Date: May 04, 2017
Third Party Observer: PISPC
PIPSC NR Executive Representative: Robert Porter
PISPC Stewards: Niraj Chandra and Cameron Smith
NCR PIPSC President, PWGSC Branch and Wellness Coordinator & Steward: Gordon Bulmer


Brought to the attention of the PIPSC, PIPSC NR sub-group and associated PIPSC stewards are several concerns on both the process and consequences to employees and the services they are expected to deliver given the need to reallocate employees on the 9th floor of Tower A in Place du Portage due to the pending move of the ADM of Real Property to this space. The information received is that the affected employees, the majority who are PIPSC technical quality assurance site, building and engineering assets design experts will be required to be re-allocated to other work areas under the Workplace 2.0 and Activity Base Workplace (ABW) umbrellas which include unassigned seating.

It is recognized by professional employees that workplace modernization, if well prepared and implemented utilizing a holistic analytical approach that evaluates the activity based work of each individual employee’s roles and responsibilities, their group and directorate’s requirements can provide an excellent opportunity to improve the current work environment. Providing the appropriate workspace and tools allows employees to be at their most productive to assist management and ensures high quality and efficient services to operations, clients, senior management and most importantly the Government of Canada and Canadians.

The following is a compendium of issues, concerns, expectations and recommendations to begin the discussion with management towards facilitating a smooth transition to the new work arrangements. The intent is to ensure employees and management work together towards achieving a workplace environment that is respectful, equitable, fair, transparent, supportive and efficient and an improvement for both employees and management.

Below is list of some of the chief issues/concerns/expectations and suggested recommendations for discussion. Attached is Appendix A which include a list of specific questions.


This section is divided into two sections, Change Process Management and Consequences and Risk to Technical Services Professional Expertise, Service Productivity and PSPC Real Property Operations.

Change Management Process Issues

Change management process is defined as how the transition of this reallocation of space and its impacts to employees has occurred. The chief issues brought forward are:

1) Lack of Communication – There has been little communication from management on the impending changes affecting the following groups:

a. Technical Services / A & E Services:

i. Architecture & Urban Design and Landscape Architecture;
ii. Mechanical and Electrical Engineering;
iii. Geo-technical and Structural Engineering; and
iv. Civil and Municipal Engineering

b. Infrastructure Assets Management / Engineering Assets:

i. Transportation Engineering (Bridges); and
ii. Marine Engineering and Water Management (Dams);

Information has been received piecemeal from various managers to employees. As a result employees are confused as to what is happening. More importantly a level of stress is occurring for many employees. This is added to what has already been an unsettling upheaval due to several changes in the re-structuring of staff and responsibilities in these groups as per the re-organization.

2) Care & Mental Wellness – The manner in which management is directing this move has led to questions and concerns from staff as to the actual care management, specifically senior management has towards professional employees and staff. Lack of input from employees or consultation is a major concern.

The top down response from those undertaking the transformation to a Workplace 2.0 environment without understanding first the requirements and nature of the work undertaken by the affected groups is concerning and especially perplexing given the outcomes of the recent Pulse checks. Employees had been hopeful given the current GOC’s mandate to turn a new leaf to begin to again show support to employees, in this case technical design professionals and building and site science expertise. Several of these groups’ employees have unique requirements that include day to day operations, emergency responses and immediate strategic advice to the Minister and senior management on health and safety issues.

It is felt this could be an excellent opportunity for management and employees to improve the current work environment, work productivity and in continuing the very good and well received service to clients and senior management remains effective and efficient.

Consequences & Risk to Technical Services Professional Expertise, Service Productivity & PSPC Real Property Branch

The section is defined as the impacts to the work environment and the capacity to deliver the type of product deliverables required of each position. Chief concerns are:

3) Seating of Operational Experts – Unassigned seating is considered very problematic given the work undertaken in these groups is 80 to 90% operationally based as per federal site, building and engineering assets in the NCR and nationally (across all regions). Specifically, all technical professionals affected are responsible for the health, safety and security as per responses to the minister, senior management and clients such as PPB, DND, RCMP and OGDs and agencies. Professionals located across several buildings, floors or even segregated partitions on floors will accentuate a high degree of risk given persons are isolated and harder to track down.

