Embedding New Ways of Working

Published: 19 May 2021

Prof Neal Juster updates on the next steps to embedding a hybrid working environment

As we continue to consult with colleagues regarding how we work in the future, Prof Neal Juster updates on the next steps to embedding a hybrid working environment through the creation of a new project, Embedding New Ways of Working.

Dear Colleagues,

A couple of months ago I updated you to say that we would be launching a data gathering exercise to assess the unmet IT equipment needs of staff. I am pleased to say this work is now complete and a significant supply of laptops have been made available to the Colleges and University Services for immediate distribution to those with the most acute needs.

While we do not currently hold enough equipment to fulfil the full range of requests identified, we have passed these onto the College office, who will continue to look at what we can do to support colleagues and will place further orders soon.

Following the completion of this strand of work, the Working from Home Review Group will stand down in the coming weeks.

My recent engagements with many of you have indicated that many are uncertain as to how we will work once social distancing restrictions have been removed, and you would appreciate clarity. There is clearly a desire to consolidate some of the benefits reported in working from home over the past year, including:

  • The time and energy saved on commuting to and from the office
  • The freedom to flex our working day and attendance at events to suit our personal lives and circumstances
  • The scope to switch locations and match our surroundings to the tasks at hand
  • The efficiencies gained from new ways of working and better use of technology

However, embedding these benefits will not be straightforward and there is yet more work to do before we can definitively answer some of these questions. I also recognise that we all have a range of personal circumstances including, for some, working for more than one employer or conducting tasks that can only be fulfilled on University premises.  However, we must find ways of making this work for colleagues and the University.

With this in mind, I will be establishing a new group, Embedding New Ways of Working, to consider how we can appropriately embed a hybrid working environment. The group will include representatives from the four Colleges and University Services as well as colleagues from People & Organisational Development, Information Services, Estates and Commercial Services, World Changing Glasgow, the Vice-Principals for Research and Learning and Teaching, and the University Shadow Board.

Image of two people collaborating with a lap top screen visible

Design principles

While the results of our Working from Home and Wellbeing Survey carried out in January indicated that the majority of staff had enjoyed aspects of working from home and that 90% of us would like to regularly work a day or more at home each week, we know that many others have found it challenging for a variety of reasons, including unsuitable equipment, space or feelings of isolation, and that the prospect of further working from home would not be welcomed by all. I recognise also that the survey was conducted soon after the second lockdown commenced and as such views may have altered since you completed the survey.

Our intention is to provide maximum flexibility to staff: no colleague will be required to work from home if they do not wish to do so, but the option will be made available as widely as possible, with input from individuals concerned as well as their manager(s). To further ensure transparency of our work, our Group will be guided by ten design principles – we will:

  1. Develop hybrid working approaches that enable the University to deliver on our core purpose and strategic objectives of developing our community at home and abroad, connecting the community together, and discovering solutions to the world’s grand challenges.
  2. Be people-led. You understand how we can organise work, and how our spaces should be configured and used. We will listen and respond to great ideas.
  3. Be open-minded. We must continue to recognise that the ways we have operated in the past may not be the best way of operating in the future. We will experiment, recognising that will make the occasional mistake. We will learn quickly what is, and is not, appropriate for the University and adapt appropriately.
  4. Develop inclusive ways of working, recognising that aspects of hybrid working impact differentially on individuals and their circumstances. Ways of working will be able to be personalised to respond to where colleagues are most productive and will recognise that a single way of working is not appropriate for all tasks or teams.
  5. Give choice to staff in how they split their time between campus and other places of work where possible and in a way that allows delivery of work commitments.
  6. Focus on outcomes of work and away from monitoring hours worked – or a presenteeism culture.
  7. Develop guidance to help staff and their managers understand clearly what is, and is not, allowable within a broad framework.
  8. Develop leadership capacity to consistently and authentically implement hybrid working across the University in a way that appropriately balances the desires of the individual with the needs of the team to deliver the task.
  9. Prioritise the development of a culture that promotes the health, safety and wellbeing of staff. We recognise that hybrid working will create a range of concerns that will vary between individuals. We will endeavour to mitigate these concerns.
  10. Ensure that sufficient resources are allocated to the roll out of hybrid working environments to enable any pilots to be implemented properly.

Have your say

We will continue to provide regular updates in MyGlasgow News, and the Embedding New Ways of Working Group will consult extensively with the community during the weeks and months ahead to ensure that the guidance and practices we arrive at are built with the needs of our community in mind. In the meantime, you can share any initial thoughts you may have with the Group by emailing us at newwaysofworking@glasgow.ac.uk.

We look forward to sharing the progress of our Group with you in the coming months.

Neal Juster

Senior Vice-Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor

First published: 19 May 2021