Many state employees who have been working from home for more than a year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic will soon be returning physically to the office, Gov. Ned Lamont said this week.
Customer-facing government offices like those at the Departments of Motor Vehicles, Social Services, and Labor will reopen for walk-in business on June 1, the governor said. Meanwhile, most of the remaining executive branch employees will be required back at the office to varying degrees on July 1, he said.
“We’re going to get back to sort of our pre-COVID rules, which is we want most people coming back into the office,” Lamont said during a news briefing. “We do have the rules where up to 50% can telecommute, but we’re going to start getting people back to the office on a more regular basis starting July 1. I think it’s time and I think it makes it easier for people to connect.”
The governor said that some COVID-related adaptations would still be available to residents who need to interact with government agencies. For instance, people can still make appointments before visiting the Labor Department, Social Services Department or DMV. Lamont said people can still conduct much of their DMV business online if they choose.
Josh Geballe, Lamont’s chief operating officer, said roughly a third of state employees have jobs that required them to be present in-person throughout the entire pandemic. He pointed to Correction Department employees and emergency services workers as well as employees of the Departments of Transportation and Mental Health and Addiction Services.
Geballe said the other two-thirds of the state workforce has been telecommuting to some extent depending on the nature of their jobs. State employees have shown professional and personal flexibility throughout the pandemic, he said.
“We’ve been pleased, overall, with how productive the teams have been able to remain despite the disruptions of the pandemic,” Geballe said, adding that “we are really looking forward to seeing people more often in the office.”
In a Thursday memo to state workers, Lamont encouraged state workers to get vaccinated against the virus if they were worried about working in-person.
“I’m sure some people will receive this news with some concern after more than a year of working from home and taking extreme precautions to keep ourselves and our families safe. I can assure you that there is nothing more effective for building confidence than getting vaccinated,” Lamont wrote.