Questions and answers - employees
The questions and answers were checked or published 23 November 2020. If there have been updates or additions after that it will be indicated in connection with the answer.
The questions are divided into four main areas:
Working from home
Who is responsible for the work environment during temporary work at home?
As usual, the employer is responsible for providing a work environment free from risks and shortcomings. The employer's responsibility according to the work environment legislation also applies to temporary work at home and to agreed telework.
The employer must ensure that the work environment and the design of the workplace do not entail a risk of ill health or accidents. If necessary, the employer and the safety organization should be given access to the remote workplace in order to, for example, ensure that equipment installation and safety are satisfactory.
The employee must notify the employer in the event that there are risks or risks arises in the work environment when working at home. The work space must be designed and arranged so that it is suitable from a work environment point of view, the employee is responsible for preparing the work space at home with this in mind.
What risks in the work environment should I pay special attention to when working temporarily at home?
Employees have differences in their ability of adapting to temporary work at home. Working temporarily at home places higher demands on the employee's independence, adaptability and flexibility. Temporary work at home can bring benefits, but can also lead to some employees experiencing loneliness, isolation or lack of motivation. For example, someone who is not confident in handling the technical solutions required, or who has a personality type where contact with other people is important, can be negatively affected.
This means that the manager, who has employer's responsibility and is responsible for tasks within the work environment, needs to think about certain things.
With temporary work at home comes risks in the work environment that may not be present in the workplace.
Common such risks are:
- Poor working position due to that the workplace is not designed for work by the computer, which leads to an increased risk of musculoskeletal disorders. Therefore, you need to take breaks more often, and strengthen and stretch the neck, shoulders, arms, back, etc. through physical exercises.
- Lack of sufficient lighting and visual ergonomics due to that the workplace is not designed for monitor work, which leads to an increased risk of eye strain and injuries. The screen should, for example, be placed so as to avoid reflections and so that the distance and angle between the eye and the screen are good enough.
- Lack of social contacts in the work environment due to isolation, which increases the risk of anxiety, depression, mental illness, substance abuse and hazardous use.
How can we in the working group handle the risk of lack of social contacts in the work environment during the temporary work at home?
The working group can make suggestions on how you can organize the work. Make suggestions to the manager, discuss at the workplace meeting or other equivalent meeting. Suggestions to consider:
- Have a routine where all employees check in and check out each working day on a digital attendance list that is visible to everyone.
- Ask all employees to open appropriate parts of their calendar to the manager and the immediate workgroup, so that you understand why you cannot reach the manager or colleagues and can see when someone is available.
- Decide, in consultation with the working group, which is the main communication channel for you.
- Maintain a routine for a common digital coffee break daily or with other regularity. Agree on whether it is ok during the coffee break to discuss how you feel and what strategies you have for dealing with your situation. Also agree to jointly evaluate how the coffee break works.
- If you cannot hold a regular daily digital coffee break, investigate whether you can instead create a "virtual coffee machine", i.e. a virtual meeting place where those who need to take a break from work can log on and talk to each other.
- Refer employees if necessary to the school's HR for psychological and social support and guidance. Let all employees know that the support is available. Follow up if the support works.
- Maintain a routine in the working group for a joint digital meeting every day or every week. Set the agenda in advance.
- Allow all employees to practice handling different digital meetings. Can someone who is more knowledgeable instruct others?
- Remind each other of the importance of keeping a daily routine where you log in at the usual time each working day, keep lunchtimes and log out after the end of the working day. Also remind yourself of the importance of sleeping properly, of daily exercise and that the wellness hour is available.
- It might be possible to redistribute tasks. Some tasks are better suited to be performed at home than others, and therefore not everyone may be able to fill their working hours through temporary work at home. It is the manager's assessment that applies whether the employee can work from home or on campus. The manager has the opportunity to redistribute so that the person who temporarily has "too little" to do, can take over some tasks from someone who has a lot to do. It is important to point out, however, that redistribution will never be completely fair. Redistribution of tasks can be positive, as it leads to skills transfer, skills development and sometimes business development.
