The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

Setting Boundaries: Making “Work from Home” Work

Technology makes "work from home" an almost expected norm. But make sure you define boundaries and expectations at the onset with your employees.As technology grows, so does the possibility for new definitions of a workday. Most of us love the option to have 24/7 access to the world. This kind of access presents an advantage by offering the work-life balance that many employees desire. At the same time, it seems that the work day never ends. Employees have the ability to handle work-related projects from anywhere in the world at any time; but it also creates a connection for the employee to be available at any moment.

According to a survey by Right Management, a division of Manpower, 36% of employees receive emails from managers outside traditional work hours. Click here for ideas of how to navigate this new world. This impacts all levels of the organizational hierarchy – often because it’s simply more convenient for the manager to reach out in the evenings or week-ends for follow up on a project, or just to check in with their team. But the ease for the manager often means conflict for the employee. While managers may not expect a response, employees feel pressure to address their manager’s issue. This is especially true of the employee trying to move up the corporate ladder and make a great impression.

After-hours work will be increasingly critical to manage as the new overtime laws are enacted December 1, 2016. It is anticipated that a large number of your employees will now be entitled to overtime – and managers may not be aware of the impact. If an employee who is no longer exempt from overtime is receiving and reading an email, they will likely be owed pay for the time they are working. To ensure you are classifying your employees properly, check out the Department of Labor page on the subject at FLSA at DOL site.

The world has arrived at a place where instantaneous information and response is the norm, but is that the culture you want to embed in your workplace and team? How can managers continue to handle their administrative tasks at times that are convenient for them, and at the same time allow team members to unplug? One way is by writing emails when they provide you the work-life balance you want, then save them as a draft to be sent during work hours. Communicate with your team about your work style – and be equally clear of your expectations from the team. Reward a culture of balance, discuss time off activities, praise employees for being “unplugged,” and respect the boundaries that you and your team set for an effective balance.

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