Hybrid working

No one can definitively predict at this stage the impact Covid-19 will have this autumn and winter, and we therefore need to ensure we allow for maximum flexibility as a university.

This means that space for teaching, study and research will continue to be at a premium, so in order to help create space for our students, the Vice-Chancellor’s Group is asking professional services staff, where possible and appropriate, to consider dividing their time between working in the office and at home - hybrid working. Colleagues who have already agreed arrangements with their business area should continue with those.

Return to campus

Plans for September

The University’s Major Incident Team supported by other groups has been meeting regularly to plan a safe return to campus in September. These plans are outlined below but remain flexible and ready to react to any further changes in the Covid-19 situation.

The Student September Return Group has been busy confirming our teaching and learning plans for the new academic year. A summary of the key decisions, which have been communicated to applicants and students, can be found on the September return 2021 webpage.

From September and throughout Semester 1 the following arrangements will apply:

  • All staff attending campus must complete an Individual Health Checklist assessment in advance of returning to campus. See additional details below.
  • All staff must complete the Moodle Covid-19 induction package for staff returning to campus. See additional details below.
  • Covid-secure arrangements, including wearing face coverings indoors, except with a valid exemption, social distancing of at least 1m wherever this is possible, enhanced cleaning, ventilation and modified circulation routes. This will enable us to continue to keep each other safe as we learn to live with the virus.
  • All meetings should be held remotely; small, ad-hoc meetings may be held in person if all parties are already on site. No-one should travel to campus specially for a meeting.
  • In-person meetings should follow Covid-secure arrangements including the wearing of face coverings and social distancing.
  • The University’s test and trace system will continue to operate on campus, alongside the NHS system. Campus Monitors will also remain in place.
  • Before returning to campus for the first time, you should take two rapid Covid-19 tests and record all test results - positive and negative - via the NHS Test & Trace website and on the University’s new Home LFD (Rapid) Testing Reporting Form within 24 hours of carrying out the test. Please continue to test twice-weekly thereafter and record all results as above.
  • Pre-pandemic access to campus buildings will apply from 1 September 2021. Visitors will no longer be discouraged and campuses will be open to the general public again.

Covid-related policies and processes

Covid-secure Feedback form

This remains a different environment for everyone, and so we really want to hear from you about how things are working. If you have any worries or experience any issues, please let us know by completing this feedback form, so that we can make any improvements needed and ensure a positive campus experience.

Students can submit feedback by emailing covid-19@brookes.ac.uk



Covid-19 induction package for staff returning to campus

We know there has been a lot of information to absorb about the Covid-secure measures we have kept in place for the safe return to campus and the majority of staff will be coming to campus for the first time since March 2020. Therefore, we have compiled all of the information you need into a single induction package for staff, available on your Moodle dashboard. All staff should complete this prior to returning to campus.

Entitled Phased reopening of Oxford Brookes University (Covid-19 Induction Package), the purpose of this resource is to:

  • explain the University's approach to making the workplace safe;
  • provide information on what arrangements are in place for a safe working environment;
  • explain your responsibilities for maintaining your safety and that of the wider University community.


Individual Health Checklist risk assessment for all staff

From September, Individual Health Checklist assessments will be required for ALL staff attending campus. You should complete the Individual Health Checklist form in advance of returning to campus. The Health Checklist has been revised to incorporate updated research and latest information on vaccinations. Advice will be given on fitness to return to site and any adjustments that may be needed.

Individual Health Checklists will be reviewed by the Occupational Health team.

The Health Checklist process will be in two stages: a self-assessment stage, and a further Occupational Health assessment stage. You will only go through to the second stage if your answers to the first stage suggest that you MAY be a higher risk.

The Health Checklist individual health form is based on the ALAMA ‘COVID-age’ tool. This is the recognised tool for Occupational Health practitioners which assesses an individual’s vulnerability to COVID-19. It is based on published evidence for the main risk factors, including age, sex, ethnicity and various health conditions.



Occupational Health Risk Assessment Process for Staff



High Level University Risk Assessment

The safety and wellbeing of our staff and students remain our number one priority.

We have carried out a comprehensive Risk Assessment as a key part of our recovery planning.

This High Level Risk Assessment highlights the potential hazards, the level of risk involved and the measures we are taking to keep people safe. 

We have also made all of our workspace risk assessments available to staff.


