Flexible and Virtual Work

We want to ensure that employees who are able to work from home receive the support they need to achieve their work and maintain our essential operations. New guidelines have been developed to help our teams who may need to continue to work virtually for the foreseeable future. The guidelines include principles and support on managing flex-time, maintaining important connections with colleagues and how to access employee supports, including those designed to protect your health and safety while working from home.


General FAQ

What is a flexible work arrangement?

A flexible work arrangement is an alteration to the time and/or place that work is performed on a regular basis.

What type of flexible work arrangements are available at Canadian Blood Services?

  1. Virtual work - when an employee performs their job away from a traditional office location.
  2. Flex-time - when the start and end times of an employees working day are altered and some/or all of their job is performed outside of traditional working hours, but they still work their agreed upon number of hours.

Are all employees eligible for a flexible work arrangement?

No, while all employees have the ability to request flexible work arrangements, the decision is based on operational requirements. Positions with a high level of autonomy are most suitable for flex-time. These include administrative, professional, or similar information-based positions.

Who makes the decision about a flexible or virtual work arrangement?

In the past, flexible work was typically a voluntary arrangement and requested by employees. However, the current context, and factors such as public health considerations, operational requirements, the location of an employee’s residence or space restrictions may cause it to be mandated by Canadian Blood Services.

  • While all employees have the ability to request flexible work arrangements or work onsite; the decision is made by leaders and based on public health considerations and operational requirements specific to their role.
  • Fair, equitable and transparent discussion regarding work arrangements between leaders and employees is essential.

What if I need to work reduced hours?

These guidelines do not cover accommodations such as reduced schedules. Please speak to your leader or PCP business partner if you have questions.

Is there any time when leaders can terminate or alter the arrangement?

Leaders may terminate or amend the arrangement based on a number or reasons, including public health considerations, operational requirements, and staffing changes, leadership changes, performance, etc.

Can a request for a flexible work arrangement for the same position but in different departments be handled differently?

Every job, location, employee and situation are different; it cannot be assumed that the same decision is appropriate for two similar positions. Leaders know the operational requirements of their departments and sites best and are responsible for final decisions on how to get work accomplished.

What happens if an employee with a flexible work arrangement transfers to another department?

The employee and their new leader should discuss the situation and determine if the employee's current flexible work arrangement is appropriate for the new role and department.

How often can a person alter their flexible work arrangement?

That will depend on a variety of factors, including type of arrangement, operational requirements, the frequency of requests, the success of current arrangements, etc. However, for consistency it is best to stick to a set arrangement.

Who initiates a flexible work arrangement?

Flexible work options are generally introduced in a work environment by an employee who determines that they would like to have a flexible work option. However, leaders may also suggest flexible work options for some or all employees. Leaders and employees are encouraged to discuss individual and organizational needs and to work together to develop the best possible arrangements for their situation.

What happens if a meeting, training session or important event is scheduled when I am supposed to be off, or my schedule needs to be adjusted for a short period of time for a special event or specific project?

It is important to remember that operations must not be impacted as result of employees using flexible work options. There will be events or meetings that cannot be scheduled around flex-time. The employee and leader would need to discuss and determine how it will be handled.

What do I do if my flexible work arrangement isn't working out?

Your first step is to talk with your leader. It is up to the two of you to work out the details. If there are further issues, contact your PCP Business Partner.

Will CBS be issuing T2200 forms to virtual employees?

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has provided a draft response to the issuance of T2200’s for the 2020 calendar year. The CRA is proposing to revise the standard T2200 form, into a simplified version specific to claiming expenses related to working from home during the pandemic. 

Canadian Blood Services is taking the proactive approach by starting work on implementing a solution to ensure a mechanism is in place for next year’s tax season.  

The CRA’s proposal for addressing working from home during the pandemic is subject to change as they have been made aware of the large administrative burden this will have for employers across the country.

As additional information is released, we will be sure to provide updates to employees.

Office set-up and equipment Q&A

How can I set up my workstation at home successfully and with ergonomics in mind?

It is important to keep in mind the effects on your health, safety and productivity when setting up your home workstation.     

