can I push back on in-office work?

A reader writes:

I’m wondering how much I can reasonably push back when a manager refuses to consider a hybrid work schedule.

When we were 100% remote in 2020, I successfully did my job and my team had a record year. I was commended for my above-average performance even while juggling unreliable childcare, along with the stress and logistics of a global pandemic. We were pressured to come back when we hit the one-year mark. I caught Covid, as did many of my teammates, and I was pressured to work (remotely) while sick, which I did with great success, as well. Though I’m still troubled that I was expected to continue to work while sick, I’ve more than proven that I can be trusted to turn in top quality work when I’m remote.

When I asked for a permanent hybrid schedule of two days remote and three in person, my manager acknowledged how successful I was but still refused based entirely on her own preference to work in person and some vague but undefined “opportunities” that may or may not be real. She pointed out that I already have flexibility because I can work remotely “in an emergency” and said that should be enough to achieve the work-life balance I am looking for. That isn’t a solution. My office hours are long (7 am – 5 pm plus somewhat common overtime) and my commute is a nightmare. I spend more time in my car every day than I do with my child. I have once again dropped all my hobbies and have to spend every weekend catching up on all the household things I can’t fit into my weekdays. Working remotely opened up my world so much that being back in the office full-time has been absolutely miserable.

Do you think it’s worth pushing back? I’m talking with recruiters about positions that would allow actual flexibility that wouldn’t require an “emergency” to be remote, but I’m wondering if I owe my (generally good) manager a heads-up that I am willing to leave over this. I don’t want to seem like I’m threatening to leave just to get my way, but I’m not sure she really understands how strongly I feel about it.

As a general rule, it’s smart to be cautious when you’re considering letting your manager know that you might leave over a work policy. No matter how strategically you word it, some managers will hear it as a threat and bristle at it or will figure you have one foot out the door, so if they need to make cuts on your team, you go to the top of the list. To be clear, this is wrongheaded: Managers should want to know when the terms of your employment are no longer meeting your needs, so they have the opportunity to try to keep you (if that’s something they want to do). But enough managers react less than optimally to this kind of conversation that you have to proceed with caution when you’re contemplating it.

That doesn’t mean you can never do it, though. The more your employer doesn’t want to lose you, and the more willing you are to leave over it, the stronger the position you’re in for this discussion. If your sense is that your manager values you and that you have other options out there (like those recruiters you’ve been talking to), it’s reasonable to give it a shot. And in fact, at this particular moment in time, more people than usual are well positioned to try: The job market is strong (in many fields, at least), and employers are having trouble hiring (often especially if they’re uncompromising on in-office work). If either of those things is true in your situation, it adds strength to your position.

In talking to your boss, you can specifically cite the job market, explaining that you like your job and want to stay but you also can’t ignore the fact that you’re being approached frequently about more flexible jobs you’d feel irresponsible ignoring. You could use wording like “My preference is to stay here. I really like my job, and I like working with you, and so far I’ve been turning the recruiters down. But with so many of them approaching me for remote or hybrid positions, and that being something that’s really important to me, I feel like I need to pose the question directly to you: Is a hybrid arrangement something you can offer as well? Or would I need to leave to get that?” Note that this language underscores that (1) you’re not looking to leave and, in fact, would prefer not to, but (2) you are in demand and have other options, and (3) many of those options are offering a key thing you want.

If your manager directly asks if you would leave over this, you could say, “I’d prefer not to, but being able to work remotely some of the time is really important to me.” If she presses you for a yes-or-no answer, you should respond, “I don’t have plans to leave — again, I really like my job — but I’m hoping we might be able to reach an agreement on this.” Any halfway-savvy manager should be able to read between the lines and understand there’s a good chance she’ll lose you if she doesn’t budge.

From there, it’s up to her. Even if she says no, this will have been a useful conversation because knowing for sure that you’re not going to get flexibility from your current job means you can make decisions for yourself accordingly.

One thing to keep in mind: Even if your manager agrees to let you work from home some of the week, it sounds as though she opposes remote work in general (and telling you that you already have flexibility because you can work remotely in an emergency … doesn’t say great things about where she stands on the issue). If that’s the case, even if she does approve your hybrid schedule, there’s a risk you’ll be penalized for it in some way — for example, not relied on for high-profile projects, not seen as being as part of the team as much as you were previously, or even not getting as high of a raise as you would have gotten otherwise. There’s also a risk that, if she remains fundamentally uncomfortable with remote work, she could change her mind at some point, and that could happen when the job market isn’t as favorable as it is right now. So you have to factor in what you know of your boss and weigh those risks as you decide what to do.

Originally published at New York Magazine.

{ 151 comments… read them below }

  1. cucumber*

    Honestly, I’d just start looking for another job. Alison’s points at the end about how even if you get what you want, they may use it against you in some other ways is really important. Find a job where you can spend time with your child and on your hobbies.

    1. Julia*

      Yeah, this. LW, you sound like a very strong candidate and a hard worker. In this job climate, you should have no problem finding the arrangement you want at another employer that would never dream of asking you to work while sick – that would, in fact, affirmatively tell you to go rest – and would never refer to emergency remote work as flexibility. There are lots of those employers out there, particularly right now. Take the plunge!

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        Agreed. Mine gave us all 80 hours of covid time. we didn’t even have to provide proof we were sick to take it.

      2. TW1968*

        And WHEN you find that better job you can let your old job know “When we were 100% remote, my team had a RECORD year” (including all the details that make you look great) “I’m having a hard time understanding why we’re being pushed to be back in the office when we have a PROVEN track record of success with remote work. Being in person in the office means I spend more time in the car than with my own child. That pushed me to look for other opportunities…” etc etc.

        Who wants to bet that her manager is realizing SHE isn’t NEEDED?

    2. Malarkey01*

      Add to this that they asked you to work while sick with CoVid! and you have a place that doesn’t respect work life boundaries.
      Plus just think, with a commute you’re spending 2 hours a day not doing what you want and not getting paid. I now view a commute as part of the work day when calculating what a job pays ~per hour (which is hard with salary but you can get to general amounts). This has been a big shift in my recent thinking.

      1. Le Sigh*

        The having to work with COVID part stood out. Everything Allison and the commenters are saying is true, but that fact really underscored that this isn’t just about stubbornness over WFH, it’s a manager with bad work-life balance norms, period.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      I agree. For whatever reason your manager is not being reasonable about a hybrid work from home schedule. (She refused based entirely on her own preference to work in person and some vague but undefined “opportunities.) She’s not taking the facts of successful entirely work from home year. It sounds like you and perhaps others have a VERY long commute. Maybe the lack of commute contributed to that record year.

      You should not have to threaten to quit to get reasonable decisions from management. Plus this sounds like a hill she’s quite ready to die on (or at least burn you out on) so I’m guessing an hybrid accomidation to keep you would really rub her the wrong way and not be good for your career.