- Give your working group tips about alternative digital working methods.
- Agree in the working group on common rules for “digital common sense and etiquette”, for example for video conferencing and chat. One can have different opinions about this. For example, should participants sit in a room by themselves but tell their coworkers if they are not by themselves?
Can I bring home computer equipment for temporary work at home?
The manager can give permission for the employee to borrow certain equipment from the workplace. This applies to:
- Computer (stationary or portable)
- Web camera (unless built in, like in a portable computer)
- Computer mouse
- Docking station for portable computer
- Ergonomic aids for the computer workplace, such as forearm rest
You can also take home aids that the employer, after a prescription from the occupational health service or another specialist in work adaptation, bought for a given employee. This can be, for example, a special chair or seat cushion for an employee who has back problems.
It is important to transport the equipment to the home appropriately. The common way of transporting home a computer, monitor, keyboard and pointing device in the way you usually travel from work.
The employer does not reimburse any supplementary purchases of equipment that the employee makes or wishes to make. Anyone who can work from home is recommended to work from home. If the employee cannot work from home, the employee shall work at the workplace.
Can KTH send goods home to its employees?
All purchases, except flowers and digital gift cards/equivalents, made on behalf of KTH must be delivered to a KTH address. Purchases that are to be used by an employee who works remotely can then be sent by post home to the employee. This applies especially to minor things such as a mouse, a new keyboard, a book or a pair of headphones and by agreement with the immediate manager and provided that there is someone on site who can take care of the mail handling. Purchases such as computers, mobile phones and similar equipment that must be be registered in the inventory must be picked up and acknowledged by the person who is to use these products. This has to be done at KTH.
I need new monitor glasses adapted to the laptop screen/screen you have at home. What should I do?
The employer is currently not replacing new monitor glasses adapted to the screen you work by at home. KTH continues to supply for work glasses adapted to the regular workplace if an eye examination shows that it is needed. Anyone who can work from home is recommended to work from home. If the employee cannot work from home, the employee shall work at the workplace. Read more about Work/VDU glasses .
We need to stretch and move our bodies when we temporarily work from home. Where can we get tips on how to do it? We want to prevent new occupational injuries.
It is good if the manager encourages to take breaks and promotes physical activity.
Feel free to remind colleagues of the wellness hour and the wellness allowance.
Strive to take breaks between different digital meetings. Strive to keep the meetings short, maximum 45-60 minutes. If the meetings are longer, it is recommended that you take a break to leave the screen and to move around, if possible.
You can familiarize yourself with, and convey the occupational health care service Avonova’s advice when working from home. Ergonomics for working at home .
You can also inform about Pausit. Pausit is a break program for the computer, an aid mainly for sedentary staff and students to move briefly during the day to prevent problems with the body. Pausit offers simple movements, stretching, breathing and relaxation exercises that are displayed in a user-friendly way. You can choose when, how often, for how long and at what times you want to use the aid. At the hours of the day you have selected, you will receive a clear but discreet reminder in the bottom right corner, you decide for yourself whether you want to start the session then or not. An animated trainer appears on the screen and shows simple exercises that you follow. More info and how to install Pausit .
Can I divide the wellness hour into several pieces so that I get more and shorter breaks when working from home?
No. The recommendation is to encourage a cohesive wellness hour and that the employee takes the breaks they need, in addition to the wellness hour, for the body and the mind to cope with the work.
Also see the occupational health care service Avonova’s advice for when working at home. Ergonomics for working at home .
What is the difference between "temporary work at home" and regular teleworking? Some employees usually work from home sometimes even under normal circumstances.
Where possible, employees should temporarily work at home after consulting with their immediate supervisor. It is the manager/supervisor who decides. The temporary work in the home takes place in home and not elsewhere. The employer and the employee can agree on a time for the employee to report for duty at the workplace.
