Canadian HR Reporter

January 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 mean we can't have another phase in a year or two." Making the decision to go fully remote There is huge interest in this area from employers, and at this point, "everything is on the table," says Jean McClellan, n at i o n a l c o n s u l t i n g , p e o p l e a n d organization leader at PwC Canada in Calgary. "Employers are evaluating 'Why does the office exist? And why do we really need it? What helps the employees thrive at home, and what helps them thrive in the office?' And all of that is up for grabs at this point in time," she says. "Employers are genuinely trying to understand what that value proposition is for employees, and then look at where their strategic opportunities are as well." In looking at a recent PwC survey of employees across the country, less than 20 per cent of employees want to go fully remote while more than two-thirds are keen to work in a hybrid model offering both, says McClellan. "Employers really need to be looking at the preferences of their employees." The concept of work from home has been part of the cultural DNA at Twitter for years, says Paul Burns, managing director of Twitter Canada in Toronto. "Our cofounder and CEO, Jack Dorsey, fundamentally disagrees with [the in-office] idea. We serve a global community, we are a global company and our workforce should be global in nature, and you should be able to contribute to Twitter, and grow your career, wherever you happen to work." COVID accelerated that entire process, with Twitter announcing in July that employees could work from home indefinitely. employers, say the experts, when it comes to legal issues, keeping people connected, productive and engaged, and work-life balance. Constructive dismissal risks For an employer to go fully remote, it would mean a permanent, unilateral change to the terms and conditions of employment. And whenever that happens, employers need to take into account whether there is any risk of constructive dismissal, says Justine Lindner, an associate at McCarthy Tétrault in Toronto. "An analysis of constructive dismissal risk, as well as an analysis of what the potential damages could be or the potential exposure associated with that risk, is always an individualized a s s e s s m e n t o f t h e e m p l o y e e circumstances." Someone who doesn't usually work remotely full-time and then is expected to accept a permanent remote work arrangement may perceive that as having a detrimental impact, she says. "Before COVID, we would often look at this and say, 'Yes, there are some risks of constructive dismissal there.' Since COVID, we don't really know how courts are going to handle these types of claims, particularly given that there are strong health and safety reasons why people should accept work-from- home arrangements where they're reasonable. But you can imagine that not every employee is going to be happy with a move to permanent work from home." Recruitment and compensation factors There's also a legal consideration to remote recruitment, says Lindner. "The core of this is about empowering people to work where they feel the most creative, where they feel the most comfortable and where they feel the most safe," says Burns. "That's probably a must for the future." The greatest likelihood of an employer embracing remote work is when it works better for the organization as well as for the employees. And now, employers potentially have a blank slate with which to work, says Geoffrey Leonardelli, professor at the Rotman School of Management and Department of Psychology in Toronto. "It doesn't necessarily require you to recreate what you had — it could be something different and better… That's going to be the most interesting possibility here, which is, given that it's a do-over, a way to recreate what the office requires, how could it be different in positive ways for everyone?" In contemplating a move to a fully or largely remote workforce, there are several key considerations for "Often, when you're asking people about remote working arrangements, you might be tempted to ask questions that elicit answers about their family or about their personal circumstances. And family status is a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Human Rights Code," she says. "We often say, as a best practice, you may want to avoid asking questions that will end up with the candidate giving you that information. And because it's just not information that you need in making your hiring decision, it's better not to even have it." Another question to consider? Should employee compensation change if someone is now working in a different location than the office? Broadly speaking, Twitter hasn't really adjusted its compensation guidelines and plans despite the move to a remote setup, says Burns. "What typically happens in our process is a mechanism where we will actually make sure that their compensation translates to the local market. And, so, there is a localization process that does occur, whether you're moving from Toronto to Vancouver or San Francisco to Hawaii… There is a cost-of-living difference in in those changes. So, I think what we're trying to do is ensure that compensation reflects the city that you live in. That's definitely a filter that actually takes place." However, if an employer changes or lowers someone's compensation, that engages the constructive dismissal risk and analysis, says Lindner. "There's definitely risk if you reduce compensation by moving people to work- from-home arrangements." TOP REASONS PEOPLE LIKE WORKING FROM HOME Source: ServiceNow "We had a massive building that was empty most days, so you start to ask: 'Does this space suit our purpose?'" Bryan Benjamin, Conference Board of Canada 69% Saving time by not commuting 62% Saving more money 57% Having more time for personal projects or hobbies 47% Being able to cook at home more often Fully remote> pg. 1

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