One silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic is that Missouri state government learned many of its employees can serve the public just fine from the confines of their homes.
We recently reported that close to 14,000 state employees have been working from home. That number is shrinking because, as our state “reopens” after successfully flattening the COVID-19 curve, more state employees are being called back to their cubicles and other office spaces.
However, with hundreds of millions of dollars in state withholdings, the state is looking for efficiencies. One possibility is to let some of the workforce stay at home during their workweeks.
Working at home is nothing new, but like many employers, the state shifted to remote work for almost 40 percent of its workforce because of the pandemic.
The Office of Administration found the overall impact on public services was minimal.
As of May 21, OA measured the impact on residents at 96 percent green or yellow.
Green indicates no major changes to services being provided to the public — with shifts being normal and no or limited disruption of normal services. Yellow indicates some diminished services, such as longer wait times or delays, but with most core services still being delivered.
The benefits to employees are obvious: no commute and no dress code, among other things. Some say employees that work at home are healthier, too, since they can get up, stretch, even take a short walk when they desire. They also might have access to healthier foods instead of being tempted to eat out more.
Employers can see a cost savings as well when they don’t have to provide a physical space for its workers, plus utilities and coffee and possibly other snacks.
We encourage the state to continue studying the idea of letting more of its employees work from home. It could be a win-win for state government and its workforce.