Hybrid working guidance for professional services and technical staff 2022.
3. Key principles of the guidance
4. Categories of role
5. Activity-led approach for hybrid workers
6. Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity
7. Flexible working requests
8. Leadership responsibilities
1.1 UCL is at the heart of one of the most dynamic cities in the world. We are a campus-based University and our identity and student experience are in part framed by 14,500 staff and 48,000 students interacting and collaborating in person, to support learning, creativity and innovation within our diverse community.
Campus life is an integral part of the student and staff experience. It, therefore, remains important for Professional Services and Technical staff to engage in the culture and life of UCL on campus; to interact with and act as role models for students and colleagues, and it remains important for teams to come together in person.
At the same time, we want to offer staff flexibility on how they work but balance that with supporting the campus experience and retaining what makes UCL a great place to study and work.
An appropriate balance of both on campus and remote working enhances productivity, efficiency and wellbeing and represents a positive response to the changing external environment.
1.2 The offer of hybrid working where possible, will support general EDI objectives by meeting the needs of certain groups such as parents and carers or those with certain protected characteristics such as disabled colleagues.
1.3 The guidance is intended to provide a framework to support staff and managers to plan how and where their work activities are carried out.
The guidance and accompanying toolkit aim to empower and support leaders and managers to decide on the best working arrangements for their unit (e.g., division/department/team) in consultation with their team.
1.4 For Professional Services and Technical staff, this guidance replaces the Interim Guidance for Staff and Managers that was previously in place following the return to campus at the end of the Coronavirus pandemic.
1.5 This guidance is non-contractual and might evolve and need to change over time in recognition that hybrid working is not yet well-established and the longer-term impact on staff and the operation of the university are yet to be realised. Changes to Government Policy or other global, institutional, or national challenges might also impact our arrangements.
2.1 This guidance applies to all central and faculty Professional Services and Technical Staff employed by UCL on a UK contract.
2.2 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.
3. Key principles of the guidance
3.1 All professional services and technical roles will be aligned to one of the following three categories:
>80% of working time1 on campus
Between 20%-80% of working time on campus
<20% of working time on campus
Further details on the expectations for each category are set out in Section 4: Categories of Role.
3.2 When advertising roles for recruitment, managers should include which category the role falls under as above and indicate the required level of campus attendance.
3.3 Levels and patterns of campus attendance in each category should be managed using an activity-led approach.
Department Heads should use this guidance to establish:
i) which category applies to the roles in their area; and
ii) how best to adopt the guidance in a way that suits their Division/ Department/ Team.
Decisions should be discussed and agreed at team level with overall approval at an appropriate leadership level, Head of Department or Director of a professional services division. Additional guidance is available for department heads and managers to support them in making their decision.
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 attend even if this is not on a day they are normally on-site with their immediate team.
3.4 We recognise that there might be different expectations within and across departments regarding how much on-site working is required. Whilst the activity-led framework can help to provide some degree of consistency, there will be differences in working patterns and levels of attendance either within or across departments and teams and Department Heads should be open and transparent about the reasoning behind this.
3.5 Individual circumstances may also affect working patterns or levels of attendance on campus, for example, a reasonable adjustment, a pre-existing flexible working arrangement or if the individual’s home working environment or equipment is not suitable.
Therefore, this should not affect staff who already have an existing flexible working or reasonable adjustment arrangement in place unless they are requesting a change to the agreed arrangement, in which case they should make the request through the regular channels, as referenced above in 3.5.
Guidance for Working Remotely for UK-based staff provides further information on equipment and an appropriate working environment.
3.6 UCL acknowledges the benefits of both in-person and remote working and encourages all staff to “make the time count” in either scenario, where possible and in agreement with their line manager. This guidance aims to support staff to optimise their time spent on campus and whilst working remotely.
3.7 Hybrid working provides our staff with flexibility and likewise we ask our staff to be flexible. Regular work patterns should be established where possible, for example by using set days of the week, to offer a degree of consistency and a planned approach. However, and where reasonable notice is given, patterns might be subject to change and staff might be asked to attend campus on any of their working days.
