• Doug Most

    Associate Vice President, Executive Editor, Editorial Department Twitter Profile

    Doug Most is a lifelong journalist and author whose career has spanned newspapers and magazines up and down the East Coast, with stops in Washington, D.C., South Carolina, New Jersey, and Boston. He was named Journalist of the Year while at The Record in Bergen County, N.J., for his coverage of a tragic story about two teens charged with killing their newborn. After a stint at Boston Magazine, he worked for more than a decade at the Boston Globe in various roles, including magazine editor and deputy managing editor/special projects. His 2014 nonfiction book, The Race Underground, tells the story of the birth of subways in America and was made into a PBS/American Experience documentary. He has a BA in political communication from George Washington University. Profile

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There are 18 comments on BU to Permit Remote Work for Eligible Staff, Up to Two Days a Week

  1. Overall, this is a positive change to policy at BU that is certainly more incremental than perhaps some would have liked. However, it’s not surprising that BU would take a more conservative approach and pass it off as progressive.

    For one thing, in order to take advantage of remote work, “[m]anagers may approve employees…whose performance evaluations have shown them to be high-performing.” There is no real recognition that some employees may actually be higher performing when working remotely.

    Secondly, Freeman’s quote where he says “If everybody says, I want to have Monday and Friday off, that won’t work either,” is most telling. The interim VP of Human Resources views remote work as days off rather than days worked outside of the office. Perhaps it’s time to find a real VP who understands HR in 2021.

    1. As a manager who’s had to suffer through lax employees who took WFH to mean reduced availability and accountability, and got no support from my HR Business Partner on how to discipline these individuals, I thank VP Freeman for his frankness. Let’s live in the real world. A request to work-from-home on Fridays and Mondays should raise suspicion.

      1. As someone who has out performed and out produced my in-person coworkers, I also wish we were able to discipline those in person lax employees for their reduced availability and accountability. I’m available at least 4 more hours a day compared to those who go into the office, and have had to prove my performance actually is much higher than those who are in person.

  2. I would like to thank the Committee on their thoughtful and swift work and President Brown for his quick response on this important initiative. I too have found that working remotely through the past year has improved productivity, collaboration and satisfaction.

  3. This is welcome news for staff who are concerned about having to work in person with unvaccinated University employees. Limiting exposure to groups of people in indoor spaces, especially unvaccinated groups of people, is still a priority for some folks. High productivity can be achieved, along with health and safety.

    1. Vaccinated people have no more to fear from the unvaccinated than they do from other vaccinated people. This is just plain bigotry, and it has no place on campus.

  4. It is endlessly fascinating to me that such emphasis is put on *staff* being on campus a majority of the time to foster this “vibrant residential experience” for the students. In my 20+ years of employment at this university, I have seen that many, perhaps most of the *faculty* do a significant portion of their work at home, 1-2 days a week at least, and they’re not even a part of the conversation here.

    This is doubly interesting, since most students interact with their faculty on campus far more than they do the average staff member, and yet, the assumption seems to be that a faculty member who comes to campus shortly before class, teaches, meets for an hour with students after class, and then goes home, is doing nothing unreasonable. Heck, I know of several faculty over the years whose schedules were specifically arranged so they only had to be on campus one or perhaps two consecutive days a week, because they’d commute in from CT or NY, and no one blinked an eye.

    And I am not saying that this is wrong – it seems to work just fine – but I would say most of the faculty I know are off-campus multiple days a week, and they are answering email, doing research, and preparing course materials, and it works just fine for them. So why is it that a staff member whose job would largely consist of email and using Word / Excel / PowerPoint being at home seem to be cause for concern?

    I think that this shift in policy is a good thing, but again, I laugh at the idea of people being concerned about the “residential experience” impact when Bob from Accounts Payable works from his home two days a week, while some tenured faculty member has their schedule arranged such that they only need to be on campus Tuesdays and Thursdays and no one gives it a second thought (except the poor admin who has to schedule this).

    1. 100%. I also worked in a department where one professor commuted in once a week by train from NY, and another who drove down from Vermont, so they planned their classes around this so they only had to be on campus 1-2 days/week, and as you say, no one blinked an eye. And this was pre-COVID. I think faculty have more of an impact on fostering this residential campus experience for students, more so than the average staff person on campus. Fascinating, indeed…

  5. I think this is great. I wish the same consideration had been giving to keeping “Learning from Anywhere” in place or more notice given to students ahead of time that this was not going to be an option in the fall. Once again, we were caught short and found ourselves scrambling for grad housing. This will now be the third semester that my daughter has to commute an hour and 15 minutes into Boston. We love BU, but we do believe that communication, resources and services for grad students is not on par with that offered to undergraduates. BU needs more grad housing; not all students want or have the means to get involved with leasing and subletting outrageously expensive apartments..I’m glad we are almost done with grad school. Again, great move on the work from home policy.

