Update on working arrangements for next term – University Secretary

Email issued: Wednesday 26 August 2020
From: Internal Communications
Subject: Update on working arrangements for next term – A message from the University Secretary

Dear colleagues,

As the start of term draws closer I am writing to confirm arrangements for next term. Our priority is to ensure that campus is as safe as possible for those who need to work or study there.

I appreciate this is a long email, so I have recorded a video summary of the key points.


Returning to campus

While social distancing requirements remain in place, we need to manage the volume of people on campus to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our community. In a nutshell, this means that we need to minimise the number of people on campus at any one time.

In the case of staff, working arrangements will fall broadly into one of three categories:

  1. Staff who will be based on campus for the vast majority of their working time.
  2. Staff who will be on campus for defined activities or periods of time but will continue to work remotely outside these periods / activities.
  3. Staff who will work remotely for the vast majority of their working time (with only exceptional access to campus).

Our general principle is that all staff will continue to work from home in the new academic year, until at least the end of the Christmas closure, except as is necessary for the purposes of carrying out research, delivering student education or supporting the student experience.

Colleagues who are needed on campus for student facing or research activity are expected to spend as little time as possible on campus and to work from home when not engaged in activity that can only be delivered on campus.

To this end it is likely that in practice some colleagues will need to divide their time between working on campus and homeworking. Heads of school and, where relevant, service are responsible for agreeing these working arrangements.

If you are working from home on a longer-term basis, please see our working from home advice which includes information about remote working tax relief.

Where your working situation changes, for example if you are working at home and we then require you to come to campus, we will endeavour to give you at least two weeks’ notice and you will be required to complete a returning to campus approvals form.

Flexible working space

We recognise that some colleagues have found homeworking productive and valued the flexibility it offers. We also recognise that others have found it a challenge. We will work with you to ensure that, as far as possible, you have a safe, comfortable and compliant working arrangement at home. There will also be some flexible office space on campus that can be used under the direction of the relevant head of school or service. Longer term we are looking at developing policies that offer a more agile mixture of homeworking and working on campus.

Reopening buildings

The first objective continues to be opening research and teaching facilities and reopening buildings where covid-secure measures, such as social distancing, can be more easily applied. It is currently the case that in most buildings only certain areas are open and safe to use.

Several processes must be followed to reopen a building, including technical, water and fire-safety compliance. Further reopening processes are then required for areas within a building, which include assessing the area to identify safe occupancy levels and layouts, conducting a thorough clean, applying signage (to denote one-way systems etc.) and installing hand sanitiser stations.

This must all be signed off by Health and Safety to ensure it meets our covid-secure standards. Spaces in buildings cannot be occupied until these processes have been completed satisfactorily.

We are working to ensure that all the main campus buildings will be open in the autumn, but even when all buildings are open, access will not be available to all those who used to occupy them.

Heads of school and service will prioritise how space is used within these buildings to support the delivery of research and teaching activity and the student experience.

It is harder to implement covid-secure measures in our much smaller and older buildings and therefore some will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

You can read more about our building reopening process and see which buildings are opening and when, on our building reopening web page.

Reopening office spaces within buildings

Once a building is open and priority areas, such as laboratories and teaching spaces, are assessed and operational, other spaces in buildings, including offices, will be reviewed.

Office space will not necessarily be used for the same purpose or be occupied by the same people that used these areas before the building was closed. Heads of school and service will coordinate and communicate how this space will be used – this might include, rotas, sharing or repurposing of office space (including individual academic offices) or other measures.

As always, the priority will be to protect the safety, health and wellbeing of members of staff and students and support the delivery of student education and research that can only be conducted on campus.

Parking

Please be aware that from 7 September free parking on campus, during core hours, will end and a new temporary interim permit system will be introduced. If you are a member of staff and need to park on campus, even if you hold an existing permit, please follow this new guidance.

For colleagues planning their commute to campus without driving, we are enhancing our active travel provisions, giving advice on the public transport options available in Leeds and offering individual travel planning where required. For more information please visit the commuting to campus web page.

Student study spaces

We are planning to have several areas providing ‘study spaces’ for students, as well as some computer clusters. More information about these spaces and how students will be able to book a space or ‘drop-in’ will be provided in September.

Library space

A click and collect service is now available from the Edward Boyle library and a small number of bookable study spaces will be available from the beginning of September. This number will increase towards the end of the month. Visit the Library website for more information.

Face coverings and shields

In response to the comments provided through the feedback form we have updated our guidance on the use of face coverings and face shields (also called face visors). For more information please refer to our FAQs on face coverings

Keeping each other safe

We all have our part to play in supporting the University to conduct research and provide students with an engaging and enriching experience in a safe and vibrant environment. Working from home, if we can, is one of the most important things we can do to keep colleagues and students on campus safe.

If you are working on campus, you will see the measures we have put in place to keep us all safe. These include:

  • Signage in buildings, which will indicate one-way systems, rules for specific rooms and that will remind us to social distance.
  • Increased cleaning activity and hand sanitising points throughout campus.
  • The requirement to wear face coverings in certain areas on campus such as cafes, shops and all main indoor communal spaces.
  • Hosting an NHS coronavirus community testing centre in the Gryphon Sports Centre. More information about the centre is in issue 20 of eNews extra, sent 21 August 2020.

It will make a really big difference if we all commit to wearing face coverings where required, keeping our distance from one another and staying at home and getting a test if we are feeling unwell. We also need to follow Government and Public Health England advice and guidance, and of course wash our hands regularly and thoroughly for at least twenty seconds.

We are producing more information that will re-iterate the safety measures that are in place and how we can work together to keep campus safe. These will be shared in September.

Student communications

As we prepare our students for the new term, we will also be sharing with them information about how we are making campus covid-secure whilst still delivering a supportive, interactive and quality student experience.

All student communications are available to download from the coronavirus website.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your hard work and commitment over the last few months in what have been for all of us challenging and difficult circumstances. Although there are inevitably still some uncertainties, I hope that this letter provides some clarity as to how the next term will look for us all and that it reassures you that we are doing all we can to keep campus safe and welcoming for our community.

Thank you all for working together to help achieve this.

With my best wishes,

Roger Gair
University Secretary


Reopening campus – share your comments and questions

As a reminder we are using Microsoft Forms to capture and consider feedback on the reopening process. Your feedback will help to shape the process and future communications.