Since the easing of restrictions by the Government in July, I have noticed how many people are starting to be excited about and have been positive about the opportunity to meet up with colleagues and start working together again in person as well as virtually.  Building and maintain relationships over Teams and other virtual platforms has been challenging and particularly difficult for new starters over the last 18 months. I am delighted that the work we are doing in the Wessex Institute on future ways of working is part of the pilot scheme for the ‘future ways of working’ programme.

Our first milestone was to be ready to reopen Alpha House on 16 August, one of our two buildings at the Science Park. Before starting the organisational pilot, we wanted to have a couple of weeks for people to be able to re-familiarise themselves with the office, to see the changes that have been made to the use and layout of some of the offices, supported by a 360 degree virtual tour. The team has done a great job to ensure the building meets Government guidance and university requirements, with the aim to make Alpha House a safe and pleasant place to work; the feedback has been very positive.

Our next milestone is to be ready to start the Wessex Institute hybrid working organisational pilot at the beginning of September. We are running this as a pilot to understand the longer-term implications of hybrid working in terms of ways of working, accommodation, IT, wellbeing and sustainability. An interim and final review will be undertaken. Over the next three months, the pilot will provide an opportunity to try out how we can make hybrid working work recognising that it will be a process of learning, adapting and to some extent trial and error. It is vital for us to maintain our sense of community and organisation cohesion, to avoid siloed ways of working and increase cross team collaboration and innovations.  We can only achieve this together as a shared responsibility. We have developed a framework for teams to talk in a group about how this might work. Everyone is expected to come into the offices for some of their time. We are also working with Timewise, an external agency, to provide support to line managers to implement the hybrid working approach.

What we want to achieve is:

  • Continue to deliver and sustain our current contracts; to secure renewals of contracts and be ready for new business opportunities as part of the School of Healthcare Enterprise & Innovation.
  • Continue to be a vibrant community which fosters cross team collaboration and innovation.
  • Be an organisation where people, and future employees, want to work and thrive.
  • Encourage productivity, trust and a results-based workforce.
  • Enhance opportunities for wellbeing and work-life balance.
  • Reduce our environmental impact.
  • Support equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • Align with and help support the University’s Future Ways of Working Programme.
  • Align with the Department of Health and Social Care, NIHR and other Co-ordinating Centres expectations (important for our NETSCC contract).

I am looking forward to spending time in person with colleagues and resuming some of the ways of working prior to the pandemic whilst maintaining and benefitting from some of the many changes that have been necessary.

Getting back to face-to-face working by Lynn Kerridge

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