Here's how 2 Yukon employers are navigating a more flexible return to the office

·2 min read
Engineering and architecture firm Stantec's office in Whitehorse. Employees working at Stantec's local office have been allowed back in the office since April 2021 - but still have the option to work remotely.  (Stantec - image credit)
Engineering and architecture firm Stantec's office in Whitehorse. Employees working at Stantec's local office have been allowed back in the office since April 2021 - but still have the option to work remotely. (Stantec - image credit)

At Stantec's Whitehorse office, employees now have their choice of where they work.

The engineering and architecture firm is allowing workers to come to the office, continue working from home, or a mix of the two.

It's an example of one approach being taken by Yukon employers as they reopen following months of remote work.

Lee Fleming, a mechanical engineer with Stantec who manages their Whitehorse office, says two thirds of his employees jumped at the chance to go back to the office full-time, despite being allowed to continue working remotely.

He's glad they're back.

"Working in the office, it's a lot — I think — better than working from home, just from the energy you get from your compadres here," he said.

"And I think it's much more collaborative if you're face to face."

New rules for work from home

Stantec quickly vacated its Whitehorse office in March 2020, but workers have been allowed to come into the office as of April this year.

Around a third of Stantec's employees are either choosing to work remotely, or to come into the office part-time. But those staying at home have to comply with new company rules.

"You can't be working on the kitchen table anymore," says Fleming. "If you have a room, set it up as an office, in a room that is conducive to work. If you're working at home, be working."

Remote employees also have to prove their workplace is safe. They can't have cords running across the floor because they are tripping hazards.

Yukon government also looking at hybrid option

At the Yukon government, almost everyone is back in the office too.

Over 90 per cent of Yukon government staff is back to working in-person, according to a statement from the Public Service Commission. Last summer, around 70 per cent of their workforce was working in-person.

But the territory's largest employer is working on a plan that would allow for remote work post-pandemic.

That's because a survey they conducted in March found that many employees would like to keep working remotely, at least part-time, in the future.

Steve Silva/CBC
Steve Silva/CBC

Adapting the office

Companies are adapting their office layout to the pandemic. Fleming says he "COVID-proofed" Stantec's Whitehorse office.

He has moved desks around, added plexiglass shields between work spaces and implemented mandatory protocols. Employees must fill out a form confirming they have no COVID-19 symptoms before coming into work, and wear masks when they are not seated.

Fleming says his office has enough space to accommodate all Stantec employees in-person, even with new social distancing measures.

The Yukon government also has many health and safety requirements in place in their office spaces to avoid spreading COVID-19, including mandatory non-medical masks, Plexiglas barriers, and physical distancing requirements.

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