DM/CDS Initiating Directive on Transitioning to a Hybrid Workforce to Support Full Business Resumption

August 11, 2022

On this page


  1. ADM(HR-Civ) Directive to Managers on Managing a flexible and varied civilian workforce June 2021
  2. CDS/DM Directive on DND Reopening Strategy (summer 2021 posture)
  3. Defence Team – COVID-19 Information and Resources
  4. Government of Canada: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19; Information and Resources)
  5. Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat – Policy on People Management
  6. Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat – Directive on Telework
  7. Collective Agreements for Public Service
  8. CDS/DM Directive on DND/CAF Operating and Reconstituting in a Persistent COVID-19 Environment
  9. Guidance for Defence Public Service Employees and Managers: COVID-19 and Beyond
  10. Guidance on Optimizing a Hybrid Workforce: Spotlight on Telework


  1. Application
    1. This Initiating Directive applies to all Public Service employees of the Department of National Defence (DND) and to all managers of DND Public Service employees, including Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) managers of DND Public Service employees.
    2. This directive replaces and supersedes Reference A. It reflects the DND re-opening strategy as the context of the pandemic evolves. It outlines directions to DND organizations and managers of Public Service employees on transitioning to a hybrid work workforce.
  1. General
    1. During the COVID-19 pandemic, DND’s Public Service employees proved their ability to adapt to new ways of working both on-site and remotely while delivering results for Canadians. For almost half of the DND Public Service workforce, remote work became an operational requirement during the pandemic. Adoption of flexible work arrangements allowed for the continued operations and distribution of work while adhering to bylaws, legislation and public health guidelines. Similarly, public health measures changed the way on-site work was performed by over half of the DND Public Service workforce. DND is now formalizing these new ways of working, all while embedding the agility and flexibility that has served DND Public Service employees during the ongoing pandemic.
    2. TBS has issued a statement about gradually increasing occupancy and planning for re-entry into federal workplaces. The guidance emphasizes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach that will work for all departments and agencies. Deputy heads are responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of their employees.
  1. Definitions
    1. On-site work refers to work performed at an employee's designated physical DND location.
    2. Telework is a voluntary arrangement where employees work at a location other than at the designated worksite and is governed by the Directive on Telework.
    3. Remote work is an employer-directed arrangement where employees work at a location other than at the designated worksite in the context of temporary unforeseeable circumstances, such as pandemics, states of emergencies, inclement weather, etc.
    4. Designated worksite refers to a physical location under the organization’s control. This is not a virtual location or a residential address.
    5. Hybrid work refers to a combination of on-site and remote work and/or telework.
    6. Hybrid workforce refers to blended teams of employees who work on-site, who telework, who work remotely, or a combination of the three arrangements.
  1. Problem Definition
    1. With Public Health measures in place, DND’s focus is now on the full resumption of business and service levels. In some cases, this full resumption will include a transition to a hybrid workforce, whereby all employees can now work on-site, telework, and work remotely, or a combination of the three options. Hybrid work will generally replace previous remote work posture during the pandemic. However particular circumstances exist that may require consideration of continued remote work in select instances. Continued full-time remote work will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and will depend on several factors, such as workforce availability considerations, skilled labour availability, operational requirements, job flexibility assessments, accommodation requirements, and diversity and inclusion objectives. 
    2. Common criteria will be used to guide managers and employees to determine appropriate hybrid work arrangement agreements. DND must balance management’s right to determine operational requirements with individual employee circumstances and the principles of consistency, flexibility, transparency, and excellence and DND’s values on inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility. This is imperative to DND’s attraction, recruitment and retention of qualified and highly sought after talent. DND decisions must align with TBS-OCHRO policies and guidance.
    3. In situations where there is disagreement between an employee and manager, internal resources to address informal conflict resolution is recommended as a course of action. 
    4. When employees are being asked to return to working on-site after an extended period of telework or remote work, managers must provide adequate advance notice of at least four weeks, where operationally feasible.
    5. All hybrid employees will be expected to go on-site when required and all positions must remain associated with a designated on-site location.
    6. Managers and employees must review and discuss the common enterprise-wide criteria to determine the best hybrid work arrangement for the employee and their work activities as well as their team. 
    7. All L1s can adjust the transition to hybrid based on their operational requirements and are encouraged to experiment and iterate as they optimise hybrid work to foster a diverse, inclusive, equitable, safe, and productive workforce that is free from harassment and discrimination.
    8. To remain a competitive employer, our approach must be flexible and consider employee preferences while maintaining operational effectiveness. This approach requires experimentation, gathering lessons learned, and iterating the approach.
    9. It should also be recognized that certain aspects of work that have been conducted less optimally over the pandemic, such as social/team building dynamics, ensuring a sustained sense of community and generating organizational trust are likely better and more effective if conducted on site.
  1. Limitations
    1. All applicable Treasury Board policies and Canada Labour Code, Part II will be followed by DND Public Service employees and CAF managers of DND Public Service employees.
    2. All applicable collective agreements and National Joint Council Directives will be followed by both DND Public Service employees and CAF managers of Public Service employees.
    3. Benefits and conditions associated with relocation, travel (including commute), workforce adjustment, hours of work and isolated posts are linked to the designated on-site location and not the telework location.
  1. Execution

