inside sources print logo
Get up to date Delaware Valley news in your inbox

Shapiro Orders Some State Employees Back to the Office

Gov. Josh Shapiro is drawing praise for his decision to order some state workers back into the office.

The Shapiro administration sent a letter to 2,300 employees saying they need to return to onsite work as of March 6. Those employees — senior managers, Governor’s Office staff, and cabinet members — will be in the office at least three days per week.

“This will enhance collaboration and relationships; build strong workplace cultures; increase mentoring, leadership development, and upskilling opportunities; and better serve Pennsylvanians while continuing to offer flexibility for employees,” said Dan Egan, communications director, state Office of Administration.

“Most of the approximately 2,300 employees affected by the new telework guidance are already working a hybrid schedule of some kind throughout the commonwealth. This does not impact any commonwealth employees who are currently represented by a union.”

Like his executive order opening more state jobs to workers without a four-year degree, Shapiro’s move won bipartisan praise.

“It is well overdue to call the governor’s administration back to in-person work. I applaud Gov. Shapiro,” said state Sen. Rosemary Brown (R-Monroe/Lackawanna/Wayne).

Guy Ciarracchi, former president of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry and a 2022 Republican candidate for Congress said, “It’s well past time for everyone to go back to the office—especially those in public service.

“For many people, as a practical matter, the COVID emergency ended by the fall of 2020 and for almost everyone by the spring of 2021,” he added, “Shapiro’s decision is fair and fact-based.”

One consequence of remote working has been to cause collateral economic damage to the restaurants and small businesses that serve these government workers noted Harrisburg Mayor Wanda Williams.

“With more people coming into Harrisburg and surrounding communities, our Main Street businesses and bustling downtown will have an opportunity to continue to grow and thrive – and it will be nice to see more of our neighbors and colleagues again,” said Williams.

Brown pointed out many government offices have been shut down throughout the state, including “many Democratic legislative offices.”

“This all was occurring while the Department of Labor and Industry, due to the governor’s COVID restrictions and closures, was unable to keep up with unemployment filings and concerns,” Brown said. “I am pleased that Gov. Shapiro called upon his staff to return to the office, and I encourage him to extend the order to all 78,000 state employees.”

Egan said around 25 percent of the 72,000 salaried state employees telework part-time or full-time.

“The majority, about 75 percent, do not telework at all and report to their work location for 100 percent of their work schedule,” he said.

Secretary of Administration Neil Weaver acknowledged there were benefits from remote work, but added “they must be balanced with the many benefits of being in the office, including improved opportunities for collaboration, mentorship, informal learning, and overall well-being, as well as the sense of connection and shared mission that comes with being in the workplace.

“This rebalancing of telework schedules will allow us to enjoy both.”


Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

DelVal Workers Slowly Returning to the Office

“The pandemic is over,” President Joe Biden told 60 Minutes last week — but do Delaware Valley workers agree?

Biden has stepped up his advocacy for employees to return to their normal work routines, sending  a letter to federal workers urging them to show Americans the time is right to return to work as COVID cases decline.

“It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again,” Biden said. “People working from home can feel safe to begin to return to the office. We’re doing that here in the federal government. The vast majority of federal workers will once again work in person. The workplace enables a sense of teamwork and belonging.”

At many companies, hybrid work settings have become the norm in a post-pandemic world. Hybrid work is a flexible working model where employees work partly in the physical workplace and partly remotely – at home or from another workspace.

Here in the Delaware Valley, Chris Yangello, a broker at Capital Commercial Real Estate Group, in King of Prussia says that “business is slow but steady, and anything from where we were before the pandemic would be an improvement. We are getting more and more calls and inquiries for office space recently.”

“Basic signs are going up. But business employers must tread carefully.  Offices have been the weakest area of growth in the past. But this could change dramatically. In light of the pandemic, this type of business landscape has been forever changed,” Yangello said.

But it’s hardly pre-COVID business as usual.

Bernard Dagenais, President & CEO of the 850-member Mainline Chamber of Commerce in Wayne, says his employees work two to three days per week at the chamber office.

“It is a matter of culture vs. choice,” said Dagenais. “The trend throughout the Delaware Valley region is hybrid, with some segmenting members requiring in-person, and some members only requiring two to three days per week. Larger companies, culturally, are requiring four to five days per week. Some embrace remote work. Some incentivize to compel workers to stay in the office.”

Not everyone is buying into the remote work model. Celebrity CEO Elon Musk of Tesla (and perhaps, eventually, Twitter) issued a strict return-to-office edict this spring, informing employees on May 31 that they would need to “spend a minimum of forty hours in the office per week.” Return-to-office advocates argue something is lost by not being in person, like team building.  It is harder to assure a strong company culture when people work at home. Member companies are encouraging younger workers to work in person to develop needed interaction skills.

Kevin McCann, a five-year business owner of the SearchStone Partners recruiting firm in Doylestown, with 28 years specializing in the food, beverage, and flavors industry, says that the “trend over the past year is to get workers back to the office quicker.”

“But there is a blend – some have gone back, and some are more productive at home,” he said. “Some corporate cultures have suffered because workers have lost their teamwork ability – a big tradeoff cost.  Over the past two years, sales and corporate operations workers have worked from home, while marketing and research & development have worked from the office. Hybrid test kitchens have also worked from home.”

“Productivity in this industry may not have actually suffered from being at home. It could be a matter of enticement, although one must draw the line somewhere,”  he said.

Overall, the general sentiment within the industry is to get back to work. However, some who’ve been working from home say they are not going back.

Kimberly Tinari, president of Rowland Personnel in Newtown Square, which serves law, engineering, manufacturing, and industrial firms in Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester Counties and Philadelphia, says “In general, employers want workers back in the office.”

“They were amenable to workers working at home at the start of the pandemic. Over this period of time since the pandemic, there has been a noticeable productivity drop. Employers, therefore, want white-collar workers back into the office, although candidates themselves want remote work to stay at home,” she said.

“The pendulum will eventually swing back,” Tinari said. “Although right now this trend of workers wanting to stay at home is unsustainable. Younger workers will have to change their attitude about staying at home. They simply can’t hold out over the long run.”

Employers are trying to get back to pre-pandemic levels, and are seeking to snatch up new hires or experienced workers right away.

“But there is a disconnect between employers and candidates on the work-at-home issue,” she says. “This gap needs to be closed, to create a coming together. I am optimistic this will happen.”

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or