      And also being pressured to work while sick is just terrible. Terrible, terrible. I suspect your manage is not as generally good as you’re giving her credit for. She sounds pretty terrible from what you wrote.

    4. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      agreed. Just get out. If enough of their workers do this, they may (or may not) get the message.

      1. Artemesia*

        Get out but take your time — no rush but march steadily. This employees market may not last and this is a good time to make a move.

    5. ThatGirl*


      I had a coworker who had a truly hybrid schedule, no crazy long days, flexible and understanding manager, only a 10-minute commute, but she left to go 100% remote — because it was that important to her and her family. This LW doesn’t even have that much — go get what you want.

    6. Smithy*


      I would also add that while there’s part of this which is the OP’s boss “not allowing” hybrid work – there’s a way of reading this with your boss saying that they’re not going to be a good manager in a hybrid model. So again, even if there is any kind of agreement to hybrid work and even if the OP feels protected from retaliation – being in a situation where a previously fine or good supervisor becomes a weak or poor supervisor isn’t good long term either.

      1. AbruptPenguin*

        This. And there’s a real risk to being a hybrid or remote person on an otherwise fully in-person team, even with a boss who is supportive. I wouldn’t keep the job even if hybrid was granted. Boss is likely to make it more trouble than its worth.

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      Came here to say this as well. There are so many fully remote jobs out there and so many companies have come to realize that they actually don’t need everyone in the office. Those that are refusing to give their employees WFH options should lose out on stellar employees.

    8. Corporate Drone Liz*

      Agreed. I think it’ll carry even more weight when you give notice and cite not being able to work partially (not even fully!!) remote. If the boss seemed more sympathetic but her hands were tied, maybe it would make sense to talk to her beforehand, but she seems pretty rigid on in-office work.

  2. PantsOnFire*

    I would totally be looking fro another job with more flexibility and a more understanding boss.

    Spending more hours commuting than hours spent with my child is a no-go for me, even for a job I sincerely liked. And OP is not even asking for full time remote just 2 days WFH!

    1. Artemesia*

      WE totally based where we lived around no long commute; best decision ever. Yes we paid more for less house closer in — but for one job my husband could walk to the office; for another he could take a bus in a city with horrible transport — but worked for him and we only had to have one car for awhile when finances were tight; I could drop both kids at school or daycare and get to work in 20 minutes. Never underestimate how soul sucking and time wasting commuting is.

  3. Falling Diphthong*

    Vague but undefined “opportunities” that may or may not be real.

    This part stuck out to me, because it’s not like you are even proposing going fully remote–if you’re in the office 3 days/week, that should be plenty of time for these opportunities to manifest. If the “opportunity” were a specific promotion to a job that had to be on site every minute, would you even want that?

    Working remotely opened up my world so much.

    I’d talk to those recruiters. You seem to be at a point where because your boss isn’t terrible, you aren’t sure you can justify quitting to yourself. Your boss can be okay, and you can still leave for other reasons.

    1. Em*

      I’m not OP, but your last couple of sentences are something I really needed to hear right now. I have a pretty good job that is inflexible on remote/hybrid. Because it’s so good otherwise, it’s been hard to justify quitting.

      1. Artemesia*

        This is a unique moment in my lifetime where things are changing and changing jobs is easier. At least find out what options you have.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Exactly! Just look around. Looking is not leaving. It’s just looking. And if you find something better, great.

  4. Antilles*

    “She pointed out that I already have flexibility because I can work remotely “in an emergency” and said that should be enough to achieve the work-life balance I am looking for.”
    Ah yes, that great work-life balance involved with working from home when the water heater breaks or your car breaks down or something. Such a relaxing time; definitely the same thing as spending time with your child or hobbies.

    1. Gracely*

      Sad thing is that some bosses seem to really think this is all people are looking for when they ask for WFH or flexible hours. The head of my institution claims they’re pro-flexible hours, but all they allow is working remotely “in an emergency”. Which is frankly less flexibility than some of us used to have.

      I would *love* a hybrid schedule. I love working from home, but I also have parts of my job that really do have to be done at the office. Until about this time last year, I had a great hybrid schedule that I was so much more productive with (and had a much better work/life balance). Then we all got ordered back into the office full time. I feel like I waste so much more time getting focused when I have to shift between tasks, and it’s too easy to put off the less fun in-office tasks when I’m always here and can tell myself I’ll do them later after I do the more fun “can do anywhere” tasks. When I was hybrid, there was a clear purpose to being in the office. I knew that when I was in the office, I was there specifically to do those in-office tasks. And my coworkers knew they’d get the results of those in-office tasks at the end of my in-office time on a given day.

      I’m still getting my job done well, but I know I’d be doing better if I could go back to that hybrid schedule. My boss and grandboss agree, but it’s not up to them, unfortunately.

      I hope the LW is able to get their boss to understand how beneficial a hybrid schedule can be to some of us. Especially if you have a miserable commute.

    2. irene adler*

      That water heater is gonna break down twice a week- every week- from now on. Like clockwork.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Seriously, what I have been reading is that in a lot of places the big bosses are decreeing face time mandates, and employees are simply ignoring it. Work from home through this emergency. What is the emergency? It is Tuesday. Just like last week’s emergency.

            1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

              And if you’re called to talk about having “too many emergencies” — my response: “Has my work not been getting done? Do you have a problem with my output?”

        1. Lab Boss*

          My company tried to ask managers for our plans to bring everyone back to 100% on-site work and I just told them I didn’t have a plan and wouldn’t be doing that. I was ready for a capital-burning battle over it but I think nobody was ready for that answer and they just never pursued it. I still wonder what would have happened if I’d phrased it as a request or negotiation instead of just a foregone conclusion.

        1. Artemesia*

          And plausible. I am currently awaiting the third visit from HVAC repair in the last two weeks. And don’t mention plumbers.

          1. smeep248*

            my on-demand water heater went out and I had the pleasure of spending 5 days dealing with:
            the warranty company
            * a plumber
            * an electrician
            * another plumber
            * another electrician
            * the second plumber
            * the second electrician

            and finally, from the dithering they all did I was able to extrapolate the issue was the control board and I ended up just replacing it myself

            1. Artemesia*

              We just replaced a high rise throw the wall HVAC that was 24 years old; the one that is less than two years old has already had two warranty repairs and we still don’t have AC in the bedroom during ragweed season. GE products.

              1. Splendid Colors*

                My GE through-the-wall PTAC (the kind they put in hotel rooms) had compressor failure right around its 5-year sealed system warranty ending date. Landlord ignored my reports of early signs of failure at 4.8 years and ended up buying a new one out of warranty at 5.3 years because why would a female tenant know anything about HVAC?

      2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        Right! The only reason why managers say garbage like “you can WFH for emergencies” is because they know the alternative is that the worker just takes the whole day off for an emergency.* At least that would be, and has been, my solution. Oh, my water heater is out and I need to open the door to let the repair person in? Sorry, I’m using a PTO day today. But if I could WFH in an emergency, suddenly the number of life events that constitute an emergency go up.

