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About GCmobility

The GCMobility initiative is a joint partnership between Canada's Free Agents and Shared Services Canada as founding partners.

GCmobility is most interested in how federal employees are supported as mobile workers.

The Government of Canada, from time to time has released various reports measuring mobility rates of its workforce. Mobility varies greatly between departments, regions, classifications and career aspirations. For instance, some employees may have the opportunity to mentor under the leadership of an executive early in their career. These employees may be advised by executives to design their career around 3 year blocks of time for each new opportunity. The first is focused on learning their job, the second is mastering their job and the third is finding their new job. This advise is apparent in the executive ranks where average mobility rates are often around or over 30%.

Mobility rates of executives, or those planning to become executives might be in stark contrast to other professions. One contrasting example includes Research Scientists who may spend the majority of their career researching a specific species of tree or fish in a specific geographic region. This career trajectory may result in lower mobility rates overall within a specific classification.

Although mobility rates will vary throughout the life cycle of the public service, we are witnessing drivers both within and outside government that are changing our perspectives on mobility. Internal drivers may include changing government priorities as well as changes in governing political parties. An example of an external driver is the rise of the Gig Economy. As reported by ITWorldCanada "The gig economy is coming on with incredible speed in Canada. According to Randstad Canada’s Workforce 2025 report, nontraditional workers (i.e., contractors, consultants, remote and/or freelance workers) currently make up 20 to 30 per cent of Canada’s workforce."

The government of Canada has a long history of leveraging external resources to support innovation, surge capacity and specialized skills acquisition. Some believe that these tools may be overused, leading to terms like "Shadow Public Service" made up of contractors, consultants, casual workers and students. However, there has also been a history of a group of public servants that are been busy moving around government to work on exciting projects and this number seems to be growing.

The Policy on Interchange Canada lead to the development of Interchange Canada, "an exchange program between the core public administration and other organizations in private, public and not-for-profit sectors in Canada and internationally. "Since 1971, Interchange Canada has been facilitating temporary assignments of individuals in and out of the Core Public Administration. Assignments take place with other sectors including private companies, non-profits, educational institutions, and international organizations, among others." (Personal Communications: Peter Wesolowski). The Policy on Interchange continues to be updated including in 2007 and 2012, demonstrating the government of Canada's continued interest in supporting mobility initiatives between the public service and other sectors.

A growing number of HR innovation programs such as Canada's Free Agents, PCO Fellowships, TBS Talent Cloud, Canadian Digital Service (CDS) and GCEntrepreneurs have been helping to formalize the structure, acceptance and utility of Gig workers within the Government. As the Gig economy starts to mature within a Government of Canada context, we have an opportunity to re-think what a public service might look like.

Unlike the above average mobility rates of over 30% found in the Executive ranks of the public service, Gig workers can experience hyper mobility rates of 100% to 300%, where a rate of 100% would mean an employee would undertake an individual gig once a year, a rate of 200% would result in a new gig every 6 months , and a rate of 300% would result in a new gig every 4 months (or 3 gigs per year).

GCmobility is most interested in the use case of Hyper Mobile. In this context, Gig workers experience the same on-boarding and off-boarding process that other employees experience, however in a more compressed schedule. Many departments have developed on-boarding and orientation frameworks that could take months or years to fully complete. GC Gig workers will compress that schedule into a matter of weeks, and this can put pressure on already strained internal business processes.

If the Government of Canada is to be representative of the Canadian population, then we might ask ourselves...

What would the Canadian Public Service look like with 30% of its work force designated as hyper mobile Gig workers?

To discuss this wiki page or any aspect of GCmobility join the GCmobility Community

We look forward to engaging with you, our stakeholders as we explore, experiment and explain what a hyper mobile workforce might look like.

GCmobility Vision

By 2024,
Canadian Federal Public Servants can work
From anywhere,
At Anytime,
For any department and beyond


The primary objectives of this partnership are:

  1. Decrease the time it takes Free Agents to onboard and off board from their short term and rapid assignments throughout the Federal Government
  2. Decrease the technology footprint of SSC employees who are issued individual devices by each partner department for which they provide services

Value Proposition

The GCMobility initiative is for Canadian Public Servants who are part of HR Mobility Initiatives
They want the autonomy and technology support to manage their mobile career
We will develop and test new models for modern and mobile office workflows
That are easily transferable within and between departments and beyond
Unlike the current model offered by individual departments
Which creates disparate policies, technology services, supports and security models
GCMobility will iteratively and collaboratively develop and test new inter-departmental mobility models
That public servants and departments alike can rely on and trust to support a modern and mobile public service workforce

How to Get involved with GCmobility

There are a number of ways you can get involved with GCmobility and the mobility community

  1. Join the GCmobility GCCollab group
  2. Join one of our regular mobility community meetups
  3. Request to be added to our Stakeholder Inventory
  4. Follow our Agile Scrum Planning process to learn what is coming up in future iterations
  5. Follow our ongoing Stakeholder Engagements
  6. We are looking for feedback on our Enterprise Architecture for Mobility
  7. Here are some other ways you can help
  8. Request an engagement with your team

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Welcome to the GCmobility FAQ where we try to capture the most frequently asked questions.

