FAQs - Updated beginning of November, 2014

If you have a question regarding the Teaching Day work stream, please read our teaching day FAQs.

How will the project be consulting staff? - UPDATED

Each work stream will consult with academics and other members of staff as appropriate – consultation may include through ‘critical friends’, advisors, focus groups, interviews, questionnaires, etc. The Workstyles work stream put together a comprehensive staff questionnaire which was publicised over the summer and into September. The Teaching Day used an online questionnaire, briefed key staff and student meetings on all campuses and consulted Associate Deans and College Managers for Education in May-August 2014.

Each work stream is currently analysing the responses and feedback relevant to their area of focus and will publicise results in due course.  Furthermore, targeted consultation is due to be carried out with a range of stakeholder groups to test all recommendations and models developed through the project.

Generic communications and consultation are managed through the Project Coordination Group.

NEW - What standards will be developed through the Future Workplaces project?

In the current development phase, the Place work stream is looking at different space modelling, whilst developing an effective Space Policy. The policy will include guidelines which will clarify how the University allocates and manages space. The People work stream has been investigating flexible working and will be producing a policy and guidelines to support flexible working across the University.  

When will the Future Workplaces project have an impact on office spaces on our campuses?

There are lots of ongoing projects on our estate including office moves and refurbishments, and the Future Workplaces project will only have a limited influence on these at this stage. Current projects that are underway will proceed using existing briefing and engagement processes. The project group are pursuing some pilots of elements of future workplace working as appropriate, so we can learn from experiences of colleagues currently undergoing workplace change. The Future Workplaces project aims to introduce standards and models of best practice to be applied in due course. 

Won't the individual restrictions of each building mean that some office areas are more desirable than others? - UPDATED

With a varied estate supporting people who work in many different ways, there will never be a situation where there is one solution. Through this project, we hope to establish a variety of models and approaches which we can adapt to different circumstances. We will only be able to look at a building when funding is available. Due to funding, some buildings may remain unaffected by any proposed changes for a significant time. Ultimately, the project group recognises that it is just as much about building a cultural of more flexible working as it is about offices and space management, and that any significant change will only take effect when carefully considered as part of a wider strategic plan. 

I don’t think hot desking can work for academics. - UPDATED

This theme has been raised by a number of staff and duly noted by the Future Workplaces project. There is no suggestion that academics will be asked to work in ways which do not support their needs. As implied in the recent Workstyles Survey, some individuals would benefit from more flexible working arrangements, but we understand that this will not be the case for many.  Having conducted a series of interviews with staff across the university, as part of the work stream research, the project group is currently looking at solutions which can better support the range in ways of working that have become evident, whilst still providing more traditional models where appropriate.

I am an academic and I absolutely need a private office; for my research, for student meetings and to store my books and have them to hand. - UPDATED

Colleagues have voiced similar concerns. We are currently developing a range of different working scenarios, which will certainly involve a high level of consultation throughout the whole process. The project team is not trying to get rid of cellular offices or deciding on a one size fits-all solution; we do acknowledge the need to understand all the various impacts on individuals, as we do not hold the answers, hence the consultation process. A key steer from the project group is that colleagues should be seeking to develop workplaces that respond to business need and that are fit-for-purpose. The Project Group, Project Coordination Group and the work streams all agree that it is essential to provide quiet private space, as well as ensuring that staff are accessible and visible to students, colleagues and partners. This project is keen to support a balance as it seeks to develop models that enhance collaboration and social interaction between colleagues and teams.

We will be working with colleagues to ensure that the needs for research, student meetings and close access to books are captured when considering the suitability and design of work space into the future.

Other Russell Group universities don't compromise on space. Why are we different?

We do not intend to compromise on space but aim to set the building blocks for a high quality yet efficient university going forward. We would rather be able to employ more staff and continue to deliver a world class student experience than invest in ever-more buildings. However, we will review similar arrangements among other Russell Group universities and across the world so we’re sure that our solution is the best available for our University and its staff.

Individual offices are available in other universities. This will discourage recruitment at the right level.

A key steer from the project group is that we should be seeking to deliver workplaces that support business needs rather than simply tradition or hierarchy. The importance of being able to recruit and retain the best staff from all over the world is crucial to Exeter’s success and the impact of any proposals will be considered in light of this.

I have concerns about a lack of parking. - UPDATED

There has been a wide consultation exercise already undertaken amongst staff about parking; to review the results that have been published, please view this document. The Future Workplaces project will be exploring models which support staff to fulfil their role but reduce travel to the campus and, if successfully implemented, will contribute to reducing the impact of the future planned growth on travel planning.

The Enabling Tools work stream has been liaising across colleges to try to identify best practice and effective use of tools, such as MS Lync – particularly for remote working – which can significantly reduce the need to travel to and from campuses for meetings, thereby reducing our carbon footprint.  The Medical School are already running trials to see where their staff can save time and money.