Mayor Eric Adams announced Monday that he’s expanding a hybrid work pilot program, originally rolled out for unionized NYC municipal workers, to roughly 16,500 non-union city employees.
The program, which was originally introduced for city workers represented by District Council 37 (DC37) in June, will allow eligible employees to work from home up to two days a week; the arrangement will last two years. The DC37 pilot was initially established by a “Flexible Work Committee” that was formed in the union’s renewed contract with the city earlier this year.
The mayor has come around on remote work after rejecting it early in his administration. In practice that meant that as many people continued to work from home coming out of the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Adams ordered city employees back to the office.
At the time, he fiercely argued that remote work was “draining” the city’s economy, because without office workers to spend money at businesses around their places of work those establishments could not survive.
But in the time since, Adams has said he no longer wants his “personal beliefs” about remote work to determine his feelings on it.
Mayor Adams, in a Monday statement, said that after the “success” of the remote work pilot for unionized workers, expanding it to non-represented employees is another way of supporting the municipal ranks.
“Public servants deliver for New Yorkers through the city’s most urgent crises, and now it’s time for us to support them as they have supported us,” Adams said. “With the success of our initial remote work pilots for tens of thousands of union-represented employees, we are proud to expand this benefit to the thousands of non-represented public servants who work tirelessly for our city day in and day out.”
The move follows Adams last week celebrating state Department of Labor figures that showed the city has recovered all of the nearly 1 million private-sector jobs it lost during the pandemic.
The news comes as the city has struggled to fill roughly 24,000 vacant positions, a portion of which many observers have attributed to the lack of a remote work option.
City Council Member Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan) has been pushing for the administration to more fully embrace hybrid work as a way to retain and recruit municipal employees amid the ongoing worker shortage. While the mayor’s expansion of the pilot program is positive, Brewer said it is coming later than it should have.
The council member noted that city agencies have had particular trouble with higher workers in fields where the private sector competitors commonly offer remote work — such as lawyers, technologists and accountants.
“We’ve been talking about this for a while, so we’ll see what happens in terms of the hiring,” Brewer said. “I know that whether it’s lawyers, technologies, people who have alternatives in terms of firms that do this kind of work, they certainly are not taking into the jobs.”