemic fundamentally changed the way we work. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Flexible Workplace Committee was initiated as a working group for the Long-Term Recovery Team.

The Committee was charged with examining and challenging pre-pandemic business assumptions in an effort to offer flexible work models for all staff, including a hybrid workplace that incorporates flexibility of time and place, on-site work, telecommuting and fully remote work options. The university’s goal is to provide flexible work arrangements that allow employees to excel in meeting both Stanford’s and school/unit business needs, as well as foster work-life integration and support our workforce in addressing continuing affordability challenges.

Flexible Work Committee Recommendations

If you have comments or ideas to share with the committee, please use the Flexible Work form.

  • Offer all staff increased options and work flexibility.

  • Establish standard criteria for evaluating job functions to be on-site, flexible or at remote sites. 

  • Drive toward a uniform set of policies for compensation and benefits for remote workers. 

  • Adopt uniform tools and templates that support aspects of this entire program and enhance enterprise systems to support flexible and/or remote work. 

  • Encourage units to transition to shared workstations where appropriate to sustain culture and achieve operational efficiencies. 

  • Set up an Office of Employee Experience in order to help units transition to a hybrid work environment and enable early adopters.

Implementation Timeline and Key Milestones

The flexible work implementation is a phased approach with limited return to on-site work in the spring, pilots and experimentation in the summer and a more broad return to the workplace in the fall. The process will be highly iterative and is expected to evolve as we re-imagine Stanford’s work experience and culture throughout FY22.


Winter quarter Spring quarter Summer quarter Fall quarter

Planning and Approval Process

The Long-Term Recovery Team presented its recommendations to senior leadership, Executive Cabinet, Senior Staff and the full Cabinet.

Key milestone:

Seek and gain approval of flexible work recommendations

Implementation Planning

The Flexible Work Committee develops implementation plan, starting with restricted return to on-site work in support of research and education mission.

Key milestone:

Collaborate with schools/units to design pilot program.

Pilot Program Period

Increase on-site work and experiment with flexible work options, while continuing to meet county guidelines. Share university plans for fall quarter.

Key milestone:

Implement pilot program and announce fall quarter plans.

Refine Work Arrangements

Plan for more typical on-site operations and continue flexible work implementation. Refine as needed.

Key milestone:


Flexible Work Committee and Workstreams

The recommendations are being implemented by the Flexible Work Committee, made up of members of our HR Community in partnership with Land, Buildings & Real Estate (LBRE), External Relations and Business Affairs, and in alignment with research and education priorities.

Executive Sponsor Strategy/Facilitator Project Coordinator
Elizabeth Zacharias, VP for UHR Sandip Darji, AVP, Business Affairs Ellie Ayala, Business Affairs


Project Workstreams Leads
Guiding principles, framework, standard evaluation criteria and decision guide Sumitra Krishnan, Chief HR Officer, Humanities & Sciences
Change management and communications Melissa McVicker, AVP, HR Communications
Compensation, benefits and HR policy implications Michelle Jaross, AVP, Benefits, Compensation & Global HR
Enterprise system enhancements Cindy Martin, Sr. Director, UHR Client Services
Leo Volkov, Director, Student & HR Services, UIT
Space sharing and collaboration tools David Lenox, University Architect & Executive Director of Campus Planning, LBRE
Paula Cruz Quintero, Space Management, LBRE
Early adopters and ongoing transition support Phyllis Stewart Pires, Asst. VP, WorkLife Strategy

Flexible Work Guiding Principles

Our vision is for a flexible work environment that delivers on Stanford’s mission, culture and operational requirements by unlocking our employees’ full potential through supporting their varied needs, trusting them to integrate their work and lives, and placing their overall well-being at the fore.

Flexible work decisions will be guided by the following:

  1. Organizational mission and operational requirements: Uphold university priorities and long-range vision, and align with school/business unit needs and staffing plans.

  2. Diversity and culture: Foster a diverse and inclusive culture that enables us to be agile, retain talent and furthers our position as a reputable and leading employer.

  3. Creativity: Commit to developing creative solutions/approaches that evolve over time to engage our distributed workforce and community, and enable effective collaboration.

  4. Employee experience: Address the unique needs and affordability challenges of our workforce by providing a consistent framework for varied flexible work arrangements, and equitable compensation and benefits.

  5. Infrastructure: Enable flexibility through enterprise-wide technology, communications and approaches to physical space that allow for organizational alignment, efficiency and safety.

  6. Training and support: Provide guidance and development opportunities to strengthen our ability to evolve and operate in a distributed environment.

Share your ideas with the Committee

During the pandemic, many schools/units have conducted pulse surveys or have asked for employee sentiment on workplace flexibility preferences and experiences. If you have comments or ideas to share with the committee, please use the Flexible Work form.