Metropolitan Transportation Authority office staff will be allowed to work from home at least one day a week starting this summer, amNewYork Metro has learned.
According to an email from an agency executive obtained by amNewYork Metro, the MTA will test a telework program for six months and then decide if it should be expanded to two days a week.
An MTA working group has been meeting regularly to explore the implementation of an MTA Telework Program for non-represented managers and non-represented employees, according to a memo sent out Friday. This summer, a pilot Telework Program will begin.
The agency will provide more details on the pilot later this month, Camilo added.
Most of MTA’s 67,000 employees have to work in-person to run the trains and buses of the agency’s mass transit system, but the policy would affect about 5,000 employees.
The telework pilot program is designed to evaluate the productivity of hybrid scheduling for a small part of the workforce, while remaining competitive in recruiting top tier talent. The MTA did a great job of returning its workforce to in-person jobs last winter and we encourage employers to do the same.
The new scheme is in response to employees asking for a flexible regime after more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic upending the traditional office workflow.
For the relatively small group of office-based staff who work hard to support our frontline colleagues, we have heard from you about your desire for more flexible workplace initiatives and we want to be responsive to your needs while ensuring we are working productive and providing the highest level of support to our staff.
amNewYork Metro first reported Tuesday that the MTA was getting rid of its weekly testing requirement for employees that refused to get vaccine against the coronaviruses.
Shults said the policy had no relation to the agency lifting its vaccine-or-testing regime.
MTA workers that want to take part in the one-day remote pilot have to be non-unionized and have at least 30 calendar days of work under their belt.
They will need a sign-off from their manager and agree to use a tool to measure work activity, while maintaining a satisfactory or higher performance without being disciplined.
Shults did not specify what that tool will be.
One MTA employee, who asked to remain anonymous so they could speak freely, welcomed the change, saying they were able to do the work from home for months earlier on during the Pandemic.
“We’ve shown for the past two years that we’re able to do the work remotely,” the employee told amNewYork Metro. “We’ve done it before, we can do it again.”
The agency required workers come back to the office five days a week in mid-February, after MTA allowed a hybrid schedule from Dec. 19 on to slow the spread of the Omicron variant, Shults said.
The worker added that the remote option will keep staff happy and prevent them from ditching the state agency for the private sector, where hybrid schedules have become commonplace.
The person said that it was important for people to want to stay in their jobs and for people to come to the MTA. It makes sense to be able to do it in government because you can go anywhere and work in a hybrid environment right now.
New York City government under Mayor Eric Adams has stuck to a strict five-day in-person policy, trying to set an example for other companies to lure their workforce back into Manhattan.
The move by Adams has led to public sector workers leaving in droves, even as higher-ups on city boards and commission get to still meet despite safety concerns from the spread of the virus.
Mayoral spokesperson Fabien Levy referred a request for comment to Adams’s statements earlier this month, when hizzoner said the city may allow some flexibility in the future.
One day a week, we may do some type of different version according to Adams. You aren’t going to be home for five days a week unless there are some circumstances that require it.
Since last year, the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations has been able to decide whether to allow employees to work remotely.
The vast majority of New Yorkers don’t want to return to the office five days a week, according to a recent survey by NY1 and Siena College. Less than one-in-five people said they wanted to come back every day of work.
The MTA had banked on a full return to the office to bring back mass transit patronage, but weekday trips have remained below pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest agency counts.