Frequently asked questions for managers about the new hybrid working guidance.
- 1. What is different about the new guidance?
The new guidance applies to Professional Services and technical staff in central departments and faculties. It introduces 3 categories of worker:
On-site First: working more than 80% of time on-site. These workers were referred to in the Interim Guidance as Category A Workers
Hybrid Worker: working 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: working 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
Teams and individuals are encouraged to come on-site for specific activities, optimising the time spent on-site, rather than it just being about presenteeism or adhering to a strict baseline percentage. This means taking a planned approach for what types of activities to undertake when working on-site and allows departments to be more autonomous in determining what works well in their area, whilst also providing flexibility for staff.
- 2. What do I need to tell my team and when?
You will need to discuss the new guidance with your team and establish who is in each category, recording this information and the working pattern for your team, on the form provided.
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.
Conversations can happen from July onwards with a view to working patterns being in place for the start of the new Academic term – 1st October 2022.
Some staff may need a longer transition period to secure caring or other arrangements. Managers should adopt a sensitive and pragmatic approach, working with the individual and encouraging open, transparent discussions about requirements. Seek advice from your HR Business Partner in these situations.
Staff remain able to submit a flexible working request which will mean a temporary or permanent change to their terms and conditions. Further information on managing flexible working requests can be found in the Work Life Balance Policy.
- 3. How enforceable is the guidance?
Campus/On-site remains the contractual place of work for all staff, and staff and managers are expected to adhere to the guidance. The guidance has been approved at University Management Committee and any new working arrangements will apply from the 1st October 2022. If staff are unable to commit to the new arrangements or are unwilling, please seek advice from your HR Business Partner in the first instance.
- 4. Do I need to seek approval on which staff are in which category and our working patterns?
Decisions should be discussed and agreed at team level with overall approval at an appropriate leadership level, which is Head of Department or Director of a Professional Services division.
Remote First arrangements should be agreed at Director or equivalent level.
- 5. How should I go about determining what to come in for and how regularly?
Managers should follow the activity-led framework within the hybrid working guidance. This should be used as a guide as well as the additional guidance for managers, to establish what kind of activities teams need to be on-site for.
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 or organiser is responsible for setting the location and format of the meeting or event.
- 6. Can I ask any staff I have in the Remote First Category to work from home exclusively?
No. Working remotely remains voluntary and whilst Remote First staff will work mostly off-site, campus/On-site remains their contractual place of work and they are allowed to work on-site as often as they like, providing they discuss this with their line manager and book a desk or space as appropriate.
- 7. A member of my team has problems with coming in on an ad-hoc basis as they need to plan childcare or other caring arrangements. What steps should I follow?
Discuss the issues with them openly and transparently with a view to reaching a solution and seek advice from your HR Business Partner if necessary.
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.
However, we recognise that some staff may have different caring requirements when working remotely as opposed to commuting into work, and that these arrangements need to be planned in advance. Therefore, staff should be provided with adequate and reasonable notice of when they are required to come in.
Staff remain able to submit a flexible working request.
- 8. Should we set regular days as a team?
Try to adopt a regular working pattern for on-site days, 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 considered reasonable notice will depend on individual circumstances.
- 9. Someone in my team has been asked to come in for a meeting with a different department which is not on our normal on-site day. They do not want to come in, do they have to?
It may not always be possible for meeting organisers to choose a day when all attendees are in on a planned on-site day. 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, as long as they have been given reasonable notice. The only exception may be if a part-time member of staff does not normally work on that given day and cannot rearrange their working day.
- 10. How do I support a member of staff who is concerned about the new working arrangements and is becoming stressed as a result?
Listen to their concerns and discuss with them possible strategies to help them.
If they are suffering from stress, the manager should follow the Managing Stress at Work Policy and undertake a stress risk assessment.
The manager should ensure they direct the employee to the Employee Assistance Programme, where they can seek advice and obtain counselling if they wish. You can also take advice from your HR Business Partner.
- 11. A staff member says they need to work from home exclusively as a reasonable adjustment
Discuss their requirements with them with an open mind, utilise the reasonable adjustments resources and take advice from your HR Business Partner if needed.
When assessing what is reasonable, the following is considered:
• How effective the adjustment would be in overcoming the disadvantage
• How practicable it is to make the adjustment
• The extent of any disruption to activities that making the adjustment would cause
• Effects on other staff
• The sustainability of the proposed adjustment
• The likely financial and other costs incurred as a result of making the adjustment
- 12. Will the guidance or any local arrangements change again?
The frequency of on-site attendance may need to change in the future because of building space and utilisation but staff will be given notice of any such change.
Local departments may also need to change working patterns, but staff will be provided with reasonable notice of this. The impact of the new guidance will be carefully monitored.
- 13. How can I manage any perceptions of inequity?
We are asking Department Heads to be open about the rationale for their teams’ working patterns so there is transparency in decision making. Due to the diverse activities undertaken across the University and large number of departments, it is not possible to achieve absolute consistency. It is therefore really important that we articulate to staff why there are differences in how we operate across departments and teams.
- 14. What is expected of me as a manager?
We need your support in helping staff to adapt to the new guidance that will come into place at the start of the new academic year.
The Hybrid Working Guidance also sets out certain leadership responsibilities which should be followed.
- 15. Can staff in the Remote First category claim travel expenses when coming on-site?
No, because campus/on-site remains their contractual place of work.