What Rules for Remote Work Apply to this Unprecedented Situation?

by Evil HR Lady on April 7, 2020

Our CEO wants everyone to wash their hands and come into the office, but I’m trying to convince him the best thing is to let as many people as possible work from home. I’ve tried to tell him it will be fine, but he’s old-school. If most of our employees do end up working from home, what company-wide rules can we reasonably enforce? Set hours? A background noise ban? 

To read my answer, click here: What Rules for Remote Work Apply to this Unprecedented Situation?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

jccbeach April 7, 2020 at 5:42 pm

I hope one outcome of this experience that has pushed so many to work remotely is for organizations to incorporate remote working as part of the work day routine. Then, when the next episode hits, this won’t seem strange and unmanageable.

I’m fortunate because the work I do is almost fully accomplished using electronic technology. Same for my team. Also, we each have worked a day or two here and there from home and we’ve participated in virtual meetings.

However, we work for an employer who believes butt in seat equals productivity. If an employer cannot trust an employee to work without overt, direct supervision; why does that employer want to retain that employee? Honestly, I don’t physically stand over employees in the workplace to ensure they are productive. To me, that would demotivate.

There always will be office slackers – it doesn’t matter where they are physically. Same can be said for over-achievers – the same people who put in extra hours before probably are still putting them in from home.

I think it’s reasonable for employers to consider working remotely as part of their emergency plan and to allow it to be practiced regularly for preparedness. We have many tools – various virtual meeting apps, apps to allow collaboration, etc. all of which we use in the office so why not use them from home? Also who hasn’t seen at least a few tips for working remotely, communicating remotely, etc.

And, yes, at this particular time, employers need to relax usual standards. Employees are concerned with the safety and wellness of their families. It seems only human.

Stay well!

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Mr Remote not Obvious April 7, 2020 at 6:31 pm

I’m concerned that head (up their seat) managers will use the unusual challenges of This Moment to conclude: “See, remote work isn’t working! Get ’em back in the office ASAP!”

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yeah right April 11, 2020 at 5:31 am

When managers see posts and blogs telling people to organize their closets, start a blog, write a book, do yoga etc titled “how to work from home” it doesn’t help managers feel good….

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Mr Remote not Obvious April 13, 2020 at 7:29 pm

Yeah, some folks… actually nothing stops from doing almost all those things in-office (except organize my closet, which only happens once a year anyway.)

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Kathy April 7, 2020 at 6:07 pm

For bosses who are obsessed with butt-in-seat, chat presence indicators are helpful for remote work. Employees can put up a “back in a minute” flag when they go to the kitchen for a coffee, or “out to lunch” at noon, and flip it back to “available” when they return to their home desks. The boss can ping “available” employees if he’s concerned about their honesty and they had better reply promptly to reassure him that they really are at the keyboard and available. He can scan chat indicators remotely and “see” everyone in their seats. Ideally, of course, the boss manages by results rather than physical presence. But where the boss is still hung up with a butt-in-seat mentality, and employees know they can’t change that, it can be helpful for employees who want to work from home to propose to give him plenty of proof that they are indeed butt-in-seat and on task remotely.

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Mr Remote not Obvious April 7, 2020 at 6:38 pm

Managerial response After-The-Crisis will tell us whether there are still dinosaurs among us. Chickens are the present day descendents of dinosaurs, no?

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Camellia April 7, 2020 at 7:13 pm

Just a note about the article at the link – the text is a light gray on a white background. Very difficult to read for those of us who are visually challenged.

EHRL – this might be worthy of a post from you. Since developing my visual issues the last couple of years, I can say that there are many challenges in the workplace that are not being addressed, from simple choices like what color text to use, to how presentations and meetings are conducted. Visual impairment is no joke and my job is made so much more difficult by these things, and I have no idea how to even begin to address these with HR and my company, much less the world in general.

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jdgalt April 8, 2020 at 3:45 am

I had to deal with that problem at an office where I was stuck with a black-and-white computer screen. It turns out that there are browser settings you can use to force all text to be “color x on a color y background”, where the specifics are what works best on your screen. I can follow up with specifics if you want to say what browser and colors you prefer.

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Camellia April 8, 2020 at 3:34 pm

Browser is Chrome, and I guess black text on white background, unless you have a better suggestion. Thanks!

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