How Organizations Should Navigate Remote Workers’ Return-to-Office Resistance
May 21, 2021
To be sure, employers aren’t without some leverage, at least on a legal basis.
Domenique Camacho Moran, a partner and head of labor and employment practice at Farrell Fritz, P.C. in New York, said companies can mandate workers to be on site—except when a disability “requires an interactive dialogue about a reasonable accommodation.”
“Just because businesses can demand that employees return to work, does not mean they should do so without transparency and planning,” Camacho Moran added.
Deciding if a worker should be allowed to work remote will often require an individual analysis that includes business needs and philosophy, she says.
“In deciding whether to embrace more workplace flexibility, businesses should not lose sight of their policies regarding equal employment and ensure they are not, directly or indirectly, treating individuals from any specific protected class differently than others,” Camacho Moran noted.
“Workplace flexibility is an opportunity for businesses to build employee morale and productivity,” she said. “Any remote work arrangement should include clearly identified expectations and periodic review to ensure that job performance meets the goals and standards established.”
Businesses should inform employees about return-to-work policies, give them the chance to visit the site to witness safety protocols in place, and open communication for questions and concerns. That can cultivate confidence and may limit the number of employees who refuse to go back to the office, she adds.
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