Canadian government goes hybrid as minister challenges back-to-office call

Photo: Federal Building in Ontario

Treasury Board President Mona Fortier insisted the Government of Canada is working to harness the best of office and remote work as she responds to calls for business leaders from officials to return to the office.

In an article for the Citizen of OttawaFortier responded to calls from Canadian Chamber of Commerce President Perrin Beatty for “people to get back to work and for us to get back to as normal an activity as possible.”

It is the latest intervention from a top business executive, following a letter signed by 32 business associations asking that government employees be asked to return to workplaces.

In response, Fortier pointed out that Canadian public servants have “never stopped working and have delivered their services under extremely difficult circumstances when Canadians needed them most: during the pandemic”, working both in person and remotely.

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Now that society has returned to “some semblance of normality”, the public service “is seizing this opportunity to modernize the way we work”.

In the articleFortier said the federal government was “moving from remoteness by necessity to hybrid by design.”

She added, “It gives us the opportunity to harness the best of both in-person and off-site work. In-person work better supports collaboration, team spirit, innovation and a culture of belonging. Being together in the workplace helps teams build trust and learn from each other. At the same time, working offsite can have benefits, such as cost savings. »

Staff working at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and for Canada’s top civil servant, Janice Charette, the Clerk of the Privy Council, are working in the office at least two days a week, Fortier said, with remote work at full time “only in exceptional cases. terms”.

She added, “My department provides guidance to promote a consistent approach across the federal government and collects findings so we can learn from them on how to make hybrid successful and sustainable over the long term.”

Fortier added that this approach also allows the Canadian government to make better use of its buildings. “Along with requirements for less office space, this will reduce costs and greenhouse gas emissions – both from our buildings and from travel.”

Elements of the Government of Canada’s plans for the future of public service assets were outlined by Stephan Déry, Assistant Deputy Minister, Real Property Services, Public Services and Procurement Canada, during a World Government Forum webinar the week last.

Look: Buildings for the future – reimagining the civil service office for the era of flexible working

“Work is an activity, not a place”

Speaking about the future of the workplace, Déry said there is a “strategic opportunity” for the government to provide flexible workplaces for our employees.

“A key aspect of this offering is fit-for-use office space that is green, accessible, inclusive and modern with a functional layout and the latest technology,” Déry said.

“In this vision of the future of work, employees can either work in an office or telecommute from anywhere where they can be productive. Work is an activity, not a place, and that is what is meant to support new ways of working.

The Government of Canada now plans to upgrade 71 of our office complex over the next five years to “truly prepare them for the future of work”, with the offices becoming a magnet for employees who come when they need them. need.

“I believe the office will always be part of the mix, it’s a question of why do we need an office,” he said. “Fewer and fewer people will sit at a workstation for eight hours a day, but the office will become the center where you collaborate, where you create, where you build a sense of community and where you care for each other. I think that’s what the office of the future will be like.

Read more: Within the international network focused on the future of work in the public sector

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