Guidelines on maintaining critical functions and staffing at UiO
Maintaining critical functions and staffing in UiO´s buildings after the closure on 12 March, 2020, due to the corona Covid-19 pandemic.
Approved by the University Director on 16 March, 2020
Closure of the University of Oslo
On 12 March, 2020, the government introduced strong measures to prevent the Covid-19 virus from further spreading. The Norwegian Directorate of Health decided to close kindergartens, schools, and educational institutions, including the country´s universities. These measures apply from 18:00 Thursday 12 March until 24:00 Thursday 26 March, 2020. They may be extended.
What does the closure entail?
Since the intention of the closure is to prevent further spreading of the corona infection, it entails a physical closure of the university´s buildings. The closure means that students and staff must not be physically present in UiO´s buildings, rather as far as possible study and work from home.
There is a need to emphasise that UiO has not closed down its operations. UiO wants to continue operations as far as possible without staff or students being physically present in our buildings. However, it is of the utmost importance that critical functions and staffing can be present, ensuring that our research-related values are maintained, that our property is managed in a good way, and that functions related to life and health are safeguarded.
Which functions are necessary for ensuring continued operations in a safe and sound way?
General information about working from home
UiO wants to maintain university operations as far as possible in the given situation. Limitations set down by the authorities mean that we cannot perform our usual tasks while being physically present in the workplace. Staff is working from home as far as possible. Buildings are closed, so staff will not come to work there unless they have been specifically requested to do so.
Working from home is carried out using digital tools as far as possible. Necessary meetings are held by the use of phone or digital solutions, and operations are maintained to contribute to the consequences of the closure being as few and small as possible. We encourage a continuous and good dialogue on available platforms between employees and managers, between colleagues and with other partners.
If the need should arise for equipment or some kind of facilitation, this must be decided on together with the line manager. UiO has the opportunity to connect office phones to private phones, which should better facilitate for working from home, see user guide (Norwegian).
Regular regulations regarding working hours also apply when working from home.
Primary principles for which functions and staffing need to be present in UiO´s buildings
The closure will have large consequences for the running of operations, parts of which may also stop functioning – partially or completely. It is therefore important that we have staffing which ensures continued and proper running of operations, and which may alleviate the negative consequences of the closure.
In this given situation, we are focusing on maintaining necessary functions:
- Staff who need to be present in order to prevent any threats to life or health, or to prevent property, materials, equipment and more from being destroyed or lost.
- For a research-intensive university it is particularly important to maintain functions, materials and property that ensure the safeguarding of irreplaceable research material.
- Safeguarding of UiO´s functions as an employer, for example payment of salaries to our staff.
- Safeguarding UiO´s economic obligations to external partners, for example the payment of invoices related to agreements already entered into.
- UiO´s Central Emergency Management and local emergency managements on faculty level and similar.
These principles form the basis when assessing which critical functions and staffing are deemed a necessary presence in UiO´s buildings for our staff centrally and locally. Faculties and similar units make their own assessments based on the aforementioned principles.
Concretisation of UiO´s critical functions and staffing centrally
General information about technical-administrative functions and staffing
In general, a range of tasks, functions, and services within the technical-administrative field may be carried out while working from home. This applies to work related to studies, research, personnel, finances, communication, and IT.
Some of these disciplines and functions will demand a physical presence at the workplace. These are listed in the following. The overview shows only main areas and is not exhaustive, seeing that the situation might change.
Estate Department (EA)
- Security Operation Centre (VAS)
VAS maintains preparedness and security for personnel, buildings, and technical installations across UiO. VAS is in charge of UiO´s emergency phone and is the primary contact point of the emergency services should they be dispatched to campus. In addition, they monitor – as a regular fixture – temperature, moist, and safety related to UiO´s animals as well as alarm systems for freezers with biological and organic research material. Alarms and alerts will be handled according to regular procedure.
- Maintenance of buildings
The Operations Section will maintain an adequate level of staffing in order to carry out necessary building inspections during this time.
- Maintenance of grounds
The Landscape Services must maintain a certain level of staffing in order to carry out inspections of outside areas – more specifically related to the handling of garbage, landscaping services, and winter preparedness.
The Cleaning Section will carry out supervisory cleaning in toilets, entrances and so on during this time, as well as making sure of necessary extra cleaning in exposed parts of the buildings. The Cleaning Section will also take responsibility for necessary handling of waste.
- Building projects
UiO has building projects both in-house and in cooperation with Statsbygg. So far, instructions from the Norwegian Directorate of Health do not encompass building projects. The closure of universities and colleges therefore does not encompass such projects on university grounds. It is of particular importance that these projects are carried out according to schedule in order to prevent large increases in costs and delays.
- Postal services
Staff needs to be present to deliver critically important mail, such as salary vouchers and medical certificates in paper form necessary for refunds from NAV.
University Centre for Information Technology (USIT)
- A wide variety of USIT functions are carried out from home, though it is critical that a part of the staff have access to UiO´s premises. The most critical IT services are linked to operations of UiO´s infrastructure, our basic systems, some particularly important services and IT security functions. The following staff needs access to UiO´s premises in order to carry out necessary and critical functions:
- All of the above critical functions depend on an operative infrastructure for monitoring, troubleshooting, and error correction should problems arise. USIT therefore needs access to UiO´s premises in instances of critical events for key personnel in Division for IT infrastructure (ITI), Research Computing, and Division for User Services. USIT has a local preparedness group defined in the management system for information security for the University of Oslo. Members of this group, as well as members of UiO´s computer security incident response team UiO-CERT, need to be present.
Department of Administrative Support (ADS)
- There is a need to be physically present for remittance/transfer of payments to the bank, seeing that special security has been installed on the machine where this is done.
- Payment of salaries should normally be possible to run remote from home, but the need might occur for a few people to be physically present. Some of these operations still need to be carried out physically on our premises, for example, we still receive some vouchers in paper form. This demands the presence of a few people from staff, and a work schedule has been made. The following still operate with documentation on paper: foreigners on hourly- or fee-paid contracts, externals who do not have access to the HR portal and some medical certificates. Today´s process requires that the postal service is functioning, and someone locally has to scan the documents to ePhorte. ADS has established temporary solutions for handling certain processes digitally (Norwegian).
- Normally, the budget allocation authority (BDM) procedure requires three physical signatures, amongst others that of the ADS Director. ADS has established a temporary digital procedure in order to provide BDM (Norwegian).
- Should critical errors occur in the systems, whoever is on call must be able to access the premises if necessary. In cases of power outage, someone will need access to turn computers back on so that everyone can work remote from home. Should the need arise to payment by check, some staff must be able to work at the office at Sogn. Training of backup will now be carried out related to the running of salary payments and remittance. This means that employees must be able to enter the premises on the day of training.
Department of Education Services (SADM)
Most tasks related to UiO´s studies can be carried out from home. Some staff do not have the possibility to work from home, and since admissions is a critical function to UiO, some employees will be physically present on campus to handle this.
Emergency and crisis management
Emergency preparedness and crisis management centrally and locally must maintain their presence at UiO. Necessary meetings will also be carried out using digital solutions. Emergency preparedness management centrally and locally must also maintain the necessary apparatus for professional resources in order to follow up on preparedness during the state of emergency now applying to UiO as a closed university. This applies to necessary professional resources within for example communication, personnel, studies, IT and HMSB.