The telework is based on the telework agreement between the employer and the employee organizations. In essence, the agreement means that teleworking may only form part of the working week, a maximum of 60% of the weekly working hours. Teleworking must be voluntary and based on a written agreement between the employee and KTH. Teleworking takes place at home. It must also be clarified how and when the employee is reached, for example through external contacts or by colleagues. For more info see the teleworking agreement .
How are employees insured during temporary work at home?
During temporary work at home (as well as for agreed telework at home), the occupational injury insurance applies. Unlike when working at the workplace, it is required that accidents at work in the home have a direct connection with the work you are to perform or are performing. This means that you have injured yourself in connection with the performance of your duties. For example, if you injure yourself while brewing coffee in the kitchen at home, it does not count as a work accident, even if it occurs during set working hours. If an accident occurs that is not deemed to have occurred in connection with work, it is the employee's own insurance that will cover these events.
In the event of an accident, occupational injury and incident during telework or temporary work at home, an incident or occupational injury report must be made in accordance with KTH's routine, see Reporting incidents, risks and occupational injuries .
First, the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) has to make an assessment of whether the injury should be classified as an occupational injury and whether the employee is entitled to compensation from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency. In addition to their assessment, you can report and apply for compensation from Särskild personskadeskydd, PSA (Personal Injury Agreement) via AFA Försäkring, which in turn makes its assessment. An employee who performs their work at home and has an accident can be insured for an accident at work in accordance with the Personal Injury Agreement (PSA). However, this presupposes that the accident is in a clear and direct connection with the work that is performed.
In the event of death due to the new Corona virus, the life insurance (Tjänstegrupplivförsäkringen, TGL) applies as usual.
What do I do when I have borrowed computer equipment to my home but will also work at KTH?
Smaller equipment such as pointing devices and keyboards should be able to be moved between the home and the workplace. If it is not possible to move equipment, the recommendation is that you, together with your manager, make the assessment of where the equipment is best suited to be located: at home or at the workplace on campus. Furthermore, there is a possibility that the employer could prepare some workstations at work, where the employees can take turns working at. The possibilities look different at different divisions/units. It is important that the workstation is cleaned between uses.
Can you get reimbursed for internet expenses at home and for toner for your own printer?
KTH does not reimburse costs for internet in the home. The goal is flexibility for work in the workplace and at home. The recommendation for those who do not have enough internet capacity is to talk to their manager about the possibility of being equipped with a KTH smartphone and connect via internet sharing. You have to settle with your manager on how to handle any other costs that may arise as expenses. Maybe you can otherwise organize the work in another way, e.g. that you send documents to a colleague who is at KTH who can print.
What can we do to create peace of mind when we work at home and are exposed to distractions we are not used to in a work context?
Structure the day based on what works for you. If it is difficult to focus or if there are disruptions, it is important to maintain discipline and routines to create peace of mind. Try for example to plan the most important work tasks for before lunch, when the children are not home and when you are perhaps most alert. Everyday work is not as it used to be. Some things work better, others worse. It is something that is important to have a dialogue about with colleagues and the manager, for example at the workplace meeting.
What can we do to reduce stress and let go of job-related thoughts in our free time, when the home has become our workplace? There is a feeling that we need to be constantly available.
Raise the issue with your manager or at the workplace meeting. If the expectations of for example availability are set together with colleagues and the manager, they are clarified and can consequently reduce stress and anxiety. It is important to have a balance between working life and leisure even during the pandemic, in order to have a sustainable working life. Get tips on how to go about it and read more on the intranet: Stress and stress management .
Do I have to work from home, can I work remotely from another place in Sweden or from abroad?
Working remotely should normally be done in your home. As an employee you must be available to come to your physical working place within the normal time frame if you are asked to do so by your employer. In the case of telework, an agreement must be drawn up between the employee and the manager. During the current crisis, however, temporary work from home applies, which differs from teleworking and does not require a written agreement. If this changes in the future, the employer will inform about it. If your manager agrees, it is possible to work from other locations than your home, for example a summer cottage within commuting distance from KTH. It is important to remember that the PSA agreement (workplace insurance) does not cover work in any other remote location than your home.
