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Working from home

Last updated on 6 August 2021

General

IT Services

Note about hyperlinks to the IT Support Portal/Knowledge Base: If you get an error message when selecting a link to an article or form in the list below, ensure you are signed into the IT Support Portal and then try the link again.

Safety at home

Library

Please visit the Library website for the latest information on opening hours and support available for your teaching and research.

General

Can I purchase equipment to use to work from home?

You can speak to your manager about:

  • Purchasing small items up to the value of £50 eg: a footrest, keyboard, mouse etc.  If the item you’re requesting costs more than £50 you cannot use the expenses process but instead should follow the usual University purchasing process. It is not possible for staff to purchase items of more than £50, claim £50 through expenses and then make up the remaining amount themselves.
  • Contact the Furniture Store to see if it has the item you require.  The Furniture Store has invested in additional recycled desks and chairs which are available to those most in need.   If you are unable to pick up items you’ve requested from the Furniture Store you should talk to your line manager to see if alternative delivery can be agreed.  If there is a cost associated with delivery you must have agreement from your line manager and local budget holder before placing an order with a delivery company.  You should also request a receipt from the company you use and submit this through the usual expenses process. 

You can find out more about both of these options on StaffNet

Can I collect items from my workspace on campus to help me work from home? What items can I take home?

Yes you can so long as you follow the coming on to campus guidance.  

I have a disability and usually have specialist equipment in the office, what should I do during this period? Will the University pay for equipment for me to use at home?

If you have not been able to take specialist equipment home and are experiencing disability-related difficulties with working, you should, first of all, discuss your requirements with your line manager to see if adjustments can be made to help you work from home. This might include taking more frequent breaks or adopting different working hours and practices.

If you feel you need to explore further support, please contact the Disability Advisory Support Service (DASS) on dass@manchester.ac.uk or call 0161 275 7512 and leave a voicemail. They will try their very best to provide any support they can whilst bearing in mind the current restrictions.

How do I look after my wellbeing while working on my computer at home?

It is particularly important to take regular breaks and maintain positive wellbeing when working from home. Please visit Wellbeing on StaffNet.

  • Also, make sure to take regular micro-breaks (2-3 minutes) every 20 minutes
  • Take a slightly longer break (5 minutes) every hour
  • You may find it beneficial to occasionally undertake some simple stretches, such as those suggested by the NHS.

Is support available to help me pay household expenses while I’m working from home?

The University has carefully considered whether it is able to make payments to colleagues to contribute to household expenses incurred whilst working from home, such as heating, lighting, internet connection etc.  On balance the decision has been taken not to offer such payments but to encourage colleagues to consider making a claim for household expenses in the form of income tax relief through Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).   Details about this tax relief and how to claim it are available on the HMRC website. HMRC advises that you make one annual claim for the period you have been working from home as the refund will likely be given in the form of a tax code adjustment, so you will pay less tax over the year.  Multiple tax payers from the same address can claim this tax relief.

You can find FAQs about working from home, including information on how to access IT and other equipment to assist you on StaffNet.

I am trying to balance work with caring responsibilities. What help is available?

Please talk to your line manager about whether flexible working options, Coronavirus Special Leave or furlough leave could help you. 

IT Services

I’m a member of University staff and need to request a University laptop – what do I do?

Staff are entitled to one computer funded centrally, and we advise that this is a laptop.

Can a postgraduate research student request a University laptop to work remotely?

Yes. As with staff, postgraduate researchers are entitled to one computer funded centrally:

Can undergraduate students or post graduate taught students get a laptop from IT Services?

Library and IT Services have set up HelpMeGetOnline. This service offers a laptop loan for students if they meet certain criteria. You can also direct students to the Student Support website for resources on how to access online learning and services.

What options are available for connecting to University services from home?

There are two options:

  1. Connect to services directly using the GlobalProtect Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  2. Connect to your University computer via Remote Desktop connection.

