Ottawa mayor, local businesses welcome expected return of federal workers to offices – Ottawa

A local coffee shop in Ottawa’s downtown core is looking forward to some more frequent foot traffic once federal workers head back to the office on a more regular basis.

“I’m just personally excited to see more people around and kind of feel like we’re back into before times,” said Kyle Macleod, a manager at Manhattan’s Coffee Co.

The Treasury Board’s decision to stick with hybrid work means public servants will be back to in-person work two to three days a week starting early next year, to be fully implemented by the end of March. Departments were able to make their own arrangements for a hybrid workplace model during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Treasury Board will now apply a consistent approach.

The reaction from public servants has been mixed, but the return-to-office news is being greeted by the city and local business community as a boon for commerce and public transit ridership.

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Macleod says it’s been hard to gauge when the shop should expect customers, given the irregularity of workers heading to the office.

And while working from home has become the norm for many federal public servants, Macleod says the return to office plan is important to keep the downtown core thriving.

“I don’t think people kind of realize that if you’re not being downtown, if you’re not walking around … there won’t be any need for that anymore,” he said.

“And then downtown will become a ghost town.”

Ottawa’s mayor is among those celebrating the return of federal workers to offices.

Click to play video: 'Will working from home become even more popular amid high commuting costs?'

Will working from home become even more popular amid high commuting costs?

In a news release on Thursday, Mark Sutcliffe said getting clarity from the federal government on the future of its workforce is “critical” for the local economy.

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Kevin McHale, the executive director of the Sparks Street Business Improvement Area, says business owners are “cautiously optimistic.”

“There’s just been a real air of uncertainty through the downtown,” McHale said in an interview.

However, he says many are eager to find out what the federal government plans to do with its office spaces and whether it plans to downsize.

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