my employees prefer remote work but I don’t, feeling emotional about resigning, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. I manage a team that prefers remote work — but I prefer working in-person

My work is looking at returning to physical space in the fall and they are giving us a lot of leeway for remote/hybrid work (yay!). It does bring up an issue for me, though. I manage eight people on my team and I know a number of them would be happy to never come into the office again. They have all proven themselves more than capable to work from home – they transitioned and have been amazing during the pandemic work-from-home. However, I personally work best when I can see/talk with people in person at least periodically. What balance can I strike between giving my team what they want and what I need in my own work style? I would love to ask each team member to come in at least once every 1-2 weeks, but unless there’s a true need is that out of line? I guess my question is, as a manager, when does my own work style matter and when do I need to get over it?

I think it depends on what you mean by work style. If it’s mostly personal preference — along the lines of “I’m happier when I see people face-to-face more often” — I don’t think that’s a reason to make people come in. But it would be different if it genuinely affects the work — for instance, if you find that you and your team work through problems faster/more successfully in person, or if it’s difficult to follow their explanations of how a project is unfolding without talking face-to-face, or if one of the ways you manage their work is by observing it in-person periodically and it’s harder to do that virtually, or if you’ve seen from experience that brainstorming with a group all sitting in the same room gives you better results than doing it remotely. In cases like those, it’s not unreasonable to explain that and plan for in-office days every week or two.

2. Is it weird to feel emotional about resigning?

I’ve been in my current role for a little over a year. I was laid off due to Covid last year, but was later rehired when funding increased again.

I recently accepted a position at another company and I’m pretty excited about it (it’s exactly what I would want at this point in my career!). I was recruited for the role so I wasn’t actively looking to leave, but it was too good to pass up.

I gave my notice to my manager and he asked if there was anything that would make me reconsider leaving (I politely stated there wasn’t). Afterward, I felt more emotional than expected, especially when a couple of coworkers who I’m closer to contacted me about it later that day.

After some reflection, I think I get strangely attached to my jobs. For example, at my previous company, I worked on a team for five years and my teammates, manager, and I had been through so much together. After I resigned, both my boss and I were on the verge of tears.

While this isn’t preventing me from moving forward (obviously, I’ve still chosen to leave those positions since it makes the most sense professionally), I’m trying to gauge if this is incredibly strange and something I should work on not doing in the future. I’m not an overly emotional person in general, but apparently I have a soft spot in this area.

Nah, it’s not that strange! A lot of people get attached to their jobs and their coworkers, and it’s very normal for resigning to be hard or bittersweet. That’s true even when you’re leaving a job that you’re glad to get away from. You’ve spent 40+ hours a week there, possibly for years. You have inside jokes with people and a shared history. You know how to navigate all the unique weirdnesses every office has and how to get things done within that particular context. It’s comfortable. A big piece of your life happened there! It makes sense to have mixed feelings about leaving, even when you know intellectually that you’re making the right move.

3. My boss gets antsy when he can’t reach me

I work for a start-up company as an office manager focusing mostly on financials. We have a very small office, just a room in a large suite that we rent. It’s only big enough for one person, maybe two. I was working remotely for the most part and was told to manage my time however I see fit. So I would go in most mornings to check the mail, then work for a couple of hours and head home during lunch and work the rest of the day from there. Then, a few months ago, my boss decided he wanted someone in the office all day, so that ended up being me. Although I don’t agree, I didn’t argue and I go there every day by myself.

Now I am getting the third degree from my boss. He snaps at me whenever I don’t answer the phone immediately and is constantly questioning where I am. A few days ago, he showed up to the office while I was at lunch and began questioning me again as to why I wasn’t there. When I came back from lunch, my office neighbors stopped me and said my boss had been there and had asked everyone in our hall about my daily movements. These are people who I have never met or interacted with and now they know my name and I’m assuming they were asked to keep an eye on me because they now keep their doors open so they can see me walk by. I have given no reason for this treatment. I do my job and I do it well. I’m upset but I don’t know if I have the right to be. Is this normal behavior? Or am I right to feel that this was inappropriate?

No, this isn’t normal. If your boss has concerns about where you are or if you’re being as productive as he wants you to, he should raise his concerns with you directly, not just snap at you, interrogate you, or ask random people who don’t even work for your company to keep an eye on you (!).

Since your boss isn’t raising it directly, you should. I’d say this to him: “Since you asked me a few months ago to work from the office all day, that’s what I’ve been doing. But you’ve sounded concerned recently if I don’t answer the phone while I’m at lunch or am otherwise unavailable at any particular moment, and you’ve been asking a lot about where I am. Do you have concerns about my work that we could try to address?”

4. Will it harm the friend who referred me if I quit?

I’m wondering what you think generally happens when an employee referral doesn’t work out long-term. A good friend of mine referred me for a great job that came with a good salary increase and much better title. The company itself is good, the job is fine, but the people I work with day to day, specifically my boss, are less than ideal and combative to the point I feel I will never be effective here. I’ve tried to stick it out but I’m not sure how much longer I want to. The thing that is causing me the most angst about the thought of leaving is the fact that my friend referred me and I am worried that it would look bad for her to have referred me if I end up staying less than a year. I’m going to try to stick it out and hope for improvement, but it’s not looking optimistic.

Sometimes referrals don’t work out. Your friend may have connected you with the company and vouched for your work, but she couldn’t guarantee it would be a perfect match, and a reasonable company wouldn’t expect her to. If you left in a flaming huff of unprofessionalism or sabotaged the filing system on your way out, that would of course be awkward for her. But if you give the job a good-faith effort and just conclude it’s not right for you — based on info you didn’t have until you were already working there — and if you handle your resignation professionally and respectfully, it should be fine. (If you can, though, try to talk with her about it first so she’s not blindsided. And who knows, she might appreciate the opportunity to suggest things that could help — like “wait it out because your boss is almost certainly leaving at the end of the summer” or “there’s an opening on the X team that you’d love and could transfer into.”)

5. Forced to make up hours after closing for a holiday

Can my employer close for a holiday without pay, then force us to make up the hours during the course of the week?

Yes. It’s crappy but they can do it. (That assumes that you’re paid for the make-up hours. They have to pay you for whatever hours you work. And if you’re exempt, they can’t dock your pay for this at all, but they can indeed require the extra hours.)