        * I do know that doesn’t work for everyone.

    3. Curmudgeon in California*

      Yeah, that stuck out to me too.

      Spending several hours every weekday commuting just to satisfy the boss and get some vague “opportunities” that may or may not ever happen is just ridiculous.

      Spending more time in your car commuting than with your kid? Time for a new job.

      Getting Coved from the return to office, then being expected to work while sick (which increases the risk of long covid, BTW)? Past time for a new job!!

      Being able to work from home only for emergencies isn’t “flexibility”, it’s accommodation for emergencies so that they get work out of you when you otherwise would have to take time off. It benefits them more than it does you. It’s not a “benefit”.

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      That stuck out to me, too. Of course letting people work from home in case of an emergency is just common human decency! It’s not in any way related to work-life balance and not in the same realm as having a hybrid schedule to be able to plan your life around (or plan them around your life).

      I have been back in the office on a hybrid schedule for about six months now. I love my job, I love my boss, I love my team, but, good lord, do I HATE commuting. My tolerance for it is totally gone, and what used to be just part of my day is now torturous after working from home for two years. It would be very hard for me to find a job as good as the one I have now, but I look occasionally to see if there is anything fully remote that would come close.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        I already hated commuting when the pandemic started, but had resigned myself to the one hour on the way in, and hours and a half on the way home commute that I ended up with after they stuffed us into a different location in an open plan. The only bright point is that I could work one day a week from home. Then the pandemic hit, I got laid off, and my housemate who was already somewhat immune compromised got worse and had to quit her job.

        Now I only work remote, for the sake of my health and sanity.

        I had something that resembled Covid in January/February 202, but of course there were no tests then. Even before we all got sent home my endurance was down. It hasn’t recovered, and I need a nap most days. Between that and the health status of my household, going in to an office is a non-starter.

  5. Arya Parya*

    This letter is very timely. We just got ordered back to the office fulltime by the CEO, no reasons given. We were working hybrid, two days in the office, and I would prefer it to stay that way.

    I really don’t feel I can go back fulltime without burning out. We all got assigned new desks during the lockdown period and mine hasn’t been an improvement. I was fine with it for two days a week, but not fulltime.

    I have a meeting with my manager next week to discuss options. If I can’t keep working from home at least two days a week or get a better desk, then I’m gonna look for a new job.

    1. Angelinha*

      That sounds like a good plan. I would also just say that while you look, you could see how firm the CEO and managers are being about the new requirements. We were told we “had” to come in weekly but as far as I can tell, no one’s doing that, and my boss hasn’t said anything. I go in often enough to be seen there (by people who are also there, and by people who are remote and see the office in my video background). I know that’s a lot harder when the requirement is to be in DAILY, but you might find people are just being flexible even if the official policy is something else. All that to say, quietly working remotely on occasion might be easier than officially asking to work remotely and having to be told no.
      In your shoes I would definitely still talk to my manager though and get a sense of how they feel about the policy.

  6. Lenora Rose*

    I feel like one of the major advantages to a hybrid position should be that you *don’t* lose the in office contact of a full remote worker. I find it telling when “I want to work less than half my total work time at home” is treated the same as “I don’t want to ever be in the office.”* There are people who work on the same floor as me that I probably see and talk to less than 3 days a week.

    * And I fully support people who do the latter, but at least there I understand how someone with anti-remote-work bias can make the argument. For hybrid, especially 3 days in office, you’re *right there*.

    1. Lenora Rose*

      Good lord, somehow I missed the TEN HOUR workday in the middle of all that. Ten hours, plus extra overtime, plus a long commute, and she won’t even consider a hybrid schedule? Emergencies are adequate for work life balance? Working through Covid?

      Now I want to know in what ways this manager is “generally good”. Supports PD? Lets you drive home when a kid is sick? Tells you when your work is good?

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I’d also want to know how this manager is “generally good”… She may not be downright abusive, but her expectations are unreasonable, IMO.

        Just the long hours would make me nope right out of there.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      One of my coworkers is going into the office 3 days a week now. They recently confided in me that it feels pointless, because very few people are there anyway, and all of our meetings are on Teams. They live about 15 minutes from the office, but still, half an hour of time I could be doing errands or chores, or even decompressing (doing nothing) is half an hour I see no need to waste.

      1. Laney Boggs*

        We are supposed to go in 3, but with gas prices in June/July we cut down to 2. it still feels pointless, but that’s mostly because there is 0 need for face-to-face time with anyone in my department, or adjacent departments. I’m mostly working with sales, in the midwest, or our customers across the country.

    3. Lab Boss*

      When things first started closing for COVID my company tried to take the absurd position that remote was an all-or-nothing position, and if an employee couldn’t do their job 100% remote then they should be 100% in the office (I choose to think it was just a coincidence that this put management and HR at home and left the lowly lab drones on-site all day). Their excuse was that a blended schedule “was just too complicated in an emergency.”

      Luckily there was disagreement among management and suddenly everyone realized that yes, even a lab tech can do a lot of paperwork and data entry on their home computer rather than in a shared space. I wish I’d been a fly on the wall to see how that change happened.

  7. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

    Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change. Talk to the recruiters, find another job, and leave this one, making sure your manager and her boss and her boss’s boss and however many levels there are above her that you can reach out to know why.

    Good managers deserve to know that policies like this one are costing them good employees, and good managers (like hopefully your boss’s boss and on up) would want to know that intractability on a manager’s part cost them a good worker.

    Frankly, this is a hill I’d die on, and I’d be talking to recruiters already.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      I agree. It doesn’t matter if *you* feel strongly about this, your boss clearly feels strongly about you being full time in the office regardless of whether that makes business sense and that’s more important to the boss than what you want.

      Commenters above also made the point that even if you win this battle, you’ll probably lose the war because your manager is likely to hold this over your head, or find reasons for you to come in on your WFH day, or otherwise make it not really a victory for you.

      Good luck on the job hunt!

  8. RJ*

    OP, your manager is of the mindset that the clock can be turned back to pre-COVID times. You’ve proven your productivity to WFH and just because her preference is for in person work it doesn’t mean she cannot accommodate a 2 day per week hybrid schedule. Use Allison’s script to broach the subject again, but start a passive (to start) job search today.

    1. Ama*

      Yes, our CEO spent the first 18 months of the pandemic convinced we would eventually all go back to the office full time and this year it’s become clear she’s realized we either need to stay on a permanent hybrid schedule or she’s going to lose a lot of her best employees. However, she made that evolution months ago and has been very vocal that she supports a permanent hybrid schedule going forward. If OP’s boss hasn’t figured out the lay of the land yet, she’s probably never going to.

  9. Rachel*

    Definitely leave before all the joy gets sucked out of you. 7 am to 5 pm with regular overtime and a long commute is no way to live.

