How we work during lockdown

What support can I expect from my line manager/supervisor?

Please approach your line manager with any worries or concerns you have and try to be as open as possible. This is a difficult and uncertain time for all staff members across the University, and your manager is coping with change too – we are all in this together. By chatting through any issues, work related or personal it will be easier for your manager to support you.


Regular, structured communication is key. Your manager should encourage everyone to speak to their colleagues regularly,  and as a manager or PDR Reviewer ensure they keep to regular one-to-ones and meetings, as this keeps a sense of normality and also serves as a useful opportunity to check in on how you are both feeling in general. If you are part of a large School or Professional Service , your manager may work with colleagues to establish a rota to ensure all staff members are receiving individual contact both formally and informally. They will also look out for staff they haven’t heard from recently and check in with them.

With remote working now the norm for most staff, an aspect of communication often lost is the ‘water cooler’ conversations or kitchen chats that occur throughout the working day. A number of methods for communicating and socialising are occurring organically across the University, using platforms such as SKYPE, Cisco Jabber or Microsoft Teams. Examples of some great activities already happening across campus include:

  • Virtual coffee mornings or lunches – setting up an informal coffee morning can provide colleagues with an opportunity to get the valuable informal communication they may be missing. It is important to make these optional so that colleagues do not feel that they have to join if they don’t want to
  • Virtual quizzes or bingo – this can provide a good opportunity for colleagues to informally gather and engage in a positive activity
  • Sharing of positive stories from the day or pictures of exercise competition
  • Virtual yoga or exercise classes – a number of colleagues are missing out on their normal social activities and are choosing to take part in virtual exercise together

New starters

If you are a new starter within your department, this can be a very daunting time to join a new team and initially you may find it difficult to connect with colleagues. It may be necessary for your manager to arrange more regular contact to ensure that you have access to what you need. They may consider linking you up with a colleague within your team as a ‘buddy’ to help answer any questions you may have and to create links. If you are feeling isolated, you may want to look at some of the information and resources in this section.


When staff have been used to working in a busy, bustling campus the switch to working from home can be a big adjustment. It’s good practice to keep things as ‘normal’ as possible to a regular working day, so everyone can adapt more smoothly to homeworking and not feel too isolated. 

However, it is clear that many colleagues across the University are working within different circumstances which may be causing some anxiety. Your manager should encourage you to structure your day whilst also providing flexibility where possible. During this pandemic, your manager should have practical conversations with parents and carers of children or other dependents about what is and isn’t realistic for you to achieve.  Your wellbeing and that of your family is the priority for the University.

Task prioritisation

Your manager should ensure that you and your team members know what is expected of you. The key is to prioritise tasks clearly and set expectations from the outset. 

For some staff, not having their manager there to ask ad hoc questions about their work and tasks, can make them feel a bit lost. Setting priorities in advance will help staff shape their workloads and get the most out of the time working remotely. If you feel stuck or like you’ve run out of things to do, your manager should reassure you that it’s OK to get in touch, or ensure you have a list of secondary tasks or research to complete when times are quieter.

If you can’t think of anything, get in touch with other teams to see if they would appreciate additional support, or focus on professional development or your wellbeing. There are some good resources within resources within the ‘You are not alone’ section of the Staff Wellbeing pages. 

PDR objectives

Please don’t worry about meeting your PDR objectives. The University’s expectation is to do the best you can during the current situation. It is highly recommended that you chat through your objectives with your reviewer at your next one to one. If you don’t have a meeting scheduled it would be very useful to schedule one to specifically discuss your PDR objectives. Some objectives will still be achievable and you can continue to work toward these; others will need to be reviewed and either changed or postponed depending on current priorities and logistics. The University has extended PDR until the end of the academic year so if you haven’t yet had your meeting it will take place when both you and your reviewer are able to do so.