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Which State Departments Top List for Remote Work?

All departments are required to provide telework data, but 39 haven’t, according to the Department of General Services’ dashboard.

California state employees are spending more than 90 percent of their days working remotely in at least 37 departments, according to Department of General Services (DGS) data. The department, tasked with overseeing telework under state law, recently updated and expanded work-from-home data it posts to an online dashboard.

The newly uploaded figures are from August. The data set covers 105 of 144 departments, representing about 135,000 employees out of about 190,000, according to the site. All departments are required to provide telework data, but 39 haven’t, according to the dashboard. DGS has asked departments to provide missing data, spokeswoman Jennifer Iida said in an email.

California state departments are free to set their own telework policies. While some department directors allow full-time telework, others require employees come to the office for one day or more each week, even if their work can be performed remotely, often citing work culture and collaboration as reasons to call in staff. While the DGS data set remains incomplete, it provides the most detailed picture yet of department-by-department telework practices. It also quantifies broader benefits of remote work, including commute miles saved and emissions reductions.

Many state jobs can’t be performed remotely, especially in prisons, hospitals and other public safety departments. Most agencies have at least a few jobs that must be done in person.

The data dashboard identifies how many employees from each department are eligible for telework, and slices the data in various ways. It doesn’t specify how many telework days per week each department allows, but it provides the share of each department’s telework-eligible days that were performed remotely. For example, the data show that 749 out of 753 employees at the Department of Managed Health Care were eligible for remote work in August. Of all the workdays in the month that could have been performed remotely, 99.8 percent were in fact performed remotely, placing the department near the top of the list in embracing remote work.

The percentages can be viewed as rough analogs for the number of telework days per week: An 80 percent telework rate translates to four telework days per week, 60 percent to three days, etc. Since some employees who are eligible for telework choose to spend some days in the office, many of the departments with the highest percentages of telework days likely allow full-time telework. Or at least they did in August. Some departments’ policies have changed since then. The Sacramento Bee sorted the data to identify the departments with the highest percentages of remote workdays. The figures exclude departments with fewer than 20 employees.

Some of the state’s most prominent agencies have yet to submit data, including the Employment Development Department, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the California State Lottery, the State Controller’s Office and the State Treasurer’s Office.

Employees at only five departments — all relatively small — avoided working in their offices for the entire month of August. They were the Office of Digital Innovation, the California African American Museum, the office of the California Secretary for Environmental Protection, the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.