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Message from Professor Dominik Zaum: update on home working transition

Coronavirus

This message from Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Dominik Zaum was sent to all colleagues at the University.

Dear colleagues, 

Thank you for your patience as we manage our transition to increased home working arrangements. At a time of uncertainty and rapidly changing government advice, I understand that colleagues are increasingly anxious. The University Executive Board (UEB) met this morning, and again this afternoon, to agree a framework for this transition. The principle guiding this framework is the wellbeing of our colleagues and students. 

While many of us will be working differently, there are still some critical services that need to continue on our campuses, specifically those for: 

 

  1. ensuring the welfare of colleagues, students and our animals; 
  2. maintaining the integrity of the estate and the university; 
  3. enabling us to deliver our contractual obligations around research and teaching (in the context of the existing decision to transition to online teaching). 

 

Heads of Schools and Functions are currently working on these arrangements, and will communicate directly with their teams later today. Please work in agreement with your line manager and consistent with the plans set out by your Head of School or Function. 

My sincere thanks in advance to those colleagues who will remain on site to keep important services running, including for students who remain in Reading. We will continue to review the situation and, if necessary, adjust the activities on campuses. Your line manager will talk to you directly as these requirements change. 

In line with government advice recommending that people avoid non-essential gatherings and crowded places, and given the reduced number of people on our campuses, the following services will also be reduced:

  • All University and RUSU restaurants, bars and cafés (including the Library café) will close from today until government advice changes. Service will be available for students who have meal plans and others remaining on campus at:
    • Park Eat (including Park Market) on Whiteknights campus from8am to 8pm Monday to Sunday, including the vacation period
    • The Dairy on the London Road campus from 8am to 5pm with no alcohol service; it will then close from 5pm this Friday, 20 March, until further notice.
  • Until further notice, the Library will operate vacation hours (from 8.30am to 5pm). Online services will continue to be available so that colleagues and students can continue with their work remotely and can contact the Library team atlibrary@reading.ac.uk.
  • Study@URSwill remain open while ongoing arrangements are reviewed.
  • TheSportsParkwill be closed from 10pm on Friday 20 March until further notice. More information will be available ontheirwebsite. Until then, class sizes will be limited to ensure participants have extra space.

Reading Buses have advised today that the Claret 21a term-time service will stop running from tomorrow, Wednesday 18 March. The 21 service will continue to stop on campus. We are currently talking to external providers Co-op and Santander about their plans and will communicate these as soon as possible. 

Given that our work will continue, albeit increasingly online and remotely, please stay in regular contact with your line manager and ensure that colleagues have up-to-date details to contact you. Digital Technology Services have provided remote working guidance and there is also information from CQSD for teaching colleagues. 

Kind regards,  

Dominik  

Dominik Zaum  

Deputy Chair, COVID-19 Major Incident Team  

 

Preparation for home working  

To ensure you are personally prepared, please read the online guidance on what you will need to work remotely.    

In particular, there are certain steps you can take now:

  • Consider what IT equipment you have access to at home, or would need to take home, that would allow you to work.
  • Multi-factor authentication has been introduced to improve the security of our systems. If you have not done so already, please download the Microsoft Authenticator App on your smartphone. Instructions on how to set up the app are available on the Remote Services Access Guide.
  • With Microsoft OneDrive, you have access to significant secure online storage that you can access from anywhere. You are encouraged to transfer files currently on your personal (N:) drive to OneDrive, which you can access without using the VPN. Guidance on doing this is available in the online guidance.
  • With Microsoft Teams, you have the ability to join meetings, collaborate, access files, chat and call remotely so take time to ensure you are familiar with this system if you are not already.
  • Test essential systems that you need when working remotely, including the VPN.
  • Some of your day-to-day work may not be easily done away from the office. Think ahead, individually and as teams and consider if there is work that you could still undertake at home, such as reading or other learning and development.
  • Ensure your contact information is up-to-date and colleagues know the best way to contact you when you are working away from the University.
  • Care needs to be taken to keep material safe when working remotely, especially if you handle personal, confidential or valuable data. This is particularly important if you are using devices shared with others in your household. Please take time to refresh your knowledge of our data protection and information security requirements.
  • For colleagues involved in teaching, a new section has been created on the Blackboard ‘Help for Staff' site that explains how you can deliver teaching remotely.

We are aware that there have been issues in the past with access to the VPN required to use some services remotely. Work is being finalised to significantly extend the capacity of this system and instructions on how to use the extended VPN solution will soon be published. There are many systems that do not require the VPN, so please read the information in the online guidance.   

We recognise that not all roles can be undertaken from home, or that personal circumstances may not allow it. Even if a large proportion of on-campus activities were to scale down, there would still be critical activity that would need to be carried out on-site. As such, we understand that working in these circumstances may not reflect typical day-to-day activity, and where colleagues have agreed a position with their line manager, they will continue to be paid as normal.   

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