New here. So I just started my postdoc about a month ago (great time to start a postdoc during a pandemic I know). Learning the ropes and trying to kinda set my own path in the lab has been challenging and I find using my voice or voicing concerns to be hard. So my boss mentioned something about me possibly going to use a piece of equipment on another campus about 2.5 hrs away, it would require me to go daily for about two weeks. I don't really need this equipment for anything at the present moment but she has really dug her heels in about staying productive.

My biggest concern is I'm really serious about these stay at home orders and have been kinda putting that to the side to go to work daily. Because I am new I don't want to seem to difficult, but this recent idea just seems like too much in general let alone during these times.

I have a PhD and I thought that would magically make me more assertive alas it has not. Any ideas on how to tactfully set some boundaries especially since it is in regards to my health.

  • What country are you in?
    – astronat
    May 18 '20 at 20:59
  • @astronat I'm in the the US. My state is actually increasing in confirmed cases! And a friend of mine contracted Covid
    – Yvonne C.
    May 18 '20 at 21:00
  • 1
    This might be as well (better?) served in Interpersonal Skills.
    – CGCampbell
    May 19 '20 at 0:07
  • 3
    does your campus have COVID rules in place? Are you under a stay-at-home or safer-at-home order? May 19 '20 at 2:45
  • 3
    Also, five hours of commuting a day is obviously absurd. How have people handled using this equipment before. May 19 '20 at 2:46

5h commute a day for 2 weeks is not acceptable, pandemic or not. To play it tactfully, I would ask the supervisor to pay for accommodation there for these 2 weeks. This will force your supervisor to:

  • pay for it, so reconsider whether it is worth it.
  • if she pays officially for it, she must check whether that trip is authorized by the university considering the pandemic, I know mine has forbidden all travel. I think it is reasonable to ask for accommodation but would end up being a graceful way of dodging the bullet.
  • No matter how far it is, the OP should be compensated for their travel at the bare minimum, usually at the IRS rate (~$0.50/mi), since it's not their typical "duty station." Depending on the nature of the experiment, doing long days for a shorter visit would be reasonable, I think, as would be not paying for the OP to stay over the middle weekend. But, all a negotiation. Aug 6 '20 at 16:20
  • 1
    In normal circumstances I think this is good advice. However, I would argue that staying at a hotel in a different city, where you are forced to eat out for every meal, is less safe than commuting the 5 hours doing what research needs to be done in the most efficient manner, and staying at home the rest of the time. Aug 7 '20 at 2:57

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