Pickering hoping to continue work-from-home programs, post-pandemic

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Published October 5, 2021 at 3:43 pm

Man working in home office

If there’s any good to come out of the pandemic, it’s the realization that working from home ain’t such a bad idea after all.

When the pandemic was declared the City of Pickering sent many of their employees home to work out of necessity but a report to Pickering Council from the Human Resources department has concluded there are enough advantages to the scheme – both in terms of cost-savings to the City and a better work/life balance for employees – that it is worth continuing, post-pandemic.

The work-from-home measures provided staff “with an excellent opportunity” to explore new ways of doing business, declared the report, authored by Human Resources Director Jennifer Eddy. “Many of these creative solutions involved virtual components, which we have now recognized as enhancing the City’s services, and which we plan on continuing when we ultimately move past the pandemic.”

With no date for the end of the pandemic and COVID-19 mitigation policies still in effect, the report serves as a “road map” to Pickering’s service delivery plans into the future.

Savings may be realized by continuing to utilize virtual meeting platforms, the report added, and by allowing identified employees to continue to work from home, more financial benefits will be achieved through a reduced dependence on office space.

“First and foremost, working remotely has allowed the City to seamlessly continue its operations, thereby maintaining service levels to the public and preserving jobs for those who otherwise may have been laid off. Sustaining employment for our permanent complement of staff was a priority. Keeping our workforce employed benefited families, the community, and the economy as a whole.”

“Beyond the obvious benefits noted above, working from home has also afforded employees a better work-life balance as they are spending less time commuting. Employees who work remotely often experience increased productivity and performance, likely because there are fewer interruptions and a quieter environment. Employees also realized a financial benefit as savings were achieved in the purchase of fuel, clothing, lunches and car insurance, to name a few.”

Ultimately happier, healthier and more productive employees are more loyal to their employers and are less likely to find work elsewhere, the report continued, adding that the City saw a reduction in the use of sick time as well.

For those employees who wish to continue to work from home, the order of consideration will first be given to accommodations/human rights requirements, personal factors impacting the request, the employee’s work performance, attendance and lastly, seniority.

Some of the positions affected by this new procedure will be unionized, which will require the applicable union to sign off on the arrangement.

Priority will be given to jobs that are project-based with measurable results and can be sent to and from the employee’s home with ease, speed and confidentiality.

Under the terms of the new deal, the employee must be employed with the City for one year prior to beginning to work from home arrangement and the agreement may be terminated by the employee or the City with a minimum of two weeks’ notice.

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