Post COVID-19 new ways of working – what it means for higher education institutions in London
May 11, 2021
As COVID-19 restrictions ease across the UK, the trend towards remote and flexible working presents an opportunity to transform how those in the higher education (HE) sector work.
PwC and London Higher recently held a roundtable to discuss the future of work post COVID-19 for higher education institutes (HEIs) in London. But as our session covered, a new operating model needs to be balanced against challenges that include differing wants and needs of employees and students, as well as a unionised workforce. We discovered there are a number of issues to consider, and each HEI has its own challenges, dependent upon its particular focus. With no ‘one size fits all’ model, what considerations should HEIs consider to get the balance right?
Like many other sectors, the last year provides an opportunity for HEIs to consider what is the right operating model for their university. Open discussions within the sector to share insight and experiences play a key role in striking the right balance, or ‘deal’ - one that satisfies key stakeholders as well as delivering employee and student wellbeing. The last year, for instance, has levelled the playing field and universities’ professional services employees are now being afforded, or expecting, the same flexibility which academic employees have had for some time.
There were some workforce transformation considerations commonly being experienced across the sector. For instance a poll run during the session found 88% of attendees felt their operating model would be ‘much more’ or ‘at least ‘slightly more’ virtual than pre-COVID, demonstrating that all HEIs will need to adapt to the new ways of working.
Likewise, most universities when asked whether they currently have a clear ‘deal’ with employees that both employee and employer understand 75% responded ‘not really’ or ‘only in some ways’. Most also recognised the importance of addressing mental health concerns, not just in respect to students but also university employees.
Indeed, there is a lot for the sector to consider in finding the right operating model to suit the university and its numerous stakeholders. Capitalising on this opportunity for change, and ensuring it is done in the most effective way, is evidently and understandably a key consideration of many in the sector.
Whether you missed the session, or joined and would like to discuss workforce transformation further with PwC please do reach out to us. We would be happy to assist your HEI in its journey towards the new ways of working, and managing the balance between employee experience and the needs of the student.