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Survey of Professional Staff on Return to In-Person Work

Over the course of spring and summer 2021 quarters, the PSO Board received emails and questions from professional staff who expressed concerns about returning to onsite/in-person work. It became clear that professional staff wanted more transparency and information about the university’s plans to return to in-person work.

In order to better understand the concerns of our professional staff colleagues, the PSO board ran a survey soliciting feedback about the return to onsite work. We sent the survey to our PSO membership listserv of 10,838 people and received around 1974 responses.

The survey was conducted anonymously in order to encourage respondents to share their opinions and experiences freely. The survey included 11 questions – 6 single or multiple choice and 5 optional, open-ended questions.

The responses that we received were wide-ranging and thorough. We first want to thank you, our members, for taking the time to share your experiences with us through this survey. You’ve shared thoughtful, specific, and very personal feedback with us, and we are committed to using this information to do what we can to help professional staff during this transition and in our work going forward.

Our first step after analyzing this data was to prepare a summary to share with UW Leadership. We were moved by your responses and felt it was of utmost importance to share our findings with UW leaders. You can read our initial letter to leadership here.

From there, we continued a deeper analysis of the survey results, and are committed to sharing these findings with you, our members, and taking your feedback and experiences to shape our work as the PSO Board of Directors.

In our initial review of the open-ended survey responses, we identified a few categories that represent the primary themes that emerged. These themes included equality vs. equity oriented policies, concerns regarding scheduling, transportation and safety, questions about masking and vaccination, and more. We explore these themes in greater detail in our report, which is published on our website.

It’s important to note that these themes are not exhaustive, and are not independent of each other – we observed a high degree of overlap and intersection amidst your responses. For example, scheduling concerns were largely related to issues around transportation. As we describe in the report, we used these categories to sort your responses so that we could provide as comprehensive a review as possible.

Our next step was to take our initial findings and dive deeper into the interconnections of your responses in order to provide a more nuanced report with clear action items to our community of members as well as UW Leadership. As the PSO Board, our mission is to deliver the issues and concerns of professional staff to the university administration and to our greater campus and local communities. These are your experiences, and we are grateful to you for sharing them with us.

As a near-term action, we’ve compiled a list of resources published by the University to address some of the primary concerns surfaced via the survey:

General guidance and policies:
Return to on-site work – UW HR
Autumn quarter health and safety
Autumn quarter health and safety measures (Message to UW personnel)
COVID-19 Safety Training: Back to the Workplace
How contact tracing works at the UW
COVID-19 vaccination requirement
Eating Space Guidelines for COVID-19 Prevention (updated 8/31/21)
Flexible work arrangements
Managing the hybrid workplace
Caring for self and family during transition
Child and family care during COVID-19
U-PASS update for autumn quarter
Healthy and safe commuting
A healthier Metro is here – King County Metro
Indoor spaces:
How ventilation in UW buildings works
Implementing special out-of-cycle checks on central supply air MERV-13 filters
Temporary PEBB benefit eligibility for hires related to COVID-19
Time off resource summary

Long-term, we will use this information to drive our work and continue to advocate for the needs of professional staff at the University of Washington. We’ve also prepared a more detailed report for you to read more about our process, findings, and recommendations for UW leadership. On September 16, we sent a letter to UW leadership about the survey results and resulting recommendations. 

Thank you again for all the professional staff that submitted survey responses and have reached out to us personally about your concerns and needs. We deeply appreciate you trusting us with your stories, and we will continue to advocate on your behalf during this transition and after.