State workers in 8 more California departments receive two-day return-to-office mandate

Roughly 19,000 permanent state workers under the California Natural Resources Agency will be required to return to their offices or work in the field at least twice a week starting this spring.

Secretary Wade Crowfoot announced the change Friday afternoon in an all-staff email, which The Sacramento Bee obtained via a California Public Records Act request. Similar to other state agencies and departments that have announced return-to-office orders, Crowfoot’s email cites the importance of in-person work for increasing collaboration, mentorship and productivity.

The mandate affects workers in these eight departments:

Office of the Secretary

Department of Fish and Wildlife

Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

Department of Water Resources

Department of Parks and Recreation

Department of Conservation

California Energy Commission

California Conservation Corps

“To make this decision, we have reviewed research, gathered feedback from employees, and reflected on our own experiences leading our organizations over the last several years,” Crowfoot’s email read.

The agency says its review of national surveys and its own employees’ feedback indicate “strong preferences” for shifting from a traditional five-day in-person model to a hybrid workplace arrangement to provide “greater work-life balance.” The number of in-person days recommended in the studies and surveys ranged from one day a week to three-and-a-half days.

Departments will utilize employee feedback over time to “assess whether the two days per week minimum of in-person work is our collective ‘sweet spot’ for the hybrid workplace,” the email from Crowfoot says.

The return to office will come in two stages. Starting on May 20, supervisors and managers will be required to report to their offices or work in the field a minimum of twice per week. Then, on June 3, all employees will be subject to the two-day in-person mandate.

Crowfoot acknowledged that several groups of employees within the agency have continued working full-time in person since the COVID-19 pandemic due to the nature of their jobs, and others have already started working in the office or in the field at least twice a week.

The last paragraph of the email mentioned that “many other CNRA entities” have already implemented these changes or plan to do so. Crowfoot did not mention those additional entities by name.

“We support these efforts and look forward to greater coordination and collaboration with them.”

Want state worker news in your inbox? Sign up for our weekly newsletter using the module below or by emailing