COVID-19 has certainly led the charge in people utilizing the term “the new normal.”
And that is true for municipal officials, but in this case, from a taxpayer’s perspective, it could be a great thing.
With about 300 municipal staff working from home at least on a part-time basis during the pandemic, it has allowed management to review its on-site staffing needs. Yes, not everyone can work remotely – you can’t plow snow from a home office, for example. But for those 300-ish people, council was to look at the need to have space for them on a regular basis in municipal buildings.
Council on Monday did the right thing to pave the way for people to work remotely, even after the pandemic.
And if space is wasted, or even under-utilized, can we afford to keep the lights on and keep spending money at the pre-COVID pace?
Arenas, for example, have seen a big drop off in ice rental needs. Two are now to be used in other capacities in the short term.
The biggest expense at an arena is running the chilling units and working to maintain the ice. Cut that out and you can entertain the notion of alternative use for the pads.
With municipal staffing, after examining the situation, including staff performance and mental health, council and administration should make some changes.
Municipal numbers say each employee allowed to continue working from home could save the municipality more than $12,000 per year. Say 200 of the 300 people working off site remain that way; that translates to savings of in excess of $2.4 million per year. That’s way too large a number to ignore.
On top of this, it is estimated each staffer who works from home would save nearly $2,000 each for fuel, insurance and apparel. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
Furthermore, the Civic Centre needs millions in renovations; more than $18 million, according to municipal projections and desires. Cut on-site staffing, find alternative smaller office space and sell off the Civic Centre.
That’s prime real estate.
Win, win, win.