UBCBulletin Updates for leadership

UBC’s Remote Work update

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.

22 June, 2021

As previously communicated on April 14, UBC is developing an institutional plan for remote work. Our faculty and staff have shown their adaptability over the past year and we are now able to be thoughtful and innovative as we consider remote work for the longer term and begin to imagine the future workplace. This is an important and exciting moment for the university.

To support our approach, we have agreed upon a university-wide framework that includes objectives, principles, and guidelines. These will help to provide consistency across the university, which has been advocated for by our community. Recognizing that individual Faculties and administrative units will have differing needs, the approach and timing for implementation of the Remote Work program may also vary at the local level.

At the centre of our institutional plan for remote work is the need to preserve the student experience and academic mission, support research excellence and impact, and maintain the high quality of our programs. By creating a more flexible workplace environment, the plan will support a range of UBC’s other institutional goals. These include attracting and retaining faculty and staff, furthering the promotion of innovation, collaboration and inclusion, and advancing sustainability through reduced levels of commuting and strain on campus facilities. 

The framework defines the following principles, to support decision-making around remote work:

  • Prioritize the physical and mental health of students, faculty, and staff. 
  • Promote the academic mission of the university, respecting faculty commitments to research, teaching, and service.
  • Centre around student experience and outcomes. 
  • Determine mode of delivery for courses taking into consideration good pedagogy, program objectives, and student-oriented flexibility, ensuring decisions made are aligned with existing practices, with UBC’s learning environment, and the collective agreement.
  • Respect and reflect the importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion. 
  • Sustain or improve service levels and quality of work, as well as faculty and staff productivity.
  • Protect university culture, team dynamics, and the potential for creativity, innovation and collaboration.
  • Maintain the vibrancy of our campuses and learning sites. 
  • Optimize space utilization and consider financial sustainability. 
  • Support an institutional approach and consistency in application, maintaining agility to adjust if and as required.

Deans, Vice-Presidents, and Associate Vice-Presidents will be responsible for decisions made regarding remote work within their respective Faculties or administrative units. Faculty members have always worked both on and off campus in fulfilling the commitments associated with their roles, and this plan promotes continued flexibility.

Remote work decisions are based on several inputs, notably the demands of the role, and should generally be conceived as a team rather than individual judgements. When determining the remote work approach within each area of the university, managers and supervisors will be asked to consider with faculty and staff members whether there is a requirement for, or benefit of, in-person interaction or physical proximity to campus, including access to specialized facilities. Clear guidelines will be in place to help facilitate decision-making, with coherent support from HR, IT, and Facilities, as appropriate.

Remote work arrangements will be established on a case-by-case basis and will not replace the need for regular, in-person attendance on campus. Should a faculty or staff member be required on campus, they will have a responsibility to attend their workplace at their own expense. Conversely, no faculty or staff member will be required to work remotely unless it is a requirement of the role.

Remote work is subject to the same regulatory and statutory obligations as on-campus work. Work that would normally be performed on campus within British Columbia must continue to be performed at a location within the province. Work that would normally be performed outside of BC as a job requirement (including research, field work, study leaves, or instruction) is not subject to this restriction. 

It is important to recognize that remote work is not possible for many positions as not all roles can be performed remotely. Full-time (100%) permanent remote work arrangements will not be considered in the early stages of the program. When remote work arrangements are formalized, they will not change the terms and conditions of employment. 

More information will be shared as the university refines the institutional framework in the coming weeks. You can also learn more about remote work at https://hr.ubc.ca/remote-work-ubc.

UBC’s senior leaders, in conjunction with their heads, directors, and managers, will be developing plans within their respective Faculties and administrative units for the transition year ahead. We want to thank you for your ongoing commitment and patience during this time.

Marcia Buchholz
Vice-President, Human Resources

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