California government ends state office leases as employees shift to telecommuting

New budget documents show that the California state government has started making progress on one of the promises of remote working: saving money on office leases.

The Department of General Services, which manages about 14.4 million square feet of leased office space for the state, has given up or is giving up about 767,000 square feet of space, according to Governor Gavin’s budget proposal. Newsom on Monday.

The changes will save the state about $22.5 million annually, according to state projections.

These are the first specific lease savings numbers the state has released since Newsom announced in May 2020 that he would make telecommuting a permanent option for state employees with jobs that could accommodate it.

Over the next three years, the state plans to reduce rented office space by 20 percent, which would save about $84.7 million annually, according to the budget proposal.

Along with leases, the General Services Department manages state-owned buildings. Major renovations and new construction projects totaling about $4 billion will continue in Sacramento, according to budget documents.

“As statewide consolidation efforts will continue, the administration recognizes the need for modern office space to carry out the state’s core business functions and remains committed to investing in construction. and renovation of those assets,” Newsom’s budget proposal reads.

The state waives leases in 30 cities. The majority of them — 23 leases — are in Sacramento, Department of General Services spokeswoman Monica Hassan said in an email.

Twenty-four departments, councils and offices have been affected so far, Hassan said.

In addition to saving money on leases, the state’s shift to telecommuting is expected to reduce traffic congestion and vehicle emissions while helping the state recruit and retain workers in an on-demand hiring environment. rapid evolution.

The transition to remote work has ripple effects on the economy and how employees interact.

Downtown businesses that relied on a steady stream of state workers have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic, with some restaurants closing. Union representatives for state workers said the shift to remote work makes recruitment more difficult.

The shift to permanent remote working continues across the state government. The Newsom administration ordered department heads to support telecommuting, but gave them the discretion to specify specifics, including the number of days a week employees report in person.

Large departments in general told employees they should spend about half their time in the office, while smaller departments and offices were more likely to allow full-time remote work.

Below are the departments that have been affected by the lease reduction process so far, according to Hassan:

— Control of alcoholic beverages

— Baldwin Hills Conservatory

– California Community Colleges

— Department of Community Services and Development

— Department of Consumer Affairs

— Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

— Department of Fish and Wildlife

— Department of Food and Agriculture

— Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

— Department of General Services

— Department of Health Services

— Department of Managed Healthcare

— Department of the Army

— Department of Parks and Recreation

— Rehabilitation Department

— Department of Social Services

— Department of Tax Administration and Fees

— Department of Technology

— Toxic Substances Control Department

— Employment Development Department

— California Financial Information System

— Governor’s Office for Business and Economic Development

— Office of Systems Integration

— Office of the Inspector General

Bernard P. Love