    1. Artemesia*

      Children are young for a very short time. Every month you delay and commute two hours on top of long hours is a time that never comes again in the life of a young family. Some times it can’t be helped; it is necessary to put a roof over your head so you do what you must. But if at all possible, this is the moment in life to prioritize the kids and get that. new more flexible job. I know people who have gotten WFH positions with excellent pay raises during this time.

  10. Heidi*

    Being expected to work while you have COVID really shows where this employer’s priorities are. It’s possible that they will not be motivated to change these types of policies until they start losing people.

    1. Storm in a teacup*

      Yes I totally agree. I also wonder about the bar for management that the OP has If this is considered a good manager.
      OP it is definitely worth seeing what is out there and making clear to your management this is something of vital importance to you.
      It wasn’t clear from your letter whether the f/t return to office was just your team or the overall company? If it’s just your team and you have the capital to spend, it maybe worth taking this further up the chain and your teammates and yourself pushing back as a group.

    2. Monday Monday*

      AND getting to WFH during an emergency. Whenever I have had true emergencies I was NOT working. Like during a hurricane with no power (not able to log on) and bailing water out of the basement or when a family member was extremely ill or in the hospital.
      That is not a benefit and really shows your company’s/boss’ true colors.

      They won’t be there for you during those times and there is no reason to continue to put your company ahead of your priorities.

    3. Artemesia*

      Being expected to work while you have COVID you caught because they made you come back to the office. Yowza.

    4. Unaccountably*

      Don’t count on it happening then, either. We lost 20% of our IT department when RTO became a thing and we went to a hybrid model. We can’t replace them because we can only hire in one metropolitan area and we’re competing with every remote-work-allowing company in the country.

      Will our C-suite consider full remote, for those positions or any other? Nope. We can’t launch any new projects, backlogs are piling up, we have work we’ve committed to that we literally cannot do because IT had to back out, but by God the higher-ups can look out upon their domain and see butts in seats, and that’s what matters.

      1. Summer*

        That is something I will never understand! How do these people get into positions of power and yet remain so shortsighted and ignorant? People are clamoring for WFH, it has been shown to be successful for many different jobs/employees, and businesses benefited from that with high profits and productivity. And yet, given all of that, these execs still prefer to bury their heads in the sand and ignore all evidence proving WFH works. How do these people stay in power??

  11. Justin*

    Just focus on the new job.

    It might seem like it’s about remote work, but it’s really about control. The only solution might be to enter your manager’s brain and make her think it’s her idea, but Inception isn’t real.

    Get out.

  12. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    Definitely worth talking to those recruiters. You may find that you land in an even better position than what you have now. Worst case scenario, you talk, it’s not a match, and you still have your job.

  13. ten-four*

    7am to 5pm plus a lengthy commute?? No ma’am. Start looking and take a job with real flexibility and hopefully less insane hours. I’ve been working remotely since 2016 across two jobs.

    I’m at a Fortune 100 company now, and the company-wide standard is two days remote, three days in office IF that makes sense for the team. Since my team is hugely distributed I’m still at 100% remote.

    1. KateM*

      7am to 5pm with a lengthy commute would make sense to me only if it was 10-hour days *because* of lengthy commute – that employer okayed 4×10 instead of 5×8. Which is not the case here.

  14. Uranus Wars*

    It sounds to me like this manager is set in her decision. I hate it for OP but don’t think it will change. Despite my own opinions of flexible vs. fully remote I think the writing is on the wall here and Alison’s advice is spot on.

    OP, it sounds like the pandemic really opened your eyes to what you need to feel fulfilled are and you shouldn’t compromise that – particularly giving up hobbies and time with your child!

  15. StitchIsMySpiritAnimal*

    Your ‘generally good’ manager forced you to work through a serious illness and completely disregards the fact that you have a life despite you being a reliable and solid performer. Rethink what ‘generally good’ means.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      Excellent point – the manager might be pleasant but that doesn’t make up for really awful business decisions like disregarding sick leave and (inferring here) understaffing to the point of requiring long days and regular OT.

    2. PotsPansTeapots*

      Yup, I’m biased because I finally tested negative after 10 fairly awful days with COVID. Buuut any boss that would make you work through that forever loses the chance to be called a good boss.

    3. allathian*

      Yes, this. LW, your manager isn’t “generally good,” she’s terrible. Okay, so maybe she isn’t yelling at you, and maybe you even get recognition for some of your good work instead of just taken for granted, but that’s a pretty low bar. You could do a lot better.

  16. online millenial*

    They made you work through COVID. Get out. You can find a job that’s 100% remote and treats you like a human being. Don’t try to stay, don’t try to convince them to do better–just job search and leave.

  17. Banana*

    OP, my boss has gotten dramatically more open to remote work, but HR helped that happen. We have a companywide policy about remote and hybrid work schedules (it’s job and employee/performance specific but in general we’re open to both and the bias should be toward granting it). My boss was ignoring the policy, which came to light when we were hiring for an opening and we had a great candidate who was only interested in remote work and was already working remotely in another role, and my boss wouldn’t consider them. HR set my boss straight, and also shared the stats on admin exempt workers we’ve lost to new jobs that are fully remote. We’re in a low cost of living area, more flexible employers in high cost of living areas are happy to snap up our employees for salaries that are higher than we’re offering but a bargain for them. It was an eye-opener my boss needed.

    1. Esmeralda*

      We have that policy too, and we are getting no traction with the big bosses in our division being loath to allow it (for anyone but themselves, as far as we can see). Their response is always “but the students need you here!”

      No, no they don’t. Some functions are *better* with us in the office. Others are not. It’s telling that on days when students have a choice of seeing us in-person or on zoom, they choose zoom about 75% of the time, and are equally as satisfied with the service they get. (We have data).

      Some bosses are rigid and short-sighted, who give lip service to “data driven decision making”.

      The data are showing that people are leaving because of this. I guess they hope that eventually we’ll be in a recession and people will stop leaving. Dumbasses.

      1. Alice*

        Yup — here, students and other library users use about 50% of the available spaces in online workshops, and under 20% of the available spaces in in-person workshops. But “let’s make data driven decisions” falls by the wayside in favor of “we need to make sure that there are librarians at their desks in case the provost walks by.”

  18. Narise*

    This is the reason quiet quitting was invented. Cut back on hours have more appointments or reasons to leave and not work overtime. If they say you can wfh after your appointment state wfh is only for emergencies.
    I would reach out to HR or someone else and see what the company policy is vs just this manager. She may be enforcing her own rule vs company policy.

    1. Loulou*

      But why do that when you could just…regular quit, after finding a job that suits you better?

      1. Goldenrod*

        Yeah, I dislike the whole “quiet quitting” concept, because it seems to imply that having work/life balance and boundaries makes you a bad worker, when really it’s just….having work/life balance and boundaries.

