Are Changes to Canada’s Privacy Law Landscape on the Horizon?

It looks like 2020 might be the year where Canada catches up in the realm of privacy and data protection laws. These will likely have a ripple effect throughout the workplace.

Mandates Letters

In December 2019, PM Trudeau sent mandate letters to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Canadian Heritage asking them to get to work on enhancing the protection of Canadians’ personal information. 

The mandate letters focused on asking the various Ministers to work towards advancing Canada’s May 2019, Digital Charter (“the Charter”). The Charter sets out ten principles intended to address and respond to the impact of the digital revolution on Canadians and the Canadian economy. The government’s website sets out these principles and various action items in an accessible way on their website. Here are a few highlights:

  • Universal Access 
  • Control and Consent 
  • Safety and Security 
  • Transparency, Portability and Interoperability 
  • Strong Enforcement and Real Accountability 

Enacting these principles will require some legal teeth, which is where the mandate letters come in. 

Warnings from the Privacy Commissioner

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada warned in his 2018-2019 Annual Report to Parliament on the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act that “the world is now passing us by” when it comes to privacy protections. 

Rapid change has never been a forte of governments and it has evidently been difficult for governments the world over to keep pace with the changes the digital age has brought. We are reminded of the bizarre questions asked by some members of the US congress during the Facebook hearings over Cambridge Analytica. Some members were still clearly in the stage of digital infancy, learning to use their email…

What to Expect

So what can we expect to come from Trudeau’s mandate letters? Much of Canada’s patchwork privacy law speaks to best practices – these could be replaced with enforceable rights and real obligations. Changes could include the right for privacy commissioners to conduct privacy inspections, issue orders and more easily enforce financial penalties. 

While no definite timeline has been set for re-vamping Canada’s privacy legislation, doing so has been called “a top priority.” Public consultations are expected and “targeted stakeholder engagement”  has begun. 

Data breaches are becoming more and more common. While complying with changing privacy laws will remain essential, organizations may also want to think beyond legal compliance and be proactive when it comes to privacy and data protection. 

Public Health Emergencies and the Workplace

The Wuhan Novel Coronavirus (or 2019-vCoV) is a public health emergency in Canada with confirmed cases in Ontario. This has led many employers to ask how they should manage their employees’ concerns, while still trying to operate “business as usual”.  On the one hand, employers are obligated to provide a healthy and safe work environment, while on the other, they must respect an employee’s privacy and ensure that their responses to any health or safety concerns do not violate human rights legislation.

Stay Well Informed

Because an employer’s legal obligations continue during a public health emergency, clear and accurate information and communication are vital. Employers should remain informed of the latest public health information and communicate essential information and specific expectations to their employees. For example, relaying the importance of handwashing and hand sanitizing, while maintaining well-stocked supplies for doing so. 

Depending on employee circumstances, employers may need to implement more specific precautionary measures to protect the workforce. Such measures should be reviewed and updated as official sources of information change. Because of the uncertainty around the Coronavirus, a cautious and conservative approach will be defensible by employers, so long as they act reasonably, and base their decisions on official sources of information. 

The following websites should be used as official sources for up-to-date information:

World Health Organization

Public Health Agency of Canada 

Ontario.ca

Public Health Ontario

Toronto Public Health

Collaborate With Employees

Given that, in some cases, the Coronavirus has led to a spotlight on individuals’ personal health status, and the stigmatizing of the Chinese community, employers should approach the issue with discretion and sensitivity. Employers should also designate an appropriate person within their organization to field employee questions and concerns. 

While ultimately the employer will decide what precautionary measures are required and appropriate, a two-way conversation with an employee about appropriate precautionary measures is advisable whenever possible. For example, if an employee has travelled to an affected area, discuss collaboratively what a productive period of remote work could look like, and how such a modified work arrangement might be communicated to co-workers. Based on recent official sources, symptoms of the virus may present themselves up to 14 days after exposure, therefore it is reasonable that an impacted employee be asked to work remotely for 14 days. In some cases, the employee should be required to produce medical documentation confirming their clearance to return to the workplace. 

