Guidance for Managers

Guidance for Managers
Steps to take and considerations
  1. Consider when you anticipate a return to work on campus for your team and those members of staff who continue to work from home (n.b. this will be informed by the Campus Planning Group).  To allow for the estate to be prepared and appropriate health and safety measures to be implemented, it is anticipated that teams prioritised for return in September 2021 will be those undertaking research, teaching and other front facing students services. It is, recognised that there will be a requirement for transitional arrangements over the summer, particularly where there is pressing business need, including on campus teaching, or for staff returning to campus under the exceptions process.  For those teams/staff not involved in teaching, front facing students service delivery and/or research (or who have not already returned to campus for other reasons) it is anticipated there will be a phased return post September 2021.
  2. Discuss with your Head of School/Director the parameters which are the minimum service delivery factors that need to be met by all team members, thereby informing the parameters for hybrid working. You should then discuss with members of staff on a team and individual basis.
  3. It is recommended that a workshop (suggested agenda available) with teams takes place as well as one-to-one discussions with staff, recognising that quick decisions may not be possible as discussions with stakeholders regarding intentions of other teams may be necessary.
  4. Capture locally information about any hybrid working arrangements including homeworking that is agreed to.

Consider the following:

  • Staff may wish to discuss reasons for continuing to work remotely more than being on campus because they have concerns about returning to campus – discussions with staff should take place to provide reassurance regarding a return to working on campus including the measures that are in place such as the risk assessments of all activities on campus and measures to mitigate that have been put in place. It is also appropriate for all staff to complete the Individual Risk Assessment form and for discussion to take place to reassure those who may be more vulnerable.   
  • Set an example – hybrid working will be most successful where managers openly support it and one way this can be demonstrated is by managers working in a hybrid manner themselves.  The aim is to create an environment where hybrid working is an accepted part of work.  Support for hybrid working, celebrating the success of hybrid workers and challenging negative stereotypes are all key. This also includes building in working practices that are aligned to the Workload Reduction Toolkit. 
  • Engage with relevant stakeholders so that they are engaged in the team’s proposed approach, e.g. it would be useful if Heads of School are made aware of the proposed arrangements for Directorate Professional Services staff to prevent an expectation that such staff will always be on campus. In addition, Heads of School/Directors should ensure that Estates and Facilities are aware of plans. 
  • Prioritise the operational needs of the University and the requirements of the role but also balance individual staff preference, supporting a flexible approach to hybrid working as far as reasonable.
  • All staff should be prepared to compromise to best fit the needs of the University and their team, acknowledging that hybrid working is not an entitlement but rather requires a level of negotiation that will enhance the working environment and performance of staff.
  • Where staff have reasonable adjustments in place for disability related reasons, these will not impact on decisions or opportunities regarding hybrid working and any adjustments should be available where the member of staff is working.
  • Save for disability related reasonable adjustments, there should be no ‘priority’ reasons which would allow one colleague hybrid working arrangements in priority to another colleague.
  • Hybrid working arrangements should be confirmed to staff by email.  Where staff have requested regular or permanent homeworking and this is approved, they should also be asked to sign a Homeworking Agreement.
  • In the event of any disagreement, you should endeavour to resolve issues locally and without undue delay.  Should there still be ongoing disagreement, this should be escalated up the line-management route.
  • You should be clear as to expectations of staff when they are engaged in hybrid working, such as agreed outputs.
  • Ensure that staff complete the return to campus induction training before any return to working on campus.
  • Hybrid working predominately refers to how we support ‘where’ staff are carrying out their duties rather than alternative flexible working arrangements which may support ‘when’ they are carrying out activities, therefore it will be important that these matters do not become confused. Some staff may wish to consider homeworking as a formal flexible working request and the Flexible Working procedure exists for this.  Discuss with your HR Partner if you have any queries. 
Setting minimum parameters for your team

In advance of discussing with staff you should think about the organisational parameters, which you need your team to work within to ensure service delivery. These will vary according to team, but examples may be:

  • You may need some or all staff members to be in the office for at least two days a week (this will help to retain a sense of team but may not be possible until the end of Covid-19 restrictions).
  • You may need some or all staff in research laboratories for a minimum specified period each week.
  • You may need some or all staff members to be in for specific activities that cannot be done remotely.
  • For service delivery, you may need to have some team members to be physically present in the office, laboratory or other work location during certain times.
  • For service delivery and when students are back to being taught on campus, teaching staff will be required to teach on campus rather than from home.
  • You may always need at least two team members to be present in the office, laboratory or other work location during the core hours for your team (for larger teams, this may be a far greater number) including for lunch cover.
  • You may need all team members to be together physically at least twice a month (again, important for team cohesion but will be unlikely until the end of Covid-19 restrictions).
  • You may need to be able to contact all team members during core hours on the days that they are working, for example between 10am and 4pm, unless different hours/days of working are agreed.

