Find a constructive way to object to co-working space
Dear J.T. & Dale: My company used to have a really beautiful office space. When COVID-19 hit, we worked remotely and they gave up the office space. Recently, they wanted us all to start to work together several days a week, so they rented a co-working space.
I absolutely hate it. It’s crowded and not nearly as nice as the old office. Several of us have complained, but we were told that there’s nothing we could do because the company is cutting costs. I want to ask my boss if I can work remotely full time again. Any advice on how I can say this without him getting upset? — Haylee
J.T.: The company has made it clear that it wants you all to work together at least some of the time. It has also made it clear that, financially, they are not in a position to provide as nice of an office space as before. Therefore, I highly doubt you’ll be able to work fully remote. The company was loyal to you during the pandemic, and now it’s looking for you to be loyal and to accommodate them in the office. I would say if this is not something that you want to do long term, then you should start looking for a new position. I fear that, if you bring it up with your boss, you could really hurt the relationship. Keep in mind, you may need these people as references some day, so why burn a bridge?
DALE: To me, this is not a shut-your-piehole situation. I believe that the atmosphere of the office truly matters, not just to the productivity of the workers, but also to the mental vigor and well-being of those spending time there. There’s an energy, a “feel” to a productive environment that you can sense just by walking through. So, what to do? I agree with J.T. that you can’t whine about it to your boss. You’ve got to make this constructive. You could think small and say, “I’m just not as productive here as I could be,” and ask about working a bit more at home. Then, you build on this later. However, you’d be setting a precedent that management probably does not want to set. Instead, ask your boss if you could experiment with different ways of using the co-working space, perhaps leading a team to innovate within the space you have now. I’m betting he also misses the lovely old office space and would welcome your initiative.
Dear J.T. & Dale: In October last year, I switched jobs. A competitor was offering a 40% pay increase and the ability to work from home three days a week. Right before the holidays, we heard that the company wasn’t doing so well and that there were likely to be cutbacks. Is there any truth to “the last one in, first one out” concept? Should I start looking for a job now? — Blake
DALE: Well, first, no one has ever asked us the question “Should I start looking?” that we haven’t answered YES! That’s because of the concept of
ABL, Always Be Looking. Think of your career like that old “Frogger” game. Know when to jump.
J.T.: As for “first in, first out,” we hear that expression a lot in times of a recession. Yes, some companies want to be loyal to the staff that has been with them the longest and therefore make a simple decision to let go of people that they hired most recently. That said, I think more companies are being strategic and figuring out which people are most important to sustaining the business. This can result in people who have been at a company for a long time being seen as less relevant and/or more expensive, and therefore are the ones to be let go. So, the key is to make sure that you are creating enough value to justify the cost of employing you. More importantly, if there are lots of people with your same skillsets, you need to be absolutely the best at what you do.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten’s latest book is “Experiments Never Fail: A Guide for the Bored, Unappreciated and Underpaid.” Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.