Employers may benefit from a strategic discussion with employment law counsel to develop precautionary measures or incident responses that are compliant with health and safety, privacy, and human rights legislation. If this is the case for your workplace, please get in touch.

Recent Changes in Ontario Litigation Forums

On January 1, 2020, changes were implemented to the Simplified Procedure under Rule 76 of the Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure, as well as in Small Claims Court. The changes were brought to increase access to justice for individuals and businesses by reducing the cost of resolving disputes.

New Limit in Small Claims Court

From now on, all claims of $35,000 or less are brought to Small Claims Court, an increase from the previous $25,000 limit. The small claims process is much more streamlined than a proceeding in Superior Court – after pleadings are closed, the parties schedule a settlement conference, and if a matter does not settle, a hearing is scheduled. Starting an action in Small Claims Court is also less risky for the potential plaintiff – if a plaintiff loses, the worst-case scenario is that this plaintiff will have to pay 15% of the award, a maximum of $5,250 in Costs to the other party. This limited risk can be attractive to plaintiffs with limited resources. 

New Limit for Simplified Procedure

All claims higher than $35,000 and under $200,000 must now follow the Simplified Procedure, an increase from the previous $100,000 limit. Other changes to the Simplified Procedure include capping Costs awards to $50,000, capping disbursements to $25,000, implementing expedited deadlines, and limiting the trial to 5 days, among other changes. 

Final Thoughts

Given the general apprehension surrounding litigation, these recent changes will be attractive to potential plaintiffs wanting more certitude on legal fees, potential liability, and time, and may result in more actions being commenced by those who may have otherwise just let it go. Plaintiffs with claims in the higher dollar figure ranges may choose to lower their claims in order to fall under the Simplified Procedure or the Small Claims Court. This means more actions being brought to Small Claims Court or under the Simplified Procedure. Given the capped Costs liability, we may see plaintiffs less likely to settle and more matters being taken to trial. In turn, this new reality could impact the way employers address current or potential disputes with their employees. Only time will tell!

If you’re looking for counsel on a litigation matter, please get in touch!

What does it mean to be in a union?

We often get contacted by employees who are members of unions and employers looking to better understand the pros/cons when faced with unionization. What does it mean to be in a union?

Collective Agreement vs. a Contract

One big difference between unionized and non-unionized employees is that the employment relationship with the employer is governed not by individual contracts but by a collective agreement. The collective agreement will contain the terms and conditions of employment applicable to all employees who are covered by that collective agreement. Generally, this means that all employees within certain classes will be treated the same, paid the same etc.

Non-unionized employees have individual agreements with the employer (employment contracts) and can, therefore, have individualized terms of employment. In a non-unionized workplace, an employer can pay employees who do the same job different amounts, let them have different work schedules etc. 

Collective vs. Individual Negotiations 

Because a unionized employee’s relationship with the employer is governed by the collective agreement, if they want a raise, this would have to be negotiated through the collective agreement process and this would mean a raise for everyone in their class. The union would also have to determine whether or not a raise was worth asking for. Unionized employees generally cannot get special or individualized treatment from the employer. 

A non-unionized employee can negotiate on their own behalf and an employer is allowed to treat employees differently (subject of course to disallowed human rights considerations). If a non-unionized employee wanted a raise, they could just ask for one and the employer could grant one, generally without it having larger ramifications for the wider workforce. 

Advancement

Unions are all about fair and equal treatment. Collective agreements will usually contain specific provisions by which an employer is allowed to promote an employee. Seniority is generally very important and in many cases, the employer will have to give the promotion to the most senior applicant, provided all applicants are equally qualified. 

Perks like vacation scheduling, shift selection and overtime opportunity are generally allocated in order of seniority, with the most senior employees getting the first picks. 

