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Working on campus – guidance for managers

Working on campus

As some colleagues critical to the delivery of teaching, research and student or staff support, remain working on our campuses, we continue to ensure measures are in place to keep everyone protected and stop the transmission of COVID-19.

The guidance below has been developed to support managers with enabling their teams to work on campus where required. This includes a step by step process that managers will need to follow. 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 that managers should 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 prepared.

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 etcYou will need to have discussions with College Executive Groups/Directorate Senior Management Teams to agree what on campus work is crucial to meet the University business/ and student needs of the University and what can continue to be carried out equally well from home  

  • College Executive Groups/Directorate Senior Management Teams will communicate 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 
  • 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? Guidance on this is currently under development. 

  • 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 priority 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 as a priority due to personal choice?
  • Can the service accommodate an approach where some people are at home, and some are on campus and still deliver a customer focussed service?
  • Can the service accommodate flexibility for people? (A blended approach is where individual staff spend some time working on-campus and some time working at home)
  • Can the service accommodate both these approaches?

You need to consider when you need staff to work on campus as well as how often staff will be working on campus. Some staff have been working from home for a long period of time and so will need sufficient notice of their return to on campus working.

  • Are there any key dates, meetings or particular activities or areas that need to be considered?
  • Can the work be spread over the week to account for space pressures?
  • Working with your team, agree what the arrangements will be and plan for a date when staff will start to return, if appropriate. This may be on a phased approach.
  • 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 work with your Principal Building and/or Restart Co-ordinator to consider the areas below:

  • What are the COVID-19 secure arrangements for your space?
  • Review the workplace risk assessment for your area (these can be found in the Campus Activity Planner).
  • You will also need to review the COVID-19 secure arrangements to ensure that these are still in place and work with the Principal Building and/or Restart Coordinator, if required, to assess if these arrangements remain effective. The focus should be Face, Space, Hands, Fresh Air and cleaning.
  • Attend the campus space if you need to, identify the current situation of your space, what office space do you have, what is the physical environment looking like. How many desks do you need to set up (e.g., up to 50%)?
  • What are the current space allocations for COVID-19 secure working?
  • How much space is needed - what spaces are available?
  • Ensure that returning 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 Principal Building/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, this can be a difficult time for people who are struggling to cope with such change. 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, but managers must ensure that staff are working in a COVID-19 secure way.

At the beginning of lockdown, some furniture and equipment was delivered to staff at their homes and some was put into storage. Many areas kept a log of where equipment was. It is important that you now start to 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 in the workplace to set up 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. Any equipment needed in addition to this will need to be brought onto campus by individuals themselves and Return to Campus workstation requirements

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 blended 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.

Furniture is unlikely to be returning until September. Managers should therefore continue to use the space as currently designed until the Estate team advise otherwise. If there is any furniture which you decide you no longer need then you can either request it to go into very limited storage or you can list it on WARPit.

Labs have to go through a separate assessment to increase numbers and researchers will need to ensure Technical Services support any increase to numbers and ways of working outside of what has already been set up as COVID-19 secure. If you have any questions about labs, then please contact your DCO or Technical Services Business Partner.

Teaching spaces will need to remain set up as per room plans as an increase in furniture may mean a reduction in occupancy. Any changes will need to be planned with Research Restart and Estates.

  • 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. Please be aware that there are national supply issues re: silicon laptops and docking stations so equipment might not be readily available to purchase.
  • 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 should work with your Restart Coordinator to access your work area 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.
  • Where managers are responsible for staff in shared spaces, where room capacities or working arrangements rely on cooperation from other managers, they must work together to agree a safe plan.
  • Working with the restart coordinators as required, set out the COVID-19 secure arrangements, e.g. cleaning, use of face coverings, window opening requirements, use of kitchenettes/ shared spaces / shared equipment.
  • 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 settle into on-campus working (logistics, changes, equipment needs etc) and managers need to expect some disruption to normal productivity on the first few days or weeks 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 meetings can take place if they are essential and cannot be achieved via Teams.  
  • Face-to-face team meetings should always be in a well-ventilated space or outdoors (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 and will be updating this to include how you can book meetings rooms from Monday 19 July.  If you need a room in the meantime, please contact (Exeter), or (Cornwall).

  • Guidance to support safe travel to work is available on the government website and teams should be encouraged to consult this.  

  • Car parks are open, with no parking charges until Wednesday 1 Sep 2021 in Exeter. In Penryn, currently campus parking can be reclaimed by UoE staff via the T1 Travel and Expenses system.

  • For each location rules are in place on how to safely use shared facilities such as kitchens, bathrooms and changing rooms. If possible, 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.  

Regular and clear communication from you is key. Some colleagues will welcome returning to campus, some will be nervous and for some there will be a considerable mental and physical adjustment to make after over a year at home.

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 in this initial period 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 must 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 our COVID-19 secure campuses, the on-campus support available for staff, mandatory training and details about local and regional infections rates. 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 face covering guidance should be read and followed.
  • 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.
  • Testing – all staff can access tests on campus.
  • 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 or are self-isolating. You should contact the Rapid Response Hub for more information. They will be able to arrange for you to attend the HALO test centre for a test and guide you on how to attend this safely.
  • Lone working – for more information on safe zone.
  • Travel – all staff should follow the government advice on safe travel and consult the University guidance materials to support safe travel to our campuses.
  • 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 and work from home being reintroduced – unfortunately we must plan to be able to move between stages of lockdown.

  • 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
  • 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. There will be further changes to government guidance and work priorities will change over time, so monitoring arrangements are crucial:

  • Once you have a plan, discuss this with your Service Director / College Director and seek approval.
  • Colleges and professional services will be asked to monitor the arrangements and report on this to Gold Sustain in July 2021.
  • PSLT (Professional Service Leadership Team) will discuss regularly and share examples of this working in practice.
  • Regularly and proactively seek feedback from members of your team on how the arrangements are working for them.
  • 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 can contact the Workplace Support Team to get rapid advice in the following areas:

  • HR  

  • Occupational Health  

  • Equality, DiversityInclusion  

  • IT  

  • Information Governance  

  • Health and Safety  

  • Space  

  • COVID-19 related   

The team can be contacted via email, Monday to Friday, 9am-4pm, 

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.