AdviceHey, Bonita!

Should I Tell My Employer to Take This Job and Shove It?

Hey Bonita, 

I think I might have let my work-from-home situation turn into something I can’t handle. I’m a technical writer and the only woman editor in the role at my company. This isn’t the career I went to college for, but I really enjoy it, and I think I’m good at it. Like everyone else, we started working from home in the spring. (My job is in Atlanta, so yes! No commute!) The transition was bumpy for sure, but things have smoothed out OK for most people. I say “most” because I am still getting emails at all hours of the day, and it’s like I’m permanently on our Slack channel. They know that I live with an elderly parent, but I can guarantee that tonight I’ll get a bunch of emails after 5 p.m. from the proposal team.

My mentees aren’t faring much better. Some of them started not long before work-from-home began, and I clearly see some people taking advantage of their newness. I’ve worked with this team before, so they know not to pull any crap with me, but one of my mentees is too new to understand what’s happening, and even though I’m doing my best to guide them, they seem dead set on being exploited. 

The issue is that seven-ish months of my phone constantly buzzing and my wrangling the newbies, along with consistently wild and crazy work hours, have got me wanting to quit. My degree isn’t in writing, and I also have a technical certification in another field that I’m also very passionate about. I know that I should have taken my own advice and laid down boundaries at the beginning of work-from-home, but I didn’t, and now the situation has really gotten away from me. I can’t stand it. My weekends aren’t even safe from work. 

I have connections, and I could probably swing some freelancing if I tried. I’m not necessarily worried to try something new, but I guess I’m concerned that this is a rash decision. My body is well and truly tired of working from home, and it’s helped me to see what I really don’t like about my job. I feel deeply compelled to try something new, but I could torpedo my entire existence in the process. I also have my elderly parent to worry about. Should I move on and pursue the careers I studied for, or am I being rash?

A Powder Keg

Hey Powder Keg,

You understand your situation and your options very well, and you seem to already understand the risks of switching careers in a pandemic. I am legit jealous of your self-confidence and your belief in your abilities. You’re already a leader at work, so why not use the power inherent in your position to assert some much-needed boundaries with your team? If you have an editor above you, I recommend talking to them about it and letting them address the team if you’re worried about getting pushback. 

Something I did to establish better boundaries during work-from-home was to remove the Outlook email app from my phone. I was getting emails at all hours of the night, some from people who clearly expected responses at 9 p.m. on a Friday. So I made a rule to check my work email only on my laptop and during office hours, and I let my direct supervisor know. They’re a very “workers’ rights” type of person, so they fully had my back, and they passed this info up the chain of command for me. That way I never alienated people with the power to fire me, and I established the boundaries that I needed.

But if you wanna switch careers, go for it. I don’t know that I’d recommend you do so right now, especially while feeling so frustrated over a situation that can be rectified, but you have certifications and degrees that you want to put to use. Take a moment to be sure that you wanna make this change, and use that time to fix what’s wrong with your current situation. By then, you might have a clearer idea of what you want your future to look like.

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