At 1MFWF, we always want to highlight work that’s happening around the country and across the globe pertaining to work flexibility. While our own blog features regular contributions from experts on this topic, we also keep an eye out for great articles elsewhere on the web. Here are some recent news items not to miss, including a look at how the coronavirus pandemic may finally force many businesses to adopt the workplace of the future.

Coronavirus May Finally Force Businesses to Adopt Workplaces of the Future

Fortune, Erin L. Kelly and Phyllis Moen

A hidden upside to coronavirus may be that the pandemic finally forces businesses to rethink how work can be done in the 21st century. Before COVID-19, many companies offered remote work, flexible schedules and other work flexibility options on a case-by-case, negotiated basis. Previously, working flexibly may have come with negative consequences including fewer promotions, slower salary growth, and subpar performance evaluations. Now, remote work is the only option for some organizations–a forced new approach that may bring positive outcomes for workers and businesses.

We’re in the Midst of a Massive Work-from-Home Experiment. What If It Works?

Fast Company, Lindsay Tigar

As the pandemic unfolds, many companies are creating new best-practice policies for working from home. Coronovirus has forced the marketplace to fast-forward to a new work landscape that may feel temporary, but may signal a shift in how organizations operate in the long run. After the immediate restrictions of COVID-19 pass and things return to a new normal, businesses may look at the overall benefits of remote work (less overhead, increased productivity, more efficient communication) and decide that it’s a good permanent work option for employees going forward.

Bosses Panic-Buy Spy Software to Keep Tabs on Remote Workers

Claims Journal, Polly Mosendz and Anders Melin

With an unprecedented number of people working from home due to the pandemic, some organizations are investing in spy software to track what employees are doing while they’re on the clock. Nervous about workers “essentially taking vacation” while working remotely, some companies are requiring home-based employees to install surveillance software on their computers in a bid to boost productivity and security. Digital surveillance software in the workplace isn’t new and is completely legal if disclosed to employees. Some managers say surveillance software is a way to grant more work flexibility, including allowing more employees to work from home. 

The Coronavirus Crisis Doesn’t Have to Lead to Layoffs

Harvard Business Review, Atta Tarki, Paul Levy, and Jeff Weiss

Business leaders across many industries are taking financial action, including cost-cutting measures, to stave off the impact of COVID-19. The authors make the case that effective management during the crisis can help managers create more value for their organizations and potentially emerge from the pandemic “stronger than ever before.” Strategies to mitigate the impact include effective and open communication; sharing financial pain including pay cuts or forgoing salaries at top management levels; crowdsourcing by brainstorming ideas with employees; and leading with compassion.

The “Stranded Employee” Is a Coronavirus Problem the Work World Has Never Seen

CNBC, Eric Rosenbaum

Travel bans and sheltering in place have presented human resources professionals with a new kind of HR problem: the stranded employee. Before the pandemic took hold, global travel and the ability to work from anywhere afforded managers the latitude to allow employees increasing flexibility regarding when and where work got done. But recent CNBC surveys found that one-third of businesses have employees who’ve become stranded for extended periods due to travel restrictions set in place because of COVID-19. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act and state and local laws may provide managers with some guidance, but the phenomenon is essentially new territory for most managers.

How to Work in New Ways

The Law Society Gazette, Katharine Freeland

Law firms are among the many organizations finding new ways to stay agile and viable during the coronavirus pandemic, and in many cases it’s been an abrupt shift, this U.K. publication notes. Organizations that were tip-toeing into remote work have now taken a deep dive in a change with long-term implications. In the U.K., the right to request a flexible work schedule is a legal obligation that many companies were already dealing with. The pandemic has highlighted one of the major reasons to embrace remote work–not solely for work-life balance, but to help organizations set up contingency plans that can be quickly implemented in a crisis.

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