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Should You Use Sick Days While Working Remotely?

Prior to the pandemic, we wrote an article discussing whether it’s okay to use sick time when you are not actually sick. Some employers take this seriously, while others let you use your sick time at your leisure. However, a new dilemma has arisen as many of us continue to work from home: should you use sick days while working remotely? With nearly 92% percent of employees still working from home in some capacity, should you use sick time when sick or power through it?

Why you should use sick time while working from home

Before COVID-19 turned our lives upside down, it was a pretty simple process to stay home when feeling under the weather. It was an easy decision to stay home to rest up and prevent infecting your colleagues. Fast forward to today, and this decision becomes more challenging. Since you are already home, should you buck up and get your work done? In a recent poll by OnePoll, two out of three Americans feel less inclined to take time off when feeling ill. 70% of respondents also reported that they worked from home while feeling sick. However, this mindset leads to “presenteeism,” which is when employees are present at work but unable to perform and focus. As a result, this can lead to burnout, longer recovery times, and even costly mistakes or accidents.

So, instead of logging on with the sniffles, use some of your paid time off to rest up. After all, that’s what sick time is for!

How employers can help encourage healthy habits

Back in the day, the employees that came to work with a head cold were portrayed as committed and hardworking. In some circumstances, these people set a precedent, making others feel uncomfortable for utilizing their sick time instead of coming into the office. But the pandemic has forced many employers to abandon this mentality. Instead of discouraging employees from using sick time, executives need to foster a culture of acceptance. Companies need to encourage their employees to utilize their time off when feeling ill and make it known that it’s okay to log off and rest up. If one of your teammates is obviously under the weather, or you notice their mental health is less than par, urge them to use their time off.

Promoting a culture where it’s okay to use sick days while working from home will help you combat the Great Resignation and make it easier for your hiring team to attract new talent in this competitive market. Looking for more ways to attract new employees during these challenging times? Check out our client resources!

What’s the Best Day to Work from Home?

Hybrid working schedules – where you work some combination of in the office and remotely – are gaining in popularity. Thousands of companies shifted to supporting a remote workforce, and many of these employers are continuing to do so post-pandemic in some capacity. However, how these hybrid working schedules will be structured is a mystery to most. Some employers are designating which days their staff can WFH, while others have the flexibility to choose their schedules. So, what’s the best day to work from home without raising any red flags with your employers?

Mondays and Fridays

For most employers, the beginning and the very end of the week are a no-go, which is not a surprise for many. These days are off-limits for most employers, and if you have the opportunity to choose your days off, you’re better off choosing one of the other three days in a workweek. Unfortunately, the automatic thought for most employers about working from home on Mondays and Fridays is you are either extending your weekend or trying to coast into the next one. This is obviously not true for many works, but this is the perception that it can create choosing one of these days.

You can argue that you can start or end the week on a strong note by working from home on one of these days. You wouldn’t have to commute and sit in traffic and can get right to work. However, there are better days to work from home in most situations.

Tuesdays and Thursdays

Tuesdays and Thursdays are better options for most. Working from home on one of these days offers a nice break into the workweek. Before the pandemic, I worked remotely every Tuesday and Thursday. It provided a nice flow to the week: one day in the office, one day at home, one day back in the office, one day at home, and one more day in the office. It gave me a nice balance for the week. Also, it allowed me to plan specific tasks that were more suitable for the office environment (meetings, collaboration, etc.) and other activities that were more appropriate to my home “office.”

However, you may only get the opportunity to work one day from home. In that case, working remotely on a Tuesday or a Thursday may not be ideal. It may feel like your time is chopped up if you work from home only after one day at the office and then three more days straight in the office from Wednesday through Friday. The same goes for Thursdays. It may be challenging to work from home on a Thursday and then have to return to the office on Friday to finish out the week.

Wednesdays are the optimal WFH days

That leaves us with Wednesday, which is probably the best WFH day you can choose. Choosing to work from home in the middle of the workweek may seem odd, but it provides an excellent balance and flow to your work schedule. Two days in the office, one productive day working remote, and two more days in the office to finish out the week. 

This splits up the workweek symmetrically and can allow you to really schedule out your entire week. You can start the work week with two collaborative days in the office and tackle any important meetings at the beginning of your week. Then, you have an entire day to grind out some tasks and other work activities that require more concentration and solitude. Finally, you end the week strong with two more collaborative days at the office where you can wrap up any tasks or meetings before the weekend arrives. Plus, by scheduling your work from home day in the middle of the week, you avoid and superstitions about you trying to extend your weekend with remote work on Mondays or Fridays.

Ultimately, the day that works best for you depends

As a general consensus, the best day to work from home is a Wednesday. But that may not always be the case. Everyone has a different working situation and a remote day that works best for you clearly depends on your lifestyle, the industry you work in, and the role you play in your company. If the best day to work from home is on any other day, it may not be a dealbreaker. So, if your employer has strict guidelines about your work from home policy, express your concerns with your manager. If they don’t understand your situation and why a certain day remote might work better than another, it’s difficult for them to support you.

