After a year and a half of working from home, from extra rooms and kitchen tables while dodging roommates, spouses, and children and meeting over Zoom … Johns Hopkins employees are returning to campus. And that brings new questions about what that means for office equipment and supplies and travel in a world where work is blended between home and a worksite.
Whether Johns Hopkins will reimburse for office equipment depends mostly on your work arrangement and partly on your department.
Make sure you know how your division has classified your working arrangement, including:
- On-site (at your campus or worksite five days a week)
- Hybrid (at your campus or worksite three or four days a week)
- Remote (at your campus or worksite one or two days a week)
- 100% remote (rarely at a Johns Hopkins site)
Next, your department has specific information about what its employees can expect, so contact your manager, departmental administrator, or divisional business officer with questions.
Overall, think about where your main workspace is: a Johns Hopkins site or your home. Most or all of your equipment and supplies need to be at that main workspace, but Johns Hopkins will ensure that employees have the supplies they need to get their work done, says Jane Schlegel, vice president and chief administrative officer of the university. Employees who will often move back and forth can expense the items that can easily travel with them and that help make the transition easier, she says. Larger items will need to be returned to Johns Hopkins.
"The fall is a time of transition as we return more broadly to the workplace and learn what works and what doesn't with the various workplace arrangements," Schlegel says.
You will probably not get a duplicate set of equipment, but the university may cover supplies such as laptops or tablets to help employees move seamlessly between working at Johns Hopkins and at home.
"In terms of outfitting office space, the general expectation is that employees will be able to outfit one primary workspace, wherever they spend the bulk of their time," Schlegel says.
For example, if you're a hybrid employee who will be moving back and forth between your home and a campus, a laptop will make that transition much easier. You also can expense standard office supplies, such as pens and paper, or small computer accessories, such as a keyboard, mouse, or charger.
Accessories such as office décor and plants, utilities such as Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi extenders, or miscellaneous items such as gym memberships cannot be expensed.
If you often use a personal cellphone for business, or if you need a corporate cellphone, the university's Cellular Telephone Policies & Procedures document spells out details. This policy covers who qualifies and how to expense or purchase a cellphone.
Note that this policy covers phones and cellphones only—smartwatches do not apply.
Parking and mileage
The university's Travel Policy, which was recently revised based on broad community feedback, applies to parking and mileage.
In general, if you're traveling from your home to your primary campus or worksite (what would be considered a commute), those travel costs cannot be expensed. This is true even if you'll be working on-site only once or twice a week or even less frequently.
Travel to an alternate site (such as to a campus where you don't normally work or to an off-site meeting) can still be expensed beyond the normal commute distance. For example, if you're a hybrid worker at Peabody who lives in Bel Air and has a meeting in East Baltimore, you can expense only the mileage from Peabody to East Baltimore, not from your home to East Baltimore.
Resources for more information
The university's Reimbursement Guidelines spell out details and clarify which office items:
- Need approval before purchasing or expensing
- Need to be returned to Johns Hopkins
"We're looking forward to having people back on campus," Schlegel says, "and to continuing to learn how we can work together from wherever we are."