Until COVID-19, U.S. law firms and corporate legal departments rarely permitted associates and employees to work from home, even on an occasional basis. Almost overnight, many people found that they could communicate, collaborate and work productively and effectively from their homes. Some like it, some do not, but most manage to put in a solid day’s work, even if they have had to acquire new technology skills, juggle family obligations, and put up with makeshift workstations.
As the nation starts to reopen, organizations and individuals are examining when people will return to offices, what that experience will look like, and indeed whether they should consider permanent remote work options. According to a May 2020 Loeb Leadership study, “67% of respondents report they would like their job to stay remote once it’s safe to return to the office, even if it’s only a few days a week.” Christine Lamb, a partner at Fortis Law Partners in Denver, advises that HR should start planning now, and “an effective remote work policy should address issues including eligibility, equipment, expenses, safety, security, work hours and communication.” In addition, maintaining a strong organizational culture may present new challenges, especially if some people are in an office and others are not.
Below is a small selection of free resources centered on working from home that address key questions and concerns. Except for references to national and state-specific laws and regulations, guidance may also be of interest to our colleagues around the globe.
“Do I have to return to the office?”
Can Employees Refuse to Return to Work Because of COVID-19? Ogletree Deakins, May 26, 2020.
The Next Normal: A Littler Insight on Returning to Work - Handling Concerns about Hesitant or “High-Risk” Employees. Littler Mendelson PC, April 30, 2020.
Consider the Circumstances: What to Expect When You’re Expecting Employees to Return to Work and They Refuse: Blog Labor & Employment Insights. Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, May 29, 2020.
Don’t Get Cocky: Firms May Not Be Prepared for Long-Term Remote Work. Law.com, May 7, 2020.
Drafting or Revising a Formal Policy
Work From Home Policy: A Definitive Guide For Managers. Vantage Circle, May 19, 2020.
Implementing and Updating Employee Policies for Remote Work. Hopkins & Carley, April 20, 2020.
Drafting a Remote Work Policy: 5 Legal Pitfalls to Watch For. HR Morning, March 18, 2020.
5 Steps to Setting Up an Effective Work From Home Policy. The Timesheets Journal, October 2017.
Employer Risk & Responsibility Checklists
Work-From-Home Legal Issues Checklist: Labor and Employment Alert. Akin Gump, March 12, 2020.
COVID-19 - Understanding The Business Risks Associated With Remote Work Arrangements. Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf LLP, May 1, 2020.
U.S. Legal Considerations for Remote Work Arrangements in the Wake of COVID-19. Debevoise Plimpton, March 17, 2020.
Work-From-Home Checklist During the Coronavirus Pandemic. National Law Review, March 16, 2020.
Balancing Supervision & Monitoring With An Employee’s Right to Privacy
Out of Sight is Not Out of Mind - Monitoring Workers Working From Home: Workplace Privacy, Data Management & Security Report. Jackson Lewis PC, April 27, 2020.
Work-From-Home Checklist During the Coronavirus Pandemic: Workplace Privacy, Data Management & Security Report. Jackson Lewis PC, March 16, 2020.
Employee Monitoring During the COVID 19 Lockdown GDPR Considerations Revisited. Ropes & Gray, May 4, 2020.
Across the Digital Divide: Managing Remote Workers. Akerman LLP, June 1 2020.
Multi-State Payroll Withholding Issues and Potential Relief for Telecommuting Employees. Ogletree Deakins, May 7, 2020.
Timekeeping, Wage & Hour Laws
WFHis the New Black: Avoiding Wage and Hour Pitfalls as Work From Home Hits the COVID-19 Mainstream. Seyfarth Shaw LLP, March 25, 2020.
Navigating Expense Reimbursement for “Work From Home” Employees. McGuireWoods LLP, March 30, 2020.
Employee Safety, Liability & Insurance
Coronavirus Watch: What Are Employers’ Legal Responsibilities for the Safety of an Employee’s Home Workplace? Ogletree Deakins, March 14, 2020.
Liabilities of Letting Employees Work From Home. The Hartford, [Undated].
Information Governance, Data Security & Cybersecurity
Working From Home: Information Governance Tips and Considerations. Burns & Levinson LLP, April 7, 2020.
Protecting Business Information Assets in the “Work From Home” Environment. Proskauer Rose, May 12, 2020.
Protecting against Cybersecurity Threats when Working from Home. Proskauer Rose, March 11, 2020.
6 Data Security Tips for Working from Home. Thomson Coburn LLP, 2020.
Working From Home Data Security Tips, Part 2. Dykema Gossett PLLC, April 17, 2020.
Practical Tips for Protecting Corporate Attorney-Client Privileges in a Work-From-Home Environment. Adams and Reese LLP, March 23 2020.
Restatement to the Rescue: 20-Year-Old Treatise May Help Ease Work-at-Home Privilege Problems. Holland & Knight, April 3, 2020.
Trade Secret Protection and Remote Work: Considerations for Employers. Greenberg Traurig LLP, March 30, 2020.
Keeping Your Trade Secrets “Secret” During a Time of Increased Remote Work Due to COVID-19. Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, March 24, 2020.
Protecting Trade Secrets in the New Normal: 10 Questions Companies Need to Address in a Work-From-Home Environment. Winston & Strawn LLP, May 20, 2020.
Fostering an Organizational Culture
Remote Teams Can Have Great Culture. Inc.com, [Undated].
How to Grow a Positive Company Culture with a Remote Team. 6Q. [Undated.]
Why Culture is Everything with a Remote Team: What does team culture mean? Toggl. [Undated].