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TECHNOLOGY

Clocked out or connected: What you need to know about after-hours group chats

By Paul Edwards “Quick question…” Those two words have become increasingly popular as our near-constant attachment to communication devices blurs the line between work and personal time. Whether by phone, laptop, or tablet—via Slack, WhatsApp, or Google Chat—it’s easier than ever for teams to stay in contact after the workday is done. But employers need to be cautious about how they approach group conversations outside of the workplace. Not only will you need to ensure that your employees are clear on the standards for professional conduct within a group chat or text, but whether or not you have to pay employees for the time they spend messaging will depend on several factors, including the content of the messages, how much time is spent messaging, and whether the employees are classified… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Harassment continues in era of remote work

By Mike O’Brien  In the early days of the pandemic, there was speculation that workplace harassment would decrease when so many workers shifted to remote work. Some recent surveys indicate that hasn’t been the case, and that incidents of harassment have been increasing. Possible reasons for this spike include the stress of the pandemic, the fact that remote workers may lack the kind of personal connections with colleagues that might otherwise hinder poor behavior and a more casual approach to conversations due to working in a more relaxed environment. Zoom meetings have also provided a whole new forum for trouble, with employees behaving badly (sometimes while thinking they are off-camera). The quick and unexpected shift to remote workforces may also have left many employers unprepared for the challenge. To combat… . . . read more

MANAGING THE OFFICE

Fear of COVID-19, demand for flexibility dominate return to the office

As the Delta variant continues to proliferate, 42 percent of workers are worried about returning to the workplace for fear of contracting COVID-19. This marks a substantial jump to Sept. 1 from June 2021 when only 24 percent had that concern. “With headlines about the rise of the Delta variant, breakthrough cases among the vaccinated, and an overburdened healthcare system in much of the country, COVID-19 concerns that were subsiding just two months ago have risen,” said Rebecca Ray, PhD, Executive Vice President of Human Capital at The Conference Board. Conducted in August by The Conference Board, the new survey captured the thoughts of more than 2,400 US workers on topics including return-to-work anxiety, factors driving them to pursue new job opportunities, opinions about remote work, and more. The survey… . . . read more

MANAGING STAFF

Making hybrid work: Charting a new playbook for a future-ready workplace

By Lynne Curry Employers thought employees would want to come back to their offices, where they had easy access to equipment, coworkers, and managers. They were wrong. COVID-19 untethered us from our traditional workplaces and many employees don’t want to return. Employees enjoyed the flexibility and freedom, sometimes from micro-managing supervisors, they had when working from home. They discovered they could better balance home and work when they didn’t have to commute or leave home for eight hours daily. When the C-suite consulting firm McKinsey & Company surveyed more than 5,000 employees, it reported three-quarters of them want to work from home two or more days per weekly, with more than half of them wanting to work from home at least three days a week.1 Given this disconnect, if employers… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE

What, if anything, does OSHA require you to do to protect telecommuters?

While telecommuting is nothing new, the imperative for using it has never been greater. In addition to all the cost-saving, work-life balance, recruiting and hiring advantages, letting employees work from home during a pandemic has become a vital infection control measure. But it also poses significant compliance challenges, particularly in the realm of OSHA. After all, how are you supposed to meet your duty to protect the health and safety of office employees if they work from home at a location beyond your physical control? This article will provide the answer. Spoiler alert: OSHA requirements don’t generally extend to employees working from home; but you still can and should take some basic steps to ensure their health and safety. OSHA & telecommuters The Occupational Safety and Health Act (Section 4(a))… . . . read more

TOOL

Telecommuter home office hazard assessment & inspection checklist

While not an OSHA obligation, it’s highly advisable to take measures to protect the health and safety of telecommuting office employees who work from home. How? By having employees seeking approval to telecommute designate a room or area as their home workspace and arranging for somebody to perform a hazard assessment inspection to verify that the workspace is safe, healthy and appropriate for the proposed use. Option 1: Have an office supervisor or manager visit the site and do a physical walk-through inspection; Option 2: Have the employee videotape the space and/or submit detailed photos and a floor plan and do the inspection virtually; Option 3: Have the employee inspect the space himself/herself. Whoever does the assessment should use the Checklist below.


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