Work performed outside Sweden's borders can only take place in an orderly manner through a URA agreement on overseas contracts (read more about Stationing Abroad – URA, in Swedish ) or on a short business trip abroad. Work from abroad cannot be done in any other way.
Why is it so important to switch between being at home and at work in the middle of the pandemic, for us who can do our job completely from home?
The President has made the assessment that the basic principle of at least two days campus work and the possibility of up to three days work from home is important for maintaining good quality at work and in the work environment, and at the same time reducing the risks of infection. The basic principle of two days campus work is however paused until May 31, 2021.
Not all employees can work this way. Some are constantly needed on campus. Employees consults with their manager. It is the manager's assessment that applies.
How do you look at alternating work in the future and how does it affect the work environment?
The alternating work has a great impact on the individual, group and work environment. The Personnel Department / Human Resources, is developing methods in the systematic work environment to try to manage the work environment as well as possible. Within the collaboration organization, “work environment” is a standing item on the agenda to keep the dialogue constantly up to date. Read more about Work environment at KTH. Read more about Staff collaboration .
An important part of alternating work is to make sure to include everyone: both those who are at work and those who are at home, how can this be done best?
The recommendation is joint coordination meetings for the daily work, and to hold regular workplace meetings (APT) to discuss how you are doing at work, to find solutions to difficulties that arise, to develop the business in collaboration between employee and manager. Issues raised at a workplace meeting are concerning "how we feel", i.e. concerning work environment, gender equality and equal treatment, working conditions, impact on the individual and group, etc. The recommendation is that the manager creates the opportunity to follow up their employees both in groups and individually when needed. It is also good if the manager can be available for the needs of the employees. Read more about Staff collaboration and Conducting workplace meetings .
How should one relate to the fact that some may experience injustices, either around some being allowed to be at work and not me or vice versa; that some can work at home and not me?
It can be more difficult for both manager and employee to deal with disagreements in work groups when we work alternately on campus and from home. There is a risk that conflicts are more difficult to handle. It can be good to use the workplace meeting to address how we are doing, what difficulties there are and how we can find solutions. At the workplace meeting, things that need to be developed and improved at work or at the workplace, including the part of the work that takes place from home, are discussed in collaboration. Read more about Staff collaboration and Conducting workplace meetings .
Does KTH follow the Swedish Public Health Agency's recommendations saying that we should work from home?
Yes. The Swedish Public Health Agency recommends that you work from home if possible, but at the same time states that there can be negative consequences of long-term homework, and that the employer who has the responsibility for the work environment must take this into account. It is therefore important to find a balance between working remotely and in the workplace, that enables operations to function while a good working environment is maintained. At the same time work must be able to be carried out in a way that prevents the spread of infection and without the load on public transport becoming too great. The assessment is that this can be fulfilled with two days of work at the workplace combined with good planning and personal responsibility. This principle is however paused until May 31, 2021.
The Swedish Public Health Agency writes in its recommendation on remote working:
“As before, work from home must be chosen in agreement with the employer so that operations do not suffer from negative effects. For the employer, it is important that work from home is carried out with work environment aspects in mind. ”
President Sigbritt Karlsson develops this in the article “ We need each other at work ”.
What are the procedures when most people work from home but I work on campus and am completely alone on my floor?
If you work entirely by yourself, it is important that your unit/work group has routines for check-in and check-out with a designated colleague/colleagues and/or manager. It can for example take place via a group chat on Slack or Zoom, by phone, digital meeting or e-mail. This is important for example in case of an accident or if you suddenly become ill. Also keep in mind that some tasks cannot be performed based on safety aspects.
If you are a few who work on your floor or in your building, you need to inform the other present colleague(s) when you come and go so that someone knows where you are during working hours. Alternatively, inform your manager or designated colleague who works from home. It is important that you have routines and that these are communicated to everyone.
Will the employer still call for employees continued social distancing of 1.5-2 meters and other rules of conduct from the Swedish Public Health Agency?
