Updates on telework, return-to-work plans, and COVID-19 vaccines

from Whitney Abrams, Chief People Officer

Whitney Abrams,
Chief People Officer

On Monday, March 22, Washington state will enter Phase 3 of Governor Inslee’s Roadmap to Recovery when more activities and gatherings with increased capacity will be permitted as long as social distancing, face mask, and hygiene guidance is followed.

While this is good news, we must continue to be vigilant against the virus which is still spreading in our community and its more contagious new variants. We need to continue to wear masks, stay at least six feet apart, washing our hands, and limit gatherings to small groups of people wherever possible.

At King County we remain under mandatory telecommuting through July 5, 2021, for all Executive Branch employees who are currently telecommuting, except where there is an operational need to physically return to the workplace. This also applies to King County Council, Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Department of Assessments, and King County Elections employees, where appropriate.

County leaders are planning for what our operational models will look like beyond July 5. We are optimistic that, while vaccine supply is currently far lower than demand, most people who want a vaccine will soon be able to get a vaccine.

Your department leaders have been working with the Future of Work Committee on operational plans after July 5. I anticipate that some employees who are currently teleworking will begin to return to the workplace after July 5, but employees will not return en masse. These decisions will be based on operational needs, employee feedback, customer service challenges, health and safety consideration, and space configurations – all of which are being considered in Future of Work plans.

Despite this move to Phase 3, all county fitness rooms remain closed indefinitely for safety reasons, except those at the Regional Communications and Emergency Coordination Center, South Treatment Plant, and West Point Treatment Plant. We are gearing up to resume preparations related to the closure of the Administration Building and associated moves to King Street Center and other locations. There are a lot of logistics to plan. The Facilities Management Division in the Department of Executive Services will communicate move timelines with affected departments soon. King County will use an online scheduling tool so that employees can schedule time to come on site to pack for the move. This will help us keep the numbers of employees in the buildings to safe levels while COVID-19 is still a risk. Affected employees will receive additional information from their departments.

Until notified, only those employees who are approved by their supervisor or manager to report to the Administration Building for operational reasons are permitted inside. Employees can continue to use the tunnel access to the Courthouse and Goat Hill Garage.

Meanwhile, eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines has just been expanded to include residents eligible under Phase 1B2, including critical workers in certain industries and people 16+ who are pregnant or have a disability that puts them at high risk. This includes employees working in congregate settings in public transit, corrections, courts, and first responders not covered under earlier phases.

If you are eligible for a vaccine, I encourage you to look for an appointment today. Visit FindYourPhaseWA.org to confirm your eligibility and find possible vaccination locations. We have built an employee vaccines webpage where you can learn how to find out when you are eligible, how to schedule a vaccine, information about your benefits, and much more. You’ll also find the latest vaccine information from Public Health at kingcounty.gov/vaccine.

All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19 and have been studied in clinical trials with large and diverse groups of people, of various ages, races, and ethnicities.

If you have questions, please reach out to your supervisor, HR Manager, or any member of your division of department’s leadership team.

We will continue to seek feedback and provide updates and support as things progress. Once again, I want to express my sincere acknowledgement and gratitude for your continued dedication and service to the residents of King County.

Please continue to take care of yourself, your family, and our community.