Stanford is currently in Stage 2 of the restart process. Only essential workers, authorized researchers and laboratory support personnel and those with permission to be on campus to prepare the campus for restart should be on campus at this time. All work that can be done from home should continue to be done remotely.

Departmental Management/HR Guidance

Guidelines for Returning Staff to On-site Work – Spring Quarter (as of 4/1)

The university will continue a gradual approach to bring more employees back on-campus, and will maintain safety protocols such as testing, social distancing and the use of face masks to help support the health and safety of our community, comply with county, state and federal requirements and minimize disruptions in the event of an increase or resurgence.

With more students returning to campus for the spring quarter and certain activities gradually resuming, more in-person staff support may be needed to support the university’s operations. However, the expectation is that most exempt and non-exempt staff will continue telecommuting through mid-June 2021.

Should overall conditions support increased on-site work (stage 3), our guidelines will be updated to assist schools/units in decision-making that allows more people to return in ways that are aligned to how the university is reimagining our workplace, school/business unit operational needs, the implementation of workplace flexibility options such as a hybrid workplace with flexible hours, telecommuting and fully remote work options, and appropriate space utilization, as well as to local requirements.

School/unit deans, vice provosts, vice presidents or an assigned delegate will determine and approve whether an on-site staff presence is required for spring, either fully or partially. Until entering stage 3, requirements for staff to return to work on-site should be based on the following guidelines:

  • Prioritize roles that are truly essential to supporting the operational/business needs in support of safety, well-being, and access to learning for all of our students, and roles that are necessary to support research, teaching, residential and patient care.
    • Require both exempt and non-exempt to continue working from home if their work does not require on-site duties in support of research, teaching, students in residence, and patient care.
    • Exceptions to allow staff to work on-site when their duties do not require them to return should be limited and must be approved by the Dean, Vice Provost, or Vice President (or assigned delegate).
    • For administrative staff who do not directly support faculty, students, or research, Deans, Vice Provosts, or Vice Presidents (or assigned delegate) may approve continued remote work through mid-June. Staff members should be informed that this date may be changed based on the university’s operations, and may be asked to return on-site sooner, if needed, or to continue telecommuting for a longer period of time.
  • Establish the expectation that the fewest number of staff possible should return to on-site work and challenge pre-pandemic assumptions about the degree to which certain roles/functions must be performed in-person/on-site in order to be effective. Decisions should be based on the feasibility of whether the work can continue to be performed from home, either fully or partially, through spring quarter, and should be categorized as follows:
    • Role requires 100% on-site work once there are more faculty and students on campus (on-site role).
    • Role can be done with a mix of telecommuting and office/on-site work (hybrid role).
    • Role can be done through 100% telecommuting (while considering whether there is a need for the role to come into the office in an emergency or for coverage in the event that other staff who are on-site or hybrid cannot come in).
  • Continue to update and maintain On-site Role Management System (ORMS). The ORMS will continue to be used to manage faculty, researchers, staff, postdocs, and students authorized to work on-site during the phased restart of campus operations.
  • Minimize the number of people in an office/building and stagger the hours/schedule for staff returning on-site.
  • Set rotational schedules amongst the team if more than one staff member can perform the essential on-site work so that no individual is performing all of the in-person responsibilities while colleagues work from home.
  • Provide workplace accommodations as needed for individuals at higher risk from infection with COVID-19, including those with underlying medical conditions or in a higher risk age group. Accommodations could include use of private office space where possible, provision of additional PPE (such as plexiglass screens), change in shift assignment, continued telecommuting, or personal leave time. (See the Administrative Guide for further information about the accommodation process.
  • Coordinate in advance with building managers and facilities to ensure that appropriate space is available for planned in-person staffing levels and there is sufficient time for preparations (cleaning protocols, On-site Role Management System (ORMS) updates).
  • Whenever possible, give employees a minimum of two weeks’ notice when requesting return to on-site work to allow for dependent care arrangements, transportation requirements, etc. Use the Return to On-site Work notification template in the HRM Toolkit.


