Every month, two topics appear the most among the many emails, blogs, newsletters, and online magazines I receive--Infrastructure Spending and Return-to-Work.

Since I wrote about infrastructure spending two issues ago, this month I’ll focus on Return-to-Work.

The COVID-19 vaccines are reducing the number and severity of infections, which is translating into higher levels of confidence as the lockdown restrictions ease. We see the light at the end of a long, dark, 14-month tunnel and I’m sure most of us are excited with the prospect of coming out of our respective seclusions.

From a business standpoint, there are many questions to ask and answer:

  • When do we bring everyone back to working onsite?
  • How do we make returning to onsite work safe physically, mentally, and emotionally? What resources do we need to provide for those coming back to being onsite?
  • And the million-dollar question--do we allow a "hybrid" remote and onsite setup for those workers who've demonstrated they can be effective and productive under such a schedule?

In their meeting on Monday, May 17, our Commission adopted a “Remote Workplace Policy,” which outlines the criteria that will be used to determine if an individual employee can work a hybrid schedule and procedures for doing so. It’s a comprehensive policy which balances the needs of the agency and individual employees. I anticipate that some of our employees will express interest in this. Since the variables for each job role differs, each request will be handled individually, factoring in both the needs of the employee as well as the department and agency as a whole.

We live in interesting times, with the necessity to be nimble, flexible, and proactive ever-increasing. As an industry, the wastewater field tends towards the conservative, and for good reason, as our charge is protecting public health and the environment. Our challenge today is to create a work environment that meets this charge and responds to the changing needs and expectations of our workforce. This is certainly a challenge that I personally embrace!

Thanks for visiting and please be safe, and healthy, and happy!