Governor Shapiro Calls State Workers Back to Workplace

HARRISBURG – PennLive is reporting…  Gov. Shapiro calls state workers back to the office. About 2,300 state government employees, many of whom had been working a hybrid schedule allowing them to work remotely, will now be reporting to the office at least three days a week under a new Shapiro administration policy to take effect on March 6.  Who it affects: The policy applies to all senior managers who work under the governor’s jurisdiction, the Governor’s Office staff and Cabinet members, none of whom are union-represented.  Why the change: “We are eager to set the tone at the top in supporting practices that support workers and the communities in which they live and work,” said Shapiro’s Secretary of Administration Neil Weaver.

“While the administration acknowledges the potential benefits of remote work, they must be balanced with the many benefits of being in the office, including improved opportunities for collaboration, mentorship, informal learning and overall well-being, as well as the sense of connection and shared mission that comes with being in the workplace. This rebalancing of telework schedules will allow us to enjoy both.”  Office of Administration spokesman Dan Egan added that it also will increase mentoring, leadership development, and upskilling opportunities and better serve Pennsylvanians while continuing to offer flexibility for employees who have been permitted to telework.

Currently, about a quarter of the 72,000 salaried employees, or 18,000, telework either part-time or full-time while the remainder report to their work location on all work days.  Reaction to the decision: Harrisburg Mayor Wanda Williams is a fan of the administration’s return-to-the office decision.  “With more people coming into Harrisburg and surrounding communities, our main street businesses and bustling downtown will have an opportunity to continue to grow and thrive – and it will be nice to see more of our neighbors and colleagues again,” Williams said. “I look forward to working together to make Harrisburg an even greater place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Republican lawmakers have been calling for state employees to return to the office for nearly the past two years. They said having workers work from home has impacted the quality of service Pennsylvanians receive from their state government and they have questioned its impact on worker productivity.  Upon hearing of this decision to limit teleworking by some employees, House Republican Appropriations Committee Chairman Seth Grove of York County, was elated although he said it needs to be expanded.  “It’s time,” said Grove, a leading critic of the duration of former Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19-era teleworking policy. “People need to get back to work. COVID is over. To an extent, telework policies are helpful like when you got a sick kid. There are a lot of positives to it. But generally, you should be in at work working, especially when you are in positions that answer the phone and are accountable to residents. You need the workforce back.”

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