  • HR Leaders may utilize tools and templates in support of the Return to On-site Work, including decision tree, checklists, guidance and forms for COVID-19 medical accommodations. These resources are available on the HRM Toolkit.
  • Cardinal Recovery: Building Manager Toolkit

Strategies for Reducing Number of Employees in the Workspace

As the HR or operational leader within your department, you may be tasked with developing strategies to reduce capacity within your area, both physically and over time. This page is designed to give you an idea of where to start when making plans for your unit.

  • Consider the reduction of core business hours (both online and in-person)
  • Establish staffing structure to determine ideal staff occupancy levels
  • Alternate workgroups in the office to ensure physical distancing can be observed
  • Track occupant information to strategize at the building level which areas will be used certain days of the week
  • Establish and assign zones to groups to enable them to sit within proximity of their team, but desks may have to be unassigned
  • Continue to hold all-hands meetings, or larger meetings, on virtual platforms

Alternate Work Groups/Team Member Schedule to Stagger Workplace Population

Design schedules that alternate workgroups or team members to ensure work may be performed by maintaining a minimum 6-foot physical distancing. When alternating work schedules by select days of the week or work hours, employees may use their own assigned workstation or desk. This requires coordination between management and employees to determine when and who will be in the office at designated times.

The image at right is an example of a floor plan used to coordinate alternate workgroups in a building.

Formal Recommendation

Each HR manager should work with their team members and supervisors to determine a preset calendar of who will be in the office at certain dates/times of the week.

As an alternate option for smaller, more flexible units, you may have supervisors/managers coordinate with team members to determine which days of the week they will be in the office without having it be set the same from week to week. If there is any overlap, employees may choose to sit at an alternate location that has been cleaned, or work from home on that day.

Workplace Accommodations

Staff with disabilities needing workplace accommodations pertaining to the university’s COVID-19 Base Social Distancing Protocol should contact their immediate supervisor or human resources manager. Additional information can be found at – FAQs: Workplace Accommodations at Stanford University. Faculty should contact their department chair, departmental or school faculty affairs office, or the Diversity and Access Office ( Students should contact the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) to request academic and/or housing accommodations. Previous workspace accommodations should be honored and considered when planning workplace distancing strategies.

Return-to-Campus Purchasing Information

Departments returning to campus can generally order all supplies using the same resources they have in the past. However, the expected delivery timeframe for some products could take up to eight weeks. Because of the longer lead times, departments are encouraged to plan ahead and order as early as possible.

Purchasing protective supplies

Departments may order hand sanitizer, gloves, cleaning products, disposable face coverings and other supplies from resources in SmartMart, including:

  • Fisher Scientific
  • VWR
  • Sigma
  • Office Depot

Protective supplies may also be ordered directly from sellers on Amazon Business through Oracle iProcurement.

Having trouble purchasing products?

In order to ensure timely delivery of the items needed, departments are encouraged to purchase their supplies directly from vendors as soon as they know they will be returning to on-site activity. The EOC Logistics and Safety teams may be able to help departments identify vendors with products available for purchase and delivery within the department’s required time frames.

Additionally, the EOC Logistics and Safety teams have a limited supply of protective products in the Logistics inventory. This inventory is intended to be a short-term supply used to facilitate departments returning to work on-site. If a department is unable to order supplies directly from a vendor for delivery in a timely manner, it may request up to a one-month supply for use while it waits for the delivery of its orders. After receiving a one-month interim supply, departments will be charged for items received from the Logistics inventory.

How to request:

  • Reusable Face Coverings: Contact your DOC to request reusable face coverings to distribute to your team when they move back to work on-site. DOCs should submit consolidated orders for their units at least 10 days before individuals return to work on-site.
  • All other Face Coverings: Email directly to request disposable face coverings, N95 respirators, or face shields. Currently, N95 respirators are reserved for use in healthcare settings (per CDC), unless required for task-specific hazards determined by EH&S risk assessment.
  • Digital Thermometers: Contact your DOC to request a digital thermometer for any faculty, staff or post-doc who needs one to complete Health Check. DOCs should submit consolidated orders for SOCs at least 10 days before individuals return to work on-site.
  • Hand Sanitizer (16.9 oz bottles only)/Disinfectant/Gloves: To request up to a one-month supply, submit the request directly using the Supply Request Form.
  • Other items: For assistance finding suppliers for any other items, email