New Ways of Working Update
Now that the New Ways of Working (NWW) Framework has been in place for 9 months, the HR team reports on how it is being used across various departments at the University
Since the framework was made available in the summer of 2021, the COVID-19 response has meant a lot of change for both staff and the organisation of the University. However, throughout that time some departments have been using the framework to help adapt to the changing circumstances, with the ultimate goal of moving to a more flexible approach to how Professional Services staff can work.
A recent survey carried out amongst HR professionals across the University noted that 67% of departments have either implemented or begun implementing NWW. Of those who are yet to implement the framework, many said that they planned to do so in Trinity term or over the coming long vacation.
The survey also found that the framework has facilitated planning around working patterns for the longer term: nearly all departments (93%) who have implemented it have been able to agree over three quarters of the requests for new working patterns from staff – using the framework alone.
Such initial findings are reassuring – but as we move to something more akin to business-as-usual working practices across the University, many staff have indicated that they are keen to see how the framework is being used in practice.
On 15 March 2022, a NWW support session was held for all senior administrators and HR professionals to discuss how the framework is being adopted in their area. During the session colleagues heard from a range of areas and had an opportunity to discuss the challenges they have faced and the successes they have had so far.
One of the main pieces of feedback from the support session was a request for more insight into what other areas are doing when implementing the framework.
To address this need, a bank of case studies is being built to highlight how different areas have approached the framework. Below are extracts from the three case studies collated so far:
Physics began implementation of the New Ways of Working Framework by discussing it at the Physics Management Committee to secure buy-in. It was agreed that the framework would be implemented for Professional and Support Staff, with the departmental view being a requirement of a minimum of one day per week spent on site.
Each administrative function, such as HR, could implement the framework according to their team’s operational needs, as long as they followed the proviso of one day per week on site. Most teams agreed on a minimum of two to three days per week spent on site to meet team requirements.
Julia Lindon, HR Manager, Physics
IT Services have used a relatively informal and flexible approach to New Ways of Working, with no policies implemented at a departmental level except that, in line with the framework, fully remote working is not permitted unless under exceptional circumstances. It is anticipated that most staff would come on site for around two days per week. All other arrangements were discussed and agreed within teams.
Ian Wild, Director of Programme and Project Delivery, IT services
The School’s policy was to allow staff to work remotely for a maximum of 40% FTE (pro rata) with effect from 6 September 2021 (subject to any further government guidance). The Policy was circulated to all staff via email and in a Whole School meeting. Practical implementation was delegated to team leaders…
As the implementation date approached, there was some anxiety across staff groups regarding on-site working and concerns around COVID-19 case numbers. The School responded by focusing on leading with kindness, using September 2021 as a transitional month for colleagues to build up to their longer-term NWW pattern and get used to commuting again.
Brooke Martin-Garbutt, HR Manager, Blavatnik School of Government
More examples of how NWW is being used in various departments across the University are being collated, so please look out for further case studies in the coming months. Or, if you have a case study that you would be willing to share, please get in touch. Case studies can be anonymised if preferred and it is just as useful to hear about what has been challenging as it is to hear about what has gone well, since the framework is intended to be flexible and adaptable to local circumstances.
The team are also keen to hear directly from Professional Services staff about how NWW is impacting your working life, so look out for a NWW survey during Trinity term.
If you have any questions in the meantime, or you would like to contribute to the bank of case studies, please email the NWW team.