Edinburgh’s Hybrid Working programme

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Ownership of the Hybrid Working programme has now moved from the Information Services Group to Human Resources and is being overseen by James Saville, Director of Human Resources. Here, James updates us on progress to date and outlines what the next steps will be.

A laptop on a table showing graphs. There are pens, paper and notebooks on the table too

The pandemic has had a huge impact on us all over the last two years, personally of course but also professionally. We’ve quickly adapted to new ways of working and this impact will be felt for years to come, if not permanently.

Since July 2021, the University has had a Hybrid Working Framework in place to provide guidance for managers and staff. Managers have been working with their teams to experiment with hybrid working options and find out what works best for them. There is no ‘one size fits all’ as there are many different teams and roles across the University.

Some teams have been working on campus throughout the pandemic, and many staff have returned over the last few months. We have seen a mix of working patterns and continue to see a wide range of staff working on campus full time, with these staff typically working in roles that cannot be delivered off campus.

The campus is the centre of gravity for the University. In the same way that students are expected to attend in person, it’s right that we should be asking our staff to do the same, for at least part of the time. The University is committed to providing a flexible approach to on-campus and off-campus.

A laptop on a desk surrounded my pictures in frames and a mug

The benefits of working on or off campus will of course be different for everyone. Many people benefit from being in the office for the ad hoc conversations, and feeling part of social and work networks once again. Support from colleagues and for new members of staff, more effective collaborative working across teams and staff development are other benefits of in-person working.

We are, however, very aware that the pandemic has impacted everyone in different ways and individual circumstances will differ between staff members. While legal restrictions have been removed, the pandemic is not over and some staff may still have concerns about returning to campus. To ensure that everyone feels safe returning to campus, we have safety measures in place across the University and staff can speak to managers to help them to prepare for a return to campus at the right time.

The Hybrid Working Implementation and Coordination Group will be working with colleagues across the University on the next stage of the programme. Over the next few months, we’ll be exploring new ways of working, such as how we can provide a shared desk booking system and hybrid meeting rooms, and feasibility studies will be looking at space and furniture changes. As more staff return to working on campus, we’ll review any changes to learn what’s working best. These new ways of working may see us use our spaces differently, which could enhance our working environment on campus and help us make positive and sustainable changes.

We will continue to gather insights over the coming months into how staff who have returned to campus are finding hybrid working, and we’ll shortly be sending out a Hybrid Working 2022 survey to all staff to collate further feedback. Introducing hybrid working is a largescale change across the University, so it’s important to work through the process carefully and consider what will work best in the long term, to manage expectations, to establish best practice and to ensure consistent approaches. All of this work will ultimately inform our Hybrid Working policy for the University.

I would like to personally thank everyone who has contributed to the development of the programme to date, and to those staff who continue to help shape our future ways of working.

In the meantime, please keep an eye on our website and the Hybrid Working Framework SharePoint site which will be regularly updated as the programme progresses:

Hybrid Working

Photography: Sam Sills