You’re not alone if you’ve suddenly found yourself managing a crew of remote workers. The coronavirus pandemic is forcing businesses around the world to change how they operate.
However, one thing still remains the same: When the crisis is over, employees will file lawsuits if they felt they were discriminated against based on a protected characteristic, even while working at home.
That’s why it’s critical for you to develop a strategy to manage teleworkers so that no one feels out of the loop.
One important consideration is the manner in which you communicate with folks working at home. Of course, email will be one important method of communication, but don’t rely on just that. In certain situations, phone calls and videoconferencing might make more sense.
Try to have one-on-one check-ins with staffers at least once a week. Also, consider the use of daily bulletins to keep everyone updated.
It’s also important to maintain some amount of flexibility when dealing with staffers working at home. They might sometimes get sidetracked by home-based duties, e.g., child care.
Furthermore, you shouldn’t expect employees to always get back to you right away. Encourage them to put up an electronic “Do Not Disturb” sign when they know they won’t be dealing with work-related tasks for a while.
Also consider the development of a buddy system for emotional support during these challenging times. Match workers with each other and ask them to check in with their “buddies” several times a week.
And don’t forget the unique challenges faced by crew members who struggle with mental health disabilities. Isolation can be a big problem for these individuals.
If you know that a staffer has mental health issues, try to check in more frequently with him or her, and provide positive feedback whenever it makes sense to do so.
(From the April 17, 2020, issue of HR Manager’s Legal Alert for Supervisors)