City of Calgary bringing workers back to the office

Supervisors allowed fewer days than employees to work from home

City of Calgary bringing workers back to the office

The City of Calgary is implementing a new standardized process to bring workers back to the office on a more regular basis.

Starting March 6, all “people leaders, including supervisors, leaders and above,” will be allowed to work remotely just one day per week.

Meanwhile, all other employees approved to work from home due to the pandemic can continue to work remotely for a maximum of two days per week.

“We believe this move strikes a balance between giving city staff flexibility and ensuring we have the in-person connections that are key to collaboration and team building,” says the city manager’s office in a Global News report. “The City of Calgary has always valued flexible work and we are proud of how staff were able to adjust quickly during the pandemic to follow the provincial work-from-home mandate.”

Culture was the reason behind the move, according to the government. 

"We felt we needed to get a majority of our staff back to work," says David Duckworth, city manager, in a CBC report. "For our culture and our organization, we value – strongly – in-person, face-to-face contact."

Workers complain

The city manager's directive does not violate the union's collective agreement, says D'Arcy Lanovaz, of local 38 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), in the CBC report. 

However, workers do have complaints.

"People have had a work-from-home arrangement in place for several years now that they certainly see as working. They're able to get the work done," says Lanovaz. "Their view is they're actually highly productive if not more productive than when they're at the employer's workplace."

Others hit back at the government for the directives’ impact on the environment, says Lanovaz.

"Many are questioning, why are you making me commute in more often if we want to be an environmental city and a leader in that front? Why are we forcing more commuting? Why are we clogging up the roadways?"

James Bailey, professor and Hochberg fellow of leadership development, George Washington University, claims that people’s reluctance to return to the office is having a negative impact on downtown cores.

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