UBCBulletin Updates for leadership

UBC’s approach to working remotely

This message was sent to executive, deans and other senior academic leaders, academic heads, directors and managers, and senior professional leaders in Vancouver and the Okanagan.

15 April, 2021

This past year has demonstrated how well UBC transitioned to different ways of working in response to COVID-19. Our community of faculty and staff have shown their adaptability in the face of the pandemic and stepped up to the challenge of continuing UBC’s research, and providing learning experiences for our students, both on and off campus.

Thank you for your efforts over the last year, and for your ongoing commitment to the university. Thank you also for the commitment of all those who remained on campus during the last 12 months, ensuring we maintained essential services and some in-person instruction, in accordance with public health guidelines.

We believe that the transition in work practices represents a strategic opportunity at UBC, for reflection and innovation, as we consider future options and requirements. With this in mind, the university recently sought feedback from faculty and staff, via a survey, on the impact of remote working and how we might approach this in the longer term. As we plan for an increase in on-campus activities this fall, we are concurrently in the process of developing a remote work approach, with a targeted announcement date of mid-June.

The results of the Workplace Preferences Survey indicate that many respondents appreciate some flexibility and would prefer to work remotely some of the time, for example up to a specified number of days per week. At the same time, we recognize that remote work isn’t possible for many positions as not all roles can be performed remotely. While providing some flexibility for faculty and staff is important, we are also mindful of the importance of culture at UBC, which is strengthened by in-person interactions, collaboration, and engagement. As a result, finding the right balance in our approach will be critical.

UBC is committed to providing and supporting a world-class education for our students, and conducting leading-edge research. Our strategic goals include:

  • Leading as a first-choice place to learn, conduct research and work; and, 
  • Leading globally and locally in sustainability and wellbeing across our campuses and communities.

With this in mind, we are developing some guiding principles to inform a consistent institutional approach that will allow for local variations, depending on the Faculty or administrative unit. At the heart of the remote work approach will be the need to preserve the student experience and quality of our programs. Any longer-term plans to include digital and online learning as a complement to our customary in-person approach will be guided by departments/schools and Faculties; such plans will be based upon principles of good pedagogy, operational requirements, collective agreements, and flexibility for faculty, staff and students.

UBC’s senior leaders are currently considering plans within their own Faculties and administrative units that reflect these priorities, for the year ahead. They are also taking into consideration the need to ensure UBC maintains its commitments to our internal stakeholders and campus communities, as we move forward.

Further updates will be provided as this work progresses and we want to thank you for your ongoing commitment and patience during this time.

Marcia Buchholz
Vice-President, Human Resources

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