Test and trace

Update: 17 November 2021

The University is removing the requirement for students and staff to check-in with a QR code in teaching spaces. In line with the approach taken in schools, and the removal of the requirement for individuals who have been fully vaccinated in the UK to self-isolate, we will be delivering an ‘inform and self-monitor/self-isolate/report’ approach.

This means that when the University’s Covid Response Team receives notification of a positive Covid case on campus, it will contact the module leader(s) of any modules that the positive case attended to inform them and request any register or attendance details together with any specific seating layouts that are available.

The Covid Response Team will then contact the students and any staff also in attendance to provide the appropriate guidance.

Staff and students who are exempt from self-isolation will be advised:

  • to monitor themselves for Covid symptoms,
  • continue using lateral flow tests twice-weekly,
  • self-isolate, book a PCR test and report their result to the University if they develop symptoms or have a positive LFD test.

You are exempt from self-isolation if you do not have Covid symptoms and:

  • you're fully vaccinated – this means 14 days have passed since your final dose of a Covid-19 vaccine given by the NHS
  • you're under 18 years, 6 months old
  • you're taking part or have taken part in a Covid-19 vaccine trial
  • you're not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons.

Anyone not exempt from self-isolation will be told:

  • to self-isolate for 10 days
  • to get a PCR test if you develop Covid symptoms.

QR posters and stickers will remain in place for the foreseeable future. The University may reintroduce the requirement for students and staff to check-in with the Brookes QR codes again, if cases of Covid-19 rise within the Brookes community. 

It remains essential that staff working on campus keep their Google calendars set to ‘public’ (not private) and kept up to date with information about the office/space you are working in, and the date, time and location of all meetings (even if it is just in a social/study space or in your office), to help the University’s Covid Response Team quickly identify any additional close contacts outside of teaching spaces.

We strongly encourage all staff and students to download the NHS Test and Trace app. NHS QR codes are being used in external campus areas such as the Co-op store in Headington and Brookes Sport, as well as social spaces indoors such as cafes. Using the app ensures you are notified if you have been a close contact of someone who has tested positive.

You can access further details of our test and trace policy


Twice-weekly lateral flow testing available to staff

Staff and students are encouraged to take twice-weekly rapid Covid-19 tests using home testing kits. Tests are for those without Covid-19 symptoms. These kits can be collected from all campuses. Please check the website for opening times for collection points. Home testing kits are also available from some community venues such as libraries, by post or from designated pharmacies. Find your local home testing kit collection point



1-2-1 meeting checklist for staff and students

  • Ensure that the room size is appropriate for the meeting so that reasonable distancing can be maintained
  • Ventilate the room prior to and after the meeting (open windows and doors)
  • Wear a face covering
  • Wash or sanitise your hands
  • Clean down any surfaces after use
  • Limit time in close contact
  • Agree and abide by start and finish times
  • Use the NHS Covid app
  • Make a record in your diary of who you have met with
  • Stop the meeting if either party demonstrates Covid-19 symptoms.



Face coverings policy

It is widely accepted that wearing a face covering helps protect others. For this reason, everyone (students, staff and visitors) to campus will be required to wear face coverings while indoors on campus (except where there is a valid medical reason).

A revised face coverings policy was introduced in September 2021. In summary, the changes are:

  • Increased the requirement from wearing a face covering for staff to higher quality face masks. Chemport V-100 masks are available for staff to order (currently two per member of staff and can be washed up to 50 times).
  • Clear face masks will be available for staff to assist students or staff who need to lip read. The amount of time wearing a clear face mask should be kept to a minimum and replaced with a Chemport V-100 mask as soon as possible.
  • Face coverings should be worn by students and staff during teaching and practical sessions.
  • A sunflower lanyard should be worn to signify an exemption from wearing a mask (see below).

All staff and students on campus must understand and comply with the University’s Face Coverings Policy

Face coverings for staff

Three types of face mask (9-ply, clear for teaching staff only and disposable) will be made available for staff. If you require a mask from the University, you should contact your Head of Operations in the first instance.

While you are waiting for your mask to be supplied, 3-ply non-medical masks are available from campus reception points, you can also continue to wear your own face covering when indoors on campus.

Face coverings in staff offices

Depending on the office setup, staff may choose to remove their face covering when seated at their desk but put it on again if someone is standing close by or needs to look at something on their screen. We need to be mindful of colleagues’ concerns or anxieties and wear a face covering if a colleague requests one be worn in their vicinity.

