How a major global city revolutionized work

The City of Calgary realized that its model of employment was becoming stagnant and misaligned with worker needs. Here’s how officials changed it.

How a major global city revolutionized work
Two-thirds of the modern workforce wishes to work from home, so much so that 36% would choose the option over a pay raise, according to Global Workplace Analytics.
With this in mind, Calgary’s city government, comprised of over 15,000 employees, decided to make its work arrangements better suited to employees. In doing so, the city now offers several multifaceted flexible work programs, including:
  • The Compressed Workweek – allowing employees to work longer hours, but fewer days per week
  • Job sharing – splitting a full-time job between two employees, who are then considered part-time
  • Part-time – employees can temporarily reduce their workload and assumed a prorated salary if life circumstances necessitate fewer hours on the job
  • Telework – allowing employees to work off-site
In addition to these formal provisions, employees also have the option of working in various sites around the city. While operations are headquartered in City Hall, the city has various “hubs” that allow workers to perform job functions in locations across Calgary.
“Lots of people do flex-work informally, not at an assigned work station but from one of several hotelling spaces where they can log into any computer in the building and still accomplish the job,” said human resource advisor Joy Reneker. “That way, even if someone has half an hour between off-site meetings, they can still be productive instead of just sitting around waiting for the next appointment.”
The benefits of these policies became clear when severe flooding shut down many areas in the region in June 2013. Thousands of workers were displaced, but since the infrastructure for flex-work and telework was already in place, transitioning them into remote work was almost seamless.
“Those who didn’t think it would work but were suddenly forced into it found that it did,” said Reneker. “It was a huge boost for the program.”
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