Month: September 2022

New ways of working

 – LTW reflections and learnings: 

  • In July 2021, as our focus shifted to hybrid working, we placed a strong emphasis on regular, clear and consistent comms within LTW to support planning for our return to campus. 
  • These comms aligned with high-level messaging around working for a hybrid university which has its ‘centre of gravity’ on campus, recognising that things will be different from the way they were in the Before Times and different again from the times we have been all working from home.  
  • We recognised that for some teams the fully online working has brought real benefits and we needed to ensure that hybrid working did too.  
  • Critical to this was our recognition that decisions about hybrid working in LTW should be inclusive, involving a wide range of voices, but also attention to difference. We recognised that what works for one person may not work for someone else, and we are all involved in multiple groups/communities with colleagues’ outwith LTW.  
  • As an SMT (Stuart, Stratos, Karen, Nikki, Euan, Kevin and Jenni) we concluded at an early stage that the only way to ensure inclusive input and decision making was by agreeing and communicating clear starting points for our hybrid working experiments. These were: 
  • The majority of colleagues should be on campus 2 days per week minimum 
  • Friday will be a day for writing, with no meetings in LTW. We can use this day for focus and writing without having to stop and start for meetings.  
  • Meetings which include academic staff and students and cover content/subjects relating to learning, teaching and the student experience should be prioritised on-campus 
  • We placed a strong emphasis on gathering and analysing data so that planning for hybrid working was informed by data from and about LTW staff, and that our commitment to fairness and understanding of the intersectional factors which shape an individuals’ workplace experience are reflected in our longer-term objective commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion in workforce planning and hybrid working. 
  • Listening to our staff sharing their experiences and comments around productivity, our comms referenced this and noted that the productivity benchmark for LTW is how we were before the pandemic and if we found that hybrid working dropped us below that level we would need to take care and figure out why, which is why it was so important that all our staff participated in hybrid working patterns.  
  • LTW heads, co-ordinated by Kevin, worked together to collate a shared set of working answers to various hybrid working issues so that all teams were getting consistent responses to queries raised. 
  • Communications from the LTW Director, Melissa, are shared every Friday to thank, acknowledge work done, and to highlight reasons to come on to campus. 
  • This resulted in around 80% of LTW staff adopting on-campus working patterns in the period to December 2021 – this figure has now increased to 98% of LTW working at least 2 days on-campus every week. 
  • We adapted and planned activities to encourage on-campus attendance, starting with our in-person December 2021 LTW Staff Meeting and social activities for a festive lunch. We followed this with a large all-day workshop session for all teams involved in Learn Ultra (50 people) attendance at the L&T conference and a summer all-staff meeting in July 2022.  
  • Our Data and Equality Officer, Lilinaz, has assisted and informed our SMT in using the data to inform our decision making around new ways of working. Her data insights have helped us to follow up with further data gathering from specific groups e.g managers and interns. 
  • We have reviewed and analysed centrally collated data at UoE, ISG and LTW levels, and, most importantly, have established local data gathering, via surveys and collaborative activities at team, section and directorate level, sharing resources, learnings and actions. The fact that decision-making is data informed has reassured staff that their views and experiences are being heard and considered. 
  • Our data gather highlighted a larger than expected number of staff with a declared disability and we have taken care to ensure that the office environment includes adjustments for their needs. 
  • Our Director presented our data and findings at 2 national events in the sector to gain and gather insights from other places. ‘UCISA New Ways of Working – The Good, The Bad and The Downright Experimental’ and ‘AbilityNet TechShare Pro 2021’.   
  • We continue with this work and have also recruited an Edtech Operations Intern to bring additional resource and focus to our planning for new ways of working from the end of the ‘official’ period of experimentation in October 2022. 
  • We have found it challenging to move beyond the current, rigid space constraints within AH to experiment with hybrid and collaborative spaces. We provided input to proposals via Small Capital Bids to prioritise the reconfiguration of spaces and the purchase and installation of pods, however, conscious that we/ISG have not yet been able to make any progress. 
  • Collated AH Space Data workbooks all directorates were asked to update by Corp/Facilities in Feb 22, LTW are actively maintaining this data and using this in our resource planning to assign desks to our intern cohorts and new starts. 
  • We urge the Hybrid Working Project to release/allow access to the data gathered in the most recent University –wide survey, noting that respondents were told when they did the survey that data and findings would be shared.  
  • To continue with our experimentation, we propose that we co-locate LTW staff on one dedicated wing – merging our teams on H/East and H/West. This will require input and agreement from other directorates on these wings and will allow us to experiment with increased cross-section collaboration and be able to use this space for a variety of activities without impacting on other directorates staff. We also hope this will support efforts in the area of staff morale, as many LTW staff are demoralised by looking across their wing to see totally empty desks, they would prefer to see their LTW colleagues. 

-LTW SMT, August 2022