Many employers are embracing hybrid work models now. Hybrid work environments are advantageous for a myriad of reasons:
- They’re appealing to talent
- They save employers money and office space
- They allow organizations to recruit from more expansive talent pools all around the country
- They frequently result in higher productivity
Unfortunately, hybrid remote work may also trigger some challenges in the workplace. These challenges may significantly impact an organization, including large fees and fines, talent loss, and disruption of business. Employers will mitigate or completely avoid these risks if they do some strategic HR planning. These are the four hazards that MP’s HR services suggest that employers prepare for.
4 Hazards of Hybrid Work Models
When employees are not always in the office, there are a few ways discrimination concerns come into play:
- Who is and is not allowed to work remotely, as well as how frequently employees work remotely
- Employees who come into the office more frequently may get better opportunities, work, and promotions
To prepare for and prevent discrimination complaints and lawsuits, employers should start with solid documentation. Job descriptions must be updated and state business reasons why employees are permitted to do tasks remotely. If an employee has performance issues, there must be documentation of it, especially if the employee has remote work privileges revoked to assist with improvement. A comprehensive telework policy will be an imperative safeguard. So will training managers in it so the policy is always applied consistently. Lastly, employers should ensure that all managers are trained on discrimination, retaliation, harassment, and similar topics.
Paying non-exempt workers:
Employers who are supervising remote employees may find paying their non-exempt workers more challenging. Per the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers must pay their non-exempt workers for all time worked. When employees are in the office, it’s easier to track their time. Remote workers may send emails or get work done off the clock at unexpected times. To avoid steep fines and back pay, employers should implement a system for tracking hours worked. MP’s time tracking software allows employees to log in (and clock in) from anywhere and anytime. It stores data in an organized, accessible format that simplifies payroll processing.
Another tactic that employers should take to protect against HR compliance issues with payment of non-exempt workers is to develop a schedule and add it to the teleworking policy. Employers should require their staff to read and sign an acknowledgment of the policy, binding them to follow the expected work schedule.
Nurturing corporate culture and employee engagement:
When employees don’t often come into the office, building a company culture becomes more challenging, as does keeping a pulse on employee engagement. Managers who don’t see and interact with their employees often throughout the day will have more difficulty gauging who is happy at work, connects with their teammates and coworkers, and feels motivated and excited to do their job. Some ways to build a robust corporate culture when staff is hybrid include taking advantage of time in office. Setting meetings in person and emphasizing connecting with coworkers and managers will be effective. Managers should also build in more check-ins with their remote workers, ask for feedback more frequently, and make a general effort in and out of the office to get to know their team. Consciously utilizing small talk at a more frequent rate will help build connections between managers and coworkers, especially when they don’t see each other often.
A second tactic to gauge employee engagement and improve corporate culture is to use employee surveys. MP’s engagement and performance software assists employers in sending out anonymous and named surveys to their staff. Survey results provide detailed data on what employees appreciate and want to see reformed or improved in their workplace.
When employers who haven’t always allowed remote work choose to implement hybrid work models, they may not be equipped with adequate cybersecurity measures. While cybersecurity is a concern for in office workers, it becomes exacerbated when workers operate from home, a coffee shop, a hotel, or anywhere else. Cyberattacks are only increasing, and they are potentially devastating. Per a report by Deep Instinct, there was a 435% overall increase in ransomware attacks in 2020. The same study indicated that hundreds of millions of attempted cyberattacks occurred every day in 2020. Some possible consequences are breaches of confidential data, trade secrets, hacked websites, and theft. A destructive cyberattack may ruin a company’s reputation, bottom line, or put it out of business. Employers that offer remote work options should either hire a reputable outside vendor or hire an internal employee (or department) to ensure that their company is as protected as possible from cyberattacks, no matter where their employees are working from.
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