Almost 65% of the state’s workforce continues to work from home almost two years after the start of the pandemic.
PHOENIX – The state of Arizona estimates that more than $ 7 million has been saved on rent as thousands of government employees continue to work remotely.
More than 15,000 state employees work at least one pay period outside of a traditional office according to Arizona State COO, Sarah Rose Webber, and the offices have been redeveloped for the changing landscape of work.
Same building, new workspace
Down Washington Street in downtown Phoenix, a public building has been given a facelift thanks to remote working.
“This building was one of those sad, old, bureaucratic government buildings,” Webber said. “It has now been transformed into this modern workplace which is a hotel and coworking space. “
Each floor has empty cubicles, free for state government employees to come to work as needed. Along some corridors are also conference rooms which can be adapted to accommodate as many people as needed.
“We saw very quickly that this is a change that is here to stay,” said Webber.
Almost 65% of the state government workforce still works remotely. Before the pandemic, less than 10% of Arizona state employees worked remotely.
“What we are finding is that they are more productive, more efficient and more engaged,” said Webber.
However, with offices downsizing as needed, Webber said the state saved $ 7 million in taxpayer dollars by not paying this in rent for the offices.
The decision to be a remote working model is made at the executive level in each state-run department, Webber said. The idea is that what may work for one department may be different for another.
“Remote working isn’t going anywhere in any industry,” Webber said.
A necessity come true
Working remotely was a necessity for many at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Blake Ashforth, the Horace Steele Arizona Heritage Chair in the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship at ASU’s WP Carey School of Business, said it was probably here to stay.
“Gallup did its most recent survey and found that 45% of the full-time workforce in the United States is now working remotely,” Ashforth said.
Ashforth said the biggest difficulty businesses face are the impromptu interactions coworkers used to have upon entering the office.
“This is what greases the social cogs,” Ashforth said. “You really want your employees to have these quick, spontaneous conversations. This is how we build cultures, this is how we build trust, this is how we build cohesion.
Ashforth said he predicted that employees and employers seeing the benefits of remote working and the lack of declining productivity would likely switch to hybrid workplace models.
“I think the fact that employees and employers are now both on the same bus to figure out how to run this makes it all the more likely that we’re going to see some type of hybrid model in the future,” he said. Ashforth said.
RELATED: Internet Funding Rule Could Favor Rural Over Cities
Build culture without stepping into the office
It was in February 2020 that Jordan Lickteigh accepted a promotion as Contractor Relations Manager for OneGuard Home Warranty.
Lickteigh moved his family from Iowa to Arizona but did not go to the office for work.
“I came in June 2020 with the intention that at some point our offices would reopen, and they just never did,” Lickteigh said.
Lickteigh notes that the work-from-home model has benefited her family. Allowing him to get to his children’s school as needed, as she is down the road from his home, not across the valley from his office.
But Lickteigh said working from home and building a team culture has hardly been easy.
Lickteigh notes that it is these personal interactions that help employees take root in the company, and is grateful that his company has helped train managers to help create a culture in the virtual environment.
“We are so siled and unless they make sense to you in your virtual environment and are on your Zoom, I no longer see the people I used to greet regularly,” Lickteigh said. .
RELATED: Pandemic Is Driving Changes In How Prospective Teachers Are Trained
Follow all of our current updates on Arizona politics on our 12 News YouTube channel. Subscribe for updates on all of our new downloads.