Thousands of city workers will not be back in the office on a full-time basis for some time to come. If ever.
As pandemic health restrictions eased earlier this year, the City of Calgary asked its 5,000 inside workers who had been working remotely to return to the office.
It suggested starting with three days in the office and two days at home each week.
City manager David Duckworth said the hybrid arrangement has been embraced by city staff and it will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
He said staff proved during the COVID-19 pandemic that productivity while working remotely was solid and that there were relatively few problems.
"Employees are looking for more flexibility options, and as an employer, we want to be an employer of choice," said Duckworth.
"We know that remote work will be a big part of many positions here at the City of Calgary going forward."
City needs to be flexible
As an employer, he said, the city must remain competitive with other governments and the private sector.
The city's top bureaucrat said it's up to workers to sort out with their supervisors which days of the week they're in the office and which ones they work from home.
He suggested employers wanting to retain their staff must show flexibility.
"We have lost a few employees over the pandemic. They've reached out to me directly to say: 'I've decided that I want to work remotely forever. I never want to come back to an office again, so I'm unfortunately going to resign and look for work that allows me to do that.'"
May be incorporated in new contract
The union representing the city's inside workers is on board with the hybrid work plan.
The president of CUPE Local 38, D'Arcy Lanovaz, said there was a period of adjustment when city office workers were forced to work from home when the pandemic started.
But after two years of that, he senses broad support for the city's new work model.
"Our members have welcomed it," said Lanovaz. "After two years, people have created a new rhythm that I think is working well for work-life balance."
Given that hybrid work will be around for some time to come, Lanovaz said the two sides are talking about incorporating it into a new collective agreement.
"There doesn't seem to be a lot of contention around it," he said.
"Always getting something, as you would say, in black in white, down on paper, just brings clarity to what are the rules around something like work from home arrangement."