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 We have a dedicated team focusing on how we will continue work, while physical distancing mandates are in place and beyond.

The return to office and virtual work plan will consider how we will safely return to work at our sites as well as how we will continue to support those working virtually. Physical distancing will be required for some time. Physical distancing means we cannot have 100% of employees back 100% of the time.


When will phase two start?

Planning for phase two of the return to office project is underway.  

Much of the country is in what is being called a second wave, and we need to take current public health guidance into account as we plan for employees to return. Our priority remains to protect our employees and our core operations and not to introduce undue risk. As a result we are carefully considering how phase two of return to office could work. While details of the phase two plan are still being worked out, it is unlikely that employees who want to return to the office will be able to do so in January 2021.  

We will continue to share details about our 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 three of this project, we will have to develop a future vision for our workplace.  
  • This work will help us answer questions on how we want to operate as individuals, teams and organizationally.  
  • This picture will be informed by what we have learned as related to our ability to work virtually (for most office employees). 
  • It will also be informed by the employee experience, organizational drivers and external factors including how work norms will change around us. 
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 1, 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 ( 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 1, 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 is CBS supporting employees who don’t have an option of working from home, will there be compensation?

The pandemic has forced everyone to adapt to many unexpected challenges as we fulfill our mission of supporting Canadian patients.

Our focus is and continues to be on the health and safety of all employees, recognizing employees are impacted in different ways. Employees who are able to work from home continue to be encouraged to do so, this helps maintain fewer employees in our sites to protect our critical supply chain activities. We continue to be thankful for the contributions for employees who must come into our various work environments and we provide supports for their health and safety.  

Some of the ways that Canadian Blood Services have offered compensation to those frontline employees include, maintaining compensation at 100% of pre-COVID-19 pay for those who faced reduced hours from COVID-19 and full pay for those unable to work due to COVID-19, either personally or due to caregiver duties. 

Will Canadian Blood Services issue completed and signed Form T2200s, so employees who have been asked to work from home deduct expenses paid for the employment use of workspaces in their homes? 

As a result of the unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19, many people have been working at home and using their kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms as their work space. In response, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has introduced an option to use a new temporary flat rate method to simplify claiming the deduction for home office expenses for the 2020 tax year. 

The new temporary flat rate method simplifies your claim for home office expenses. You are eligible to use this new method if you worked more than 50% of the time from home for a period of at least four consecutive weeks in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can claim $2 for each day you worked from home during that period plus any additional days you worked at home in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The maximum you can claim using the new temporary flat rate method is $400 (200 working days) per individual. 

By using the simplified method, no T2200 would be required to claim expenses related to COVID-19 working from home. For more information, please click Working From Home - CRA Guidelines 

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 in 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 exercise is an important part of health and wellbeing and we can appreciate that those who are working on-site as our essential frontline workers are keen to use the gym amenity. 

At this time, gyms continue to be closed. This is a decision made with an abundance of caution to ensure the safety of our employees and vital operations. We will be reviewing our gym spaces as part of the return to office plan. That assessment will consider factors including safety, risk and readiness. Given the critical nature of our operations, we will not be aligning our internal decisions on gym opening with public for-profit facilities.  

Although the on-site gyms are closed, our healthy workplace team is making sure that resources are available to keep staff healthy both physically and mentally. If you haven’t already, we encourage you to sign up for live virtual fitness classes  

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

All employees who currently have the ability to work virtually have been encouraged to do so until further notice. 

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 inviting you to come to your local office to set-up and bring home your equipment. 

Your health and safety are a priority — wellness checkpoints have been set up at the entrance of all Canadian Blood Services facilities with instructions on hand sanitizing, self-screening and temperature taking. 

When you arrive and successfully complete the wellness checkpoint, please ask the front desk to speak with IT field support. For the health and safety of yourself and our IT employees, your interaction will be limited to one member of our IT team and equipment will be taken out of the box in front of you to limit the possible risk of infection. Where possible, we ask that you keep a two-metre distance from other employees. 

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

Will CBS be compensating work from home employees for office equipment?

There are new Flexible Workplace Guidelines that have been developed. These guidelines address the need for some financial support, you can find details on the Flexible and Virtual work page here.

Who is currently allowed to work in Canadian Blood Services facilities?

Employees who have operational imperative or an essential task that impacts our products and services for patients. If you are unsure whether your role qualifies, please speak with your supervisor.  

I have been working remotely but I need to go into the office to retrieve materials or observe a process. What should I do?
  • If you think you need to enter a Canadian Blood Services facility, 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 a facility.
  • If you need to enter a Canadian Blood Services facility, please ensure that you are well, symptom-free and aware of all the COVID-19 measures in place including mandatory masks and Wellness Checkpoints. At the Wellness Checkpoint, staff will answer questions, wash hands or use hand sanitizer and their body temperature will be taken.   
  •  It is now mandatory to wear a mask in all Canadian Blood Services facilities. Please visit the Personal Protective Equipment page for more information:
Is leadership considering making changes to the configuration of office space so there’s more physical distance in between cubicles?
  • Significant consideration is being given to how employees will return to the office. As part of our planning, we need to understand who will return, when they will return and how they will return.
    • Physical distancing will really impact how much room “supply” will be available for employees to work in.
    • This means we can’t have 100% of employees back 100% of the time.
    • Our sites will have to be prepared to accept employees back, while mitigating any risk.
  • We are assessing the configuration of our working and common space to ensure that when employees are asked to return to the office, that they can maintain physical distancing.
How will employees be engaged in the process?
  • We have a dedicated team working with leadership on a return to office and virtual work plan.
  • We understand that employees have a lot of questions on this topic. Return to office and virtual work will be an ongoing process and we’ll be opening up conversations and using surveys to engage employees.