After the Pandemic: The “New” New Normal

As the workforce has adjusted to working during the pandemic’s new normal, we must prepare for the “new” new normal, post-pandemic. What are your plans for remote working (aka telecommuting) after the pandemic? Recent industry and employee surveys tell us that remote working will most likely continue post-pandemic due to convenience and employee preference. Before the pandemic, only 20% of employers had employees work remotely regularly. In contrast, during the pandemic, that number tripled. Although most employers are planning to return to the workplace, many employers are reevaluating the functionality of the physical work space as they have a new understanding of what makes a location optimal for efficient work. Employers tell us employers are either downsizing or giving up their office space entirely in favor of working from home. If a collaborative workspace is needed, renting office hotel space may be sufficient.

Operational issues to consider when transitioning into a virtual workplace include records management and labor law posters.

Records Management: Although electronic storage of personnel records is permissible under federal employment laws, employers must be mindful of file management practices as well as statutory rules relating to document retention periods and electronic storage systems to avoid legal pitfalls. If employers transition to all e-storage, be sure to provide the training needed for safe and secure file handling, do not assume employees have learned necessary management under pandemic necessity. For additional information, please refer to the Employers Council FYI concerning Employee File Management and Federal Record Retention Guide.

Labor Law Posters: Although the employment postings have not yet caught up with the electronic age, it is still the employers’ responsibility to ensure employees are aware of their rights. Employers Council offers Electronic Posters (E-Posters) with an Electronic Update Service. E-Posters are a good fit for employers who employ telecommuters, remote workers, or who want to add posters to the wealth of information communicated via the organization’s intranet. Despite availability, E-Posters cannot substitute for physical posters. The US Department of Labor maintains that physical posters are still required, even if a company typically uses an intranet to communicate with its employees. Fortunately, telecommuters or remote workers do not have to post physical posters in their house. However, the employees must have access to the State’s laws (s) in which they work (not the State they are paid from). For more information or questions, please contact posters@employerscouncil.org or posters.

For additional resources and support, please call us with your questions.