On March 14 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was becoming an unthinkable reality and as an emergency measure, staff were asked that where possible, based on job duties and technology, to work away from the office to help with physical distancing and to reduce congestion at the workplace.

Since then, staff, leaders and the organization have done an amazing job supporting the ability to work remotely. The proliferation of new technology like Zoom and MS Teams, coupled with an upgrade to the internet and remote access platforms, supported staff, clinicians and patients to successfully work remotely. While we have missed the in-person interaction, we have all learned new skills, how to work differently and to be adaptive.

The People Forward: Inspiring People & Teams strategic pillar of Mission: Forward includes goals related to attracting and retaining a skilled workforce and prioritizing the health, safety and wellness of our people. The benefits from a human resources perspective have been noted in reduced sick time, positive performance and productivity and enhanced ability to recruit for certain roles by offering flexible work arrangements.

The ability to improve the quality of life for our staff, support environmental sustainability and build healthier communities makes working remotely a benefit to staff, Providence and the communities where we live and work. However, we have also heard from our people that for some, the reduced interaction with colleagues and difficulty differentiating work from home life has been challenging.

We have been closely following the BC Restart plan guidance and are beginning to prepare for the return to normal for our workplaces. We anticipate that the Province will continue to reopen in a phased-in approach culminating with offices and workplaces being fully opened by Sept. 7, 2021, in alignment with WorkSafeBC requirements.

What is the path forward for PHC?

  • PHC is supporting the shift to hybrid and full working remotely arrangements for all suitable roles.
  • Staff who currently have “informal” arrangements to work remotely, either fully or on a hybrid basis, should now formalize their working remotely agreement with their leaders before Sept. 7. Please refer to the March 2, 2021 bulletin item: New Policy Supports Remote Work for Providence Staff that contains all the information about working remotely.
  • Staff who would like to come into the office on a regular basis will be able to as long as leaders ensure that their regular workspace can accommodate the number of staff. Leaders should contact ohs@providencehealth.bc.ca to ensure return to work complies with current safety plans.
  • We will continue to provide guidance to our staff and leaders as to best practices for when staff should be in at the workplace and when they are able to work remotely.

PHC is committed to supporting the health, safety and wellness of our people, create environments where they can flourish, advance flexibility in the workplace and enhance the tools make that possible.

We will continue to provide updates with regard to return to work as the BC Restart plan progresses. However, should you have any questions about the restart and about remote working for yourself or your staff, please contact Tammy Young, Executive Director, People at tyoung@providencehealth.bc.ca.