KANSAS. During the COVID-19 outbreak, state agencies spent million to support remote work. On average, the government spent $8.8 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds on office supplies for employees working from home.
Since the first global lockdown, local agencies have provided upgrades to improve the remote work experience. The financial aids include a $72 camera purchase in the Kansas Water Office. The Kansas Judicial Branchor spent $1.4 million in audiovisual equipment to live stream court hearings.
How State Agencies Invested On Remote Work
To speed up the shift to remote work, agencies used federal funds to bill for computers (over 1$ million), printer ink ($9.000), software licenses, digital equipment, and webcams.
The type of investment in remote work varied on the agency. For example, the Department of Agriculture had 40% of staff working from home. In comparison, the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services allowed less than 1% of in-person work during the pandemic.
The Kansas Judicial System spent the most to improve remote work experience. On the other hand, the Department of Children and Families spent over $600,000 to create a virtual call center once physical call centers were closed.
Will State Agencies Return To The Office?
According to the Department Administration guidance, local workers can return to physical offices on June 13th.
However, a memo by Burns-Wallace outlining return-to-work protocols highlights that state agencies must develop a remote working policy after that date. According to the guidance, in-person work will be the first option unless social distancing and COVID restrictions cannot be applied.
As vaccination campaigns continue and state workers are slowly going back to the office, whether remote work will stay or not is still under debate. While state agencies are adjusting their models, most employees are expressing preferences for hybrid options.