Q: Your company has decided to go back to the office, but you don’t feel safe doing that yet. How should you handle the situation?

A: Communicate your fears to your employer. For peace of mind, find out what safety protocols have been put in place. Things are going to feel awkward for a while. But the rules of social etiquette still apply. It’s all about feeling comfortable and having others around you feel comfortable. When in doubt, refer to the core values of etiquette: respect and consideration.

You can try to negotiate the specifics of your return. Perhaps you can reach an agreement to continue to work from home for a few more weeks until you feel comfortable. Or, if you have a job that can’t be done from home, maybe you can arrange for a leave of absence.

When it’s time to go back to the office, make every effort to abide by the guidelines put in place by health officials.

JACQUELYN YOUST, etiquette expert and owner of Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol


A: This is such a difficult situation because it pits your financial security against your physical security.

The first step is communication: Talk to your boss and ask if you can do your job remotely. The biggest concern for many managers is that you remain accessible and accountable. Address that head-on by being the one to bring it up in the discussion.

If this approach doesn’t work, then you will have a tough choice to make. Can you afford to be unemployed? If you need this job to sustain you financially, then you will have to head back to work in as safe a way as possible.

SAMANTHA ETTUS, work/life balance expert and author of “The Pie of Life”