City of Ottawa moves to ‘hybrid’ office model, but no remote-only option – Ottawa

Ottawa municipal government employees will have some flexibility in their work settings after the COVID-19 pandemic, but will not be able to work from home indefinitely, according to City Manager Steve Kanellakos.

Speaking to reporters after Wednesday’s city council, Kanellakos said the city was gradually returning to in-person work in its main administrative buildings where just over 4,000 people work. About half of those employees are already back in the office in some capacity, he said.

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Employees based outside of City Hall or other city buildings on Constellation Drive and Ben Franklin Place will continue to have “flexibility” post-pandemic, Kanellakos said.

“We’re moving to a hybrid workforce, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.

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This means working with each employee to assess how often they will need to be in the office and whether they have hospitality space or need a fixed desk.

However, this does not mean that employees will have the option of working only from home or remotely.

Kanellakos said workers should always come to the office because their managers need on-site events, meetings and other collaborations.

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“That doesn’t mean people will be able to stay at home permanently and never be able to enter our municipal buildings or come to work,” he said.

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“I certainly don’t support that, that there’s this permanence of, you never have to show up or you can go down to Jamaica…and never have to come into the office.”

Kanellakos also noted that the vast majority of the city’s workforce, about 75%, worked in person throughout the pandemic, he said. This includes employees of parks and recreation, waterworks, and other services that largely require on-site work.

While approximately 96% of Ottawa’s municipal workforce is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, some 592 city employees were furloughed on November 15 for non-compliance with the mandatory vaccination policy from the city.

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“It’s tough medicine, but it’s the right thing to do in my opinion,” Mayor Jim Watson said at Wednesday’s press conference.

Watson, who said he was pressuring Treasury Board President and Ottawa-Vanier MP Mona Fortier to bring federal public servants back to their downtown offices, also said he was working with the City Clerk’s office to return to in-person council meetings in the new year.

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