Mistakes to Avoid When Managing Remote Employees

On Behalf of | Jul 31, 2020 | Employment Law

Businesses across the United States have had to make numerous adjustments in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. One common change is allowing employees to work from home.

While remote work arrangements are not new, they’re new to many companies who have only ever operated with personnel on site. If you are an employer managing a remote workforce for the first time, be aware of the following potential mistakes.

Mistake #1: Failing to establish boundaries

The boundaries you set for employees can change when they are working from home. Failing to establish and enforce these boundaries can leave everyone in danger of crossing the line.

For instance, you may want to set rules for when employees should be accessible, how they should present themselves on the phone and via video, and how they should or should not use company-owned equipment.

Mistake #2: Setting unrealistic expectations

Employees and employers alike are struggling to adjust to working while the kids are home, travel restrictions, and complying with new health and safety protocols. Having the same expectations for all of your employees can be unrealistic.

Consider relaxing certain rules that no longer make sense when employees are at home. And if there are limitations to an employee’s capabilities arising from exceptional circumstances, take that into account when it comes to assessing employee performance and needs.

Mistake #3: Violating an employee’s rights

No matter where your employees are working, they have the same workplace protections as always. Employers must protect employees from harassment and discrimination, and should not retaliate for use of COVID-19 emergency leave, regular sick leave, FMLA, or requesting an accommodation. Treating your employees differently or unfairly when they work from home can lead to some costly legal consequences.

As an example, as COVID-19 restrictions spread across the U.S., a female employee lost her childcare options and was forced to work from home. Her employer terminated her, and she filed a lawsuit seeking damages and claiming she was terminated as a punishment for having children at home.

Whenever a business tries something new, there is some risk involved. However, you can minimize these risks by knowing what mistakes to avoid and seeking legal guidance before decisions are made.