When Nike and GM inspire the hybrid working mode of civil servants

The Treasury Board Secretariat did not carry out any study on the productivity of state civil servants in hybrid work before changing its policy on their presence in the office, we have learned The right.

On Wednesday, the Treasury Board Secretariat updated its hybrid work mode policy to require all public servants to go to the workplace at least three days a week and telework two days a week. It’s one more day than before.

This update must be respected no later than September 9.

“The requirement for at least three days of on-site work reflects the benefits of regular in-person interactions,” Treasury Board of Canada Secretary Catherine Blewett said in a message announcing the news Wednesday.

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The government says it aims to provide services to Canadians “while strengthening their confidence in the public service.” (Etienne Ranger/Archives Le Droit)

The objective, it is said, is to ensure uniformity within the government since the previous policy focused more on flexibility.

We have nevertheless obtained internal analyzes from the government which lists similar practices in Canada and internationally. American digital giants, for example, ask their employees to come to the office three days a week. Other companies have recently increased the number of days spent in the workplace.

A misunderstood policy?

We obtained three questionnaires that the Treasury Board Secretariat sent in 2022, spring 2023 and fall 2023 to the organizations it oversees.

These analyzes also reveal that departments and agencies did not seem to understand how to comply with the policy that required state workers to report to the office at least two days a week.

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During the pandemic, the vast majority of federal civil servants worked remotely. For the past year, hybrid working has been the new norm. (Patrick Woodbury/Archives Le Droit)

The organizations overseen by the Treasury Board have been responsible since spring 2023 for the implementation of the hybrid work mode.

“This raises the question of whether efforts should be made to develop a common definition and approach to compliance measurement,” reads one such report prepared in recent months.

Change management, compliance with the on-site staff presence requirement and health and safety concerns were the three main issues identified at the Treasury Board since the implementation of its policy in spring 2023 .

In total, 91% of organizations said their employees worked at least two days a week in the office.

Certainly, 81% of the 75 central government organizations said they were complying with Treasury Board directives in fall 2023, but in reality, many of them were not respecting them. The most recent questionnaire was completed by 67 of the 75 organizations.

Catherine Blewett also indicated that she had adopted a “similar approach with those adopted by several provincial and territorial governments, as well as private sector organizations”.

The private sector, the driving force?

>>>Nike has modified its hybrid work policy for its employees in recent months.>>>

Nike has modified its hybrid work policy for its employees in recent months. (AP Archives)

Precisely, the federal government modified its policy after consulting the practices of provincial governments, those of other countries and international organizations such as Nike, Disney, Uber, Apple, Amazon and General Motors.

“We have seen a trend towards increasing the number of days on site, closer to three to four days at the workplace. For example, Nike and General Motors have increased their requirements in this direction at the beginning of 2024,” the report reads.

For example, the American sports equipment manufacturer increased the number of days to four, while the automobile giant increased it to three days.

>>>General Motors CEO Mary Barra asks her employees to come to the office at least three days a week.>>>

General Motors CEO Mary Barra asks her employees to come to the office at least three days a week. (Carlos Osorio/AP Archives)

“According to Scoop’s Flex Index, the proportion of U.S. companies with a structured hybrid model increased in 2023, from 20% to 29%,” reads the Treasury Board analysis.

Giants Apple, Starbucks, Amazon, Meta and Google all have a three-day in-office policy.

In recent months, the federal government has also drawn inspiration from allied countries such as Australia, the United States and New Zealand.

For example, in January, these three governments had the same directive: “Hybrid without minimum at the organizational level, number of days of presence on site established by the departments and agencies,” we can read in one of the reports.

Large Canadian banks like BMO, RBC and TD are also cited as examples, as are Bell Canada, Air Canada and Enbridge.

According to a Capterra survey used by Secretariat officials, 69% of Canadian workers in hybrid mode are at the workplace two to three days a week.

A quarter of them have mandatory company-wide workplace days.

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