Hybrid or remote work has been very helpful for employees in many ways including balancing their work-life integration and balance. This is especially true for white collar workers, or information-worker jobs. This is especially become challenging when it comes to blue collar worker or frontliners in service and hospitality industries. Research by University of Chicago mentioned that only 37% job in US can be performed entirely at home. This means two third cannot. In a company that employs diverse types of jobs, keeping fairness and avoiding perceived injustice will be one of the priorities.
During the early onset of COVID-19 pandemic, the ultimate reason people work from home is for their safety. Now, as the situation getting better, remote or hybrid work purpose is not only for people’s safety (since we are still in a pandemic), but also for other reason like flexibility or work-life balance. This privilege is difficult to apply to people who work in a manual labor or frontliners.
As employers genuine and visible effort are needed to ensure that other workers can have other kind of flexibility or benefit. For example, additional annual leave so employees can spend more time for their personal needs, or additional insurance premium due to heightened risk of covid-19 exposure, or even other flexible benefit that they can use.
An interesting article mentioned about how women in Morocco’s rural areas are cracking nut to produce argan oil in their homes. Allowing them to still taking care of the house and earning money. This example shows that certain kind of work for manual labor can be done at home. However, for other type of jobs, employers need the help of technology and innovation to support remote work for other workers. For example, FamilyMart is experimenting with remotely-controlled robot for shelves stock. This kind of effort of course will promote equality for white collar and blue collar workers.
If in a company there are multiple working models, such as hybrid, remote, or entirely in an office, ensuring the company policy is fair and inclusive is very important. There are risks that employees who has to work full time on site might be more visible, hence the policy will be implied to them more directly and correctly rather than employees who work at home. If necessary, the policy can be differentiated based on employees working arrangement.
For now, manual labor jobs, or frontliner job might be a challenging jobs to incorporate in hybrid or even remote work arrangement. However, with the help of technology, the possibilities are getting higher. Meanwhile, as a company we have to ensure our employee who has to be on site are still treated and rewarded fairly.
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