Navigating the Reversal on Remote Work: Strategies for Coping and Adaptation
If you want to learn more about legal and other considerations regarding the reversal on remote work, please continue reading.
An Article from Our American Contributor.
Remote work became a prevalent and welcomed practice for many employees during the pandemic. However, some companies reverse their remote work policies as the world transitions towards a post-pandemic era. This sudden change can be disheartening and disruptive for employees who have embraced the flexibility and benefits of remote work.
A lot of people have embraced remote work for various reasons. Some love to work in the comfort of their home. Some people have found free time to do some freelancing assignments and generate extra income to pay off credit card debts. Others have finally got time to take care of their kids and save a massive amount of money on daycare. The benefits are too much. We can’t deny it anymore.
In this article, we will explore strategies to help employees cope with and adapt to the reversal of remote work, enabling them to navigate the transition and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Understand the rationale:
To navigate the reversal of remote work effectively, it is crucial to understand the reasons behind the company's decision. Explore the rationale provided by management, such as productivity concerns, collaboration challenges, or cultural considerations. Gaining insight into the decision-making process can help you approach the situation more openly and better understand the company's perspective.
Communicate and seek clarification:
If the reversal on remote work leaves you with concerns or questions, you must communicate with your superiors or HR department. Seek clarification on the new policies, expectations, and the potential impact on your work and personal life. Express your perspective respectfully and constructively, highlighting the benefits of remote work and how it has positively influenced your productivity and well-being. Engaging in open dialogue can foster understanding and potentially lead to flexibility within the new framework.
Consider the counterarguments to strengthen your case for working from home. Your manager can contend that having "face time" with employees or clients is crucial. You can mention how face-to-face meetings can be held with team members and individuals anywhere in the world using tools like Skype, WebEx, or other live meeting platforms.
Instant messenger (IM) is another instant communication tool. Inform them that you will be reachable by phone, IM, and email just as if you were in the office. Mention that, even if you work in the same workplace, there may be times when you never speak to your coworkers or a manager.
Make it clear to your manager that you'll be just as accessible as if you were at work. Above all, keep your composure while handling this. The time has come to act professionally.
Adapt and embrace flexibility:
While the complete reversal of remote work may be disappointing, explore opportunities for flexibility within the new policies. Discuss possibilities such as hybrid work arrangements, where you can split your time between remote and in-office work. Embrace the concept of adaptability and explore how to maintain a healthy work-life balance within evolving circumstances.
Request for a trial period:
Ask for a trial period of 1 or 2 days per week if there is resistance, and then reevaluate. Get your promise to participate in a trial period in writing.
Ask your manager for comments following the trial period. Evaluate their reactions to your performance. Keep track of all your accomplishments and how working from home has helped the business succeed.
When a client called frantically at 4:30 p.m., were you at home working? Remind them that you wouldn't have been able to answer the call if you were caught in traffic, which could have led to an expensive error. Use that knowledge to your advantage if your business saves $2,000.
Your boss might let you work from home if you give specific examples, particularly anything involving saving or creating money. The organization needs to keep its word if it truly supports work-life balance and wants to foster a culture of flexibility.
The fact remains that you cannot force the business to keep its word. But if honesty is one of the company's basic values, pay attention to how it replies and ask yourself if it's doing what it said it would.
You can negotiate for a better salary if your employer demands a complete return. Plan your argument in great detail.
For example, you can say that it takes me this long to commute, and it costs me this much. Parking or public transit must be paid for. Would you help me move or give me a stipend?
Gas and car maintenance are both expensive. Additionally, you may request additional remuneration since you must wear professional attire, which can be costly.
If you're a caregiver, mention your care requirements during the discussion.
Employees might consider productivity and mental wellness as well. [Flexibility] is going to improve my mental state. I'll work harder and give my 300 percent. I'll be more content at work. When I feel like I'm not giving up everything, my performance will remain where it has been.
A compromise resulting from the negotiation for many workers may be hybrid work. Hybrid is the most feasible option for both the employer and the employee.
Request for flexibility at your workplace:
Employees who work remotely have more autonomy, and when that liberty is lost, they really notice it. You might demand additional flexibility in your in-office employment if your company is unwilling to enhance your pay or offer new mobility benefits.