If you only need to access your University email or personal network storage (P: drive) files, you can do this via the web without using the VPN:

Do I need to set up working from home if I have a University managed laptop?

No. If you have a University-managed laptop you are most likely already setup to work remotely using the GlobalProtect VPN and 2-factor authentication from Duo, and shouldn’t need to do anything more.

How do I connect to services directly using the GlobalProtect VPN?

How do I connect to my University computer via Remote Desktop connection?

What tools are available for communication and collaboration?

IT Services support all staff and students to use email and Microsoft Teams for communication and collaboration. Specific questions about Teams can be directed to our Technology Champions via the Microsoft 365 Yammer group. For technical help and support contact the IT Support Centre. Media Services support the Zoom video conferencing tool and have instructions on how to get setup and use it securely and appropriately on their website. Any questions about Zoom should be directed to Media Services at mediaservices@manchester.ac.uk

Can I take my desktop computer home?

No. You must not take your University-owned desktop computer home. It is not supported and will not work.

I need help setting up or connecting my computer at home – who can I contact?

Questions on setting up various services can be found on the IT Support Portal, but if you cannot find an answer to your question there, then contact the IT Support Centre

Can I buy equipment to enable me to work from home and claim for these items through expenses?

No, the University’s expenses policy does not cover the purchase of items such as screens, laptops, desks and chairs. It is important to note that staff making purchases like these will not be reimbursed. If you are concerned that you don’t have the appropriate equipment to enable you to work from home from either health and safety or occupational health perspective, please contact your line manager in the first instance.

You can find out about changes to finance authorisation processes on StaffNet

Home deliveries are only permissible in the following limited circumstances: 

You can ask your line manager and local budget holder if you can purchase items up to the value of £50 to help you work from home. More information about this is available on StaffNet.

Should I be worried about cyber attacks when working from home?

There is a risk that each of us may become subject to cyber-attacks. However, there are some simple but important actions that you must take to keep your personal data, and University systems, safe and secure. 

  1. Beware of email/phishing scams. DO NOT click on any messages or links from unknown or unexpected sources and take the 15 minute email phishing course. Report suspicious emails by sending them as attachments to phishing@manchester.ac.uk.
  2. Install anti-virus software on all your computers. University managed desktop and laptop computers come with McAfee Endpoint security already installed. However, anyone using a device other than a University managed computer should install an anti-virus application immediately. Please note that the following links are recommendations only, and are not supported by IT Services:
  3. Keep your software up to date.
  4. Secure your computer by setting a password that needs to be entered every time you log-in to your device. Strong passwords are a non-obvious combination of least 10 letters, numbers and symbols. Further guidance on setting a strong password is available on the IT services website.

If you think you have a virus on your computer, please unplug your network connection and contact the IT Support Centre as soon as possible.

I'm leaving the University and have equipment to return. What do I do?

Please see our staff FAQs for advice about returning equipment. 

Safety at home

How do I set up my work area?

Depending on personal circumstances, your workstation set up may look very different from your normal office set up, but the aim is for you to be as comfortable as possible. Try to find an area with adequate space to create a suitable working zone. When setting up your working zone it is important to:

  • Find an area with adequate space;
  • Ensure there is sufficient light, ventilation and no trailing leads;
  • Include, where possible: a table/desk/surface; chair; laptop or PC; other equipment e.g. mouse, keyboard.

Given this situation, you are encouraged to think of alternative ways to make your work set up at home comfortable. This might include using:

  • Small boxes as a footrest;
  • Cushions to adjust the seat height and provide lumbar support;
  • Books or box files to raise screen/monitor height.

It is particularly important to take regular breaks.

  • Take regular micro-breaks (2-3 minutes) every 20 minutes;
  • Take a slightly longer break (5 minutes) every hour;
  • You may find it beneficial to occasionally undertake some simple stretches, such as those suggested by the NHS.