Check out some union reality highlights from this job ad for a City of Ottawa Bus Operator: 

  • “expect no summer vacation for up to 10 years” 
  • “It has not been uncommon for new operators to work weekends for 5 to 10 years”
  • “Junior Operators will work 12 out of 14 days for the next 3 –5 years”

The ad caught media attention for its honesty. These are the realities of a unionized workforce – the perk being that after 10 years, once you get the first pick of vacation, you’ll always have summers off. 

The Power for All vs. The Power of One

After learning that unionized employees can’t ask for their own raise or get a vacation in the summer for 10 years you might be wondering why anyone would want to be in a union. Unionized employees generally have a lot more power in the employment relationship, and a lot more job protection, than their non-unionized friends. 

Unionized employees, for example, can generally only be terminated for cause or where a position is really and truly eliminated. Non-unionized employees can generally be terminated for any reason, as long as they are provided with notice. 

Unionized employees have their union to go to bat for them if they are treated unfairly by the employer. A non-unionized employee will generally have to pay a lawyer out of their own pocket if they need legal help in their employment relationship. 

Because unionized employees act as a group, they have the power to seriously disrupt the employer’s operations (ie. STRIKE) and therefore they have more power in the employment relationship as a collective than just one employee. 

What if my union isn’t doing what I want?

We often hear from employers facing potential unionization, as well as employees who feel that their union isn’t representing them fairly. We are occasionally retained by some of these individuals to provide legal advice behind the screens, but an individual unionized employee cannot be represented by their own lawyer in their relationship with the employer. They must be represented by the union. The only way around this fact is by making a “Duty of Fair Representation Complaint” to the Labour Relations Board. It’s a big deal. 

If you’d like to book a consult to chat about your employment relationships, be it unionized or non-unionized get in touch

Our Induction into the Clawbies Hall of Fame!

We are super excited to announce that our blog has been inducted into the Clawbies Hall of Fame! Our regular readers will know what a Clawbie is because, well, we’ve won before. The Clawbies are the Canadian Law Blog Awards. Since 2006 they have been showcasing quality Canadian legal blogging. Our blog won previous awards in 2019, 2018, 2013, 2011. Induction into the Hall of Fame is a big deal for our little blog – kind of like a lifetime achievement award…tissue, please! 

To be inducted into the Hall of Fame we had to have a least three past wins, check! Being Hall of Famers means we can no longer win future Clawbies.   

We absolutely love blogging. It allows us to be creative, have a little fun and also, we hope, be helpful and informative. We are not a law firm that believes in hoarding the secret sauce. While most legal situations can benefit from individualized legal advice, we also use our blog as a way to bring relevant workplace legal information to those who may not be ready to hire a lawyer. 

Thanks to all of our readers and supporters. Here’s to another decade of sharing content, resources and tips to navigate the modern workplace law landscape.

Notable Cases of the Year

As we shut the door on 2019 and begin 2020, we at SpringLaw thought this was a good time to look back on some of the biggest 2019 employment law cases in Ontario! Here is our list of the top 5 cases of 2019 and their key take-aways for employers and employees alike.

1. Colistro v. Tbaytel, 2019 ONCA 197

The facts in this case are fairly similar to other harassment cases we see nowadays, but what makes this case truly unique is the devastating cost consequences for the plaintiff employee. 

Ms. Colistro had been employed at Tbaytel for over 22 years when she was informed that her former supervisor, Mr. Steve Benoit, would be returning to the company. Mr. Benoit was terminated in 1996 because Ms. Colistro and a number of other employees accused him of sexual harassment. When Ms. Colistro expressed her concerns about Mr. Benoit her employer informed her that they could move her to a different location, a remedy that proved unsatisfactory for Ms. Colistro. The news of Mr. Benoit’s return caused Ms. Colistro a great deal of stress and ultimately led to her departure. Ms. Colistro sued Tbaytel for constructive dismissal.

