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Returning to work after after home working

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Hilly002
Hilly002 Community member Posts: 3 Listener
edited September 2021 in Work and employment
My employer has instructed us to return to the office 3 days a week and work from home for 2 days , I work in an open plan office  I am concerned about returning  at this point due to winter being a high risk time for illness, I have worked from home successfully for the last 18 months , I have CP which effects my mobility and suffered from extreme anxiety in the past .  I was classed as moderately vulnerable by my doctor during the lock downs. The thought of returning to work has trigged my anxiety again .   Can I refuse to go back in the office until spring next year or is it best to offer 2 days in the office when there are less staff in the office.

Comments

  • MarkM88
    MarkM88 Community member Posts: 3,127 Connected
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    You can refuse of course, but you would have to accept the consequences. 

    My first port of call would be to share your concerns with your line manager and see if they can be addressed. Possibly consider asking for flexible working so you can work at home more often and only go into the office occasionally? Again though that’s a request, it can be turned down. 
  • Sandy_123
    Sandy_123 Scope Member Posts: 54,519 Disability Gamechanger
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    Hi @Hilly002 welcome to the forum as Mark says it's best to talk with your managers about how you feel, they may offer a resolution. Good luck 
  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Community member Posts: 16,143 Disability Gamechanger
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    Hi @Hilly002 - & welcome to the community. I hope you've found the replies helpful in resolving the best way for you to return to work. :)
  • Geoark
    Geoark Community member Posts: 1,471 Disability Gamechanger
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    Hi @Hilly002

    I can understand your anxiety, but simply refusing to return to return to the workplace will not be the way to approach it. 

    The starting point is going to have to be having a conversation with your manager. This means being honest with your manager about your concerns, but also your employer will still have a duty towards your health and safety so it is also about listening as to what measures they are putting in and if these will mitigate some of your concerns.

    Be prepared to offer some compromises if there is scope. Is everyone going in the same day or being split over 5 days, if being split over five days are there days where less people are in and would you consider going in then?

    But also make sure you go into the conversation with a clear understanding what is causing your stress.

    Some of my key concerns about returning to the workplace, and like you I work in a large open area office.
    1. Transport - I live in the centre of London and travel out on public transport, a small adjustment to my hour pre-pandemic meant I was travelling outside of the rush hour. As we have restructured I am not sure if this agreement would continue.
    2. Like most open plan offices ours has meeting rooms, these are obviously a lot smaller and enclosed, along with a building where the windows cannot be open.
    3. Since the pandemic our offices have been restructured, there are actually less work spaces, but as well as meeting rooms there more 'cosy' areas where a couple of people or a small team can sit close to one another to collaborate. Again carrying a higher risk of transmission of what ever is going around. 
    4. Like many other places in London the main way to the office is via lifts, which are often busy.
    5. Even with steps in place to mitigate risk of transmission to the above there is still the regular fire drills where a few hundred employees are funnelled into a small number of stairways and herded into large groups. So even if you trust your own colleagues you know little about the employees from the other companies sharing the same building.

    My employer is still considering they way forward for us, though like you it is likely to be a hybrid approach with one or two days in work and the rest from home. At present the only time they are insisting we go in is if we are required to be present for a meeting. Fortunately I am low enough down the scale to avoid most of these. Team meetings work well online so the most likely reason would be for training and the company has worked hard to develop much of this online as well. But we are also well aware that this could change at any time. To be honest that not knowing what is going to happen causes me more stress.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • Hilly002
    Hilly002 Community member Posts: 3 Listener
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    Thank you all for your advice I will talk it over with my line manager  ,

    thanks again stay safe
  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 0 Connected
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    Hi @Hilly002

    A warm welcome to the community, it's great to have you here.

    Have you managed to discuss this with your manager?  Please let us know how you are getting on, or if there is any further assistance we can provide.



  • Hilly002
    Hilly002 Community member Posts: 3 Listener
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    Good afternoon yes I finally got it resolved today, I spoke to him and explained how I felt  and offered compromise , I the confirmed it in a informal e mail , so I will go in one day a week  , when I feel comfortable  I will increase it ,  also I have suggested monthly reviews ,  I really appreciate everyone’s input.  Thank you all

  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 0 Connected
    edited October 2021
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    Hi @Hilly002

    I'm pleased to hear that you have something in place now. Do keep in touch and let us know how you are getting on. 

  • calcotti
    calcotti Community member Posts: 10,010 Disability Gamechanger
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    For anyone else with a similar question there's quite a lot of advice here
    https://www.unison.org.uk/coronavirus-rights-work with redirects to further advice.
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • Tori_Scope
    Tori_Scope Scope Posts: 12,506 Disability Gamechanger
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    Thanks for sharing @calcotti :) 
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