As the pandemic recedes, remote work is here to stay

Beverly Kravitz, Director of Human Resources, Communications, Legal Affairs and Global Security
Beverly Kravitz, Director of Human Resources, Communications, Legal Affairs and Global Security

Are you a new teleworker? Did you work from home during the COVID-19 crisis? Even though pandemic restrictions are easing, working remotely will remain an option for some CIUSSS staffers.

The trend toward remote work was already under way before the coronavirus arrived, and our CIUSSS tested some pilot projects. But the pandemic accelerated the tendency—much as it increased telehealth and its focus on delivering care remotely.

“Telework was one of the positive things to come out of the devastation of COVID-19,” says Beverly Kravitz, Director of Human Resources, Communications, Legal Affairs and Global Security for our CIUSSS. “The pandemic taught us to do things differently. Telework is one of them.”

Working remotely isn’t viable for everyone: For most staffers of CIUSSS West-Central Montreal, working during the COVID-19 pandemic meant being at the front lines, whether at the Jewish General Hospital, in long-term care residences, or other sites in our network.

But those who could shift to home offices discovered several benefits, from inexistent commutes to increased productivity. A study shows that a strong majority of Canadians who began teleworking during the pandemic would like to continue working at least half of their hours from home once the crisis is over.

However, it’s important to be aware that working from home for CIUSSS West-Central Montreal carries duties and responsibilities, and will be available under certain circumstances. In September, 2020, the CIUSSS adopted a new policy that gives managers and staff a framework for carrying out work activities away from traditional workplaces.

For example, employees who want to work from home must get their immediate superior’s approval; produce work that is at least equivalent to what would be provided at their usual workplace; and be reachable during regular working hours by their immediate superior or colleagues.

The policy also provides a range of helpful tips for creating a home work environment that’s safe and healthy. That includes sticking to a routine that puts limits on working hours.

“You have to place boundaries between your personal life and your work life, because things can easily get blurred when you work from home,” says Stéfanie Brisson, Head of Prevention – Occupational Health, Safety and Wellness for our CIUSSS.

While it’s not always easy, employees should try to create a designated work space in their home. It should have proper lighting and be set up ergonomically to prevent back injuries and promote good posture.

“You shouldn’t be working on the couch with a laptop on your knees,” Ms. Brisson explains.

It’s also important to take small breaks by getting out of your chair and walking around every 30 minutes or so. “It’s important to be vigilant to meet health and safety standards, even at home.”

Despite some of the conveniences of remote work, traditional workplaces are necessary and still provide benefits. These include spontaneous exchanges among co-workers, and the ability to foster team spirit, creativity and a sense of belonging, Ms. Kravitz notes. That’s why, if feasible, employees are encouraged to put in some time at their work sites.

“When it comes to working remotely, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing,” Ms. Kravitz says. “It’s important to find the right balance.”

Read the CIUSSS policy on telework.

Our Occupational Health, Safety and Wellness team can provide information and personalized advice about remote work. Contact them at prevention.sst.ccomtl@ssss.gouv.qc.ca

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