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In today’s fast-paced world, people often look for ways to manage their busy professional and personal schedules, juggling career aspirations, family obligations, and other competing priorities. For some, having the ability to work from home, compress their work week, or have flexible work hours can go a long way towards ensuring personal wellbeing.

As a way to help its employees achieve a more harmonious approach to their work and personal lives, the Department of National Defence (DND) recently introduced a modernized alternative work arrangement (AWA) program. The updated program offers simplified procedures and guidelines for the appropriate use of AWAs across the department.

The use of AWAs is a key enabler of Canada’s Defence Policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged which aims at improving the health and wellbeing of employees and creating workplace solutions that are modern, flexible, and embrace new ways of doing business.

From an employee’s perspective, being permitted to undertake an AWA provides the flexibility, for instance, to attend appointments, tend to personal/family matters, address child-care arrangements, or attend classes. In addition, studies show that in some instances, the use of AWAs increases productivity, morale, and quality of work through reduced levels of stress while reducing commute time and associated costs.

Cindy, a DND employee whose spouse is also a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, says, “The ability for me to telework when my husband was posted and later deployed, took a lot of stress off of the family during that period. It created a greater sense of loyalty in me for my organization, made me feel valued as an employee, and allowed my organization to continue to benefit from my experience. It also made it easier for me to handle my family responsibilities while my spouse was overseas.”

Apart from employee benefits, there are many organizational benefits resulting from the use of AWAs. They can provide solutions for a changing workforce, flexibility in managing human resources, and an increased ability to attract and retain highly qualified workers.

Although AWAs can provide benefits to both employees and managers, they are not an employee entitlement. Requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and approved at the manager’s discretion.

Civilian employees and their managers can find more information about the use of AWAs should visit the AWA intranet page (internal access only).

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces should refer questions on flexible work arrangements to their chain of command.

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