Question: We have a remote employee who works their required number of hours each day but usually outside of our normal work hours. They are often unavailable for calls or meetings with management or co-workers and even clients have expressed frustration with their unavailability. While we believe employees should have some flexibility in when they work each day, can we implement some structure even though they are not in an office?

Answer: Yes, you can require employees to be available during specific hours or for certain job functions such as client calls, company meetings, or to collaborate with co-workers. You can either set specific hours for everyone to match company or department “office” hours or you can create certain periods where every employee must be available. The latter works well when you have employees in different time zones where 8am – 5pm for some employees may be 5am – 2pm for others.

If an employee is not able to effectively perform their job duties because they are not available when needed, discuss expectations with the employee. If they continue to miss important meetings or calls, discipline them. If possible, you can even rescind the work-from-home option to ensure they meet their job demands.

If an employee expresses concerns with being available as needed due to other reasons such as medical or family issues, work with them if possible. Otherwise, you may need to review their job function to find a situation that works for everyone.

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