Office Use / Regular Admin Visits

Updated 8/4/2020

While the vast majority of Harvard personnel will continue to work remotely, we will consider rare exceptions for the use of private offices to support research and other scholarly activity that simply cannot be conducted remotely. We will also consider requests for infrequent, regular building access to facilitate critical administrative activities that can’t be conducted remotely, such as mail processing.

Note: Researchers who are restarting laboratory work should incorporate their office use as part of their lab re-entry plans.

Office Use Guidelines

  1. Under current guidelines, occupancy density at any given time is limited to 1 office per unit (units with fewer than 10 total offices) or to 10% of a unit's total number of offices (larger units).
  2. Seminar rooms and other fully enclosed, non-lab spaces  under the unit’s control may be counted toward the total number of offices. 
  3. Lobby/waiting areas and other open spaces may not be counted toward the total number of offices.
  4. Dean's Space[1], classrooms fully or partly under the Registrar's jurisdiction[2], and other non-unit-controlled spaces are not availlable for office use at this time, nor should they be counted as part of a unit's total number of offices.
  5. Only 1 person may occupy a given office within a given day. Individuals with shared offices may trade off usage on a day-to-day basis (according to a scheduled plan, and following all guidelines), and faculty members who wish to share their offices with grad students may do so, provided that such usage complies with these guidelines.
  6. Office use should generally be scheduled between 8AM and 8PM, Monday through Friday (no nights, weekends, or holidays). As cleaning will not take place after nighttime or weekend/holiday access, only very limited exceptions to this guidance will be considered. 
  7. Consolidated office use requests should prioritize business needs and then take equity into consideration across all members of the department, e.g., faculty, grad students, and staff. (This does not mean that all faculty, staff, and students should be offered campus access--indeed, that is not at remotely feasible--but it does mean that no particular population should automatically be privileged.)
  8. Anyone coming to campus must comply with all requirements for personnel detailed on the DoSS Guidance for Exception Requests.

Eligibility Criteria

Criteria for evaluating exception requests include:

  1. Office use is a rare exception, not the norm; plans, for instance, should not attempt simply to maximize the numbers of personnel on campus by scheduling multiple individuals for 4-hour time windows.
  2. Core business needs (this will be weighted most heavily)
  3. Individual career needs and timelines
  4. Lack of space at home to conduct work privately
  5. Dependents (young children or parents) at home who require attention and interfere with the ability to do focused work, or lack of quiet or technology, making productive work difficult
  6. No access to dependent-care or technology solutions that would mitigate the above. Plans must include a statement detailing alternative solutions that have been explored. NEW 8/4 Please make sure that faculty and staff are aware of Harvard benefits, including our Employee Assistant Program (EAP), a host of other remote work guidance and benefits (including child/elder care assistance) and guidance from EH&S on ergonomics (quick tip sheet here). Alternatives to office access would include allowing faculty and staff to take desktop computers, printers, desk chairs, and other small pieces of equipment home (provided the unit keeps track and the employee promises to return said items). We may be able to obtain loaner laptops from HUIT, and there may be other provisions to improve the remote work situation.

Short-Duration Administrative Visits

In some cases, it may be necessary for personnel to enter departmental space on a regular schedule of short-duration, infrequent visits, for instance to sort or pick up mail.

  • These regularly scheduled visits should be incorporated into departmental planning re overall 10% density limits.
  • Such visits must be short and infrequent (<3 hours in any given week, and preferably less than 15 mins if mail pickup is all that is involved) or personnel will require regular viral testing.
  • Anyone coming to campus must comply with all requirements for personnel detailed on the DoSS Guidance for Exception Requests.

Request Process

Requests for regularly scheduled administrative visits and for office space usage should be reviewed by unit leadership (Chair & DAO, Center Director & CED) against the guidelines above. 

A comprehensive Departmental Plan using this form must then be submitted by unit leadership to the Divisional Dean’s Office for review. Plans will be reviewed carefully and modifications may be required; no one should return to campus until the Dean has approved the final plan.


[1] Some exceptions may be permitted at the dean's discretion (e.g., to accommodate faculty currently assigned to Dean's Space due to departmental construction, for emergency, short-term use, or to balance out occupancy density across floors).

[2] The FAS is developing a process and guidelines around limited classroom access for filming lectures or livestreaming courses. We will post this information as it becomes available.