For staff, more on summer and fall

March 16, 2021

To all MIT employees,

Following on President Reif’s letter, we write to thank you for your extraordinary contributions this past year and offer an update on what kind of working arrangements to expect this summer and fall.

There is so much we do not yet know, of course. We don’t know when our whole community will be vaccinated, for example, or how the pandemic may unfold this spring and beyond, or how state guidelines may evolve through the summer.

Within this uncertainty, however, we have set our sights on a few milestones. Here is what all staff and faculty should expect and plan for in general terms:

  1. For the spring semester: Whatever your current work arrangement – whether on campus or remote – you should plan to continue through at least May 31.
     
  2. For the summer: For most of us, summer will likely mean the continuation of whatever working mode we are now in. However, as we strive to ramp up to full academic and research activity in the fall, some of us will be asked to return to work on campus in mid- to late summer, as pandemic conditions allow. As summer approaches, please engage with your supervisor and local HR team to understand how this ramp-up may affect you.
     
  3. For the fall semester: As we look toward fall and an end to many Covid-era restrictions, we are planning to return to a full program of teaching, learning, research, and residential life on campus.
     
    State guidance, prevailing Covid conditions, and our commitment to a healthy campus will govern precisely how this return unfolds. But it is important that we all prepare to resume our MIT activities on campus as the academic year begins.

    For staff who remain remote through the summer, this means that if you worked on campus before Covid, you should prepare for a return to campus as of Tuesday, September 7.
     

  4. For fall and beyond: Returning to full campus operations does not mean a return to “normal” as we knew it before. In step with the Task Force 2021 recommendations, we see this moment of post-Covid transition as an opportunity to make MIT an even better place to work.
     
    As President Reif announced, we have launched the Work Succeeding effort to define new ways of working that will help us all be more creative and productive in support of the Institute's mission, while improving the quality of our lives. If we want to continue to be a place where the very best talent can flourish, this is a moment for thoughtfully modeling what a “better” workplace can look like.

    The Work Succeeding team, including staff from both academic and administrative units, is developing guidance, policies, and models for new ways of working. We will test these models this fall, learning from the experience to inform further innovation as we move forward. We will build on what we have learned this past year, engaging the community along the way for ideas and input.

    Yet, just as Covid won’t recede overnight, creating new blueprints for how we work together equitably and effectively won’t emerge overnight, either. The past year has been primarily about many staff at home full time, and some on campus full time. The new academic year will be about mixed models that will challenge us anew.

    This message is therefore just a beginning. We will be sharing updates on this effort through spring and summer, so that you will know what to expect in your role as MIT readies for the fall.
     

  5. A word on budgets: Covid will continue to affect our budgets in certain ways as we enter a new fiscal year on July 1. We anticipate needing to continue some amount of Covid testing and enhanced cleaning of our facilities, for instance. Further, there is potential for some continued disruption of research as we move into FY22. We will need to work both centrally and at the academic unit level to respond to these disruptions.
     
    But beyond these general issues, we will aspire to deliver on our education and research mission using our normal operating budgets, including normal salary increases, as previously announced here.
     

As MIT begins to step into this post-Covid era, we do so in a uniquely MIT way, committed to experimentation, open-mindedness, and learning from one another. We know there are more productive, equitable, and rewarding ways we can work together, and we will find our way to them through trial and error, together.

For the moment – whether you’ve done your work this year at home, on campus, or in some combination – you have our deepest respect and appreciation. Thank you for your contributions over these hard months to keep MIT going strong.

Sincerely,

Ramona Allen, Vice President for Human Resources
Martin Schmidt, Provost
Glen Shor, Executive Vice President and Treasurer