Is GCmobility a technology project?

While GCmobility is excited with the opportunities that exist with various IT solutions to support a mobile workforce, GCmobility is most concerned with:

  • People: The people impacted by mobility and the interactions and collaborations they may have with others
  • Policies: The Acts, Regulations, Policies, Standards, Directives and other policy instruments and frameworks that enable mobility
  • Processes: The processes that mobile workers are constantly needing to navigate such as on boarding, orientation and off boarding between departments.
  • Services: The services that are in place to support mobility including enterprise IT solutions, individual departmental service desks as well as the ecosystem of HR innovation programs tackling various aspects of the mobility issue.

Who Has the Mandate for Mobility

Currently it is unclear if any single minister has the overall mandate for mobility within the public service. The best that we have seen is that it is a shared responsibility among multiple deputy heads within and between departments. This causes problems for mobile employees in that is is sometimes unclear where the mandate of one deputy head or one department starts and the other begins. This can often cause issues to be unaddressed, with the ultimate result in mobile workers feeling the discomfort of areas of responsibilities falling through the cracks.

What is the solution proposed by GCmobility

We are often asked what solution are we proposing. The challenging response is that we actually don't have a solution. If the solution was easy as buying one IT products, commissioning one 3rd part independent report, implementing a tried and true governance model or any number of other potential solutions then the issue around mobility would not exist and nor would the GCmobility initiative. So our first approach is to try and define the problem of mobility. Perhaps the solution is to treat all mobile employees the same as with VIP Executives services, or perhaps we can just tweak an internal process, or maybe even a handshake agreement for two deputy heads to collaborate on a solution.

What is the problem with mobility anyhow? I have moved around government for years without problems

Well Done! The Government of Canada is a mobile organization for sure! The data also suggests that if you have positive mobility experiences you most likely are an executive employee. Executives continually measure between a 30-40% mobility rates. In support of this mobility there are "Executive" processes for HR, IT, accommodations etc etc. Employees are hired, retired and moved continually. The problem is not IF we are mobile but HOW and at what COST. GCmobility is collecting stories of Mobility Failure. Some examples include persons with disabilities waiting over a year for accessible laptops, Subject matter experts not being approved to use the tools they need, security validation processes taking over 100 days, employees not getting paid the right amount or at all, vacation and other leave not being transfered appropriately, duplicated e-mail and network user accounts, and the list goes on.

What are GCmobility timelines?

While timelines are hard to hammer out given that mobility is wicked problem that is not well understood, there are many uncoordinated efforts to solve different parts of the mobility problem, there is no clear ownership of mandate, executive services are already in place for the more mobile employee groups and no single solution has been identified, GCmobility has targeted 2024 as an initial timeline to have 30% of the workforce be hypermobile. History seems to suggest these timelines may shift.

What do you mean by mobility?

Think of GCmobility as solving mobility problems for public servants who self identify as gig workers. In the context of GCmobility, we are most interested in career mobility of public servants as public servants. So although this may exclude hiring and retirement, GCmobility is most interested in the retention phase of an employees career.Therefore mobility in this context is the deliberate movement of empowered employees to move where and when suits them, not just their employer or hiring manager. We are also interested in investigating other types of mobility such as workforce mobility, where deputy heads may move whole workforces from one priority to another. Talent mobility is another use case which tends to be driven by hiring managers needing to build their teams with the talent they need to succeed. While Workforce and Talent mobility are key, there are many initiatives focused on these mobility types. GCmobility is focused on Career Mobility of hyper mobile employees who may move through multiple gigs in a single year with mobility rates of 100%-400%. This is career mobility for gig workers.

Have you thought of creating an Enterprise Mobility Service?

The closest thing to a mobility service we have found in government are the multiple Executive, or VIP services offered by individual departments. For an enterprise Mobility Service to be successful, many things would need to fall in place. This service would need to be delivered by a single department, who would have combined mandates across multiple service lines including staffing, HR, Accommodations, IT, Service desk, Pay, leave, etc etc etc. Currently many departments face barriers between these service lines within a single department. These issues, if unresolved, would just be magnified by the department that would be responsible for such a combined mandate. GCmobility feels that the issues around mobility need to be deeply understood and systematically solved for each service line. Not simply sequentially going through each service line and fixing issues, but doing so in parallel with many iterations and a HUG number of failures along the way. This is hard work and requires strong SHARED leadership. If an enterprise solution one day exists, it will be because the problems were solved at a smaller scale.

