Hybrid work at NCC

The view from my office (Photo by LM Neilson/NCC staff)

The view from my office (Photo by LM Neilson/NCC staff)

February 15, 2022 | by Darlana Dyck

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is a great place to work, even if we're not in the office! Our care and compassion for each other this past year have been recognized by Great Place to Work® (GPTW). NCC has been added to the list of Canada’s Best Workplaces for Hybrid Work.

NCC received this honour following a thorough review of our 2021 survey results by the GPTW team, as well as the responses we submitted to a survey about the programs and practices we have in place to support hybrid work.

With the onset of the pandemic, along with the rest of the world, NCC was forced to adjust how we work, shifting our commutes from our offices to our homes. Our IT team, in collaboration with our internal communications team, had been slowly rolling out new technologies to help staff connect, and the pandemic pushed this project into overdrive. Suddenly, despite working in different parts of the country from kitchen tables, and backyards (if you were in BC), we could see each other! The adoption of new technologies was fairly seamless and even helped us to develop new ways of sharing and collaborating from coast to coast.

There were definitely logistics to sort out, but overall, staff adjusted quickly to this new way of working. A few months into the pandemic, NCC’s senior leaders surveyed staff to understand their work-style preference. Most staff indicated a hybrid option was their preferred choice, allowing for focused time to work independently, with the option to work together. The results of this survey, along with research gathered by senior leaders, allowed NCC staff to choose the arrangement that worked best for them and their teams.

NCC has introduced new ways of keeping staff connected, from monthly Town Halls with our president and CEO, Catherine Grenier, to our new internal webinar series, to Fitness Fridays on Microsoft Teams, as well as training to support teams in their transition to this new way of working.

Mother working at home with child (Photo by Ketut Subiyanto, Pexels)

Mother working at home with child (Photo by Ketut Subiyanto, Pexels)

Most staff have appreciated the flexibility the hybrid workplace accommodations gave them during the uncertain times of the last two years. "The hybrid workplace allowed me to take care of my close ones, and myself, without impacting my work performance,” reflects one of my colleagues. "My work life–home life balance was maintained...Even improved. Despite this long crisis, I’m in good spirits!"

Another NCC colleague said that working from home has allowed her to spend even more time in nature. "Whether it is a quick walk with my dog, Cedar, before I sit down at my desk, or a stroll through the nearby ravine after work before it gets dark, without a commute I have more time to decompress and enjoy my surroundings. I appreciate that NCC has acknowledged the hardship we all faced over the pandemic and promoted staff well-being," says my colleague.

Although that working in a hybrid environment can be great, NCC also acknowledges there can be an “always on” mentality when your work is a few feet from your home life. To counteract this way of thinking, staff are encouraged to take time away from their desks, to use their vacation days, their Nature Days (days off to support mental health while spending time in nature), use Focus Fridays, days we’re encouraged to not book meetings, and to disconnect from their work at the end of the day.

Shifting to hybrid work may have been a change for quite a few of our staff, but many NCCers have been working in this manner for years, splitting their time between their homes or offices and NCC properties. I would argue that they are the lucky ones among us, truly getting the best of a hybrid situation — working in and among our most important natural areas across the country. From my own experience, I appreciate the flexibility that comes with working from home, and at the same time very much look forward to spending a few days of every week with my colleagues, when it’s safe to do so again.

I'm proud to be working for an organization that is building an even more positive, inclusive and supportive work environment. Thank you GPTW for this honour! 

Darlana Dyck

About the Author

Darlana Dyck first joined the Nature Conservancy of Canada in 2013 as a member of the development team, then took on a role with the information technology team, before joining HR as manager, employee engagement.

Read more about Darlana Dyck.

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