The trial judge provided Ms. Colistro with 12 months in wrongful dismissal damages, which amounted to $14,082.00, once salary continuation and LTD were accounted for, and $100,000.00 in Honda damages for the bad faith manner of dismissal. 

The Court of Appeal dismissed both the appeal and cross-appeal and did not find in favour of Ms. Colistro for her intentional infliction of mental distress claim. The court concluded that Thaytel could not have known that their actions would cause serious psychological injury. While her constructive dismissal claim was successful, Ms. Colistro was left with a massive costs award ($200,000.00) and was required to pay the costs of her lawyer because she failed to accept a settlement offer from Thaytel that exceeded her trial award. This case is a classic example of how failing to engage in measured negotiation can lead to awful consequences for a plaintiff – even when they have a strong case!

2. Merrifield v. Canada (Attorney General), 2019 ONCA 205

Merrifield is another significant case because it is the first Canadian appellate court decision that has confirmed that a separate tort of harassment does not exist.

Mr. Merrifield, an RCMP officer, alleged that his career and reputation were damaged by his superiors after they discovered that he sought the Conservative party nomination in his riding. After learning of his participation in this nomination, the RCMP advanced an investigation into Mr. Merrifield. Mr. Merrifield claims that he was subjected to harassment and career-ending character assassination which caused him to experience extreme emotional distress. Mr. Merrifeild sued the RCMP for committing the common law tort of harassment. 

The Ontario Court of Appeal determined that the tort of harassment does not exist and that plaintiffs experiencing harassment should seek remedies under the tort of intentional infliction of mental distress (IIMD). The test for IIMD is: 

  1. Flagrant and outrageous conduct;
  2. Calculated to harm the plaintiff; and
  3. Caused the plaintiff to suffer from extreme and severe emotional distress. 

Employers should keep in mind that while the tort of harassment does not exist they are still required to provide their employees with a harassment-free workplace as employees still have the option to pursue an IIMD claim if they are experiencing severe mistreatment at work. 

3. Heller v. Uber Technologies Inc. 2019 ONCA 1

The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in this case will have serious implications for employers who wish to include mandatory arbitration clauses into their contracts. In fact, the decision in this case has the potential to create changes in other types of contracts where there are huge power imbalances between the contracting parties (think: consumer contracts). 

Heller is a class action case initiated by David Heller, an UberEats delivery driver who argued that he and his fellow workers are employees and thus entitled to the basic benefits provided under the Employment Standards Act. Uber’s response was to stay Mr. Heller’s claim and insist that the only appropriate venue for this dispute was through arbitration, a requirement under the service agreement that drivers must sign before working on the Uber platform. This service agreement includes a clause that requires employees to go through a mandatory arbitration process in Amsterdam in order to settle their disputes with the company. While the Superior Court ruled that the arbitration clause was valid, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the motion judge and ruled that the clause was “unconscionable at common law” and thus invalid. Uber appealed the Court of Appeal’s decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. We await that decision. 

Up until now, Canadian courts have insisted that contracts that are entered into freely by both parties are enforceable under the law, but the SCC decision in Heller may add some exceptions to this longstanding principle. 

4. Dawe v. The Equitable Life Insurance Company of Canada, 2019 ONCA 512

The decision in Dawe is significant because it reaffirms a notice period cap of 24 months, even where employees are very senior, near retirement and have long service to a company. 

Mr. Dawe was a 37-year employee in a senior management role at the time that he was terminated without cause.  Mr. Dawe sued for wrongful dismissal and the motion judge ruled that he was entitled to 30 months’ notice, in addition to bonus payments throughout the notice period. The motion’s judge reasoned that the employer’s decision to end Mr. Dawe’s employment at the age of 62 was “tantamount to forced retirement” and thus 30 months was appropriate in light of the exceptional circumstances. Equitable Life appealed the ruling.

