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Rights, Responsibilities, and Recommendations for Remote Work Under COVID-19 Restrictions

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The coronavirus pandemic and resulting global quarantine have changed the way all we live and work, and it’s unclear when the lockdown will lift. You might be among the thousands of workers caught off-guard as employers made a hasty transition to remote work — and even now, weeks later, you might still be struggling to catch up.  Even if you’re a work-from-home veteran, you’ve likely never done it under social distancing conditions. 

Whatever your work-from-home situation, questions arise: How much leeway do I have in balancing my family’s needs against my employer’s? How do I stay focused and maintain my workload? And how do I establish some normalcy amid all these worries and distractions? While not all questions are answerable yet, here are some factors to consider about your rights and responsibilities as a new remote worker, as well as basic recommendations to help you catch up to the learning curve and work from home productively during the quarantine.

Emergency Preparation And Response

In addition to a global health emergency, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing unprecedented economic failure around the world. While nobody can accurately predict the full scope of the effects on the world’s economy, experts agree on basic measures that can help you prepare to meet the financial challenges that lie ahead:

  • Assemble important documents. In addition to putting together a disaster preparedness kit with materials and supplies, it’s recommended that you assemble a legal and financial emergency packet. Locate and make copies of the following: 
    • Identification documents for each family member (including pets) – birth certificates, Social Security cards, passports, picture IDs
    • Financial documents – bank account info, tax returns, pay stubs
    • Insurance information – copies of cards and policies
    • Info on bills and other financial obligations – rental and payment agreements
  • Assess and get control over your finances. A clear picture of your financial situation is more necessary now than ever, even if the news is bad as a result of the coronavirus. Now is the time to look into the following areas and take steps to repair any weak spots:
  • Analyzing your spending and cutting out nonessential expenditures 
  • Revising your household budget to accommodate a drop in income or a rise in expenses 
  • Establishing an emergency fund with 3-6 months’ worth of expenses 
  • Enacting measures to monitor, repair, and build your credit rating in anticipation of needing to borrow money
  • Negotiating better interest rates or payback arrangements with lenders or cardholders 

Workplace Considerations

Companies that once pled ignorance or incompetence at initiating work-from-home policies have learned in a hurry how to make it happen. But this haste has made for a transition that’s not always smooth, logistically or legally. Consider these elements when you’re navigating the work-from-home learning curve:

  • Set yourself up online. Reliable internet access is the key to staying in touch not only with your boss, colleagues, and/or clients, but also with news sources, family, friends, and the rest of the world. Equip your home with secure, reliable Wi-Fi internet access, plus a virtual private network, or VPN, if your company offers it. (Start with this step because, especially in a crisis, it may take some time.) 
  • Sort out your tech. Make sure your workspace has all the technology you need to function. You’ll likely be meeting via video conferencing, so don’t forget your webcam and microphone if it’s not already built-in. Load all the software you need for operations, communication, recordkeeping, etc., onto your computer at home. If you’re set up with a cloud storage account, your work files should be secure and accessible from anywhere.
  • Know that your productivity might be monitored. You should be aware that about half of all big companies use some kind of monitoring software for work-from-home employees, so workers won’t treat this stressful time as “one big vacation.” Keystroke monitors, attention checks for screen-sharing functions, and employer access to Slack conversations, while they create some civil liberty concerns, are nonetheless common.  

Uncertainty is the rule during this crisis, and the only promising way to meet it is with caution, preparation, and resolution. An awareness of our rights and responsibilities — and of our human capacity for cooperation in times of greatest need — can bring us through this crisis together.

Printed with permission.

About the Author: Molly Barnes is a full-time digital nomad. She works remotely, travels constantly, and explores different cities across the U.S. She started her site, www.digitalnomadlife.org as a resource for travelers, nomads, and remote workers. Molly writes resources that help office and remote workers alike reach their personal and professional goals of becoming more successful. Follow along with her and her boyfriend Jacob on their blog as they pursue a nomadic lifestyle while freelancing and traveling across the country.


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When Your Employer Asks You to Work from Home! Are You Prepared?

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Make Working from Home an Asset for You & Your Employer

You have dreamt of this and now it is happening.  Maybe not for the best reasons, but you may be asked to work from home in the near future.   Are you prepared?  Once it happens and your company realizes that it is business as usual without the presence of all employees, it might be a good idea to make sure you exceed your bosses’ expectations. 

While the benefits to employees of working from home are numerous, it is important that certain guidelines are followed to ensure that the experience is a “win-win” for employee and employer alike.  For the employee, the following practices will better ensure that work time from home is both productive and, in the employer’s eyes, acceptable and beneficial to the company.

