This article originally appeared on VICE India.
Blessed are those who haven’t had horrible bosses—the kinds who’ve not insisted on you wading through sewage-ridden rainwater just to turn up to work, not eaten away at that iota of fragile self-esteem you held so closely, or not made you a drug mule. But even in the corner of hell that belongs to bad bosses, there’s a special one reserved for those who are currently insisting on their employees swiping in at offices, logging in those essential hours, and then punching out—even at a time when many parts of the world are being forced to experiment with the work-from-home (WFH) model. We’re, of course, not talking about bosses heading jobs that involve fighting the pandemic (we love you and we salute you), but those who value their profits over their people at a time when we still don’t quite know what kind of a fight we’re up against.
If you’re one of those unlucky people having to report to a heartless boss who believes that a thing like COVID-19 has got nothing on their—and your—immunity, and making you work in a shared office space, here are some ways to convince them about why, despite the huge blows to our economy and their business, remote working is what we need right now.
Crank up the communication by leveraging tech
It’s possible that your boss wants to give you a WFH option until the situation gets clearer but is just insecure about you getting some actual work done, and not just take a nap or zoom off on a holiday. To get them on your side, help them figure out ways to stay connected with their employees and check in with regards to progress at work through the day—all through this amazing thing called technology. Sometimes, a high-speed internet connection and a digital workplace like Slack are all you need. Suggest very real and simple things like having a 10-minute Google call with the whole team at the start and end of each working day. Install these softwares and download these apps for them if need be.
Nudge a news piece their way
Apocalyptic news is everywhere. All you have to do is send it their way. Sometimes, a boss making the big buck by putting their employees at risk needs to be dealt with a doom-and-gloom statistic that will quietly tell them: If shit goes down, it’s on you.
Use their ego/insecurities to your advantage
Just let them quietly ‘overhear’ how your partner’s company was appreciated by everyone because of their WFH policies. Drop the burden of “What will happen if someone in office gets coronavirus?” on them, and make sure they know that this means quarantine for everyone and their families.
Make them the martyr they love to be
Sometimes, the boss is used to feeling like a martyr, by doing dumb things like never using that vacation time, or coming in to work even on sick days. For those who wear their busyness as a badge of honour and have to be seen working, WFH can put a dampener on their martyrdom. The best way to remind them of their glory is by telling them (and this is the truth) that by allowing others to work from home, they’re potentially saving the lives of those who can’t work from home. And that because of the largeness of their hearts, the already overworked healthcare workers will hopefully have fewer cases to deal with. How noble, right?
Just say bye
Nothing worked? Drop them an email politely mentioning how you are not comfortable making the commute to work, how you will be socially isolating but are always available on email and text messaging, and that you will see them on the other side of this pandemic. But if leaving work is not an option, make sure you keep your distance from others in the office, liberally wash your hands, eat at a healthy distance from someone else, and continue pushing the above agenda for yourself and others around you.
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