New York state government and various corporations have begun the process of reintegrating staff back into the office place, and I have one question to ask: Why?
Mother Nature has shown us how quickly and fatally a virus can and will inevitably spread again. We mitigated this spread in numerous ways, the most successful being social distancing and mask wearing. The question then arises: Why would we want to send over 35,000 people back into a cramped office setting?
When this first began I absolutely abhorred the idea of working from home, but over time, I began to love doing so. This gave me more time with my kids. I was no longer in the car an hour a day and could do chores on my break time or lunch period instead of when I got home.
Studies have shown that happy employees are more productive. I know I am much happier and much more productive working from home. My use of sick time (due to medical issues including long COVID) is way down.
Companies such as Twitter and Synchrony Bank and even the federal government have come to the realization that telecommuting works.
Not only does working from home raise morale, lower sick time usage, and increase productivity, it also helps the environment, solves family care issues, and saves money.
Global Workplace Analytics estimated that having employees working half their hours remotely could save businesses as much as $11,000 per employee per year on costs including such things as parking, office space, and fleet management.
One can only guess that the reason employees are being herded back into a petri dish of illnesses, not just COVID-19 but the flu (which is down 98 percent in Schenectady County alone over the last year), is the need to justify the costs of building leases. Regardless of whether these buildings are being used, the state (as with any business) will have to pay rent based on the terms of the lease. So why not use the funds that would be saved by telecommuting to pay these leases? New York could move the budget line items to battling child hunger and homelessness.
Originally published in the Times Union.
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