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As you know, the University has been working hard on a range of ambitious plans to bring colleagues and students safely back to campus for the new academic year.

Hopefully you've already taken a look at our 'Solent in September' page where we've shared a first-look at what campus will look like for the new term.

Below, you can also find some frequently asked questions that provide more details specifically for colleagues.We'll be updating them regularly, so please keep checking back - and we look forward to seeing you soon! 

Am I able to claim any tax relief whilst working remotely?

While we are working remotely and at home on a regular basis, you may be eligible to claim tax relief (subject to HMRC rules) for some of the bills you have to pay.  You will need to check your eligibility directly with HMRC by completing the online check and following the instructions. You will not normally be required to keep records of claims of up to £6 per week (£26 per month), subject to HMRC guidance.

When will I be coming back to campus?

We have been liaising with managers across the University, together with our suppliers and unions, to explore the requirements of all teams, and how those can be delivered in line with Government guidelines and health and safety recommendations.  

For the foreseeable future, social distancing measures mean we will need to operate with a much-reduced capacity on site, so we will need to work very differently. 

However, we also know from our experiences over the past months that being more agile and flexible in our approach can allow us to be more innovative and effective – so we will be moving back to campus in a phased way that will allow us to retain the benefits of this change, while ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all colleagues.  

Throughout this time, we will need to be operating within whatever restrictions are in place at the time, maintaining social distancing as required, and ensuring we are ready if stricter measures need to be introduced. 

If you haven’t already, please speak to your manager about what the timeline for return looks like for you and your team.  

What measures are being put in place on campus to protect staff and students?

A wide range of changes are being made on campus to ensure the health and wellbeing of all colleagues and students. These include:  

  • Returning to campus over a slow phased basis.
  • Significantly limiting the number of staff on campus each day.
  • Carefully managing the days staff are required to work on campus.
  • People returning to the same desk they left and avoiding the sharing of equipment.
  • Using scheduling systems, block teaching and extended teaching days and weeks to limit numbers on campus at any one time  
  • Adapting our workshops, laboratories and studios to ensure they can be used safely and providing PPE where necessary. 
  • Introducing social distancing measures across campus, including managed walking routes with one-way navigation where possible and Perspex screens where needed.  
  • Providing bicycles for loan and spacious bike parks to help avoid public transport. 
  • Providing easy-access sanitiser stations at main building entrances and encouraging face coverings for general movement around campus where social distancing can be maintained. 
  • Providing compulsory face coverings where essential and in areas where social distancing cannot be maintained. 
  • Creating ‘social zones’ around campus to provide a safe environment for meetings and communication. 
  • Ensuring easy access to self-service, takeaway food and drink stations to minimise queues.  
  • Running an enhanced cleaning programme throughout all our university buildings. 
We are continuing to develop these plans as we monitor external circumstances and respond to changing Government guidance, and will be sharing more details with colleagues as soon as possible.

When will I know what my timetable looks like so I can make arrangements for my return to campus?

We are continuing to develop our plans as we monitor external circumstances and respond to changing Government guidance.  

However, we appreciate all colleagues are keen to know more about what this approach will look like for you and your teams specifically, so more details will be shared as soon as possible.  

In the meantime, please discuss any queries you may have with your manager in the first instance. 

I am returning to work on campus, what do I need to do?

As we carefully plan a limited return for staff working on campus, before returning to work you must have read this document which contains important induction information that will make sure both you and your colleagues remain safe on campus.

I'm finding it hard to work remotely as I need additional DSE and IT equipment (eg, office chair, second monitor, printer)

We are still in the interim period of returning to campus and ask that people continue with the IT and DSE equipment they have currently. We will review everyone’s needs for effective remote working at a later stage.

Where your query relates to DSE equipment such as a DSE chair, please ensure you have completed the DSE training course available on SOL since commencing remote working. Please do so even if you had already completed the training previously. This should help you manage your ergonomics at home in this interim period. Please keep your manager updated.

On the few occasions where this is significantly impacting your health, and the items requested are in line with ongoing medical issues experienced before lockdown commenced, please liaise with your manager who will complete the urgent DSE/IT request form and return to your P&D business partner for further review.

Can I come on campus to collect some personal items from my office?

The University is restricting access to campus for business critical activities and arranged days for academic and professional services staff to collect items. Any member of staff who was unable to attend one of these dates, or who has a business critical request can, with the support of their line manager, submit an access request form. The form can be obtained from the facilities team and submitted to Bryan Carroll, Head of Estates and Facilities, for authorisation.

Can I use meeting rooms - are they safe?

Each meeting room has a new maximum Covid-19 capacity and new signage will be applied shortly. Meeting rooms can only be used once per day and will need to be booked by contacting the TAR team. We would encourage meetings only when essential and when they can’t be conducted using MS Teams or Zoom.

Is the air con safe to use?

Yes. We have conducted a thorough review of systems access across the estate and implemented measures to minimise the risk in line with the HSE, CIBSE and REHVA guidance. This remains continuously under review as guidance is updated.

Do I have to work from my desk, or can I work in a shared social area?

To ensure effective social distancing and limit the amount of sharing on campus, from mid-September we will need everyone to be based at and work from the desk they were allocated prior to the Covid-19 lockdown and not undertake any type of hot-desking activity

I can't/don't want to return to campus - can I continue to work remotely?

Our hopes are that we can maintain working in the new, flexible and agile ways, as we have over the last few months. We want to limit the number of people on site as much as possible. When planning the team rotas, managers have been asked for this to be as few days as possible for everyone. Your manager will be able to explain the business reasons why your role and work requires you to be on campus for the days discussed with you.

Where you may have on-going caring issues that impact your ability to return to campus on the days required, please discuss this with your manager in the first instance.

I can't work effectively from home without additional IT equipment

We are in the interim period of planning our return to campus and will review everyone’s ongoing requirements to ensure they are enabled to work remotely as we approach the final phased return dates. There should be no need to purchase additional equipment or software, but there may be the opportunity to collect existing equipment from work where people will be predominantly working from home in the future.

What about my additional costs for working at home, such as broadband, electricity and printing?

We are currently in the process of developing a remote working policy which will be published in the near future and as we approach the Phase 3 return dates. Currently, as we are all working remotely and in the most part saving money on travel expenses, expenses cannot be claimed at this time.

Will there be changes to the campus itself?

On your return to campus you will see new signage has been placed in all buildings to direct people to ensure effective social distancing. This includes one-way staircases, new queuing systems and lift usage. There will be more hand sanitiser stations on campus, changes to seating arrangements, and perspex screens at reception areas to ensure effective social distancing can take place. The television screens on campus will also be a good source of information on your return.

What services will be open on campus in the interim period and post September?

At the moment all of our contractor staff have been furloughed and catering and normal cleaning services are not being provided on campus. We are currently working with all our contract partners as part of the return to campus planning to review services such as catering, maintenance and cleaning, with a priority of ensuring the campus environment is safe for all. It is unlikely there will be any catering provision on campus until September, and then the focus will be on cashless, flexible food offerings and coffee kiosks. Therefore please ensure you bring your own food and drink when you are on campus and any anti-viral wipes you may wish to use to wipe down your own desk and items.

Can I use the kitchens and toilets at work?

Further guidance on using shared spaces, such as the kitchens and toilets are included in the guidance documentation, which will be published shortly. There will be clear signage to indicate which toilet facilities are available to use across the campus buildings.

Please continue to monitor the Solent in September pages for further information.

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