As employers continue to grapple with the best approach to bringing employees back to the office, Laura Balson authored an article for the July 2023 issue of HR.com Legal & Compliance Excellence highlighting challenges and opportunities for businesses to succeed.
While major tech companies are implementing policies for employees to return to the office, statistics are showing that hybrid work is gaining popularity across many industries. “According to The Flex Report, 30% of companies are allowing their employees to have a hybrid schedule, up from 20% in the first quarter of 2023,” Balson said. “This leaves human resource (HR) professionals to grapple with guiding organizations through the decision of whether to require employees to return to the office.”
Balson offered suggestions for HR managers to use in their return-to-office approach, including clear communications of expectations and effectively retraining managers for both face-to-face work and balancing a hybrid workforce.
Along with the operational and interpersonal issues associated with reverting to an in-office or hybrid plan, Balson highlighted legal pitfalls that should be taken into account. One example is the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects people with disabilities from discrimination and requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to employees under certain circumstances. This may call for additional flexibility for many and a prompt response and interactive engagement for ADA accommodation requests that may follow.
Balson also suggested that it is likely important to revisit policies and enforcement for issues like expense reimbursement for remote workers, mandatory in-office work and miscellaneous issues like dress code, personal devices and data security.
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