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Keeping the Lights on During a Lockdown

Bill Somerville
Bill Somerville, Director of Estates & Property Services, writes about the challenges the Estates team have overcome to ensure staff and students are supported during the lockdown period.

For many departments and schools in RGU, transitioning to a work-from-home arrangement has been a challenge which has been made possible with a combination of technology and the nature of their work. However, for the Estates team, which oversees 107,000 m2 of property, including six academic buildings and five support buildings, plus 912 student beds over four sites, it’s virtually impossible for us to do it all online. And yet, the team has adapted to the situation due to its resilience, flexibility and willingness to collaborate and support each other during this challenging time.

As a tight-knit team, our department has always had regular meetings with each other and draw a lot of our energy and enthusiasm through face to face interactions. While Microsoft Teams is a popular tool that has replaced these meetings, there are some staff members who are unable to access this technology. To ensure they are included and supported during these challenging times, we are having regular telephone conversations with these individuals and provide them with any help they need.

The janitorial and campus support services teams have been front and centre of this new way of working. Although many buildings are unoccupied, they may encounter issues like leaks or unexpected outages. A small team of janitors regularly perform safety checks, carry out essential inspections and continue to maintain campus security. This will ensure that after the lockdown period has ended, staff and students can safely return to a fully functioning campus and resume their work and studies smoothly.

The Estates team has also been working hard to ensure student support services are not impacted during this period. While cleaning of flats at RGU accommodation sites has been suspended for the safety of staff and students, teams are cleaning lobbies, stairwells, laundry areas etc. as part of our constant efforts to provide the best level of customer service possible within the constraints of current challenging conditions. Cleaning teams have been carrying out their work using appropriate PPE and observing the two metre distancing rule to protect themselves and the students.

While we don’t know when the lockdown will end and restrictions be eased, we will continue to ensure that the staff, students and both the campus and student residences are well cared for during this period so we are set up for success when transitioning to business as usual.

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