The future of work may be a lot closer to home

When the GCcoworking project was first introduced, it seemed completely at odds with traditional office life. 

Replacing classic public service office buildings with a smattering of satellite offices did not seem like a winning formula to many. Sure, if you could work closer to home it could save a lot of commuting time, but would it be worth the drawbacks of working away from many of your colleagues?

Yet the pandemic ushered in a new era of remote work, setting up these work hubs as a potential solution for federal workers looking for more flexibility once it’s safe to return to the office. 

“There’s a GCcowork office just a few minutes from my house, which means
I could commute by bike rather than public transit or car,” said Julie Lovitt, who works for Natural Resources Canada.“It would greatly improve my mental and physical health.” 

The remote work hubs allow employees from different offices to come together to work or find a quiet spot away from the hustle and bustle of home life. It dovetails neatly with the growing desire of employees for more opportunities to work remotely after the pandemic.

So far, there are five fully accessible coworking sites in the National Capital Region as part
of the pilot project running until 2022, with four others in Toronto, Laval, Dartmouth, and Vancouver. Many have been retrofitted with automatic doors and elevators, partitions, and an online seat-booking system to prep for a post-pandemic reopening.

“We still have concerns that need to be addressed, particularly around ergonomics, harassment, discrimination, accommodations, and the health and safety rights of workers when employees from several departments are in the same space,” said Andrea Peart, PSAC National Health and Safety Officer. “PSAC is providing ongoing recommendations to improve the program.” 

“We created these offices to be touchdown points for employees who want an alternative to working from home,” explained Sophie Savard, Director of Accomodation and Innovative Projects at Public Services and Procurement Canada. “We’re exploring the potential to expand the program across other regions of Canada.” 

As Canada’s largest employer, the outcome of the federal government’s GCcoworking project will have a ripple effect on the way both governments and corporations approach remote work.

 Contributor: Michael Aubry

May 21, 2021