April 19th, 2021
A message from Registrar, Dr Paul Greatrix, Director of Human Resources, Jaspal Kaur and Chief Financial Officer, Margaret Monckton.
As we move beyond the one-year anniversary of lockdown, we are mindful that many colleagues from Professional Services have now been working at home for an extended period due to national restrictions and that this has brought challenges on both a personal and professional level.
Earlier this year, in his blog University of Nottingham Roadmap, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andy Long, wrote about new ways of working and advised that School and Departmental working groups were starting to plan for a wider return of our staff to campuses – beyond those already on site – during the summer term in alignment with the government ‘roadmap’ and national restrictions.
The university Return to Campus Principles have now been updated to provide additional guidance regarding a phased and safe return to working at the university, where we can begin to enable colleagues to start spending some time on campus, as well as some time working at home in a hybrid manner when restrictions allow (expected to be after 21 June 2021).
We appreciate returning to campus will evoke mixed emotions for colleagues, with some eager to return and some feeling anxious. We understand that the primary concern of all staff is the safe return to campus and this is foremost in our thinking.
We’d like to share some of our initial thoughts and early plans regarding returning to campus for Professional Services and what this might mean for individuals, teams and departments.
When we surveyed Professional Services staff in Autumn 2020 about experiences of working at home, there was an overwhelming desire from the majority of staff to capitalise upon positive experiences and to grasp the opportunity to do things differently in the future. This will be integral to our thinking and future ways of working.
We expect this to be a journey where we transition initially from ‘working at home where possible’ to a period of ‘hybrid working’ with an increased campus presence. Hybrid working describes the way that Professional Services teams will work as we return to campus following national lockdowns, where staff will be expected to spend some time working on campus and some time working remotely, whilst still observing levels of social distancing that uphold safety and minimise the spread of Covid-19.
For Professional Services staff, hybrid working can present many benefits and opportunities, including a move away from ‘presenteeism’ to providing more flexibility and a choice of environments where teams and individuals can conduct their work most effectively.
By providing greater flexibility of working practices and access to a network of shared spaces, we are confident this will encourage greater cross-departmental collaboration and promote a shared ‘one team’ culture across Professional Services. For the university, benefits will be gained from energy savings via better space optimisation, bulk procurement and a reduction in the carbon footprint from reduced travel.
For individuals, the benefits that have been enjoyed during remote working, such as flexibility, improved work/life balance and a greater focus on wellbeing will be able to continue and become embedded as new ways of working. The changes that we are proposing here are mirroring national trends and practices within and outside the HE sector and we are fully committed to supporting colleagues to introduce these changes successfully and collaboratively.
Whilst many staff will be able to return to their offices in Covid-secure buildings once they are re-opened in the summer term, we are also developing Professional Services Hubs at each of our UK campuses.
The Hubs will be a mix of desk and collaborative spaces where staff can book space and spend some time working on campus with their colleagues and teams. Access to Hubs will initially be prioritised for staff whose office buildings remain closed or are no longer available for use. This will be extended as capacity increases due to provision of additional hubs and the relaxing of social distancing.
We are pleased to announce that the locations of the initial Professional Services Hubs have now largely been confirmed and the following spaces have been approved for re-development. The B50 Hub at KMC has been operational since October 2021 and remains open to any Professional Services staff who have been approved to work on campus to undertake business critical activities or to support more efficient working or wellbeing.
We will be equipping each Hub with standard equipment, furniture and a mix of bookable ‘focus’ spaces and ‘collaboration’ spaces.
To help us inform equipment requirements, we have already distributed an equipment survey to Professional Services staff and we would ask that all colleagues complete and return the survey to help inform planning before 23 April 2021.
For colleagues returning to their existing places of work, we will also be asking that clean-up activities are undertaken to move to ‘clean desk’ environments – more guidance will follow.
This marks the beginning of what we believe will be a really positive time for Professional Services where we have the opportunity to work together better as a team in ways we have not been able to previously. The development of Professional Services Hubs also presents an important opportunity for us to begin to collaborate in a more integrated way and to embrace the lessons learned from the pandemic and define new ways of working for our future.
As we embark on this journey, we will continue to consult and discuss plans and ideas with staff and seek regular input to help shape and confirm our future ways of working as a Professional Services team. We see hybrid working as a stepping stone to a transition to ‘Agile’ working where we will focus more upon the most effective ways of working for Professional Services in the longer term. Throughout this journey, we will be using a mixture of communication methods including blogs, direct messages and a dedicated PS Roadmap SharePoint (accessed via the Staying Connected site) to keep colleagues involved and informed.
At this stage, restrictions permitting, the earliest we would be planning to start transitioning staff back to campus in a hybrid manner would be after the 21 June. This will vary across departments and more specific details will follow in the next few weeks.
We look forward to embarking on this journey with you and beginning to make a positive difference to future ways of working for Professional Services teams.
Dr Paul Greatrix – Registrar
Jaspal Kaur – Director of Human Resources
Margaret Monckton – Chief Financial Officer
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