I don’t want to spend a week in a remote cabin with coworkers while I’m pregnant

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A reader writes:

We’re working on a product redesign and as part of the process, it’s been suggested that the team goes offsite for a week to bang out the details. “Offsite” meaning the entire team (co-ed) going to stay in some remote cabin in the mountains, retreat style, where we have to share bedrooms and bathrooms, and close quarters as we’d be living, eating, and working in said cabin for the full week.

I hate this. For several reasons, but most of all right now, I hate it because I’m pregnant. No one wants to share a bedroom with me right now with the amount of times I get up in the middle of the night to pee (TMI, sorry) and also, I don’t want to be out in some remote location far away from a hospital in case anything should happen with the pregnancy.

Our other option is to go to a resort, with individual rooms where we would sleep, modern amenities, and meeting rooms for our working sessions as opposed to working in the living room of some cabin.

Everyone seems to like the cabin idea better except me and one other person. I have mentioned my preferences, but everyone is plowing forward with this cabin idea and I’m stressed.

Any thoughts on how to swing the vote in the other direction without being the annoying pregnant person? Am I the only one who things this cabin thing is a bad idea?

Um, you are absolutely not alone. There are legions of people who would hate this idea.

“Majority rules” is a fine way to make some decisions (like where to go to lunch or what the theme of the company holiday party will be). But there are some things where it’s not reasonable for the majority to rule — where the thing being voted on would be so unpleasant for the minority that it’s not reasonable to decide by vote. Spending a week in a remote cabin with your coworkers is one of those.

And that would be true even if you weren’t pregnant. But your pregnancy does make it really easy to say a flat-out no to this. You can say it to your team or to your manager, depending on your relationship with each. If you have a pretty reasonable team, I’d shut it down with them. As in:  “I’m all for going off-site for a week, but the cabin option isn’t doable for me. Being pregnant rules it out for a number of reasons, including that I’m not able to be so far away from a hospital in case of a problem. This isn’t about preference; it’s about it not being possible. At all.”

If that doesn’t work, or if you’re not comfortable saying it to them, then you say the same thing to your manager.

That’s really all it should take. It’s a reasonable stance, and it should be understood by even halfway reasonable people.

If, however, you are working with highly unreasonable people who push forward with this plan regardless, then you go back to your manager and say, “How should we handle the off-site since, as I mentioned, I can’t currently spend a week in a remote cabin?”

Again, note that this is about “I can’t,” not “I don’t want to.”

And seriously, people. I know that some of you love this kind of thing — but others dislike it so strongly and with such legitimate reasons that if even one person on your team isn’t up for it, you need to find a different option, not go with majority rules.

{ 557 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Anon

    I assume that your company will have insurance cover for this trip in case anything happens – so if they are really unreasonable (and I’m with Alison that they’d have to be to push ahead with this after you raise such a reasonable objection) you might like to ask whether their insurance will cover a pregnant woman in a remote location with no access to health-care should anything happen. Even if it does, that might be a good way to make them think about the risks they’d be asking you to take.

    Also, I know it sucks, but could you use up holiday for that week? You completely shouldn’t have to, but it would be a way of getting out of it if they were bull-headed enough to push ahead anyway.

    You have my deepest sympathy whatever happens, and I really hope that they are responsive to “I can’t”. Good luck! Please let us know what happens.

    (And congratulots on the pregnancy =D)

    Reply
    1. Zillah

      The major issue I see with that is that the OP may be hoping to save whatever time off she has for after she has the baby. :\

      Reply
  2. AdAgencyChick

    I remember seeing this in the open thread on Friday and having my jaw on the floor.

    OP, I’d just go straight to my manager and say, “About the offsite — because of my pregnancy, I can’t be in a remote location so far from medical care. What should we do?” If TPTB desperately want this trip to happen, and to happen in that location, any halfway decent manager would go to bat for you to at least be excused from the exercise.

    Pregnant or not pregnant, the idea of spending an entire week in a remote location with only my coworkers for company, SHARING BEDROOMS, sounds like something Satan devised to torture especially evil people in hell. You have my sympathies.

    Reply
    1. Penny

      +1. Who wants to spend a whole week sharing a bedroom and bathroom with coworkers, plus all day working with them? One night sharing is bad enough even with someone you like. What’s up with your coworkers?

      Reply
    2. Brittany

      Sharing bedrooms seems to be this weird thing where people do things that are very clearly NOTOKAY. I worked for a hospital once where my (male) manager booked myself and another male co-worker into a single hotel room with a king size bed. We were not dating and not even friends really. When I raised concerns he had no idea why this would bother me.

      Reply
    3. J.B.

      Eww, eww, eww! Most of the time I was pregnant I slept in a different room than my husband who is, you know, the person who made the baby with me!!! Aside from the peeing there was the crazy light sleeping and I wouldn’t have been even halfway functional otherwise. So sorry to OP this is crazy!

      Reply
  3. hilde

    I just marvel at how inconsiderate coworkers can be sometimes. Like Alison says, if it was a preference thing and you just didn’t prefer to go to the cabin that’s one thing. But you are pregnant for pete’s sake!!

    I’m curious exactly how this part went down (“I have mentioned my preferences, but everyone is plowing forward with this cabin idea and I’m stressed.”). Did you couch it as your preference? Or did you remind them that it’s more about your pregnancy? Even if they are generally a considerate group of people, maybe they are just being obtuse.

    Reply
    1. PJ

      I can’t agree with the part about “if it was a preference thing and you just didn’t prefer to go to the cabin that’s one thing.”

      I would not go. Would. Not. Go. Period. And I’m not pregnant. It’s a preference. A choice. Not doing it. I would skype in every day or whatever, but this is ridiculous. What are these people THINKing?!

      However, LW, please play the pregnancy card. My way would likely get me fired.

      Reply
      1. hilde

        I totally agree with you that it’s horrendous. I would not be terribly excited about that prospect, either and I love my colleagues and the woods (just not together).

        Where I was coming from, but probably wasn’t clear, was from her leadership’s standpoint. They might be tempted to look at her request to not do the cabin as, “well, that’s just her preference.” And I do understand management saying, “too bad, so sad.” It happens and it’s, sadly, a manager’s perogative to make the team do something together, even when it’s a wildly unpopular idea. It doesn’t make it right, but it still happens and I’d argue it’s still within a manager’s scope to do that.

        Reply
      2. Saturn9

        Both are valid objections and should be considered before a decision is made but instructing someone to do something they don’t want to do is very different from instructing someone to do something they shouldn’t do for medical reasons.

        Personally, I’d be playing the “I don’t wanna” card but I wouldn’t expect it to count as hard in my favor as an “I legitimately can’t because reasons” card.

        Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I agree! I don’t have the OP’s email address for this one because she asked it in last week’s open thread (after which I immediately claimed it for its own post), so OP, I can’t follow up with you … so you must remember to send in an update.

      Reply
  4. Chocolate Teapot

    I can’t help thinking that the person who came up with this idea was related to the super-athletic-all-action supervisor from last week.

    Isn’t there anything like a mountain resort available? I am thinking of nice alpine town (or equivalent) with easy access to medical facilities .

    Reply
    1. Judy

      In an earlier job, my husband was lucky enough to go to lots of conferences. They were held off season at resorts. So he was going to the mountains in the summer, and the mid-Atlantic ocean resorts in the winter. I understood it was much cheaper, and the locations had very good transportation options.

      Reply
      1. KJR

        Make that three of us. I haven’t been pregnant in almost 15 years, and I STILL wouldn’t want to have anything to do with this situation. The pregnancy makes it that much more untenable!

        Reply
        1. Ruffingit

          I am not now nor have I ever been pregnant and I still wouldn’t want to do this. I don’t even like staying with close friends when I go places. I prefer having my own space. Cabin in the woods with co-workers? I’d be HOPING there was a guy with a chainsaw ready to kill us all in the woods because that would be preferable.

          Reply
  5. Joey

    I disagree that you should cancel plans for one person unless its something like a medical accommodation. There are just too many opinions to be able to get everyone to agree. Majority rules is pretty fair in my book.

    That said I’d also find it a bit questionable if the worry about potential medical issues was out of character or not. Its one thing to truly be worried. It’s another to use the pregnancy as an excuse simply because she didn’t want to go.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      There are indeed too many options for everyone to agree, but one person feeling strongly that they don’t want to spend a week in a remote cabin with coworkers and shared bedrooms is so grounded in reasonable, understandable-in-the-mainstream concerns that I’d give anyone veto power over an option like that. Why make someone miserable (over things that many people would be miserable over, not just one particularly picky person) when there are so many alternatives in this scenario?