How do you plan to scale what ever solution you find?

By leveraging a partnership approach, we want to analyze issues of mobility between a small group of deputy heads. Mobility is not a solo sport, so no single department can solve it on their own. Also, there is no sense of disrupting over 100 government entities as we experiment, try, fail, learn, and build new solutions. GCmobility is aiming to work with at least 3 deputy heads of different departments. If three deputy heads can offer up leadership, resources, time and space to experiment on new mobility models then scaling occurs when we add the 4th deputy head and the solutions don't break. If they do then we need to experiment, fail, learn etc with 4 partner deputy heads and scale incrementally. Perhaps the solutions work for 5 departments but fail when we hit 10. Or maybe we can find solutions across science departments but solutions break with central agencies or those belonging to the security portfolio. In short, we won't know until we start small, and the smallest partnership size that makes sense is at least 3 and a max of 5 to start.

Do you have any evidence of this scaling approach working with other programs?

One model of scaling that has followed a similar approach is Canada's Free Agents. Although it started at NRCAN as a single department in scaled through the concept of "co-horts", then it scaled to other departments. As of this writing (October 2019), Canada's Free Agents has just added a fourth department to the model. While there are some obvious signs that scaling might be a challenge, especially trying to ensure all Free Agents have a similar experience regardless of what department they call home, the model of scaling through collaboration seems to be working. While Canada's Free Agents is governed by an interdepartmental ADM level steering committee, it is unclear what governance model may work for GCmobility.

GCmobility Partners

HR Programs and Vehicles Supporting Mobility

There are a growing number of HR programs and Vehicles currently available to Canadian Public Servants who want to try out working in short term gigs. Please feel free to add to this list

  • Canada's Free Agents
  • TBS Talent Cloud
  • PCO Fellows
  • CSPS Fellows
  • GC Entrepreneurs
  • Interchange Canada
  • Canadian Digital Service

Project Management

GCmobility leverages the Agile Scrum method for managing its projects and the overall initiative.

Scrum is an agile process most commonly used for product development, especially software development. Scrum is a project management framework that is applicable to any project with aggressive deadlines, complex requirements and a degree of uniqueness. In Scrum, projects move forward via a series of iterations called sprints. Each sprint is typically two to four weeks long.(Mountain Goat Software: Agile Scrum Overview)

Iteration Scrum Updates

Part of Agile scrum is the use of regular stand up meetings to coordinate and communicate progress.This section helps point to resources that answer the typical 3 or 5 questions of scrum.

What have we been working on

Check out our Iteration Reviews and Demonstrations

What Will We work on

Check out our Planning Discussion Thread

What blocks are we facing

Check out our GCmobility Risk Register on GCcode

New issues added to the backlog

Check out the Newest Issues to be added to our Backlog on GCcode

Interesting things we are learning

Check out the Bookmarks Section of GCmobility Group on GCCollab

Key Resources for GCmobility

  1. Communication products
    1. If you need an "Official GCmobility deck" then we have you covered
    2. If you prefer long form presentations then check out the DRAFT GCmobility long form recorded presentation (37 min)
  2. Impact and Failure Stories
    1. Are you interested in learning about the experiences of employees when mobility goes wrong, check out our presentation "GCmobility: Stories of mobility and Free Agency"
  3. Join the GCmobility community on GCcollab
    1. Blogs and Updates
    2. Discussion Forums
  4. Follow project progress and Issue tracking in the GCmobility GIT repository on GCcode
    1. Submit a new Mobility Issue
    2. Our KanBan Board
    3. Full Issue Backlog
  5. Enterprise Architecture
    1. "Enterprise Architecture for Mobility"

Information Management

GCmobility leverages multiple tools to help manage project information

  1. Final versions of Documents are stores as Information Resources of Business Value (IRBV) in the GCmobility directory of SSC's GCdocs Instance
  2. In support of internal collaboration with SSC stakeholders, the GCmobility document reposiotry is managed internally on SSC's Synergi site (Sharepoint)
  3. In support of the GCmobility community, some documents are shared via the Group Files section of the GCmobility site on GCcollab

GCmobility Video Series

Iteration Reviews and Demonstrations

Contact GCmobility

If you are needing to contact someone involved with the GCmobility project please consider these avenues