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May 17, 2021 Deal Watch

Major Hartford employers target a fall return

PHOTO | COSTAR Travelers’ downtown Hartford office at One Tower Square.

Hartford Business Journal polled a half-dozen large companies that collectively employ thousands of workers in the Capital City, asking them about their current remote work situations and plans to bring more workers back to the office in the months ahead.

Here’s what they said:

The Hartford, Travelers, CVS Health/Aetna

Many local employees of Hartford’s three major insurers — CVS-owned Aetna, Travelers Cos. and The Hartford — continue to work remotely, but all three companies expect to begin calling more workers back downtown in the late summer or early fall.

All say they are focused on employee health and safety in their decision-making.

“Our decisions are, and will continue to be, informed by experts within our organization as well as public health officials at all levels of government,” said The Hartford spokesman Matthew Sturdevant.

Travelers is currently allowing employees to come back to the office on a voluntary basis and is planning a broader return to the workplace after Labor Day.

“While we’re still working through those details, it will likely include a higher degree of flexibility as compared to our pre-pandemic model,” said Travelers spokesman Matt Bordonaro.

Joe Goode, a spokesman for CVS Health, parent to Hartford health insurer Aetna, said the company’s return date isn’t set in stone, but it is also preparing for a hybrid work environment.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced that our colleagues can work well together, innovate and deliver results outside the traditional office environment,” Goode said. “Our new approach to work will include a combination of in-person and virtual work.”

Bank of America

Bank of America, which has Hartford offices in CityPlace I and II, plans to have workers back in the office around Labor Day, with a slow ramp up starting before then.

“Our plans are for employees to return to their offices in stages, and depending on their roles and what is going on in each local market,” said Joe Gianni, BofA’s market president for the Hartford region. “We’ve demonstrated that we can operate in a work-from-home environment at the flip of the switch to maintain business continuity, but we thrive on in-person interaction. We are going to give people at least 30 days ahead of time to make sure they feel comfortable and will require face coverings and social distancing, and limit the number of people in a meeting.”

Shipman & Goodwin

Law firm Shipman & Goodwin, which is the largest tenant in the 310,074-square-foot 1 Constitution Plaza office tower downtown, continues to “strongly encourage” teleworking, said Anne H. Littlefield, partner and general counsel.

However, Littlefield said the firm expects more attorneys and staff to return over the summer months.

“We take great pride in the flexibility and efficiency of our staff and attorneys in adapting to new remote work processes during the past year,” she said. “Given the positive experiences of clients, staff members and attorneys, we anticipate that the firm will continue to support a greater proportion of flexible working arrangements than we experienced in our pre-pandemic mode of operation.”

State of Connecticut

Gov. Ned Lamont informed state employees May 13 they are expected to return to their state offices on July 1, while those who serve customers must return sooner, by June 1.

The decision comes 15 months after most of the state’s 30,000 employee workforce was directed to work from home to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

The governor left the door open to potentially allowing more state employees to telework in the near future. Before the pandemic, employees were allowed to work from home 50% of the time if their manager approved. 

Hartford Steam Boiler and Infosys

Not all companies are willing to publicly announce a timeline for returning to their offices.

Spokespersons for specialty insurer Hartford Steam Boiler and IT and outsourcing provider Infosys say most of their several hundred employees based out of the One State Street and Goodwin Square office towers, respectively, continue to work from home with no timeline for a return to the office.

A CT Mirror report was included in this article. 

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