Guide to resign respectfully while still work from home

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The continued Covid-19 pandemic has ushered in the largest working-from-home population in human history alongside a period of great economic uncertainty. Whether from a better job offer, pre-empting redundancy, or concern with how the employer has handled the crisis, many professionals are choosing to resign. This guide has been made to help those in the novel situation of having to resign virtually while keeping their professional reputation in good standing.

Why resign in this climate?

You may have been planning to leave your current position for a while and have just received news of a job offer. On the other hand, for those fearing the axe, it may be preferable to get ahead and resign rather than face redundancy.

Resigning can help an individual take back control of their career while maintaining a good professional reputation, reducing the unnecessary stress of uncertainty, and enabling them to find new employment in a less crowded candidate pool before further redundancies are made. Naturally, this course should only be undertaken by:

  • Professionals who have the financial security and the mental resilience to embrace change, and;
  • Professionals with a good job opportunity lined up and accepted, or; 
  • Professionals with a long-term plan on how they will use a break to move their career forwards, e.g. through further training or taking online courses.

Whatever your motivations, ensure that you comply with the relevant post-termination restrictions in your contract, because in most of the cases, breaching these, knowingly or not, makes for a bad leaving experience. Equally this doesn’t give your new employer the best impression of you!

How to resign virtually and stay on good terms

To leave in good standing, resignations should always be done face-to-face if possible. During the Covid-19 pandemic, this is easier said than done. However, video conferencing software should allow you to do so. Follow these top tips to resign virtually and stay on good terms:

  1. Make sure your boss hears about your resignation from you first and not through a rumor or from spotting your resume on an online portal.
  2. Ask your boss to have a 1:1 meeting on your company video conference software and note it is a matter of urgency.
  3. Test all your equipment and prepare to make a phone call instead if you experience technical difficulties.
  4. Reach an agreement with your boss on how others in the team will be told of your departure to minimize disruption.
  5. Keep your reasons for leaving brief and empathize with your employer.
  6. Maintain good eye contact by looking at the webcam and not the screen when you deliver the news.
  7. Make sure you are dressed professionally, your environment is tidy and presentable, and that you will not be disturbed during the call
  8. Send a formal resignation letter in an email. Include your contractual notice period, what you expect your final working day to be, give thanks for the opportunities, and cover your handover.

Further points to consider

  • You can negotiate your notice period by using up your outstanding leave
  • Be careful if a counteroffer is presented. The trust might already be broken with your employer by that point. Statistically, you will leave within six months after accepting a counter-offer anyway. (Note: Do not use resigning as a bargaining chip to see if you are considered ‘business-critical’)

Working your notice can always be awkward, so at least you won’t have to be around your team in-person once you have resigned. As with any exit, be professional and productive to leave on good terms.

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