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With COVID infection rates falling slightly across the country, the prospect of returning to our offices is nearing reality. After 11 months of experiencing a pandemic, you might find it uncomfortable to sit in a confined space next to dozens of coworkers and you are not alone: a recent poll from the website of job vacancies Live career found that of 1,000 respondents asked to return to the office, 29 percent would prefer to quit their job entirely before logging into a physical location.
As more companies outline plans to get workers into offices, some difficult conversations between troubled workers and the corporate hierarchy will inevitably take place. As an employee, you can negotiate with your company to return to the office once the pandemic has completely withdrawn.
Talk to other employees about your approach
It can be difficult to haggle with management over a serious situation on your own, but talking to a group of colleagues about it can be to your advantage, especially if the group is in agreement and has a safe desire to return safely ( or after no return) has at all).
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Start small by reaching out to friends who have similar fears. From there, expand the cause by possibly starting an email chain or Slack channel to get to the same page and communicate what you think is necessary for management to effectively hear your concerns. Organizations have more reason to focus on a unified front of employees than on a few isolated concerns raised by a handful of people.
Explain what your idea of ”fair” is
As with most negotiations, the goal is to find common ground. On the one hand, management has a financial incentive to get people to use the property it leases or owns. There is also an argument for personal collaboration is a boon to productivity (although this is controversial). There is one critical caveat, however, as employees need to feel confident in order to do their job adequately.
You can ask your company to ask employees about their preferences for returning to the office. Do you feel more comfortable when your building implements all kinds of touchless controls on its doors and elevators? Is it reasonable for you to sit in masks in a socially distant environment? Would you like to explain to your superiors that sitting in a socially distant environment with masks on is basically nothing more than working from home?
Most importantly, there needs to be a coherent feeling that your company is at least trying to keep things fair. As leadership strategist Nate Bennet recently wrote Forbes Article There are a few things employees should consider about return to work suggestions:
Do the policies and procedures treat employees with dignity and respect?
Did the staff have a voice in developing the policies and procedures?
Are the decisions that result from the application of the policies and procedures being made in a transparent, objective and consistent manner?
Is there a mechanism for employees affected by the appointment decision to ensure the correct decision is made?
However, this is just the baseline. If your bosses have little or no interest in reaching a compromise, you may need to resort to a plan B.
When it’s time to look for another job
If despite your concerns, your supervisors don’t budge and call you back to the office full time, it may be time to look elsewhere for work. Given the popularity of remote working and the normalization of hybrid office configurations as we (hopefully) leave the pandemic behind, your business is especially unreasonable if it cannot offer an alternative to a mandatory office tour.
But you have another strong bargaining chip in your corner when you quote all the leading companies that are wholeheartedly committed to working from home over the long term. Remote working is having a big moment: 22 percent of the US workforce will work remotely full-time. after analysis by UpworkSo it is likely that you can look for a remote job while grappling with inappropriate company policies for your current job.
Many people prefer the human connection that a personal work environment provides. However, if you prefer to work from home for personal and family reasons, there is no reason why you shouldn’t try to make this a permanent reality.