University of Leeds security team walking through campus

Reopening campus and creating future opportunities

Estates and Facilities played a critical role not only in the reopening of the University, but also in providing reassurance to staff and students during their return to life on campus.

Throughout, the team ensured staff and students were confident that they were returning to a safe, healthy, hygienic and well managed environment.

To achieve this, a programme of measures was created which instilled confidence in all staff and reassured them that their health and wellbeing was at the forefront during the pandemic period, with many efforts made to continually invest in the teams.

The measures put in place across the Service included:

Increased training in the Cleaning Service, conflict resolution training for the Security Service and online mental health awareness training took place. Continued training to ensure everyone works to the best of their ability was delivered through running more sessions with fewer numbers, video training and a socially distanced away day in the Security and Facilities team before the start of term.

Cleaning staff received new uniforms to present a more professional image and improve staff moral. New cleaning materials were extensively trialled with the team, ensuring they were safe, sustainable and easy to use. Streamlined colour coding of cleaning equipment took place which made it easier to use and had better laundering qualities. Additionally, new equipment and clear and concise Standard Operating Procedures, to ensure all staff understood their role and standards were consistent, greatly assisted productivity.

Celebrating success and the commitment of staff took place through an end of year celebration with Cleaning Services. A letter of personal thanks from the University Vice-Chancellor to all staff in the Service highlighted the value of each member of staff.

In Security Services, process improvements were made, removing paper-based processes and introducing digital ways of working to reduce touch points. For example, radio and equipment sign in and out was introduced in Security Services using QR codes. A staff survey in Security Services was undertaken to ensure staff voices and opinions were being heard and for staff to feel they could suggest improvements or better ways of working.

Throughout the work of the Service, a collaborative approach was adopted with other key partners who are there to support staff, including our Trade Union colleagues.

As the country began to emerge out of lockdown the Estates and Facilities Service gave exceptional support during the re-opening of campus buildings.

During this period, all buildings were subject to strict re-entry protocols including a full building clean, provision of hand hygiene consumables such as gel dispensers, cleaning stations, improved signage, and a significantly increased service level agreement. At all times staff demonstrated their complete flexibility about where they worked alongside many staff who changed their hours or condensed their working time to not only support the task of re-entry cleaning but to contribute to us having safe numbers of people on campus at any one time. Furthermore, the commitment from the staff has been pivotal in the running of Asymptomatic Testing Centres, and the continued operation of critical study space such as libraries and IT clusters has been phenomenal.

The preparation of teaching spaces in time for September 2020, involved a large scale turnaround, over 400 rooms were surveyed by the Estates and Safety team, resulting in over 190 COVID 19 secure classrooms being prepared for face-to-face teaching. Stringent safety checks were in place to ensure seating configuration met with social distancing arrangements, access and egress was easy to follow, teaching lecterns and facilities were safe to use, cleaning stations were provided in every room for use on touchpoints. A 3D campus model showing the set-up of teaching spaces in their original format and Covid 19 secure layout, provided a view on exactly how much teaching space was required to be re-opened. It also allowed the team to zoom into individual spaces to see a 360-degree photograph of the layout and safety arrangements.

Security Services were instrumental in showing their agility and flexibility to adapt and provide some of their services in a different way. Maintaining their own safety, along with the safety of others, when called to the scene of an incident has required increased provision of Personal Protective Equipment and a regular review of operating practices. The pandemic has created a heightened sense of emotion and anxiety which can sometimes lead to conflict situations. Security Services staff were supported to effectively resolve conflict through a dedicated resolution training session which proved to be hugely beneficial and has helped the team to better understand and view how their actions are perceived by others when handling conflict. Conflict is often a difficult part of the Security Services job and can range from large student gatherings to a criminal offence being committed on campus. The training has helped our team to deliver their role with confidence, but also with an awareness of how they come across to students, staff, and customers.