Regardless of which day works best for you, the bottom line is transparency and open communication with your employer go a long way. In most cases, they will understand your situation and may offer you some flexibility. After all, we all had to be a little bit more flexible over the last 18+ months.

If you are looking for ways to boost your productivity while working from home, here are three easy ways to stay productive while working from home.

Will Remote Work Affect Salaries?

There is no disputing the coronavirus’ impact on the economy and labor market. Economists, healthcare professionals, and others have speculated about the lasting effects of this pandemic. However, one thing that is certain is that millions of workers worldwide have been working from home (WFH) since mid-March. With confirmed cases surpassing 4 million in the U.S. this week, working remote might be a permanent transition. So, how will this shift to remote work affect salaries? It’s a little early to tell, but here is what may happen if this trend continues.

WFH workers are relocating

According to a recent study from Pew Research Center, nearly a fifth of U.S. adults has moved due to COVID-19 or know someone who did. The survey found that 37% of those ages 18 to 29 say they moved, someone moved into their home, or know someone who moved because of the outbreak. Many of these young professionals are relocating away from big cities, such as New York City, and escaping to less populated locations, such as the Midwest. These rural locations offer quiet, wide-open spaces and an affordable cost of living. But will your employer continue to pay your massive big-city salary in cheaper rural areas? Are employers going to start cutting wages for workers that move to regions with a more reasonable cost of living?

The price of the big cities

Living in big metropolitan areas definitely have their appeal – more culture, restaurants, activities, nightlife, and of course, larger salaries. According to a recent study, employers in America’s costliest cities pay at least 40% more for white-collar jobs than the average wage in other regions of the country. For example, a graphic designer makes an average of $31.67 an hour in the top 15 biggest cities versus an average hourly wage of $21.09 in all other regions. Yet, according to the report, “When firms in the highest-priced cities hired workers living in cheaper towns, they tended to pay almost 19% more than the person would earn locally.”

To break this down, workers make more in larger cities, regardless of whether they work locally or remotely. However, that salary range is still enormous. Using the pay scale for a graphic designer, a professional in that field would make 19% more working remotely for a company in a big city. That’s a little more than $4 more an hour, which is a much lower wage than the local workers of big cities making over $10 more an hour.

How will remote work affect wages?

This begs the question: will employers begin to change wages for remote workers to reflect their employees’ cost of living? Facebook is already moving its hiring efforts to focus on remote work to lower its payroll costs. Will other large companies follow through? More professionals working from home may reduce or even fix the insane pay disparity our country faces in some areas. As a result, professionals may consider moving out of expensive cities like NYC and moving to locations with a better quality of life, affordable rents, and overall better happiness ratings.

Time will tell how this virus will ultimately impact our wages across the country. Still, it is worth considering if you are currently working remotely and considering a move to a different region.

How remote work might impact your salary

How to Support Your Remote Workers

The majority of states have finally started reducing restrictions imposed because of the Coronavirus pandemic. However, millions of workers across the country are still hard at work from their homes. With a large chunk (if not your whole team) working remotely, it’s not easy to offer the same support as you can in the office. Here are a few ways you can support your remote workers.

Set expectations

It’s imperative to set expectations from the very beginning with your entire team. Establish guidelines for everyone and make them crystal clear. Put them in writing and send them to your staff. Setting boundaries and expectations are essential, and doing it early on will reinforce good habits from the get-go. However, please don’t go overboard or it might seem like you don’t trust your staff. Remember, your employees are adults, not children. Guidelines are good for everyone when they are not overbearing.

Build loyalty

Building loyalty and trust in each of your relationships is vital during these challenging times. Now is not the time to micromanage your staff. If you trusted them in the office, you should be able to trust them while working remotely. Trust builds loyalty, and loyalty goes a long way, especially during these uncharted waters. Hold regular meetings, regular check-ins, and be encouraging. Trust us; it will go a long way and support your remote workers.

Take care of each individual

Make sure you take care of each staff member. Not everyone is in the same situation right now. Some are handling the pandemic better than others and have fewer responsibilities at home. Some workers are balancing childcare, schooling, and work, while others may have a partner that is currently unemployed. As a result, ensure each team member is doing well, both mentally and physically.

Also, not everyone has the same work-from-home setting. Make sure each employee is taken care of with their home “office” goes. Some of your employees may need a desk, a new office chair, a second monitor, or other items to make their working hours a little more productive and comfortable. Taking care of your employees during these challenging times will help build much-needed morale.

Emphasize accomplishments not hours

Don’t emphasize the actual hours worked of each employee. Instead, focus on accomplishments. Some of your workers might be flourishing with their new working environment. But on the other hand, some of your staff members may struggle a little more. A recent report illustrated that 54% of workers are more productive at home. That’s great for both workers and employers! However, employees working from home will work an average of 1.4 more days’ worth of hours each month. That translates to 16.8 more days a year. As a result, your team can easily get burnt out as the boundaries of work and home often become blurry. Thus, support your remote workers by focusing on accomplishments, not actual hours worked.

Interested in more management and hiring tips? Explore our client resources for all the information you need!