- CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)
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- Academic year 2020/21
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INFORMATION FOR COLLEAGUES
Advice and guidance to enable you to work effectively remotely.
We understand that due to Covid-19 most colleagues will be working remotely for the foreseeable future. For many this has involved a transformational change in the way we do our work. The information provided below is aimed at making working remotely as easy and safe as possible for you.
Further guidance for managers regarding managing team members who are working from home is available on our Human Resources webpages.
If managers have any questions that aren’t covered by this guidance, they should contact the HR team via the dedicated phone line or by emailing:
- 0113 812 6100
Helpful tips for working from home
The health and safety of colleagues who are working remotely is of importance to us. This abridged version of the Leeds Beckett University risk assessment for Remote Working provides a checklist of factors to be aware of:
- be mindful of how to handle heavy items at home (exam papers, stationery, quantities of photocopying, filing etc)
- individuals with health conditions, previous back injuries, new and expectant mothers, etc, should assess the need for handling items
- be mindful of posture when setting up and using a laptop
- ensure that sufficient/frequent short breaks are taken to avoid prolonged periods without change of posture
- ensure your working environment is free from hazards such as trailing cables
- visually check any electrical cables or items to ensure they are free from obvious defects such as cuts/damage
- it is a mutual responsibility of the manager and team member to ensure regular contact is maintained
- as far as practicably possible, managers have a duty to ensure that remote workers do not contravene the Working Time Regulations and colleagues should report any concerns about excessive working hours to their manager
Setting up your workspace
Colleagues are advised to try and set aside a work area separate from their sleeping area. This will help to prepare for ‘work mode’ and make it easier to switch off at the end of the day. You don’t need a remote office to do this – a small desk set up in a corner of your room, or a laptop at the end of the kitchen table can work. When working with a small space, you could try setting up temporary ‘zones’, including using blankets or screens to visually separate your work area from your bed or living area.
Clear your work surface of clutter and set up your equipment to avoid physical strain – do a self-check using the NHS guidance. If you don’t have a chair with back support, you could add a firm pillow. Here are some more home work station helpful hints to avoid discomfort.
If you have any concerns about your remote working environment, please contact your manager.
Colleagues who meet the conditions of ‘homeworking’, as defined by HMRC, are eligible to claim a tax allowance which would provide a reduction in tax (for a basic rate tax payer, with a tax rate of 20%, this would result in a reduction in your tax of £1.20 per week. This doubles for higher rate tax payers). The online portal - https://www.gov.uk/tax-relief-for-employees/working-at-home - is available for colleagues to access and undertake this process on an individual basis.
Please speak with your manager about any equipment you need to support you to work remotely (e.g. computer screen, chair). Where required, we can arrange for items to be delivered to your home.
While we have all adapted to working remotely due to the coronavirus crisis, it has become clear that for many of us remote working will be with us throughout this next academic year. It is a good idea to regularly take time to stop and review the remote working routines we have created and assess whether they are sustainable for a longer time frame.
We have developed some top tips for managing work/life balance whilst working remotely, focusing on creating a routine that supports your wellbeing.
Working remotely with children at home
Many of us will be working remotely while balancing family commitments. Remote working is a professional skill like any other that is developed over time and for many of us, a skill we have had to develop rapidly. With continually changing situations in localised areas and nationally, we must be prepared to adapt our remote working styles depending on whether children remain at school or will have to be at home alongside us.
We have created 5 top tips for remote working with children, to assist you with juggling work and family life.
If you are worried about your capacity to manage remote working around family life, please have an open and honest conversation with your manager.
New (both during lockdown and on return to campus) are
available on the HR A-Z.
We have also recently published a in Response to Covid-19 which provides guidance on discussing work priorities, working hours and contact, equipment, data security/confidentiality and health and safety.
Our has further information which you may find useful when trying to work from home, such as looking after your own mental health and wellbeing. Government guidance can be found on .
To help you stay connected make sure you keep communication open with colleagues, as frequently as possible. Here are some suggestions that you could try:
- Video calls instead of emailing, or use of Skype Instant Messenger for quick questions
- Short check-in calls between managers and their teams. These top tips for how to make virtual meetings work has been developed to help colleagues when working remotely
- Virtual social sessions. If you usually schedule time in the workday for an activity or a catch up with your colleagues, continue to make time for this virtually
- Scheduling meetings for 55 or 25 minutes to provide you and colleagues with a break between meetings
For more ideas, check out the technology section below or information we have in the Wellbeing section of this website.
IT Services has created some guides to help colleagues with their online meetings from a technical perspective. The first guide is about audio and video setups for meetings and the second is how to get the best results from your home broadband connection.
- It’s important that you are able to access all files, programmes and equipment when working remotely. Our IT Services Working from Home page provides information to get you set up and who to contact for support. The page will be continually updated with new information as it becomes available so we recommend bookmarking it.
- People and Organisational Development have refocused their IT development resources to support remote working. This includes virtual Microsoft Office Group Sessions and One to One Sessions, which can still be arranged to support you and your team when working remotely. The webpage also contains a number of resources to help increase your confidence when using the Microsoft Office 365 suite, including Skype for Business and MS Teams.
- A MS Teams Resource Hub has been developed, to act as a single webpage to help colleagues easily access the Teams training and resources that they need. This links all Teams training and activities organised by different service areas.
- An Academic Continuity Webpage provides guides around putting teaching online. This page will be updated regularly by IT Services, working in conjunction with colleagues in Libraries and Learning Innovation and CLT
- A guide has been developed to show how to access iTrent and VTS remotely, two of our key HR systems.
- To maintain the safety and security of LBU information, systems and equipment, ensure that work is not viewed by others at home and store any sensitive information securely at home.
As the university expands and embeds its remote working capabilities, the overall surface area of risk widens, and mobile working and remote access has potential to increase the threats to the security of the personal information that we work with.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the independent data protection regulator in the UK, is taking a proportionate approach to the pandemic and organisations are being urged to do the same.
In short, there are no barriers in data protection law to prevent more frequent remote working, or the use of personal devices. However, the university has a responsibility to consider the security implications of homeworking, and the need for any risk mitigation.
Along with this the university may need to collect and use personal information about individuals in order to deal with Coronavirus (Covid-19). However, it is important not to forget that, although this could be a time-sensitive issue, the requirements of data protection law will still apply to any personal information that the University uses for these purposes.
When using information about individuals for the purposes of dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, the golden rule to remember is that the position under law has not changed. Although this is a novel factual scenario, the same principles and considerations will apply around the principles of:
- Lawfulness, fairness and transparency
- Purpose limitation
- Data minimisation
- Storage limitation
- Integrity and confidentiality (security)
We have added to our overarching privacy notices explaining how the university will collect, use and protect data specifically with regards to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
A Data Protection Impact Assessment has also been carried out. Further information on handling information securely and the privacy rights of individuals is available on the university’s information compliance webpages.
Working from home FAQS
Colleagues who have agreed reasonable adjustments in place to support a physical or mental health condition should initially discuss how these will be managed at home with their line manager. As far as is practically possible, adjustments should be continued at home, through appropriate risk assessments. Further advice can be sought from Occupational Health, please discuss with your line manager if this is required.