The return to campus has also opened up significant opportunities to plan for continuous improvement that may have been more difficult or taken longer to achieve prior to the pandemic happening in 2020. Examples of such include:

  • Estates and Facilities working closely on the provision of Professional Services hubs to meet the requirements of a blended return to work.
  • A single network of teaching space, and the role of the Service in the University-wide Education Spaces Programme to plan for the transformation of teaching space in line with digital transformation and quality standards.
  • Further capital investment into teaching spaces, increasing the provision of collaborative lecture theatres, in addition to further investment into innovative multi-mode / hybrid teaching models.
  • The realignment of Security, Facilities and Locking on a permanent basis, ensuring customer service is efficient, seamless and flexible.
  • Ambition for the Cleaning Service to become a BICS accredited centre.
  • Securing the funding required to make the increases to Cleaning Services permanent.
  • A better focus on housekeeping and facilities services in areas and times of high occupancy.
  • Plans for “flow cleaning” methodology.
  • Increasing the scope of certification in Customer Service Excellence in other areas including the Estates Helpdesk, Office Support and Car Parking operations.

The teams within Estates and Facilities will continue to play a pivotal role, not only in the continued requirement to maintain and keep campus safe but in the provision of front-line customer service as learning, teaching and work is transformed.

Read about our customer focussed services, 2020 to 2021

A mock example of a future investment teaching space

Investment in new learning environments

Throughout 2021, the Service will continue to invest in digital transformation and blended learning across teaching spaces.

The aim of this exciting initiative is to ensure the University continues to invest in and improve its teaching spaces whilst supporting the objectives of Digital Transformation and delivering a positive impact upon Student Education.

£3million capital investment will be made to three further lecture theatres in the Roger Stevens Building, and will significantly transform current traditional and didactive layout, to a blended and collaborative specification.

In 2016, Estates and Facilities Services were instrumental in leading an innovative, sector leading redesign of three lecture theatre spaces. This exciting transformation saw physical space redeveloped enabling group discussion alongside the use of installed technology to allow group work, interaction, communication, and recording.

The combination of physical space changes and innovative use of digital technology was sector leading and gave the University a distinctive edge to support recruitment and student experience.

To ensure future spaces meet both staff and students’ requirements a detailed analysis of customer-based insight on traditional teaching spaces and the collaborative spaces introduced in 2016 was undertaken with partners from the Leeds Institute of Teaching Excellence. The following factors arose and formed the foundations for the 2021 improvements:

  • Current tiered lecture theatres remain highly teacher-centred, and do not allow for collaboration between students, or interaction between teachers and students. Also, the lack of technological integration in lecture theatres reduces the ability to make the best practice use of digital technology to support student learning.
  • The team, during research conducted to explore the adaptation to collaborative lecture spaces across the Higher Education sector, found collaborative teaching spaces were so popular it resulted in the model introduced at Leeds being replicated by other universities, such as Imperial College London.
  • This investment will help address the gap in facilities and teaching space provision. Failure to invest may negatively affect student participation and satisfaction with their experience at Leeds.
  • Creating more innovative spaces will enable staff to change their teaching methodologies in line with the University’s ability to transform and modernise teaching and learning approaches. Teaching will be consistent with current teaching thinking; staff demand and student demand and will directly support the University’s Digital Strategy for Student Education.
  • The introduction of multi-mode technology into collaborative rooms will negate the impact of any reduction in original seating capacity, which has previously affected the ability to provide collaborative learning over didactic learning.

Looking ahead, the team identified several positive outcomes the new spaces will bring to the student and staff community at Leeds. These include:

  • User experience will be significantly improved following the redesign of furniture to allow for group work as well as traditional teaching methods, the provision of interactive touchscreen devices within each student cluster of seats, provision of power and AV inputs for students using their own devices at their seat and microphones for capture of student audio through the lecture capture system. Furthermore, multimode technology will enable student participation both remotely and in room will be introduced alongside improved room specification including lighting, seating, and ventilation.
  • The emerging University Digital Transformation Strategy and its impact upon student education, will benefit directly from this investment into teaching space facilities. A new approach to multi-mode learning and teaching is fasting becoming the norm and will give students the option to participate online or in the room.
  • The following student-focused strategic priorities will be supported by this initiative: “Actively engage and support students in their education – in delivering an outstanding research-led education that attracts, excites and retains students from diverse backgrounds, further utilising technology-based enhancements” (Student Education Strategic Delivery Plan 2018-19).

