HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A new rule instituted by Governor Josh Shapiro will reduce work-from-home opportunities for senior management state workers. Shapiro wants the workers back in the office more than half the work-week.
Dennis Owens spoke with the cabinet secretary of Pennsylvania’s Office of Administration who will be tasked with implementing the new policy and asked whether it will be expanded to more employees.
A letter from Shapiro went out to 2,300 employees, described as senior management, requiring a return to the office at least three days a week.
“The governor feels it’s incredibly important as he’s building his priorities and moving forward that we have our staff back, and that starts at the top,” said Acting Secretary Neil Weaver of the Pennsylvania Office of Administration.
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Weaver has to implement the policy, which will impact just three percent of the nearly 78,000 state employees.
Will the come-back-to-the-office order be expanded to other state workers?
“No, right now there’s no discussion on that. We’re looking and focusing on these 2,300. We really think that would be most impactful,” Weaver added.
While the private sector has mostly put the COVID-19 pandemic behind it, much of the public sector has not.
“From about March 2020 until fairly recently I was working from home pretty much all of the time or most of the time,” said Dan Egan, an impacted employee.
Egan, the spokesman for the Office of Administration, is impacted by the new rule but is happy to get back in the office.
“There is something to be said for just that atmosphere and camaraderie that comes with being in the office. The ability to stick your head in someone’s office door and say, ‘Hey, do you got a minute?’.” Egan said.
However, there are others who disagree.
People with differing views refused to speak on camera but told us they are just as productive working from home and don’t like being forced back.
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“It’ll be an adjustment, and I think it’ll be a challenge for some folks. But I think in the end, when we look at this we’re gonna come out on the other side and be a stronger workforce,” said Weaver.
There’s also the issue of taxpayer-funded state office space, like the new building in Harrisburg, built during the pandemic. If the parking lot on an average afternoon offers any insight, the building is not very full.
“Bringing people back and being there, we are we’re gonna fill these offices again. You’re going to see more traffic downtown. This goes back to supporting the governor and his priorities and we think getting them back in the office is the right thing to do,” Weaver concluded.
One worker called the new order a missed opportunity, saying that Shapiro had been showing a lot of pro-worker sentiments with his executive order, but says this is not that.