Austin city manager sits down to talk leadership changes, new work from home policy

garza

AUSTIN (KXAN) — After significant pushback from City of Austin employees earlier this year, Interim City Manager Jesús Garza recently announced a new work-from-home policy that he believes is a compromise.

KXAN sat down with Garza to talk about the process for getting to that policy, and about recent high-level staffing changes at the City of Austin.

Work-from-home policy

City employees will be allowed to split their time 50-50, in the office and at home. Previously, Garza was asking employees in non-management positions to return to the office at least three days a week, which garnered pushback.

“I think it’s fair. It’s basically…a little different than where I started but it’s one where I think most of the workforce will accept it,” Garza said. Employees in management roles will still be required to show up to the office full-time.

The city manager also said not everyone can work from home on the same days. He told KXAN that will ensure people seeking city services can go in-person for help.

“I know it would not surprise anyone that the most popular days to work from home are Mondays and Fridays,” Garza said. “We’re a public agency, we’re responsive to the public. And we’ve asked all directors to make sure their offices never go dark.”

KXAN reached out to AFSCME Local 1624 — the workers union that represents both City of Austin and Travis County employees — and will update this article when we hear back.

The policy goes into place Jan. 1.

More shakeups in leadership positions

Garza also recently announced several key leaders at the City of Austin are leaving. It’s the latest round of management changes since the new mayor and Garza stepped into their respective offices.

Those changes include the departure of the Housing Department’s director, Rosie Truelove. She is headed to work at the City of Kyle, according to a personnel memo.

That department has gotten new focus from Garza and city leaders this year after it was split from the planning department. Garza said then it would allow a more central focus on Austin’s housing crisis.

This year, other key leaders like the homeless strategy officer and the directors of the airport and Austin Energy have also left the City. Some have asked why Austin isn’t doing more national searches to find new candidates to fill those roles. Garza responded in part:

“If we’re able to build a good succession plan, get people to understand how the City of Austin works, and when a director finds an opportunity that they’ve decided to leave or retire that we’ve got somebody that’s working in that space who can get promoted into that rather than having to go through an elaborate search process.”

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