The pandemic has changed many aspects of the workplace for employers and employees. Due to Covid-19, more people are finding themselves working from home, and this looks set to continue for the foreseeable future. Here is a selection of the statistics that prove it beyond doubt:
- 25% of Americans will work remotely in 2021
- 42% of the labor force is currently working from home full-time
- Only 26% of US citizens are working from traditional business premises
- There are more than 50 million freelancers in the USA today
Although the benefits of a digital workforce are applicable across the board - they help businesses and workers - there are pitfalls bosses must watch out for if they are to remain compliant. Even though remote work isn’t illegal, it’s not as straightforward as sending people home with laptops and telling them to log on at nine o’clock in the morning.
Companies must minimize risk if they are to be successful in the Covid era, which means focusing on compliance. Anyone new to remote work should understand the hazards to avoid making silly mistakes that cost the business its reputation and money. With that in mind, here are the steps you should consider before you leave the office for good.
The gig is up. The gig economy is no longer a secret because organizations worldwide are using freelancers to top-up their workforces. In the past, these self-employed men and women were independent contractors, which meant they didn’t have the same legal requirements as bona fide employees.
However, with around 60 million freelancers working in America right now, something had to give, and it did spectacularly. The likes of Google and Uber, gig economy giants that leveraged contractors to great effect in the early days, are now updating their policies as legislation changes. This has not only happened in California but in the UK as well.
The determination of a worker’s classification centers around several topics, making it hard for bosses to know the difference between employees and independent freelancers. Usually, it’s the level of control companies have over the individual, including whether the person looks and is treated as a worker.
Of course, if you're in doubt, the smart thing to do is to speak to a lawyer and get their expert advice. By investing in legal services, you can be almost certain that your strategy will be compliant with labor laws.
One benefit of being in the office is that workers are never out of mind, out of sight. As sad as it is, people who work remotely often get passed over for promotions and career opportunities as they are not in the management’s mind. This is bound to escalate in the future when working from home will become more ingrained in society.
Anyone who can prove a lack of career progression has a potential lawsuit on their hands that may cost a significant sum. Therefore, it’s wiser to create development plans to stop employees from stagnating professionally.
The key is to track workflow so that you are fairly taking performance into account. This is as simple as using Time Doctor or Roadmap to highlight the people who aren’t slacking off behind your back. Make sure you codify the information. That way, you’ll be able to justify promotion candidates.
What can you teach people about their homes that they don’t already know? The reality is, most employees have never used their property as a workplace, so they don’t recognize the need for certain features that they take for granted daily. The topic of ergonomics is a prime example.
Companies spend millions on the right chairs, desks, and lighting features to avoid having to fork out billions in damages when inevitable lawsuits land at their door. You’re not different, yet a commitment to comfort and safety doesn’t go out of the window because people are no longer in the office.
Your employees still require the same level of ergonomics for the sake of the company’s productivity levels, which is why training is imperative. Showing remote workers how to set up their space to ensure they get the most from their home office is a strategy that several firms are utilizing. Some businesses even offer grants for employees who require equipment but don’t have the money to pay for it themselves.
A co-working space requires extra effort as local work and zoning permits will need to be researched if the workplace is a corporate space. OSHA inspections might be necessary too, particularly if you plan on offering compensation to your employees.
It’s tempting to concentrate on remote work compliance from a federal level only. But, the US has a complicated governmental system, with lots of legislation split between the different branches of government. As a result, you can fall foul of the state as well as the White House.
Unfortunately, this means that every state has different ways of protecting remote workers. And, the rules change regularly, leaving businesses with the challenging job of keeping up to date with relevant changes. Tracking who gets what can be very difficult.
Thankfully, new software is emerging that is becoming a game-changer. For instance, cloud-based web portals allow users to view labor laws applicable to their specific environment. You and your team don’t even have to be in the workplace as traditional labor law posters are being substituted with posters for the digital workforce.
Regardless of a person’s location, they can access the information, allowing employers to obtain the most recent information concerning labor laws and workers’ rights. This puts businesses in the driving seat, rather than waiting and having to react at a moment’s notice.
Labor Law Compliance Center - Helping You Stay Compliant
At the Labor Law Compliance Center, we have an electronic solution that is specifically designed for remote workers. Our posters for digital workforces are available online, making them incredibly accessible, and are regularly updated to provide the most up-to-date information.
To learn more, please don’t hesitate to call us at +1 (800) 801-0597 to speak to a trained and knowledgeable advisor.