      Reply
        1. Anonymous

          I think there’s a huge difference between someone being a sore thumb and not going along with the culture of the workplace and a situation like this.

          Reply
        2. Mike C.

          No. Argumentum ad antiquitatem is not an appropriate justification.

          When it comes to situations like these, there comes a time when a business needs to grow up and act like an adult. I get that small start ups and family businesses might have “fun traditions”, but traditions that cause extreme discomfort, single people out for not being able to participate and so on need to be changed or ended entirely.

          Forcing everyone to give up their privacy and ability to reach serious medical help isn’t a good argument for keeping this project going.

          Reply
            1. Emma

              Seriously! Who is supposed to care for all the dependents (children, adult dependents, pets, etc.) left behind in this situation?! This “team building” exercise seems built and supported by people who can easily shift those responsibilities and gives no consideration for the folks who cannot.

              This whole thing reeks, especially, of penalizing working women (who disproportionately carry the burden of “second shift” work of caring for children and adults dependents).

              Reply
          1. Joey

            Not being able to and not wanting two are entirely different.

            Not being able to (as in not physically being able to) is something I would consider.

            Not wanting to isn’t a good reason to change plans for the group in and of itself.

            Reply
            1. the gold digger

              Seriously? I am supposed to bend my will to that of the majority for my free time? Because I don’t want to is a perfectly good reason not to do something that is far beyond what most reasonable people would consider work responsibilities.

              The majority does not get to rule on everything. It doesn’t even work that way in the US, which has been a democratic republic for a long time. We are not a pure democracy for this very reason – the tyranny of the majority.

              Reply
              1. Joey

                Sorry but in the professional world you don’t get to always pick and choose what you want to do if you want to remain employed .

                Reply
                1. the gold digger

                  I didn’t say that. I said that “because I don’t want to” is a legitimate reason for a group not to implement a plan. And really, this is not the hill a manager should want to die on. I would save my “do this or be fired” for something a lot more critical to the success of the business.

                  Again, I am glad I don’t work for you.

                2. QualityControlFreak

                  You missed an important part of what gd said. She said “I am supposed to bend my will to that of the majority for my free time?”

                  For my FREE time. THIS is the most reasonable part of this very reasonable objection. I’d be shocked if these folks are being PAID 24/7, yet in making this mandatory, the company is laying claim to their time 24/7. Not okay without 100% buy-in, regardless of legality.

                  FTR, I’ve been steadily employed for decades and while I haven’t always had the luxury to “pick and choose” what I want to do, I’ve yet to be forced to donate my time to any company in this manner.

                3. Just a Reader

                  Can I work for you? You sound awesome. And when I say awesome, I mean not awesome at all.

                  Requiring employees to endure something like this with the threat of remaining employed hanging over them if they speak out against it is not good management.

                4. Mike C.

                  This line of reasoning can be easily used to justify all sorts of illegal, unethical and demeaning behavior.

                5. Joey

                  Mike C,

                  That’s true and I know it happens. That’s why you have to weigh whether its worth the paycheck.

                6. KellyK

                  Just because an employer can do something doesn’t mean it’s reasonable.

                  Yes, you might have to undergo a completely unnecessary camping trip with your coworkers, or work 17-hour days, or pay out of pocket for work expenses. That doesn’t mean that the people requiring that of you are making good management decisions, or that you shouldn’t look for another job ASAP.

                7. Anonymous

                  A lot of arguments people are making – being away overnight, sharing rooms, not being paid 24/7, 24/7 manager accessibility, finding home and pet care, etc. – are all common themes of business travel. I am not advocating for this employer, and do believe someone with medical issues should be exempt from this and from travel, but excepting medical issues, how is this significantly different from business travel?

                8. Short'n'stout

                  @Anonymous: this is different from business travel because the employer has a choice about whether to conduct this exercise in a boardroom or in a remote cabin. Client visits, conventions, site inspections don’t come with that degree of choice.

                9. Jen in RO

                  Short’n’stout, this reasoning only works up to a point. I’ve been on/heard of business trips that could have been easily replaced with a Skype session, but the people involved still had to go.

              2. Ask a Manager Post author

                Right, but we’re not talking about what employers CAN do, but rather what they SHOULD do. And it’s very, very reasonable to say that employers won’t make this kind of demand on people, and that it’s not even in their best interest to make the demand if they have people who will reasonably resent it.

                Reply
            2. Mike C.

              It’s a good thing that people are disagreeing with this trip because they have specific reasons for not wanting to go rather than not wanting to “just because”.

              Reply
              1. Zillah

                Yeah, I feel like very few people have reasons limited to “just because.” Sure, there are situations in which it’s reasonable to say, “Suck it up and deal” regardless… but this is not one of them.

                For me, personally, having so little privacy would really make my ability to keep certain health conditions that I’d rather not broadcast private. I also have serious allergies that are difficult to control when I’m sharing space with other people. Yeah, I’d be pretty pissed off if someone expected this of me.

                Reply
            3. HM in Atlanta

              Choosing this hill to die on is why I now have to deal with fake medical maladies. I personally never enjoyed the on-the-lake brainstorming junkets that were so popular at my company. I went, but hated them. How much do you think I contributed in those situations? I wasn’t the only one.

              The best part was that no one ever looked at the outcome of the trips. Not the business outcome, nor the number of people who would be out over the following 2 weeks while they recovered from the trip (and also caught up on the non-negotiables in their lives). Over time, the medical excuses for avoiding the trip got better and better. I wish I could frame some of them.

              There are many reasons that businesses aren’t majority-rule democracies. This situation gets added to the bucket.

              Reply
              1. EE

                You’re reminding me of when I was 15 and didn’t want to play hockey. I persuaded my mother to write a note to my school asking me to be excused because of my epilepsy. This was patently ridiculous (hockey is in no way a trigger and if I happen to have a seizure on a hockey ground it’s no worse than, say, a path) but nobody wants to mess with epilepsy so I got away with it.

                Reply
            4. Rayner

              Yeah, it is a good reason to change plans.

              When someone is unwilling to do something that is so far outside their normal work environment because they don’t want do something, it is up to the management to reconsider.

              There are other far far better solutions to this team project issue that they have rather than packing an entire unit of people off to a remote cabin.

              Because of that, “I don’t want to” is a perfectly legitimate reason to not want to go.

              Someone else on the OP’s team might think: I don’t want to endure temperature extremes. I don’t want to share a room with someone I barely know outside of work. I don’t want to spend seven days crammed in a tiny building with twelve other people. I don’t want to be accessible to my manager for twenty four hours a day for seven straight days with little time or space to myself in between work sessions. I don’t want to have to find pet care and house sitters when we could do this at the office.

              Do you see how reasonable it is to say actually, “I don’t want to?” when there are so many other solutions that are much much better than the one the manager’s took?

              Reply
              1. OP

                This. At the time I wrote the original comment, I only knew of one other person who didn’t like this idea. As of today, at least half the people are against it. That’s the problem with majority rules: sometimes people are afraid to speak up, but once one does, others will join. So if I had never spoken up, no one would have and the “majority” do not, in fact, want to go, for all kinds of very valid reasons.

                Reply
                1. AdAgencyChick

                  This is thoroughly unsurprising. OP, I’m sorry you had to be the one to speak up, but man, if not for your pregnancy, I bet no one would have had the guts to say anything. I hope management puts the kibosh on this idea now that it’s becoming clear so few people actually want to do it.

                2. Say it

                  ” As of today, at least half the people are against it.”

                  Another reason to speak up, people.

                  Another reason that this “I disagree that you should cancel plans for one person unless its something like a medical accommodation” is often not valid unless there are measures in place to get honest information out of everyone. In a typical group of ten or 20 where there are a variety of personalities and levels of power, having just one person complain is probably representative of some number of other people wanting to complain but not being able or willing to.

                  Also, gold digger, thanks for sharing that concept “Going to Abilene Paradox”

                3. MiaRose

                  Good to hear this…I think people sometimes are afraid to speak up, and many workplaces create an environment that discourages speaking up about these things.

                4. EE

                  And one day you can tell your child about how he or she saved Mummy’s coworkers from a terrible fate. :)

            5. Observer

              Any employer that would force any employee into this kind of situation DESERVES to have a massive failure come out of this.

              The plan is so dramatically unreasonable that putting anyone under pressure to accommodate it is the problem. Have you ever heard of the “tyranny of the majority”? Well, this is a classic example. Choice of cuisine or even of resorts is one thing. Forcing even one person to go beyond inconvenience (inherent in making everyone go away for a week) to stripping them of their privacy to accommodate the majority is simply not acceptable.

