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Working on campus – guidance for managers

Working on campus

Please be advised that this information is constantly being reviewed and updated in light of the Government’s ‘Living with Covid’ plan – April 2022.

The guidance below has been developed to support managers with enabling their teams to work on campus. This includes a step by step process that managers may wish to follow if they have not already done so. Please read this carefully and undertake any actions required. ‌

Managers: Ten steps to work through

The ten step process below, outlines a number of actions and considerations for managers to work through. Additional information can be found in the full guidance. You can use this guidance alongside any local plans/guidance that you may already have in place.

The starting point for planning more campus working should focus on prioritising the key tasks that need to be undertaken e.g. face to face student support, teaching, PhD supervision, key research meetings where face to face will be beneficial etc

College Executive Groups/Directorate Senior Management Teams will already have communicated the approach which should be followed by managers and team leaders to ensure that the principles are applied appropriately and consistently within the college/service. If you haven't already, then you need to consider: 

  • What tasks can be carried out by staff on-campus and what could be continued at home?  

  • Academic managers need to refer to their college infrastructure teams for relevant college plans. 

  • Can any work that had to be stopped due to remote working now be restarted on campus?  

  • What tasks can continue to be carried out at home?  

  • How will induction for new starters take place, team meetings and 1:1s be carried out?  

  • Identify how the team will stay connected and how you will support them to do so.   

Once you know what key duties must be carried out on campus, you will then need to consider the requirements for this work and which staff in your teams will need to be on campus to complete these key activities:

  • Which staff need to be on-campus to perform the role, or some tasks associated with the role?
  • Do any staff want to work on campus  due to personal choice?
  • Can the service accommodate flexibility? (A hybrid approach is where individual staff spend some time working on-campus and some time working at home)

You need to consider when you need staff to work on campus as well as how often staff will be working on campus. 

  • Are there any key dates, meetings or particular activities or areas that need to be considered?
  • Do you want to introduce ‘anchor’ days for team meetings or team building?
  • Can the work be spread over the week to account for space pressures?
  • Working with your team, agree what the arrangements will be.
  • Be clear about equipment needed on-campus and what needs to come back/what needs to stay at home, being mindful of the need for flexibility (further guidance can be found at Return to Campus workstation requirements)

It may not be possible for all your team to be working on campus at the same time or in their usual area of work. You will need to consider the areas below:

  • You will need to review any COVID-19 secure arrangements, if still needed and work with the Restart Coordinator if required, to assess if these arrangements remain effective. The focus should be Face, Space, Hands, Fresh Air and cleaning.
  • Identify the current situation of your space, what office space do you have, what is the physical environment looking like. How many desks are set up?
  • Ensure that team members know what to expect in the workspace.
  • Use the Campus Activity Planner to determine the maximum capacity of workspaces to inform planning (e.g. rostered desk allocation).
  • Confirm what activity will occur in the workspace and if additional workspace is required to fulfil the needs.
  • Work with the Restart Coordinator to understand where other services may have space requirements.
  • It may be that some team members may need to clear their personal effects from their previous workstations for repurposing. It is important to allow staff time to do this and be supportive.
  • Where staff are based in third-party accommodation, rules of the building will apply.

For many areas, identifying how staff will work and what equipment is needed, was carried out as part of the Return to Campus process in Autumn 2021.

It is important that you familiarise yourself with your team’s workspace and what equipment and office furniture is available on campus. You will need to consider the basic equipment needed to work effectively in the workplace. There may be limitations on both space and equipment initially and it may be the case that areas start with basics and increase over time.

If staff are going to be working both on campus and at home then there will be a minimum specification of equipment that colleges and services will need to ensure is available at a suitable workstation. You can use this document to carry out an assessment of what is needed Return to Campus workstation requirements. Any equipment needed in addition to this will need to be brought onto campus by individuals themselves. We recommend that you complete an equipment log for your team, if you haven’t done so already.

