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Remote work: How to tell your boss you don’t want to return to the office

Workers are not willing to give up the advantages of remote work, which include more flexible schedules and more time spent with friends and family instead of commuting.

A quarter of employees working from home don't plan to return to the office even after it reopens, according to a new survey by LinkedIn. And just 34% of remote workers who were asked to return have accepted and prepared to do so.

“Organizations that are operating from the old [office] paradigm are going to get left behind. They’re going to miss out on good people,” Dr. Margie Warrell, executive coach, told Yahoo Finance. “They need to adapt to whatever new norms emerge from this, and the new norms will absolutely include more hybrid work schedules.”

Among remote workers who have either already returned to the office or have been asked to do so, LinkedIn found that 30% asked for a hybrid schedule with part-time remote work, 16% looked for a new job where they can be fully remote, and 8% quit or are considering doing so. (LinkedIn surveyed 2,985 full-time U.S. workers.)

As many companies start summoning their employees back to their offices, some workers who prefer to continue working from home are facing a tricky situation. Warrell shared a few tips for employees on how to broach that conversation with their boss.

Getty Images
Getty Images (Westend61 via Getty Images)

“I think it’s important to approach this with a collaborative attitude and put yourself in your boss’ shoes or the people who are running your organization,” says Warrell. “Find a path that will make them feel like the business needs are being met while the employee needs are also being taken care of.” Warrell suggests that employees detail how their remote work makes them a productive team member.

While 60% of companies say the popularity of remote work makes it harder to attract and retain employees, most will allow their employees to keep working from home even after the pandemic subsides, according to a recent Harris poll.

“There is no doubt at all that organizations that aren’t going to offer more flexibility are not going to attract and they certainly also are not going to retain top talent,” says Warrell.

Pay cuts are the latest ploy by employers trying to compel employees to return to the office. Facebook and Twitter have reduced salaries for remote workers and thousands of Google employees preferring to work from home have taken a pay cut, according to reports.

“It’s an experiment,” says Warrell. “The ability to live somewhere that is a lot less expensive than say, Silicon Valley, is going to mean that many people can save a lot of money on their cost of living depending on where they want to live, but of course, there’s also a cost to having a home office.”

A giant digital sign is seen at Facebook's corporate headquarters campus in Menlo Park, California, on October 23, 2019. (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP) (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)
A giant digital sign is seen at Facebook's corporate headquarters campus in Menlo Park, California, on October 23, 2019. (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP) (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images) (JOSH EDELSON via Getty Images)

Employees who return to the office will have an advantage over those who choose not to over the long term, says Warrell.

“I think they’re going to get passed over for things,” she said. “Those who are showing up...and putting in face time….are going to get more opportunities because they’re building those relationships, building trust.”

Even though the Delta variant is adding fuel to the pandemic, workers should remain open to a taking risks mindset, says Warrell, whose new book “Stop Playing Safe” will be published next month.

“In the midst of all this disruption is also a lot of opportunity,” says Warrell. “And so we have to be discerning about which risks we need to avoid, and where we need to play it safe, but also where we need to put ourselves out there. And maybe that means making a change in job, a career, putting our hand up, going after something bigger.”

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