Yes, both the employer KTH and the education provider KTH should encourage employees, students, guests and visitors to keep 1.5-2 meters apart, to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and warm water often, to cough and sneeze in the arm fold and to stay at home if you feel symptoms or are sick and to remain at home for 48h after you are no longer showing or experiencing symptoms.
Can we receive visitors from abroad? If yes, what are the rules and regulations? Should you be quarantined if you arrive from certain countries?
We can receive visitors from abroad, provided that we follow the directives of the Government and the Public Health Agency. Read more at Krisinformation.se . where there is information about, among other things, travel bans and recommendations on self isolation and home quarantine.
How does the employer view the use of oral protection (e.g. masks) among employees? Is it ok for employees to work on their own initiative with masks covering their mouth?
It's OK for employees to wear masks. It is up to each one as long as the mask does not pose a work environment risk any other way. As always, workers and students have a responsibility to comply with safety regulations in the work- and study environment. Keep in mind that the use of masks eliminates the ability to read lips for people with hearing loss, which means that they may find it difficult to make us of teaching and information. KTH complies with the authorities' directives on oral protection and KTH has not yet made a decision on a central level to order safety gear or masks for employees
Some employees sit in open office landscapes/ shared offices and we need to ensure that there are sufficient distance between colleagues. Can we be as many as before in the same room?
If the recommended distance of 1.5-2 meters between employees to prevent the spread of COVID-19 cannot be assured, the employer needs to take action. The employer shall evaluate the risks in the workplace.
Is it ok to mark up an appropriate distance in the lunch room?
If employees’ don´t have enough space to keep a distance of 1.5-2 meters apart, the employer needs to take action. The employer shall evaluate the risks in the workplace and this also applies to the kitchens, pantries, dining areas and communal spaces. If necessary, preventive procedures shall be put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is the local employer who looks over their own premises. If several organizational units share premises, the employer representatives shall coordinate the preventive measures. Marking up distance in the lunch room can be a good measure to create safety and security. Information about cautious approaches and local health and safety practices in the lunch room are other optional measure.
We believe that larger meetings should continue to be held digitally. The number of people to attend meetings physically should be limited. Is that true?
For larger meetings you should use digital meeting forms where appropriate to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Other meetings are assessed by the employer who makes risk assessments and amends any fixable flaws and/or risk factors.
What about travels between home and KTH?
The employee is responsible for the way he is to get to and from the job/training provider. Keep in mind that it is possible for the employer and workers to review working hours. The manager assesses whether it is possible to shift the working time so that the worker avoids rush hour traffic.
What measures does my supervisor take to ensure my safety at work?
The work environment is everyone’s responsibility. This becomes clear when each and every one has the responsibility to prevent spreading COVID-19. Supervisors are tasked with providing a good work environment. Employees needs to point out risks and safety flaws as well as following the given safety instructions in order to improve the work environment. Safety representatives has a legal right to attend and cooperate with supervisors, in planning of/making improvements and changes in the work environment.
At KTH’s work environment web forums you will find information and guidelines for you in your role as a supervisor, safety representative or employee. More information regarding the different roles
How does the janitorial staff and cleaners adjust the cleaning of our workplace?
The janitorial staff and cleaners will temporarily extend the basic cleaning so that high risk surfaces such as handles, bathrooms, and railing are cleaned more often.
I am at my workplace and do not feel sick, but not quite well either. What should I do?
Talk to your manager and go home straight away. It is about protecting both colleagues and operations.
Can I get vaccinated against COVID-19 without taking time off?
Yes, it is allowed to be vaccinated during working hours. However, this applies specifically to vaccination against COVID-19. In general, vaccinations should be performed outside working hours.
Do I, as an employee, have to come to the workplace now? What are the opportunities to work from home?
Employees can, in agreement with their immediate supervisor, work temporarily from home if and when the tasks allow. The assessment of tasks and their suitability for work from home is done by the employer/supervisor. An employee cannot decide to be absent from work. Absence from work without this having been approved in advance by the manager constitutes absence without leave.
