5 Signs WFH is Making Your Relationship With Your Boss Toxic

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Those of us who are new to the whole work from home gig are getting used to the routines, habits and, for some of us, homeschool tools we need to keep ourselves afloat. But one characteristic of our new life that seems to lag a few weeks behind is our understanding of work relationships. Sure, I know now how I should relate to my alarm clock and my partner and my sweatpants (we're best friends), but when it comes to my colleagues, it's a whole different story. We're working through an unprecedented economic crisis that's resulted in tens of millions of job losses. At the same time, we're surviving through a pandemic that will cause many of us to grieve and suffer. What is a "normal" professional relationship now? Should we be spilling our guts, counting our blessings, crying it out or what
The hard thing is there's no precedent for how we should react to this on a human level. While the baseline should be kindness and sensitivity, there's probably a margin of error within which we should allow the people we care about to exist. That said, there are certainly ways people — especially those in power — shouldn't be acting. This is no time for toxic behavior as the result of opportunity or crassness or whatever other reason. 

Has your relationship with your boss turned toxic as the result of our strange work from home scenario? Here are five signs it has. 

1. Requests are made at all hours of the day or night — and often with shrouded threats. 

Here's the thing: Yes, there are a lot of people who are unemployed. However, no good leader holds the fact that you're employed and other people aren't against you. If you're getting requests at all hours — often for things that aren't really urgent — and those requests are coupled with reminders of how luck you are to be employed, how busy your company is or how quickly things can change, your boss is being toxic. The fact that you'll likely be home isn't an excuse for them to send that unwarranted email at 11 P.M. 

2. They're constantly questioning what you've done or asking for proof of your work. 

Unless you're on a performance improvement plan, your boss shouldn't be asking for receipts for every minute of every work day. If you're suddenly getting requests to log your hours, CC them in all your emails, or check in via messenger to prove you're busy at work, they're letting their insecurities turn them toxic. 

3. Your professional conversations have started to veer much too much into their personal life. 

I get it, we're all feeling a little lonely right now. But your boss shouldn't be taking advantage of the fact that you have to listen to them. If your meetings are starting to become more about their husband making them mad than your projects or if they're starting to contact you off the clock to vent about things and that's not your standard relationship, it's a sign your communication is off the tracks. 

4. You're being excluded from important conversations. 

Exclusion, like passive aggression, is a common form of being unprofessional in a "suave" way, often as the result of insecurity. If your boss has taken advantage of your physical absence to leave you out of meetings or conversations you'd normally be a part of — and they haven't explained why — that's a sign something has gone sour. 

5. Your communications have gotten more passive aggressive

While we're all on edge, your boss shouldn't be taking it out on the weaker guy. There's never an excuse for unprofessional backhanded compliments, rude insinuations or passive aggressive requests and comments. 

6. Your boss doesn't acknowledge your efforts. 

Everyone is making sacrifices to work and exist in the world right now — it's up to leaders to acknowledge those efforts on their team. If your boss is asking for more and more without giving even an acknowledgement of your hard work, that's a sure sign that your relationship is headed into toxic territory. If it's coupled with strange requests, poor communication and other unprofessional conduct, that's even worse. 

7. You're feeling exhausted and stifled. 

A culmination of the above signs, if you're leaving work or individual conversations with your boss feeling more deflated and disheartened than usual, it's a sign that something toxic may be going on.