There is information on StaffNet about setting up your workstation and the display screen equipment poster for guidance for more details. Check your electrical equipment is safe to use. Do not overload sockets or join extension leads together. Use a correctly fused extension lead, not longer than 15 metres where possible and ensure the cable is completely unwound to avoid overheating.

For more information visit the Health and Safety Executive.

I can’t get my work area set up correctly, what can I do?

Colleagues who are continuing to work from home may wish to collect equipment and items from campus.  As the Government restrictions on non-essential travel have been eased it is now possible for colleagues to visit campus to collect items to help them work from home. 

Please do not attempt to access University buildings unless you have made the necessary arrangements. Your co-operation and understanding during this period are very much appreciated.

I don’t have a suitable office chair to work from, what should I do?

The Furniture Store has also invested in more recycled office chairs – you can find out more about accessing these on StaffNet.

I am still not comfortable, what should I do?

If you are finding it difficult to work comfortably you should discuss the options with your line manager taking into account time, effort and practicalities. It may be possible for you to agree a more flexible approach to working by building in more frequent breaks but please note that your line manager will not be able to approve the purchase of equipment for you to use from home.

Updated guidance has been agreed regarding the purchasing and payment of goods and services during this period – this guidance applies to all members of the University and its subsidiaries including all staff, students and other associated individuals and MUST be complied with.

Only essential services and supplies are to be purchased until further notice and the iProcurement system will be available only for orders related to ensuring essential services remain operational and exceptionally, orders for goods/services which will enable work to continue off-campus.

Requisitions will, in either case, need to be pre-approved by a Senior Leadership Team (SLT) member or their immediate delegate or will not be converted into a Purchase Order (PO) or issued to the supplier.

Am I covered by the University's insurance arrangements whilst working from home or do I need to inform my home insurance provider?

The University's employer and public liability policies remain in force and are not compromised by staff having to temporarily work from home. However, while staff are working from home they are only covered by University insurance when undertaking safe admin or computer-based work. While at home, staff should not undertake any University work that involves higher risk activities such as heavy lifting, heat or chemicals. Even on campus, this kind of work requires significant controls for health and safety reasons – the home environment is not normally risk assessed or equipped to do this work safely.

If you have existing personal home and/or motor insurance, your cover will not be affected if you take part in any of the activities below. You do not need to contact your insurer to update documents or extend your cover if:

  • You are an office-based worker and need to work from home because of government advice or because you need to self-isolate
  • You have to drive to your workplace because of the impact of COVID-19
  • You are using your own car for voluntary purposes to transport medicines or groceries to support others who are impacted by COVID-19
  • Your work is critical to the national response to COVID-19 and you need to use your own car to drive to different locations for work purposes because of the impact of COVID-19

Further guidance on working safely at home is available from our Safety Services site.

Library

How do I access resources?

You can access physical books through the Library’s Click and Collect service.

The Library provides access to one of the most extensive collections of digital resources in the UK, which are available from any location and device. Staff and students can search and access our electronic content using Library Search and/or install our browser extensions which will help ease access to our subscribed e-content. You may need to re-install browser extensions if you are using a different device whilst you are working from home.

If the Library doesn’t hold a copy of the book that you need for your research, please use the Order a book service and we will get it for you. We will provide books electronically whenever possible. The Order an article service is also open to all staff and students. If the Library does not hold an electronic copy of the article that you need, complete the order form and we will get it for you, where available.


What support is there for online teaching?

To manage your reading lists and order content for online teaching you can use Reading Lists Online. If you have a print reading list item that you would like to provide electronically, contact the Reading Lists team uml.readinglists@manchester.ac.uk who will investigate available options. All reading list items in Reading Lists Online for current teaching are being made available electronically wherever possible, including access to a growing list of 70+ free eTextbooks or within your relevant reading lists.

Full details of how to access Library resources and services can be found on our Service availability page, which is being updated regularly.

Returning library books

We recognise that returning library books is still difficult so we have renewed library books until 24 June 2022. If you have any concerns, we are happy to help. Please contact us through Library Chat or our online enquiry service