What to do when remote work takes psychological toll

Dear JT & Dale: My company has been working remotely for two years now. Of course it weighs on me psychologically. I miss being in the office. I heard about a coworking space in my city and checked the prices. It kind of seems reasonable, but I couldn’t swing it myself. Do you think I could go to my employer and see if he would pay for it? – Nona

JT: I would definitely inquire. I would schedule a meeting with your boss and explain to him that you miss social interaction and that I came across a place that could help you feel more connected and creative. Then ask them if they would be willing to pay for a coworking space. The worst they can say is no. But just asking makes them realize that if they don’t give you a place to go, then you might be looking for a new job. So if they care about keeping you, they might find a way to avoid losing you. Definitely educate yourself, be really polite, and emphasize how much it would mean to you to get this.

VALLEY: You’re probably not the only one feeling how you feel, which means your employers will worry about setting a precedent. So you can offer to research for the whole team and report with options. I did some research on coworking spaces a few years ago. I found a few that were quite expensive, with luxury accommodations meant to impress visitors, some that were cheap and would make you feel cheap working there, and a few that were priced reasonable yet lively and uplifting, those with seminars and social events that would satisfy that collegiate need. There is a lot of energy in such places, enough to increase productivity, and your management might be enthusiastic about the idea.

Dear JT & Dale: After 12 years at the same company, I recently left to take up a position at another company because they offered me a 40% pay raise. I absolutely hate the new employer. It has nothing to do with my former employer. I want to go back to my old job, but I still want the raise. Any suggestions on how I can navigate this? –Rick

JT: I’ve always told people that just because companies in the pandemic are offering you a huge pay raise doesn’t mean you should take it. A lot of companies offer what I call “hazard pay” – it means they understand their work environment isn’t the best, so they throw money at the problem. My advice is to first see if your former employer will even get you back. I would try to contact former colleagues or even your former boss and ask if they would be willing to consider it. Then you will need to ask them if they could match the salary you left for. I guess they can’t. But maybe they’ll see the point of bringing you back and paying you a little more. The goal is that you make it clear to them that you will sing their praises and that you can tell all the other employees about your experience and why it makes sense to stay put. In short, giving you money and having you come back to share your story could be a great insurance policy for them in terms of talent retention.

VALLEY: It’s worth it, but I imagine you calling and saying some version of this, “I screwed it up.” I should never have left. Please bring me back. Oh, and if you let me back, I’ll need a 40% raise. It’s just not a good negotiating position; unless you are a highly valued and essential employee. So I guess it won’t work. What might work is to start a job search. With that higher salary in your pocket, you might find a good employer who considers you worth what you earn.

Jeanine “JT” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is the founder of The Innovators’ Lab and the author of an HR novel, “The Weary Optimist”. Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can email questions, or write to them c/o King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2022 by King Features Syndicate, Inc .

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