How Peterborough workplaces can make the shift into sustainability this spring

Hybrid workplaces, Shifting Gears Challenge, and Green Economy Peterborough are three opportunities supporting renewal, sustainability, and wellness at the workplace

The past two years have had a profound impact on many workplaces, activating a shift in organizational design and employee engagement. According to a recent Statistics Canada report, 80 per cent of people who worked from home due to the pandemic would like to continue with this arrangement for at least half of their work time. (Photo: Lyn Jones)
The past two years have had a profound impact on many workplaces, activating a shift in organizational design and employee engagement. According to a recent Statistics Canada report, 80 per cent of people who worked from home due to the pandemic would like to continue with this arrangement for at least half of their work time. (Photo: Lyn Jones)

The nature of work is changing rapidly. The past two years have had a profound impact on many workplaces, activating a shift in organizational design and employee engagement. Many people see this as an exciting opportunity to create a more effective workforce.

The people and organizations engaged in GreenUP’s business programs reflect this big shift. As any great gardener does, employers strive to cultivate the optimal conditions for sustainable growth.

With the arrival of spring, our team is excited to showcase three opportunities that support renewal, sustainability, and wellness at the workplace.

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Recently, in partnership with the Peterborough + Kawarthas Chamber of Commerce and the City of Peterborough, GreenUP co-presented a webinar about the future of work and the benefits, implications, and requirements of a hybrid workplace model. You can watch this webinar by visiting greenup.on.ca/return-to-office.

The hybrid workplace model is a way of structuring operations to add flexibility where and when it benefits employees and businesses. To arrive at an effective hybrid format, workplace leadership and staff collaboratively consider how work tasks are completed and whether they can be performed remotely and/or within a varied schedule.

The webinar featured workplace experts Shane Monte and Dean Kennedy from EY Canada (formerly Ernst & Young) and Kristy Hook from Lett Architects in Peterborough. This panel discussed how to provide options for the 90 per cent of employees who now want flexibility in when and where they work.

VIDEO: Return to Office? Advantages in the New World of Remote Work

The pandemic has shed light on what this means for many employees: they want an employer who supports their work-life balance.

When asked about top priorities, Monte said that 70 pre cent of survey participants chose flexible start and finish times. Among other things, flexible schedules allow parents to walk their children to school, commuters to ride their bikes, caregivers to take loved ones to appointments, and family members to participate in extracurricular activities.

In order to transition to a hybrid work model, a workplace must examine both organizational and employee needs. The best outcomes are achieved when leadership and staff work together to build out the details.

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Once the initial plan is made, states Kennedy, workplaces can re-evaluate and update their policies and prepare an employee agreement. This agreement will provide details on the new organizational arrangement and while protecting both staff and managers. Toolkits on how to create new policies and sample agreement checklists can be found on GreenUP’s Shifting Gears for Employers page at greenup.on.ca/shifting-gears-for-employers.

Local business and Green Economy Peterborough member Lett Architects has implemented a carefully planned hybrid workplace strategy that supports both remote work and the collaboration required to fulfil their mission. Kristy Hook, administrative principal, shared many tips and anecdotes that they learned while implementing their new policy.

Notably, Hook spoke about the need to build in opportunities for passive learning — the critical information we share at the water cooler or over our shoulders, for example. This can be especially challenging for new employees, who often need face time to experience workplace culture.

Cambium Inc. is one of many Green Economy Peterborough member organizations that are measuring their transportation emissions and taking action to reduce organizational emissions. (Photo: Natalie Stephenson)
Cambium Inc. is one of many Green Economy Peterborough member organizations that are measuring their transportation emissions and taking action to reduce organizational emissions. (Photo: Natalie Stephenson)

Lett encourages passive learning and collaboration by scheduling in-office time for project teams to work together. Here at GreenUP, we plan regular co-working Zoom sessions, where we share an online space together, working on our own projects. This informal space allows us to share information or ask quick questions of peers. Implementing strategies like these can help organizations enhance employee engagement and retention.

The webinar at greenup.on.ca/return-to-office is helpful in developing an understanding the emerging workplace shift. In addition, easy-to-use resources — including a hybrid policy development toolkit and an employee agreement checklist — are available on GreenUP’s website at greenup.on.ca/shifting-gears-for-employers.

A shift to hybrid or remote work is just one of the ways that you can get into gear this spring. Annually workplaces take part in the Shifting Gears Challenge, which prompts the community to shake up habits and add walking, biking, taking transit, carpooling, and remote working to their day through the month of May.

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As you and your team track your trips this spring, you’ll see your efforts add up — reduced greenhouse gas emissions and transportation costs, increased physical activity and time outdoors. Registration is now open, so visit greenup.on.ca/shifting-gears for details on how you and your workplace team can get involved. If you have questions about Shifting Gears, email Ashley Burnie at ashley.burnie@greenup.on.ca.

The Shifting Gears Challenge is open to community members too, and again this year participating individuals will be eligible for Rack ‘n’ Roll, a program that provides a bike rack and bike bag so you can commute by bike with ease and comfort.

Many businesses taking part in Shifting Gears are also members of Green Economy Peterborough. These businesses are getting in gear by setting goals to address climate change while reaping co-benefits like cost savings, risk mitigation, and brand enhancement.

Shifting Gears is an annual challenge hosted by GreenUP and partners that invites workplaces and individuals to track their emissions reductions by making sustainable commuting choices for the month of May. (Photo courtesy of GreenUP)
Shifting Gears is an annual challenge hosted by GreenUP and partners that invites workplaces and individuals to track their emissions reductions by making sustainable commuting choices for the month of May. (Photo courtesy of GreenUP)

Green Economy Peterborough members are investigating strategies to reduce emissions from transportation sources, such as commuter travel, business travel, and fleets, as well as overall reductions in operational greenhouse gas emissions, water, and waste.

GreenUP and local partners are coming together to honour these local businesses later this month at Green Economy Peterborough’s first annual Leadership in Sustainability celebration event on Thursday, April 21st from 2 to 3 p.m. on Zoom. You can register for this free event at eventbrite.ca/e/311463083467.

If you or a business you know is interested in joining Green Economy Peterborough, please email Natalie Stephenson at natalie.stephenson@greenup.on.ca.

Whatever your goals in work and life this season, we hope you and your team make the most out of the shift into spring.