By Luke Payne
Durham University announced in an email to staff on Tuesday that trials will begin next academic year to assess the viability of part-remote/part-on-campus working arrangements for its staff. The so-called ‘hybrid working’ approach follows the relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions that has seen many University staff working remotely since March 2020. The trial is a recognition that some may prefer to continue to do their roles remotely or not be on-campus for all working days.
Much of the scheme has yet to be detailed and will depend partly on the government’s roadmap out of lockdown restrictions, which currently requires staff to work from home, if they are able to do so, until June 21st 2021. Where roles allow, hybrid working will be offered to professional services staff but will also be explored with technicians.
A Professional Services Accommodation Working Group, chaired by David Loudon, Director of Estates and Facilities, is considering how best to plan and manage the return to campus. The Working Group will engage with leaders, managers and colleagues across the University to shape the approach to hybrid working. This will begin in with staff being asked to complete a survey regarding a return to campus.
The proposals for hybrid working will be tested in focus groups, which will include leaders and managers from across professional services staff. Trade union representatives and University staff networks will also be asked to provide feedback and input on the proposals. Guidance for hybrid working is expected to be published from late June to early July.
The University cites many advantages of hybrid working, including being positive for health, well-being and allowing for increased time with loved ones, or the pursuit of other activities. The University also believes it will bring environmental benefits, improve staff motivation and enhance the University’s reputation as an employer.
However, the University does state that it is mindful that hybrid working may not be suitable for everyone and staff will have the opportunity to discuss their preferences with their manager.
It underlines that “the campus must remain at the heart of our vibrant University community and it is essential that the ‘University experience’ for all staff and students is enlivened and enriched by having a complement of colleagues on site.”
Image: Maddie Flisher