Job Doc

After working remotely during most of the Pandemic, my employer is now requiring us to return to the office. With commuting and juggling childcare, I’m burned out and just want to quit my job. Elaine Varelas guides.

Return to office mandates are on the rise and can be challenging for many employees, especially when juggling all of life’s demands. Elaine Varelas guides on how to discuss the challenges you are facing with your employer so that you are happy at work and continue to be a valuable employee.

Ask the Job Doc.

Q: After working remotely throughout most of the Pandemic, my company has issued a Return to Office mandate and are requiring employees to work in the office 3 days a week.  This has been extremely challenging for me.  I need to pick up my special needs child mid-day everyday. I’m done. I can’t take it anymore and I need to quit.

A:  When your stress level is this high, the only answer you can see is to end the situation immediately.  That kind of an extreme answer is not the best place for you to start.  The situation is challenging, painful, stressful, and aggravating because it sounds like you had this worked out with your employer, but clearly you don’t. So deep breath and step back to review.


Start with what your ideal work situation is.  You’ve identified that your ideal situation is working fully remotely, with the flexibility to pick your daughter up and make a comfortable transition to home.  You aren’t asking to eliminate the number of hours that you are working, although that may be something you want to consider.  What you recognize is that you asked for this flexibility and your firm agreed to this arrangement and what you see as a thoughtless scheduling over this time is most likely the case that they forgot.  It’s not their priority.  Many employees may have asked for some kind of accommodations – some happen, some don’t, some are temporary, and sadly many get overlooked as other priorities move ahead.  Quitting doesn’t let you start a conversation that can help you create the work environment that will be most successful for you.

Schedule a time to meet with your manager.  Let your manager know how much you enjoy working for the company and that you feel that you have made significant contributions.  Remind them that throughout all of the fully remote time you were able to complete your work and deliver what was needed.  Stop to get agreement.  If this is not the case you need to know.  If it is true and you are a highly valued employee, let your manager know that the new schedule of meetings and in office work doesn’t work based on the demands of your child’s school.  Ask if there is flexibility and make suggestions that minimize the impact on other people and maximize your employer’s visibility into your contributions. Suggest recording the meetings.  Technology will make this effort easy. If your manager needs to discuss this with others, offer to have those conversations yourself.  No one can be as convincing of your efforts as you can.  If your manager is not supportive, go to human resources.  Escalate the issue to find out of it Is just your manager who is inflexible, and if they can be encouraged to allow you to work in a way that seemed to work for all involved.  If not, perhaps there are other roles within the organization.  


You want to relieve the tension and stress that you are faced with and keep a job that it sounds like that you were once happy with and want to keep.  We anticipate seeing more and more questions such as yours as organizations ask employees to come back to the office.  Return to office mandates will increase and will remain a challenge as most employees working remotely were able to perform very well, deliver what needed to be done, and accommodate family needs.


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