We will regularly review this guidance and our face coverings policy.


Sunflower lanyard scheme - support for students and staff with a hidden disability

For many students and staff, the experience of the pandemic has created increased risks and some people may have new or worsening health conditions. We recognise that many disabilities and health conditions are not visible.

We know that many of our disabled students and staff may continue to have understandable and real concerns for their own safety and protection. Therefore as a whole community we need to be highly conscious and responsible in how we protect ourselves and each other. It is still important to remember that Covid-19 is highly transmissible and we need to take extra care. To do this we will need to continue to give each other space, good ventilation, an enhanced cleaning regime, modify circulation routes if required as well as wearing face coverings (where possible) to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission to others.

The University signed up to the nationwide Sunflower Lanyard scheme with Hidden Disabilities last year. A sunflower lanyard can be used by those who have a hidden disability so university staff and students can identify those who may require extra help, understanding or patience, and in some cases exemption from face coverings.

We ask all students and staff to be mindful and respectful. Regardless of whether or not you wear a sunflower lanyard, it’s not ok to experience any kind of bullying or harassment. If you experience or witness any such behaviours involving students, you can report it online at Report and Support. Staff can report incidents to their line manager or to a Staff Harassment Adviser.

FAQs - Ensuring workspaces are Covid-secure




FAQs - CO2 monitors



FAQs - General questions



FAQs - Access and use of campus


FAQs - Communication

Working remotely

To support making space for students on campus and to manage the risk of Covid-19 transmission on campus, many colleagues will continue to work remotely either all or part of the time for the foreseeable future.

Many of the arrangements that have been introduced, such as home working assessments, will remain in place so that the University can ensure the safe working environment of colleagues while they work remotely.

As well as looking after yourself while working remotely, it is important to also look after the University’s data and information security, and there is guidance in this section to help you do this. 

Home working assessment form

We require all colleagues who are working from home - part-time or full-time - to complete a home working assessment form to ensure that your home working environment is suitable and safe for you.


Tips for working at home - working in a hybrid way

  • Update your calendar to show your working pattern for the week - Google Calendar has an inbuilt feature to support this
  • On the days you are not travelling onto campus, you could support your health and wellbeing by using your normal commute time to do some exercise or to meditate (see below for ideas and further information).
  • If you have workplace adjustments agreed based on an impairment or health condition, your line manager will support you to access specialist software or equipment to enable you to continue to work effectively from home and in the office.

Tips for working at home - looking after yourself

  • Try to work in a separate space if possible. Mentally, it may help to disconnect from work and reconnect to personal life.
  • Wherever you are working, try to ensure your set up is as good as it can be - see Moodle for various video tips and ideas. Please speak to your manager if you have any concerns or need any additional support in this area.
  • Try a counter top or ironing board (if safe to do so) as a standing desk to avoid long periods of sitting down.
  • If you have workplace adjustments agreed based on an impairment or health condition, your line manager will support you to access specialist software or equipment to enable you to continue to work effectively from home.
  • If the home working environment leads to a worsening of symptoms or re-trigger an onset of health conditions, let your line manager know so you can discuss adjustments and solutions.

Existing regular or occasional homeworkers

If you are a regular or occasional homeworker then the systems you currently use and access will remain in place.

New homeworkers

Colleagues should familiarise themselves with information on working remotely which is available:

We require all colleagues who are working from home - part-time or full-time - to complete a home working assessment form to ensure that your home working environment is suitable and safe for you.

Through the form, colleagues will self-assess their homeworking set-up. Ideally users should:

  • have a height adjustable chair
  • work at a table
  • for laptops, use a separate keyboard and mouse and either raise your laptop screen or use a separate screen
  • look for trip hazards with cables
  • ensure your electrical cables are not frayed or damaged.

Please complete your home working assessment form as soon as possible after you start working from home.

Equipment at home

If you are leaving Oxford Brookes, please follow this ECS guidance on how to return furniture and equipment.

Working remotely resources

Hybrid working and IT equipment

As part of the preparation for hybrid working, a form will be shared with colleagues shortly that will ask questions in relation to IT equipment held and home Display Screen Equipment (DSE) arrangements. This will help us further understand the needs of colleagues across the University as we adopt this new way of working.

