Can I Be Forced to Go Back to My Office?

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

I am a female advisor and working mother. It’s been challenging to be home these few months and also make sure my two children, in the second grade and seventh grade, attend to their studies and focus on school. I’ve put a system in place to allow me to help them, but also work with my clients. My boss, a male advisor, is now talking about having us return to the office in mid-August. He is saying all of the right things about social distancing, rigorous cleaning, wearing masks and so on.

But the problem is that I have come to like working from home. I am the only female with nine other male advisors (all, except one, of whom have spouses who do not work). Even in the office, I generally keep to myself and manage my clients.

I have never asked for anything more than my male colleagues. I don’t talk about all of the additional responsibilities I have working from home. My husband has a very demanding job and the kids don’t respond as well to his “teaching,” so the childcare burden falls on me. I don’t complain to my boss or my other colleagues.

But when it comes time to return, I believe I should have more options around what I can do. I don’t have any idea how to broach this with my boss. As an aside, we hired a new advisor several months ago who wanted to work from home one day a week because he cares for an elderly parent and my boss hit the roof saying “our job is in the office.” That’s what I am up against.


Dear L.L.,

I understand your boss had that position months ago, but the world has changed quite a bit over the last several months, don’t you think? Leaders who would never have dreamed that staff members could be productive (and maybe even more so) working from home are now seeing that nothing gets dropped, the work gets done, the clients are served and the staff is functional.