My Boss Says I’m Not Being Productive Enough While Working from Home. How Can I Make Working from Home Easier?

My Boss Says I’m Not Being Productive Enough While Working from Home. How Can I Make Working from Home Easier?

Frankie Grijalva

Since March, elected officials have demanded and urged Americans to stay home as much as possible to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. 

By April, 51% of Americans had transitioned from working in a traditional setting to working from home. 

Before the pandemic, only 7% of Americans worked from home. 

Although states are re-opening, many businesses are still telling employees to work from home.

Twitter has even said their employees can work from home “forever.” 

Working from home comes with its drawbacks.

Kids interrupt Zoom meetings. 

Dishes beg to be cleaned.

Some bosses have suddenly started bothering employees at all hours.

Other employers are demanding employees install software on their computers that monitors web site use and requires always-on webcams. 

What the law says about working from home

All of the laws that protected employees in the workplace still apply to working-from-home. 

The Fair Labor Standards Act was created for employees to receive the rights to a minimum wage, overtime pay, and recordkeeping.  

Workers must be compensated for the labor they provide.

To read more about the requirements for the Fair Labor Standards Act, click here

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ensures that workers have a safe workplace. However, they hadn’t envisioned the Coronavirus. 

Here’s what OSHA has said about working remotely, before the Coronavirus struck America:

  •  “OSHA Will not conduct inspections of employees’ home offices.”
  •  “OSHA Will not hold employers liable for employees’ home offices, and does not expect employers to inspect the home offices of their employees.”
  • “If they receive a complaint about a home office, the complainant will be advised of OSHA’s policy. If an employee makes a specific request, OSHA may informally let employers know of complaints about home office conditions, but will not follow-up with the employer or employee.”
?However, OSHA did say employers were responsible for some work-at-home safety issues. 
They offer these examples:
  • “[I]f an employee drops a box of work documents and injures his or her foot, the case is considered work-related.”
  • “If an employee’s fingernail is punctured by a needle from a sewing machine used to perform garment work at home, becomes infected and requires medical treatment, the injury is considered work-related.”
  • “If an employee is injured because he or she trips on the family dog while rushing to answer a work phone call, the case is not considered work-related.”
  • “If an employee working at home is electrocuted because of faulty home wiring, the injury is not considered work-related.”

To file a confidential safety and healthy complaint and request an OSHA inspection of your workplace, or ask questions about the safety of your home office, click here

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was implemented specifically for employees affected by COVID-19. 

This act has mandated certain employers provide COVID-19 related family medical and paid sick leave for employees. 

To determine if you qualify for this paid leave, click here

For more questions and answers on the Families Frist Coronavirus Response Act, click here

Under the National Labor Relations Act employees, both union and non-union, are protected from unfair labor practices. 

Note that this law requires employers to provide written notice of the proposed termination. 

Although working at home may have impacted your productivity, employers are not allowed to terminate employees for unjustified reasons. 

The language of the act is unclear as to the requirements of the justified reasons for termination. 

Be sure to look through your employee handbook or any contracts you’ve signed. 

Before you get lawyers involved, it is best to find a balance between work and your personal life, now that both are conducted at home.

Work Place Mentality 

Remember what you did before the Coronavirus every morning before work? Keep doing that. 

This includes getting up and dressed in the morning, whether it be full glam or simply out of your pajamas and into yoga pants. Brush your teeth. Have coffee. 

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology discovered professionals wearing clothes of “symbolic meaning” increased focus of the employees. For example, they found doctors were more focused on their work when wearing a lab coat. 

If motivation is an issue, please visit the Court Buddy website here for 5 ways to stay motivated. 

If possible, make a designated zone in the house for work. This should be a place you go to solely for work and once you step out that area at the end of the day, you are able to relax and not think about it any further. 

Set A Schedule and Goals for Your Day

Write down your goals for the day, whether you do so in detail, or write a simple to-do list. 

There are many apps and websites to help with scheduling and keeping organized. For suggestions, click here

Pause During the Day

In order to work to your fullest potential, it is important to take breaks. 

A study found, that 78% of Americans who took a lunch break every day felt more effective and efficient. 

In the workplace, there were always times of going to the breakroom for a snack or small talk with colleagues in their offices. Those small moments no longer come so easily.

So schedule a break as you do Zoom calls. 

And remember: This too shall pass. One day, you may long for the time you worked from home. 

This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.

Frankie Grijalva

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