Top tips in creating a flexible work environment

By Nina Kaufman, Esq.

Recent findings by Adobe indicate that 55 million—or 35% of the total U.S. workforce—are choosing to freelance. To be part of the “gig” economy.

Also, many U.S. workers now consider work/life balance and flexibility to be the most important factors in considering job offers. According to a 2013 PriceWaterhouse Coopers study, 64% percent of Millennials would like to work from home occasionally, and 66% of non-Millennials would like to sometimes shift their work hours.

There are many reasons people seek location flexibility for work. But for those who equate “workplace” with a brick-and-mortar office where physical presence provides accountability, the new trend toward “location independence” can be a challenge.

Flexible work arrangements involve more, though, than just giving an employee a laptop. Here are some of the issues you’ll want to work through with your professional advisors:

  • Systems. Set clear expectations, procedures, accountability measures, and methods of evaluation.
  • Equal opportunity. Flexible work arrangements should be offered and implemented without discrimination on any prohibited basis.
  • Wage and hour compliance. How will you track the time employees spend working remotely? You need a basis for determining whether they are entitled to overtime.
  • Workers’ compensation. If an employee is injured while working at home, is the injury covered by workers’ compensation? There’s potential for fraud in these claims.
  • Privacy and confidentiality. Use of email and the Internet can create issues for confidentiality and security—especially if remote workers are handling sensitive company or client matters. Technology platforms can help create a more secure remote work environment.
  • Worker classification. An off-site worker is not necessarily a legitimate independent contractor. Consider carefully how you classify each worker. Cutting corners usually creates more problems than it solves.


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