Austin city manager stands behind choice to mandate employees return to workplace.
Austin City Manager Defends Decision to Require In-Office Work
Jesus Garza, the interim Austin City Manager, has announced that city employees must return to the office, sparking backlash from union leaders and some employees. However, Garza is defending his decision, stating that he wants to change the sense of urgency within the organization.
Starting on June 5, city executives must be in the office five days a week. By October 1, all other staff must return at least three days a week. Garza believes that a hybrid work model will be beneficial for both staff and city residents. He thinks that in-person work will improve teamwork and responsiveness.
Garza has been in his position for 90 days and was able to observe the organization, which led him to make some decisions that he thinks will help the city. He believes that being responsive to the community and its needs is important. He also thinks that teamwork and connection between employees is crucial for the projects and issues that they work on. Another key factor in his decision is fairness to the city workers who cannot work from home, such as those who work in fire stations or Austin resource recovery.
Despite Garza’s reasoning, some workers outside City Hall protested his plan, stating it would lead to inefficiency and make it harder for them to complete work. Union leaders also feel that their voices aren’t being heard. However, Garza has reiterated that this policy won’t go into effect for most workers until October, and he hopes that workers will give the policy a chance to adapt to it before making any rash decisions.
Garza has stressed that he didn’t negotiate with the union, but input was collected all along. When asked how concerned he is that some workers will leave, he responded, “My wish would be that they wouldn’t. But if that is, if they feel that they need to do that, I completely understand it.”
In conclusion, Garza’s decision to require in-office work has its reasons, though not everyone is happy about it. The policy is set to go into effect later in the year, which should give employees plenty of time to prepare.