Working in new ways: ideas from our community

03 Aug 2021
Working in new ways: ideas from our community

We know that our colleagues across the University community have many competing pressures on their time and are finding new ways of working in lockdown.   

We have captured some of these different ways of working, in the spirit of sharing ideas and solutions developed ‘from the ground up’ in response to current lockdown restrictions.   

Please share other ideas with us at 

Scheduling meetings around caring responsibilities  

Some areas do not schedule meetings at 9am or 5pm so that those who are home schooling can set their children up for success with their studies or homework.  

Shortening meeting times  

Some areas are restricting 60-minute meetings to 50 minutes and 30-minute meetings to 25 minutes. This lets colleagues have a break and ‘reset’ between meetings. Teams are starting meetings on the hour and finishing 10 minutes before the hour. Lectures on campus used to start five minutes past the hour and end five minutes before the hour. This was the practice for many years and may be a tradition worth resurrecting. 

Respectful email signatures  

Some colleagues have adopted an approach which acknowledges the importance of work/life balance by adding this line to their email signature: “I do not expect that you will read, respond to or action this message outside of your regular working hours.”   

Building ‘downtime’ into the day  

Some teams try to avoid meetings between 12-1pm to encourage colleagues to take time away from their laptop and to have a break for lunch.   

We’ve also heard of the growing popularity of ‘walking meetings’ by phone to allow colleagues to have the meeting while outside, exercising in the fresh air.  

Meeting-free days  

Some teams have coordinated ‘meeting-free days’ to allow team members time to catch up on workloads. While this will not be practical in every area, it could work for some. Teams are also adopting the idea of no meetings before midday on Monday or after midday on Friday, to allow staff to set up and wrap up the week. Many corporate organisations have initiated similar programs with success.  

UNSW flexible work guidelines  

UNSW already has a commitment to flexible working. The University recognises the need for staff to be able to balance and integrate their work and other life responsibilities by providing a range of options.   

Flexible work arrangements provide flexibility on how, where, when and at what times employees work. Arrangements can include working part-time, job-sharing or reduced hours arrangements, as well as shifting start and finish times or moving to a compressed work schedule. A new Flexible Work policy will be released to support our return to campus when restrictions are eased.   

In the meantime, you can find the current flexible work guidelines here.