Return To Work?

The pandemic put many challenges on business. One was, how to keep being a business during a time when it wasn’t safe for workers to meet and interact with each other as we always had. The solution was remote and work from home. We did what we needed to do. But the pandemic has faded into an endemic, we don’t feel that we need to take such strong precautions because to stop the virus, now the whole idea of mass remote work is coming under review. The offices were cleared to keep us deathly, now we have vaccines and treatments we can take, what does that mean for most workers who were sent home to work?

We worked from home, now what? The company wants you back!

I’d like to remind you that, while the employer and employee are both engaging in work for their mutual benefit, it is the employer that usually sets the terms of employment. 

This is a really nice office, most of them aren’t this pleasant, but they are functional

Before the pandemic, you might have been hired to come to the office five or six days a week, work for forty to fifty hours a week. Most of my jobs have been able to be completed entirely through remote work, but the company found that they liked it if I came into the office five days a week and if it was after eight am, I was late —whatever that really meant in a job that could have been done remotely— and I’d then have to stay till five thirty and might have to do some work in the evening, which was okay if I did it at home. 

With the pandemic, it wasn’t possible to go to the office, we had to work from home or not work at all. Companies had to find ways to communicate with their employees and get things done, without everyone getting into the same room. Many workers were sent home, and there was an explosion in the stock price of Zoom Media.

Yahoo Finance Graph of ZM stock prices.

As we can see in this Graph of Zoom Media stock prices, the apex was during the heart of the pandemic when there were no vaccines. Since stock price has dropped, though competition likely plays a great role in this, and recently, exogenous factors are affecting ZM stock price. While an in-depth examination of why ZM is down since October 2020 at least because investors perceive their may be weaker demand for Zoom Media’s signature product.

But why is this? Isn’t it cheaper to work remotely?

If, before the pandemic, you were employed like many of us, five days a week, in the office by a certain time or an adverse note would be made for your yearly review, you should expect to be back in the office again. Remember that your company didn’t hire to be a remote worker. Remote work existed before the pandemic, if they had wanted to hire you as a remote worker, they would have done so before the pandemic.

But what about the savings of remote work?

It’s true, some companies will realize they didn’t need a large office building and that are better ways to do business. But remember, remote work existed before the pandemic. The number of businesses that will magically see the light will be small. You were hired as an “in-office” worker, and that likely impacted your compensation. For you to now say to the company, it’s better and cheaper for me to work from home, is valid, but you aren’t the boss, you don’t get to set the terms of employment. You may, politely, gently, point out the truth of the matter, but don’t expect the company to agree with you. 

If you are happy, you can’t be working hard: Too many managers think this way.

The sad thing is, most managers believe that if they can’t see you, you aren’t working. I have worked in places where I’ve been asked to find out why my employees were smiling because they seemed too happy. The implication is: if you are happy and not looking stressed, then you are not working hard or as hard as possible. 

What does this mean for me?

It means that if you didn’t have a remote job before the pandemic, you are almost certainly not going to have a remote job now that we have a endemic. You can ask, they might say yes, but don’t be surprised if you have to go back into the office, five days a week, and carry on with business as usual.

What can I do about it?

As I am going to describe in further detail in an upcoming publication, do not be argumentative, accept the decision politely, but look for a profitable exit. If you don’t like your terms of work, you can ask, but most companies take the viewpoint that a deal is a deal and you shouldn’t have agreed to it if you don’t like it. 

DISCLAIMER: Edgar Scott does not provide investment advice, please consult an investment professional before making any decisions. Edgar Scott does not give career counseling. If you feel the need to change your career after reading this blog, consult your attorney. This blog is provided for entertainment purposes only.

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