Excluding Employees From Post-Pandemic Workplace Culture Discussions Poses Risks

By Val Rusk

Many employers – and employees – are thinking about what their workplace culture will feel like as onsite work increases. Employers are legitimately concerned that hybrid schedules, necessary accommodations, and other alternative work arrangements may negatively impact what they perceive to be their “secret sauce:” a vibrant, inclusive culture that builds relationships and trust at work, and that fosters innovation and productivity. While rebuilding that culture is certainly a reasonable priority, employers should be conscious of how they define and promote corporate culture during the post-pandemic transition. 

One critical element is ensuring that employees are part of the conversation along the way. When employees don’t feel heard and respected, tensions arise, as they did last week at the Washingtonian Magazine after its CEO wrote an op-ed originally titled “As a CEO, I Want My Employees to Understand the Risks of Not Returning to the Office.” After the CEO suggested that off-site workers may risk being re-classified as independent contractors because they wouldn’t be able to participate in the social and cultural “extras” associated with on-site work, staffers responded to the perceived threat with a work stoppage. One employee said, “It’s not an issue of not wanting to go back to the office and see [my colleagues] but it’s more, ‘let us have a seat at the table, and don’t take us by surprise and make us feel like we’re undervalued.'”

Navigating the return to on-site work may be challenging, but transparency – and a solid understanding of potential employment law implications – should help guide the way.

Read more at https://dcist.com/story/21/05/07/cathy-merrill-op-ed-threats-prompt-washingtonian-staff-protest/?fbclid=IwAR1uRHqmR6p6BFT0C7xEvkZZA3A4ElgY4_FBsXNuLujKY20nB3r17ZBSKNc

Please reach out to ELS Partner, Chandra Davis at cdavis@theemploymentlawsolution.com to discuss employment related questions or for more information.