Rules and Guidance for Companies With Employees at Home
Even though your employees are working from home, they still need good, open communication channels between you and them. As a manager, keep the flow of information transparent and available for everyone to see.
The change to remote working creates a whole new set of challenges to support and stay connected with the remote workforce — you want to maximize stability. And let's not overlook the legal aspects. Here are some rules and recommendations:
- Establish a remote leadership team. Evaluate current managers and see whether any have remote work experience. These people can communicate nuances and serve as resources for questions. A core part of the team's role is to document challenges in real time, transparently prioritize the challenges and assign directly responsible individuals to find solutions.
- Create a handbook to keep everyone in the loop. It will serve as a single source for pressing questions. Update it regularly for common questions about tools and access. The idea is to put all important process changes in a central place to minimize confusion and dysfunction.
- Set up a formal and informal communication plan. How do your remote workers prefer to communicate? Email, text message, chat, phone, videoconferencing? When do they prefer to communicate — during regular meetings or on certain times or days? Consider setting up videoconferencing that's always on around the office, like a portal. It increases the intimacy of our relationships with one another. It can lead to more impromptu, unplanned conversations that can lead to the best ideas.
- Make time to talk with your employees one on one. This gives employees a chance to address issues they may have been afraid of bringing up in group meetings. You can continue mentoring relationships during this time, and you'll find this helps with employee retention.
- Keep an eye on safety. What would happen if a remote employee is injured while taking a coffee break or walking to their bathroom at home? They can indeed seek workers' compensation benefits in many cases. Laws and court rulings are subtle and complex, but you can do your part by encouraging a safe workspace.
DOL Posters Are Still Required
Even in a work-at-home environment, you must keep employees apprised of their rights. For full-time telecommuters, employers aren't required to post federal and state law posters in home offices. However, you're responsible for ensuring telecommuters have access to the posters — post the relevant ones on your intranet. However, this does not relieve employers of a physical posting in their offices.
Poster rules are especially important regarding the latest one from the Labor Department: "Employee Rights: Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)." It describes the COVID-19-related paid-leave rules. As with other posters, this one should be displayed in the company's office, and on an intranet for remote workers. The DOL has provided a FAQ page for the new poster, which is available on the DOL poster site.
Poster regulations can be complex, and state laws may also come into play. Contact us for assistance in getting your posters online.
Look at the Big Picture
It's vital to maintain perspective throughout this shift. Not all homes are ideal workspaces. Team members will expect frequent updates as you communicate in real time. Working well remotely requires writing things down. Aim to funnel communication into as few places as possible to reduce silos and fragmentation.
Flexible work options will become increasingly important in the future. Consult us for the practical and regulatory details.