Managers' Guide - Returning to Campus


The University continues to follow the advice of the Scottish Government (See the Scottish Government website for the latest information) and as restrictions ease we are keen to ensure that colleagues have a great return to campus experience. Heads of School/Research Institutes/Services and their management teams will assume responsibility for ensuring any return to campus activities are in line with the latest Government guidance and the agreed over-arching Principles. It is important to ensure this guidance is appropriately applied and this will require effective communication, engagement and dialogue with colleagues to support a seamless return to campus-based working in a phased and planned way whilst ensuring a safe, healthy and positive return to campus for our people. 

During this period of unprecedented change, we appreciate some colleagues may experience a range of challenges and emotions both generally and, for some in particular, around the prospect of returning to campus, whilst others have expressed they are keen to return. Managers will play a key role in maintaining open, supportive and sensitive dialogue with their teams to understand individual circumstances and preferences and make decisions which balance individual needs with the business imperative of enabling a smooth transition back to campus working and the long term strategic and operational interests of the University. In many areas this should also include discussing the adoption of or transition to any new ways of working which teams or individuals wish to embrace in the longer-term. 

Heads of School/Research Institute/Service will have responsibility for the general oversight of plans in their respective areas, with line managers leading on implementation as locally agreed.  

This guide is designed to assist leaders with planning all returns to campus, for individuals or teams.  

This guidance and the process steps outlined below provide the approach to be followed:  

  1. Consider the working context of your particular unit
  2. Carry out the  COVID-19 risk assessment(s) relevant to your unit/team   
  3. Support teams to return to campus   
  4. Reflect and review 

Step 1: Consider the Working Context of Your Unit

As part of planning any return to working on campus, it is important to be aware of the wider context and up-to-date information. 

The University’s over-arching ‘return to campus’ principles will frame our approach throughout all phases of the recovery period. These principles outline the broad range of measures that will be taken throughout the return transition and will unify efforts across the organisation to resume activities on campus. 

There are a number of key considerations which will shape the wider context and the transition back to working on Campus: 

Step 2: Carry Out the COVID-19 Risk Assessment(s)

It is the responsibility of each School/Research Institute/Service to devise the best approach to ensuring health and safety in their local area and to plan and implement any identified workplace changes/adaptations. 

‌The purpose of risk assessment is to help identify the significant risks of a unit’s work to ensure that control measures are in place to protect people against harm, so far as is reasonably practicable. Risk assessment doesn’t have to be complex for simple activities, and you don’t have to be a health and safety professional to do a risk assessment.  

Risk assessments should be completed at a Unit/ activity level and an individual level where necessary. The requirement for additional individual risk assessments may be triggered through step 3 below depending on individual circumstances. 

The relevant templates and support can be found in the SEPS COVID-19 Resource CentreRisk assessments can be accessed on the Safety and Environmental Protection Service website 

Advice and support on risk assessments and controls is available in the first instance from Local Safety Coordinator’s with further, more detailed advice available via SEPS where necessary.  

Step 3: Support Teams to Return to Campus

Having completed the previous steps, attention should subsequently turn to identifying how best to support colleagues in their return to campus, in line with the relevant risk assessments.  This step can be viewed across three key stages: 

3.1  Understanding individual circumstances and preferences 

3.2  Exploring any new working arrangements (as a team) 

3.3  Implementing and ensuring a great return to campus 

3.1  Understanding individual circumstances and preferences

It is important that dialogue goes beyond the practicalities of any return and that it focuses on ensuring colleagues have a great return to campus experience. There are numerous facets to this, including supporting the transition and considering the  wellbeing of our people.  

Managers should hold open, supportive and sensitive conversations to build a more specific understanding of individual circumstances and/or preferences to consider as part of any return to campus: 

  • Identify/understand which colleagues: 
  1. Were previously shielding* (i.e. previously received a letter from the NHS/GP deeming them as extremely clinically vulnerable) 
  2. Are in an otherwise vulnerable* group (i.e. over 70, pregnant or have an underlying medical condition etc) 
  3. Live with someone who was previously shielding* 
  4. Have childcare or caring commitments (due to the impact of COVID, such as school/nursery closures) 

*Note - To support decision making around any colleagues who have identified circumstances relating to increased vulnerability to COVID-19, the University has developed a bespoke individual vulnerable person COVID-19 risk assessment to be carried out in all cases in addition to the area/generic risk assessment. Where appropriate, return to campus for vulnerable individuals should be planned and managed subject to the use of the relevant risk assessments and the application of appropriate restrictions/risk mitigation and with due consideration to any identified personal preferences. 