Further technical design experts need to be co-located with like technical design experts to be able to provide:

a) Immediate Health & Safety responses– Need to discuss as required often immediately the health and safety issues that result from catastrophic events, emergency situations, ATIPS or requests from the Minister and senior management; and

b) Collective responses to ensure there are no gaps in technical Information - Like expertise must be in the same area and readily available so a holistic, integrated response occurs so no gaps occur. Issues are always complex with many different layers and overlap given the technical design of assets and the multitude of federal codes, standards and best practices to review and evaluate. The face to face value cannot be underestimated in its importance to mitigating risk to the Minister and the department.

Expectations – At a minimum:

  • Co-location of work teams specific to discipline and expertise;
  • Appropriate mix of assigned and unassigned accorded to the work teams.
  • Set-up should be ready at all times for certain individuals given their duties such as the need for an immediate response to senior management and clients on health, safety, security and accessibility issues of sites, buildings and engineering assets;
  • Consideration towards a studio type environment. This is considered an industry standard for the fields of architecture, landscape architecture and urban design;
  • Close proximity and connectivity to for those with AutoCAD needs such as to a plotter, large scale scanning apparatus and paper cutter

4) Security – It is necessary for a large number of professional technical design experts to have a number of stationary items given 90% of the projects and requests undertaken are at a secret or top secret level. Employees include those with operations, technical authorities and Discipline Managers for the various operationally based Standing Offers aligned with Real Property Contracting Directorate. This equipment must be in one place and cannot be moved around. It must be available at all times given the need for immediate responses.

Expectations - At a minimum to include as per current requirements of the position:

  • A locked filing cabinet;
  • A land telephone line; and
  • Often a separate modem.

5) Higher Percentage of Desk Surface Space – Professional technical service experts require more desk space due to the work they undertake. One of their priority duties is QA. Building and engineering assets experts need to visually assess plans at an A4 /Arch E1 (poster size) scale. This is an industry standard as it is the same size as a contractor who uses hardcopy plans in the field. Review must occur utilizing a hardcopy (the same as a contractor) to ensure accuracy and gaps do not occur and are visually clear. As part of the QA duties references are not just digital but hardcopy and extra tools are required.

Expectations – At a minimum to include space for:

  • Technical resources require a mix of hardcopy and digital. References include books many of which are not digital and other plan drawings;
  • Two technical high definition design monitors, 27 inches. A standard for architecture and landscape architecture and engineering offices to review two drawings at the same time;
  • Potential space for two separate computers;
  • Potential space for a desktop printer and copier;
  • Review Design Table or Smart Board for Arch E1 type drawings;
  • Scale rulers and other apparatus to evaluate drawings as hardcopy ‘blueprints’ are still used industry wide.

Workplace 2.0 or ABW needs to be able to adapt and provide flexibility as not one size fits all types of workers. Architects and Engineers for example have specific needs that differ from other administrative type functions.

6) Health of All Employees Needs to be a Priority – The recent welcomed initiative being undertaken by the Department on the wellness and mental health of employees must be a consideration for all affected employees in not only this move but future moves. The workplace environment includes where people are seated. Employees as per the new PSPC National Performance Standards for Offices now renamed to the Technical Reference for Offices identifies a number of key considerations such as:

  • The right to natural light;
  • Appropriate air quality re: HVAC;
  • Appropriate capacity for the floor as per washrooms, fire exits and evacuation egress etc. etc.

Expectations – At a minimum are an:

  • Evaluation of all relative systems such as mechanical (HVAC) and electrical systems given increased personnel to ensure appropriate air quality that meets modern day standards;
  • Evaluation of structural load capacity on the floor to accommodate more persons and their associated components such as computer hardware, printers, plotters, scanning, hardcopy reference materials and filing systems;
  • Evaluation of natural light access;
  • Evaluation of all floor items such as washrooms and especially all occupational health and safety items such as fire and evacuation egress. Noted needs to be the number of people acceptable on each floor. Plus shown should be type and layout of the buildings and context in which they are situated such as outside site area for appropriate evacuation and emergency gathering spaces to be available given the increased number of employees in the building. In addition, as per the OCHS suite those with physical, visual and mental challenges must be accommodated. Requested is for all furniture and site amenities to be evaluated by the appropriate expertise;
  • Ergonomic Survey and Assessment for those employees with physical issues; and
  • Mental health assessment for those individuals that may suffer from being in more condensed office spaces.


