City employees will continue to split work hours between home and office

Thousands of city workers won’t be back in the office full-time for some time. If ever.

As health restrictions for the pandemic eased earlier this year, the City of Calgary urged its 5,000 internal employees who had been working remotely to return to the office.

It suggested starting with three days at the office and two days at home each week.

City manager David Duckworth said the hybrid arrangement has been welcomed by city staff and will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

He said employees have proven during the COVID-19 pandemic that remote work productivity is solid and there are relatively few issues.

“Employees are looking for more flexibility, and as an employer, we want to be an employer of choice,” Duckworth said.

“We know remote work will be a big part of many positions here in the city of Calgary in the future.”

The city must be flexible

As an employer, the city must remain competitive with other governments and the private sector.

The city’s top bureaucrat said it’s up to workers to clarify with their managers what days of the week they’re in the office and what days they’re working from home.

He suggested that employers who want to retain their employees must show flexibility.

“We lost some employees during the pandemic. They reached out to me directly to say, ‘I’ve decided I want to work remotely forever. I never want to go back to an office, so unfortunately I’m going to be quitting and looking for a job that allows me to do that.'”

Can be included in new contract

The union, which represents the city’s indoor workers, is on board with the hybrid work schedule.

CUPE Local 38 President D’Arcy Lanovaz said there had been a period of adjustment as city office staff were forced to work from home when the pandemic began.

But after two years, he senses widespread support for the city’s new working model.

“Our members welcomed it,” Lanovaz said. “After two years, people have created a new rhythm that I think works well for work-life balance.”

Given that hybrid work will be around for some time, Lanovaz said both sides are talking about including it in a new collective agreement.

“There doesn’t seem to be much controversy about it,” he said.

“Anytime putting something, as you would say, on paper in black and white just brings clarity to what rules apply to something like working from home.”

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