This update is provided for archival purposes only.

Public Health guidance and University of Waterloo operations may have changed. For the most up-to-date information, please visit our COVID-19 frequently asked questions.

Preparing for work in the fall and beyond

Thursday, April 29, 2021

This message was originally sent to employees by president and vice-chancellor, Feridun Hamdullahpur.

Since the pandemic hit, most of you have worked from home offices, kitchen tables, basements and bedrooms.  At the same time, a significant number of people have continued to work on our campus to ensure physical operations and support key services for students and research. 

I thank you all for your commitment and service – wherever you have worked.

I know that not everyone’s experience working remotely has been the same. For many of you, working from home has been very natural and you have flourished. For others, working from home has been a challenge. Whatever your experience, many of you are no doubt keen to return to campus. 

We are planning for a scenario this September which would allow us to expand in-person experiences for many more of our students. This means we need to prepare for more employees to join those who have continued to work on campus. 

Leaders across the University are planning for a gradual transition to more employees on campus. We remain focussed on keeping you safe and well. This means we'll stay adaptable to Public Health guidelines as well as student needs.

Get vaccinated as soon as you are offered the chance

Importantly, the federal government currently anticipates that every person for whom vaccines are approved and recommended will be immunized by September. Of course, this depends on the continued supply of vaccines. We will watch this closely, but this is reason for optimism. If you have a chance to get vaccinated, please do so as soon as possible with whatever vaccine is available.

If you need time away from work to get vaccinated, we are offering two hours of leave for your vaccination appointments. Whatever your role on campus, these hours are there for you to make sure you can get vaccinated at your convenience. We will not deduct these hours from any other leave balances. If you need more time, please talk to your supervisor to work out your plan to get a shot.

Longer-term planning for new ways of working is getting underway

We are focussed now on our plan to expand on-campus experiences in September. As we plan for the fall and the future ways we will work, we will always be guided by our shared mission to support positive student experiences. 

Over the next few months, we are launching the following employee focused actions:

  • Leaders will focus on the roles that will return to campus to support on campus experiences before the end of 2021. We'll continue to be mindful of all health and safety precautions to keep you safe as this limited return to campus life begins.
  • Department heads will begin discussions with your teams about how to work with the future in mind. These conversations will help frame the University’s direction on how to adapt to the future of work.
  • We will continue to engage and communicate with you over the coming months and let you know when we plan to move forward with changes to our work life and workplaces.

You can come to a town hall meeting soon to begin our collective conversation

We know many of you will have questions and comments about the plan to establish our “next normal” of work. With this in mind, I'm inviting you to come to a town hall to share your views, concerns and suggestions to help us plan. The town hall will happen on May 11, and you can expect to see an invitation in your inbox soon.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a time of constant change and uncertainty. It's also a unique opportunity for us to learn from our experiences and think about new, different or better ways of working. We’ve said so often that we were built for change. I’m proud to lead an institution that I know is ready to tackle these challenges and opportunities with courage and determination. Thank you.