Jessica has been working from home for more than a year. Her office closed relatively early when the coronavirus arrived. The company’s IT office made sure she and her colleagues could remain productive while working from home. However, it took some adjusting to make it work smoothly. Jessica and her husband, who was also working from home, were juggling care for their two children as their daycare was closed.
Gradually Jessica enjoyed her new routines. She felt she was just as productive as when she worked in her cubicle.
Daycare has now reopened, so the kids are gone. And so is Jessica’s husband, who is back in his office.
Jessica got an email from her company a few months ago saying that employees could go back to the office if they wanted to return. Or they could continue to work from home. It was optional.
Jessica opted to work from home.
Now she is concerned that she made the wrong choice.
While she dials into meetings, she noticed that she doesn’t all have all the information that those who work in the office have. It’s become clear that there are conversations taking place without her.
When she emails her boss, it takes hours for him to respond. Yet, she knows that she would see him many times during the day if she were in the office.
She worries that she may not be as valued anymore. Out of sight, out of mind.
Will she get the raises she deserves? What about future promotions?
If you find yourself in this situation, there are some things you can do proactively before resigning yourself to the long commute and going back to the office
First of all, discuss this with the boss. Make sure he knows of your concerns. This may not only help you but also other staff members who are working from home.
Connect with other employees. Try a virtual coffee break with a friend so that you can catch up with personal things as well as work-related projects.
Make sure that you and your boss agree on the goals and expectations he has established for you. Make sure he is aware of your progress, frustrations, and challenges. Make sure you have at least weekly online check-in.
Track your accomplishments as well as the progress you make towards your goals or projects. This will be helpful if your work is ever questioned.
Offer to come into the office for regular staff meetings and meaningful project discussions. When you do, bring treats.
If you are interested in a future promotion, communicate this with your boss or your Human Resources department. Make it clear that if working from home will prevent you from advancing; you are willing to return to the office.
Stay positive. If working from home is going to mind games with you, perhaps you should reconsider the idea.
Working from home was once considered a hard to come by perk. Going forward, we will see more of it. But the way offices managing this new approach will take time to evolve.
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