Information on working from home

E-mail from the President

Dear colleagues,

Coronavirus infections in Germany have slowed considerably in recent weeks.  The number of new infections is now well below the values seen in March and April, and for several weeks, that number has been only a few hundred cases each day across Germany. That shows that the new Coronavirus is still present in the population. However, the probability of becoming infected in everyday life is considerably lower today than it was three or four months ago. Given this, we are able to repeal the very far-reaching home-office regulations which were introduced at the University of Tübingen.

From August 1, 2020 at the latest, full-time working from home will no longer be the rule at the University of Tübingen. We will return instead to the regulations which existed at the University of Tübingen prior to the pandemic and which are set out in the agreements on tele-commuting and on irregular working from home on a case-by-case basis.

The University’s health and safety offices have developed and implemented a comprehensive infection protection plan which is regularly updated. Today I am therefore requesting all employees currently working from home to return to their regular on-site workplaces soon, if the nature of their workplace allows it in accordance with the current infection protection plan. In all cases where the plan’s provisions cannot be met due to the physical limitations of the space, I ask the employees and their superiors to work together on the spot to find practical solutions without compromising safety.  In difficult cases, the Occupational Health and Safety and University Medical Services are available to provide advice.

In the following cases, Home Office may be an option in the future:

  • Lack of child care when schools and kindergartens are not on vacation: As you know, the state and local governments are working to get kindergartens and schools back up to their full operations. But not all these institutions are fully open again. However, in many cases, schools and kindergartens have at least partly re-opened. If your individual situation does not yet allow for a full return to your usual place of work, please speak to your superior and seek solutions with her/him as to how you can manage both child care and work. The same goes for employees who need to care for family members.
  • Staff in high-risk categories: All workspaces at the University should, as a matter of principle, be arranged so as to minimize the risk of infection. A major component of this is the entry ban for all persons who currently or in the previous 14 days have had contact with a COVID-19 patient or who themselves currently have symptoms of a respiratory infection or fever, a cough, limb pain, or whose sense of smell or taste is impaired. Insofar as two or more employees have to work in one room, the risk of infection must be minimized by observation of a distance of 1.5 meters, sufficient ventilation, and the use of transparent barriers where necessary.  Alternating working hours in the workspace can also help to reduce the risk of infection in this case. I ask employees who are in a high-risk category for severe complications if they contract COVID-19 to speak to their superior regarding the organization of their workspace. The Medical Service can offer advice in individual cases. In the rare cases that safe use of the workspace cannot be realized, the home office option is still available.
  • Rising infection rates: We must all be prepared for the general infection situation to deteriorate again, at the latest in the autumn or the winter. If the number of new infections rises steeply in our region, the University of Tübingen will be able to respond quickly. In that situation, the University will be able to send more employees into the home office situation. Please understand that such decisions must be made by the University’s management. Faculties, institutes and departments may not act independently in this matter.

We will be negotiating with the staff council to update the agreement on tele-commuting and we will seek precautionary agreements for periods of increased risk of infection.

Finding appropriate responses to the pandemic will continue to be a challenge for many months to come. Therefore I ask all of you to maintain your vigilance with regard to preventing infection. I very much hope that all our employees get through this crisis with their health intact. At the same time, we have a great responsibility to our students, who rightly expect high-quality teaching and services. My goal is to keep the University running smoothly - even against the backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic. By working together, we have achieved a great deal in the past months. Research, teaching and services were maintained under very difficult circumstances. Each and every one of you has made a contribution to that in your respective area. And I once more thank you for it.

Sincerely yours,

Professor Dr. Bernd Engler

Agreement on tele-commuting:
https://uni-tuebingen.de/de/128093#c893047 (requires login to the intranet)