WHAT ARE PROGRESSIVE/SMART EMPLOYERS DOING NOW TO BE READY TO MANAGE THE EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIP WITH EMPLOYEES POST COVID-19?
Unquestionably this global pandemic has forced employers into designing work arrangements never done before or in many cases, never even thought of before. One big question post COVID-19 is going to be employees asking WHY they cannot continue to work from home in many cases. This will be especially hard for employers to defend if the employee has been doing their job fully and properly. (new pandemic work from home studies are confirming that worker productivity is actually up!!)
Many employees who now look at commuting time and expense as a necessary evil – may change their tune and favour those competitor companies who do not require a commute, perhaps placing a higher value on employee’s personal time. The expense alone of commuting will have many looking for answers of how to minimize this or possibly not do it anymore.
Work from home is not at all a new concept, but the management thinking around this will need to be new. Here’s what you need to consider –
• Once this pandemic is past us, what onus will be on employers to allow employees to remain working from home if they wish?
• How will employers decide which jobs can be done fully remotely or not?
• What about employees now wanting to work remotely but from a different country?
• What will be the legitimate business reason for requiring employees to attend a worksite on a regular basis?
• How should employers deal with employees that simply refuse to work back in the office?
• What about employees who signed up to be able to come and work in the office, and now there is not a sufficient size office to have space for all employees?
• How demanding will employees be in their request to work from home?
• What are the legal employment ramifications in all of this?
I think you can see that there will be a lot of different views on the employer-employee work relationship. I don’t think anyone will disagree with that. This leads us to the question of what should employers be doing now to be out in front of these issues and more importantly to have answers for them when they do arise. The ‘do nothing’ option here is simply not in play. Employers who do not have answers for these important employee questions will potentially lose very good employees to those more progressive companies who have thought through the employment relationship post Covid-19 and can answer these same employee questions. This fact alone can have a significant impact on employee retention post COVID-19. Potential red flag here for employers.
At minimum employers should have a work from home policy which many already had but will likely need to be revised. Business will have to think hard about the reason for all-employee in person gatherings in future. Yes, team work in person communication and employee socialization is important, and how will companies do this with possibly most of their staff choosing to continue to work from home?
At the very least employers should right now be reviewing their current work from home policy and perhaps re-looking at employment contracts as a means of dealing with this. Really hard questions need to be asked about the legitimate requirement for employees to be at the workplace when all of their work can be done remotely. The idea that productivity suffers with remote work is in fact being found out NOT to be true. By forcing up to 40% of workers in to work form home roles, the worldwide pandemic may provide the greatest ever experiment in work from home data. In regards to remote work, a recent survey by OI Global Partners (Nashville, Tennessee) surveyed business and HR leaders at 585 companies of all sizes across 16 countries and found that 39% reported no change in worker productivity since Covid-19 started and 43% actually reported an improvement in worker productivity!!
If companies are not progressive enough we could see very significant employee movement to competitors who have figured this out. For certain, progressive companies who have developed a post COVID-19 work from home policy must post this on the employment section of their website as this will be a key employee attraction factor going forward. Making it seamless and easy for employees to apply to your company on-line will be even more critical. (One company who TwoGreySuits is very familiar with and has excellent experience in helping companies with this is Annex Graphics).
The bottom-line in all of this is that employees will in some sense initiate calling the shots on work from home, unless management has done the required thinking to address this going forward.
By: Ron Guest, Senior Partner www.twogreysuits.com
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