What is it like to work on campus?

Our colleagues in Estates & Facilities Management do a brilliant job to keep our campus clean, safe and looking its best all year round. Melanie Earl, Joanna Harper Grant and Chris Oliver tell us about their essential work on campus during challenging times. 

Melanie Earl, Cleaning Assistant

Cleaning Assistant Melanie Earl wearing a face covering

Can you tell us about your role and where you work?

I’ve worked at the University for five years and I’m based in the Geography building. I’ve been working on campus throughout lockdown.

My role is to clean the Geography building. I empty the bins, clean the toilets, make sure classrooms are clean, tidy and hoovered. At the moment, we are sanitising all touchpoints, tables, lifts, handrails, anywhere where anyone is going to be. That’s why I am here.

I do 6am - 10am, and then 10am - 2pm which is predominantly sanitising and then we’ll have another team coming in for the later shift to clean and sanitise again.

How has your role changed since Covid-19 hit?

As well as all the extra sanitising, we’re also using new antiviral cleaning sprays. We’re wearing gloves and masks when we’re working. We’ve been working this way since March so we’re getting used to all the new ways and it’s become the new norm.

Joanna Harper Grant, Facilities Assistant

Can you tell us about your role and where you work?

I’m a Facilities Assistant. I’ve worked in every building across campus, but most of the time now I work in the Arts Tower.

I’m based on the main reception desk and we greet students, staff and contractors as well as directing people to where they want to go, taking parcels and answering questions.

How has your role changed since Covid-19 hit?

I was on furlough from the start of lockdown until August. When I came back, it was quite difficult at first because there’s been a lot of changes with getting things ready for term. There’s been a lot of time spent by staff to make the campus as safe as possible.

We’ve got hand sanitisers everywhere and masks to give out in case students and staff have forgotten them. There’s definitely less students on campus compared to usual and they’re coming on site in small groups. Normally the Arts Tower entrance gets quite busy but we’ve been redirecting students through Western Bank and over the bridge if they want to get to the upper floors.

The thing I’ve noticed most over the last few weeks is that we’ve become a main point of contact for students. We’ve been reassuring them and helping them find where they need to go for lectures, registration and finding support on campus. As access is restricted in some areas and social distancing is in place, we’ve had to help them find their way around buildings. It’s been challenging but really rewarding as we’ve been able to help them and make them feel safe.

Chris Oliver, Landscape Team Leader

Landscape Team Leader, Chris Oliver

Can you tell us about your role and where you work?

I’m the Landscape Team Leader for the city centre area. We look after all the plants and green spaces around the main part of campus and the public realm areas like Leavygreave Road. We are flexible though, so sometimes I work at the student residences or the AMRC.

There are a lot of trees, especially at the students residences, and if leaves are left they can cause slips and trips so we clear them out of the way. As we move into winter, we’ll be working to clear any snow and ice and keep access routes safe.

How has your role changed since Covid-19 hit?

We’re doing a similar job as before lockdown started as Covid hasn’t really affected nature! I was on furlough for six weeks. When the team came back from furlough or from helping in other areas, we had to restart weeding and pruning to stop the green spaces from being overgrown.

We don’t go in buildings very much anyway as we work outside most of the time so I feel safe. We keep our distance from each other in staff rooms and we try to stick to one staff member in a van where possible.

We’ve been helping out more with the hard landscaping and we’ve all pulled together to make sure everything is running smoothly on campus.