Editorial: Concordia, let people work from home

Graphic Carl Bindman

From May 2021 to May 2023, Concordia staff successfully operated on a hybrid schedule. Staff and faculty’s work week mandated three days in-person and two-day remotely. This structure allowed for a more productive, mentally resilient and motivated workforce. 

Hybrid work heeds an improved work-life balance and helps mitigate burnout. The Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research has called it "the future of work."

On Aug. 14, 2023, Concordia decided to regress, blindside their invaluable workers and mandated its staff and faculty  return to a four-day in-person schedule—all without consultation.

Over 600 staff and faculty at Concordia have signed a petition against this change.

It was also reported that female employees with children have been hit especially hard by the new mandate. 

Concordia went forth with the decision to return to a four-day in-person schedule without informing the Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS). Members of the FAS have expressed their dissatisfaction of this new mandate to the dean of Arts and Science, Pascale Sicotte, as well as in a letter to Concordia President Graham Carr. 

When the majority of Concordia staff chose to formally stand up and express their discomfort and concerns with the new mandate, the university met them with blatant ignorance. Concordia’s reaction only further reflects its administration’s lack of empathy for their workers.

Forcing staff and faculty to return to this schedule only adds more stress and pressure to the employees who have been tirelessly working and adapting to a changing schedule since the first lockdown in 2020.

Concordia claims to be a next-generation university and a leader in sustainability. How can the university claim to bring "understanding" and a "commitment to the public" when they disregard their workers’ outcries for a more accessible work environment? 

How can Concordia claim to fight for sustainability when working remotely not only cuts back on carbon emissions, but replaces time spent commuting for time with loved ones?

Concordia, once again, proves it is not a leader in anything but falling short of their promises and adjusting to the current times.

Our alleged post-COVID-19 world has left us with crucial adjustments to the workplace.

The hybrid model, which allows for an individual to participate in-person or online, has become integral to inclusion and respect for one's schedule. 

Even at The Link, we’ve made hybrid work the norm. If someone cannot attend an in-person gathering, we accommodate them the best we can.

Following through with Concordia employees' request for a three-day in-person schedule and fairer wages is the least the university can do to support the staff and faculty who allow this institution to function.

Suppose faculties want to have the opportunity to take care of their well-being, resulting in a better attitude towards work. Why is forcing them into constraints that hinder their optimal working conditions the answer?

FAS is not asking for much. They request a safe and healthier workplace that allows more time to prepare materials and boost productivity. On top of the ongoing housing and cost of living crises, reducing accessible work is only making it harder for employees to get by. We stand with the unions and fully support their demands.

The Concordia administration needs to listen to the demands of its employees who are the backbone of its so-called next-level university services, step up, and finally start heading in the direction of being the “leader” it claims to be.

This article originally appeared in Volume 44, Issue 2, published September 19, 2023.