As more people move home with their parents during these crazy times, “Mom, I’m home!” is something heard increasingly often- and not just by kids.
Last year TD Ameritrade released a survey called The Boomerang Generation which said that 50% of Gen Z were planning on moving back home after college. Flash forward to March of this year when the NY Post reported an increase in even forty-somethings moving in with their parents during quarantine. In April, the L.A. Times ran a story about some people moving out of homes shared with multiple roommates and back in with their parents or extended family. For still others, the pandemic meant moving home to care for elderly or unwell parents.
But living in your parent’s home during a pandemic probably means working from home as well. And life is stressful enough right now without having to worry whether your boss knows you’re Zooming from your childhood bedroom. (Spoiler alert: the original Beverly Hills 90210 poster hanging on the wall behind you is in fact a total giveaway). So, should you come clean and let your boss know you’ve moved back home?
“There is no downside to sharing your living situation with your boss,” said Anne Corley Baum, the Lehigh Valley executive and vice president, distribution channels & labor relations for Capital BlueCross; she’s also author of “Small Mistakes, Big Consequences Develop Your Soft Skills to Help You Succeed.” Baum said “There are many reasons that one would return home: saving money, waiting for new home to be available, helping a family member, having your family help you, etc. and you have to do what’s best for you and your family.” But sometimes that means that you’ll also have to shift your work hours as well. For instance, if you’re caring for someone with a rigid medication schedule or an unpredictable temperament, you might have to tell your boss about it. The reason being that if you don’t respond to emails or Slack updates your boss might think you’re slacking off instead of just shifting your own schedule.
That said, “There is no requirement to share this information with anyone at work – it’s your personal business,” Baum said. “And there’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of in moving home. If you do decide to share the information, don’t make it a big deal and share the information casually.”
Some ways to let your boss know you’re moving back home or are already there:
- Casually mention the fact that you want to update your address with HR. Test the waters and see if your supervisor reacts, acts weird or simply goes about the task at hand.
- You might actually want to ask HR about any changes to your benefits or other job elements if you change states. In that case it’s a conversation you really do need to have.
- Let your co-worker know that you are so excited to enjoy your morning run near the ocean (or whatever is near you these days) and add that since you moved home with your parents for X months, you intend to take advantage of nearby attractions.
- Or just spell it out. Explain to HR or your boss that you’ll be caring for an ill relative and might at times have to work at night or weekends to complete your load. If your boss wants to talk about it, don’t kvetch. Present it as just another element of life right now.
- While you’re at it, if a relative’s poor health motivated the move, maybe ask HR if there are any leave plans available as well, even if it’s just for a few days until you’re used to being back home.
Then again, it’s entirely possible that you think telling your boss you’re back home for the foreseeable future is a terrible idea.
Some people feel that moving back home makes them seem less competent or efficient. If you have a chip on your shoulder about it, there’s a chance you’ll bring that to your work with you. The flip side is that keeping all that to yourself might also show in your work.
Whatever you decide, “Trust your inner wisdom,” advises Gina Marotta, a career coach and spiritual guide who formerly was a defense attorney for some of Chicago’s highest profile criminal cases. Marotta said “In some situations it would be important to tell your boss that you are moving back home with your parents. For example, if you have become a caretaker for a parent due to loss of a spouse or illness, your inner wisdom may tell you that you need your boss’s understanding.” In addition to that, she said “You may require a flexible schedule to take your parent to doctor’s appointments or handle household or caretaking chores.”
But it really is all about trusting your instinct. There could be times when you know in your gut that telling your boss you’ve moved home would be a huge mistake. As Marotta explained, “In another scenario, your inner wisdom might tell you that sharing about living with your parents would not support your goals. Let’s say for example you are experiencing financial strain paying off debt or working on steadying yourself to live within your financial means,” she said. In this situation, you might already feel too vulnerable or “like you are opening yourself up to your boss’s judgement of your choices or lifestyle to share about moving in with family,” Marotta continued. As with anything in your career, she said “You want to trust your instincts and do what feels most aligned for you to show up to work feeling confident and ready to be your best. So, if telling your boss you live at home with your parents feels embarrassing, you certainly don’t owe your boss that information.”
Whatever you do decide, “Never be embarrassed by what you decide to do to get through life! If your colleagues and boss make a negative judgment about you because of the move, that is their issue,” Baum said and “not yours.”