Supportive guidance for managers and department heads to supplement the new hybrid working guidance for professional staff.
1. What is the new guidance?
Following the listening exercises earlier this year when we asked for feedback on the arrangements in the Interim People Management guidance, revised guidance for Professional Services and Technical Staff has been introduced line managers and their teams to discuss over the summer, in readiness for the new academic year.
The new guidance is for Professional Services and Technical staff in central departments and faculties. The Interim People Management guidance currently remains in place for academic, teaching and research staff pending further review of how the new guidance can be applied to these staff groups.
The new guidance introduces 3 categories of workers:
On-site first workers: More than 80% of time on-site. These workers were referred to in the Interim Guidance as Category A Workers
Hybrid workers: Between 20% and 80% of time on-site, using an activity-led approach rather than a strict baseline which was previously set at 40% for minimum attendance. These workers were referred to in the Interim Guidance as Category B Workers.
Remote first workers: Less than 20% of time on-site. This is a new, exceptional category and full details on the types of role which may qualify for this arrangement can be found in the new guidance
The guidance and accompanying toolkit provide a framework to help local leaders determine working patterns and the type of activity their teams come on-site for and also provides additional guidance on managing individual cases, for example if someone needs a reasonable adjustment or flexible working arrangement.
During the implementation period, additional resources will be added to the toolkit, including training sessions, in response to feedback and queries.
Line managers will be supported by their HRBP who can provide further information on the roll-out of the new guidance. Line managers will also be able to attend some development and drop-in sessions to help them successfully discuss and implement the new arrangements.
A period from July to the end of September has been designated the time during which line managers should have any conversations with their team/individuals about the new arrangements, in readiness for the start of the new term.
If current team arrangements are working well, it may just be a matter of confirming this, and reviewing the Activity led approach guidance/examples to ensure that time spent on campus is being optimised.
2. Implementation of new guidance – by 1 October 2022
1. Discuss and agree at a team level, use Briefing Pack:
i) Which roles and how many are in each category
ii) Working patterns and onsite activities for a team or where appropriate at an individual level, using the Hybrid Working Guidance, the additional information in this document and the further resources on the Making Hybrid Work pages
No requirement to change to current working patterns?
If the current arrangements are working well, there might not be a requirement to change but it is still important to discuss with your team and re-affirm the arrangements.
The activity-led Framework should still be followed to make best use of the time being spent on site.
2. Record the information on the "form to capture team working patterns and the potential impact on department objectives and service delivery”. The purpose of recording this information is to provide the appropriate Department Head or Director an oversight of the number of staff in each category in their areas and an understanding of the various working patterns. Information on this form must be recorded anonymously.
3. Overall approval at an appropriate leadership level, Head of Department or Director of a professional services division. If any Remote-First arrangements are required, this must be agreed at Director or Equivalent level.
4. Attend workshops, training sessions and drop-in sessions throughout July-October as needed
5. Working arrangements should be confirmed and in place by 1st October, but conversations should start as soon as possible.
6. Frequently Asked Questions for Managers provide further guidance and you can also discuss any concerns or queries with your HR Business Partner.
Some staff may need a longer transition period to secure or amend existing caring or other arrangements. Managers should adopt a sensitive and pragmatic approach, working with the individual, encouraging open and transparent discussions about requirements. Seek advice from your HR Business Partner in these situations. Also see Manager FAQs.
Staff remain able to submit a flexible working request.
3. How to adopt the activity-led framework for hybrid working
As overriding principles, all working arrangements should support UCL’s mission, departmental objectives and the role requirements to ensure optimum performance.
Where it is considered that a hybrid working arrangement supports these principles, the following activity-based framework should be followed:
If there is a benefit to carrying out a face-to-face activity, for example:
- meeting new starters
- relationship/network building
- incidental learning
- Some formal training opportunities, such as induction, team and leadership development are best achieved as least partly in-person.
When assessing this, consider the best way to achieve team or department objectives and then manage individual needs and requirements for example accessibility requirements.
ii) Space / environment:
- Is there is a benefit to having access to more space or a certain type of space, equipment or facility that is available on-site (sometimes campus can be quieter than remote working, might provide a more confidential space, or just give more space)
- Does the work require quiet “head down” space which might be best carried out remotely away from distractions if there is access to a quiet space remotely?
- Length of meeting. It may reduce fatigue and increase engagement if long meetings are carried out on site in person.
- If there are time efficiency savings by working on-site
- Spending regular time working alongside team members has proven to be highly beneficial and appreciated for many staff (this is especially important for supporting new starters and early career staff for sharing knowledge and best practices).
- Learning on the job and learning from others makes up 90% of someone’s overall development. Some of this learning takes place incidentally when working closely with others doing a similar role.
- Feedback from staff on UCL training programmes indicate that while online training is largely satisfactory for convenience, having a 100% online approach means missing the critical opportunities to network, learn in groups and interact meaningfully with colleagues found in in-person settings. This is a particularly acute issue for under-represented groups.
v) Collaboration and innovation:
- Deliberate time to focus on collaboration and innovation, either within team or with others from around the university should be scheduled into working on-site time.
- Departments and teams should identify who their key stakeholders are and how best to co-ordinate with them to optimise opportunity for in person collaboration.
- Working remotely remains voluntary, and if individuals or teams feel working on-site more regularly or for a specific activity will enhance their wellbeing then this should be explored
Making hybrid work: further considerations
- Try to adopt a regular working pattern if possible.
- This could mean a set day for team collaboration and for set planned activities.
- If arrangements or work patterns need to change on a permanent or temporary basis, ensure staff are given reasonable notice. What is reasonable will depend on individual circumstances and the staff member’s ability to change arrangements
- In recognition that there may be differences in working patterns within teams or across teams, be open and transparent about the rationale for your agreed working patterns.
- Ensure rationale is recorded on the Team Working Pattern Form
- Keep calendars showing location up to date and accessible to others where possible.
- Plan whole day activities where possible rather than attending for short appointments/activities, and then leaving to work remotely.
- Be purposeful about what to come on-site for and ensure time is optimised (not just sitting at a desk all day on Teams calls, often in unsuitable environments)
- Is the team or individuals in the team, student-facing?
- What are our department objectives? Does this require in-person interaction?
- What are the different requirements for each role in the area?
- Are there any stakeholders we need to check in with e.g., academics in academic departments?
- Do we need to manage stakeholder expectations?
- Any potential risks/challenges arising from hybrid working?
Whilst Department Heads approve working patterns for teams – where additional and ad hoc attendance is required for an in-person event or meeting, staff are expected to make every effort to attend, even if this is not on a day they are normally on-site with their immediate team. The Chair of the meeting or organiser of the event should decide where the meeting or event needs to take place and in what format.
There may be staff with individual arrangements or working patterns within a team because
Working with other teams and departments
- Identify your key clients, other departments and teams you collaborate with
- Can you plan activities where you can collaborate in person on set days?
- Share working patterns with other teams and departments – can you share resources?
Social and Networking Opportunities
- Ensure staff have the opportunity to partake in social activities and networking. This comes more naturally to some than others so ensure these opportunities are provided.
Working Environment and Equipment
- Ensure staff are aware of the Guidance for working remotely and that an appropriate DSE assessment has been carried out for remote working
- Do we need to book space and desks?
- Will colleagues spend any time working in any other areas of the University other than their office location?
Health and Safety Considerations
4. Further help and support
- FAQs for managers