Remote Working and Accessibility - Guidance for Line Managers
As a result of the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us now find ourselves working remotely and/or from home. For some of us, this may pose a challenge as we get to grips with new technology, a different way of working and in some cases, a greater sense of detachment and isolation from our work colleagues.
However, we all have access to technology that can make work more accessible including ways to quickly connect via mobiles and laptops. All of this can help to reduce any feeling of isolation.
The University is keen to ensure that all staff working remotely do not encounter any additional barriers or difficulties which make contributing to work any more challenging than it already is – particularly for those who are juggling heavy workloads alongside childcare, home schooling, illnesses and/or other dependants.
This is especially true for any member of staff who has a disability and/or long term condition. We also recognise that some staff will take longer to adapt to this new way of working.
However, we hope these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) alongside specific guidance and practical advice from the People and Culture Directorate, in addition to practical tips and advice from Information Services, will help all staff become more confident users of the technology available to them.
We also hope that this information can be used by managers in supporting staff working remotely.
I manage a member of staff who uses accessibility software on their work computer. Can they use this software when working from home?
It’s important that all staff are comfortable and can achieve the best possible workstation set-up when working from home.
The best thing to do is to speak to your staff as they will know best what works for them, what doesn’t, and what might help support them better working from home. In the first instance, contact the staff member to ensure they have full accessibility at home.
While normally restricted, some accessibility providers are being flexible with licenses to support those working from home during this period. To find out further information, please follow up with IS and log a call with the IT Service Desk here.
Please just be aware that our colleagues in IS are dealing with a high volume of queries as they work to support us all during this time, so please be patient!
- I am a manager and want to ensure my staff are properly supported when working from home. Is there any further support available to me to support a member of staff with a disability or long-term condition?
We wish to remind staff with a disability and/or a long term condition that the University has a Disability Support Fund in place to assist with the purchase of equipment to enable you to feel more comfortable at work. During these uncertain and unprecedented times, it may be possible for us to extend this provision to facilitate your working from home.
In the past the Diversity and Inclusion Unit have been able to assist colleagues by using the fund to contribute towards the purchase of various pieces of specialised equipment.
We can split the cost on a 50/50 basis with your School/Department up to a maximum contribution of £300.00
If an employee feels they could benefit from this please follow this link to access the Terms of Reference, and complete an application form.
Funds available are limited and therefore each application will be considered on a case by case basis but we will endeavour to assist as many staff as possible.
If you have any queries regarding the fund please email our unit at email@example.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
- What accessible technology is available?
Read this list for examples of accessible technology.
- A member of my team wishes to work from home permanently, how can I manage that request?
We are delighted with how successfully Queen’s staff have adapted to working from home during this pandemic. However, we also recognise that some job roles require staff to be on campus. Equally, it is important that we maintain an on-campus University experience for our students.
Once it is safe to do so, and in line with guidance provided by the NI Executive, we will begin a phased return to campus for all staff who have been working from home. Until this time, temporary arrangements remain in place and additional flexibility has been given to staff.
However, should a staff member wish to make a request for flexible working on a permanent basis, this request should be made to their manager via the Flexible Working Policy. It is recommended that staff members do not make permanent decisions about their working situation while we are still working within the restrictions necessitated by COVID-19