    DM/CDS Intent

    1. The DM and CDS will champion change, and provide guidance on implementing workplace change, ensuring DND and CAF are aligned in testing/experimenting the transition to a hybrid workforce, with the understanding that this will be through an iterative approach that will evolve.
    2. The DM and CDS expect L1s to plan, manage and utilize the organization’s workforce effectively while testing/experimenting hybrid work models.
    3. The DM and CDS expect that horizontal perspectives are brought to the attention of the Defence Team People Management Committee (DTPMC).
    4. The DM and CDS, with support from VCDS, ADM(HR-Civ) and ADM(PA), will communicate clear expectations to the Defence Team regarding appropriate behaviour/conduct and a safe/healthy work environment as DND experiments with a transition to a hybrid workforce.
  1. Tasks
    1. VCDS
      1. In collaboration with the DM, the VCDS will communicate key messages to staff, and provide guidance on implementing workplace change.
      2. Ensure DND and CAF are aligned in experimenting the transition to a hybrid workforce.
      3. Ensure that the occupational health and safety requirements of the CLC, Part II and related regulations are identified and met for on-site and off-site work locations, including, for example, ergonomic assessments and the development of a health and safety checklist.
      4. Identify parking needs and adjust parking management for a hybrid environment.
      5. Engage in ongoing collaboration and consultation with local Workplace Health and Safety Committees, Health and Safety Representatives and/or the NHSPC for any changes to the workplace.
      6. The VCDS will communicate clear expectations to the Defence Team regarding appropriate behaviour/conduct and a safe/healthy work environment as DND transitions to a hybrid workforce.
      7. In collaboration with ADM(HR-Civ), ensure implementation of DND/CAF’s Total Health Strategy to address the wellbeing of employees throughout the transition to hybrid work.
    1. Corp Sec
      1. Governance will be directed through the Defence Team People Management Committee (DTPMC) with oversight and accountability by the Defence Strategic Executive Committee (DSX). DTMPC is the venue where issues should be raised by L1s. Corp Sec to support appropriate governance bodies.
    1. CPCC
      1. Maintain the availability of informal conflict management mechanisms to support employees and managers to resolve disputes pertaining to Flexible Work Agreements, at the lowest possible level in partnership with ADM(HR-Civ) and with bargaining agents, to ensure successful negotiation and fairness.
      2. Support the Future of Work Task Force in Defence Advisory Group engagements and GBA+ analysis.
    1. ADM(HR-Civ)
      Synchronization / Engagement
      1. Lead synchronization between L1 functional authorities (e.g., IM, IE, HR-Civ, VCDS) and other stakeholders across the Defence Team to transition the DND workforce to hybrid teams, where operationally feasible.
      2. Issue/Communicate enterprise-wide criteria for determining whether positions require on-site, telework or hybrid presence to assist managers in equitable decision-making. (See Annex A) The criteria will be subject to adjustment, based on operational requirements and accommodations. All guidance and criteria will be monitored and adjusted throughout the transition, as needed.
      3. In collaboration with ADM(IM), ensure connectivity issues from an on-site and hybrid perspective are considered when implementing enterprise-wide criteria and other tools/guidance that are developedFootnote 1.
      4. Implement an engagement strategy to build awareness of hybrid work and support L1s to ensure consistent application of criteria. This engagement will drive the development of additional guidance, tools and support for L1s. 
      5. Consult bargaining agents through Union Management Consultation Committees and on an as-required basis on proposed changes to the workforce and workplace.
      6. Consult Defence Advisory Groups to ensure policy design and implementation is inclusive and avoids bias.
        Support to Managers and Employees
      7. Provide guidance to Public Service employees and CAF managers of Public Service employees on the Flexible Work Program, including instructions on entering agreements and communicate an annual review cycle.
      8. Provide guidance and tools to ensure employees are equipped to be productive and managers are equipped to manage hybrid teams to achieve operational excellence.
      9. In addition to the mandatory course for managers and supervisors (Establishing Effective Virtual Teams), develop a curriculum for managers (military as well as civilian) on managing in a hybrid work environment with corresponding courses for its employees.
      10. Communicate and monitor training requirements for all managers (including military) on managing teleworkers/hybrid teams and evaluating employee performance in a hybrid environment.
      11. In collaboration with VCDS and ADM(IM), develop DND guidance and policy related to employees working outside of Canada. Ensure alignment with TBS guidance in assessing security considerations for working at locations other than the designated worksite.
      12. Provide advice and guidance on accommodations in accordance with DAOD-5015, Workplace Accommodation.
      13. Establish the Flexible Work Program team as primary advisory support for Public Service employees and CAF managers of Public Service employees regarding the Flexible Work Program, including eligibility for various flexible work options.
