Most major Canadian & US companies including Amazon, Apple & Google are starting to require that employees work from home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. There is an obvious health benefit to not being in a crowded office or having to commute to work, but the health risk and liabilities associated with long term remote work are still unclear and the potential impact on employees can be multi-faceted and long-lasting.
The mental health risks of being a virtual employee
Many employees in the coming weeks may experience unanticipated mental health consequences from mandated remote work, and it is important to be cognizant of this reality.
Isolation & Over work
Isolation and over work or burnouts can be two of the major concerns for employers and employees.
Anyone new to remote/virtual work may feel compelled to work longer hours and prove that they can be productive from home. As school children begin to take more lessons online and more things are virtualised this new norm can blur the lines of office and home time. Work-life balance can be very hard to define and carve out if working from home with children attending school remotely or a spouse or partner also working remotely.
An office’s performance is directly related to the relationships within it. This is critical to performance and the mental well-being of all employees. Many new technologies aim to increase communication but also to isolate. Meetings can be held without a staff members knolwedge far more easily now with Zoom and other video conferencing. The water-cooler no longer exists, virtual attempts are made via chat apps, and message boards but a virtual office is not as open as a traditional one.
New or junior employees coming into a virtual office will find it harder to make connections and gain the time they need with upper management.
For more information about work-from-home arrangements and possible legal issues arising from telecommuting and work from home employees, click here
As jobs move towards working electronically, so will expectations about working remotely. We recommend you design your telecommuting policy in consultation with an experienced employment lawyer. Call KCY at LAW on 905-639-0999 or contact us online to book your consultation.