Home Working Advice and Guidance Home Working Advice and Guidance

Working from home guidelines

To help with the fight against Coronavirus, we’re asking all staff to work from home wherever possible to mitigate the risk of Coronavirus to yourself and others.

Our HR teams have been working alongside Heads of Services/Faculties to identify those teams and individuals that are currently supporting what we believe are critical services and need an on-site presence. These are areas such as security, maintenance, cleaning services, student services, residential support, and certain parts of ITCS that are supporting critical systems. If you are in one of the teams where we need to provide critical services, we’ll be asking you to take some actions that help make sure that everyone feels as safe and secure as possible, mitigating the risk to yourself and others. 

This is a change to how ‘we’ve always done things around here’, and it may feel uncomfortable at first as we adapt to change, learn new tools and ways of working. You may also need flexibility around reasonable caring, dependants or domestic responsibilities and we want to make sure everyone feels supported, that the approach we’re taking is consistent, transparent and feels fair. We also need to provide a standard framework for reporting, monitoring and managing home working in line with the University’s and individuals’ needs.

Here are some guidelines to help both managers and teams:

Does this have an impact on my employment terms and conditions?

No, working from home will not alter your terms and conditions of employment, job description, roles and responsibilities, or normal number of contacted hours. This is also not a permanent change to your working arrangement and any requests of this nature would be managed as part of the current HR flexible working scheme.

What happens if I have childcare responsibilities?

It may be difficult for some people to work remotely because of childcare responsibilities, so please talk to your manager about how you can work flexibly. We’re asking all managers to be sympathetic and support employees that have childcare responsibilities, and if both parents / carers work at UEA we would expect this responsibility to be shared.   

What happens if I can’t deliver on-line learning?

While the university is committed to minimising disruption to students’ learning, we are also aware that staff circumstances vary considerably and that it will not always be possible or desirable for colleagues to deliver live online classes. This should be a matter for individuals to decide and no one should feel pressured to undertake work that they feel unable to perform appropriately, as long as the material for the courses to be completed is provided and accessible to all students.

What about equipment and technology?

To help support our business continuity plans, we’ve ordered a limited number of laptops that are being provided to help our colleagues run essential services remotely. It is important that requests for business continuity laptops are only made if there is an essential business need. Before making a request please check if your teams can work remotely using other solutions;

  • You could use your UEA desktop at home during this period. All you need to do is talk to your manager if you want to take a UEA desktop, monitor or peripheral item home and remember to bring it back to UEA when you work our UEA site again.
  • Our people can use personal devices to connect to some UEA services from home. Colleagues who can work using Microsoft365 services for email and meetings can do so using personal devices.
  • Files should be stored and accessed by using OneDrive. Office 365, including OneDrive, on personal devices is available for download here.
  • You can find out more about how to connect to UEA from personal devices on our Remote Working webpage.
  • Demand for laptops is high, so if you have a UEA laptop that you no longer need or can do without temporarily, please contact the IT Service Desk so that it can be re-used where it is most needed.
  • It is important to make sure you have set up your home workstation as comfortably as possible. The guidance from USS will support you with this.

Security of information and data protection

Working from home does not change your usual responsibilities about security of data. You are still responsible for ensuring the security of University property and information including files, documents, and data within your possession. You’ll need to comply at all times with the UEA Conditions of Computer use, Data Protection and other University Information and Regulation policies.

Also consider the following when working at home to help keep our information and data safe and secure:

  • You should be the only person using your UEA IT equipment and accessing your UEA account. You are responsible for anything that originates from your account – ‘if it comes from your account, it comes from you’. You shouldn’t allow family members to use your UEA IT equipment.
  • You should make sure that you lock your screen every time you leave your laptop/desktop or phone. It’s simple, just use the Windows Key+L to do this in one step. (ÿ+L)
  • Be aware of where you are working and the sort of information that you have on screen. We know that these are unusual times so make sure as far as reasonably possible that no-one nearby can see and read the screen of your device.
  • Although it may be difficult at times, if you are going to have a sensitive conversation try to have it in a closed room.

Files should be stored and accessed by using OneDrive. Office 365, including OneDrive, on personal devices is available for download here.

What is the expectation on me?

Managers should make sure that everyone understands what is expected of them and how they can work together effectively. In these times you may need to make an extra effort to communicate, keep colleagues up-to-date on how their work is progressing and offer help to others.

Keeping lines of communication open

Some people love working from home, others find it a challenge. Effective communication is an essential part of any successful home working agreement, and it’s important to proactively plan how this will work both as an individual, with your manager and finally as a team. Unless otherwise agreed, you’ll need to be contactable throughout the normal working day and collaborative tools such as MS Teams should be used.

Using MS Teams for Team Collaboration

You’ll now be able to collaborate easier with colleagues during this difficult time by using MS Teams on-line chat, make and receive calls, hold meetings in teams and use video conferencing.  This handy guide, will help you with any questions you may have and if you have a personal device, you can install MS Teams using this link.  If you have any questions, you can contact the IT Service Desk by emailing IT.ServiceDesk@uea.ac.uk

Responsibility for health and safety when I am working away from the office

The University still has responsibility for your health and safety while you are working away from the office. There is no increased risk from Display Screen Equipment (DSE) for those temporarily working at home, so you do not need to complete a workstation assessment for your home. However, you should make sure your home environment is as safe and conducive to effective home working as possible. USS have created some guidance to help you set up your workstation as safe and comfortably as possible, managers should also familiarise themselves with this document.  Let your manager know of any health and safety matters needing attention. Please also ensure that you are familiar with the procedures for reporting Work-related Accidents and Ill Health.

Will you pay any expenses when I am working at home?

It’s not possible, for tax reasons, for UEA to contribute towards normal household expenses such as Wi-Fi, heating, lighting, council tax etc. We hope that you understand this.

Insurance cover

UEA’s liability insurance provides cover for legal liabilities of the University and its employees irrespective of where it takes place. Whilst working away from the office, UEA equipment is covered by UEA’s own insurance.

Other implications of home working

We’re asking you to take responsibility for assessing the implications of home working, for example, with respect to home insurance, mortgage, rental or leasing arrangements. Please talk to your manager if you have any questions.

Sharing your personal phone number

You don’t have to give your personal phone number out, so if you are uncomfortable please use other collaborative tools such as MS Teams.

What else do I need to consider?

Laptops and other portables are not ideally suited to prolonged use. If you are a DSE user and need to use a laptop you must set it up on a surface wherever possible and avoid prolonged use in other situations. It can be helpful to connect a separate mouse and keyboard and place the laptop on screen risers or books, at an appropriate height above the work surface. If you use a non UEA laptop to work away from the office, then it is your responsibility to make sure you have appropriate software required including up to date anti-virus application. You can email IT.ServiceDesk@uea.ac.uk for help and assistance.

Supporting health and wellbeing

We’re asking mangers to be mindful of the stress that our people may be feeling and not make unreasonable requests of team members who may feel under pressure and are quite rightly worried about their family and friends, struggling to balance the needs of UEA with family commitments. There’s a wealth of support out there:

  • We have a fabulous Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) that is ready to give our people, and their families the support that they need.
  • There is also a great range of well-being resources and information from HR here.   
  • During these challenging times, we are as committed as ever to making sure that everyone feels safe and secure in the UEA community. At any time you can access the Report and Support page within the UEA portal. 
  • And finally, there are some great advice and tips put together from Mind, from the Mental Health Foundation and finally from OCD UK