        And the other aspect of “quiet quitting” – doing a half-assed job, basically – I think is self-defeating. In jobs that I hated and wanted to leave, I always made sure to continue to excel….I wanted them to regret losing me as an employee! And I didn’t want to make myself look bad. Why give sucky managers legitimate reasons to criticize you? I couldn’t stand my last boss, but she would be hard pressed to come up with any valid criticisms of my work.

        1. Fikly*

          Indeed, that’s why the concept has been named such by employers, who are angry that they are having a harder time exploiting employees.

          Quiet quitting is not doing a half assed job. It’s doing exactly your entire assed job, and nothing more.

          Consider the concept of quiet firing instead – when you get more and more work and responsibility without any increase in pay or title. The name is just as much nonsense, but that’s the point.

          Given how many companies today will not give a reference, but just confirm employment, what is the benefit of giving free labor to your employer? So you can feel like you got a victory? I’d much rather be able to have time to do the things I want to do, sleep, be healthy, and get a better job than enjoy a pyrrhic victory.

        2. Velawciraptor*

          Not to mention the fact that what a lot of people call quiet quitting is really just working to rule. Doing the job you were hired for and only the job you were hired for is not half-assing it. If companies have budgeted and staffed in such a way that they assume workers ostensibly hired for 40 hour weeks will be putting in 50 to 60, that is on them. It is not that their workforce isn’t doing their job.

        3. Esmeralda*

          REally so called quiet quitting isnt even doing a half assed job. It’s just…doing your job. Not doing any extras.

    2. Antilles*

      The blunt truth is that reaching out to HR isn’t going to solve anything.
      Company policy may allow for hybrid or remote work, but it’d still fall under manager discretion as to how much / how often it’s allowed – if the manager insists that it’s important for her people to be there in person, then HR is not going to overrule them on that.
      Maybe there are others within the company who could get boss to agree (boss’s boss, a department head, etc), but not HR. And really, even if that did happen, Boss still wouldn’t be actually convinced, just letting it happen for politics – still leaving OP open for all the negative outcomes like “it gets changed later” or “Boss leaves OP out of things” or etc.

  19. The Original K.*

    Even if the hybrid schedule were approved, the pressure to work while sick with COVID would be enough for me to leave.

  20. I'm Done*

    Claiming that “allowing” you to work while sick with COVID, or anything else for that matter, is demonstrating flexibility is just so out of this world bizarre. Do not accept this as being normal or reasonable even though it seems to be that quite a few managers here in the US think it is. I’ve worked in Europe and employees would think their manager crazy if they expected them to work while sick. I think your best bet is to put all the extra effort you can muster into finding another job with a more reasonable employer.

  21. I'm A Little Teapot*

    Any job that expects you to continue working WHILE YOU ARE SICK is not a good job.

    I had covid recently. My boss told me to just let her know if I was taking time off, working part time, etc (all remote). I wasn’t very sick so still worked, but I did some short days, etc. Zero push back from my boss. Anything else would have been not ok. A coworker took over a week off because he was so sick, and they just rearranged schedules, etc to make sure the critical work got done by someone else.

    1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Yeah, definitely. When I told my boss, I had Covid (because we had a normal 1-on-1 that day and I work from home), she was like “We don’t have to talk right now. You can take a day (or multiple) off if needed. Just keep me posted on what you need.” I took a half day, and rested hard over the weekend and took some mid-day naps the next week, but my boss would have been totally cool if I had taken several days off if I needed to.

      I do definitely feel that there’s a double edged sword to being 100% remote because while my boss is totally cool with me taking sick days, **I** feel a higher bar to take a sick day because I can work from my PJs, so there are days where if I was in-office, I would absolutely take off because I don’t feel able to commute, but being remote, I can do work and be somewhat productive… just less than normal. I think it’s really important, though, that that pressure comes internally not externally from management.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yes, and, in my experience, people who don’t take time to recover often make themselves sicker and are out longer, too. People get sick at inconvenient times sometimes, that’s just life – they should be able to take their time, rest, recuperate, visit a doctor if needed, and get well without pressure to work like they are healthy.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        This. Especially with Covid, not taking enough downtime to actually recover increases the risk of relapse, long Covid, or the next bout being worse (at least according to the annecdata I’m hearing/reading.) Generally with any viral illness the time spent up front resting helps keep it from being long and drawn out, IME.

  22. Sarah*

    At face value this job doesn’t sound great – long hours (plus overtime on top of it), long commute, making you work while sick. Even if not for their inflexibility, it would make sense looking elsewhere.

  23. Daisy*

    I’ve worked completely remote for 7 years. I think the pandemic quickened the acceptability to employers, and expectations by employees, of remote work. Employers expecting to go back to pre-pandemic norms will be left in the dust when the excellent employees move on.
    Go ahead and look for a job where you spend time with your kids instead of in the car, OP. Good employees are good no matter where their desks sit.

  24. Goldenrod*

    I was in a very similar situation about a year ago. To be fair, there were a LOT of other things wrong with the boss/job (massively toxic), but denying me 2 days of telework (when others in the department were getting to do that) was the straw that broke the camel’s back, for me.

    What I said to the middle manager (because the boss made herself unavailable for most direct conversations, a very codependent situation) was: “This makes me feel undervalued. I’m not saying that I’m quitting in the next month or the month after that…But I know myself, and I know that when I feel undervalued, I tend to start looking for other opportunities.”

    I felt like that provided an opening for a discussion – which was ignored – and I started looking for jobs immediately and left within a month or so.

    The funny part is, I think they could sense when I was close to getting that next job, and my boss started desperately telling me “I value you!” in our (pre-scheduled) performance eval….but it was too little, too late!

    Anyway, bottom line: Look for another job!! There are so many remote options that it’s not worth it to stick around in this kind of situation anymore.

    Good luck! :)

  25. Eldritch Office Worker*

    There are so many red flags from this employer that work from home feels more like the final straw than the core issue. I wouldn’t even push back, just move on and talk to those recruiters.

  26. Gigi*

    Just go. You are clearly a rock star and there are a lot of forward-looking (is it even forward anymore to wfh or just, you know, life now) employers who might even give you 100% remote. You know your job and your boss better than us, but the common thread in these comments is that we are struggling to see redeeming value in these people. You, on the other hand, continue to prove your worth. Let someone else who appreciates that benefit and you go enjoy your life.

  27. starfox*

    I can’t read Alison’s reply because I don’t have a subscription, but I think the LW is wasting their time if they continues pushing for remote work. I think their time is better served looking for a new job.

  28. A More Brilliant Orange*

    Work from home will become a negotiated benefit just like vacation, tuition reimbursement, stock options, child care, or any of a hundred other things employees negotiate with the employers. I’d look at this as just another negotiation.

    The person who has the upper hand in any negotiation is the person willing to walk away from the deal. If you are willing to go find another job, you’ll be able to negotiate this with your boss (or in this case, just say no to your boss’ request).

