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Page updated 03.09.2021


  • September 2021 will be a month of gentle preparation with a view to returning to a pattern of regular office working in October.
  • There is an expectation that in Michaelmas Term everyone will spend some time in the office with colleagues.
  • This Michaelmas Term will be an experimental period for everyone to test, and adapt, new ways of working.
  • No flexible working requests for hybrid working will be formalised before the end of this calendar year while we are still experimenting.

Action for managers/supervisors

  1. Discuss RTOSW with your team so that all team members hear the same message
  2. Offer one to one conversations with any member of staff/students who would like it
  3. Be prepared to experiment with hybrid arrangements to maximise benefit for the individual and the team
  4. Follow this University guidance for managers
  5. Point staff to this Guidance for staff
  6. All returning individuals must have an induction from Jessy BEFORE their agreed return date. (book an induction by emailing
  7. The New Ways of Working Framework may prove helpful for thinking through scenarios

Action for everyone

  1. Read this Guidance for staff (also largely applies to our DPhil students)
  2. Think about practicalities – what equipment has been taken home that would need returning to the office?
  3. Remember that when you return to the office any desktops may take time to update and you may need to rearrange your desk set-up
  4. The IT team will need time to support any IT issues on return – please bear this in mind and do not expect instant availability.  The IT team will need to work on a ticket basis.
  5. If you haven’t had one, book your induction by emailing in plenty of time before your agreed return date.  


All the Return to Onsite Working Documentation, including risk assessments, for the Department are available here for everyone to read.  The University Guidance is available here.



Michaelmas Term 2021 will be an experimental period for everyone to test, and adapt, new ways of working. There is an expectation that in Michaelmas Term everyone will spend some time in the office with colleagues. No flexible working requests for hybrid working will be formalised before the end of this calendar year while we are still experimenting.

The New Ways of Working Framework may prove helpful for thinking through scenarios.

As we return space is tighter than it ever was, the department has continued to grow while we have all been working from home.

Some groups are already thinking about hot-desking/flexible arrangements to facilitate voluntary social distancing, we will investigate systems to manage this but for the time being groups should manage their own records/systems.

Over the coming weeks we will look at changing some desk allocations to try to consolidate groups and make arrangements simpler.

  • Face coverings are a way of protecting your colleagues if you are an asymptomatic carrier. Given the increasing evidence of the benefits of face coverings in preventing COVID-19 transmission, our department provides spare disposable face coverings at reception for anyone who has forgotten them.   
  • From Wednesday 1 December, face coverings are temporarily mandated (unless individuals are exempt) in University libraries and are strongly recommended in museums.  
  • Please also demonstrate your respect and care for your colleagues by wearing face-coverings in all communal areas: corridors, stairways, kitchens, toilets, reception areas and atrium.
  • There is no requirement to wear face-coverings at your desk or in team-meetings, though opting to protect your colleagues by doing so will be welcomed.
  • Face coverings are also very strongly encouraged at meetings of more than 15 people and in teaching settings (lectures and classes).
  • They should also be worn in small group teaching such as tutorials and seminars, unless the group agrees otherwise (this might typically be smaller group teaching of up to 15 people).  
  • Some staff/students are exempt from wearing face coverings due to underlying conditions.
  • All staff and students have been provided with face coverings if they have already been into the office and undertaken the induction during lock-down.  If you have not already received yours please contact
  • This guidance will be reviewed again ahead of the University re-opening after the Christmas vacation, and any changes will be communicated as early as possible.  
  • There is no longer a requirement to sit or stand a specific distance apart, however, we recommend that wherever possible you respect your colleagues by maintaining a reasonable distance. 
  • Where offices are not fully occupied staff/students should aim to space themselves out
  • 2m indicators, where they are already in place, will remain for the time being as a reminder that distance is good
  • We will retain the one way systems on stairs as a simple precaution


  • Naturally we strongly advocate that all staff and students are vaccinated to protect them from serious illness.
  • We will not mandate vaccination, nor will we require staff or students to declare their vaccination status.


