New Ways of Working

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Background

The pandemic has upended the traditional way of work for many professional services colleagues at the University, and we have adapted incredibly well to a period of unparalleled change.

In February 2021, the Government outlined its plans for easing lockdown restrictions. This provides an opportunity to start preparing for our return and consider how we can work most effectively and in ways that fit your lives outside work.

What lessons can we learn from the pandemic? How can we embrace some of the positive changes to our working lives and our workplaces in the future? How can we improve our support to teaching and research?

New Ways of Working is seeking to address those questions for professional services staff, so that they can continue to support the University’s academic mission as we move out of the pandemic.

About the project

The New Ways of Working project will provide managers and their teams with guidance and information to help them prepare for how they/their teams will operate as and when a return to the workplace becomes possible beyond current social distancing constraints, and in line with changes to the University’s Business Continuity Planning (BCP) stages as they are confirmed.

The project aims to provide a framework for how individuals and teams can work most effectively in the future - whether on-site or remotely.  

It will take a highly consultative approach, with staff able to feed in their views, draw on their own experiences during the lockdown period, and contribute to the improvements around how professional service staff will work in the longer term.   

The objective of the project is to develop a framework to support managers, teams and individuals in developing working arrangements which will enable professional services to be delivered in the most effective way to support our academic mission.  Work is taking place with colleagues across the University to ensure the approach can be used widely and as appropriate, in line with local needs and priorities. The experience of the pilots that will run in both UAS and academic departments will be a key feature of developing materials suitable for use in different contexts. 

Academic and Research Staff will be closely consulted to ensure that any outcomes fully support the University’s core areas of teaching and research.

The project was initiated by the Registrar, Gill Aitken, and is being led by Julian Duxfield, Director of HR.  Proposals for changes will be reviewed by Personnel Committee ahead of implementation.

New Ways of Working Framework

One of the initial outputs from the New Ways of Working project will be a supportive framework. It will help managers, teams and individuals develop working arrangements which provide the most effective professional services and continuity of support to academics, students and the wider University community to deliver our academic mission.  

Currently in development, the framework aims to enable professional services staff to learn from their experiences over the last year, to address any challenges they may have faced but to also build on any working practices that have worked well. This includes development of potential future models of working for consideration as part of future operating arrangements in teams.  These include working:

  • fully on-site

  • occasional remote (allowing for remote working on an ad hoc basis)

  • regular remote (ranging in proportion of working time)

  • and majority remote (likely to be appropriate only for a very small number of roles)

In support of each of these models of working are a number of elements to show how arrangements might work in practice, under the following headings:

  • place of work
  • wellbeing and safety
  • working at our best (for managers and staff)
  • enabling factors for successful working.

Next steps

New Ways of Working is preparing for the time when government restrictions are eased and the policy of ‘work from home if you can’ is removed. Until this time, ‘Return to on-site working’ will provide the approach for staff across the University to work on-site and in accordance with government guidance during the period of Covid-19 social distancing restrictions. Similar to the approach in Michaelmas Term last year.    

The Framework will be piloted in in a small number of UAS sections and academic departments in April/May 2021 to test the approach that has been developed ahead of the framework being made available to other parts of the University in line with local needs and priorities. This will then inform any return to the workplace for professional services staff – in accordance with the required changes to the University’s Business Continuity Planning stages. 

The framework and the project will continue to adapt and evolve over time to ensure it still works for everyone.

Survey feedback

In March we ran a survey asking for your feedback on the initial planning and proposals around New Ways of Working. Thank you to everyone who completed the survey – over 2,500 people in total from UAS, divisional offices, academic departments and GLAM. Your insights and feedback have been incredibly valuable and the team have already begun acting on the responses to improve and adjust the materials supporting the project. You can now read a summary of the results below.

Further information

A feedback session on the New Ways of Working project took place on the 19 April at the Professional Services Conference, Staying Connected.This session provided an opportunity for staff to ask questions about the suggested framework and the current timeframes for the project. If you missed the session you can watch it again via the Conference webpage.

More information about New Ways of Working will follow in the weeks ahead, but, if you have any queries now, please contact nww@admin.ox.ac.uk

New Ways of Working staff survey summary 

Below you will find a summary of the New Ways of Working staff survey from March 2021. The summary provides the feedback of over 2,500 people in total from UAS, divisional offices, academic departments and GLAM.  

 

Survey summary

Contact us


nww@admin.ox.ac.uk