3.8 Staff working hours should normally cover the core period of 10:00 to 16:00, whether working remotely, or on-site. This is to ensure they are available to colleagues and students during usual working hours. Meetings should also be held during these hours. However, we recognise that not all departments operate services or undertake work within the “traditional” 9-5 hours working day and many staff members work part-time or work different hours to their colleagues. Whilst the majority of meetings should still be able to take place between 10am-4pm, the meeting organiser should take into account attendees’ working hours in order to ensure meetings take place at a convenient time for everyone.
3.9 Managers should be considerate to specific groups who might be adversely impacted by inconsistent arrangements and varying campus days – for example, carers, who might need to change their care provision to commute to campus on varying days of the week.
3.10 Any hybrid working arrangements are subject to ongoing review. Should any concerns arise, for example, an impact on performance or conduct, or the member of staff has a change of role, then the hybrid working arrangement may be revoked or modified.
3.11 Remote working for all categories of staff remains voluntary and no employee will be required to work remotely unless a particular issue determines this. The UCL campus or a designated University site will remain the contractual “normal place of work”.
3.12 Where staff are working remotely, this guidance should be read in conjunction with Guidance on Working Remotely for UK staff.
For all categories of role, line managers should record their teams’ working patterns on a form (.docx) detailing any potential impact on departmental objectives and how these will be delivered.
The purpose of recording this information is to provide the appropriate Department Head or Director 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.
4.1 On-site First
i) For roles and teams that are normally required to spend most of their time working on-site (>80%).
ii) The nature of their role does not normally lend itself to working remotely.
iii) They are mostly involved in the delivery of student-facing or in-person work which requires an on-site presence unless there is an exceptional management agreement for remote work.
Considerations for Managers and Heads of Department
Where staff are required to be onsite to perform their role for all or most of their time, thoughtful consideration should be given by department heads to offer some degree of flexibility where possible. For example, a rota system can be helpful, offering increased flexibility outside of busy times, if this could be accommodated with the fluctuations in the amount of time the role is needed on campus.
4.2 Hybrid Worker
i) For roles and teams that spend some of their time working remotely and some time on campus.
ii) Between 20% - 80% on-site
iii) This group comprises those whose roles do not dictate the need to always be on-site. They can carry out large amounts of work remotely and may also deliver services and activities on-site, such as events, meetings, and interaction where face-to-face contact is necessary and/or beneficial.
4.3 Remote First (new category)
i) For roles and teams that spend most of their time working remotely (less than 20% on campus)
ii) The preference is to spend most of the time working remotely due to the nature of the work undertaken as determined by local leadership
iii) Remote First roles are exceptional and are normally only limited to:
Roles that do not require a reasonable degree of in-person interaction for example:
- Systems-driven roles
- Roles that do not automatically benefit from cross-collaboration or networking
- Roles that take a high volume of calls
Individually negotiated agreements as part of a job offer (for hard to recruit to posts)
iv) Remote First arrangements should be agreed at Director or equivalent level.
Considerations when deciding on whether a role should be Remote First:
i) Department Assessment: What activities does the department carry out that they need to come to campus for? Could these be better done remotely?
ii) Team Assessment: What do individual teams need to come to campus for?
iii) Individual Assessment: Does the individual carry out a different or unique role that requires a remote arrangement or do their personal circumstances require adjustments that may include consideration of a remote arrangement?
5. Activity-led approach for hybrid workers
An activity-led approach should be followed when planning how much time on-site is required for hybrid workers and for what (and for the other two categories to a degree).
As overriding principles, all working arrangements should support UCL’s mission, departmental objectives and the role requirements to ensure optimal performance. Where it is considered that a hybrid working arrangement supports these principles, the following activity-led framework should be followed:
An activity-led approach should be assessed using the following criteria:
If there is a benefit to carrying out a face-to-face activity, for example:
meeting new starters
Some formal training opportunities, such as induction, team and leadership development are best achieved as least partly in-person.
When assessing this, first 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 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 by 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 indicates 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 a team or with others from around the university should be scheduled into working on-site time.
