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Returning to work after after home working

Hilly002 Member Posts: 3 Listener
edited September 25 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.


  • MarkM88
    MarkM88 Member Posts: 2,023 Pioneering
    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 Member Posts: 2,205 Pioneering
    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 
  • Teddybear12
    Teddybear12 Member Posts: 1,474 Pioneering
    Hi @Hilly002 A lot of people are feeling stressed at the thought of going back to work. Speak to your line manager and see what he thinks he might be able to give you two days. Good luck 
  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Community Co-Production Group Posts: 11,079 Disability Gamechanger
    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 Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,376 Disability Gamechanger
    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 Member Posts: 3 Listener
    Thank you all for your advice I will talk it over with my line manager  ,

    thanks again stay safe
  • Fred2021
    Fred2021 Community Volunteer Adviser Posts: 34 Connected

    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.

    Community Volunteer Adviser.  I have some expertise in the following subjects, gained through professional settings such as employment and high level education: autism, learning disabilities, employment.

  • Hilly002
    Hilly002 Member Posts: 3 Listener
    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

  • Teddybear12
    Teddybear12 Member Posts: 1,474 Pioneering
    edited October 8
    Hi @Hilly002 Well that sounds hopeful, just see how you get on. Fingers crossed. Good luck. . 
  • Fred2021
    Fred2021 Community Volunteer Adviser Posts: 34 Connected
    edited October 15

    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. 

    Community Volunteer Adviser.  I have some expertise in the following subjects, gained through professional settings such as employment and high level education: autism, learning disabilities, employment.

  • calcotti
    calcotti Member Posts: 3,419 Disability Gamechanger
    For anyone else with a similar question there's quite a lot of advice here 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 Posts: 6,686

    Scope community team

    Thanks for sharing @calcotti :) 
    Online Community Coordinator, she/her

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  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,842 Disability Gamechanger
    The key point here is a very simple one and us covered in the UNISON guidance. This is not about a conversation with your employer, it is about your right to a risk assessment. Blanket return to work policies are going to create more problems than they solve for most employers but it’s in everyone’s interests to have a risk assessment. You are required to have one for any building you work in and can ask for others for many reasons. 

    Your employer is going to have to show they have a covid safe workspace. If a risk assessment doesn’t show that then that’s the end of discussions about how many days our week.


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