RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A new report shows that more state employees are working out of the office now than before the pandemic — and it’s not even close.

According to a Virginia Department of Human Resource Management report, as of September, 15,338 eligible state employees were working remotely at least once a week.

This figure is nearly three times the number of employees who were teleworking in 2019, which was 5,664, according to the report.

Virginia now has more state employees eligible to telework, with 23,185 in September compared to 15,399 in 2019. But in terms of percentage, 42% of state employees are now eligible to work remotely and 66% of those have approved telework agreements.

“This is significantly higher than employees eligible (26%) and approved for telework (37%) in 2019,” the department’s report states.

Thirty-two percent of state employees — 7,302 — are working remotely one day a week, the report says. Seven percent — 1,712 — are teleworking five days a week.

Telework data as of Sept. 7, 2022. (screenshot of the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management’s Sept. 30 report)

The total number of employees who worked remotely during the pandemic is unclear, but the report says “telework increased significantly from March – December 2020.” But the number of employees authorized to telework in 2020 was 6,086 and 6,951 in 2021, according to the report.

On May 5, Gov. Glenn Youngkin updated the state’s telework policy for all state employees to begin working in-person full-time by July 5, a change the governor’s office stressed would provide “options for and supports the use of telework where appropriate.”

Virginia’s stricter telework policy allows employees to submit applications to work remotely, but with various approval processes depending on the number of days per week requested.

Agency heads approve requests to work remotely one day a week, Cabinet secretaries evaluate requests for two days per week and Youngkin’s chief of staff reviews applications seeking three or more days of remote work a week.

State employees were given two weeks to submit telework applications and the administration set a June 3 deadline to review all of the requests, but Youngkin missed that goal.

The governor’s office told 8News that some agencies received an overwhelming amount of requests and some workers submitted applications late. Still, the July 5 back-to-work deadline remained in place.