Dear J.T. & Dale: My company just spent two months interviewing for a very important customer service role at our company. It was all done on Zoom, so we could only see all of the candidates from the shoulders up. We finally decided on one, and one week after she started, she admitted that she is actually eight-plus months pregnant and would be going out on maternity leave in just three weeks. She will now be out for three months. I am so incredibly angry with her because she was my support, and now my company is stuck and not in a position to hire me any additional help until she gets back. How could I ever trust or want to work with somebody like this ever again? I just think this was so incredibly deceitful. – Lauren
J.T.: I understand, and I’m so sorry that you are dealing with a heavy workload and no help. I would try to at least put yourself in her shoes. She clearly needed a job with benefits. And, we live in desperate times – not wanting to be discriminated against for her current condition, it made sense for her to handle it the way she did.
DALE: Here’s the bigger picture: We, as a society, have decided on gender equality. We can be most proud of our nation when it decides to enshrine equality in law, whether it be race, gender, disabilities or sexual orientation. There are occasional costs or inconveniences, like the business that has to install ramps for the handicapped, or the company dealing with an absent new mother. So, here’s the mind shift you could seek to achieve – instead of suffering, you’re sacrificing; sacrificing for something big and fine and worthy of your temporary burden.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I’ve been working out of my studio apartment since March when my company sent us all home. I’m told they won’t bring us back for at least another six months. I love this job, but I’m going stir-crazy. My internet is sometimes spotty, and I have a puppy that likes to bark. I’m wondering about asking my employer if they would pay for remote office space. Do you think I can do that? – B.K.
J.T.: There’s no harm in asking, but it’s a complex issue. First of all, companies have to figure out how they can safely allow you to go into a workplace. And secondly, if they offer this to you, they will also have to offer it to all employees. I think a better route would be to reach out to your management and ask about any plans for remote office work for employees. Making inquiries about what might happen is better than asking outright. If you learn that there is no intention to ever go back, you may want to think about personally investing in some remote space. It could be just the thing you need to keep your creativity and productivity at the right levels, so that you can keep the job that you love.
DALE: As someone who’s worked from home for many years, I’ve experimented with alternatives. Eventually, I created an office for myself that is conducive to my work. Still, I sometimes seek out other options. My favorite used to be the library. Maybe yours is open during the pandemic; mine isn’t. But I’ve also tried a paid workplace, or “co-working space.” Not sure what it costs where you are, but in many cities, you can get a membership for less than a hundred dollars a month, and you have access to desks in an open area, conference rooms and often a kitchen area. Some include classes, speakers and even free beverages. If you want a desk to call your own (and keep your supplies in), that costs more, as does a small office, but I could see your employer going for a basic membership, especially if it decides to downsize its offices. So, do a little research and then start asking around.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O?Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803, 2020 by King Features Syndicate Inc.