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Connecticut Power Outages May Send Some Workers Back to the Office

  • Widespread power outages following Tropical Storm Isaias impede employees’ ability to work from home
  • Employers look to cope with loss of services, including possibility of sending some workers back to the office while maintaining COVID-19 safety protocols
  • Situation highlights one limitation of remote work

Thousands of employees in Connecticut have been working from home in order to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. After Tropical Storm Isaias swept through the region on Tuesday and knocked out power and internet service for many of these workers, companies may allow employees to temporarily return to the office.

Companies are considering reopening their office spaces to a limited number of employees or shifting responsibilities to workers who were unaffected by the storm. The situation highlights one limitation of the remote work that has become commonplace earlier this year due to the pandemic: an employee’s ability to work can easily be hamstrung if they are unable to access a virtual cloud or other online resources necessary to complete their tasks.

Connecticut has gradually been allowing businesses to reopen with social distancing requirements and other safety protocols. Offices were permitted to reopen on May 20, though they were limited to 50 percent capacity and employees were encouraged to continue working from home if possible.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority determined that Eversource Energy was insufficiently prepared for Isaias because it underestimated the number of power outages that would result from the storm. The utility has also come under fire for recent rate hikes, which angered homeowners and also raised concerns that the higher bills would further strain businesses that have already seen a drop in revenue this year.

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