              Should someone be required to go to a strip club, or a nudist colony that requires everyone to go naked, to suit the majority? I’m not claiming that anyone is going to be physically stripped here, but the set up here is definitely one where privacy goes out the window.

              Reply
            6. Vicki

              Sorry. Wrong.
              If this was a social thing, the rest of the group would just go.
              This is work. The goal os the product redesign. It can be done in the office. It can be done during the day at a remote site.
              There are no “plans” that need a “good reason” to be changed for the group. The only plan that matters is the product redesign.

              Reply
          2. Jamie

            Huge round of applause to Mike C for busting one of my favorite Latin phrases. (and ITA with everything else he said.)

            Reply
      1. Jessa

        Plus why should someone have to go into a long laundry list of medical reasons. This is not some kind of major conference in the mountains or something where dozens of companies are going. There is no way someone with my disabilities would be able to do this either.

        Reply
      2. Saturn9

        What about something like a reverse-majority for this sort of thing: The option that is least objectionable to the most people wins?

        Those who want to go to the cabin may prefer that but not really object to the resort while those who want to go to the resort likely have some sort of coherent objection to the cabin.

        To be clear, I’m willing to admit that there could be coherent objections to privacy, resort amenities and individual rooms even if I can’t imagine what those objections are.

        Reply
    2. Cathy

      If we’re talking about a weekly staff meeting…in the office, during office hours…then, yeah, don’t cancel it just because one person can’t make it. But sequestering the entire department/team in a remote location, no, that needs full team buy-in in my book.

      Reply
      1. KellyK

        Yeah, I totally agree. If you signed up for a job on a drilling rig or a boat or something, then you’ve already volunteered to be sequestered with your coworkers in remote areas. In an office job, no. That’s way outside the bounds of what you signed up for.

        Reply
    3. Victoria Nonprofit

      As much as I would hate doing something like this, I actually agree with the first paragraph. If everyone else thinks it sounds fantastic, why should one person’s preferences derail the idea? I do think it’s reasonable for the dissenter to argue strongly and make clear how unhappy it would make her, but I also think it would be ok to decide to go with the majority anyway.

      … but I don’t agree with that second paragraph. If someone has an objectively reasonable explanation for why something like this can’t work, it’s not anybody’s business to reflect on whether they are using that reason as some sort of excuse.

      Reply
      1. Jen in RO

        I agree. Getting more than 2 people to agree on something is hard-to-impossible, so I don’t see a way to arrange *anything* involving a team that makes everyone happy.

        As for the pregnancy being an excuse or not – well, I’d definitely use it even if I wasn’t worried from a medical point of view!

        Reply
        1. Mike C.

          No, it’s not hard to impossible. There are plenty of ways to measure preferences while maintaining a somewhat democratic system.

          Look up Condorcet voting, it’s not difficult at all.

          Reply
          1. Joey

            Depends. Id much rather have 1 person miserable with a great overall outcome than no one miserable with a mediocre outcome.

            Reply
            1. Zahra

              The OP says that previous similar retreats had no good outcome. So you’re deciding between making a person miserable for a (at best) so-so outcome, or no one miserable with a mediocre outcome. There’s no contest: make no one miserable.

              Reply
            2. MiaRose

              I can’t stomach this comment. Would you agree with this even if you were the one personal miserable? For a week?

              It has been commented that similar retreats in the past have not worked.

              Reply
              1. Lyda Rose

                + 1,000. People’s away-from-work lives have value, too. Besides, if someone is utterly miserable, how much of an asset do you think they will be?

                Reply
            3. The Clerk

              That doesn’t surprise me at all. Especially since, as pointed out by an anon downthread, the “one person miserable” in a majority-rules situation is usually a woman. I knew as soon as I saw the question that you’d have some misogynistic take on the situation couched as concerns about “fit” or “adaptability” or…faking disability like women do because we’re not cut out for the corporate world.

              Reply
                1. GeekChic #1

                  That’s interesting. I wouldn’t use those descriptors to describe Joey. Argumentative, obtuse and unwilling to see other points of view other than his own – now we’re talking.

                2. Ask a Manager Post author

                  I think that’s wildly unfair and I can’t recognize Joey at all in that list of adjectives. I’m actually shocked by that.

                  I am strongly, strongly opposed to statements like this about commenters here, particularly when presented as a general characterization of someone (to the point that I’m considering removing it, which is rare). This kind of thing drives people away from commenting here, and can suppress dissenting viewpoints. Please refrain.

                  I very much appreciate Joey’s contributions here.

                3. Joey

                  If it were up to me I’d leave them up. It’s interesting to see that people so strongly disagree what I’ve found through experience to be reasonable, rational solutions that are frequently the best outcome that can reasonably be expected in a typical company.

              1. Anonymous

                I haven’t seen major misogyny from Joey so I can’t agree with that, but I have definitely seen a ton of “suck it up, princess” type stuff from him and it’s gotten to the point that I just skip over any of his comments. I mean, yes, sometimes you DO have to suck it up even if it’s unfair or unreasonable, but that doesn’t make hearing someone constantly defend the unfair and the unreasonable any more palatable.

                Reply
            4. RobM

              The problem is that if you don’t get that great outcome then you can’t get a refund on the money you’ve spent on this as a manager, and your team certainly can’t get a refund on the personal and professional time that could otherwise have been spent on great personal and professional outcomes.

              Is there anything here that couldn’t reasonably be achieved with a local off-site event with less disruption to employees and smaller losses in the event of a mediocre outcome?

              Reply
            5. Observer

              You can be sure it won’t happen – ESPECIALLY in such a setting.

              Besides the specific issues that the OP is going to have because of her pregnancy, consider that the effect on morale of one person (if it really does turn out to be one person) who is miserable can be pretty devastating under normal circumstances, and it generally shows up in the results. Now add in that NO ONE CAN GET AWAY FROM THE MISERY. How on earth do you think this is going to work out?

              Besides, employers who makes it clear that they don’t give a flip about making someone miserable if it gets them results have a hard time keeping the kinds of staff can make things happen effectively rather than just taking orders.

              Reply
            6. Lindsay J

              Yes, but this is a bit of a false binary here.

              You can also have “great outcome nobody miserable” and “bad outcome everybody miserable” as outcomes (and lots of other in-betweens).

              And the location of this offsite doesn’t seem to be tied into it’s success, so doing it in this cabin doesn’t guarantee that there will be a better outcome than doing it in a hotel, while it does guarantee that at least one person will be miserable.

              Reply
        2. Jamie

          It’s the level of severity that’s the issue.

          I hate Mexican food. If we did a mandatory lunch where I had to go, and the majority wanted Mexican I would suck it up and go rather than try to find something everyone was thrilled about.

          The imposition is minimal. I have a crappy lunch – small price to pay.

          The imposition of having co-workers sleep in the same room and cloister in a remote cabin is huge – even without the access to medical facilities issue.

          It’s about what’s reasonable and when it comes to social constructs and boundaries it means what’s reasonable to most of society.

          I’m sure if polled the vast majority of people wouldn’t think it a hardship to go to a restaurant you hate for a work lunch but most people would be horrified at being required to sleep in the same bedroom as a co-worker.

          Reply
          1. KellyK

            Yes, definitely. Miserable is not a binary state—there are levels. Asking someone who’s pregnant to share close quarters with other employees 24/7 for a week in a remote location is way out there toward the “excessive” side of the spectrum, while a crappy lunch is way over on the “whatever, suck it up” side.

            Reply
      2. Artemesia

        there is nothing mission critical about being forced to sleep with co-workers and share bathrooms in a remote cabin. forcing people to do this is insane. there are people with IBS, or other difficult problems that they manage discretely but cannot manage easily in this setting. there are dietary issues that people with issues can manage discretely, but are hard when everyone is dishing up chili at the remote cabin.

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      3. Observer

        Because the choice in question is outlandish and this fact could be clear to management.

        As I said in another comment, if you had someone saying that they don’t like this resort, and want THAT resort, you would have an argument. But, when you have a setup where there are so many concerns, even if only one person objects, you have a problem.

        And, as the OP’s update shows, in many cases your “single objector” is not the only one – just the only one who had the courage to speak up!

        Reply
    4. AHK

      Even in a low risk pregnancy, you’d never want to be far from medical care. Lots of things can go wrong in a pregnancy, expected or not. I have a hard time labelling something like this as using pregnancy as an excuse.

      Reply
      1. AnotherAlison

        +1000

        I’d just consider myself blessed if I didn’t want to go & I had the perfect built in excuse of being pregnant.

