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ISO return to building now set for mid-March

By Jodi Ziemathis, Vice President, Human Resources, and Joanne Serina, Vice President, Stakeholder Engagement and Customer Experience
December 15, 2021


After careful consideration, the California ISO has decided to push back its plans for employees to return to work in ISO offices from January 18 to March 14, 2022.

Safety concerns are always paramount at the ISO. They have driven decisions about in-person or remote work for employees since the pandemic took hold in California and the nation in March 2020.

Until just recently, we felt comfortable with plans that we had shared earlier with employees that called for a hybrid work status starting in mid-January, with employees who were able to do so working in the office three days a week.

In anticipation of a return to working together in person, the ISO had been carefully moving forward to reconfigure employee work stations at our Folsom and Lincoln locations to provide for maximum safety and peace of mind, as well as optimum productivity in a hybrid work environment.

We have plans to refresh all workstations in advance of our return to the office, regardless of the date, but major disruptions in delivery of our computing infrastructure and specifically our new workstations have made things more complicated. New monitors, hardware and furniture have been on order for several months, for instance, with final delivery dates still uncertain.

Given those delays and recent concerns and uncertainty about the impacts of new COVID-19 variants, most notably the Omicron variant, ISO leadership determined that extending the return to office date to March was the best course of action to ensure a smooth and safe return to the office. 

In a recent email to the ISO workforce, we also noted that the regulatory landscape related to vaccine and/or testing requirements is unresolved due to pending litigation at the federal level. While these issues may not be fully resolved by mid-March, the extension provides additional time to thoughtfully consider requiring vaccines and/or testing, irrespective of the status of the regulatory requirements.

As we also noted in that all-staff email, we believe it is important to provide people a new timeframe that we hope can lead to resolution of these and other related issues and provide employees sufficient time to plan household logistics accordingly. 

This decision was not made lightly. We are anxious to welcome employees back to the office, prepare for in-person stakeholder meetings and get back to a more normal state of affairs. But we want the return to be smooth and safe for everyone. 

Our employees and stakeholders have shown tremendous flexibility during these difficult times, allowing us to not skip a beat when it comes to productivity and fulfilling our mission of managing the electrical grid and markets that help keep it going.

While we have all adjusted to Zoom, WebEx and other digital platforms for our meetings, stakeholder events, training sessions and more, nothing can truly take the place of personal, face-to-face contact and engagement.

Until we are able to comfortably and safely return to a more traditional pattern of work in our offices, the ISO will continue to host all of its stakeholder meetings and events virtually. We currently anticipate the full resumption of in-person stakeholder meetings by mid-April with the option for stakeholders to continue to attend virtually, as we recognize that not everyone will be comfortable with resuming business travel. We are also exploring options for hosting our 2022 Stakeholder Symposium in-person in the fall of 2022.

We greatly appreciate the flexibility and cooperation of all our employees, customers and stakeholders as we have navigated these uncharted circumstances and maintained all COVID safety protocols to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone. 

We appreciate your understanding and continued cooperation and want to wish all of our employees, customers, stakeholders, colleagues and partners a happy, healthy and joyous holiday season. We look forward to seeing you all again in the spring!

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