PHOENIX — With no end in sight to rising gas prices, Arizona companies may soon begin rethinking whether their employees should return to working remotely to save money.
"If there's a silver lining with COVID, it's we learned how to do this really well and I think employers are being very flexible in terms of how they're coming back and allowing greater flexibility," said Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Sanders.
But Sanders points out not everyone can work remotely.
"We can't forget there are a lot of essential workers that are going to be asked to make another sacrifice," Sanders said. "They have to come in because they don't have an option."
Sanders says companies will need to come up with other options to help their employees, like providing passes for public transportation and bumps in pay.
One way state employees are hedging the high cost of fuel is working remotely. When the COVID pandemic hit, 15,000, roughly half of the people employed by the state of Arizona, began working at least one day a pay period from home.
"The state in the last two years alone has been able to save over $8 million for taxpayers by reducing the state footprint," Sarah Webber the Chief of Operations for Governor Ducey said.
With less people coming to work, state agencies are now consolidating space. 60% of AHCCCS employees work remotely. There is no longer a need to occupy two buildings. So, renovations are underway to convert one of them to house the Department of Corrections Administrative staff. The Department of Economic Security plans to close 14 locations across the state and move into office space with the Department of Transportation.
Webber says that will save taxpayers an addition $1 million. The state is on pace to reduce its physical footprint by 750,000 square feet.
Working remotely is so popular it's considered an incentive by state agencies looking to hire.