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  • Writer's pictureTemara Willis

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

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

An employee working from home
Adelaide Workplace Mediation

In the contemporary corporate landscape, the issue of remote work has increasingly become a source of contention between employees and management. In this case study, we delve into a conflict involving a mid-sized technology company, where a manager and an employee found themselves at odds regarding the latter's desire to work from home. To navigate this impasse and reach an equitable resolution, the services of Adelaide Workplace Mediation were enlisted to facilitate a workplace mediation session.

Key Parties Involved:

  1. Manager - The manager harboured reservations about permitting remote work for employees, driven by concerns surrounding productivity and effective communication.

  2. Employee - An experienced engineer who sought a flexible work arrangement, enabling her to work from home part-time in order to manage her responsibilities more effectively.

Background: The employee had consistently exhibited exemplary performance and achieved outstanding results over her five-year tenure with the company. Recent personal challenges, including caregiving responsibilities for an elderly parent, prompted her request for a remote work arrangement. She believed this would help her strike a balance between her professional and personal commitments more efficiently.

Acknowledging the employee's exceptional performance, the manager was hesitant to embrace remote work arrangements for the team. He maintained that direct collaboration in the office was vital for maintaining team cohesion and efficient communication among team members. Furthermore, he expressed concerns that remote work might impede team productivity and create logistical challenges.

The Involvement of Adelaide Workplace Mediation

Recognising the mounting tension between the manager and the employee, the company's human resources department decided to engage Adelaide Workplace Mediation to mediate a resolution. The mediation process was chosen for its neutrality, confidentiality, and capacity to foster a collaborative environment where both parties could voice their perspectives and find common ground.

The Mediation Process

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

Mediation Session - The mediation occurred at Adelaide Workplace Mediation's premises, with Temara leading the discussion as the mediator. She ensured that both parties had the opportunity to express their viewpoints and emotions without interruption.

  • The employee explained her challenges and outlined how part-time remote work would enable her to better manage her caregiving responsibilities while maintaining her stellar performance.

  • The manager underscored the significance of a collaborative and communicative workspace, articulating concerns about potential productivity challenges and the preservation of team dynamics.

Identifying Common Interests - The mediator facilitated a discussion to pinpoint common interests and shared objectives between the manager and the employee. Both parties recognised the importance of sustaining a high-performing and harmonious team while ensuring employees could strike a balance between their professional and personal lives.

Exploring Potential Solutions - With the mediator's guidance, various potential solutions were explored to address the interests of both parties. These solutions included instituting a trial period for remote work, establishing clear performance metrics, and implementing technology to enhance communication among both in-office and remote team members.

Agreement and Resolution - After thoroughly evaluating the available options, the parties reached a mutually acceptable agreement. The manager consented to a six-month trial period of working from home part-time, during which performance and team dynamics would be assessed. In addition, the team committed to exploring communication tools and strategies to ensure effective collaboration among all team members.

Benefits and Outcomes - The mediation process, overseen by Adelaide Workplace Mediation, effectively resolved the dispute. The key outcomes were:

  1. Strengthened Working Relationship: The mediation process facilitated open communication, enhancing understanding and increased 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 participants explored and adopted practical communication tools to ensure seamless collaboration between in-office and remote team members.

The successful resolution of the dispute concerning working-from-home arrangements illustrates the efficacy 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 underscores the value of mediation in fostering positive workplace relationships and maintaining productivity while addressing employees' individual circumstances and needs.

Have you experienced the benefits of workplace mediation?

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