Madison city employees who’ve been working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to do so at least through the first quarter of 2021, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said Monday.
“While vaccine news is promising, and some public health numbers are slowly improving, we are still in the middle of a pandemic, and are likely to be through much of 2021,” Rhodes-Conway said in a memo to employees.
“At this time, I am advising that all employees currently teleworking should continue to plan to do so for the first quarter of 2021. As shared earlier this year, teleworking employees will have at least four weeks’ notice to prepare for their return to the workplace.”
About 800 of the city’s roughly 2,900 employees are working away from city offices, city human resources director Harper Donahue said.
The mayor noted that many employees, such as in the Police and Fire departments, Metro Transit and the Streets Division, are providing essential services that require direct work with the public.
“Some of you are out in the field and have modified your practices to keep each other safe,” she said. “Some of you are working part- or full-time in city offices to keep our operations running smoothly, and I appreciate your working safely in these spaces.”
Still others are teleworking, making sure city services and programs continue, while keeping workplaces safer by having fewer staff in offices and public buildings, and reducing the risk of community spread, Rhodes-Conway said.
City managers will be be sharing information about efforts to roll out symptom and temperature checks in the workplace, she said.
“We have teams of city leaders working on updating our teleworking policy, planning how to return to the office safely when it’s time, and developing guidelines and working to plan for vaccine distribution in our city,” she said. “You’ll be hearing more about these efforts in the New Year.”
The full impacts of working remotely are unclear, but early concerns about a drop in productivity have have been unfounded, Donahue said.
“I would have to assume there are impacts related to various City offices being accessible, but agencies have been careful and thoughtful in balancing public needs with employee safety concerns,” he said. “Initially, I believe there were concerns regarding drops in productivity; however, many managers are finding that most employees are more productive than ever.”