        Data / Analysis /Lessons Learned
      14. In partnership with ADM(IM), implement an enterprise tracking solution for capturing flexible work arrangements, which can be adjusted as needed, and enables visibility of employee work locations and the ability to meet evolving TBS reporting requirements.
      15. Monitor the transition to hybrid work and communicate lessons learned. Establish clear expectations and value propositions for on-site vs telework.
      16. Ensure that all Future of Work strategies, plans, guidance and procedures undergo documented GBA+ analysis.
      17. Develop an analytics plan with KPIs for the monitoring and reporting of progress and outcomes for the Future of Work/Hybrid Workforce strategies, plans, etc.
    2. ADM(IM)
      1. In collaboration with ADM(HR-Civ), develop and implement an enterprise tracking solution for capturing flexible work arrangements, which can be adjusted as needed, and enables visibility of employee work location and the ability to meet TBS reporting requirements.
      2. Continue development of IT infrastructure and capacity to support hybrid work model (e.g., equipment on-boarding and continued helpdesk support, cyber security, information management, etc.).
      3. Ensure employees have the tools to operate in a hybrid environment. This involves clear guidance for employees with telework flexible work arrangements on requirements/entitlements for physical equipment (e.g., monitors, etc.).
      4. Coordinate the provision of support outside the NCR with Service Management Centers for transition to hybrid work.
    3. ADM(IE)
      1. Where operationally feasible, implement real property changes to transition to a hybrid workforce (de-identified workstations, collaborative workspaces, areas of interest, focus areas, Activity Based Working, GCcoworking sites, on-site water fountains, vending machines etc.).
      2. Lead workplace real property strategies to enable the Defence Team to be made more effective, green (Greening Government Strategy), and efficient use of physical workspaces.
      3. Propose modernization investments in infrastructure that support Activity Based Working and rationalize the portfolio to more effectively support a hybrid workforce that provides infrastructure solutions that are adaptable to the needs of a future workforce.
    4. ADM(PA)
      1. In collaboration with ADM(HR-Civ), develop an integrated communications and change-management strategy to encourage employee buy-in of new hybrid model and assimilate new technology, tools, and ways of working.
    5. ADM(FIN)
      1. In coordination with VCDS, ADM(FIN) to identify the financial impact on the Department with respect to the outcomes associated with the transition to hybrid work (telework ergonomic assessments to reduce occupational injuries, infrastructure reductions, the cost for IT systems, etc).
    6. Common to all L1s
      1. Upon issuance of this Directive and accompanying enterprise-wide criteria for telework vs. on-site work, managers and employees are to identify which work activities require on-site work and those activities that are suited for telework, where possible.
      2. Ensure fairness and equity of telework and Flexible Work Arrangement amongst all employees by ensuring there is calibration across the L1.
      3. Perform analysis of their business and service levels and plan to implement any changes in where and how work will be done differently to enable full resumption. L1s to identify any anticipated delays and impediments to full resumption.
      4. Consult with their functional communities (i.e., Human Resources (PE), Finance (FI), etc) internally and across the Government of Canada.
      5. Corroborate that all Future of Work strategies, plans, guidance and procedures undergo documented gender-based plus analysis.
      6. Communicate lessons learned associated with hybrid work experimentation to +Future of work - Avenir du travail@ADM(HR-Civ) DGWD@Ottawa-Hull
    7. Common to all managers of Public Service employees
      1. Understand and respect their employees’ collective agreement, terms and conditions of employment, security, health and safety, and information management responsibilities in all work arrangements. Occupational health and safety obligations under the Canada Labour Code continue to apply regardless of the location of work and in accordance with the existing jurisprudence.
      2. Ensure employees are aware that their telework location is an appropriate work environment that meets the health and safety requirements of the Canada Labour Code Part II and its Regulations.
      3. Ensure that employees are informed of how to minimize risk when working with sensitive information outside of their designated work location.
    8. Common to all Public Service employees
      1. Review available flexible work options and where appropriate, initiate or revise a request for flexible work options when direction is issued to do so.
      2. All hybrid employees must have a Flexible Work Agreement. Any changes to an employee’s working arrangement must result in an amendment to the agreement and submitted to their manager for approval.
      3. Understand and respect their collective agreement, terms and conditions of employment, security, health and safety, and information management responsibilities in all work arrangements.
      4. Ensure that all occupational hazards are identified and communicated to their manager.

