September 2020

Fall time in Harvard Yard


September is the start of a new year for our University. While this one will certainly be different from years gone by, Harvard remains dedicated to learning, growth, and investment in future generations. For some, like the library staff at Widener, Lamont, and the Harvard Depository, that means returning to campus to prepare for the upcoming academic year and care for our valuable collections. For many others, remote work assignments that started as a short-term measure last March will continue through at least December.

Harvard has introduced several innovations aimed at keeping everyone safe and productive and supporting employees working in a range of settings. Some highlights include:

  • COVID-19 Safety Training. If you are returning to campus to work, you are required to attend safety training sessions for laboratory and non-laboratory settings (HarvardKey required).
  • Remote Work. Employees who can work remotely will do so until at least December of this year. University policies have been updated as necessary to reflect this change.
  • COVID-19 Testing. University Health Services has been testing employees for COVID-19 and is prepared to test returning students as needed.
  • Community Involvement. Learn how Harvard is making an impact in the communities it calls home through cutting-edge research; support for health care workers; and resources for neighbors, local businesses, and nonprofits.
  • Internet Access. HU Information Technology has put together resources for improving your internet speed, gaining access to discounted data, and connecting to free global wi-fi hotspots with your HarvardKey.
  • Financial Relief. If you have loans from the Harvard University Employees Credit Union (HUECU), including credit cards and mortgages, temporary relief may be available. Contact HUECU to learn more.
  • Online Resources. Take advantage of resources and advice specifically designed for you, whether you’re a manager with employees working on-site, an employee getting smart about Harvard's revised approach to flexwork, an employee juggling work and caregiving responsibilities, or a parent whose child is anxious about returning to school.

As we reinvent the ways in which we live and work, we need to reset our expectations. Moments of anxiety and exhaustion are inevitable (be sure to check out our resources to combat stress), but by supporting each other, we can keep our community strong and healthy.

Various images in a collage of Black America and COVID 19


The pandemic experience of Black Americans continues to be documented in various media across diverse platforms. Harvard’s Black America and COVID-19 Project is collecting and cataloguing these documents, which include mainstream publications, Zoom conferences, and white papers, as well as Twitter feeds, blog posts, and podcasts. This “collective conversation” is being created for use in teaching and research, and is available to the public.

Watch local town hall discussions, read poetry inspired by the moment, dive deep into the origins and effects of race and health care, and suggest content for curators to add to the collection.

The project includes the following components:

  • Collections on health, education, the environment, housing, gender, arts, music, self-care, voting, and more.
  • Workshops on storytelling, journaling, and political activism.
  • Harvard Campus Launch Event (register here) on Friday, September 11, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • The Anti-Black Racism Book & Film Club, which meets the first Monday of each month; visit the website to sign-up and join the conversation.
  • "Black Stories Told by Black Mouths," a collaborative project from Black COVID Tales and the Harvard library, aims to preserve the COVID experience from the Black perspective. If you would like to submit a piece (contributions range from poetry to pictures to TikToks) or participate in an interview, please email blackcovidtales@gmail.com.

American society is changing rapidly. Use the resources on the project website to understand this transformation and consider how you might contribute to shaping our future.

Mind & Body

Wherever you are on your personal journey, you are part of the Harvard community and have access to resources that can help you feel and act your best.

  • If you’ve been working from home, Harvard Environmental Health and Safety has resources to keep you healthy, including tips for setting up your workstation, scheduling breaks, and taking time to stretch.
  • Transition from summer to fall: An Ayuvedic Approach, (HarvardKey required) offered free through Socialize Remotely, provides a guide to nurturing our bodies and energy to sustain us through the changing seasons, on Thursday, September 10, from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
  • If you have personal experiences with disability or care about those who do, contact Erich Manser (erich_manser@harvard.edu) to join HarvardAbility+, a new affinity that is group broadening awareness and inclusion of those with disabilities at Harvard.

Learning & Growing

Seize the day! Sign up for a class or workshop that will help you take the next step in your professional career.

  • Attention, University leaders: To help you adapt and maintain high performance throughout this period of change and uncertainty, the Executive and Organization Effectiveness team at CWD has published a suite of user-friendly toolkits and tip sheets. In some cases, these resources provide all the guidance and support you need; in other instances, you may prefer to partner with an organizational development consultant from CWD.
  • Afraid to address a challenging situation? Learn how to engage in Conversations That Take Courage (HarvardKey required) through a live virtual course for the Longwood Campus community—taking place September 23, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Wherever you are in your career, the Center for Workplace Development has relevant, free virtual courses to help you plan through uncertainty, give a “positive no,” and more.

Living & Working

Whether you’re working from home or back on campus, the Office of Work/Life aims to make your life easier with a variety of support resources.

  • Feeling off-kilter lately? Who isn’t? The Ten Percent Happier app has courses, classes, and talks that can help you find your mental equanimity.
  • Care @ Work provides benefits-eligible employees with 20 days of short-term backup care per fiscal year when it’s needed most. And through October 31, 2020, the rates are discounted even further! Learn more here.
  • Learn to ease your anxieties, be a better parent, stretch out in your workspace, and more, with classes and seminars from the Office of Work/Life (HarvardKey required).

Finances & Security

In moments of economic uncertainty, our resources help you make the most of your University-provided benefits.

  • The transfer of existing retirement funds to new TIAA accounts previously scheduled for March has been rescheduled for this month.
    • On September 9, holdings in TIAA mutual funds that are not part of the new investment lineup will transfer over (balances in annuities will not transfer).
    • On September 15, account balances at Fidelity and Vanguard will transfer to your TIAA account. There will be a blackout period to facilitate this transfer – see the full transition schedule.
  • Get prepared for retirement by attending our online webinars or making a phone appointment for a one-on-one conversation with an advisor.
  • If your health care plan covers a dependent child who is at school or works out of state, be sure to check coverage guidelines from the Harvard University Group Health Plan or Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.