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COVID-19: Downtown Calgary braces for provincial work-from-home mandates to be lifted

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If COVID-19 numbers continue to trend downwards in Alberta, provincial work-from-home mandates will be lifted in less than two weeks. Companies and downtown head offices are finalizing their transition plans for heading back to work. As Jill Croteau reports, the shift for corporate Calgary is going to take some getting used to – Feb 17, 2022

If COVID-19 numbers continue to trend downwards, the Alberta work-from-home mandates will be lifted in less than two weeks.

Read more: COVID-19: Kenney announces Alberta vaccine passport program ending at midnight

The team at Goodlawyer, a virtual connector of lawyers and entrepreneurs, started out remotely at their separate kitchen tables around Calgary.

Goodlawyer head office in Calgary.

Josh Weinberger said the founders realized the value of being together and secured a physical workspace downtown.

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“It was something a lot of us missed in a way we didn’t comprehend until we got into the space.”

“Coming back and having a place to separate home and work life, where you could be around colleagues and be collaborative with the team,” Weinberger said.

“It was amazing to see that happening with random collisions in the kitchen or passing by and seeing someone’s computer and see we are working on the same project.”

“There is so much intangible value being in the same space and collaborating.”

Josh Weinberger with Goodlawyer. Jill Croteau/Global News

Scott Crockatt with the Business Council of Alberta said it will be a gradual return. Some head offices are still working on a re-entry plans, mindful of employee preferences.

“I’m hearing a lot of discussions from companies about being open to a hybrid,” Crockatt said. “Most companies are going to ease back 60 per cent of people, or have them back 60 per cent of time.

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“It will be a slow transition for operational reasons and for health and safety reasons.”

“They are eager to get back to offices because they found there is a missing piece like team building, the culture and generating new ideas.”

Many oil and gas companies with head offices in downtown Calgary are still working on plans.

According to Suncor’s Leithan Slade, area response teams, including in Calgary, are currently working to determine location-specific re-entry plans.

Suncor Energy Centre in downtown Calgary, Alta. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES / Jeff McIntosh

“It will consider business needs, flexibility for employees, and align with provincial guidance,” Slade said.

The team at Cenovus Energy is still evaluating next steps and hasn’t yet made a decision on an office return date.

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Read more: Here’s what the future of work looks like after COVID-19

Enbridge will begin to welcome Alberta employees back into the office starting on March 1 at 60 per cent capacity with a full return to the office on March 28.

Click to play video: 'Employers look to maintain productivity as remote work continues' Employers look to maintain productivity as remote work continues
Employers look to maintain productivity as remote work continues – Feb 4, 2022

Jesse Semko provided a statement to Global News, outlining a gradual approach, that will offer employees several weeks to prepare for a full return, coordinate childcare and make other personal arrangements.

“To further accommodate employees, Enbridge has implemented a flexible work program.

“This program offers employees several flexible work options such as work from home days two fixed days per week, variable and compressed work schedules,” the statement read.

Business like ‘Urban Bean Coffee Company’ are reliant on those downtown nine-to-fivers.

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Owner Darrin Ames is desperate to see companies transition their employees back to the office.

“It’s been tough trying to keep positive and motivated to keep things going.”

His business was dramatically impacted.

“We were seeing about 400 transactions a day, we went all the way down to 50. For the longest time we’ve only been doing 25 to 30 per cent of our business.”.

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