I hope you managed to take advantage of the VE Bank Holiday and the rest day on Monday this week. The weather gave us a glimpse of summer and I know that many of you used your days to focus on family and loved ones.
As lockdown is maintained in Scotland, we have decided to maintain the allocation of rest days for our staff. We will review this in the context of Scottish Government guidance changes in the coming weeks. It remains clear that this additional rest day is proving to be beneficial to colleagues in dealing with the challenges of working from home, caring for loved ones and adjusting to a new working environment.
I had this feedback directly in recent days during six Staff Engagement Sessions that I took part in alongside other Senior Officers. These sessions involved more than 1,000 colleagues – with more to follow later this afternoon and next week. The benefit of the rest day has come across clearly in all of the sessions and it was rewarding to learn just how helpful they have been in allowing people to plan their work and personal responsibilities over the weeks.
Through each session, I and colleagues laid out how we will achieve the strategic goals of Vision 2025 by collaborating and innovating across the Strathclyde community and refocusing our efforts on achieving the ambitious goals we have set ourselves. There is a recognition that things will be challenging, but also that by tapping into our collective ambition and talent, there will be new opportunities to further enhance and diversify our activity to address local and global challenges and to have our University make a clear and distinctive contribution to economic and social recovery.
The engagement sessions also prompted reflections on the University’s response to the lockdown and the learning we are taking from that. They have generated some terrific feedback on how working from home has thrown a new light on why and how things are done, giving ideas for how working practices may change for the better in the future. Understandably, there was a great deal of discussion on the phased return to campus, when the lockdown is eased.
This is a key part of our ‘Positive Response and Planning’ activities with the health, safety and wellbeing of students and staff our focus.
Teams across the University are assessing how a safe return to campus can be managed, while observing social distancing. This will be a careful and phased process, and it is possible many of you will remain working from home for some time to come. We have established a Return and Resume Development Group which is assessing all aspects of a gradual return to campus operation. Chaired by our University Secretary and Compliance Officer, Dr Veena O’Halloran, it will map out our phased and measured return over the coming months, informed at all time by Government guidance.
As ever, I am keen to hear your thoughts and comments on this or any other aspect of Strathclyde activity as I believe the creativity and know-how of Strathclyders are key to our future planning. We are also establishing a new Strathclyde Innovation Forum to gather your innovative ideas. Further information on this, and links to an Innovation Forum website, will follow in the weeks ahead.
Finally, we have taken the decision to move the publication of Inside Strathclyde to Monday to set out the things you will want to know and engage with for the week ahead, so please look out for that when it arrives.
Thank you once again for all of your efforts – it has been truly energising to hear directly from so many of you through the Staff Engagement Sessions this week. Please take the benefit of the rest day tomorrow and I look forward to receiving your inputs as we continue to be bold, innovative, ambitious, collaborative and people-oriented in our delivery of Vision 2025.
Professor Sir Jim McDonald
Principal & Vice-Chancellor