City staff will continue to split their work time between home and the office

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

As pandemic-related health restrictions eased earlier this year, the City of Calgary asked its 5,000 in-house workers who were working remotely to return to the office.

He 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 embraced by city staff and will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

He said staff had proven during the COVID-19 pandemic that productivity while working remotely was solid and there were relatively few issues.

“Employees are looking for more flexibility options, 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 at the City of Calgary in the future.”

The city must be flexible

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

The city’s top official said it was up to workers to determine with their supervisors which days of the week they were in the office and which they worked from home.

He suggested that employers wishing to retain staff need to be flexible.

“We lost a few employees during the pandemic. They contacted me directly to say, ‘I’ve decided I want to work remotely forever. I don’t ever want to be in an office again, so I’m unfortunately going to resign and look for a job that allows me to do that.'”

Can be incorporated into a new contract

The union representing inner city workers agrees with the hybrid work plan.

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

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

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

Since hybrid work will exist for some time to come, Lanovaz said the two parties are considering incorporating it into a new collective agreement.

“There doesn’t seem to be a lot of controversy surrounding it,” he said.

“Always getting something, as you would say, in black and white, on paper, just brings clarity on the rules around something like working from home.”

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