10 Must-Do’s When Working from Home

  1. Create strict, uninterrupted times for your work. Make sure that other household members understand and respect the work boundaries you have set.  This extends to other parties who might be inclined to call or visit with “personal time” communications – they must honor your work boundaries as well.  And, don’t answer the doorbell.
  2. Ensure care for your children. Pre-arrange to have them cared for by family or friends, nannies, or taken to day care.  If you and a friend are also asked to work from home, maybe they take ½ day, you take the other ½ and both of you work while the children are asleep to make up other lost work time.
  3. Pre-arrange with your employer to have corporate electronic access through the company’s firewall. For most of us, working from home means you will be transacting company business on a computer.  While corporate access through firewalls will unlikely be a concern with corporate-issued laptops, the same may not be true if you are using your personal computer to transact company business.
  4. Create an office workspace dedicated to your employment. This “office sanctuary” may have the added benefit of being an office-in-the-home tax deduction as well.
  5. Ensure you have the necessary work tools prior to starting your day. In addition to a quiet office area, assess the “must haves” to conduct your work. 

These might include:

  • computer/laptop
  • printer/typing paper
  • work phone/fully charged cellphone
  • reliable Internet connection
  • work station or desk
  1. Beware using your work-related computer for personal activities. Your employer will likely be able to track your personal transactions, and will take a dim view when your company time is used for such purposes.
  2. Stay “plugged in” to your employer. The adage “out of sight, out of mind” is sometimes applicable to employees working remotely – to their detriment.  You may not be privy to certain communications that you would otherwise be aware of if you worked in a corporate office environment.  Be sure you communicate directly and often with management and key associates via conference calls and video chats, etc. both to “stay in the loop” and to ensure your value is well recognized for that next annual evaluation or promotional consideration.
  3. Dress appropriately when working from home. You are more likely to be in a “working mood” when showered and dressed, than you are if working in your pajamas.
  4. Offer to “make up” time used for emergency personal purposes. Offering an employer an additional hour of work here and there to compensate for picking up a sick child from school, will be appreciated by your employer and make them feel you are a trusted work at home employee.
  5. Consider “giving back” to employers with some complimentary employer time. For most of us, working from home translates to a considerable reduction in commuting time to one’s employer.  Consider offering your employer an extra 30-60 minutes of work time – it will reflect favorably on you as a proactive employee, and should better ensure that your employer will appreciate, and continue, your working from home arrangement.

The prospect of working from home is cherished by many and can be an asset to employee and employer alike.  Follow the guidelines above to ensure the experience is a “win-win” for all concerned.

Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Heidi Allison currently serves as a board member for Workplace Fairness, lending her expertise in communications, public relations and media relations. One of her passions is assisting job seekers with ground-breaking advice and discussions about career advancement.


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5 Steps To Ensure Your Work-From-Home Employees Maximize Corporate Performance

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Use These Guidelines to Ensure That Your Remote Workplace Is A Corporate Asset

The advent of employees working from the home continues to rise, a trend that will surely continue in the future. 

Corporations recognize that an increasing number of employees – particularly millennials and contract workers in the “gig” economy – value this option and that it is a tool to better attract/retain employees. 

Benefits to reducing brick-&-mortar expenses, such as utility bills, are also an attraction to many employers.  Still others are faced with mandated work-from-home provisions due to unforeseen events such as the coronavirus pandemic.  All of these factors will ensure that remote workplace activity will only increase going forward.

Having said this, many corporate managers fear employee misuse of such freedom. 

Here are 5 some steps to ensure that creating a remote workplace environment for employees is a positive, beneficial step for the company.

  1. Identify clear expectations from remote employees.  Key elements of this communication include the hours to be worked, amount of work to be completed each day, task prioritization, guidelines for the amount/timing of communications with management, etc.
  2. Ensure remote employees have the proper tools.  Not only does this include corporate laptops and the like, but also ensuring they can log in and input data via corporate portals that will assist management in tracking employee progress, performance, needs, etc. Doing so will reduce the need for managers to utilize valuable time in personally tracking and evaluating such data.
  3. Regularly monitor employee progress (and needs).  Employers must regularly follow up on employee progress to ensure that corporate objectives and expectations are met, and also to ensure the company is there to offer assistance to any employee who, for whatever reason, is struggling with the “remote” proposition.
  4. Interact regularly with remote employees.  All employees need some degree of support and morale enhancement from their management and key associates.  This in turn bolsters productivity and acknowledges that remote employees have not been forgotten, or their contributions overlooked for performance evaluation or promotion consideration.
  5. Place trust and faith in remote employees.  Virtually every employee wants recognition as being an important asset to the company.  While some may intentionally or inadvertently misuse remote working privileges, most will not – especially if given the proper guidance recommended above.  Managers need to avoid the extremes of micromanagement and inadvertently placing too little emphasis on mutual communication with their employees.

Properly managed, the remote workplace can benefit employers and employees alike.  Follow the abovementioned steps to ensure it is an asset on your organization’s behalf.

Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Heidi Allison currently serves as a board member for Workplace Fairness, lending her expertise in communications, public relations and media relations. One of her passions is assisting job seekers with ground-breaking advice and discussions about career advancement.


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