Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler wants to reduce remote work for city employees

By OPB staff (OPB)
Dec. 7, 2022 10:21 p.m.

Public employee unions will likely balk.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler wants all city workers, including those currently working remotely, back in the office at least half time.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler wants all city workers, including those currently working remotely, back in the office at least half time.

MacGregor Campbell / OPB

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler wants all city employees working in the office at least half the time starting in April.

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The mayor’s office announced Wednesday that all city workers — including people currently working a hybrid schedule — will be expected to meet the new standard, though some exemptions will be approved.

Wheeler also told administrators in the Office of Management and Finance on Wednesday to craft a rule that would require city employees to work from either Oregon or Washington. The City Council would need to adopt the new residency requirement.

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Wheeler said the changes will result in better public service and help the city implement a complicated change in its form of government voters approved last month.

“This approach provides maximum flexibility for in-person collaboration, while rising to the significant challenges we face and transformation the city is undergoing,” Wheeler said in a prepared statement.

But unions that represent the city’s 7,000 or so workers are likely to push back against both changes.

A survey conducted in June of nearly 3,500 municipal government employees — about half of the city’s total workforce — found most had no interest in returning to the office full-time. Three-fifths of those working from home part-time said they’d quit if the city made them come in more than twice per week, according to a report distributed to city employees.

The leaders of 12 affinity groups representing some 1,300 city employees have asked city leaders to make remote work permanent.

Willamette Week first reported the new requirement for city workers.

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