PHOENIX — With no end in sight to rising gas prices, Arizona businesses may soon begin to rethink whether their employees should return to remote work to save money.
“If there’s a silver lining with COVID it’s that we’ve learned to do it very well and I think employers are very flexible in how they come back and allow for more flexibility,” said Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Sanders. .
But Sanders points out that not everyone can work remotely.
“We can’t forget that there are a lot of essential workers who are going to be asked to make another sacrifice,” Sanders said. “They have to come because they have no choice.”
Sanders says companies will have to offer other options to help their employees, like providing transit passes and pay raises.
One of the ways state employees are covering the high cost of fuel is by working remotely. When the COVID pandemic hit, 15,000, or about half of those employed by the state of Arizona, began working at least one day per pay period from home.
“In the past two years alone, the state has been able to save more than $8 million for taxpayers by reducing the state’s footprint,” said Sarah Webber, Governor Ducey’s Chief Operating Officer.
With fewer people coming to work, state agencies are now consolidating the space. 60% of AHCCCS employees work remotely. It is no longer necessary to occupy two buildings. Thus, renovations are underway to convert one of them to house the administrative staff of the Department of Corrections. The Department of Economic Security plans to close 14 locations across the state and move into offices with the Department of Transportation.
Webber says it will save taxpayers an additional $1 million. The state is on the verge of reducing its physical footprint by 750,000 square feet.
Remote work is so popular that it’s seen as an incentive by state agencies looking to hire.