Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Effective Communication with Virtual Teams (23-slide PowerPoint presentation). The number of people working remotely has been increasing progressively across the globe. An employee benefits report narrates that around 60% companies in the US offer telecommuting opportunities. According to Upwork, freelancers and contractors have increased by 81% from 2014 to 2017. [read more]
Navigating Business Wellbeing in the Hybrid Age: New Responsibilities and Opportunities
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The longstanding view that businesses are primarily responsible for preventing physical injury within their premises has been challenged over the past few years.
With Psychology Today highlighting the views of the US Surgeon General, work has a huge impact on overall health & wellbeing, and that employers have at least some liability in that respect, there is a clear change in attitudes that employers must adapt to. While not necessarily part of regulatory demands today, it is certainly a reputational and ethical ask that employers protect employees – and it will keep them happy and motivated as they work remotely.
Expanding Workers Compensation
A key foundation of the rights package that US workers receive is workers compensation. As the hybrid and remote workplace has come in, the lines over where workers comp applies have become blurred.
As one letters column in USA Today highlights, it is often the prerogative of the employer and their third party insurer as to whether they will carry compensation rights for hybrid and remote workers.
The most common sources of injury at work are still ever present in hybrid and remote spaces; slips, trips and falls, overexertion, and, increasingly, work-related stress. Recognizing this and taking a progressive view of what your employees will be entitled to is an excellent way to promote the reputation of the company and ensure that new hires are incentivized to join the business on the strength of their treatment of employees.
Mental Health Protections
Remote and hybrid work has provided much better work/life balance for many employees, but mental health has not been untouched.
As The Atlantic highlights, there can be a hidden toll behind remote work. The working week is often lengthened, always-on working is more likely due to having IT systems at home, and all of that can contribute to stress.
Employers have regulations mandating that they properly address and minimize stress in many states, and on a fairness level, it’s crucial to ensure that staff are provided with the tools and support to ensure that they are not overdoing it – and that they can be supported and not feel isolated.
Hybrid Work and Compliance
Many offices have asked employees to return – or are operating hybrid policies. A set of principles and cautionary tales issued by the American Bar Society blog serve as a reminder of employee responsibilities in those situations. Individual medical issues that cross into disability must be considered, especially when asking those staff to start in-office uptake.
There’s also the commute, and how that eats into contracted hours – it’s important to see the difference in those in-office days and ensure pay and benefits are set up to match.
The modern working environment is remote or hybrid. Employers must move with the times to adapt to this, even ahead of legal/regulatory change. Doing so shows how compassionate the employer is, enhances reputation, and really does well by the employee during times that can be confusing for them as well.
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About Shane AvronShane Avron is a freelance writer, specializing in business, general management, enterprise software, and digital technologies. In addition to Flevy, Shane's articles have appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes Magazine, among other business journals.
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