The organisational parameters which you set will be unique to the circumstances in which you operate.

Hybrid Working Workshop for Staff

Suggested agenda

  • discuss the challenges and opportunities offered by hybrid working in your particular team context (at this time, maintaining distancing will be a key context for us all);
  • discuss the organisational parameters which you need the team to work around;
  • ask each team member what hybrid working options they would ideally like to have in place, while reminding staff they can talk to you confidentially where needed;
  • jointly discuss possible solutions when organisational parameters and hybrid working preferences appear to conflict;
  • consider compromises which enable as many team members as possible to get as close to their ideal hybrid working arrangements recognising however that operational delivery requirements are the primary consideration;
  • discuss practical issues such as how team meetings and communication can work effectively where there is a mix of on campus/remote working;
  • agree a communication methodology that works for you and your team

You may need to meet with the team a few times to achieve this and you may also wish to meet individually with specific team members if their requirements are complex. It is also worth remembering that not all team members may want to work in a hybrid manner; many may prefer to work all their normal hours back on campus. If this is the case it is still important that all team members are included in discussions about how the team will work going forward. 

It is suggested that you trial the hybrid working arrangements you agree for your team for an initial period and review at monthly intervals (and formally before the end of three month trial period if staff are working from home on a regular or permanent basis/have a signed a Homeworking Agreement). As part of this you should reflect on whether the arrangements are working for staff, the team and key stakeholders.

After this, it may be helpful to hold further discussions as part of your regular team meetings to review how hybrid working arrangements are going.

Considering requests

In considering requests you should:

  • Seek to agree working patterns with your teams/staff members, having considered the University principles, parameters, and staff preferences.
  • Discuss any requests from staff to undertake hybrid working (i.e. to work from home as well as on campus) when a return to campus is appropriate.
  • Be clear that, where hybrid working includes regular or permanent homeworking, this is subject to staff signing a Homeworking Agreement and a trial period of 3 months (refer to paragraphs 5.4 to 5.6 of the Homeworking Policy).
  • Ensure appropriate homeworking arrangements are in place for the member of staff (refer to Appendix 1 of the Homeworking Policy).
  • Be clear regarding meetings, events or training (and other organisational parameters) which will require on campus attendance.
  • Ensure that during working hours, staff are aware that they should be contactable and should engage with their stakeholders, manager, and staff.
  • Make sure consideration has been given to how the team will work well together – team cohesion will be the responsibility of each manager.  Communication will be key, along with opportunities for social interaction, which is inclusive of all staff/team members.
  • Consider how to ensure that staff remain engaged both with their team and the University community.
  • Consider if there are times, such as occasional team meetings or training sessions, when it would be useful for whole teams to come together in person on campus (subject to this being in line with Scottish Government guidance).
Managing where requests for Hybrid Working cannot be accommodated
  • All members of staff should approach discussions regarding hybrid working recognising that they may need to compromise and that their request will be considered in the context of the wider team and operational needs.
  • While the preferences of staff must be considered and as much flexibility as possible provided to them, service needs take precedence. It may therefore be the case that individual preferences cannot be accommodated. 
  • There may be (perceived) inequality of hybrid opportunities within and across teams/departments.  Where staff have concerns, these should be discussed, and you should have an open mind to trying to find a solution.  This may include having discussions with other staff to ensure a fair distribution of hybrid working opportunities or asking other staff if they would be amenable to altering their time on/off campus or working hours to assist another staff member.  Ultimately there may remain a clear justification and a solution may not be found.
  • Hybrid working arrangements should not alter a staff member’s role, responsibilities, or overall working hours.
  • You should ensure that staff can put forward potential solutions to any concerns which they have, albeit the final decision on hybrid working will rest with you.
  • Should staff raise concerns about inequitable arrangements compared to staff in other schools/directorates, you may consider such concerns (and may speak to the corresponding manager) but ultimately each team is empowered to make their own local arrangements.
  • Any concerns should be resolved locally and may be escalated up the line management route.