CAPE Survey: Federal Government’s Return-to-Office Poorly Managed, Flawed, Unpopular

Ottawa, September 29, 2022 – The Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE) publishes today the results of an extensive survey conducted with its members about the federal government’s return-to-office plans. The survey highlights frustrations expressed by thousands of federal public sector employees around what they perceive as a disorganized, poorly planned and confusing rush back to the office, launched earlier this summer by the Treasury Board Secretariat.

The survey was conducted between September 2 to September 13, 2022. 49% of CAPE’s registered and active membership participated in the survey. 

The data collected by CAPE is unequivocal:

  • 80% of respondents did not receive clear plans or timelines from the Employer about return-to-office, nor a satisfactory rationale for why employees needed to be brought back now.
  • 50% of respondents were not consulted about the return-to-office plans and 45% of those who were, were not satisfied with the consultation.
  • 60% of respondents did not support the return to the office in the fall of 2022.
  • 75% of respondents said they would be very likely, or likely to leave their position for another that allowed for their preferred work model.

Respondents have been clear that while COVID-19 remains a top concern and a reason to avoid the office, their attitude vis-à-vis telework is also shaped by a perceived boost in productivity and performance combined with the ability to achieve greater work-life balance.  

“Our members have been experimenting with flexible and remote work for the last two years with great success,” said André Picotte, acting President of CAPE. “While we understand the need for some employees to show up to the office from time to time, it’s clear the federal government has not yet figured out the right way to proceed and we are seeing situations that go from bad to absurd, as confirmed by reports we are getting from our Locals, which are supported by the data we collected.”

Some CAPE Locals have reported situations where employees are forced back to the office only to find themselves alone in the workplace having to participate in videoconferences with their team members, others not having a proper place to work, or others puzzled by the lack of equity within and between departments in terms of access to telework.

Telework has been largely adopted by CAPE members and identified as one of the key benefits to introduce to their collective agreement as part of CAPE’s ongoing collective bargaining.


About the Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE)

CAPE represents over 23,000 federal public sector employees across Canada and is the third-largest federal public sector union in the country. CAPE represents economists, policy analysts, researchers in the Library of Parliament, analysts in the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, statisticians, translators, interpreters, and terminologists.

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