Vaccine mandates and salary cuts: Here's how Pittsburgh tech companies are planning for a delayed return to the office - Technical.ly Pittsburgh

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Vaccine mandates and salary cuts: Here’s how Pittsburgh tech companies are planning for a delayed return to the office

Of these six local employers, from Google to Deeplocal, some are making remote work permanent, while others are implementing safety-minded policies for in-office work.

Bakery Square, one of Pittsburgh's main tech business districts.

(Courtesy photo)

Correction: Deeplocal's flexible work policy will continue indefinitely, not just until its October vaccination deadline. (9/3/21, 2:30 p.m.)
Though companies initially looked to Labor Day this year as a big return to office date, the Delta variant had other plans.

Surging case numbers have employers once again walking back on in-person work plans announced earlier this summer, thanks to the new spread among vaccinated and unvaccinated populations alike. With vaccines now widely available to the public and booster shots on the way, companies have started to implement vaccine mandates for employees returning to the office.

Some of Pittsburgh’s top employers are among those scaling back their initial plans, while some have chosen to stand by their policies paired with new mandates. Still others have adopted remote work as a near-permanent option. That seems popular among local tech employees, based on a recent survey from Code & Supply which showed preference for remote work had more than doubled.

Technical.ly rounded up policies from top area employers and local tech companies for an overview of how Pittsburgh workplaces are adapting to Delta variant concerns.

Google

Earlier this month, the tech giant announced that employees who chose to continue working remotely could receive a pay cut adjusted to the location of their home offices. The policy will likely affect long-distance commuters the most, leaving the Pittsburgh-area employees who reported to its local office — 760 as of March — slightly less affected given the smaller metropolitan size and affordability of living in the city limits here. (“Our compensation packages have always been determined by location,” a Google spokesperson told Reuters.) Beyond this potential pay cut, the tech giant also announced vaccine mandates for all employees returning to the office.

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Whether or not other local tech companies will follow Google’s policies remains unclear, though the big tech firm has long held a strong influence in Pittsburgh, given its role in the redevelopment of Bakery Square, the city’s main tech hub. Vaccine mandates, at least, are growing in popularity among some Pittsburgh employers, as detailed below.

Duolingo

In May, the educational tech company announced that its then-350 employees would return to the office for three days of the week by September, with the remaining two days being WFH. There haven’t been any publicly shared updates to that policy since, but the S-1 form filed in advance of the company’s IPO names management of “remote work arrangements” as an ongoing concern for the company’s operations, in terms of efficiency and culture.

PNC Bank

PNC, which employs over 12,000 people in the Pittsburgh area, initially planned for a full return in the early fall, and started bringing employees back to the office on a voluntary basis in June. But give the Delta variant, that return is now slated for November, with mask and vaccine mandates remaining unclear for now.

BNY Mellon

The bank plans to bring employees back under a hybrid work model on Sept. 6, though the company emphasized that it will be flexible as needed according to government regulations for each office location. Though the Pittsburgh market has faced several rounds of job cuts in recent years due to company-wide layoffs, BNY Mellon still employs thousands in this region. Those who choose to return to the office are now required to have a COVID-19 vaccination.

CivicScience

Earlier this week, CEO John Dick told Technical.ly the marketing intelligence company will continue to operate remotely, even after in-person work is safe again. While the company will maintain office spaces for employees to use for collaboration when they’re comfortable, Dick doesn’t foresee a situation where in-office work would be mandatory again.

Deeplocal

In a new and growing trend for public spaces, Sharpsburg-based creative tech company Deeplocal just announced a vaccine mandate for all employees. The mandate will go into effect in October, giving unvaccinated workers enough time to schedule appointments for the vaccines. Regardless of vaccination status, all employees are required to wear masks in the office as well.

Deeplocal extended its flexible work policy “for the foreseeable future,” a spokesperson told Technical.ly. The move to require both vaccines and masks is a big step for Pittsburgh tech and could encourage other employers in the area to start doing the same, as businesses across the country navigate how best to handle the continued spread of the Delta variant.

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If you work for these or any other Pittsburgh tech companies and have thoughts on your employers’ pandemic workplace plans, we’d love to hear from you: pittsburgh@technical.ly. 


Sophie Burkholder is a 2021-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments. -30-
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