Office work places may allow employees to work at home longer

Published: May. 19, 2020 at 5:51 PM AKDT
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Plenty of businesses simply need their brick and mortar establishments to function properly. However, for those who spend most of their work day on the computer anyway, working at home has proven to be a viable option. Several Anchorage businesses with a more standard office model are allowing their employees to stay home while it feels safer for now.

Businesses are able to make their own guidelines to reopen as long as they coincide with those of the state and local government. Some tell Channel 2 that they have restrictions that are slightly tighter than the states for the protection of their employees.

At PDC Engineering, Business Coordinator and Office Manager, Ryan Massey said they are ready for their employees to come back to the Anchorage office, but for now, it's up to the employee if they feel comfortable doing so.

At CRW Engineering Group, Managing Partner Mike Rabe said they're allowing their employees to make the same decision.

Of course, under the regulations and their new policies, both Rabe and Massey said they are implementing more strict cleaning measures.

For those coming into the office, Rabe said they are requiring masks to be worn in any common areas, but while at their own desk employees can take them off.

Not all businesses that work in traditional office spaces are allowing employees to decide when they want to come back into the office.

At ConocoPhillips and the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, spokespeople shared how those companies are adopting a tiered approach similar to the government plans to reopen. First they started bringing back a few employees, and as things continue to look better, more will follow.

Both Rabe and Massey said they were surprised at how productivity levels didn't take a plunge after they squared away employees to work at home.

In fact, it's been so successful, Rabe said there is the thought of keeping workers at home if they can accomplish their goals there.

"We're finding that people are working at home very very well," he said, "so maybe they can shrink their office space and do shared office spaces and not have so many people in a closed area at one time, just spread thing out and have shared offices."

Rabe said for now, this is just a thought, and he's not convinced that an all remote work option is the right move to make after the pandemic.

Massey said PDC isn't going to be keeping all of their employees at home forever either. However, he feels the conoravirus pandemic could change the way employers think about working at home.

"Maybe, hopefully, gone are the days of, 'oh I'm just gonna tough it out and come into the office anyways,'" he said, "it's like, 'no, go ahead and stay home and, if you feel well enough to work, you can. But at the same time if you're too sick to work, get better."

While it's a long term possibility, both Massey and Rabe expressed that many employees do better in an office environment for one reason or another. Such as comradery, easier access to collaboration, or simply being in a more work-like environment.

Rabe said they polled their workers, and while being at home is working for them, 90% of the employees said they want to come back to the office the moment it's safe to do so.

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