COLUMN. The protracted pandemic seems to finally be abating, and the University is preparing for a gradual return to campus in the autumn. But even though remote working and online teaching have been hard in many ways, there are positive aspects we will try to incorporate in our future work, Dean Agneta Holmäng writes in her summer greetings.
I want to wish all of you a really lovely summer. I hope you have an opportunity to recharge and find new energy before the autumn work begins. Throughout the pandemic, I have been extremely proud of our faculty and impressed by the great contributions so many of you have made. All of you–teachers, researchers, administrative and technical staff–have enabled us to continue to operate. Thank you very much!
Heading for a brighter autumn
We now seem to be heading for a brighter autumn, with increasing vaccination rates and a sharp reduction in the spread of infection. In accordance with the signals coming from the government and based on the Vice-Chancellor’s policy decision, we are prepared for a gradual return to campus. On November 1 our work at the faculty can begin to resemble the time before the pandemic.
At the same time, we hope that it will not be exactly the way it was before. The need to work and teach remotely has involved many challenges for most of us, but many have also appreciated the benefits of being able to work from home. This has given us flexibility and freedom to adapt our work while maintaining performance. In addition to winning more free time by avoiding many and sometimes long trips to work, it has also had a positive impact on our climate. And from the employer’s perspective, opportunities to use premises more effectively have opened up.
A lot has happened in this area
For teachers and researchers, a local working hours agreement regulates working conditions, but for administrative and technical staff, the University’s central rules for remote working and temporary working from home apply. These were decided in 2006 and revised with minor changes in 2014. Since then, of course, a lot has happened in this area, mainly through the development of new technical solutions and digital systems that have made effective remote working possible. It has become more acceptable, especially during the pandemic.
It should be possible for staff to work out an agreement
The Vice-Chancellor appointed a university-wide working committee this spring to investigate whether we can create conditions for a flexible working life after the pandemic as well. The Office of Human Resources recently presented the conclusions from this work to various managerial groups at the University, including deans and heads of department. In summary, there are no obstacles to implementing changes in current policy documents. It appears reasonable to consider a less restrictive attitude regarding remote working for administrative and technical staff as well. It should be possible for staff to work out an agreement with their managers if they want to work from home during certain periods as long as this is in line with the needs of the department. According to the proposal, the decision will be made by the immediate supervisor, based on the nature of assignments. The Vice-Chancellor has not yet announced how and when the University’s rules for remote working and temporary work at home are to be revised in accordance with the proposal.
Specific short courses to meet our needs
We can also state that some components in our courses are well-suited for continued teaching online. The Pedagogical Development and Interactive Learning (PIL) unit and the REDO team, our own network headed by Axel Wolf, already are doing a great deal of work in this area. Among other things, they are planning for specific short courses to meet our needs, which will increase the expertise of our teachers regarding online teaching and learning and didactics.
On July 1 the new term of office for our Faculty Board begins. So I would like to take this opportunity to thank the outgoing board members for their excellent and hard work while also warmly welcoming the new members.
Have a lovely summer, and we’ll meet again with renewed energy at the start of the autumn semester.