Departments and teams should identify their key stakeholders and how best to facilitate in-person collaboration.
Working remotely remains voluntary. If individuals or teams feel working on campus more regularly, or for a specific activity, will enhance their wellbeing then this should be explored.
5.2 How to help facilitate the activity-led framework
i) Individuals should ensure their outlook calendars are accessible to others (whilst preserving confidentiality if necessary) and are up to date with their daily work location for example – a campus building, at home, etc.
ii) Where possible, activities should be planned for a full day on campus, rather than attending short appointments/activities, and then leaving to work remotely. Make the most of being on campus!
iii) If using a rota system, departments should map out who their key clients/ supply chain/partners/ are and on which days there can be overlap with other teams to allow cross-departmental collaboration.
iv) Remind staff to follow desk, space booking and meeting room etiquette protocols. For example, staff should not book a meeting room to use as a private workspace and should cancel room/desk bookings in advance if no longer needed.
6. Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity
6.1 Disabled colleagues
i) Staff who require a reasonable adjustment to their work arrangement (which may include working remotely) should be supported where the adjustment can be accommodated, for example if they require special equipment.
Completing a DSE assessment will help to inform whether any particular equipment is needed at home as well as on-site for an individual.
ii) If a colleague needs additional remote working because of their disability, this should be considered and supported if possible.
iii) Consideration must be given to how space, including meeting rooms and desk space allocation, is organised on-site and the potential impact on disabled colleagues.
iv) When arranging hybrid meetings, the chair of the meeting must ensure that all accessibility needs are met.
6.2 Staff with caring responsibilities
i) We recognise that hybrid working might offer enhanced opportunities for staff who are carers. For example, staff who are not commuting as frequently, may be able to provide care for someone, just before the beginning of the working day, and afterwards, that they would have otherwise not been able to.
ii) However, remote working is not a substitute for childcare or care for other dependents, and those working from home must ensure that they have appropriate caring arrangements in place during their working hours.
iii) Department Heads should adopt regular routines for working on-site, as far as reasonably possible and provide adequate notice if arrangements change to ensure parents and carers are not disproportionately affected by changes.
6.3 Part-time staff
Once the new pattern of work has been agreed for the team, care should be taken when adopting the activity-led approach, to avoid any disadvantage for part-time staff. For example, and where reasonably practicable, avoid:
- Arranging activities that fall on some members of staff’s non-working days or within hours when they do not normally work;
- Asking part-time staff to come in for activities as frequently as their full-time colleagues as this could result in a relatively larger amount of time on-site for them.
- Part-time staff may have to be given appropriate notice to change their working days or on-site days to fit in with any new pattern of work agreed for their team.
7. Flexible working requests
i) Hybrid working is a form of flexible working, however arrangements under this policy are non-contractual and can be subject to change.
ii) However, all staff remain able to ask for a formal change to their working hours or pattern (including increased levels of homeworking) under the current UCL Work Life Balance Policy where they are able to put forward a flexible working application.
iii) Any changes to working hours must also be updated in MyHR.
8. Leadership responsibilities
8.1 Heads of Departments have the responsibility to oversee what their teams are coming into campus for and to try to facilitate consistency as far as possible.
8.2 They should also set and manage expectations and ensure transparency.
8.3 The following leadership principles should be followed when planning their hybrid working activities:
Lead by example by demonstrating the behaviours you wish to see in others in accordance with the UCL Ways of Working.
Make time to actively listen and respond to your team. Ensure everyone feels heard, has a voice and there are robust mechanisms in place for colleagues to share thoughts and feedback
Be visible and approachable:
Some leaders may feel that they need to be visible on-site more often than their colleagues. Whether on-site or remotely you should be present and approachable, giving teams a clear opportunity for interaction.
Be accessible and inclusive:
To help make sure you are accessible to everyone, understand and consider the diverse needs of others who are involved.
Check-in regularly with any team member working remotely.
Health and Safety:
Ensure there is adequate cover on-site for First Aid and Fire Safety.