Note, however, that the basic principle of two days campus work is paused until May 31, 2021.
What working hours apply during the current situation with the pandemic?
Respective employees' working time agreements or individual agreements apply as usual.
Flextime applies as usual to the employees covered by the flextime agreement (technical and administrative staff). Flexible working hours within the frame can be used if the work can be carried out at the level of service required.
The manager can give the employees who have flextime agreements, the opportunity for shifted working hours within the flex frame, to increase infection control, e.g. so that the employee does not have to travel with public transport during rush hour traffic. Working hours must not be shifted outside the flex frame.
What can we do to support doctoral students and postdocs during the pandemic?
If necessary, increased supervision should be offered, as well as increased monitoring of the doctoral studies for doctoral students. All doctoral students and postdocs can contact supervisors and/or HR if they feel unwell or have questions due to the pandemic, stricter general advice or related.
As some of KTH's doctoral students and postdocs have a limited social network in Sweden, outside of the social interaction that usually takes place at work, there may be a need to regularly hear about the general state of the doctoral student/postdoc. Maybe you need to recommend the doctoral student/postdoc to take contact with the company nurse at the occupational health service to schedule an appointment. The company nurse makes an inventory of the balance between tension and relaxation, food, sleep, mood, and whether you may need counselling, or be referred to the company doctor. This applies to doctoral students with salary. Doctoral students with a scholarship can be referred to the student health service. Industrial doctoral students can be referred to the company where they are employed.
Now that social gatherings and activities (activities at KTH, association/society activities, gyms, etc.) do not have as much activity, there is an increased risk of feeling lonely. Proposals for measures can then for example be if the doctoral students and postdocs who live close to each other can be helped to arrange meetings outdoors. Special workplace meeting aimed at doctoral students and postdocs about how they are doing, what needs to be developed and improved right now. Involve doctoral students and postdocs in the solution. HR can help.
If you need someone to talk to outside of KTH
What will happen with the public defense of doctoral theses that are planned?
Public defense of doctoral theses will be conducted as planned. If the opponent or members of the examination committee are unable to attend, they should participate remotely. For more information, see Thesis, thesis defence and qualification . For questions, contact the schools research education committee.
What are the safety and order rules regarding the digital tools Zoom and Slack? Where can I find user support information?
For Slack, there are no special rules of order at the moment, but users are expected to act on the basis of the liability agreement they have approved in connection with their KTH account.
Slack is an internal communication tool used by us employees. We have our own responsibility both as employees of a public authority and as coworkers, and must follow KTH's code of conduct. Read more about Rules and recommendations when using Slack .
Regarding the safety and interference aspect in Zoom, detailed information is published on IT Support’s website: .
KTH's liability agreement applies also in Zoom, where you as an employee or student have approved the rules of conduct. In addition, KTH's code of conduct, which exists for both employees and students, must also be followed. Read more about Rules and recommendations when using Zoom .
Information about functionality in Zoom and Slack, and how these functions should be used in the best way in different situations, is published on the following pages: Functionality in Zoom and Functionality in KTH Slack - the digital workplace .
The information posted on these pages is not exhaustive but addresses the most important and relevant issues for us at KTH. There is more detailed information on each system vendor's website.
If there is a need to further clarify certain functionality, you can contact email@example.com .
Zoom is currently being used a lot in teaching and for meetings. But Zoom is a US cloud based service, is it really OK for KTH to use it?
The Zoom service used by the universities in the Nordic countries is not the same as the public service, but a separate installation within NORDUnet. NORDUnet is an association between the university data networks in the five Nordic countries, including Swedish SUNET. The physical servers are located in the Nordic countries, and so is the cloud service being used as back-up. The installation is GDPR compliant and personal data is stored within the EU. NORDUnet is responsible for the agreement with Zoom and monitors its compliance with rules and regulations.
What is KTH’s approach to arranging and paying for COVID-19 tests for its employees?
KTH does not arrange or pay for COVID-19 tests for its employees, rather refers to general healthcare and the tests that are available through this.