I work as a SWE in big tech. My manager and I had a conversation regarding RTO. There might be a chance we go full week back to office. My manager feels this will be great for the team and wants us all to connect at the office. I go into the office once a week, my team does not go in. I live about 45 mins- 1 hour, no traffic, from my office.
I pushed back and asked to go remote so that I can come in once a week. I explained that I am worried about expectation that I have to be in at 9 am at my desk. My manager, understandably, explained that there is a lot of value in visibility and being able to mingle with co-workers. I am not against that, but if my team isn’t in the office in the first place, what’s the point? I left the meeting feeling a bit uncomfortable speaking out.
The question I have isn’t about remote vs RTO. I feel like that’s been done to death. My question is, was speaking out a bad idea? Should I have just said “yes okay”?
My approach here would depend on the context -- given what you said (thanks for the background!), I would just agree and then re-evaluate the situation over time.
The people at extremes have the most to lose, so they'll be the most vocal about the RTO policy. For example, they may have already moved out of state. Since the burden for you to come in is not that high, I'd see how things play out.
The thing with RTO policies (or any large-scale employee behavior change) is that they are always in flux. The company will try it out, determine that full-week is too much, then ask people to come in to the office just 2 days/week, and then eventually they may decide to make it optional.
You speaking out is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it could be viewed very positively if you phrase it as "I really want this RTO plan to succeed, so I want to ensure that there is a critical mass of the team here on the days that we come in. I'm wondering how you think about that, or if there are specific days we should pick to come in as we get started?"
If things are indeed fully back to in-person, and you don't like it, you can explore a different team, discuss more flexible work hours, or apply to be a full-time remote employee. Point is, there are lots of options you could explore at that point.