The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Business

September 10, 2013

Your Office Coach: Give tough new job a chance

QUESTION: My new job literally makes me cry. After working as an elementary school secretary for 15 years, I was transferred to a high school because of budget cuts. The environment is so unpleasant that I am already thinking about leaving.

On the first day of school, the administrators here were not welcoming at all. When I approached them and introduced myself, I immediately saw the uncaring look on their faces. I have since concluded that they are control freaks who enjoy pointing out employees’ mistakes.

I am so unhappy at this school that I would rather work in retail or cleaning. What do you think I should do?

ANSWER: Despite your disillusionment, give this job a little more time before making any irrevocable decisions. After a major life change, the negative aspects can temporarily blind you to the positives, so you don’t want to jump ship prematurely.

One likely source of your discomfort is a significant shift in organizational culture. Elementary and high schools differ greatly in terms of faculty, students, rules, procedures and leadership style. This disparity undoubtedly took you by surprise and will require a period of adjustment.

You might also reconsider your assumptions about administrators. Their “uncaring“ first-day demeanor may actually have reflected a preoccupation with the myriad demands of a new school year. And correcting employee errors is simply a necessary part of their job.

If you eventually decide to leave, just be sure to choose your next position carefully. After a career in education, the transition to retail or cleaning would be much more difficult than the one you are now experiencing.

Q: For several years, I have worked from home as a “remote employee“ for a large corporation. I was quite happy with this arrangement until two weeks ago, when I suddenly received a disturbing email.

The company now says I must sign a form certifying that I have “a smoke detector, fire extinguisher, ergonomically suitable chair, and homeowner’s insurance.“ I am required to “maintain a dedicated workspace in a safe manner“ and give management permission to “visit my home work area.“

If I refuse to comply with these conditions, my employment will be terminated. My only other option is to start working in the office, which is 40 miles away. What’s going on here?

A: Perhaps the company has a new CEO, or maybe the human resources director went to a seminar. But for whatever reason, management has become concerned about the legal aspects of telecommuting.

These new requirements represent an attempt to limit the company’s liability for unfortunate events that could occur in your home. If properly explained, this might not seem unreasonable, but apparently no one took the time to talk with you. Sadly, remote workers often suffer from insufficient communication.

If you enjoy working from home and want to continue, you might as well agree to these common safety measures. And if you’re worried about management dropping by on a regular basis, the 80-mile round trip should eliminate that problem.

Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.“ Send in questions and get free coaching tips at http://www.yourofficecoach.com, or follow her on Twitter officecoach.

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