A well-attended UCU members meeting on Wednesday discussed the University’s plans for post-pandemic ‘agile working’. Members heard that a draft University document seen by the trade unions proposes the following:

  1. All staff to be divided into one of three categories: campus worker, remote worker, or hybrid worker.
  2. Hybrid workers (academic staff) would be expected to work from home up to 60% of the time.
  3. As a result they would lose their designated workspace and equipment on campus and have at best a shared desk. Business School staff are facing hotdesking in an open plan office.
  4. The University would require hybrid and remote staff to have a reliable internet connection.
  5. The University would not contribute any equipment or furniture or pay any expenses for a home office.
  6. Those with a University-issued laptop would be required to use it at home and on campus.
  7. The University would require access to enter the homes of its remote and hybrid staff.

The meeting unanimously passed the motion below, which demands that any changes to working arrangements and conditions are negotiated and agreed with the trade unions. The University has not yet committed to doing so. Members also passed an amendment to a UCU Congress motion on the same issue.

Members are advised

  • That academic staff already have the right to choose to perform off-campus those aspects of our jobs that do not demand our presence on campus. We do not need the new category of ‘hybrid worker’ to allow us to do that.
  • To bear in mind the University’s plans above if you answer the ‘check-in’ survey sent out today by Julie Fryatt. The University is seeking to use the responses to justify downgrading the facilities and equipment it provides staff to do their jobs. The survey asks questions about homeworking but is silent on staff facilities on campus.
  • That plans such as these are always driven by a cost-cutting agenda rather than a motivation to support staff.

The UCU Coordinating Committee will provide a further update next week.

Enjoy your bank holiday weekend.

– UCU Coordinating Committee


Motion on ‘agile working’

Passed on 28/4/21

Brighton UCU notes

  • The plan for 100% hotdesking for academics in the new Business School building, Elm House
  • That there has been no meaningful consultation with staff on their new working arrangements;
  • Government Covid guidance that hotdesking should be minimised;
  • That this type of ‘agile’ working is under consideration for the whole University.

Brighton UCU believes

  • The University is taking advantage of the goodwill shown by staff during the pandemic;
  • Its plans to maintain homeworking are driven by a desire to devolve accommodation and equipment costs onto staff;
  • Homeworking needs to be properly supported with equipment provided and expenses covered by the University;
  • Even with increased homeworking, all staff continue to need adequate, dedicated facilities provided for them on-campus.

Brighton UCU resolves to demand that all changes to working arrangements are subject to agreements negotiated with the recognised trade unions.

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