These recommendations are to assist all concerned parties in moving forward. The intent is to facilitate both the right fit for employees and management given the pending accommodation changes and to ensure a positive improved and efficient work environment occurs.

A. Establish a Workplace Modernization A & E Services Committee – Recommended is to engage one (1) or two employees from each of the following groups affected to meet on a regular basis until completion with the Workplace 2.0 /ABW team to discuss and review the plans and details including tools and building furniture to how best to facilitate the transition to every groups satisfaction especially those with unique requirements so as to ensure little to no risk to operations. Suggest representatives from the following groups which are all health and safety, accessibility and security based expertise:

  • Architecture - Buildings
  • Landscape Architecture – Site;
  • Engineering Assets – Bridges, Dams and Roads;
  • Mechanical and Electrical Engineering – Buildings & Site;
  • Structural and Geo-technical Engineering – Buildings & Site, Other Assets; and
  • Civil Engineering - Buildings & Site, Other Assets such as roads;
  • Those professionals identified as within the special group of ‘essential services’ such as seismic, structural, bridge and dam engineers, the senior architect and others on this list.

B. Organize a Town Hall (s) – Recommended is to have a number of town halls to explain the transition and what it entails and will be provided. Will also allow employees to voice their concerns and have questions answered. Suggest questions to be submitted in advance;

C. Discipline, Expertise and Employee Requirements Evaluation - This will ensure employees are provided modern tools and equipment that will improve employees efficiency and effectiveness such as:

  • Smart Boards for collaborative multi-disciplinary review of drawings and plans;
  • High definition design computer monitors – 27 inch minimum; and
  • Appropriate apparatus and connectivity when working from home or at remote locations such as own ‘hotspot’.

D. Involve PIPSPC and Other Union Reps – Union reps could undertake role as third party observers. This will give confidence to employees that the facilitation is being handled fairly and transparently;

E. Provide a Mechanism to Address Future Issues – Once implementation is complete to begin an on-going pulse check. This could be a good opportunity for management to show it is listening and is willing to work with employees to adjust towards a better work environment and ensure the wellness of the department’s employees.

End of Comments

Appendix A – Questions about the implementation of workplace modernization of PDP PH III floors 9A and 8A, 8B

Critical – Work cannot proceed effectively if this isn’t addressed
1. Will the new working environment (unassigned workspace) mean that employees will need to find newworkstations every day meaning that time is spent setting up and then removing everything later? What is the cost benefit vs lost productivity? How is this being more efficient? How will productivity be measured before and after?
2. For an employee not knowing where they will sit from day to day (or even whether there will be an available workstation for them) may cause additional stress in their lives. How is the employer going to alleviate this stress, especially those of us in the workforce who are more susceptible to mental health issues?
3. Will engineers and architects that review drawings and plans, have enough space or tables to layout these documents for review? How will this need be addressed within an unassigned workspace?
4. Will this represent a final move or are there other major moves planned for the future involving the same business units (e.g. L ’Esplanade Laurier by 2018), and if so, what is the overall plan and who is affected? What is being done to minimize the disruption these moves will cause?
5. When will the space plans be available for review and input, and when will employees know their specific destinations or work zones (8th floor vs. 191)?
6. Will there be any fixed or reserved seating assigned to staff or managers where operational needs dictate?
7. How does hoteling on a floor where there will be more employees than workstations will allow work/family balance? I.e. those of us who have to bring kids to daycare and arrive later than others who have less family responsibilities, will they be penalized because they may not have any workstations available by the time they arrive?
8. What accommodations will be made for review and storage of documents including drawings up to sheet size A0 (33”x47”) with roll size of 34” x 6” diameter?
9. What accommodations will be provided for storage of protected B and secret documents including drawings as described above.
10. What accommodations will be provided for storage of codes, standards, and specifications? Much of our older reference material is available only in hardcopy.
11. What accommodations will be provided for storage of equipment including personal protective equipment (PPE – hard hats, work boots, reflective vests/jackets, etc.), test equipment, and various other equipment?