On appeal, the Court of Appeal reduced the notice period to 24 months because they did not agree that the circumstances were exceptional enough to warrant an award above 24 months. The Court relied on another case, Lowndes v. Summit Ford Sales Ltd., to show that the 24 month notice period already accounts for factors such as the employee’s length of service and age at the time of termination when awarding a 24 month notice period.

Determining the factors necessary for an award higher than 24 months is difficult and will depend on the facts of the case, but the decision in Dawe shows that simply being an older adult in a senior role with a long service does not cut it.

5. English v. Manulife Financial Corporation, 2019 ONCA 612

Where once it was thought that employers could simply accept an employee’s notice of resignation, English shows us that employers should make inquiries if they want to avoid a potentially complicated situation down the line. 

In English v. Manulife Financial Corporation, Elisabeth English, a 66-year-old employee, provided her employer, Manulife Financial, with her resignation after she became aware of Manulife’s intention to change the office computer system. Manulife accepted her offer but informed her that she could rescind or reconsider her resignation. When she heard that the company was going to indefinitely suspend the conversion to the new computer system, she attempted to rescind her resignation. Manulife chose, instead, to accept her resignation. 

While the Superior Court found in favour of Manulife, on the grounds that English’s notice of retirement was clear and unequivocal, the Court of Appeal disagreed with the lower court’s finding, deciding instead that English’s retirement letter was not clear and unequivocal; therefore, she was entitled to withdraw it. The Court of Appeal reasoned that at the time Ms. English informed Manulife of her intention to resign, she also told them she was unsure whether she wanted to resign. Her employer responded by saying that she could change her mind at a later date. 

When Ms. English changed her mind about her resignation, she believed, based on her supervisor’s assurances, that she could easily rescind her resignation. Manulife’s decision to take that option away from her was the nail in the proverbial coffin of their case. It is very possible that the case would have gone in a different direction if the supervisor simply made inquiries into her decision, reminded her that her decision was final and accepted her resignation in the moment. Employers should consider instituting a simplified “resignation acceptance” procedure so that supervisors don’t make one-to-one promises that may make them vulnerable to these kinds of challenges from employees.

The new year is bound to bring with it even more interesting decisions and we look forward to sharing the lessons from these cases with you here! Wishing you all a prosperous 2020!

Please get in touch if you require any legal counsel in the new year.

How to go to the bathroom at work

Bathroom breaks come up frequently in news stories about workers’ rights. The City of Hamilton just narrowly avoided a transit strike where bathroom breaks were a major issue. A City of Ottawa transit worker, calling himself a “whistle-blower” also recently spoke about lack of “recovery time” for drivers – aka not enough time to go to the bathroom between bus runs. Ottawa City Transit workers currently have three minutes per hour for “recovery” although drivers say that the routes are so tightly timed that they rarely are able to take those three minutes. In addition to transit jobs, lack of time for bathroom breaks is also something we see come up for workers on continuous production lines or warehouse workers. So what’s the law on time to go to the bathroom?

The Law on Breaks

While every province in Canada is governed by a different employment standards statute, most have similar provisions around hours of work and breaks. Some workplaces will be subject to federal regulation and governed by the Canada Labour Code. Federal legislation applies to industries that cross borders or with national interest – banks, airlines, telecom companies and interestingly the City of Ottawa’s transit system because it crosses into Quebec. 

In this post, we will focus on the law in Ontario, which is set out by the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA)

The ESA requires that employers provide employees with an uninterrupted 30-minute eating period after no more than five consecutive hours of work. The 30-minute break is unpaid. Employees have to be “free from work” and can leave the workplace. As far as breaks go, that’s it! The ESA does not require the employer to provide the employee with coffee, smoke or bathroom breaks. 

Notably, the ESA does have many exceptions. For example, most professionals (lawyers, doctors, veterinarians, etc.) are exempt from many parts of the ESA. No bathroom breaks for us! 

