Return to office plan

Virtual work has become the norm for many of us and we are thankful that employees have transitioned to this unexpected change.

  • The RTO project paused the accommodation of employees who “want to return” (Phase two of the project) on December 22, 2020.
  • The pandemic situation remains unpredictable, however as provincial vaccination programs continue to make progress, and provinces start opening up, we are looking at how Canadian Blood Services can resume planning to allow for safe and controlled return for employees working remotely who want to return to the office environment.
  • Our goal is to aim for 50% capacity in our buildings starting in September 2021. This does not mean that demand will be this high – rather, it is a target to inform planning and preparedness of our facilities. Foundational to all of this is continuing to encourage flexible work arrangements for our teams where feasible.
  • More information will be provided as RTO planning resumes over the coming months.

Q&A

When will phase two start?

Planning for phase two of the return to office project is underway. Our goal is to aim for 50% capacity in our buildings starting in September 2021. This does not mean that demand will be this high – rather, it is a target to inform planning and preparedness of our facilities. Foundational to all of this is continuing to encourage flexible work arrangements for our teams where feasible.

We will continue to share details about plans for phase two of the return to office project as those details become available, and we appreciate your patience and adaptability as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Do I need to return (ever) if my work can be done virtually?

As our work progresses into phase two and three of this project, we are developing a future vision for our workplace. This will be informed by the work being done by our planning team in terms of building a hybrid work environment.

This work will help us answer questions on how we want to operate as individuals, teams and as an organization in the hopes of adopting a flexible work environment where the focus is on a safe and welcoming transition process.

Canadian Blood Services is supportive of flexible work arrangements where it is operationally feasible and cost effective.

I am having personal challenges at home, and I am not comfortable sharing. How can I express my need to come back to office while protecting my privacy?

With the completion of phase one, we have now made it possible for employees to return to the office for operational or personal needs. If you have a personal reason for returning to office, you can express this to your supervisor and do not need to share the reason. If you need support, please reach out to your PCP business partner.

What if I have a new operational or personal need to return to the office that I didn’t express during the survey about return to office?

If you have a new operational or personal need to return to the office, please discuss the need with your manager. Your manager can work with our facilities team to figure out how your need can be accommodated. Kathy Macdonald (kathy.macdonald@blood.ca) can support you in this process. 

What if my manager and I don’t agree on whether or not I need to be in the office – who can support me?

With the completion of phase one, we have now made it possible for employees to return to the office for operational or personal needs. If you and your supervisor have differing opinions, and you need support, please reach out to your PCP business partner.

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 temporary 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, such as files, monitor, keyboard or mouse, 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.

When will Canadian Blood Services be reopening its fitness rooms?

We know that employees across the country are frustrated that rooms designated as gym spaces at Canadian Blood Services continue to be closed. Our organization is evaluating our processes to ensure we can continue to safeguard our teams, donors and operations.

The closure of gyms was recently reviewed by the COVID-19 Program, where a difficult decision was made to continue to keep our gyms closed across the country.

This decision was not taken lightly. We understand that physical activity is incredibly important to mental health —which is more important than ever. However, we could not in good conscious open these spaces and increase the risk of putting our teams’ safety in jeopardy.

Due to the fluid and shifting pandemic environment, we are taking a national approach to this decision:

  • Gyms at Canadian Blood Services are not set-up to sustain the risks associated with COVID-19.
  • Unlike commercial gyms, our infrastructure is not set-up to properly implement the rigorous restrictions required to keep our teams safe. The shared space does not have the ventilation of commercial gyms, and physical distancing cannot be maintained, meaning only a few employees would be able to use the space per day.
  • Facilities do not have the capacity to ensure proper cleaning and appointment systems are in place.
  • In order to align with public health requirements which, vary across the country, most equipment in the gym space would need to be removed because it cannot be properly disinfected after each use. Meaning employees would not experience the full benefit of the space.

This decision will continue to be evaluated by the COVID-19 Program and updates will be provided to employees as they become available.

We recognize that physical activity is crucial for our mental health. We’ve extended our virtual fitness classes with Goodlife and are adding additional classes to ensure that employees — in particular our frontline teams — can access this important resource.

We also encourage our teams to take advantage of the other wellness resources available to them, including our employee assistance program (EAP) which includes free therapy sessions with a licensed professional, as well a wide array of video and written LifeSpeak resources available through your employee wellness portal on Connect.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and need a break for physical exercise, we encourage employees to speak with their leaders to build physical activity, such as a break for a walk outside, into your workday.

As part of our ongoing evaluation on gyms, we welcome employees to provide us with their views. Please send them to communications@blood.ca with the subject line “GYMS.” These comments will be sent to the COVID-19 Program to help inform future decisions on the re-opening of gyms.

Our organization is committed to maintaining agility and flexibility on our approach to gyms as the COVID-19 environment shifts across the country. Our COVID-19 Program team will continue to assess and revisit decisions on gyms, and other related safety measures to protect our teams, donors and operations.

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 is an excellent resource to 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 be compensating 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 employees who were able to work from home set up their home office, we offered $200 towards eligible office supplies during fiscal year 2020-2021. 

Although that specific funding is no longer available, employees who require ergonomic office supplies so they can do their job safely, still have access to virtual ergonomic assessments and funding through Canadian Blood Services.  

The process is quick and easy:  

  • If you are looking for ergonomic support, complete the form on the OHS ergonomics page on Connect.  
  • 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.