Thanks to the early days of the pandemic, remote work seemingly became an overnight phenomenon. While some companies have opted to return workers to the office, others are continuing remote operations or are embracing a hybrid model.
While great for some, this new style of work comes with its fair share of challenges for both employees and employers. HR departments and small businesses without dedicated HR personnel have suddenly had to become experts at managing, onboarding, and remaining compliant with remote team members.
Over two years later, the line between work and personal life has begun to blur and traditional work environments are shifting. Human Resources can assist you and your business in setting clear boundaries and rules for remote employees that keep your organization compliant, yet empower the employee to still be productive and accountable while working from home.
Designate Clear Policies
An upside to remote work for employees is an increase in flexibility. Clarify expectations for remote employees early on to prevent any instances of miscommunication regarding whereabouts, schedule timing, time off, etc. Human Resources can create a list of Do’s and Don’ts for remote workers that encourages open communication and can help keep everyone on the same page.
Don’t Ignore Compliance
Are you properly equipped to onboard a new employee, verify their identity, and process their paperwork virtually? Are you meeting the state requirements and tax obligations based on where that employee lives? Are remote employees still eligible for FMLA? Are the required workplace and labor law posters accessible to them? Are devices being provided or must they use their own? There is a whole set of new considerations to managing employees when it comes to remote positions. Making sure your HR administrator has resources, tools, and templates available to them can help you have fewer hiccups with remote work at your company.
Whether or not your employees are new or have been working for you for quite some time, the remote work system is still fairly new to most workers who were not remote prior to 2020. Not only is the work environment different, but tasks can now be carried out and completed in a different manner. For example, meetings that required everyone in the office now may be conducted via Zoom or Microsoft Teams. This opens possibilities for people not attending, having their cameras off, not participating, and changing the work culture. If you have set expectations for remote workers, training may be necessary to properly teach your employees how to work effectively with new technology in a remote environment.
Having a clear balance between work and life correlates to productive and happy employees. However, for an employee, establishing this balance can be very challenging. HR can provide guidance on flexible scheduling, having policies on whether or not after hours communication is acceptable (depending on industry), and tips to be productive while avoiding burnout.
Encourage Time Off
Seeing the renewed positive impact of work/life balance caused by the wide availability of remote work, has caused time off to be more of a gray area for some. Depending on their responsibilities, workers are now able to travel and go on vacations without needing to take actual time off. However, this has adversely caused burnout for some, as now employees are working through their normal allotted vacation time instead of fully embracing the time to disconnect. It is still important to encourage employees to take the time off that they need to allow them to rest and rejuvenate to be their most productive selves upon return.
Practice Cyber Safety
With more daily business functions moving online, your business may be more vulnerable to scams and hackers. It is important to have policies in place to help your employees be prepared and cautious when dealing with confidential client information. For example, practicing safety by never emailing sensitive client or employee information or conducting lessons on what to look for with fraudsters, phishing attempts, and hackers.
Remote work is a new and exciting challenge for many employers. It is opening the door for hiring more unique and diverse people without requiring moves and relocations. However, it is important that you have a set HR team in place to help guide your employees and your business through the newly remote world.
Sign up for the HR Help Center for More Resources such as:
- Sample Remote Work Policy
- Template for a Bring Your Own Device Company policy
- State and Federal laws and tax requirements for remote employees in different states
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