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California return-to-office rumors are true — for some. See which state teleworkers are affected

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Thousands of state employees will likely have to report to work in-person starting later this spring.

The California Environmental Protection Agency announced its intent to bring workers back to the office at least two days a week by “early this spring,” according to a recent email to all CalEPA staff and those who work for the agency’s boards, departments and organizations.

“With nearly four years of experience with a largely remote workforce now behind us, in 2024, we are planning to transition to a more consistent hybrid workplace,” wrote CalEPA Secretary Yana Garcia in a Jan. 12 email obtained by The Sacramento Bee. “To achieve this goal, CalEPA is working to update its agency-wide telework policy to reflect staff working in person at least two days per week.”

More than 6,500 full-time employees work under CalEPA. Within the five departments and boards of CalEPA that reported telework data in November, nearly all employees are eligible to telework and the vast majority of them are remote-centered, according to the latest available data from the Department of General Services. (The California Air Resources Board, which employs more than 1,660 full-time workers, did not submit telework data to DGS.)

The proposed change would allow CalEPA to “continue the benefits of remote work” while simultaneously “fostering collaboration, strengthening our teams, enhancing communication, and continuing to experience work-life balance,” wrote Garcia the Jan. 12 email.

CalEPA spokesperson Kalin Kipling-Mojaddedi confirmed the contents of the email but did not provide any further comment.

Garcia told staff that CalEPA “will be joining other state agencies” in updating its hybrid work culture to include more in-person work, although it’s unclear which other agencies have established return-to-office policies.

The CalEPA email also said the agency would contact unions “in the coming days” and anticipates an implementation time frame of “early spring.”

“Once discussions with unions are complete, your (boards, departments and organizations) will provide additional information regarding the hybrid workplace transition.”

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