    I know a couple of offices where the company has told people to come back into the office and the employees are ignoring them. I work in IT, so it may not be typical, but there’s a good chance that if you refuse you boss’ request they may not fire you.

  29. Usagi*

    I’m not the OP, but I have a follow up question to this, based on something that happened to me at ExJob. I was in a similar situation, though this was pre-COVID. My job was one that could be done anywhere, so long as I had a good internet connection and my laptop, and there were people in similar roles that were hybrid/remote. I did pretty much exactly what Alison suggested, and my then-boss asked what companies were offering me jobs. I said something to the effect of “I’m sure you can understand why I’m uncomfortable sharing that,” but my then-boss wouldn’t let it go, and essentially held the hybrid schedule ransom unless I could provide the names of the companies offering me jobs.

    In that case, I felt like that was proof that my then-boss was not someone I could work with, and eventually left. But my question is, was there a better way I could’ve handled that, assuming something similar happens again (hopefully with a more reasonable supervisor)? Was I correct in feeling uncomfortable sharing what companies were offering me jobs (and there were companies offering me jobs)?

    1. Khatul Madame*

      No, there was no better way to handle this. In fact, you were extra gracious in not quitting on the spot.
      Independent of this ugly situation, you are not obligated to share who offers you a job. Even after you finalize your offer and give notice, you don’t have to tell your current, soon-to-be ex-employer where you are going.

      1. Usagi*

        Thank you! I kinda knew that I didn’t need to share already, but it’s nice to hear from others (rather than just going with my gut feeling)

    2. Dona Florinda*

      Wow, your boss sucks.

      We’ve seen way too many letters where the current/old employer tried to jeopardize the employee’s new job, so I think you’ve hadled it perfectly.

      1. Usagi*

        Thank you! Yes, while they weren’t the worst person I’ve worked with, they were definitely not a great boss. There were other things they did, including very childish things (like they would do that “fart in your hand and throw it in someone’s face” prank).

    3. Artemesia*

      I know a person who refused to even tell where he was moving AFTER he had accepted a new job. He told me that he knew someone who had had a job offer rescinded after his old boss called the new one and poisoned the well. He said, he would never share that sort of information until he was well established in the new position.

      A boss who is pressuring you to tell who else has offered you a job, is implying that you are lying. OR he thinks he might be able to damage you with the new concern. It is outrageously inappropriate and you behaved exactly right here. Matter of factly stating that it was clear why this was not something you felt comfortable doing. He told you who he was and that was reason alone to leave; not that he asked, but that he continued to ask and pressure you and suggest promotion would depend on your giving the information.

      1. Usagi*

        Ahh yes that makes sense. I did get the sense from my then-boss that they were asking because they wanted to do something to get back at me for leaving. Thank you!

    4. umami*

      Wow, that is terrible. I did lose a few employees because we are not able to offer remote work, and even when they handed me their letters of resignation I didn’t ask them where they were going because that’s their business! That would make me feel like s/he thought I was lying, which is a very uncomfortable feeling!

      1. Usagi*

        I agree! I’ve only felt comfortable at one job with my supervisor asking me where I was going, but they were fantastic and would never in a million years do anything to hurt their team. You could tell they were just asking because they were happy for us.

  30. Bryce with a Y*

    It’s the “coming to work and working while you’re sick” part for me. The RTO part is one thing. But working while sick—just no. You’re potentially endangering the health of others by doing that.

    I second (more like 22nd) what folks say about leaving.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I’m betting return to office (RTO), but that’s just context. I haven’t seen it used a new/common acronym.

  31. Radical honesty*

    OP – we had some really amazing people threat to leave when we went back to part-time work in the office. Ultimately, all of them left because there was nothing management could do about our remote policy, although we did get some more flexibility eventually (from 3 days in the office, down to 2).

      1. Radical honesty*

        And there are a lot of highly unreasonable people running business and departments, doesn’t mean they will get what they want.

  32. Goody*

    Time to start looking. 7-5 daily plus common overtime is ridiculous, even without the long commute, the pandemic, and your family needs. Find somewhere that values a work- life balance and offers the flexibility you are requesting.

  33. Liz*

    Just find another job. Places like this will never see reason. If it were me, I’d have a conversation with my manager about whether they could work with me on this because “a remote schedule is critical to me,” but only if I actually wanted to stay at the current company. If you’re considering leaving anyway, just go for it and don’t look back.

    If the manager indicates that he/she won’t work with you on this, I’d say something like “I’m sorry to hear that since a hybrid schedule and flexibility is critical to me. I appreciate the update so I have no confusion about the company policy. If anything changes, please let me know since I factor this policy into my decision-making.” I wouldn’t hint any more than that about leaving – I probably wouldn’t even include the last sentence, actually.

    1. Liz*

      P.S. If you do leave and you get asked why, I’d say simply and honestly “I wanted a position where I could work remotely. I understand that Company couldn’t offer that, so it became time for us to part ways.” I think it’s important to let management know that it was a quit-worthy reason since I’ve worked at places where management kept being surprised and puzzled why people were quitting – no one wanted to fess up that the lack of flexibility really was a dealbreaker.

      1. e271828*

        The exit interview would be the place to bring up ten-hour days and having to work while sick with COVID that was contracted at the office, too.

  34. Dona Florinda*

    Alison’s advice is spot on.

    I wrote a while back about a similar issue: once I tasted remote work, I learned that I don’t wanna go back to in-office work, ever. Also, I had a really long and stressful commute that left me completely drained by the end of the day. The good news: not only I got a fully remote job, it’s also the best company I’ve worked for.

    That are options out there, LW. Take them! I think both you and your child will benefit from that.

  35. Katie*

    Going back to office wouldn’t even make sense for me. I have 4 people that report to me. One is my area. One lives across the country and the other two across the world. My manager was WFH even before COVID. My grandboss is not near me. My great grand boss is far away as well. I work with people across the country and the world daily. These people rarely will ever visit our office.
    I say all this and also say it wouldn’t shock me if my work was stupid enough to announce a return to office plan. So far they haven’t but ugh. Not communicating is great. Not worrying that school closed for a stupid reason is great. Not stressing to much that the school can’t take on my two disabled kids for after school child care is good. If they took away this ‘perk’ every other issue I have them would bubble up and spill over in a enormous pit of anger.

  36. Kaylee213*

    I am dealing with something extremely similar now, and reading everyone’s comments here (along with Alison’s response to the LW, of course) has really helped me see things more clearly. The short version is that everyone began working from home full time during the pandemic, some people came back to the office in spring 2021, I continued to work primarily from home (one day a week in-office), and my boss told me about two months ago that I, “had to start coming to the office more often.” No reason given, at the time, no schedule or clarification on what “more often” meant, but it has become clear more recently that he expects me here daily, though getting that out of him was like pulling teeth.