        I’m not super-worried about medical emergencies, but my second child came 3 weeks early. . .and 5 days after I returned from a business trip! I’ve known enough women to have premature labor in the weeks when it’s still really dangerous that I wouldn’t risk it. (These are generally situations where everything is perfectly fine right up until it isn’t.)

        Reply
      2. OP

        Yes, thank you! I have a sister-in-law who was extremely healthy and had a low-risk pregnancy and all of a sudden had to have an emergency C-section at 7 months pregnant because of unforeseen (until then) medical issues. It happens.

        Comments like Joey’s actually kind of enrage me. It’s that attitude that perpetuates discrimination against pregnancy. It’s not an excuse. It’s definitely hard and worth the medical consideration, even if it’s a low-risk pregnancy.

        Reply
        1. OP

          I should note, my sister-in-law and her baby would have died if she had been in a remote location and unable to get treatment fast enough. So yeah. It’s not an excuse. It’s a legitimate concern.

          Reply
          1. KJR

            Absolutely and glad you spoke up on this one. Pregnancy and childbirth are so highly unpredictable. You are right to be concerned, and I back you 100% on this.

            Reply
          2. annie

            This happened to a friend’s wife when she was on a business trip. My friend was frantically trying to get on a flight to make it there and the doctor was telling him that she and the baby would probably be dead by the time he arrived. Miraculously they survived because they happened to be near one of the best hospitals on the East Coast, but they were stuck in a different state with a very sick baby and mom in ICU for at least four months, with no loved ones nearby and unable to work. Today the baby is fine, but it was very scary and touch and go for some weeks, and its why I would be cautious about traveling very far or alone if I had any medical condition.
            I actually love camping, often in remote areas, but part of my planning is making sure I know how to contact emergency services and where the hospitals are, and I accept that I am taking that risk.

            Reply
        2. Joey

          The reason for that comment was because you mentioned some pregnancy related reasons and some that weren’t. My worry is that that you can’t lean on the pregnancy reasons too hard to justify not going. Because if they do find a cabin with close medical care then what?

          Reply
          1. Jamie

            It wouldn’t matter – unless she took a job with the understanding that it would require constant travel (and from the letter this sounds like it’s a one off) it’s a reasonable expectation that a pregnant women would have access to her own doctors and facilities.

            And I think she can lean as hard on the pregnancy to justify not going as she has to – because she shouldn’t be in this position to begin with. In the global sense I hate that, since she shouldn’t need a medical reason to refuse – but for the OP personally absolutely she should hammer the pregnancy issues as hard as she has to because it’s ridiculous and there is an added layer of complication of being away from her doctors.

            I certainly wish the OP all the best and hope for an uneventful pregnancy – but it’s just prudent for her to be cautious because pregnancy complications can crop up with no warning and you want to be near home and your providers.

            Besides – during most of pregnancy it’s almost impossible to get a decent nights sleep in your own bed – I can’t even imagine trying to get comfortable enough to sleep when you can’t control your own environment.

            Reply
          2. aebhel

            You seem to be operating under the belief that this is a reasonable thing to ask of an employee, and that it’s only because of extreme extenuating circumstances that she might have a good reason not to go.

            It’s not. There is absolutely no reason to sequester a dozen employees in a remote, primitive facility with limited privacy to work on a project that could just as easily be done anywhere else, even if the majority of the team doesn’t seem to have a huge problem with it (that they’re willing to speak up about). Yes, management can do a power trip of the ‘don’t like it? Find another job’ variety, but that doesn’t change the fact that they, and not the OP, are being unreasonable.

            Reply
        3. HR Gorilla

          OP, I totally agree. It’s infuriating to be viewed as “the troublemaker” in this type of group setting because you’re pregnant. To think that you’d be viewed as a complainer or thorn in management’s side because you don’t want to hole up in mountain hideaway for a week, removed from your family and doctors, while pregnant, is insulting.

          Reply
          1. OP

            “…removed from your family….”

            +1000! If anything would happen, I wouldn’t want my husband (you know, the father of the baby) to be hours and hours away from me and the baby, either.

            Reply
      3. Kou

        This is absolutely true, with the caveat being that plenty of “remote” mountain cabins have the same ambulance ride (or car drive or whatever) from the closest ER as somewhere in a city would be, since they’re actually not that far away and there are often large medical centers in the suburbs. So be prepared for the team so say “Don’t worry, St Soandso’s is only 5 minutes away from the site!” and think that’s all wrapped up.

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth West

          I would want to know what “five minutes away” means. Is that by road (re ambulance), or by helicopter? Meaning you have to spend an hour getting to where the damn copter can even pick you up?

          Reply
          1. Kou

            On a regular road in a regular car. When I was working in state/national parks we’d always identify the nearest urgent care, ER, etc and how to get there/time for an ambulance to arrive when working at a new site. You’d really be surprised how many hours you can drive out of a city and still be within a very short drive to a hospital. I wondered at our estimates until we’d actually had to use them, and it’s pretty outstanding the snappy ambulance response you can get in the middle of nowhere sometimes.

            Remember, people live outside of cities and need emergency services just like anywhere. There’s are plenty of rural health care deserts, but there are also a ton of “remote” places that are a lot more populated and well serviced than you’d expect. A cabin retreat camp is much more likely to fall into the latter category.

            Reply
            1. Judy

              I’m inside city limits, and both of the hospitals with level 3 NICU’s in town are more than 15 minutes away on normal roads in a car.

              Reply
    5. Aless

      Majority Rules is not fair when it comes to any disability or discrimination issues. If the person was wheel chair bound, you could not justify having an outing in non-accessible facility just because of one person, without opening the door to justified lawsuits.

      In this case, pregnancy is considered a short-term disability and you have a duty to accommodate. Even just for one person.

      Reply
    6. Mike C.

      Majority rules is way too simple of way to go, and completely ignores several significant problems (medical and privacy to name two) that a minority of people may have to deal with.

      Three wolves and a sheep voting on lunch isn’t a fair situation.

      Reply
      1. the gold digger

        Pure democracies are not that effective because minorities do get oppressed. There needs to be a constitution enshrining certain rights, such as

        1. There will be no radio if even one person is bothered by it
        2. Nobody will ever make fish in the office microwave
        3. We will not make you share bedrooms and bathrooms
        4. No perfume ever

        Reply
        1. Vicki

          I was recently at a meeting in a co-working space. A sign posted in the women’s restroom declared it a fragrance-free zone. “If you must apply perfume for fragrance, please use a restroom on another floor.”

          Reply
      2. Ruffingit

        Three wolves and a sheep voting on lunch isn’t a fair situation.

        Literally LOLed at this. Right on Mike C! Perfect encapsulation of the issue.

        Reply
    7. OP

      OP here. Thank you, AAM for answering this question.

      As for whether this is out of character…I’m not chicken little and the sky is not falling. This idea horrifies me on so many levels and the fact that I’m pregnant is one of them. I’m not one to use medical excuses or pregnancy as a reason to not do things (I ran a half marathon while pregnant, but I was also near hospitals should anything happen and I took proper precautions, like running slowly). For the record, I like camping, hiking, adventure sports – I’m generally outdoorsy. But I do not want to be held hostage with coworkers in a remote cabin. Especially while pregnant. I would also not go hiking in a remote location with my husband right now. It’s just not smart/safe. So no, I’m not paranoid about medical issues and I don’t use excuses to not do work or because I “just don’t want to go.”

      I’m not the only one on the team who disliked this idea and didn’t want to go. Others had no “medical” reason to dislike it, but they still voiced their concerns about not liking this idea. My concerns were stated very directly, almost exactly as how I phrased it in my original post: I’m not okay with this. I don’t want to be in some remote location far from medical treatment in the even that something should happen with this pregnancy.

      There is really no way for me not to participate in this meeting. I am the only one in my role at the entire company and if I weren’t there, the project would suffer.

      My most recent update is that the team held a meeting yesterday to vote. I wasn’t there since I was getting an ultrasound, but while getting my ultrasound, I was texting my answers to questions/votes to a coworker. Apparently, there was so much disagreement and other people speaking up both for themselves and on my behalf that after an hour of debating, the person who’s idea it was (the manager, not my manager) said he was just going to pick some options and decide. I have no idea where we’ll end up, but I think the idea of sharing rooms was at least eliminated. But as for the location? I have no idea. It could still be too far for my comfort from medical treatment.