IT support

The IT Service Desk team is well prepared to support you whether you are on campus or working remotely, via the following channels:

Telephone: 01865 48 3311 (3311 for calls from campus phones)

Service Portal (including self service forms, Knowledgebase and Chat service)

In the case that Service Desk Points on campus need to close, service availability information and announcements will be provided via the Service Portal.


Working remotely with IT equipment


Wherever possible, staff are asked to test in advance that they are able to work from home - for example, that they have suitable equipment, a VPN connection and access to passwords. Line managers should support colleagues in ensuring that this is possible.

If you haven’t already, and are now working from home, you must complete a home working assessment form. This ensures the University can comply with our responsibility to conduct risk assessments for all work activities. After completion, you will receive a copy of the form via email. The Health and Safety team will contact you and your line manager if there are any actions to take.

Information for colleagues with Brookes provided laptop

Even with hybrid working in place, please ensure you take your laptop home with you every day. If you have a charger please take it with you between home and work. We know that the pandemic situation can change rapidly, requiring a decision to close the University’s campuses could be made quickly and you may not be allowed back on site to retrieve equipment.

All Brookes laptop users have been provided with pre-installed SNAP Virtual Private Networking (VPN), Sophos Anti-Virus and Microsoft Office. If any of these appear to be missing, please contact the IT Service Desk for assistance.

Information for colleagues without a Brookes provided laptop

Most of our services, such as the HR Staff Portal and Moodle are available via a web browser on any device, with no configuration necessary. Some services require our SNAP VPN or a Remote Desktop Connection (RDP) connection (see below for more information).

IT Services provide free antivirus software for home computers, and this is a prerequisite for VPN access.

Remote working services

Many of the University’s information systems have moved online and do not require anything other than an internet browser to access them. However, for some of our services you either need to be on site, or use one of the following technologies to access them off campus:

SNAP VPN: This service, otherwise known as Big-IP Edge Client, allows you to access network resources such as shared drives and e5 from external network connections (eg from home). Please read the SNAP VPN online guide for more information.

RDP: This service allows you to access your work desktop from home. This will allow the use of locally installed software on a desktop computer that may have limited licenses or other local dependencies. To request the set-up of RDP please use this form.

information and announcements will be provided via the Service Portal.


Communications

Our Google suite of applications is now widely used across the University. This provides staff with the ability to work on their email and documents from anywhere in the world via a browser. Email remains a key communications tool, but you may want to consider using Google Meet or Zoom for meetings with people in different locations.


Other IT resources

Secure home working – 10 top tips (IT Services)

Google Meet training and help

Zoom and Panopto - how to access Brookes Zoom, use Panopto for video recording and more advice and resources

Data and documents 

Please consider where you have your data and how accessible it will be to you should you not have access to your work computer. Google Drive and shared drives provide unlimited space for storage of all types of files. Google Docs, Sheets and Slides provide online tools for working with them. View a full guide on data storage here.

  • As a member of staff you have access to Office 365 web and locally installed applications on personal devices too.
  • Regardless of where we work, we need to comply with good working practices in relation to data security:
  • Always lock your screen if you are leaving your device unattended, whether at home or at work (Windows Key + L)
  • Always lock your computer before closing the lid before travelling with it (Windows Key + L)
  • If you are travelling with a device please use a suitable bag to carry the device. Do not leave it unattended eg in a vehicle.
  • We are not in a position to offer hard drive encryption for all laptop devices at present. For this reason please ensure that sensitive data is only stored on University shared folders, information systems or Google Drive / Team Drives and NOT on your device or unencrypted memory sticks or removable hard drives.
  • Regularly delete files that are no longer needed
  • Ensure all your devices are running regularly updated software and use anti-virus software (Sophos Home is available for free)
  • Please see the IT Services guidance for how to secure your desktop and mobile devices

Other working remotely guidance and resources

Guidance for managers

Recruiting and assessing candidates remotely

Staff with caring responsibilities

Guidance for staff with caring responsibilities

Teaching and learning

Brookes Teaching Toolkit (OCSLD) - Oxford Brookes provides a range of digital tools for teaching and supporting learners online and on campus. From Moodle to Zoom, Panopto to Padlet. The Teaching Toolkit webpages also introduce the services and support available for teaching staff to use the teaching toolkit to deliver their educational intentions and to design accessible learning resources.

Working remotely FAQs