This may mean that some staff may have to work on campus full time if they need access to specialist/high power computing which cannot be moved between home and work. Academics in single occupancy offices may need to carry docking stations with them.

Staff who are working in a hybrid way will need to be informed of what is available on campus and you need to ensure that you know of any specific needs that individuals may have.

Managers should continue to use the space as currently designed. If there is any furniture which you decide you no longer need then you can list it on WARPit.

Managers checklist: 

  • Review any support needs or existing reasonable adjustments with your team. Discuss any additional support that may be appropriate (see Manager’s Guidance – Reasonable adjustments following return to campus and blended working) and Reasonable adjustments to work effectively as well as any Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPS).
  • What IT needs are there? Identify what immediate IT equipment is needed in the office – what needs to be brought back, what new equipment is needed to enable essential work to take place on campus. 
  • Do any other services/departments in your directorate / college have surplus equipment that could be used? It may be possible to reuse, repurpose or recycle equipment. For example, other departments may have surplus screens that can be used. Therefore, additional equipment is only bought as an exception.
  • Managers should be aware that there is a significant lead in time for IT and office equipment. There is no central budget or additional funding for additional IT or office equipment needs.
  • Has the office setup changed? You will need to identify what is currently in place.
  • What furniture requirements are there?  The recycling team at CIOSS may have furniture that can be reused.
  • Identify if any rota / booking system is needed to agree who will use spaces and when.  Non-student space booking will need to be managed locally by colleges and services. Communicate this to your team/department so everyone is aware. 
  • You should ensure that your team are aware of IT and information security whilst working remotely, travelling and also if desk sharing.

It may take time to resettle into on-campus working (logistics, changes, equipment needs etc) and managers need to expect some disruption to normal productivity to enable re-settling in the work environment.  It is important that you communicate to your team how the following will be met within your specific area:

  • Face-to-face team meetings should always be in a well-ventilated space (complying with the rooms signs with regards to windows open/closed).    

  • Managers must consider equity of experience for their teams whether remote or on campus. This may include participation at meetings and allocation of workload. 

  • Continue to ensure you remain as a team despite the potential various locations, seek advice and feedback from your team about how they would like to stay connected. 

  • We have developed best practise guidance on meetings.

  • Car parks are open.

  • For each location rules are in place on how to safely use shared facilities such as kitchens, bathrooms and changing rooms. If necessary, managers should clarify the requirements for the use of shared spaces in their working areas, to help reassure teams.  

  • Working hours and any specific procedures for opening and closing the space.  

Communication is key. There will be a spectrum of different feelings towards this next important step. For some it will be welcomed, for some it is expected and nervously anticipated but for some it will be a considerable mental and physical adjustment to make after spending so long working from home. Some staff may have concerns about on-campus working e.g. depending on their vaccination status or their experience of COVID-19. Staff will also have varied experiences of COVID-19, including possible trauma, social isolation, long COVID-19 and care fatigue.

To help you support your team, we have developed two documents for you to use to brief your team:

  1. Returning to on campus working: The plan for return
  2. Returning to on campus working- the steps ahead

For many staff, their on-campus presence is likely to fluctuate from week to week, possibly building up over time and you will need to be clear about what the expectations are.

A number of key points you will want to include in your communications are listed below.

  • This is an interim phase to build up to a return to campus working, consequently your working arrangements in the next few weeks/months may not be the same as they will be when we move into a more long-term arrangement.
  • We are not changing your contract of employment – your work location remains as it was before the pandemic.
  • There are no changes to the current Expenses policy.
  • Staff should complete the Covid-19 age tool and the personal risk assessment if appropriate, so that we can consider any adjustments required.
  • We are seeking to balance the University’s operational needs with colleagues’ personal circumstances. Explain why there is a business reason for proposing the work pattern you have discussed with your team member.
  • If arrangements are likely to fluctuate from week-to-week, clearly communicate this, including the reason why they may fluctuate (e.g. work space limitations mean that only part of the team can work on campus at any one time).