12. What equipment will be included at each work station and how will it be kept sanitary?

a. What is being planned for sanitary purposes? Will we be provided with sanitary wipes to clean desks and peripherals (keyboard, mouse, etc)?

b. Will we be able to keep peripherals (keyboard/ mouse) for sanitary reasons?

13. People in some groups require dual monitors or oversized monitors, will these be made available?
14. How will specific individual/personal ergonomic equipment (chairs, stools, lighting) be managed?
15. What accommodation will be provided to teams that are operationally based and that need to have fixed equipment as well as being adjacent to one another?
16. With more limited number of workstations, how will conflicts be resolved or discipline handled, where individuals do not follow the new instructions (e.g. leave their items behind, or “steal” someone’s workspace when their away in a meeting? 17. What action is being done to ensure that during construction (fit‐up), the ventilation air in 9A1 does not mix with base building ventilation to ensure that there is no contamination? Has a ventilation compliance review been done? Inadequate ventilation will have a direct impact on health and wellness of employees (including management).
18. Has the fire code been reviewed to ensure adequate emergency evacuation? How will the floor wardens know who is on the floor during an emergency evacuation if there are unassigned seating?
19. Will there be an increase in First Aiders, and how will they be identified in an unassigned seating area?
Essential – Needs to be addressed to ensure work is efficient and support operations
20. What workplace technologies and applications other than GCDocs, GCPedia, GCConnex and Web‐Ex will be made available to support this modern office environment (e.g. smart boards, plotters, larger monitors, drawing review applications with mark‐up capability,…)?
21. When alternate work arrangements are made, how will team members be able to reach each other when those working at home decide not to answer their phone or e‐mails as A&E need to interact with each other on a daily basis? Is a system being considered to ensure that people are accessible (i.e. current status: Present‐In Office/Present‐In Meeting/Present‐ Alternate Location/Off Duty)
22. Will there be evaluations to determine the capacity of a particular employee to work from home?
23. Will there be evaluations and/or training of managers to ensure they are prepared to manage a flexible workforce efficiently and effectively?
24. Will the technology be provided to facilitate this work arrangement (i.e. given the small size of the majority of laptop screens and keyboards, employees will require monitors and keyboards for substantial work at home)?
25. Are we going to be provided with large monitors to use at home and are we going to be reimbursed for internet use at home?
26. How about if we are working at home and we have to attend meetings, can we use the taxi chit? Or can we use our car and get reimbursed for mileage and parking?
27. What is the average seat count that will be allocated to Mechanical and Electrical Engineering and Commissioning or other affected groups, and over what areas will the staff from the same business unit be distributed?
28. Will there be a system for locating people on a day to day basis? How will colleagues be able to interface adequately? Do they have to search for each other on a daily basis? Will there be a real time count of available workstations, so that employees can check online to see if it is better to stay at home or come in to work?
29. What space will be available for displaying professional licenses, awards and recognition frames?
30. Since the population of the 8th floor will be doubled, has a health and safety audit been conducted to ensure that the space is safe for the population increase? Is the floor exit capacity exceeded? Will there be enough lunch room space and toilets?
31. Will a move to 191 Portage affect our current parking arrangements in Laurier Taché Parking Garage?
Desirable – Information that allows employees to understand the context for the new workspace
32. What is Activity Based Workspace?
33. What type of modern workspace is planned for PDP III floors 8 A & B? What will be the total increase in occupancy?
34. Will there be a proposed ‘’modus operandi’’ or “etiquette” from the employer for the employees to follow to ensure everyone has a fair chance at a workstation?
35. Given the type of worker being displaced, why has floor 9A1 been chosen by the ADM for the showcase instead of another more administrative and back‐office homogeneous groups?
36. How will Business Continuity be managed for employees having been identified as essential?
37. In one of the earlier communication, our management informed that SPAR has been managing this and hence we have limited information. What coordination and integrated project review has been done at the management level before things were conceived/finalized?
38. Have other relevant (building) codes been reviewed for this project? (e.g. Floor loading, ventilation/HVAC requirements)
39. How will the preparation and subsequent move be organized? Will a “swat team” be established or does every work unit have to organize themselves? Will boxes and recycling bins (e.g. paper, empty binders, surplus IT/Office equipment) be provided to each work unit beforehand to free up space and how will these be managed?