If you return to work, there might be a way for you to find the same sense of independence. If you must spend all of your time at the office, reclaim some of your freedom by requesting tasks, you are interested in working on or negotiating more reasonable deadlines. Reclaim your free time by going for a stroll or organizing your workspace.
Embrace the transition as an opportunity for growth:
Although the reversal on remote work may present challenges, view it as an opportunity for personal and professional growth.
Embrace the chance to develop new skills, adapt to changing work environments, and broaden your experiences.
Seek new projects or responsibilities to enhance your skill set and career trajectory.
Maintain a positive and proactive mindset as you navigate the transition, recognizing that change often brings unforeseen opportunities for growth and development.
Prioritize self-care: Transitioning back to an office environment can be emotionally and physically demanding. It is crucial to prioritize self-care to maintain your well-being during this time. Establish routines that support work-life balance, practice stress-management techniques, and set aside time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Taking care of your mental and physical health will contribute to your overall resilience and ability to adapt to change.
Click here to contact HTW Law - Employment Lawyer for assistance and legal consultation.
Legal Considerations in Reversal on Remote Work
1. Whether the Reversal on Remote Work Constitute Constructive Dismissal?
Constructive Dismissal occurs when an employer unilaterally changes a key term or condition of an employment contract without the employee's permission.
The determination of whether a reversal on remote work constitutes constructive dismissal is fact-driven. The following are some of the factors being considered when making such a finding:
Whether there's any language in the employment contract as to the location(s) that an employee is required to work or the absence thereof?
Whether there's any language in the employment contract authorizing an employer to unilaterally change the workplace without consent?
Whether the employer was working remotely when he or she was hired, or was there a temporary arrangement due to the pandemic?
How long have the employee been working remotely as compared to the length of employment "on-site"?
Was working remotely a key contractual term being bargained for during the hiring purpose?
Whether it's feasible, without undue hardship, to recall the employee to work "on-site"? How far away is the employee from the "on-site" workplace?
Obviously, if the employee is being terminated as a result of refusing to be recalled to work "on-site", a wrongful dismissal may occur.
2. Human Rights Protections
Human rights protections apply to all employees, regardless of whether they are working on-site or working remotely.
The obligation of an employer to safeguard employees from workplace harassment and discrimination applies to remote workers. Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations. Employers must have systems in place to handle accommodation requests, since failing to accommodate an employee based on a protected ground can be considered a violation of the Human Rights Code.
Some reasonable accommodations include offering flexible working hours to assist employees with childcare obligations or providing necessary accommodation or equipment to people with disabilities.
You may want to read the following Discrimination and Harassment Blog Posts of Interest:
3. Other Legal Considerations
Health and Safety Responsibilities: Employers are mandated by the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. The OHSA defines "workplace" broadly, including any location where employees carry out their job tasks.
Tax and Immigration Issues: If an employee currently lives outside of Ontario, the reversal of remote work will necessitate a relocation to Ontario, which will have major tax and immigration ramifications.
If you strongly believe in the benefits of remote work and its positive impact on your productivity and well-being, consider advocating for flexibility and remote work alternatives within your organization. Collaborate with like-minded colleagues to present a well-researched and reasoned proposal to management. Highlight the success stories and tangible outcomes achieved through remote work, such as increased productivity, reduced costs, and improved employee satisfaction.
You may want to consult with an experienced employment law firm such as HTW Law, to learn of your employment law rights in case of a compulsory reversal of remote work, as you may be entitled to some legal protections.
You don't have to fight the battle alone. Speaking with an employment lawyer who is familiar with the laws and regulations regarding remote work, employment contracts and employment law in general will go a long way. If you are in doubt, it's essential that you reach out for help as soon as possible right away.
Click here to contact HTW Law - Employment Lawyer for assistance and legal consultation.
About The Author:
Lyle Solomon has extensive legal experience, in-depth knowledge, and experience in consumer finance and writing. He has been a member of the California State Bar since 2003. He graduated from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California, in 1998 and currently works for the Oak View Law Group in California as a principal attorney.