October 18, 2021

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Anything but ordinary

Going hybrid? Get a remote work policy, attorney says

Companies might get rid of numerous of the alterations the pandemic pushed on them, but it’s most likely that remote get the job done is not on the checklist of things to go, at minimum not entirely. Hybrid operate — a working arrangement that brings together distant and in-person get the job done in just one way or a further — is attaining recognition as employers announce return-to-get the job done ideas. But as companies get their footing in “the new typical,” they will want to ensure their employee handbook features the procedures necessary to established them up for success.

In the discussion below, edited for brevity and clarity, legal professional John Viola, a associate at Thompson Coburn, discusses which guidelines are most important as employers pursue hybrid preparations.

HR DIVE: What is actually the most essential policy hybrid businesses want to consist of in their handbooks?

VIOLA: The most crucial factor is if businesses really don’t have a distant perform plan presently, they have to have to have a person in their handbook. And to get a person implemented and to make guaranteed that the distant function plan covers a wide range of topics. I imagine which is the amount 1 matter, that if an employer would not have a distant function policy in the handbook presently, or even as a standalone policy, they will need to include that instantly.

What are the most essential components of a distant get the job done plan?

VIOLA: Perfectly, you know, there are several items that ought to be in there. And, as an aside, we have witnessed claims and cases about eligibility to work remotely properly prior to the pandemic. So I feel that if companies make it possible for a blend of functioning in the place of work and operating at household, the plan need to set forth obviously which positions are likely to be qualified for complete or partial distant function. 

The coverage ought to say what kinds of get the job done can be done remotely and when staff need to be in the office as opposed to operating remotely. And of training course, the plan ought to incorporate how the worker should go again devoid of requesting permission to function remotely. Those people, I feel, are the very first issues you need because you need to have to make confident that you might be not discriminating versus people with respect to who may possibly be authorized to function remotely and beneath what conditions.

A further detail these remote do the job guidelines have received to make obvious is that staff members are necessary to be available and anticipated to get the job done in the course of whichever the firm’s ordinary business hours are. And all those have to have to be in the plan simply because not each and every employee is operating from home all through the pandemic and heading forward. Some staff have moved out of state — we read stories of Hawaii luring remote personnel. So you want to make certain that you established forth hours in the course of which the worker is likely to be obtainable to sit with you, to choose email messages and to do the perform.

What approaches can hybrid businesses use in rolling out any variations to their handbooks?

VIOLA: I believe they should really make crystal clear when they’re carrying out this, what selections are currently being designed — for instance, what positions will be allowed to perform remotely and when — and why the decision has been designed. If you just give an edict, workforce are not heading to be delighted since they never realize why it won’t utilize to them if they’re picked to operate in the place of work. 

There should really be bulletins and meetings that include improvements so that men and women come to feel they’re a section of the procedure due to the fact let’s deal with it, many of us like operating at home. Proper? So you might be going to deal with the morale issue when folks who have to commute, get dressed up and are employed to making the most of far more free time than they would have when working in the business office surroundings.