The Greensboro City Council got into a lengthy discussion about how to treat city employees in today’s world at the annual council retreat on Thursday, Feb. 2.

Although the discussion was long, detailed and certainly appeared to be a case of micromanaging, during the discussion held at the all-day session at Revolution Mill, councilmembers ignored one of the elephants in the room.

The discussion centered on providing employees with flexibility, with a focus on whether employees should be allowed to continue to work from home.

City employees were forced to work from home and not a single city employee was laid off because of the work restrictions during the pandemic.

It does put the city in a quandary because, during the pandemic, employees were told not only that they could effectively do their jobs from home but they had to do their jobs from home.  It’s difficult to now say that they are unable to work effectively from home.

Since the City Council only has two employees, the city manager and the city attorney, it would appear that the decision about city employees working from home should be made by the city manager for the vast majority of city employees and by the city attorney for the legal department.  But councilmembers weighed in with comments and suggestions about how working from home should be handled.

Another part of the discussion was about providing flexibility and benefits to employees other than pay increases to encourage them to continue to work for the city.

The City Council has been told time and time again by Greensboro police chiefs and officers that take-home police cars are considered an important benefit by police officers.  The City Council has been told repeatedly that one reason the Greensboro Police Department loses trained and experienced officers to other departments is because the competing cities and counties in North Carolina offer take home police cars to their patrol officers.

Despite being told that this is a benefit for police officers that would make a difference in recruitment and retention, Greensboro still does not provide take-home police cars for all of its patrol officers.

Providing take-home police cars for patrol officers, unlike deciding exactly where employees work, is under the purview of the City Council.

It makes you wonder how committed the City Council is to public safety, which the council continues to list as one of its top priorities.