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  • Writer's pictureTemara Willis

Case Study - Mediating a dispute about working-from-home arrangements

An employee working from home
Adelaide Workplace Mediation

In the modern workplace, remote work has become a contentious issue between employees and managers. This case study revolves around a situation where a manager and an employee at a mid-sized technology company were in dispute over the employee's desire to work from home. To address the impasse and find an amicable resolution, Adelaide Workplace Mediation was engaged to mediate the conflict and bring both parties together for a workplace mediation session.


1. Manager - The manager had reservations about allowing employees to work from home due to concerns about productivity and communication.

2. Employee - An experienced engineer seeking a flexible work arrangement to work from home part-time to manage her responsibilities more effectively.

Background: The employee worked for the company for five years, consistently demonstrating exemplary performance and outstanding results. Recently, she faced personal challenges, including the need to care for her elderly parent. The employee requested a remote work arrangement, which she believed would allow her to balance her work and personal responsibilities more efficiently.

While acknowledging the employee's good performance, the manager had reservations about implementing remote work arrangements for his team. He believed direct collaboration in the office was essential for maintaining a cohesive team and efficient communication among team members. Additionally, he was concerned that remote work might hinder the team's productivity and create logistical challenges.

Adelaide Workplace Mediation: Recognising the growing tension between the manager and the employee, the human resources department decided to engage Adelaide Workplace Mediation to facilitate a resolution. The mediation process was chosen as it offered a neutral, confidential, and collaborative platform for both parties to share their perspectives and find common ground.

The Mediation Process:

Pre-Mediation: Before the mediation session, both parties were informed about the process and its objectives. They were also encouraged to prepare by reflecting on their concerns, interests, and potential solutions.

Mediation Session: The mediation took place at the offices of Adelaide Workplace Mediation, with Temara from Adelaide Workplace Mediation leading the discussion. The mediator ensured that both parties had an opportunity to express their viewpoints and emotions without interruption.

· The employee articulated her challenges and explained how working from home, part-time, would enable her to manage her caregiving responsibilities better while maintaining her exceptional performance.

· The manager highlighted the importance of a collaborative and communicative workspace, expressing concerns about potential productivity challenges and maintaining team dynamics.

Identifying common interests: The mediator facilitated a discussion to identify common interests and shared goals between the manager and the employee. Both parties acknowledged the significance of maintaining a high-performing and cohesive team while ensuring that employees could strike a balance between their work and personal life.

Exploring potential solutions: With the mediator's assistance, various potential solutions were discussed to address both parties' interests. These included a trial period for remote work, setting clear performance metrics, and implementing technology to enhance communication among remote and in-office team members.

Agreement and resolution: After evaluating the various options, the parties reached a mutual agreement. The manager agreed to a six-month trial period of working from home part-time, during which her performance and team dynamics would be assessed. Additionally, the team would explore communication tools and strategies to ensure effective collaboration among all team members.

Benefits and outcomes: The mediation process facilitated by Adelaide Workplace Mediation resolved the dispute constructively. The key outcomes of the mediation were:

1. Strengthened Working Relationship: The mediation process allowed open communication, leading to better understanding and empathy between the employee and the manager.

2. Win-Win Solution: Both parties agreed to a compromise that considered the interests and concerns of both, resulting in a balanced and equitable arrangement.

3. Improved Team Dynamics: The agreed-upon trial period for remote work allowed the team to assess its impact on productivity and team cohesion.

4. Enhanced Communication: The team explored and adopted effective communication tools to facilitate seamless collaboration between in-office and remote team members.

The successful resolution of the dispute over working-from-home arrangements demonstrates the effectiveness of workplace mediation. By engaging Adelaide Workplace Mediation, the company found a fair and workable solution that accommodated both the employee's personal needs and the manager's concerns about team dynamics and productivity. This case study highlights the value of mediation in fostering positive workplace relationships and maintaining productivity while addressing employees' individual circumstances and needs.

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