      I’d be more okay with this if it were at a corporate resort type place where we had our own rooms, etc. But the reasoning behind is still iffy in my mind. They want to get us away from work so we’re not distracted (and presumably, can’t leave at 5 or whatever and they can keep us working until the wee hours of the morning with only a few hours sleep, which is also not awesome for a pregnant person). I’m still not sure why we can’t meet at the office and get this done. If you can’t get work done at work, then you’re doing it wrong.

      Reply
      1. Yup

        All of your concerns are reasonable and valid. And frankly, the fact that the plan isn’t well received with the rest of your team should be the deciding factor anyway. It sounds like a bunch of people are opposed to doing it for perfectly sound reasons, and together those objections cancel out whatever the perceived benefit of this daft plan is. I hope the deciding manager sees sense on this.

        Reply
      2. hilde

        Gosh, that’s too bad they still can’t see this as unreasonable. Everything you said in your first paragraph I agree with 100%.

        Reply
      3. AnotherAlison

        There’s a very simple way to keep people working on this 24/7 at a nice hotel: a free nice dinner & drinks (well, not for you!).

        My team is spread across the country. We meet offsite once a year. You start the meeting early with breakfast, wrap up around 5/5:30. Give everyone a little break, and open the bar tab at 6:00. Dinner at 7:00, and back to the bar. Keep talking business the whole time.

        (We actually combine this with an outdoorsy teambuilding activity most of the time, but it’s the next day and it’s optional.)

        Reply
        1. Windchime

          We actually did a version of this in a local hotel once. We all gathered at a hotel meeting room at 7 AM for bagels and coffee. We worked on our project all day (lunch was brought in) until around 5 or 6 PM. Then we all went home to our families and our beds, and repeated the process for a couple more days. We were away from the office, but close enough that one of us could dash over there if necessary. But it wasn’t necessary; we had the benefits of having a “retreat”, and the benefits of going home to our families for the night. Best retreat I’ve ever been to, and it was very productive.

          Reply
          1. Judy

            When I worked for a large company that had multiple plants and offices in the same city, we would reserve a conference room in a building across town for a week about once a year and do our team planning.

            Reply
      4. Ask a Manager Post author

        OP, have you said directly, “I cannot do this, period”? As in, clearly explained that you will not be able to attend if this is the decision? As in, they can vote as much as they like, but no vote will change the fact that you cannot and thus will not attend if this is the decision?

        Reply
        1. Artemesia

          Critical issue — the OP needs to let the decider know this before the next announcement. An unequivocable ‘No’ I cannot do this. You just went to an ultrasound yesterday so you can add you discussed it with your doctor and absolutely not.

          Don’t let him make an announcement on this without your heads up being very clear. That would then back him into a difficult spot if he announced and you then refused to go.

          Reply
      5. Badger_doc

        A lot of creativity happens at offsite locations. We usually book hotel conference rooms, have meetings outside or travel to other locations to spark creativity and innovation. It breaks up the mundane and gets the other side of the brain working. Plus it can be relaxing.

        Reply
          1. badger_doc

            Oh, true! I was just responding to her last comment: “I’m still not sure why we can’t meet at the office and get this done. If you can’t get work done at work, then you’re doing it wrong.”

            I don’t want people to think that ALL offsite meetings are bad or anything. Sharing a room in a cabin isn’t my cup of tea either, but offsite brainstorm sessions are very valuable in general!!

            Reply
      6. Kou

        First thing you should do is check how far away a suggested site *really* is from a hospital, because you may be surprised at how accessible many places that seem isolated actually are.

        Reply
        1. Jamie

          It doesn’t matter how far she is from “any” hospital – well, it matters in that it’s better than not being near any – but it doesn’t negate the fact that she wouldn’t be near her provider where her records are in the system.

          Pregnant women often opt not to travel of their own volition for this very reason – if something happens they want their team on it – and since she doesn’t have a job where traveling is par for the course she shouldn’t be forced into a situation where she would forgo access to her own medical team.

          Very rarely to I read an OPs post and want to go have a meeting with their boss on their behalf, but this is one of them. This whole thing is just outrageous to me.

          Reply
          1. Kou

            No no no, don’t get me wrong– I agree that she shouldn’t have to be seen by people who aren’t her regular care team (and in fact I suppressed the urge earlier to argue that point with Joey since I knew it was a wasted effort). But like I said upthread, if she makes that the big part of her argument they might find a nearby hospital and say “Look! Now you can go! Woohoo!” or just say she’s overreacting. That’s why the No Way No How Not Possible response is so important– don’t give them a problem that can be “fixed.”

            That said, it sounds like (from OP’s update) they’re moving to private rooms/bathrooms, and if wherever they pick is actually quite near emergency services, maybe the OP would feel ok with going.

            Or maybe not, I would understand she still found the idea horrible because, I mean, it is. Just giving all possible suggestions.

            Reply
            1. Saturn9

              I see your point and I agree.

              If OP gives them a list of reasons for not going that can be accommodated and they make those accommodations and she still refuses, it gives the impression that she’s making excuses and has no intentions of going no matter how hard management works to make her participation possible.

              Better to be 100% clear about what would make it possible and if it’s not possible don’t give them any way to overcome the objections (always useful to lean on “my doctors said” in cases such as this).

              Although it does sound like the manager who planned this is married to the idea for some reason as he seems unwilling to listen to negative feedback from anyone.

              Reply
              1. Kou

                Exactly. Depending on whether or not access to a hospital would make her amenable to the trip or just make her employer less sympathetic, the potential for there actually being a nearby medical center can be either bad or good news.

                Reply
      7. Mimi

        Why does your manager assume that a cabin in the middle of nowhere will be distraction-free nirvana? I would hate it, and it would make me supremely uncomfortable; therefore, I wouldn’t be putting forth my best work.

        Just find a comfortable, NEARBY place to work, and do that. End of story. Or (and I know this is far-fetched)…..just stay in the office!

        Reply
      8. Sadsack

        Is the manager just trying to get a “fun” trip out of this? Choosing a place to work on a project shouldn’t be so difficult, unless he is trying to get something else out of it.

        Reply
      9. BG

        OP – You say you’re the only one in your role and that your project will suffer if you do not attend, but who is taking over the project while you are on maternity leave? Who would take over the project if you fell ill, had a family emergency, etc?

        Reply
        1. OP

          They haven’t figured that one out yet. It’s still a big question mark. We are looking at hiring me some staff to take over some of the roles, but I will probably only be out on maternity leave for a few weeks at most (sad, but true) and I’ll be accessible via email most of the time.

          Reply
      10. Observer

        Well, sometimes being away from the phones is a good thing. And, informal chit-chat time can lead to good results, too.

        But, you don’t even need a resort for this – book everyone into a local hotel, one room per person. That takes care of just about every significant objection, except being away from home. So, not great but generally doable.

        Reply
    8. Rayner

      Parking a whole team of people in a remote cabin far away from civilization for a week at a time is not a reasonable thing for a manager to expect, and demand from their employees. It is certainly possible to ask them – just like it’s possible to ask them to get every employee involved in high impact, expensive sporting events. Doesn’t make it reasonable, fair, or okay.

      Either everybody wants to go, or nobody goes. That is the only fair solution.

      Also, I object to your second paragraph about ‘finding it questionable’ if someone brings up medical issues without warning.

      Nobody is required to disclose private medical concerns with their boss and they may be dealing with it privately, able to cope with a normal nine to five work life without it interfering with their job. The prospect of this trip – lack of access to medical services, equipment, people, time etc may suddenly make someone have to bring up those medical issues to the manager without warning.

      And pregnancy is often a time when people can be increasingly cautious about their health and wellbeing, no longer willing to extend as far or as much as they used to do, even though they could ‘technically’ do it because they feel less able or willing to. So it’s not excuse to be cautious or decline to go on this trip just because the OP is pregnant.

      Reply
      1. Ethyl

        “…they may be dealing with it privately, able to cope with a normal nine to five work life without it interfering with their job.”

        Yes, exactly. It really doesn’t tax the imagination to come up with ways this could really impact people with manageable disabilities/illnesses/etc. Not everyone is comfortable talking about the intimate details of their health and disabilities, especially if those issues are “bathroom-related” or otherwise personal (thinking specifically of post-masectomy prostheses or forms, that kind of thing). Blecch, what a terrible plan. OP, I hope your group finds a better solution!

        Reply
        1. KellyK

          Absolutely. Why would you assume that someone would share their medical issues unless they were already affecting work? (And even at that, their boss and/or HR may need to know; that doesn’t mean coworkers do.)