  • Good hygiene remains part of our risk mitigation and sanitisers will be available throughout the building.
  • Handwashing posters will remain in toilets
  • Please wash hands before using kitchen facilities and place all used crockery and cutlery directly into the dishwashers.


  • We are fortunate to have openable windows and the option to ventilate well.
  • As we head towards colder weather be prepared with warm clothing so that we have the option to open more windows than we would under normal circumstances.
  • All our offices, including the mezzanine in RPC, have good fresh air ventilation
  • Most rooms will not have restricted occupancy but where occupancy is restricted there will be signage in place

We need to prioritise staff and students at the present time: visitors should be limited to the bare minimum

Please try to stick to meeting rooms in the building in which you are usually based so as to minimise the risk of cross infection and resultant disruption.

Please ensure each member of the team has had an RTOSW induction and followed the process at the top of this page.

Guidance on self-isolation if you test positive or are a close contact

Available here – more departmental guidance to follow shortly

COVID Testing

Regular symptom free testing for COVID-19 (Lateral Flow Device testing)

All staff and students can collect LFD’s from Radcliffe Humanities, IT Services at 13 Banbury Road, or the Weston Library for twice weekly testing.  More information is available on the Regular Testing page.

Testing if you have COVID symptoms (or are a close contact of a confirmed case)

The University’s Early Alert Service (EAS) PCR testing centre at the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter reopened on Wednesday 1 September.

Students and staff are encouraged to make use of the service if they think they may have symptoms; have tested positive with a Lateral Flow Device test; or have been advised that they are a close contact of, or a member of the same household as, someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19. More information, and a link to book a test, is available on the PCR testing webpage.

Staff and students are free to use any of the Government-approved providers to arrange COVID-19 testing when travelling abroad and returning to England. However, in response to feedback on various providers, the University has undertaken some due diligence checks and is able to suggest the following options. It should be noted that this is a new and growing market, and all providers may experience capacity issues, leading to challenges with achieving advertised response times and service levels. Pricing is also subject to frequent change. 

In many cases a postal service may be most convenient, and Biograd Diagnostics are a suggested provider. For current pricing and to book – follow the instructions on the BioGrad Diagnostics website, or contact them by email at, or phone on 03455 651725.  

For in-person testing in Oxford, the suggested provider is ExpressTest, who have a test centre in the Westgate Shopping Centre. For current pricing and to book – follow the instructions on the ExpressTest website, or contact them by phone on 0203 384 0000.  

Tests should be arranged and paid for personally, with the usual processes applicable for reimbursing expenses incurred in relation to University business where appropriate. 

University staff can get up to 30% off the cost of local bus travel on routes operated by Oxfordshire bus companies through the 'Double-Up' discounts scheme. The scheme, which has been running over the summer, has now been extended until 31 October.

Find out more.

Free parking ends on 31 October 2021 and your Temporary Permission to Park (TPTP)  permit will no longer be valid. From 1 November, charges resume and season peak permits return, alongside the introduction of a new flexible peak permit, designed for staff that irregularly or infrequently need to look for a space. Staff will require one of the new permit types to park on University property. 

Details of all the parking permit options can be found on the parking permits webpage. There is a helpful comparison table in the application section to view the different permit options and associated costs.

Access to the application form and a list of the nominated departmental permit administrators are available on the University Parking permits page. On the section for approvals filter for PCHS and select as the approver.

Please contact John Briggs, Head of IT

The IT team will need time to support many IT requests on return – please bear this in mind and do not expect instant availability.  The IT team will need to work on a ticket basis.

We realise that some colleagues will have health concerns about returning on-site. Some other staff may also have concerns about the other pressures - for example, childcare, home or travel arrangements. All managers are to offer one to one conversations about RTOSW with any member of staff/students who would like it to discuss these concerns and find ways to accommodate needs as much as possible. 

Further guidance can be found on the University webpage under 'Staff who may be unable to return to work on site at present'.


If you have any concerns, please contact the HR Team

We are looking forward to the opportunity to get together again! Until coffee mornings formally resume, if the weather is fine staff can bring their own coffee and sit outside.

More info will follow during Michaelmas Term. For questions please contact