Thanks to COVID-19, the stigma of working from home is over. Stanford University says more than 42% of the American workforce is working remotely, and they like it. This raises the likelihood that many of your workers simply will not want to come back to the office, should it ever reopen. What can an employer do if this happens?
Dealing with the Continuation of Work from Home
Employers that have furloughed workers or that currently have employees working from home may soon face a dilemma. At some point, things will get back to normal, and employers will feel comfortable resuming office operations. But you may end up facing workers who want to continue to work remotely. It’s a good time now to address this issue internally with your management team, before this happens.
A two-year Stanford study showed that remote workers are much more productive. But is this true in your case? Every individual is different, and some remote workers struggle with the distraction of working from home. Determining how you will respond to a worker’s request to remain remote should start with this basic assessment of how the shift to remote work has affected your business. If your business follows the national average, it is very likely you are experiencing an upsurge in productivity, not a decline. If this is true, why do you need to resume “business as usual?”
Some workers may be concerned about providing care to their children. Many daycares are still closed, and schools are still teaching online in many parts of the country. Suppose your employee says they cannot return to the office because of childcare. If your business has less than 500 employees, your employee may still be eligible for two weeks of leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, and an additional ten weeks at two-thirds the pay rate under the Emergency Federal Medical Leave Expansion Act. Talk with your HR team about these government programs to find out if you qualify and can offer these extended benefits to your workforce.
Perhaps your employee is just afraid to come back to an office. Instead of mandating a blanket return to work order, why not take the time to find out what is going on. Perhaps the worker is worried about contracting COVID-19; in these cases, it’s important to set the employee’s mind at rest by sharing all the steps you’ve taken to mitigate the risk on-site. It’s a good idea to communicate with your employees regularly anyway, and a steady stream of information on how you have “COVID-proofed” the office will help people know that you care about their health and safety.
We know you value your workforce so addressing these issues carefully is important. You may be able to find a compromise where your employees are able to remain working from home for two or three days a week to accommodate childcare issues. You may also find that it isn’t feasible to continue to accommodate a remote team. In these instances, it’s important to understand that the economy favors your HR team; there are many people looking for work right now.
We Can Help You Navigate the New Normal
ADD STAFF is committed to our customers, and we are standing by to help you find solutions to your most difficult hiring problems. Start the conversation with our team to prepare for your future hiring needs.