JEFFERSON CITY — Thousands of state employees are being asked to return to the office after a year of working remotely.
In emails sent to state workers Tuesday, Gov. Mike Parson’s administration set a May 17 deadline for employees to come back full time.
Kelli Jones, spokeswoman for Parson, confirmed the plans and said additional information will be released Wednesday.
At times, an estimated one-third of the state’s workforce has been out of the office to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
Although prisons and mental health facilities remained fully staffed during the pandemic, large state office buildings where paperwork is processed and rules are meted out were emptied out.
The number of people currently working remotely is still evident in the parking lot of the Truman State Office Building near the state Capitol, where an estimated third of the spaces are empty on a normal workday.
The Capitol building has remained open except for a two week stretch in March 2020 when it closed to combat the spread of the coronavirus, which had infected state lawmakers and legislative staff.
Some state agencies said the work-from-home concept was positive.
At the Department of Social Services, for example, Director Jennifer Tidball said last year that homebound workers were processing Medicaid applications at a faster pace than they did when they were in an office.
For a time, the state also considered using the change to rid itself of privately leased office buildings.