      1. Thank you for reaching out. We’ll muddle through another semester of commuting. I believe the BU apt rentals did not work for us because they required a year lease and both times she only needed housing for a semester because she had out of state internships. But thank you again for reaching out.

  6. While I applaud this “progression,” it’s still quite conservative and not at all competitive with other area-institutions. I expect that BU will lose a portion of their workforce because this policy shift isn’t quite progressive enough. My own department has already said that WFH 2 days a week is too much, but they may allow 1 day/week. I’m looking for more flexibility than that, and after WFH for the past 15 months and doing my job well, there’s no reason why that couldn’t continue 2-3 days per week. People can quibble here all day long about how effective (or not effective) employees are when WFH, but at the end of the day, if people are taking advantage of WFH, then there should be repercussions. Why should I be punished because someone else is taking advantage of the situation? That doesn’t sound very equitable. Further… if the president & co. are even remotely paying attention to what is happening with climate change and our environment, they should be at the forefront of exhorting WFH, if we can get more cars off the road each day. Pretty soon it won’t matter because it will be too late to turn back the tide with climate change, and then what? We are all responsible for our environment, and it’s shameful to see such a disregard for it in matters like this where we can actually make a dent in pollution and air quality by reducing cars on the road. I don’t understand this laissez-faire attitude towards our planet from a top university.

  7. Frankly, this is an embarrassing article with a headline that gives away the plot. No two people work the same way, and no two people have the same job. The whole idea of “permitting” someone to work from home “up to” two days a week smacks of lording power over staff. Now, I’ve only worked in one place at BU, but it was a job that could have been done entirely remotely. Maybe that’s a job that could become remote—i.e., we can do this on a case by case basis, where the *baseline* is allowing two days of WFH.

    But if President Brown & co. think that working from home isn’t productive, then maybe they need to think about who they are and why they’re in the position they have right now. In-person work benefits schmoozers, people who feel comfortable talking to other people and intuitive about how to gain status. If I had to guess, I’d say President Brown & co. were in meetings most remote days this year, and yeah, for some people remote meetings are a little weird. Maybe you don’t get to sit in the big comfy chair at the head of the table. Maybe you don’t get to carry on an important side conversation.

    But what WFH makes clear is who actually does the work and comes prepared. It’s democratizing in that way—what do you bring to the table? How hard do you work every day? Do you always have something to talk about, or are you the person who’s friends with everybody but shrinks from the larger tasks?

    I’m sure everyone in the executive branch here at BU is a hard worker, but so are the rest of the people at BU, and they’re no less qualified. WFH makes laziness pretty clear, and it also gives voices to those who haven’t gotten hip to the necessary schmoozing. Let those who work best from home stay at home, and give an in-person option for those who like to schmooze. Let’s see who gets the most done. For a university to succeed, the work better get done.

  8. Oh wow thanks for approving what most of us were already doing before COVID, working from home 2 days a week.

    The President’s note contains strong language pertaining to working remote being a privilege and not a right, and makes sure everyone knows its subject to outstanding performance, then goes on to say that working 3 days per week is something that you can only do in extraordinary circumstances, which sounds similar to achieving a 5 on your review. All this is said in light of supposed research showing that we performed during COVID and working from home was successful.

    To rub salt on the wound, personnel have been moving out of state and are now working remote full time, and the University has opened up its hiring to folks outside of the Boston area so that they will also be working remote full time from the day they are hired. This will be happening while the rest of us see our quality of life once again diminished by the tiresome 3-4 hour round trip daily commute into work where many of us will still attend meetings remotely via Teams and Zoom or sit in a conference room with 1/2 a team or less because others are working remote as one of their 2 days outside of the office.

    Here’s an idea: Why not just treat the professionals who’s jobs can be performed remotely like adults and let them decide when to work from home or in the office whenever they want? If they don’t perform, place restrictions. This seems to be like a better solution for all rather than to place the restrictions in advance on high performing individuals and making them deal with them.

    I think the University needs to open up some dialogue on this instead of making this decisions in tiny vacuum because its fairly obvious the voice of the staff has not been listened to, and the results of the research of the success of working remote has been ignored.

  9. What is this nonsense, work from home is an excuse for people to be doing yoga, online shopping, and video streaming in place of work. Show up in person. That’s how it’s been done forever and it works because people are held accountable. Work from home is just soft nonsense.

    1. I am really glad I checked the comments here. This is too funny. Not sure if you are just too young as a student or you are only trying to troll. Also “How its been done” is a really bad argument so I might drop that in future debates. The idea that a home is some free for all with no accountability and in the office these people would be held to a different standard does not happen in practice. People who work will work and people who wont don’t. We are graded on results. I think the monologue in Office Space about a typical work day should fill you in on how slackers can act in an office. Hope as you get into the workforce you can see some of this for yourself! I for one am happy with the flexibility and my work keeps me accountable regardless of where I am sitting.

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