(by Andres Rojas)
While technology is making it easier to have a distributed workforce, many HR departments are still struggling to transition salaried employees to remote work.
Managing time, salaries, and benefits are already time-consuming tasks by themselves. But when you add long distance to the equation, the chances of making errors or losing productivity can skyrocket overnight.
Sadly, some employers have taken advantage of this reality to ramp up remote hours while also underpaying their remote employees. And yet many of them end up finding out the hard way that having your employees out of the office doesn’t mean all bets are off.
Employers’ Responsibilities Extend Beyond Their Office’s Building
Studies show that remote hours are getting longer than office ones. The apparent lack of government overseeing combined with the ease with which employers can reach remote workers makes it ripe for abuse. But while the setting may change, working from home is still work. And that means that wage and hour laws still apply to remote workers as well.
Federal laws, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), require that after an employee has worked the mandatory 40 hours a week each overtime hour is paid at one-and-a-half times the regular rate. In addition to the FLSA, the following states also have overtime regulations of their own:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- West Virginia
Besides overtime, employers must also comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requirement of giving up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for certain medical or family-specific reasons – like the birth of a child or to care for a sick family member.
A Happy Remote Workforce Is Critical to Your Success
Though the challenges associated with managing a remote workforce – both legal and organizational – can feel overwhelming at first, balancing your business goals with your employees’ needs will do wonders for your retention rates and set your company for success.
Adequate Rest Is Critical for Remote Workers’ Well Being
Remote workers have a hard time not overworking themselves. Shut out from the outside world and scared of looking unproductive, remote employees can’t help staying in their office mode 24/7. And this can lead them to try to squeeze in as much work as possible in any given workday – weekends included.
By creating an online company culture that is based on respecting your workers’ working schedule you can ensure they have plenty of time and mental space to rest. Remote workers will have an easier time resting if you:
- Record their hours with time tracking software
- Set a time limit they’re not allowed to break
- Prohibit them from sending emails or any other type of work outside their working schedule
- Demand that they request permission before working overtime
- Offer sought-after benefits they and their families can enjoy
Assigning home workers tasks they can complete within a working day will check their tendency of working after hours, allow them to prioritize their families, and keep them productive for longer.
Employees Need Quality Office Time As Well
For salaried employees, gaining distance from their boss and coworkers can feel like a blessing. That is until separation anxiety kicks in and employees shut within their homes start feeling unbearably isolated.
Keeping touch with other staff members they can relate to is critical for your remote work strategy’s long-term success.
When remote employees feel part of a big office family instead of like castaways they are more motivated to get things done on time. Only then can completing tasks feel like an opportunity to interact productively with their coworkers, instead of like a soulless solo activity they have to do for a check.
Organizing regular online meetings and special events where employees and management can exchange ideas, tasks, opinions, anecdotes, and jokes will go a long way to promote a sense of harmony and belonging in this strange new online workplace environment.
There are a ton of positive things about working from home for your employees – such as working in their pajamas or having cooler talks with their kids. However, transitioning salaried employees from an office to a digital working environment requires time, patience, and good planning.