12 January 2021 - Principal’s message of support for colleagues

Issued: Tue, 12 Jan 2021 10:58:53 GMT

Dear Colleagues,

I write further to my message last week regarding the important changes to protection levels announced across Scotland in response to the rising Covid-19 infection rate.

The University is reviewing our on-campus service provision with the aim of minimising attendance other than for those engaged in delivering essential work and services.  As you know, most of us who do not require to be on campus continue to work remotely.

I fully understand the significant and additional burden that these latest developments have placed on colleagues – in particular those who are shielding or have caring responsibilities. 

I want to stress that we will be supportive, flexible and inclusive in our approach, assisting colleagues with the challenge of balancing work and other responsibilities in this prolonged lockdown period. As far as is practical, we will adjust workload and performance expectations to reflect the impact on staff, taking account of their individual circumstances.

The University already has in place a range of mechanisms to support colleagues through flexible working, support for carers and other policy provisions (and we have updated guidance including FAQs, available here).

However, we know that further support would be welcomed. We are aware that additional leave or flexible working will not address some of the key issues which colleagues face unless we are able to also address workload issues. 

Consequently, following discussions with Heads of Schools/Directors of Research Institutes and Services, we have agreed a series of additional measures to alleviate the pressure on colleagues. 

These are as follows:

  • Review of work priorities, with priority given to essential tasks such as delivery of online teaching.
  • Maximise agile and flexible working approaches i.e. working patterns, hours, etc.
  • Review physical & equipment related support and resourcing for remote/home working.
  • Flexibility around deadlines where possible.
  • Additional funding focused on extra resourcing for teaching & research activity.
  • A review of support for home working (led by the Senior Vice Principal, Neal Juster).

These will require careful co-ordination at a local level through line managers. I am aware that Heads of Schools/Directors of Research Institutes and Services are working with you to explore how we might best support you at this time.

I want to acknowledge once again the remarkable work that everyone has undertaken to date and which you continue to do.  I am proud of the way we are working together as a community through this ongoing crisis – my heartfelt thanks to you all once again.

The vaccination programme brings hope for the future, even though it may be a little way away. In the meantime, please continue to look after yourself and those around you; in particular, follow public health guidance on social distancing protocols, face coverings and hygiene.

To repeat, we will do everything we can to support you over the coming weeks and will continue to engage with you directly as well as with trade union colleagues. 

We will communicate with you further as additional guidance emerges.  Meanwhile, please do reach out to your line managers or our HR colleagues if you have any questions or concerns. 

With best wishes,

Anton Muscatelli

Principal and Vice Chancellor