If you can’t hold it for five hours

Five hours is a long time for some of us to wait to go to the bathroom. In many instances, employers will let employees regulate their own bathroom needs. If the employee must remain at the workplace during the break then the bathroom break time is considered to be working time under the ESA. 

There are other cases where an employee going to the bathroom shuts down the whole operation. This is true for drivers, cashiers, assembly line workers, parking lot attendants, etc. etc. In these cases, the employee really may have to figure out how to hold it for five hours. 

An exception to the legs-crossed-for-five-hours requirement will exist where the employee can demonstrate that they need accommodation, under the Ontario Human Rights Code, for medical reasons. An employee would need to get a doctor’s note, or other medical form required by the employer, setting out that they need access to a bathroom more frequently for medical reasons. In most cases, the employer will have to comply. An employer would not have to accommodate an employee’s medical need for more frequent bathroom access if they could demonstrate that to do so would be an undue hardship

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has a nifty tool and a handy guide if you’d like to learn more about hours of work and rest periods or get in touch to set up a consultation with us!

Terminations without Tears?!

Getting fired is hard. Firing someone is just as hard, even if you are unhappy with that employee’s performance. Ending an employment relationship happens for many reasons, from poor performance to fit to business restructuring. Employees leave for similar reasons – they don’t think the company is living up to its promises, they’re experiencing feelings of isolation or a new job has come up.

Ending an employment relationship does not need not be a polarizing, bipartisan, us-versus-them scenario. While some extreme situations may arise (such fraud or competing against the employer), the majority of the time both parties kinda know they should go their separate ways. Both are a bit unhappy, both are either remembering the long-ago honeymoon or having regrets about ever entering into this relationship – and both are unsure how to get out.

For many tech startups, the termination may involve a long-term friendship, a near-founder type role, or an early commitment to this relationship lasting forever.

Our experience with most employers, especially with startups, owner-operators, and small businesses, is that terminations are just as painful and emotional for the person having to trigger the termination. 

5 Tips to Terminate without Tears

Here are 5 tips to terminate without tears:

  1. Be empathetic: Put yourself in the employee’s shoes and avoid humiliating theatre. This will help lower the employee’s temperature to accept the termination package sooner.
  2. Be rational: Acknowledge the range of emotions everyone is feeling, but rise above it and think about how you each will feel 3 months from now. Don’t do anything you’ll regret when the dust settles.
  3. Have contractual certainty: Terminations are waaaaaaaay easier if there is a reasonable, readable, enforceable termination provision the parties can rely on. Do it for your own peace of mind, as well as the math of eliminating the battle over how much notice to give. Have a termination letter and release ready to go at the termination meeting that reflects the contractual entitlements.
  4. Context matters: When enforcing the contract termination provisions that you hopefully have in place, contextualize those terms to the circumstances surrounding the termination. Do the original termination terms still make sense? Do you have an additional business risk to cover off? Do you have reason to not trust the employee with your digital data? You can’t go below the contract terms, but you may want to give more notice than the basic amounts in the contract to force a post-employment restriction.
  5. Math matters even more: As much as you may be plugging your nose to pay out a termination notice, remember that the excessive costs and polarizing results of litigation will smell worse. Usually being a bit more generous than you want to be upfront will result in better business math longterm. 

If you are looking for a modern legal strategy for your terminations, get in touch.

How to Remote Work Well

There was a time when working away from a brick and mortar office was considered a luxury only afforded to those at the very top of the organizational structure – out of reach for anyone else. Today, all sorts of positions are advertised with a remote working option, in part due to the ever-growing desire amongst today’s workers to have options in their workplace. In an effort to reel in the best and the brightest, many employers in this new economy include remote work into their growing list of workplace perks.

While remote work can be integrated into more workplaces than previously imagined, employers need to be proactive and prepare in advance of any large-scale movement towards offering a remote working option. Here are some tips to help you successfully build a remote working model in your workplace.

