Research ramp up thunder committee office space guidance

August 18, 2020
Maria T. Zuber, Vice President for Research | Chris Bourg, Director of Libraries |

Dear DLC Heads,

We are pleased to provide the Research Ramp-Up Thunder Committee’s office space access guidance for MIT DLCs and PIs. Please note that this guidance applies specifically to DLCs in SHASS, Sloan, SA&P, the MIT Libraries, the MIT Museum, and other research-related DLCs that have not participated in the research ramp-up under the previously-issued Lightning Committee’s guidelines. As explained in the Thunder Committee’s guidance, these units will follow a similar process to the Lightning Committee process but with modifications to accommodate all staff in these DLCs. Note that office space usage for DLCs that have already participated in the research ramp-up under the Lightning Committee’s guidelines will remain at their current maximum of 50% of normal on-campus hours, now allocating those hours also to include research offices and instructional preparation space.

The Thunder Committee guidelines are summarized here:

While MIT is currently operating under the guidance that ‘every MIT staff member who can work successfully from home will need to continue doing so’, on-campus office access may be necessary to further an individual’s work at MIT for a variety of reasons. This applies throughout the MIT community, to faculty, graduate students, and all staff.

  • Office space plans must adhere to a maximum density of 50% of full capacity at all times at this stage.
  • The 50% requirement applies to the entire DLC space, as well as each floor or clearly defined spatial subunit (e.g., labs) of large or multi-floor spaces.
  • Space plans must also define the maximum occupancy capacity for each room such that individuals are at least 6 ft apart, with a minimum of 125 square feet per person in each shared room.
  • DLC Heads are encouraged to minimize the times when multiple people are using the same shared office simultaneously, and instead to spread people out to other unoccupied spaces (e.g., open conference rooms, unused private offices) when feasible.
  • DLCs Heads should consider how to utilize conference spaces for collaborative research activities. Conference spaces should be used only for collaborative research activities that require in-person meetings, not for routine meetings which could be virtualized via Zoom or similar virtual platforms.

Everyone who returns to work on campus in any capacity must adhere to the Covid-19 testing requirements outlined by MIT Medical, and follow the Covid Access System and Covid Pass requirements, which include daily health attestations.

Individuals must also complete required EHS training, and follow the policies and best practices outlined by MIT Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) on face coverings and other personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes wearing a face covering at all times in public campus spaces, shared spaces, shared offices, and conference spaces.

DLC Heads in SHASS, Sloan, SA&P, the MIT Libraries, the MIT Museum, and other research-related DLCs that have not participated in the research ramp-up may now complete their Space Planning and Personnel Planning Exercises (Exercise B) to grant office space access to their unit’s members. Their designated administrator should upload the Space Personnel Planning Exercise spreadsheet into the Covid Access System Non-Laboratory Research Tab to commence the office access for their units.

Please share this guidance with your DLC. Questions about the process should be directed to

Maria T. Zuber
Vice President for Research

Chris Bourg
Director of MIT Libraries and
Chair, Research Ramp up Thunder Committee