          Reply
      2. Katie the Fed

        This jumped out at me too. Beyond the one pregnant person, you could have other people suffering from all types of issues – depression, anxiety, IBS, you name it. They might not have told you yet because they didn’t need to, but it might become an issue. I’ve dealt with anxiety much of my life, and I’m also a strong introvert, and I can tell you that being around my coworkers that much for a week without being able to get away would not be good for me. I’ve been deployed and the only thing that makes it bearable is that I can usually retreat somewhere for a few hours a day.

        Reply
    9. Anonymous

      The problem with majority rules is that you get discrimination with it very quickly and very easily. We are mostly dudes and we want to go to a sauna and get naked. Majority rules. It doesn’t matter that the one woman on the team objects to this. Majority rules.

      If you are going to go with majority rules you can say sure in this case it doesn’t matter. Or you can say that hey it’s just not a culture fit and there shouldn’t be any women at that business. But the good news to me at least, is in the US that wouldn’t be legal.

      Majority rules is often stupid because majorities, tend to do stupid things without considering the minorities, because who cares they are a minority.

      (I’m not saying that’s what is going on here, I am saying that it is an extension of the majority rules policy you are endorsing.)

      Reply
          1. Saturn9

            Thank you for the link. It’s much appreciated because I’m entirely unaware of that blog or the issues it addresses.

            Reply
      1. Zahra

        Yup, and industries that thrive on after-hours outings or Christmas parties at titty bars (video game companies are notorious for this) don’t get to decide based on majority either.

        Reply
    10. QualityControlFreak

      If it’s a first pregnancy, even if worry over potential medical issues is “out if character” it can be absolutely genuine. I’m a very healthy person who would love to spend time in a remote cabin – but I wouldn’t have wanted to do that while I was pregnant.

      And honestly, I wouldn’t want to spend a week in such close quarters with people I really don’t know that well. This is a work group, not a bunch of friends. If there are work-related reasons the cabin is a better choice (are you redesigning remote cabins? Camping gear?) that would be one thing. But, barring that, a setting with modern amenities and meeting rooms would seem to be a more work-friendly environment that still allows the team to isolate themselves from outside distractions.

      Valid work reasons trump “majority rules” in my book. Although…. Is this remote cabin perhaps way cheaper to rent than a more conveniently located, modern venue? That could explain why everyone is “plowing ahead” with this plan.

      Good luck OP. Please follow up and let us know how this turned out.

      Reply
    11. EngineerGirl

      No, majority does NOT rule when it comes to needs ( not wants ). Stomping on peoples needs is a sure way to set up dysfunctional bullying. It is a great way to alienate your workforce. Better – find a way where everyone’s needs can be met.

      Everyone in leadership should read “The Tyranny of the Majority” by de Tocqueville

      Reply
  6. Cathy

    The more I read this website, the more I lose faith in corporate America (xenocentric assumption) and society in general. :-(

    IANAL but my FIRST thought in most of these wild scenarios is, “What kind of liability am I exposing the company to?” I’ve never sued anyone, and I’ve never been sued, but it’s still my first thought. Does most of the population really think, “Oh, we’re all friends here at Company X…no one would ever sue their own company.”

    Reply
    1. Kate

      i had to Google what IANAL meant and can’t believe that that phrase is used often enough to have an internet acronym.

      Reply
  7. Just a Reader

    I am continually mystified about how many companies pull this kind of crap, and how many people seem to enjoy it.

    This does not sound enjoyable. At all. Pregnant or not.

    I was pregnant last year and I grounded myself from any kind of travel at 24 weeks, but was nervous traveling even before that.

    Hopefully manager/coworkers will come to their senses and just ask employees to work in their offices like normal people.

    Reply
    1. NylaW

      Same. I was pregnant for most of 2012 and canceled work related travel plans twice. I got zero argument from my boss either time.

      OP, this is one of the those deal breaking things. If your boss, your coworkers, or your company push this, then you are working for and with the wrong people.

      Reply
      1. yasmara

        Oh – and I declined a work trip to China because I was pregnant. I was just not comfortable with a) such a long flight and b) being out of the country somewhere I didn’t speak the language. If my trip had been closer to home (and shorter), I would have gone. But there are some legitimate travel restrictions (YMMV) while pregnant. I participated in the activities as much as possible and was really disappointed to miss the face-to-face time with my new colleagues in Shanghai, but I wasn’t willing to risk my baby’s safety or my own health for my company (and I’m not the CEO or a VP so no one is going to fly me home on the private jet).

        Reply
    2. [anon]

      I was pregnant for much of 2013, and started pulling out of work events as my due date neared. And I did fly for personal reasons at 29 weeks and it was so horribly uncomfortable in every possible way that I can’t imagine having to do it any farther along than that.

      (Pulling out of work events was a good call: my water broke and I went into labor in the office while the entire rest of the staff was onsite at one.)

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West

        At one job, a pregnant coworker’s water broke and she went into labor at work. She was there when I went to lunch, and when I came back, she was gone. And she had a very short labor (for a first baby, it was incredible), so if we had all been at some remote cabin, we probably might have had to deliver it ourselves.

        I liked my coworker, but I really would not have wanted to get THAT close to her!

        Reply
    3. AnonAthon

      So much agreement. (I’m also gay, and my partner and I were actually told (for the future) not to cross particular state lines while pregnant and close to delivery. The laws aren’t consistent across the US and very not-good situations can ensue.)

      Reply
      1. AnonAthon

        Thank you, all. So appreciate the empathy. Learning the legal complexities has been anxiety-producing — but on the plus side, the laws are very friendly in our state. Basically, I so sympathize with you, OP. You don’t need the small space/remote location-related stress, and this really shouldn’t be a discussion.

        Reply
    4. Say it

      I’m continually surprised by how many people put up with this. I have to remind myself that I’ve been lucky in my work life to not face much stuff like this and also to have good enough savings and job prospects to be willing and able to fight back.

      I’m not blaming the victims – jobs are scarce and if you can’t risk fighting back, don’t. But I have to remind myself of that sometimes. And also feel that if people can fight back, they should fight back.

      Reply
  8. monologue

    I’m one of those annoying people that would probably like the cabin idea, but I also would not try to force it on a pregnant person. If you’re the level of pregnant that you have to get up multiple times at night to use the washroom you are not being unreasonable here. Good luck putting your foot down!

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Getting up multiple times a night can happen all throughout pregnancy, not just when you’re feeling as big as a house, and for a lot more reasons that having to use the bathroom. The only reason I can think of for her coworkers to be this unreasonable is that maybe somehow they do not know she’s pregnant. If that’s the case she needs to tell them and put the brakes on this whole stupid idea.

      Reply
    2. AnotherAlison

      I think you can reasonably object at any stage in your pregnancy. I had really severe morning sickness for my first trimesters. . .like, throwing up multiple times throughout the entire day, where you would stay home if it was a stomach bug instead of morning sickness. I also had a first trimester miscarriage. Sure, very unlikely, but as someone with mostly male coworkers, I wouldn’t want to wake up in the middle of the night miscarrying while in a remote cabin with roommates.

      Reply
    3. Judy

      I’d hate to have to share a bathroom when pregnant. Meanie that I am, I asked my husband to use the hall bath for any stinky uses instead of our bathroom in our room during my pregnancies. Between the heightened sense of smell, and the urgent need to use it, it was a bad deal if it were in use or it was really stinky when I needed it. I had one smell induced nausea episode and one very nearly didn’t make it the additional 20 feet to the other bathroom episode.

      Reply
    4. Kate

      I would also be up for this but agree that the OP should be allowed to Skype in or skip it altogether without using PTO with no argument from management.

      Reply
    5. OP

      For the record, I’ve had to get up multiple times in the middle of the night since the beginning. It was actually one of the first things that tipped me off that something may be going on. So you don’t have to be very far progressed to be up multiple times every night.

      There are so many things about pregnancy that make this bad. I’m well past my first trimest and will be in my third by the time this trip happens, but I still have bouts of nausea and I’m fairly exhausted all the time (my normal bedtime right now is 8 pm and I’m normaly a night owl), and my food and smell aversions are still going strong. God help someone who cooks fish near me right now. Thankfully, I’m not nauseated 24/7 like I was for my 1st trimester and several weeks into my 2nd, but still, last night, I had a bout of nausea and it was awful. Who wants that to happen while locked in a cabin with coworkers and being expected to get by on just a few hours of sleep?

      I should also note, I haven’t missed a day of work during this pregnancy, as awful as I feel and I’ve continued to produce at a high level. I’m not a slacker. I’m pregnant and it’s taking it’s toll on my body. Case closed.

