Choosing a Time to Terminate a Remote Employee

January 10, 2022

Terminating an employee is one of the most difficult decisions an employer has to make. The situation becomes even more complex and delicate when the employee works remotely, as so many do these days.

Employers are used to having such sensitive conversations in the privacy of an office, where they can explain the situation reasonably, soothe jangled nerves, and ensure that the process is quick, calm, and professional. A personal conversation makes this difficult process less awkward, assuring the employee that the decision is simply a sad necessity of business.

In our high-tech era gripped by the ongoing ravages of the COVID pandemic, this is sadly often impossible. Employers are left with hard choices about hard choices. Not only must they deliver the same bad news they have always had to deliver throughout history, they must give great thought and care to when and how they will deliver it.

First, termination should never be sprung on an employee out of the blue. If there are previous lapses in the employee’s performance or looming business troubles, they should be carefully documented and explained at every step of the way. Business management should always keep the lines of communication open, making sure that employees know of any problems related to themselves or to the business generally.

Tuesday or Wednesday is the best day to perform the termination. That gives management and HR at least a day or two to prepare the necessary documentation and schedule the meeting with the employee and related events. It also gives the employee time to prepare his or her affairs and to ask questions about severance, benefits, COBRA, and so forth.

Just as with an in-office termination, a meeting should be scheduled to discuss the matter at hand. An exit interview should be set up, either through phone or preferably through video, at a mutually convenient time. This means accounting for scheduling and time zone issues. The employee should have the reasons for the firing explained to him or her as respectfully as possible.

A careful timeline should be set up, giving employees the opportunity to get their affairs in order before they depart. Make sure that the lines of communication are kept open, allowing calm discussion of issues such as severance, termination of benefits, and letters of reference. Make sure the employee is given an official document clearly outlining the reasons for the termination. This is both for legal reasons and to assuage any hard feelings.

Recovery of company property is often a major difficulty in these cases. In some cases, the equipment is expensive or contains sensitive information. If it is going to be shipped, it must be done through a dependable courier with extensive experience in such matters. Reliable Couriers offers an ex-employee equipment retrieval service with a proven track record. We work quickly and cordially, making it easy for employers to retrieve company equipment.

If it must be handed off, extreme care should be given not only to the equipment, but also to the employee’s feelings. Sadly, in cases of a bitter termination, the law must sometimes be involved. In any event, it is important to communicate carefully with the employee about what needs to be done and when it needs to be done, allowing them (at a time when they are doubtless under great stress) to arrange their schedule accordingly.

Every employer knows that terminations are the hardest and most emotionally demanding parts of their job. The difficulty of this task is compounded when the employee is remote, potentially magnifying any feelings of impersonal abandonment. With proper planning and communication, employers can ensure that this painful but necessary process proceeds swiftly and courteously with minimal friction for all involved.