How To Tell If Your Work’s Back To The Office Plan Is Actually Ok

Illustrated by Vero Romero
As we make our way back into public life, cutting the word 'unprecedented' from our vocabularies forever, those of us in traditional 9-5 office roles are still grappling with the idea of returning to the workplace — and not just because we've forgotten how to make small talk.
If the thought of a daily commute, sad desk salad and fluorescent office lights fills you with dread, you're not alone. In the wake of The Great Return, we're seeing plenty of disturbing stories come out about demanding bosses and draconian working conditions, leaving many to question what their options are if they find themselves not wanting to return to a physical office.
You don’t have to work at a toxic startup or evil conglomerate to have some hesitancy around going back to the office. There are a lot of mixed feelings involved, and it’s perfectly normal to wonder how it’s all going to play out, even if you love your job, your bosses and being around your coworkers.
To some extent, the workplace is always going to be an area that's rife with politics and precarious dynamics, and the pandemic has thrown everyone for a loop. In many ways, it's brought out the worst of workplace culture. With added pressure to not only maintain levels of performance but to fight to keep businesses alive in strained financial times, most of us are feeling some level of burnout, and we've all had to adjust to a less-than-ideal situation.
But if your workplace has begun the slow (or very, very quick, in some cases) return to the office, some level of wariness is to be expected. If you are concerned about your workplace's back-to-the-office plan but aren't quite sure whether you should be, we've mapped some key ways to gauge whether or not your company is ushering the return in a positive way.
Of course, not everyone is in a position to push back against management or rage quit their jobs, and that's not what we're suggesting. But we can make sure that we can identify any red flags that speak to a broader culture of insensitivity and unfair expectations. So if you're feeling a bit concerned about your workplace's plan to return to the office, read on.
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