      Reply
      1. Zahra

        If you will be in your third trimester, what does your doctor/midwife say about a potential trip + week-long work retreat? Would they be willing to issue paperwork saying that you must stay in the metro area (or in an area with a University-level hospital less than 5 minutes away, for example)?

        Reply
      2. mel

        haha I get up multiple times a night pretty much my entire life and I’ve never been pregnant. It’s especially a drag when camping.

        Reply
  9. JW

    It is ABSOLUTELY wrong for a manager or a group to expect a pregnant woman to be accommodating in this situation. I, too, would be worried about being so far away. And, besides that, the frequent get ups at night or any other bodily function that might be embarrassing for an overnight slumber party with your colleagues. I would hate this even if I weren’t pregnant.

    Reply
      1. AnotherAlison

        That, and add a separate room for the OP, and her objections are mostly met. She also gets a pass on any “fun” hikes, boat rides, etc. that the group wants to do.

        A two-bed rural hospital doesn’t count, either.

        Reply
      2. Del

        Well, the whole “let’s all stay in close quarters 24 hours a day for a week and somehow not strangle each other” part stays at the same basic level of unreasonable, but the insistence on it becomes much less unreasonable, yes.

        As people have pointed out, there are a lot more reasons to be uncomfortable with that kind of close quarters living, especially when it’s not an intrinsic part of the job, but the “let’s take the pregnant woman far away from medical help” part is the really insane bit.

        Reply
      3. Mike C.

        You’re still sharing rooms and being forced to live with your coworkers. It’s an incredibly stupid and stressful situation for anyone.

        Reply
        1. Anon For This

          @Joey

          I can tell you right now that just any hospital isn’t going to cut it when it comes to pregnancy-related medical problems.

          This isn’t like a broken arm where they just take an x-ray and give you a sling and some pain meds. You need to find a facility that:

          1. Has an emergency room (because baby-related problems come on fast and are always serious)
          2. Has an OBGYN on staff
          3. Has an ultrasound machine (and the bachelor’s educated person to run it)
          4. Has a radiologist to read the ultrasound results

          Not to mention the need to have a personal vehicle available at all times to make that drive to the hospital (sorry–no charter buses!)

          Also, as someone who had the misfortune to miscarry late in the first trimester while on vacation in a different state, I can say with absolute certainty that wanting to be close to home during pregnancy is not only reasonable but should be preferred. I would not wish the experience I had on my worst enemy.

          Reply
          1. OP

            Ooh, thanks for that list of hospital requirements. I just used the “major medical center” description, but that list is better.

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              The thing is, are you really going to feel okay about going if they meet these requirements? I’d avoid getting into this and stick with “pregnant, can’t do this.”

              Reply
                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  I think it’s perfectly reasonable for her to decide that she’s not able to do this while pregnant — not only because of possible medical complications but because of all the bathroom trips, nausea, difficulty sleeping comfortably in one’s own bed let alone a cabin, and other physical issues that regularly accompany pregnancy. That’s a “can’t” that doesn’t require a doctor’s opinion.

                2. Rayner

                  Ya see, a doctor can say what is medically required but the pregnant person is the one to make that choice. Sure, you can go rock climbing, the doctor might say, but the pregnant person may feel absolutely 100% not okay with that, and that’s still perfectly legitimate reasoning to say no.

                  Again, pregnant people have autonomy. They can choose what’s okay for them and their body, and their child, whether or not a doctor agrees.

                3. Zahra

                  To respond to AAM and Rayner: yes, totally agree. However, a doctor’s note will be taken more seriously than a pregnant person saying she “can’t”. It’s a sad fact of life that many people consider pregnant women as having less agency and unable to make reasonable and reasoned judgement calls. Because, somehow, being pregnant suddenly makes us irrational (“she’s overreacting” some might say) or impairs our judgement (“she shouldn’t eat/drink this or that”).

                4. Joey

                  Rayner,

                  See maybe that’s where we disagree. If a doctor says can and you say can’t tons of managers will take that as a can, but don’t want to.

                5. Confused

                  I don’t think it matters if the doctor says she can. She feels she can’t and she is worried. Even if you feel like she is being overly paranoid (which I don’t feel like she is being), it’s her medical situation and she is entitled. She is the only one in her body. Her feelings are valid.
                  A person/family is more important than a project for work.

                6. Observer

                  Actually, most doctors will tell you that even when they think everything is ok, if you think you can’t the you can’t – medically speaking.

                7. Jen in RO

                  “If a doctor says can and you say can’t tons of managers will take that as a can, but don’t want to.”

                  Well, if a doctor says you can and you still won’t go… then it *does* mean you don’t *want* to, since there is no medical reason preventing you from going.

                  So, be careful about phrasing. “I don’t want to go on this trip because I am worried about my pregnancy” – yes, and a reasonable manager should understand. “I can’t go on this trip, even though my doctor says it’s OK” – no, because the manager can argue that you should just suck it up like the other coworkers.

                8. KellyK

                  A doctor can tell you what the risks are, but they can’t make the decision for you. Her doctor might say, for example, that her pregnancy seems healthy and there’s only a slim chance anything bad will happen. But what she wants to do about that slim chance is up to *her* risk tolerance.

          2. Zillah

            Also, especially in your third trimester –

            Has your doctor, and your staff.

            What if you don’t want a c-section, but you end up in a c-section happy hospital? What if you want a midwife? What if you just want your own damn doctor on the scene? When it comes to sensitive issues, any doctor just doesn’t do it. I see my doctor for a reason. I rejected many doctors before her because they couldn’t meet my needs.

            Reply
      4. Mimi

        If you have to look for a cabin with a hospital nearby, then you should already be looking at an alternate option for your team.

        Reply
      5. Annie The Mouse

        It depends on the hospital; I’ve lived in a couple of small towns that had very limited facilities, and certainly couldn’t provide adequate care for a woman developing pre-eclampsia, for example.

        Reply
        1. Artemesia

          Natasha Richardson would be alive if she had been taken to a decent hospital instead of the small town one that wasn’t equipped to deal with her crisis head injury. An injury that should not have had long term consequences killed her.

          Pregnancy crises are time sensitive like this. Without the appropriate treatment RIGHT NOW, a pregnancy or a life can be lost. I know someone how bled to death late in pregnancy from a placenta placement problem. Both mother and child died.

          Reply
          1. Lyda Rose

            Totally agree. Just because the majority of pregnancies aren’t life-threatening doesn’t mean that one can’t become life-threatening in a matter of minutes. And the OP will be facing this fairly late in the game; the third trimester can be drastically shorted by a baby who decides to come early.

            Reply
      6. Nancie

        Even with the very best hospital, what if the OP is suddenly placed on strict bed rest for the rest of the pregnancy? Is the company going to pony up the thousands of dollars it could cost to transport her from the scenic, well-equipped hospital, to the hospital that’s near her friends and family?

        Reply
      7. KellyK

        Not unless it’s a cabin with *her* hospital and her doctor that has her records. And she has unlimited bathroom access and is able to get a reasonable night’s sleep.

        Reply
        1. Jamie

          Oh that cabin! The one where she’s super comfortable, is even closer to her medical team if needed, and isn’t weird at all for anyone else.

          Well sure, I’m all in favor of retreats to awesome fictional cabins!

          Reply
          1. Windchime

            I call that cabin “my home”. That’s where I want to spend my nights.

            It really sounds like the plan is that, since they are all away at this fabulous, remote cabin, they can work into the evening, etc. Otherwise, why not just book a hotel conference room right their locally, and allow people to go home at night?

            Reply
          2. KellyK

            Yep, that cabin. It’s also on a good, accessible road with no problem getting an ambulance up. (In fact, it’s right off a major highway—first exit after the unicorn preserve.)

            Reply
      8. Anonymous

        I don’t think so. The OP stated above that she is in her third trimester – many women stay very close to home during this time, specifically so they have access to their team in case anything comes up or they go into labor earlier than expected.

        Reply
      9. Observer

        No.

        Because the hospital is only one piece of this.

        Although, I can’t imagine that any management allowing something like this – even in the highly unlikely case that everyone was on board – without evidence of access to nearby, reasonably modern medical care. I can’t imagine the liability issues that they could face if someone got hurt. And, you can be sure that if there are some non-outdoor types, the chances of that happening go up dramatically.

        Reply
      10. aebhel

        Slightly less insane, but nothing approaching actually reasonable.