    Coordinating Instructions

    1. Next Steps
      1. As transition to hybrid teams occurs over time, it will be undertaken in an iterative approach, incorporating lessons learned and will vary in accordance with operational realities, ever evolving health measures and regional circumstances.
      2. L1s with employees that have worked remotely throughout the pandemic are expected to commence the transition to hybrid work in late Fall 2022. This transition will include ensuring managers and employees are reviewing enterprise-wide criteria for on-site and telework, experimenting with options and integrating lessons learned for optimal business and employee performance. 
      3. During Summer 2022, employees and managers are expected to have these discussions and, when applicable, experiment to test options before further refining and formally entering agreements in early Fall 2022, with full implementation by end of Fall 2022.
      4. ADM(HR-Civ) and ADM(IM) to implement a solution to capture and track Flexible Work Agreements by early Fall 2022. Agreements are to be reviewed and updated regularly as situations evolve and at least annually.
      5. ADM(IE) to survey employees to determine the space requirements of employees as the transition to hybrid work unfolds.
      6. In Fall 2022, ADM(HR-Civ) to launch engagement activities at Bases and Wings to identify challenges and ensure the support is in place for alignment of the transition.
      7. DND will continue to follow advice and guidance of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) as well as provincial/territorial and regional public health measures. This involves ongoing monitoring and adjustments, as returning to a pandemic phase and remote/hybrid work arrangements is a possibility based on variants or a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
    2. ADM(HR-Civ) Point of Contact
      1. Monica Kolstein, Director General Workforce Development
      2. Siobhan Whelehan, Director Workplace Programs and Services

Assistant Deputy Minister (Human Resources – Civilian)
Isabelle Desmartis

Date modified: July 20, 2022

General Wayne Eyre
Chief of the Defence Staff

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