Hot Tip 1: Create a Sound Policy

Make sure every employee understands the workplace policy around remote work including which roles are eligible for remote work arrangements and who is eligible to participate. Just because you have a workplace where remote working is an option does not mean that every employee will be entitled to it. In most cases, working remotely will be a luxury and employees should be informed about what they need to do in order to access this option (e.g. demonstrate that they are responsive, self-starters). Also, some roles are not conducive to a remote working option – for example, managers may need to be in the office to support their subordinates – and those ineligible need to be informed

For individuals in federally regulated industries, a recent Canada Labour Code amendment permits employees to request flexible work arrangements after 6 months of continuous employment. The employer can accept the request in its entirety, partially accept the request, or reject the request. The employer can only reject the request in specific circumstances, including if the employer can establish that they wouldn’t be able to provide the employee with sufficient work or if they were unable to reorganize the workplace in such a way that would make the arrangement successful.

Hot Tip 2: Connectivity

It is impossible to work out all of the kinks prior to launching a remote working plan, which is why it might be helpful to see the first few months of the program as a test period. Keep in touch with your employees and note any connectivity or integration issues.

Also, take stock of how you treat your remote employees as compared to the other employees in your organization. Do you find it more difficult to trust their commitment to the organization when you do not see them every day? Look for ways to address this insecurity as feelings of distrust can have detrimental impacts on the success of a remote program. For instance, have a weekly check-in meeting with your remote-staff and your brick and mortar staff about ongoing projects and office happenings. These kinds of meetings will ensure the relationship between employees and your relationship with the team stay intact.

Hot Tip 3: Accountability

Creating a culture of accountability among your remote workers is essential if you hope to have a well functioning remote program. It is important that you make it clear that remote employees must meet the same goals as non-remote employees. This may not be especially difficult given that much of the research around remote work suggests that workers are more productive and, in fact, work more hours when they work remotely (likely because remote workers feel guilty about their arrangement and tend to overcompensate).

Just as you would focus on ensuring the remote employee is aware of their responsibilities, you should spend some time with the supervisor who will be managing the remote employee to ensure they are equipped to handle this transition.

Depending on the company model, it may or may not be appropriate for the remote employee to work flexible or irregular hours so long as they are able to meet their targets. In some instances, this may not be possible, and in those cases you should clearly articulate that the employee must work conventional hours.

Hot Tip 4: Include Facetime

One of the reasons remote working arrangements are so common in the modern workforce is because of the ease by which individuals can communicate. Your teams are likely already skilled in communications such as email or chat, so integrating someone who is not physically in the office may be easier than you think.

This type of communication, however, is not always the most appropriate way of interacting with your employees, so it is important that you continue to engage with remote employees in face-to-face communication as well as over the phone. As you can probably imagine, providing critical feedback is probably best reserved for a conversation over the phone or an in-person meeting. Remember: in most instances, a remote employee will still be able to come into the office occasionally or have a conversation over the phone or via video chat, so be sure to make space for those kinds of communications.

Hot Tip 5: Equipment

Ensuring your remote workers have the proper equipment to do their jobs remotely is an essential part of a remote working program. Some workplaces don’t mind their employees using their personal computers for work, while others find it safer to provide their employees with some equipment. What you are able to offer will depend on the type of equipment your employees need as well as your resources.

Make sure to take down the serial numbers of all the equipment you provide as you will need a way to identify the items you need to recover in the event that the employee leaves the company.

Takeaways

Jason Fried, one of the biggest advocates for remote working arrangements and the co-founder and CEO of Basecamp, once stated that “work doesn’t happen at work” a pithy way of saying that people do not need to be in the workplace in order to create. A trusted employee in your workplace is not doomed to fall prey to distractions simply because they are working from home. In fact, being in a space where they have full control over their environment is likely going to increase happiness and reduce attrition. Not all workers want to work remotely or should work remotely, but some employees well suited to this arrangement will appreciate this offering.

If you have any questions about how to introduce remote working into your organization or would like us to draft a remote working plan, please get in touch.

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