Welcome to Insider’s work-advice column, "What’s Working?" It solves your real-life workplace problems with expert advice and research-backed tips, tricks, and life hacks. Got a narcissistic boss? A passive-aggressive coworker? Or a tricky sticky situation at work? "What’s Working?" can help! Send questions about your workplace challenges to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your contact details, even if you want to stay anonymous. Letters may be edited.
I’ve worked at the same accounting firm for a little over five years, and I like my job and team. Since COVID-19 hit, I — along with everyone at my company — have worked from home. As an introvert, remote work agrees with me. I’m much happier, I have more energy, and my performance is the same, if not better. I want to work from home forever.
My company recently reopened our office, and management says that starting this summer, employees will have a choice about where they work and how often they come into the office. Should be great, right?
Well, my boss says she wants our team back working in the office five days a week no later than Labor Day. She says it’s important for team dynamics, productivity, and "innovation."
Needless to say, I’m looking for a different job, and I already have interviews lined up with a couple firms in my city. My question: How upfront should I be about the fact that I want to be a permanent remote worker? My inclination is to be candid. I want to talk about how working from home is better suited to my personality. Should I say I’m open to coming into the office somewhat, even though I’d rather not? I worry that hiring managers will think I’m lazy or not committed, and I want to make a good impression.
—Wanna WFH Forever, Washington
After 15 months of cheerfully and productively working from home during a global pandemic, your boss wants you back in your cubicle doing the weekly grind in the name of innovation? My sympathies. This is not only misguided, it’s borderline inhumane. The continued disconnect between rank-and-file employees and some bosses on this topic is maddening, but I digress.
Thankfully, employers’ opinions on remote workers are shifting for the better (though not across the board), and lots of managers are more enlightened than yours. What’s more, the job market is red-hot.
But your question is whether you should be forthright in job interviews about your desire to be a permanent remote worker, even though you’d be a local employee. The answer, said Chelsea Jay, a career coach in Michigan, is a resounding yes.
"Be upfront so that you’re not wasting your time or theirs," she said.
The danger of staying mum is that you get the job and your employer expects you in the office because you led your new boss to believe that you want to be there. Then you become miserable and quit. That’s not a good outcome for you because you’d be back to square one of your job search. And it’s not fair to the employer because it’s lost money, time, and resources hiring and onboarding you, which it now needs to invest in someone else.
"If you go into a role without saying what you need and only speak up after you’ve been hired, the employer is going to feel like you’ve lied to them, and that’s not the right way to start a good relationship," Jay said.
The pandemic taught you an important lesson in how and where you work best. That’s terrific self-knowledge to have and is a real asset as you build your career. Your honesty is bound to be rewarded by the right company or hiring manager — at least eventually, Jay said.
"Be confident about what you have to offer, and remember that you deserve to work for a company that meets your needs and that allows you to thrive," she added.
One last piece of advice before you quit your job: Maybe reconsider? You say you like your job and your team, and — but for your micromanager of a boss — it sounds as though you’re quite happy at your organization.
Before you "rage quit," it’s worth explicitly asking if you can work from home full time or requesting to switch teams to a manager who’s amenable to remote work. The labor market is in flux, and many employers are bending over backward to keep employees happy.
You have leverage — use it wisely.
Rebecca Knight July 3, 2021 at 03:36PM