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In Person or Remote? Best Practices for Navigating Tension of Hybrid Work Model

Compliance Week

Remote workers enjoy the flexibility. In-person employees love they’ve got the office to themselves. But there is a risk these two types of employees will begin to resent each other, creating a corporate culture clash, labor and compliance professionals say. Navigating this new workplace reality will be tricky.


Tone at the top

Whatever policy your firm adopts, top executives and managers should set an example.

“If you don’t see people at the top practicing what they preach, it will build resentment and a sense employees don’t need to comply,” said Gus Sandstrom, labor and employment partner at labor law firm Blank Rome.

“As with any attempts to influence workplace culture, change has to be top-down,” agreed Caroline Donelan, also a Blank Rome partner.


Communication is key

“Even if you offer a ‘flexible’ workplace, you still need to be clear with your expectations,” said Donelan. “If there are certain meetings or events employees are expected to attend in person, they need to know that.”

While setting mandatory in-person meetings might be effective in the short term, offering more carrots than sticks is key, at least at first.

“Making people want to come in is as important, maybe more important, than ordering them to come in,” Sandstrom said.


Legal pitfalls?

An employer can set any workplace rules it wants if they are worded and implemented in a neutral, unbiased way, Donelan said.

But policies seen as archaic, unevenly enforced, or rushed can prompt employees to look for a new job, Sandstrom said.

“It’s very easy to say everyone needs to be back in, but you need to be aware of all the consequences of that,” he said.

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"In Person or Remote? Best Practices for Navigating Tension of Hybrid Work Model," by Aaron Nicodemus was published in Compliance Week on September 13, 2022.