Young woman doing a zoom chat with colleagues while sitting on her couch.

I’ve decided: I only want to work remotely

As more companies embrace hybrid work models—featuring a mix of in-person and remote workers, many people managers and HR departments are dealing with the challenges of employees not wanting to return to the office on a regular basis.

Have you made the decision to only work from home?

If so, have you truly thought about the pros and cons. Not just driving in traffic or taking public transportation as your deciding factor.

What do you do when everyone returns to the office but you stay remote?

Do you think you will be passed over for promotions?

Whether you work in an office or out of the home, there’s no doubt that your personal lifestyle is a factor in how well your job fits you. Today, as more companies embrace hybrid models—featuring a mix of in-person and remote workers—many employees are dealing with the challenges of working remotely.

  • What do you do when everyone returns to the office but you stay remote? How will you stay connected?
  • Do you think you will be passed over for promotions?

Here are a  few things you might consider in order to stay connected with the office, managers and your colleagues:

  1. Schedule more time with your boss. Face it: The biggest problem isn’t just that your colleagues are in the office. 
  2. Review your 30-, 60- and 90-day goals with your manager.
  3. Discuss promotions and how to stay open and available to them.
  4. Be the first to respond to meeting requests.
  5. Engage with your colleagues. 
  6. Encourage remote-friendly meetings.  
  7. Build a brain trust, a group of people who engage in pure and efficient brainstorming without feeling pressured to keep great ideas to themselves.  They can help you think smarter.

Recent Survey Data

In a survey of 10,000 white-collar workers conducted by Future Forum, a research consortium created by Slack, more than 4 out of 10 executives ranked the potential inequities between remote and in-office employees as their No. 1 concern. Even so, the survey found that bosses are twice as likely to prefer working in the office at least three days a week—and want their employees to be there, too.

I have talked to several of my coaching clients and they have shared their desire to work from home a few days a week. 

And the hiring managers I work with are telling me that see a a discrepancy between what managers want and what team members want. Many employees who have been working virtually want to stay remote, while the managers want them to come into the office at least part of the time.

What return-to-office advocates are failing to acknowledge is how hard and hurtful the office can be for employees, with so many social and gendered expectations paired with too little care for individual concerns and triggers.

Last week I wrote about how words hurt in the work place. That is just one aspect of being back in the office. 

It’s not that most people are actually trying to be actively awful. It’s just that the mix of pressure and people can cause tempers to flare and nerves to be frazzled. So, it’s not surprising that so many workers don’t want to deal with the continuous confrontations of the office.

Working from home doesn’t fix everything, of course. There are still going to be personalities that chafe and meetings where everyone is mostly checked out. And bias in the workplace? That’s an issue that will definitely not be solved by video calls.

Personally, despite the issues that arise, there remain many things I love about working with people face-to-face, like having truly collaborative experiences that make my own work better, or putting our heads together on a big project. I will keep working—most of us have to—and will continue to seek out interactions with colleagues that make my day better rather than worse. But I don’t think I will return to the office on a full-time basis.

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