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VOL. 44 | NO. 41 | Friday, October 9, 2020

How to delay dreaded order to return to the office

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The letters WFH used to be mainly used by the tech industry. But, as work from home is becoming more common, so is the use of this important acronym.

In the last six months, working from home has gone from an exception to a norm. But, if you’re like many employees, your company might be asking you to come back to work in person.

Returning to an in-person work environment just doesn’t work right now for many of the folks I have spoken with. So, what can you do when your boss asks you to come back?

It’s tricky. Start by being honest. If you have a preexisting condition that makes you a high risk for COVID complications, you might want to consider sharing it. Normally, I would never advise to share private health details with your boss. But it might help them to understand why you need to continue to work from home.

The same applies for family situations. If you have aging parents who you help to care for, share your concerns. If you are being forced to home school your children, be up front about it.

And, if your spouse has a high-risk job in which they work with the public, share your concerns about possibly infecting your office if you were to become infected.

These are all good reasons to keep working from home – especially if you’ve been doing it since March.

Your boss’ biggest concern should be whether you’re getting your job done. Focus on your ability to do your work when you make the request.

Outline the hours you plan to keep each day. Since your boss cannot see you, it may help to know you’re keep regular office hours from home.

Set expectations around how you will communicate. If you plan to check email during certain hours, let them know. If you’ve available to video chat during meetings, share that. And, if you are available by text, say that, too.

The more your boss feels they can count on you, the more likely they will be to allow you to continue to work from home.

If you’re interviewing for a new job, this is something you’ll likely want to discuss at some point during the interview process. Given that this could be a point of negotiation for you, you might want to save it until you reach the offer stage of the job interview.

You might be surprised at just how many companies are willing to be flexible with work from home now. And, some companies that require relocation to their city are allowing new employees to delay the move until after COVID is under control.

It’s your responsibility to advocate for yourself if you believe you need to work from home for any reason.

It doesn’t mean your boss will agree. But, if you don’t ask, then you definitely won’t get it.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

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