Who remembers the dark days of March and April of 2020, when HR professionals like you had to convert in-office staff to a remote setting seemingly overnight? Employers, out of necessity, tried to piecemeal hybrid work policies together based on what they thought could work at the time. Well, it’s four years later, and many employers have since tried to transition their workforce back to the office by using some version of a hybrid workplace. With pandemic restrictions now gone, many employers have not updated or modified their work from home policies since 2020.
Now that employers better understand the implications and potential pitfalls associated with hybrid work policies, it is now time to update them. Alternatively, if an employer has realized that hybrid workplaces are not working, now might be the time to put together a plan to bring employees back to the workplace full time.
What Should a Hybrid Work Policy Address?
Hybrid workplaces can easily be misused or misunderstood if the policy is not clear. Employers should be asking themselves:
- How is our policy accounting for performance and attendance?
- How is PTO measured? What about federal/state leave laws, such as FMLA or VPFL?
- How are we making sure that employees are not using remote work as a substitute for elder care or child care?
- What are the technological and physical workspace requirements, and can they be feasibly and safely achieved in a work from home setting?
- Can our employees work out of state?
- What are the tax and legal implications of employees working out of state?
- How are new employees supposed to be managed and mentored if they are not in the office?
- How are we tracking how many days employees work from home a week?
- What are the disciplinary measures if an employee abuses the policy?
- What are the privacy and security threats associated with work from home?
What Should Employers Consider?
When done correctly, hybrid workplaces allow employees to enjoy more autonomy and have a better work-life balance. It is a benefit that many prospective employees look for and value. A hybrid workplace can improve efficiency and can also help maintain a positive company culture with happy and engaged employees. This, however, can only be achieved through carefully thought out expectations and full transparency with employees.
Employers should seriously consider their workforce when deciding whether to implement or modify their hybrid workplace policy. Some positions require employees to be physically present during work hours and they cannot work from home. Having a hybrid work policy and allowing some employees to work remotely while requiring others to come to the office full time could foster resentment among employees.
Nevertheless, if an employer wishes to maintain a hybrid workplace, the key is to have a clear, well thought-out policy that reflects company culture, and clearly states the goals the employer wishes to achieve. Here at Gravel & Shea, we are well versed in creating and updating custom hybrid workplace policies that employees easily understand and will utilize, while also making sure that the employer’s standards are clear. By doing so, an employer can significantly reduce the possibility of misuse and curb misunderstandings. If an employer has taken all this into consideration and would like to phase out their hybrid workplace, we are also able to help advise and guide that process as well to help avoid any missteps and ensure the transition goes as smooth as possible.
WCAX interview with Heather Hammond regarding Hybrid Workplaces can be viewed here.
How Parents Feel About Remote Work can be read here.
Please contact Heather Hammond (email@example.com) at Gravel & Shea PC if you have questions or would like assistance.