How to navigate a career change, drugs in the workplace, and the problem with the hybrid work model

As you rightly point out, the thousands of articles being published about new hybrid working environments and the concept of “work from anywhere” does not apply to most workers in manufacturing, hospitals, schools, emergency services, agriculture and so much more.


Within any one company, that disconnect is going to be felt more acutely and runs the risk of the workplace culture suffering as resentment builds between those who can have flexibility and those who can’t. I think your supervisor could do more to assist by raising the issue with their boss and getting creative about finding a level of flexibility for the manufacturing team.

It may look very different to what your office-based colleagues get, but even having some flexibility around rostered days off or selecting shifts may be a welcome change. Ultimately, it is important that you and your workmates feel heard and respected and that seems to be the missing piece of the puzzle right now.

I think my boss has a problem with drugs. He comes into the office at different times each day. Sometimes he’s aggressive and other times he seems spaced out. I’ve heard rumours that he takes drugs at parties but I’ve never seen him do anything at work so I don’t really know. I don’t like working around him when he is not himself and I feel uncomfortable with how he acts and what he says. I don’t really know who to speak to or whether I can say anything since I don’t know for sure. What do you recommend?

If you are feeling uncomfortable around your boss, it doesn’t really matter whether it is due to drugs or some other reason. You don’t need to wait for evidence that he is taking drugs as you have every right to feel safe at work regardless of the reason.

Is there anyone else at work who shares your concerns? If so, I would recommend you go together to HR or someone senior you trust and ask for advice. If your boss is being aggressive, it’s important you speak up soon before he potentially hurts someone else, or himself.

Whether it is drugs or not, aggression and unsafe behaviour is unacceptable and needs to be addressed.

Send your questions about work, careers and leadership to [email protected]. Your name and any identifying information will not be used. Letters may be edited.

Dr Kirstin Ferguson is a non-executive director, author and regular columnist. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the QUT Business School and former Deputy Chair of the ABC.

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