University of Reading cookie policy

We use cookies on to improve your experience, monitor site performance and tailor content to you.

Read our cookie policy to find out how to manage your cookie settings.

Smart Working – information for managers

Here are some ideas and resources that will help you have Smart Working conversations with your team:

  • Before making decisions with your own team, talk to your line manager or your Head of School or Function

    Schools and Functions are encouraged to have discussions at a team level to discuss how Smart Working arrangements may work for them, including setting parameters for their teams using the University Smart Working principles as a framework. Where possible and appropriate, we encourage consistency across School or Function, so speak to your line manager or your Head of School of Function to make sure what this means for your team.
  • Invite discussion with your teams about Smart Working 

    Talk to your teams about Smart Working and invite those who are interested to have open, confidential discussions about their preferences. Where your direct reports also have line management responsibilities, make sure they do the same in a way that is consistent with the agreed team or School/Function approach, where appropriate.
  • One size doesn’t fit all so consider individual needs

    In the same way that some roles will have less scope for flexibility, some colleagues will prefer to work on campus for all their working time.  Understand what will work best for each person’s wellbeing and sense of work-life balance, taking into consideration practicalities such as available office space and the impact on the rest of the team etc.
  • Individual preferences must be balanced with the business need of the role and the team 

    The Smart Working framework is an important way to support colleagues’ wellbeing and personal preferences. In discussing individual arrangements, though, you need to prioritise what is required to deliver the team’s work effectively – whether it is on-campus teaching, student-facing services or team collaboration. Take time to reflect on the requirements and the team and its role with the wider University community, and share these with your team, including in discussions about individual roles.
  • Be aware of fairness across the team

    It is important that you consider all requests across your team consistently, in the context of School or Function parameters and this framework. Roles are different, even within a single team, and so are people’s individual circumstances so Smart Working will not be possible for everyone. However, all requests should be treated openly and fairly even if consistency of arrangements is not always possible for good reasons. 
  • Think creatively

    Smart Working will work differently for different roles, and not work at all for some, and you are entitled to say no to arrangements that do not accommodate the work your team has to do or the legitimate needs of other team members. But you should also think creatively about where there is scope for some flexibility. For example, working arrangements do not need to be fixed from week to week, and could vary depending on workload, business needs and students’ expectations. Consider if there are some individual tasks that allow for remote working, even in roles that require the majority of time to be on campus.
  • Consider time of year and business need

    Arrangements can change, and for some teams this may include different arrangements at different times of the year. Think about identifiable peaks and troughs of activity, when you most need to be together to collaborate and when you have most flexibility in workload.
  • Be clear about expectations

    It is really important that you are clear with individual team members about your expectations of them when they are working remotely and working more flexible hours. Agree arrangements for communication and diary management and when they will need to be on campus eg for teaching, meetings, training or other events.  You should also be clear about expectations for the whole team to be available on campus for specific meetings or events - subject to COVID measures and guidelines.
  • Talk to managers of teams with which your team works closely

    In the same way that you should consider the business needs of your own team, and of students and other colleagues, and the wellbeing and workload of other team members, talk to managers of teams your team works closely with to ensure any Smart Working arrangements do not adversely affect them and vice versa.
  • Keep a record of arrangements

    There is no formal process to record Smart Working arrangements, and you can manage this in a way that works best for you and your team. You should ensure, however, that you confirm any arrangements developed across the team as a whole or for specific individuals in writing, for example by email, and that you retain these records.
  • Use the formal Flexible Working Procedure if that is more appropriate

    If colleagues require a set working pattern with specific contractual agreements in respect of working time on campus or hours of work, a formal flexible working request will be more appropriate.
  • Regularly review Smart Working arrangements

    All arrangements are informal and do not guarantee a specific working pattern. It is advisable to use trial periods in the first instance so that you and your team can review how the arrangements are working. Set aside time, for example in 1:1s and team meetings, to review arrangements and amend them if they no longer meet your team’s needs. These changes do not require formal agreement and do not lead to any contractual changes, but you should email colleagues and keep a record of any changes to smart working arrangements in your team.

We are sure that colleagues will approach these discussions constructively and with understanding of wider colleague, team and university needs. If a member of your team is unhappy with a particular outcome, there is no formal appeal process under the Smart Working Framework for these informal arrangements. If following discussion with your team member, you cannot resolve any points of difference, you can seek advice from your HR Business Partner.