SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – After three days of working remotely, 8,600 Utah state employees are expected to return to work Thursday.

“When that forecast gets to a mandatory action, that is when we will trigger a surge remote workday,” Managing Director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, Jeff Mottishaw says.

Last legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill, when the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) forecasts poor air quality, those who can, must work remotely.

According to the DEQ, this is the first surge remote work day since the lawmakers approved bill.

During the height of the pandemic those 8,600 state employees who worked remotely reduced tailpipe emissions 2.79 tons a month in Salt Lake County.

“Every bit helps, it is a small percentage of the daily emissions or monthly emissions,” Bryce Bird Utah Division of Air Quality says. “When we looked at last year driving along the Wasatch Front was down about 15% and we could correlate that with improved air quality. Most of the air quality days we saw last year were due to western wildfires.”

As officials brace for one of the worst wildfire seasons in recent history, they say more people should consider working remotely during poor air days.

When another poor air quality day is projected, state employees will go back to working remotely, and are encouraging large company’s to consider working from home if they can.