Advice column: How should I treat a colleague who never comes to the office?

Dear Ash,

Although the majority of my colleagues have resumed working partly from the office again following the pandemic, there are a number who have continued to resist coming into the office. I am beginning to resent having to make the effort to attend the office when some of the team are continuing to work online and are not making the effort to come in. One of my colleagues is now even asking me to print off papers and to hand these into her home on my way back from the office, and I’m starting to wonder why I’m bothering to comply with the hybrid working system when she has it so easy.

Ash replies:

Although I can appreciate that commuting to work may be raising certain challenges for some, it’s also important to focus on the benefits of working from the office a few days in the week too. 

On a personal level, I have found it enjoyable having the ability to again chat through ideas and issues with others in the office, and to go out to lunch with colleagues again too. 

However, we have to recognise also that there are others who are still struggling with the idea of returning to such normalised working patterns again. Lockdown was forced on us and the repercussions are still being felt by some. Therefore it is important to have a certain degree of empathy for colleagues who have not been able as yet to return to the same pace of life.

Saying that, if you are noticing the increasing resentment towards colleagues choosing not to return to the office, even on a hybrid basis, then it is likely that management will also be reviewing matters.

I therefore suggest that you look to focus on the positives of your own working pattern; and if you don’t feel able to deliver printed documentation to your colleague then just politely refuse. You are not obliged to go out of your way to deliver documents just because you are travelling to the office.

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: 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 or phone 0131 226 7411 (select option 3). 

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