Work from home extended for state employees

The doors of the state Capitol were closed to the public on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The about 23,000 state employees who have been working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic will be doing so for another month.

According to a memo from the state Department of Human Resources, the work from home arrangement has been extended until at least May 26. Meanwhile, Gov. Bill Lee this week began reopening segments of the economy like restaurants and retail stores.

About 18,000 state employees, or 44% of the total full-time workforce, have still been required to come to work during COVID-19. Changes are being made to account for the new workplace realities.

“Not only will this help the State of Tennessee reboot from the current crisis, it will also prepare our workforce for the future,” according to the memo.

Here’s the full memorandum:

Dear State Employees,

Thank you once again for your commitment to maintain services to  support the health, welfare, and safety of Tennesseans during the pandemic. As we strive to continue business in the safest, most responsible way possible, please review the following announcements regarding work from home, state facilities, workforce recalibration, and mission critical hiring.

Work From Home Extension
To support efforts to maintain social distancing, the directive for employees who are able to work from home is being extended to at least Tuesday, May 26. While work from home will continue where possible, the state is developing plans for a phased approach to return to state offices where needed. The plans will support site-critical employees in returning to their worksites safely. At the same time, work from home may continue for employees who are fully virtually enabled as a means to support social distancing.

State Facilities Update
Efforts are underway to ensure workspaces are ready to support safe employee return. The State of Tennessee will continue to follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Department of Health (DOH) for the cleaning and disinfecting of state facilities and usage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Workforce Recalibration
As we prepare to operate business in a post pandemic environment, we must be prepared for the ‘new normal’ that emerges. Leveraging work from home and online services is key going forward. Not only will this help the State of Tennessee reboot from the current crisis, it will also prepare our workforce for the future.

Mission-Critical Hiring
In order to be fiscally responsible as we face the economic effects of the pandemic, the State of Tennessee will focus on filling mission-critical positions only. This policy will be effective through June 30, the end of the current fiscal year. Continuation of the policy will be reevaluated at that time. For more information, visit www.TN.gov/Careers.

For additional COVID-19 updates and announcements for state employees, please visit www.TeamTN.gov.

Sincerely,

DOHR Communications

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