Canadian HR Reporter

August 2020 CAN

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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2 N E W S remotely, but flexibility in working arrangements will be table stakes going forward, says Johnson. "If you don't offer flexibility, you'll be at a competitive disadvantage." Plus, staff at the 370-employee credit union have reported greater work-life integration, higher productivity and the lack of a long commute as contributing to employee engagement, she says. "[However], any remote work arrange- ments have to be mutually beneficial for both the employer and the employee. Because there has to be a balance between looking after the individual and making sure that you meet the needs of the organization so that you can both optimize employee engagement and their contribution can meet organizational goals. It has to be a two-way street; it can't be just one-sided." With so many people continuing to work as remote workers, either full time or part time, employers will have plenty to consider as there are many HR areas that will be affected, including employment policies, performance management, communications, culture and recognition, recruitment and onboarding and health and safety. Policy must-haves If employers do decide to have more employees set up as remote workers, they definitely need a specific policy around that, says Patrick Trent, a partner at law firm BLG in Montreal. For one, it should make it clear that this arrangement is not permanent. "It should be clear that when an employee is authorized to do remote Employers should also set out the working hours in the policy as much as possible, says Trent. "If employees want to have a slightly later start time or an earlier start time and an earlier finish time, that can be done, but I think that managers should always have a very clear idea of when the employee is available for work and when the employee is not available for work, for two reasons: a) to know when the employee is working, when the employee is on the clock and [b] to make sure that they're not disturbing these employees when the employees are not on because it's important to make sure that employees do have their downtime." And as with in-office work, there should clear guidelines with respect to overtime and what kinds of authorizations may be needed, he says. "The policies have to be clear on that as well so that there's no ambiguity and you don't end up with an employee who, six months down the road, says, 'Hey, by the way, you owe me 200 hours of overtime.'" Going virtual with performance management With so many people working outside of the office, performance management will also require careful consideration. There's going to be a whole new way of evaluating performance and the co-creation of expectations and deliverables, says Tina Dacin, Stephen J.R. Smith chair of strategy and organizational behaviour at the Smith School of Business at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont. work, the employer is going to assess how that works out. And if it works well, good. If there are adjustments [needed], the employer will advise the employee," he says. "Remote work has to be a discretionary benefit that the employer… can revoke if it doesn't work out." That's important to ensure the employee doesn't raise a constructive dismissal argument by saying that they considered remote work "an essential condition of their employment contract," says Trent. The policy should also state that when an employee is working remotely, in most circumstances, the employer will require an exclusivity of service. "You can't be using 25 per cent of your work time to be running [a side business]… You have to be dedicated and focused on your work," he says. "[It's about] sitting down with your boss or your supervisor or your manager and saying, 'Here's what I will attempt to get done in the next week. Does that meet with your expectations?' I think in some jobs, it's going to be easier than others. But it's that co-creation that's going to be really important and for managers to reinforce to employees that they're still adding value." It's about shifting away from looking at how many hours people are putting in and instead looking at the deliverables, says Janet Salopek, president and senior consultant at Salopek & Associates in Calgary. "With respect to the training and really helping people understand… it's about the importance of trust, because if you don't have trust as a foundation when you work remotely, it won't work." A culture of mutual trust and account- ability is key, says Johnson. "If this remote work thing is going to work, you need to trust that your employees are working, even though they're out of sight, and that they' ll get their work done. And that the organization, on the other hand, will support the employee, provide the coaching, the leadership and all that sort of thing. So, part of maintaining culture is ensuring that you've got very clear expectations on both sides." On the issue of trust, many employers are using monitoring software to ensure that remote employees are doing the work promised. Those tools can also be used to facilitate the exchange of information between employees in project management and monitor how much time is dedicated to various tasks, says Trent. NEW VERSUS OLD MAKES A DIFFERENCE Source: Slack "Remote work has to be a discretionary benefit that the employer can revoke if it doesn't work out." Patrick Trent, BLG 31% Number of newly remote workers who say that working from home has negatively affected their productivity 13% Number of experienced remote workers who say that working from home has negatively affected their productivity 45% Number of newly remote workers who say that their sense of belonging suffers at home 25% Number of experienced remote workers who say that their sense of belonging suffers at home Remote work> pg. 1

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