Supporting Employees with Remote Work Preference

Supporting Employees with Remote Work Preference

After working from home for the past year, some employees may find that they enjoy it and would prefer to continue working remotely. A survey of over 2,000 Canadians found that 77% of people want the flexibility to work from home at least part of the time (KPMG, 2021). Employers who make the decision to adapt a hybrid model approach should consider their employees’ preferences and understand the potential concerns that may arise.

For some employees, the physical working space may be of concern. Those in temporary work from home situations may not have all the proper equipment they had while in the office or they may have developed ergonomic concerns during this transition period. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, an employer has an obligation to take every reasonable precaution to ensure the safety of the employee at their workplace (this includes home workspaces).

While some individuals may be concerned about discomfort at their workstation, their pain and lack of productivity can be about any number of things, including mental health concerns, home environment concerns unrelated to ergonomics (such as working in small living spaces), home stressors related to others in the home, isolation, and lack of communication with the team or management.

Having an open discussion about concerns, requirements, and expectations is the first step in supporting employees during the transition to a more permanent work from home situation.

What Can Employers Do for Employees with Remote Work Preference?

Stay Calm:

  • Begin with your own emotions.
  • Be mindful of not putting your agenda over the employee’s agenda.

Listen:

  • What is concerning you about returning to the workplace?

Work Together to Find Solutions:

  • What can we do to solve this together?
  • Can the employee continue to work from home?
  • What are the reasons that remote work is NOT an option?
  • Share the reasons with your employee if you find that they are essential to the job role

Provide Resources:

  • Human Resources
  • Access Virtual Ergonomic Services

Discuss Expectations Openly:

Be sure to remain consistent in providing clear expectations.

  • What are the job expectations? Can the work productivity metrics be met virtually?
  • What are your legal responsibilities? Consider the Human Rights Code and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
  • What are your HR policies on remote work regarding payment for new equipment?
  • What are the employee’s responsibilities regarding workspaces?
  • Discuss setting a timeline or expectation in terms of when that employee would be expected to return to the office from working from home.
  • Ensure that there are clear ergonomics and health and safety considerations if the employee will work from home for longer.

Listen with Empathy, Attention, and Respect:

  • What can I do to support you?
  • How can we develop a plan that works for you?

Tips for Remote Work Policies

Workspace Needs:

  • Discuss legal, privacy, and logistical issues

Ergonomics:

  • Space
  • Lighting
  • Equipment
  • Who pays for what equipment and resources?
  • How will ergonomic considerations be assessed?
  • What resources will be available for assessment and purchase of tools and equipment?

Health and Safety at Home:

  • Space
  • Electrical
  • Reporting of incidents

Staying Connected with the Team:

  • Virtual coaching and support meetings

Discuss Expectations Openly:

Be sure to remain consistent in providing clear expectations.

  • What are the job expectations?
  • How will the reporting be completed?
  • What are the expectations regarding communication?
  • How will the employee be expected to work with the team?

Productivity Management:

  • How will performance be measured?
  • What resources will be used to support productivity?

Hours of Work/Flex Time:

  • What can I do to support you and get your work completed according to expectations?
  • How can we develop a plan that works for you?
  • How will hours of work be managed and reported?

What Can Employees Do?

If you have a remote work preference, be sure to communicate your concerns about returning to the workplace to your employer so you can work together to develop a plan that works for you. Whether you are returning to the office or opting to work remotely, you will need to practice good ergonomics to ensure you are set up in the most productive and healthy way possible.

Tips for Ergonomics

  • Take regular breaks to interrupt sitting time.
  • Stretch.
  • Keep your wrists in a neutral position.
  • Keep elbows at roughly 90 degrees.
  • Ensure your laptop or computer is at eye level.
  • Support your arms at table height.
  • Plant your feet on the floor or footrest.

How Can Gowan Consulting Help?

We expect that there will be challenges in supporting employees in the decision to return to the workplace, remain remote, or create a hybrid working model. Gowan Consulting will be working with organizations to support their decision making as well as providing assistance to employers who require accommodations for employees. We also anticipate that employers and employees will continue to face mental health concerns as the “echo pandemic” creates a tsunami of long-lasting mental health effects in the coming months and years. Contact us to see how we can help or make a referral today.

Are you feeling overwhelmed in this new working world? We have a variety of solutions and strategies to help. You may be interested in some of our upcoming training opportunities:

  • FREE Hybrid Workplaces and Accommodations webinar – On September 16th, learn how to accommodate employees in this new hybrid working world with this one-hour training session with Nancy Gowan.
  • Mastering Health and Productivity Membership – We’ve been working hard to create even more value for our customers. Learn more about our membership launch coming this fall.
  • Working from Home Series – Purchase a bundle of online learning webinars to support you in working safely from home! Includes home ergonomics, making remote feel normal, stress management, and more.

Works Cited

Canadians like hybrid model concept: Workplace reboot, KPMG, https://home.kpmg/ca/en/home/media/press-releases/2021/05/canadians-like-hybrid-model-concept-workplace-reboot.html

Leave Comment