The way work is carried out changed dramatically for many of us during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that we are emerging from that time, many of us are still working remotely and communicating virtually, and there are numerous benefits to doing so. We want to hold onto these benefits but we also need to ensure we don’t lose the benefits and opportunities that working in the same physical space provided us, and we must ensure that student facing activity is still carried out in person.
This Hybrid Working Guidance aims to support our University to evolve, but also us as individuals, so that we work effectively and feel fulfilled.
What is hybrid working?
When we talk about Hybrid Working at Oxford Brookes University, we mean a flexible model that supports a blend of on and off site working. It intends to encourage our staff to choose to work in a location appropriate to the work they are doing, in agreement with their team and line manager. It should be noted that ‘hybrid working’ is not the same as ‘agile working’, which is more concerned with the arrangements for how we carry out our work when we are physically on site. There is an agile working pilot taking place in parts of the University at present and learnings from that pilot will inform future iterations of this guidance. Hybrid working is also not the same as ‘home working’ which is where someone works entirely from home and has that arrangement confirmed for them in their contract of employment.
Making decisions about hybrid working
As a leader or line manager you need to ensure the requirements of the work that your area/team carries out and the people to whom your services are provided (if applicable) are met. You also need to support your team’s aspirations and wellbeing, and recognise the importance of each individual and the unique contexts that they bring to work and to our University. Your decisions about hybrid working must provide a balanced, considered and fair approach. If you think additional support would help you and/or your line managers to manage effectively in a hybrid working context, please contact email@example.com.
To aid your decision making about what hybrid working looks like for your team/s, the following principles are recommended as the basis for your considerations. You should involve your team/s in discussions around these decisions as they will offer information you may not be aware of, and alternative perspectives. It will also ensure they are involved in decisions that will affect them, and that they understand why decisions are being made, and that each person’s personal contexts and/or working patterns have been considered. Remember to invite all members of the team to participate, including those on leave, on long-term sickness absence and on family leave.
When thinking about the working environment of your team when they are away from the University, your team members should use the Hybrid Working Assessment Checklist as a prompt to think about possible hazards in their off campus working area. Once completed, you should discuss what is documented on their checklist to confirm working arrangements and help you complete a more detailed assessment if required.
There is also a Hybrid Working Team Agreement template which might aid your team discussions.
The template is based on the principles below and includes a number of pointers to consider as you work through what hybrid working looks like for your team.
You may wish to record the decisions for your team/s and any associated team discussions on the Hybrid Working Team Agreement template. If you choose to use the template, please save a copy locally and ensure it can be accessed by all your team members so they can refer to it in future, and ensure it is reviewed and updated if arrangements evolve over time.
Principles for hybrid working
Our University is a complex place and whilst this Hybrid Working Guidance is intended to ensure consistency of opportunity, we recognise that arrangements for hybrid working need to be appropriate for your specific area/team. The following principles provide a common foundation for your approach to which all requirements and recommendations can be linked:
- We work to support the vision and strategy of Oxford Brookes University.
- We recognise the value and benefits of in-person interaction with colleagues and those to whom we are delivering a service.
- We optimise the benefits and opportunities associated with hybrid working.
- We support decision-making about hybrid working arrangements at a local level to fairly balance the needs of the area/team, with the aspirations of individuals.
- Unless stated in your contract, no one should be working entirely away from a University site and colleagues are encouraged to spend some time in a physical University space each week.
- Colleagues working in student facing positions or in positions which are tied to a physical location, should be on campus, in person, to carry out their work unless there is a good reason not to.
- No one will be required by the University to work entirely off site, such as working entirely from home, without consultation and a formal change to their employment contract.
- For anyone who does not have an appropriate space to work off site, or who does not find being off site conducive to effective working, there will always be a place on site to work.
- A person’s primary place of work is as stated in their existing contract of employment. Staff must meet the obligations of their role to be on site when required, regardless of where they live.
- We recognise the importance of managing colleagues based on the outcomes they produce.
- We learn from our decisions and evolve to improve and support our teams, individuals and our students.
- We recognise the importance of the individual and the unique context that we each have outside of our work for the University.
- We cannot accommodate colleagues working from outside the UK for any longer than a 60-day period in a tax year. (Further details are coming soon in our Global Mobility Policy).
Tips for team discussions
- Ensure that everyone understands the ‘bigger picture’ of departmental/directorate/faculty aims and objectives, which will form the context for teams and individuals.
- Explain the rationale for any new norms, requirements or etiquette such as ‘anchor’ days.
- Explain that everyone will need to be flexible when working in a hybrid way. For example, if you were to hold an in-person team away-day on a day when all your team normally work, you would expect them to attend unless for an exceptional reason.
- Invite all colleagues from your team/s to participate in discussions about hybrid working if they would like to – this could help avoid any potential future issues or misunderstandings.
Handling individual requests regarding hybrid working
If you receive a request from an individual member of your team to permanently change their working hours/pattern to a set configuration, irrespective of activities that might arise in the normal course of work, such as meetings or away days, they will need to request that change formally, and in accordance with the University’s Flexible Working Policy and the Change Hours Guide.
Such a request could comprise any of the following types of working arrangements (see list below) and you should consider the request on its own merits and in context of the job that the individual does, the team they operate in, and the requirements of stakeholders of that job and the wider organisation.
- Compressed working hours
- Part year working
- Working from home or other flexible location
- Job share
You may find that you can accommodate part of a request or perhaps something similar but not the exact request, and a discussion about potential compromises might need to take place with the individual to find a workable solution that meets their needs as well as those of the University. Please take the time to read the Flexible Working Policy and information provided with it. If you would like to then discuss a request, gain advice on how to respond, or if you think you really cannot accommodate a request, please speak to your link People Manager in the People Directorate before proceeding.
Glossary of Terms
Psychological safety at work is where employees believe that they can speak up while at work without risk of punishment or humiliation.
Inclusion at work is when people feel valued and accepted in their team and in the wider organisation, without having to conform.
Hybrid worker - a hybrid worker is a staff member who operates our hybrid working model, which supports a blend of on and off campus working. They will choose the location they work from, as appropriate to the work they are doing, and in agreement with their team and manager.
Remote worker - sometimes used interchangeably with hybrid worker, a remote worker is someone who is working off campus at any given time.
Home worker - sometimes used interchangeably with hybrid worker but a home worker at Brookes is someone who works entirely from home (and who therefore does not operate the hybrid model).