Q: I have allowed an employee to work from home because their child’s school is closed. How do I make sure work gets done?

August 24, 2020

Author: Becky Canary-King

With more employees working from home, whether due to their child’s school closing or concerns about contracting coronavirus, employers are navigating managing a remote workforce. Some employers may be concerned in particular about employees managing childcare duties at the same time as their work. However, employers should not treat parents working from home differently than employees who are working from home for other reasons.  It is important to remember that employees cannot be treated differently because of their gender (i.e., assuming childcare falls to female employees with children) and some state and localities prohibit discrimination on the basis of parental, marital or familial status.

Below are some considerations for keeping your employees who are working from home (regardless of the reason) effective, while sustaining morale and motivation.

  • Consider Flexible Hours, but Require Scheduling. If work does not need to be done at a particular time, consider allowing more flexibility. For parents dealing with managing remote learning, alternative work schedules may allow them to set aside windows of time when they know that they can focus. However, if utilizing flexible hours, proper scheduling and timekeeping are critical. Non-exempt employees should be reminded that they still must record all hours worked (and all breaks taken) accurately, and receive authorization prior to working overtime.

 

  • Keep Connected, But Respect Boundaries. Employers are utilizing creative ways and technologies to keep in touch with employees remotely. Consistent contact encourages accountability and maintains lines of communication for employees to voice issues, concerns, or to ask for help. But some employees find receiving an unscheduled video call at home more invasive than if their manager stopped by their office, particularly if they are concerned about their appearance on a call. Consider scheduling calls in advance, or contacting employees a few minutes ahead of time before video conferencing them at home.

 

  • Set a Check-In.  It is important to set a check-in with your employee to see how working from home is going, and make adjustments if necessary.  Of course, employees should be given reasonable notice if there will be a change in their arrangement. Remember that work-from-home arrangements are not necessarily set in stone. You should leave room to amend or adjust work arrangements if performance concerns arise of work product declines, consistent with legal requirements.

 

For more on employee engagement while working remotely, read LP’s Experience & Engagement Manager’s tips on maintaining employee morale.  

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