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New report shows benefits of Winnipeg's flexible work program

A new report is showing that the City of Winnipeg’s flexible workplace program is saving money and improving efficiency; however, one group believes it’s hurting downtown businesses.

During the pandemic, just under 2,000 city workers left the office and began working from home.

Today, more than 1,500 are still at home, either full time or on a part-time rotation.

According to a new report, this arrangement is working.

"We see a reduction in sick time. We see increased productivity,” said Gord Delbridge, president of CUPE Local 500.

“You know, if you keep people happy, they're going to want to stay."

The report says that during the 16 months the flexible workplace program has been in place, the city has seen cost savings, improved efficiencies, and high engagement from staff in the program.

St. Boniface councillor Matt Allard believes the program is working and says it should even be expanded.

"I think it's extremely important to go down this direction, because if we don't, other municipalities will,” Allard said.

“And we're going to end up having the best planners in the City of Winnipeg working for the city of somewhere else."

However, Downtown Winnipeg BIZ says the loss of city workers to remote work has had a considerable impact on businesses in this part of the city.

"Businesses rely on people. Many downtown businesses still rely disproportionally on office workers, and we continue to hear from our members about the lack of foot traffic,” said Kate Fenske with Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.

Mayor Scott Gillingham says when it comes to remote work, his goal is to ensure the people of Winnipeg get excellent customer service.

"I would like to see any current work from home arrangements that are customer service facing and public facing jobs, I’d like us to consider returning those individuals back to work,” Gillingham said.

On Thursday, the mayor's executive policy committee was talking about the report and voted to delay a decision so they can review additional information from city staff.

  

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