We need to be empathetic to all concerns and ensure we give sufficient time to staff to talk about how they feel and practically prepare for not physically being based at home full time. There are a number of points that can help reassure your team outlined in the full guidance document. This includes details about the on-campus support available for staff and training . Please refer to the full guidance for this information.

If you cannot reach an agreement about working arrangements

Managers are advised to work with their team members, on a one-to-one basis if necessary, to support the transition back to on-campus working. During this phase, subject to the operational needs of your department or service, and the impact on other team members of adjustments made for one member, managers should consider making temporary adjustments which support this gradual transition.

If you cannot reach an agreement with a team member, having taken time to speak to them about the operational needs of the department / service and their personal circumstances, and following the COVID-19 age and personal risk assessment process where appropriate, then you should refer them to another senior manager so that, if they wish, they have the opportunity to make their case to another person. This is not a formal process, but we want to make sure that colleagues feel that they have been listened to and can take forward concerns quickly and informally. As part of the roll out of the return to campus plan for colleges and services, your senior team should consider who is best placed to take on this role, should it be necessary. The member of staff will be advised of the name of the senior manager and invited to submit their concerns in writing. The senior manager will be expected to meet with the individual to listen to their concerns and to ask questions. The senior manager may ask for additional information and take advice from their HR Business Partner/Adviser. The manager will notify the individual of their decision in writing. This is not a formal process and there is no right of appeal. 

Managers must take all reasonable steps to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing, both mental and physical, of their team members, whether those individuals are working on campus, remotely or a combination of both.

  • Review the workplace risk assessment for your area. Guidance documents, checklists and templates are available on the Health and Safety website.
  • Face – The University recommends all colleagues and students wear face coverings in shared indoor spaces that are crowded and enclosed and where you may meet people you do not usually meet. Please continue to bring your reusable face covering with you when coming to campus.
  • Hands – all hand gel dispensers remain in place.
  • Ventilation – encourage fresh air, ensure windows are opened according to the room requirements.
  • Cleaning – what arrangements are in place in communal areas (toilets, kitchens) and are staff required to clean desk spaces.
  • If staff are reluctant to follow any of the non-mandatory aspects be flexible but also explain the purpose of them is to keep our University community including their colleagues safe.
  • Colleagues should follow the return to campus requirements with regards to face coverings, risk assessment, etc.
  • Symptoms – staff should stay at home and not attend campus if they have symptoms.
  • Lone working – for more information on safe zone.
  • You should remind all staff using computer equipment that they should update their workstation assessments when returning to on-campus working, it might also be relevant to update the home workstation assessment if that is also changing. It is important to also refer to the Return to Campus workstation requirements.

Managers should ensure their departmental business continuity plans are in place, including for high rates of staff absence (not just COVID-19 related) and work from home being reintroduced.

  • Consider department / service resilience in the event of infection within the team / those with specific roles
  • Consider department / service resilience in the event of a lockdown or in high absence levels
  • Use the COVID-19 Business Continuity Toolkit

It is important that you regularly review and monitor the working arrangements of your team and the business needs of your area. 

  • Regularly and proactively seek feedback from members of your team on how the arrangements are working for them.
  • Share ideas of what work can be done on campus and what work can be done at home
  • Ensure that you help your team work together face to face if needed – introduce anchor days where staff are working on the same days on campus, team away days and planning days.
  • Obtain feedback across other teams in your area via CEG - College Executive Groups/SMT - Senior Management Team meetings on the success of arrangements and best practice to improve the working environment.

Support for managers 

If you have any operational issues or queries, you should contact: 

  • HR  

  • Occupational Health  

  • Equality, DiversityInclusion  

  • IT  

  • Information Governance  

  • Health and Safety    



Please refer to the full guidance for managers for more information on how to prepare and support your teams with returning to campus working, and for the additional support we have for managers whilst you work through this process.