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Introducing hybrid working at the Library

19 Oct 2021

Sarah Rayner, Head of Teaching and Learning talks the importance of communication when adopting hybrid working

Can you tell me about your role? 

My role involves working closely with our Head of Learning Development to lead the Library’s Teaching Learning and Students (TLS) team, providing leadership for the management and delivery of a range of services to support the student learning experience at The University of Manchester. I also chair the Library Leadership team and co-lead our Staff Management Forum. 

How have you approached hybrid at the Library? 

We have a lot of staff at the Library with various teams delivering different services, so we’ve taken a project approach to implementing hybrid working.  We set up a project team quite early on in the process, with a view that this team would take on the Library-wide planning - looking at things like technology, library spaces, people and culture change.  

We've also developed a Library-level charter which includes five key themes: experiment and evolve (recognising that we might not get it right the first time), empowering teams, outstanding services, shared spaces, and wellbeing/work-life balance. 

Has it been easy to agree on the hybrid categories? 

As we have such varied roles across the Library, we decided to devolve that to team-level. As long as people follow the  ‘outstanding services’ principal,  ensuring that service delivery comes first, we’ve empowered team leaders to make those decisions on an individual or team basis. 

We’ve been operating a hybrid model for some time at the Library with staff in our Customer Service and IT support teams for example,  working on-campus throughout the pandemic. In terms of the hybrid categorisation, we have tried to ensure all staff are able to take part in the pilot on some level.  So for colleagues who have to be on-campus because of the nature of their roles, we have tried to put them in the variable category, so at certain times of year, they may be able to do some remote work and experience the benefits of the hybrid working model.  

What opportunities does hybrid working offer the Library? 

Before the pandemic, we were trying to encourage agile working in a variety of ways.  We’d moved a lot of people from desktop to laptop computers and encouraged teams to explore working in different spaces, working from home occasionally, but there was a limit to what we could do. We see this as a brilliant opportunity to continue that work to truly implement agile and hybrid working, and empower our staff to work more effectively, building  on the good practices and positive changes to service delivery and ways of working we’ve acquired throughout the pandemic.

Do you have any tips or suggestions for implementing hybrid working? 

Throughout the project, communication has been key and we want to be open and transparent with our teams. We’ve set up a Library wide Teams channel and have encouraged staff to post ideas or concerns they have on there. We are also running regular drop-in sessions for our managers to discuss the hybrid pilot and  held an open meeting with our Library Executive Team to inform staff further about our plans to give people an opportunity to share their thoughts. People and culture change have been very important aspects of hybrid working for us. Making sure that we communicate regularly, ensuring that colleagues have got lots of channels to ask questions or voice concerns has helped.

More information 

Hybrid working