Advice column: I resent some colleagues still being allowed to work from home

Dear Ash,

Although our firm has now largely requested staff to return to working in the office full time, there are some colleagues who have been reluctant to do so, and have instead insisted on continuing to work from home. I do not have an issue with this if there are appropriate medical reasons for it; but I do resent having to work a full week at the office while some staff still continue to work from home the majority of the time. I just think there should be one rule for everyone, especially as it is causing tension and frustrations in the office when certain colleagues seem to be unavailable after logging off by 3pm. I am not sure how to make my feelings on this clear without seeming to have sour grapes.

Ash replies:

The new way of flexible working has been, for some employees, a real positive, with the ability to achieve a greater work-life balance while still maintaining good productivity. Some employers have recognised the need for flexibility as key to attracting and retaining talented staff.

However, the key issue for employers will be to develop policies in order to manage such flexible working patterns effectively to ensure fairness for all staff, and to avoid the resentment which you clearly are feeling at present.

It is important to appreciate that a person merely being in the office from 9-5 is not necessarily as productive as someone doing more flexible hours at home, and for example logging off to collect children but then logging back on after bathtime.

Everyone is different and able to be more productive at different times of the day, and finally even employers have recognised this.

In one job I recall once being advised by a colleague not to leave the office before 6pm, even if it was just a case of browsing the BBC news channel, as this would help to demonstrate my commitment to the firm by still being physically present! Needless to say I chose to ignore such advice and instead ensured I was productive throughout my working day, and yes, sometimes this included logging in after I got home.

I therefore suggest that you focus on your work-life balance, and look to achieve greater flexibility too, if you think that this will help you to be more productive. Employers will no doubt recognise those who are maintaining productivity levels, whether this is while in the office or at home, therefore your efforts will not be discounted and you need to be patient.

Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and other legal professionals, which can be put to her via the editor: peter@connectmedia.cc. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Education, Training & Qualifications team. Email legaleduc@lawscot.org.uk or phone 0131 226 7411 (select option 3). 

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