In the past month, businesses have been presented with new challenges from all angles, including how to manage their workplace without the benefit of in-person interactions.Remote workplace and performance management were not implemented concurrently at the levels that we see post COVID-19.
For many employees, working remotely can offer certain benefits such as saving on commute time and working out of the comfort of your home. It can also have some downfalls, where physical distancing and isolation can lead to certain mental health concerns, which we outlined in our article “Mental Health in the Remote Workplace”.
For employers on the other hand, workforce management may become increasingly difficult as staff are spread out and communicate can become tricky.
Maintaining Performance Management at Current Levels
One of the biggest concerns for employers is ensuring that employees maintain the level of performance that is expected. While family obligations, animal companions, and errands may be distracting within a work-from-home environment, employers are constantly looking for ways to ensure employees are able to maintain their performance levels.
One of the ways in which employers can assist their employees in maintaining productivity is setting our clear expectations. With the challenges that come with communicating virtually, misunderstandings and miscommunication can lead to a game of broken telephone. Outlining duties and tasks clearly in writing goes a long way to ensuring that employees understand their expectations, permits employees to clarify any questions they may have, and ensures that everyone remains on the same page.
Employees may need to check in more than they would if they were attending the office in person, and demonstrate that tasks are being completed or they are on their way to meeting their targets. The law acknowledges the employer’s right to manage their workplace—as long as the steps taken to do so are reasonable and fair. An employer must still take into consideration accommodation needs and consult with employees to assist them with participating in the workplace meaningfully and with improving their performance.
Aside from ensuring that duties and expectations are clearly outlined, employers and managers should engage with their employees regularly. It is just as important to maintain workplace morale. Mentoring or providing feedback or constructive criticism may be difficult during this time, particularly when texts, emails, and private messages may be misinterpreted or misconstrued.
Making sure that the remote workplace has a common ‘hub’ for communication can go a long way in enhancing a sense of community and cohesiveness in the workplace. An online platform which allows for instant messaging is likely to increase the fluidity of communication, as opposed to traditional emailing. In addition, holding daily or weekly virtual video meetings, may also assist with social interaction and curbing the possible negative effects of a lack of social interaction.
Employers should reach out to a lawyer if they have any privacy or any other concerns regarding their methods of performance maintenance or remote communication, or if they wish to take lawful preventative measures on how to best manage their employees.
In our previous article “Amending Employment Agreements and Policies During the COVID-19 Pandemic”, we outlined the importance of reviewing employment agreements and workplace policies amid the current pandemic.
For those workplaces where remote work is possible, some policies may require changes to adjust to these new remote expectations, methods of communication, or process changes that employers are implementing to ensure the continuity of the business.
If you are an employer who has questions about your legal obligations or how to navigate current business issues, or an employee who has questions about changes to your employment, our team of experienced legal professional at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at 1-(800)771-7882 or email us at email@example.com and we would be happy to assist.
If you are a small or medium size company looking for full-service support, visit our CLO program page for our strategic solutions.
Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to serve as, or should be construed as legal advice, and is only to provide general information. It is in no way particular to your case and should not be relied on in any way. No portion or use of this blog will establish a lawyer-client relationship with the author or any related party. Should you require legal advice for your particular situation, fill out the contact form, call 1-(800)771-7882, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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