Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s new employment policy has resulted in hundreds of government workers resigning.
The revised plan now requires mostly in-person work for the state’s employees. This move effectively cancels the ability to work mostly from home, which was put in place to combat the Covid pandemic.
Virginia is ranked in the top quartile of states for its Covid response. With cases and fatalities at a manageable level, the governor’s office is putting out the strong message that it is time to go back to work.
While 300 may seem like a lot of people, the state has about 712,100 employees. That equates to .042% of the total workforce quitting because they must go into the office.
A Youngkin’s administration spokesman commented on the change, saying “We know an office-centric environment fosters collaboration and teamwork and provides an even greater level of service for all Virginians.”
The disgruntled employees are not alone in their sentiments. A large portion of Americans are resisting returning to work, with a common refrain being all they are gaining is a commute.
Democrats in the state legislature have urged Youngkin to delay the policy, noting that a top-down one size fits all approach does not serve the diverse needs of workers.
Detractors have also pointed out that the labor market is currently very tight. More people may leave for the private sector which may provide more flexibility and childcare options.
The Virginia Department of Transportation suffered the most losses with over 180 people leaving government service.
Not surprisingly, high gas prices have been cited as a contributing factor. A long commute, once bearable, has become prohibitively expensive for some.
Although teleworking solves the fuel issue, it has been shown to have a negative impact on productivity. Studying accounting data reveals that people working from home were not able to show similar results as those who worked in the office.
Youngkin for his part is pushing forward with the policy despite the objections. The next few months will reveal if his approach to remote working is the right one.