    This won’t be the case for everyone, of course, but, ultimately, in my case, the insistence that I work full time from the office is a symptom of a larger problem at my workplace/with the company owner. He’s generally a very nice person, and, other than being an unclear communicator, actually isn’t too difficult to work for, but work is clearly a big, important part of his life (to the point where his first marriage imploded because of it), and he expects everyone else to feel the same way. I am seeing it manifest quite a bit in comments he’s made as we are working to hire some new employees, and in other small things, as well. He may be able to find some other people who feel the same way he does at work (at least one other person who works here seems to share his attitude), but, in the end, I don’t think he will realistically be able to staff his business completely with people who are going to focus on work at the same level he does. In the end, for me, pushing back won’t be worth it, not only because he will then start to see me as someone with one foot out the door, but also because this is a symptom of a much larger problem – there are other symptoms of the same problem, but they’re much more subtle, but this is kind of the thing to give me the push to brush up my resume.

    It doesn’t hurt that, as I was reading the comments here, he stopped by my office to tell me that he expected me to be at work with him until 9:00 or so tonight because he has an appointment and won’t be back until 5:00 or 6:00, then he has something he wants me to work with him on. My hours are flexible, but, generally speaking, I am supposed to arrive between 8:30 and 10:30 and leave 8.5 hours later, with a 30-minute lunch break. I arrived around 9:30 today, so I should be done at 6:00.

    I have stayed late before if there’s a specific reason, but this is another frustrating thing – he gives me last-minute projects close to the end of a normal workday, to the point where I often come in on the late side (around 10:00 or 10:30, so still within the hours that I am supposed to arrive) just because I know he will expect me to stay late. He thinks I just prefer to work late, but that’s not the case. When I was working from home, this issue was not nearly as bad. His comment, this post, the comments here, etc. all kind of added up to that lightbulb moment – if I ever have a night when I don’t have to work late, the first thing I do will be update my resume!

    1. LizB*

      he expected me to be at work with him until 9:00 or so tonight because he has an appointment and won’t be back until 5:00 or 6:00, then he has something he wants me to work with him on.

      Excuse me?! Heck no. This guy sucks. Run, don’t walk, away from this workplace.

      1. Artemesia*

        He is getting his social needs met by having employees like you at his beck and call. When he says ‘I need to work with you till 9’, it is time for you to say. ‘I can’t do that tonight as I have another obligation.’ Those Hallmark movies are not going to watch themselves. Hell no to the max here. It is not ‘the grant application is due tomorrow’ when all hands are on deck. It is just ‘you need to be available to provide me with social interaction 24/7.

        1. 2 Cents*

          Yeah, and if you’ve been sharing lots about your personal life, time to stop. You have obligations, even if it’s just with Netflix. No one should have to stay in the office because he feels like it. That’s ridiculous.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        Exactly. He sounds like a control freak to me, and demanding that Kaylee destroy her life and relationships just because he did is waaaaay over what I would tolerate.

        Tells her that she has to stay late? “Sorry, no. I have a dinner date that I’ve had to put off three times already for you.”

        But whatever Kaylee does, one thing I reccommend is to start looking for a new job yesterday. This boss is toxic, just not over the top toxic. He still has absolutely no regard for his employees’ lives. Run.

  37. Esmeralda*

    We have had exactly this problem — we performed spectacularly while 100% remote, our boss is keen on a 3-2 hybrid and has worked mightily to get TPTB to allow it. We have lost several good employees due to inflexibility on this (and also because we are well aware that said powers-that-be are working from ANOTHER STATE most of the time). I myself did some job searching because of it. Finally got it approved…as a pilot…for this academic year…

    It’s the dumbest hill to die on, bosses. It costs you next to NOTHING to do it. Especially when you aren’t offering market-rate pay or decent raises or promotions (state university system, academic adjacent), it’s the easiest benefit to offer and it will help people stay. Instead we are constantly running searches. In my office alone, we have hired five people (four professional staff, one admin), and are in the midst of hiring for another professional and another admin. Due to inflexibility in hours/WFH. I know at least two of my colleagues are searching and I’ve had to schedule work functions with an eye towards “who can cover if Wakeen gives notice”.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      Yeah, the private university that laid me off during covid demanded hybrid last year. I don’t know how many people under the big boss that is a “butts in seats” guy have left, but I would bet it’s quite a few. He also despised generalists, and would think nothing of laying off people if one product they worked on was changed, then hiring different folks that only had the new product. People to him weren’t people, they were replaceable cogs. The sheer amount of tribal knowledge that he has shoved out the door over the last ten years means that his overall department is now a shadow of what it once was.

  38. Zach*

    I’m also joining in on the “start looking for another job” train. I’m sorry, but in my mind it is impossible for a manager to be “generally good” if they’re requiring hours that long and are making you work while you have COVID (even if it’s remote).

  39. umami*

    I wouldn’t be too sure that the supervisor is the one who doesn’t like remote work as Alison says. The company I work for simply does not allow for it, even though we had a committee to explore the potential of developing a policy for it. So as much as I might want to accommodate someone who sounds like a rockstar employee like the OP, our policy is inflexible on the issue. We definitely have employee who are not happy about that, but they have to decide if remote work is more important than some of the other benefits we can offer. Good luck though!

    1. The Other Dawn*

      My company is the same. CEO will not allow full remote. We got hybrid finally, which was a big win. I, too, would love to allow my team members to be fully remote, but I don’t have the power to do that, and neither does my manager who is an EVP. Only the CEO does. Even though the team has been told many times by me and my manager that it’s highly unlikely to change, they’ve continued to push. I told them months ago that they need to decide if they’re OK with it. If not, they need to move on. If so, then stop complaining. Why waste so much energy on something that won’t change? Either decide you want to change it for yourself and leave, or accept it and stay.

      1. Alice*

        Re wasting energency on something that won’t change, from the employee side — I am getting sick of my boss + boss’s boss + boss’s boss’s boss asking me once a month, “are you feeling comfortable about our workplace safety policies” (which are the reason I would like to do more WFH than I am currently allowed to do).
        Why are you asking me? I wasn’t comfortable before; I told you that; nothing has changed. Do you think I’m going to tell you something different if you ask enough times?
        It’s starting to feel like they want me to reassure them, “don’t worry, I understand it’s not your fault.” I do understand that, in the sense that they are just middle and low-end managers implementing policies decided many layers about them, but I don’t think it’s my problem to manage their emotions about having to require employees to do things that are legal but unsafe. Go talk to a counselor about it and let me get on with things until I find a new job.

  40. 2 Cents*

    OP, this manager sounds about as flexible as concrete. I’d make peace with leaving and find the next best opportunity that gives you remote options so you can spend more time at home with your family (and not in a commute).

  41. 2 Cents*

    Also, she can’t be a great boss if she made you work while you had COVID. Unless you were asymptomatic, which it doesn’t sound like you were, it’s important to rest to recuperate, not file the TPS reports. She doesn’t have your best interest in mind at all.