Employees working from home are encouraged to visit our ergonomics page on Connect to get tools on how to successfully set up a home office. On the page you will find helpful information, including how to properly set up your computer monitor, incorporate a sit/stand desk into your setup and stretching exercises that you can incorporate into your day.   

Another exciting feature of the ergonomics page is our virtual assessment tool. To receive a virtual ergonomics assessment personal to your needs, fill out the form and submit it to your manager. From there, your manager will send it to the OHS/EHS team who will schedule a virtual assessment with you.  

Can I go into the office and get my monitor and other items from my desk?

We ask that only employees who have an operational imperative or essential task that impacts our products and services for patients enter our facilities.   

However, if you think you need to enter a facility to retrieve something from our workspace essential to your work, please discuss your situation first with your supervisor. In that discussion, please consider the risk of not completing the task you need to do or delaying it for a few weeks vs. the risk you may create for other essential staff and our operations by going into the facility.   

If you will be entering a site to gather essential items please promptly exit the building afterwards. Furnishings including chairs, desks and tabletops are not to be removed as these will be needed to support RTO planning.   

Furnishings cannot be removed because they will be needed as employees return to the office. Additionally, there are cleanliness and health and safety concerns. The items required for employees to work from home can be addressed through the OH&S group through an ergonomic assessment, and there is through the Flexible Workplace Guidelines.    

I can work virtually, but I don’t have the proper IT equipment to do so. How do I get what I need?

An overview of the tools required to work from home can be found here. This resource will help make sure you have everything you need to work from home effectively.  

If you do not have the tools to work from home, please speak with your manager to put in a request. Once the request has been approved, you will receive an email from IT with next steps. 

If you are feeling anxious about coming into your local office to retrieve your equipment, please notify your manager who can work with your local facility to receive further guidance. 

Will CBS compensate work from home employees for office equipment?

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we understood that we needed to help our teams adapt to the evolving realities of remote work. To support those employees who were able to work from home, we offered a $200 rebate towards eligible office supplies during fiscal year 2020–2021.    

Although that specific funding is no longer available, any employees (remote or frontline) who require ergonomic equipment so they can do their job safely, still have access to virtual ergonomic assessments and funding through Canadian Blood Services.   

We are currently exploring opportunities to support employees longer-term as remote and/or hybrid work continues. In the meantime, support is available for employees through our normal expense claim processes (with manager approval). The process is quick and easy. 

If you are looking for ergonomic support, complete the form on the OHS ergonomics page on Connect. Reminder: remote employees must be connected to VPN to access the form.   

Once you have completed the form, provide it to your manager/supervisor to review and submit to OHS/EHS with a request for a virtual home office assessment for you.     

A member of the OHS/EHS team will get in contact you to schedule the assessment. Once the assessment is complete, they may suggest additional equipment that can be purchased directly by the OHS/EHS team on your behalf.     

If you are looking to access funding for other office equipment that may be necessary for your role, please speak with your manager who may be able to process your request through your departments cost centre. Visit Connect for more tips, tools and practices for home office safety. 

Equipment and expenses FAQ

I am looking to improve the comfort or convenience of my home office, but not necessarily to accommodate an ergonomics issue. How would I do that?

Equipment may be able to be purchased through your managers cost centre budget. You should talk to your manager about the need, get their approval, if they agree, and submit the expenses through the normal expense claim mechanisms, charging it to your cost centre. 

I have or may have an injury that needs to be accommodated with specialty ergonomic equipment-is it possible to get that for my home? ​

Please contact our OHS/EHS group to have a remote ergonomic assessment completed and they will be able to procure the ergonomic equipment you require. 

How do I go about getting equipment? ​

One way is for the employee to complete the ergonomic request form on Connect, submit it to their manager who sends it to OHS/EHS to have them assess your home office setup, virtually. The OHS or EHS Coordinator may suggest additional equipment which can be purchased directly by the OHS/EHS team on your behalf. ​

If employees already had equipment based on ergonomic assessments, can they go to the office and pick up the items rather than buying new? Especially if it will be returning to the office later?

Please consult with your OHS/EHS Coordinator for specific issues related to specialty equipment already purchased.