Over the coming months the Service looks forward to collaborating further with University-wide colleagues to further enhance teaching and learning experiences.

Read about our customer focussed services, 2020 to 2021

A member of the cleaning team, maintaining our clean campus

Providing a safe and clean campus

Establishing an effective cleaning process to manage infection control has been a priority for Cleaning Services.

In March 2020, the majority of the campus and associated buildings were closed because of the country’s first national lockdown. Whilst the campus was still and quiet, the Cleaning Service team, behind the scenes, were busy as bees using Microsoft Teams as a virtual hive.

The whole team came together to understand Covid 19 19 Public Health guidance, infection control industry best practice, risk management and to develop a cleaning plan to support the safe re-opening of campus. Throughout, the team were committed to ensuring all customers were confident with the processes in place and felt reassured that a high standard and consistent approach to cleaning and hygiene was being delivered.

The starting point was to attend an infection control training session delivered by the British Institute of Cleaning Services. The session gave valuable insight into understanding the nature of how viruses and bacteria can spread, the methodologies, equipment and materials to tackle them, and understanding the safe methods of work and personal protective equipment that would be integral to maintaining staff safety and confidence.

One of the key drivers in the re-entry cleaning process was to ensure a consistent standard was adopted campus-wide to encourage a culture of “everyone taking personal responsibility”. This applied to cleaning specification and service level agreements in addition to the provision of hand hygiene products and cleaning materials. Successful implementation was achieved through detailed risk assessment and seeking endorsement of approach by the University’s Campus Re-entry Executive Group.

To support the delivery of a new and enhanced cleaning service level agreement all staff were retrained in cleaning practice designed to reduce the risk of transmission. This involved regular cleaning and sanitising of touch points and shared areas such as offices, teaching spaces and welfare facilities.

Without doubt, Cleaning Services have demonstrated exceptional commitment and flexibility through the pandemic period. The team have kept pace with an ever-changing re-opening plan, buildings that house critical research or operations needed to be serviced throughout and adapted to varying demands due to external and internal factors during the re-opening process.

An important goal for the Head of Service was to ensure that all Cleaning Services staff were confident to return to work and to reduce their concerns while ensuring that they felt fully supported. The positive attitude and behaviours staff demonstrated were overwhelming, with so many colleagues prepared to work longer hours or cover duties, not only to deliver what the University required, but to also support fellow colleagues who may have had to self-isolate, recover or shield. The team handled local complexities such as cleaning while maintaining a social distance and received some wonderful feedback to endorse the quality of the service they provided.

“The support offered by the cleaning team throughout the pandemic has been exemplary. Once initial lockdown restrictions ended and the programme of research re-entry began and cleaning services were instrumental in the ability of Faculties to commence critical research, teaching and onsite operations. The cleaning teams that support Geography, Food Science, SEE and Transport Studies all did an excellent job with the re-entry cleaning and continue to provide excellent critical support in keeping our occupied spaces open. The distribution team were flexible and quick to respond to provide initial supplies of products into schools at the drop of a hat and all of this has been expertly managed by Jill under what continues to be extreme circumstances.”

Robert Finch

Earth and Environment

“I cannot praise the team enough for all the hard work they have done over the last 12 months, from initially making sure all the closed buildings had food and rubbish removed and keeping on top of the cleaning to getting the open buildings Covid 19 safe. The students had appreciated being able to use the open buildings and feel part of the home Faculty.”

Tamsin Barrow

Leeds University Business School

“Cleaning Services have been such an important and critical support service during the Covid 19 pandemic. Their willingness and commitment to be agile and responsive to any issue has played a huge part in the success of the University’s approach to the risks of Covid 19. This has involved sourcing and installing hand sanitiser points, adding extra cleaning materials in all areas of the campus as well as enhanced cleaning, increased frequencies all while the cleaning staff have had to deal and manage with the pandemic personally.
The efforts of all our cleaning staff in managing the fast-changing processes while still maintaining the positive approach to their work has been a real asset to the University during a difficult time. Their hard work and commitment is a fundamental part of the Universities approach to keeping staff and students safe.”

Paul Veevers
Director of Health and Safety

Read about our customer focussed services, 2020 to 2021