  • Identify individual preferences around the return to campus (this may be in the same conversation as above), such as: 
  1. Preferred work location (e.g. any home/remote vs campus split) 
  2. Any relevant or preferred shift patterns, start/finish times, use of staggered or flexible hours? 
  3. What has been learned from working remotely? (e.g. positives to build on) 
  4. How might a return to campus working support engagement and wellbeing 
  5. Are there any challenges or concerns and how might these be overcome?  

3.2  Exploring any new working arrangements (as a team) 

With an understanding of any individual preferences, discussions should take place at team levels to explore how arrangements might overlap and how teams will continue to collaborate and to ensure new ways of working are successful. Any new ways of working should be considered in a fair and equitable manner with the acceptance that each role and/or individual is different and certain arrangements may not be suitable for all.  

Such discussions may range from agreeing optimal times to meet/collaborate to establishing appropriate communication methods/tools to utilise and it is likely that experience gained whilst working remotely will play a valuable role in this. Ultimately, this will be a period of trial and error requiring creativity, collaboration and patience as we all explore and adapt to new ways of working and new working environments 

3.3  Implementing and ensuring a great return to campus 

Having identified any relevant circumstances and/or preferences across the wider team (and carried out the necessary risk assessments), focus can turn to implementing and ensuring a great return to campus where the practicalities of the return are addressed, but also where colleagues can reconnect with others and their workspaces in an engaging and fulfilling way that contributes to their engagement, health and wellbeing.  

Managers should firstly confirm any arrangements with their teams as appropriate. This may be verbally (e.g. individual or team meetings) or in writing and messaging should typically cover: 

  • Notification of the return to campus 
  • The date of return 
  • The location of the return/who to report to (if applicable) 
  • Details of any specific arrangements (subject to review) such as working patterns, start/finish times etc 
  • Links to any relevant information such as risk assessments, support materials to support the individual in understanding the steps taken to keep them safe at work 

With the arrangements communicated, the focus can then turn to implementing them. This should cover: 

  • Ensuring any required equipment is available, set up and ready 
  • Ensuring any access (e.g. access cards/key fobs) are ready  
  • Identifying and enacting any required local re-induction (e.g. refresher on local arrangements or any changes in the time that has passed). 
  • Each colleague must complete the Staff Return to Campus Moodle Induction before their return if they have not already done so. Colleagues who completed the induction some time ago are advised to rewatch the video as it has been updated with more recent changes.

The people-aspect of the return should not be under-estimated. Many colleagues have spent an unprecedented amount of time away from their normal workplace and colleagues and teams should jointly explore activities or ideas to enhance their return to campus experience. This may include meeting in advance for team lunches, walks or a tour of the campus. Our teams and people are naturally diverse therefore the specific approach should be discussed and agreed collectively to ensure it is inclusive and impactful for all. 

Colleagues should also be mindful that the transition out of relative isolation and back to a busier environment may impact everyone in different ways and that fellow colleagues may experience a range of emotions around the return. During this time of learning and adjustment, patient and understanding in an open and supportive environment will be vital to ensuring individuals are supported in their return.

Step 4: Reflect and Review

Over the coming weeks and months, the situation will remain fluid and dynamic. Government advice will continue to evolve and consequently University plans and priorities may follow around this. Attention should continue to be paid to all the factors identified in the steps above and plans reviewed as necessary.  

Risk assessments should also be revisited as and when required and individual circumstances and/or preferences may also be subject to change. 

Continuous monitoring and adaptation will be essential in order to ensure that any work on campus remains safe, secure and compliant. 

Additionally, teams should continue to test, trial and adjust any new ways of working to ensure they are optimal for the work being carried out. Regular reviews and/or check-ins may help to identify any challenges or barriers and jointly agree solutions to overcome them. 

Colleagues are also advised to order or collect lateral flow testing kits and test twice a week, following the instructions within should a positive result be obtained.  

Any Questions

More information is available in the general coronavirus FAQs, HR FAQs on the HR Webpages. 

For questions not covered in the FAQs, you can ask anything else via the UofG Helpdesk.