News - June 17, 2020

Post-coronavirus policy on home-working

Roelof Kleis

Thanks to the coronavirus, working at home is currently the norm. But what is going to happen when the crisis is over? A new policy on home-working is in the making.

© Shutterstock

Strange as it may sound, WUR does not actually have a policy on working from home, confirms Facilities and Services director Peter Booman. It is not forbidden to work at home and employees can strike their own deals with their managers about it, whether their reasons are to do with a long commute or something else.

But there is no policy and that is going to change. ‘Because of the coronavirus, working at home no longer feels strange. It has become more normal and the impact of that will go on after the crisis is over,’ says Booman. ‘We are not going to work at home permanently, because it has its disadvantages too. A lot of people find it tiring to work at home systematically. And people miss the social interaction.’

Not compulsory
At the behest of the Executive Board, a working party led by Myrte Marechal (Human Resources) is drawing up the new policy. There are numerous issues to address, including the implications of working at home for collaboration, data security, IT facilities, the interaction with students, PhD researchers and clients, social cohesion, and for buildings and legal issues.

Legal issues are important. If people work at home voluntarily, labour law does not hold the employer responsible for the workplace. But if working at home is compulsory and systematic, that could change, says Booman. ‘But I don’t imagine there will be any question of it being compulsory in our organization.’ According to Booman, working at home will not be stimulated to solve the space problem on campus.

But if more people do work at home, it will have implications for the workplace. The MyWURspace plan has therefore been shelved for the time being. This concept, launched just before the coronavirus outbreak starts, is aimed at matching the kind of work you are doing and the place where you do it better. Overall, that should make for a more effective use of space.

The working group should have its recommendations ready in September, when a recalibration of MyWURspace is planned. The working group can make use of WUR-wide input based on a number of small-scale surveys of the feelings and views of WUR staff, the first of which took place last month.