  42. Michelle Smith*

    Don’t push. Just leave. Believe what people tell you the first time. She doesn’t like remote work and isn’t going to be open to it longer term. The last thing you need is for her to cave and then yank it back 6 months or a year from now when the tides have turned and all those remote or hybrid opportunities you’re looking at now have been filled.

  43. Pobody’s Nerfect*

    She doesn’t sound like a generally or otherwise good boss to me. She sounds uncompromising and inflexible and ignorant of her high-quality employees’ needs. Definitely go find your next job where they’ll value and respect you more. Poor inflexible bosses lose good people, yet they never seem to learn the lesson.

  44. Lizzo*

    LW: You deserve better, and right now, you can find better. Smart companies are adapting their policies with an eye on retaining good talent. Go find one of those places ASAP.

  45. Bubbles*

    LW, there are so many remote jobs right now, and more and more every day. Employees all over the world are becoming vocal about having needs too, and a life outside of work. The balance was in favour of employers due to peopke living in fear of being fired. So many people realise they’re not supposed to feel enslaved by/ chained to their employer. So I’d say to ditch this inflexible boss who makes you work when sick (!!!) and join the remote working clan while the going is good.

  46. Rosacolleti*

    As a business owner, while our team did indeed work efficiently and had good productivity while working at home – the business itself was treading water. We find that innovation comes from collaboration – something that happens poorly remotely and brilliantly in person. For a lot of industries, innovation is key to survival so to hamper that in any way is a potentially business ending strategy.

    I could give a hundred examples where people achieved something more quickly without the distraction of the office, but also as many examples where things took hours when they would have taken 5 mins in the office – simply because we were all in one place.

    I also agree with the idea of personal opportunity being stunted if you’re not around when opportunity knocks. Every promotion I’ve ever received was because I was part of conversations (or overheard) when they were just an idea and because I knew who was who, who knew what etc, I was able to grow opportunities myself.

    I absolutely understand why some people might prefer working at home, but if you want dynamic businesses to work with and career growth (and to be honest, I would only want to employ people who tick both boxes), limiting yourself to working from home will affect both.

    1. Rosacolleti*

      I should add that we are tremendously flexible around the occasional day for someone to work from home, eg a plumber coming, or car is getting serviced etc

    2. Lily Potter*

      +1 on this. The company I worked for when Covid hit went full WFH for about a year after lockdown, and “treading water” was a good term to describe the atmosphere. The workers who did transactional-type work did fine at home WFH. However, for those whose job involved making our product “faster, better, and smarter”, it was not a good situation. I’m quite sure that individual workers all thought that they were being “just as productive as before” WFH, but they weren’t bringing their true value to the company at home on a computer. They were pounding out their formal to-do task lists, but they weren’t being innovative, they weren’t contributing to ad-hoc group projects, and they weren’t being proactive and future looking. Moreover, not being physically together meant that new employees were more or less floating out there on their own rather than being guided and mentored by people in their work group. Last I heard, everyone’s on a hybrid schedule as a compromise (CEO would prefer everyone back full-time) and new employees are told upfront that the expectation is that they will be in-office for at least a full year before being allowed to go hybrid.

      1. Rosacolleti*

        Oh yes, don’t even start me on how new starters have to somehow feel part of the work culture remotely! I was reading recently where summer interns were turning up for Day 1 to find they were literally the only ones in the building – all their mentors and colleagues work remotely now. Imagine! We are looking at having a few days a month where we all WFH but it’s tricky as we used specialised computers that most people don’t have at home. Thankfully our team are all very supportive of being in office, too much FOMO!

    3. allathian*

      Yes, this just goes to show that what works for some businesses and some roles doesn’t necessarily work for everyone.

      That said, I don’t think I’d feel very innovative in an environment where I felt neither physically nor psychologically safe. As in a poorly-ventilated open office where nobody was taking any precautions. (I personally wouldn’t feel very innovative in any environment where I had to wear a mask, either, but that’s a different matter.)

      Even in jobs where collaboration and innovation are crucial, they themselves aren’t enough. At some point, people will have to grind down and actually implement all the resuls of that collaboration in practice. It may or may not be more efficient and effective to do that part of the job remotely.

      My job involves a lot of writing, and very little synchronous collaboration is required. So I’ve been doing really well WFH. Now we’re working a very liberal hybrid schedule, and I plan to go about once a week to the office starting in September, in addition to our training and brainstorming days (2 days, twice a year).

  47. Stunner266*

    A lot of companies are moving towards hybrid schedules and WFH now which I think is great if you can get it. And if thats what you really want and are willing to leave and look elsewhere for it then good for you.
    But…I dont think you can really complain about the commute as if its a new thing, you were fine with the commute when you accepted the job pre covid.

  48. Wheaties*

    OP, your life and health are not worth this, and your manager is clearly not that good if they made you work while you were incredibly unwell, and are stuck back in the pre-pandemic mindset of presenteeism. Get a new job and get out of there!

  49. PaulaMomOfTwo*

    10 hour days as the norm? I can understand every once in awhile, but this expectation is not normal. Perhaps in some industries, but the job market is good enough that you can find a job that expects 8.

    That’s 2 hours a day you would get back. Even more for a job that allowed remote. You owe to yourself to do some job searching, no matter how comfortable you are with the present job.

  50. OP*

    Hi all, OP here.

    Thanks for all the responses and advice! I dont have te to respond to everyone but to answer some questions:

    “10 hour days??” – yes. Much longer days are actually the norm for most positions in my industry. I happen to be in a position that works relatively “short” days comparatively. This won’t change no matter where I go and isn’t something my company is doing specifically.

    “You worked through COVID?” – I did work remotely though it was in a limited capacity. Some deadlines are not in my company’s hands and handoff wasn’t possible at that point. Not saying it was right but that’s the context there.

    “Why do you think your boss is good?” – I wrote this letter a while ago. My perspective has changed on this. My manager is a good, well-meaning person but she is not a great manager for a number of reasons.

    “You can’t complain about a commute that was fine pre-COVID.” – the commute was never fine but COVID proved it was unnecessary. We changed a lot of workflow and processes out of necessity in 2020 which made remote work more tenable.

    It’s been about six months since I wrote this and I’m still at the same company. I have spoken to several recruiters and hiring managers and have gone through some interviews. So far, none are offering the flexibility I’m hoping for or, if they do, it is only bring offered as a begrudging last resort due to a lack of people with my type of background. My industry tends to be very resistant to change so it may never be an option until those of us who are mid-career reach the upper ranks.

    I chose not to take this to my manager again. Some of my teammates have separately asked for similar setups and have all been turned down. Interestingly, we have several team members who are fully remote doing work in other markets which, apparently, makes my manager even more hesitant to “fracture” the team further.

    I am still talking to recruiters and keeping my eyes open for a better option. So, not a great update but there it is.

    1. allathian*

      Have you considered changing industries to another one where working 10-hour days isn’t the norm?

      I hope you at least get a decent salary and benefits working for this employer.

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