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Return on public servants to the office depends

Posted in Canada, Featured

Published on July 22, 2020 with No Comments

Working from home to continue for most for “foreseeable future,” says Treasury Board.In the four weeks since Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos announced public servants might start their gradual return to office, employees in the National Capital Region are still wondering how long they’ll be working from home (WFH)

A post on Reddit last week asked the question: “When will WFH end?” 

It garnered 117 speculative comments. 

In August? After Labour Day? In January? Will the maximum capacity for the building be capped at 25 per cent? Will employees’ on-site days be staggered?

One user who calls themselves kristin_loves_quiet wrote in the Canada Public Servants subreddit, “I don’t think any of us will go back full-time. That’s not the sense I get from the communications we get internally.”

Other Redditors speculated that there could be serious logistical issues with getting back into office towers via the elevators, while maintaining social distancing. 

“My Department crunched numbers and found it would take 21 hours to process incoming workers entering the building and reaching their workstations if following all precautionary measures. Suffice it to say, we’re gonna be home for a while,” wrote a user called themselves shovelhooker.

One union that represents federal public servants says they have been talking to the government about the challenges of getting people in and out of offices while keeping a safe distance, in the on-going efforts to keep the transmission of COVID-19 at bay.

“Imagine you’re in a tower with 20 floors, for example, and you’re waiting on the 15th floor to get on the elevator,” said Debi Daviau, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC).

“And it really doesn’t matter which direction it comes from, you’re never going to get on that elevator … if you can only fit one or two people in.”

The obstacles of returning to work during the pandemic would make for a great topic of conversation around the water cooler, if only workers were allowed to congregate around water coolers. But it does not appear that WFH will end any time soon for many of Ottawa’s public servants.

Duclos announced on June 22 that most federal workers will be doing their jobs remotely for the foreseeable future — some permanently.

Each department was directed to create its own plan for returning workers to their physical workplace. Most have not announced dates when in-office work might start, and plans could change depending on whether there’s a second wave of the novel coronavirus in the fall.


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