Under covid lockdown, boss continually pressures me to come to work to "hang out" even though I'm a software developer and company policy is that we work from home. I'm starting to get pretty uncomfortable with the pressure. What should I do?
I have a job that I generally really like. I started remotely (I'm in U.S. -- covid nightmare, etc). I'm a software developer, and it is natural and easy to work from home. I work as part of a software team that loans out developers to subdivisions of the organization to do stuff. We developers are all work from home, while others in the org are "essential" and work at the office.
It turns out the subdivision where I have been assigned, the boss is very thirsty socially. A bit after I started the boss initiated "in person" lunch meetings just about every week, where everyone gets together to ... do lunch. At first I was like "OK" I live sort of far away and this is two hours of getting nothing done and driving and just sitting there masked and eating and awkward and then driving back home.
I talked to other people in the software team, and no other subdivisions do this, and the other devs were like "lol Hell no -- that is completely unnecessary and we have very bad covid here". I have started to try to politely say no to half these lunches -- they are by no means required, my office is at home, my kids are at home doing school, I am ok meeting people on zoom, etc. But people have started to say things about it like I must not like them (jokes, but I do feel sensitive about it). I don't have the same covid clearance they do, so it is not really the same me coming in for lunch as it is them already being there and having lunch together.
The boss is the one setting the tone and it percolates down to the others in the group. Boss is clearly very lonely, anxious, and not handling covid lockdown very well (this is boss's own words -- they tend to overshare). Boss really wants to be around people, and almost every time we talk they tell me how nice it would be to see me in person. I find this very awkward and off-putting, frankly. There is a ambient pressure to come in when it is not what I am supposed to do as a software developer. This is literally company policy. I have reminded boss of this (always politely, basically "I know this is tough, but I'd like to hold off until the company has a policy in place about this"), and when I do they act cool like I have insulted them personally.
I really do love this job, love the work, and I don't want to be a bad team player. But I am starting to have anxiety about this way beyond the days it typically comes up, and have even started to look at other jobs because I feel the boss has baggage/issues I am sick of dealing with.
I wonder what I might do to deal with it better, in a professional way. I'm becoming less efficient at work, and that really sucks.
Note it is a big company, with HR, with a boss above my boss who is super professional, and lots and lots of people. So if I had to, I could talk to people. But I don't want to create ripples if I don't have to. Also I realize I could be being oversensitive here and wanted to just check in on that too.