        I’m pregnant right now. If I were to go into premature labor while on a business trip far from home, I would be dealing with:
        – a hospital staff that does not have access to my medical records
        – a hospital that may or may not have an NICU and certainly won’t be familiar to me
        – not having my husband, my family, or in fact anyone at all to be there to support me
        – the certainty of placing my coworkers in an extremely awkward and unpleasant situation

        And that’s just for if I go into labor–which, for a woman in her third trimester, is not the equivalent of a freak accident that’s unlikely to happen. It doesn’t take into account the fact that I’m going to be nauseated, exhausted, and getting up to pee constantly in close proximity to people I don’t really know that well. That doesn’t mean I would never consider going on a business trip (fortunately, they’re not a necessity in my job) but it does mean that said business trip had damn well better be a life-and-death situation. Not ‘oh we need to focus on this project, let’s cram everyone into a remote cabin for a week’.

        Reply
  10. Another Cat

    I wish the OP luck. My manager read me the riot act when I asked for what I thought was reasonable accommodation in the form of delaying scheduling a training (which is offered year round) until I had my schedule for a trip to (famous) clinic for important medical treatment. In fact, he’s still not talking to me.

    Reply
  11. Andrea

    What kind of people want to share close proximity with coworkers like this? Seriously, sharing bedrooms and bathrooms and eating all meals together….ugh. No. Just no. This is a nightmare scenario, and pregnant or not, it’s just not reasonable to ask people to give up personal space, comfort, and privacy for a week.

    Reply
    1. AnotherAlison

      We had a requirement to share rooms if you were going to “corporate” for week-long training courses. This was my nightmare scenario as well. In this case, the roommate would be a stranger from another division. It almost made sense because training was a 7 am-7 pm deal, but I was so relieved when I went and found I GOT A PRIVATE ROOM. They let the three women have their own rooms, and the guys all shared. Although, this was really probably the only time being in the 11% minority worked out in my favor.

      Reply
        1. TL

          Yup, I’m in my early-mid twenties and it wouldn’t bother me at all right now. But I always end up sharing rooms when I go anywhere ’cause I’m not making enough money to afford great vacations yet.

          (But I do completely understand it bothering other people!)

          Reply
          1. AmyNYC

            I’m 26 and I can barely tolerate living with roommates in my apartment, I would so not be ok with bunking up on a business trip.

            Reply
            1. TL

              It varies, of course, but I would say in general younger people are more likely to be okay with it, as we haven’t gotten to a stage in our life where we have a lot of privacy – roommates, vacationing in the cities where your friends can host you, dorm living.

              Reply
      1. Windchime

        My son worked briefly for an insurance/investment company and he had to go to other cities for training. They always had him sharing a room with a stranger. It worked OK for him because he is very social; he even made a good friend in Chicago and is invited back for the guys’ wedding.

        But to me? Hell on earth. No way do I want to share a hotel room with a stranger or co-worker.

        Reply
  12. Lora

    They had an option to go to a resort…and they took the cabin surrounded by hungry bears? Huh. Interesting.

    I can think of a LOT of non-pregnancy reasons I wouldn’t want to do this.
    1. I am from a rural area with lots of deer, bears, critters that go bump in the night. City folk who wake me up at 2am to go investigate the squirrels in the attic, armed with a broom, are going to get a really crabby colleague in the morning.

    2. I am a good cook. If we’re taking turns cooking, inevitably there will be a lot of frozen waffles and canned soup sort of thing. And there is no nearby Chinese take-out. I am not cooking for everyone and I am not eating Cheezy Poofs one meal a day because colleagues cannot prepare a decent meal with two side dishes.

    3. Everyone on this trip had better know how to wash dishes in a sink, change a tire, dress in warm layers, make French press coffee and seal up the garbage cans with bungee cords to keep raccoons out. Also that they should not interfere with wildlife. Trip cut short by rattlesnakes, muddy rocky back roads and whining is not my idea of productivity.

    4. I need a break from my colleagues. Even the ones I like. I just do. I run out of good will towards man at about 6pm.

    5. I have sleep disorders, including sleepwalking. I take medication for it, but the medication only makes it happen once a week instead of every day. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY wants to share a bedroom with me. For that matter, a whole cabin, because I’ve been known to wander down to the kitchen and living room too.

    6. I am not good at sharing bathrooms. I may look like a normal human to you, but trust me, I start out as Medusa at 6am, and I need extra time in the shower to feed my hair.

    There’s lots more, but those are the ones I can think of, off the top of my head.

    Reply
    1. PJ

      “4. I need a break from my colleagues. Even the ones I like. I just do. I run out of good will towards man at about 6pm.”

      THIS. All your reasons are excellent. However, THIS is the only one I need to decline to participate. I would be incapable of being a productive member of the team by the end of the first day, and it would only get worse from there. I am a hermit by nature. People drain me. I renew in solitude. No solitude, no renewal. It’s not something I can overcome, fake, or soldier through.

      Reply
      1. AnonAthon

        Oh goodness do I agree on #4.

        I totally get that business trips happen, but you should be able to escape to your hotel room (or whatever) at the end of normal work hours. Otherwise, you basically have to be “on” around the clock, which is uber draining.

        Reply
      1. Andrea

        Heh, me too! Not only am I a snorer, but I’m also a very light sleeper with insomnia. Wake me up and I’ll never get back to sleep, and believe me, I’ll hold a grudge and return that little favor. I also have an elaborate grooming routine (what can I say, I take skin care very seriously), and I’m not eager for others to learn about it. There are just so many reasons why only those who really love me can actually live with me, and I wouldn’t want coworkers to be able to make a list of those reasons.

        Reply
      2. Felicia

        Yes! I am a very light sleeper, and I couldn’t possibly share a room with anyoone who snored and get any sleep at all. I also need some time alone at teh end of the day to relax totally alone and away from even the people I love (and I barely know my coworkers, so not being away from them would be worse), so spending all day around them would make it hard for me to sleep as well because i’d never relax. So by the second day i’d be cranky and anxious and exhausted, and not able to produce even passable work.

        Reply
    2. Allison

      I agree with 100% of this! Most people go to rural cabins to get away from work, not to spend *more* time with colleagues.

      Reply
    3. Camellia

      OMG I hadn’t even thought about food/cooking/cleanup! I would fear that it will be exactly as you state and, since I have the same thoughts as you do, I would become the psycho killer in the story. “Had they but known…”

      Reply
      1. Jessa

        And I have a zillion medically related food issues. I fake my way through most potlaches and I can usually fake it in a restaurant if I’m careful about what I order and ask a lot of questions (I can call ahead and ask.) But feeding me is not fun. And having to make sure there are three meals a day and snacks I can eat and no cross contamination? OY.

        Reply
        1. IronMaiden

          My sleeping ability is very screwed up. I have periods of insomnia where I need to read or use a computer, insterpersed with times when I snore and fart a lot. I also suffer chronic pain, which makes me restless as I have to change position a lot. I would not be fun to share a room with.

          Reply
  13. EJ

    If the OP doesn’t really mind not being near a hospital, perhaps in the worst case she can argue for a room to herself based on the pregnancy? Maybe that would take the edge off?

    Reply
    1. Del

      I’m not sure that would take “the edge” off when not being near a hospital is a major concern. A pregnancy can go from “everything normal” to “critical situation” really quickly and with little warning.

      Reply
    2. Jean

      I think you’re missing the points which are
      a) the OP really _does_ mind being far from a hospital
      b) she doesn’t want to share with her coworkers all of the down & dirty side effects of being pregnant
      plus
      c) the boss & coworkers are being highly inconsiderate
      and
      d) people have a right to personal privacy outside of regular working hours.
      I’m nowhere near pregnancy and the thought of this much around-the-clock-for-a-week close contact with coworkers still gives me the horrors. My ferocity isn’t directed at you but at the obtuse people who cannot understand that for many of us, daily privacy is essential!

      Reply
    1. Joey

      Unfortunately it’s not the same. The reality is unless its doctors orders if she doesn’t attempt to go it will likely reflect negatively on her.

      Reply
        1. the gold digger

          Me too. I would not think less of someone who didn’t go for OP’s reasons at all. A pregnancy can turn into a life-threatening emergency in a very short time. I would not want to have a sick or dead baby on my conscience because I insisted that my pregnant subordinate be away from medical care.

          Reply
        2. Jean

          The other reality is that unless people speak up (and are able to vote with their feet, by finding another workplace) employers will continue to foster teamwork via this and other intrusive methods.

          Reply
            1. Joey

              Sorry but true. Its the same idea as the after hours happy hour or company party. Just way more important because work is getting accomplished.

              Reply
              1. VintageLydia

                Holding her pregnancy against her (and the medical issues that can arise from it) is actual discrimination. The illegal kind.

                Reply
        3. Jen in RO

          I don’t get why everyone is piling up on Joey. We are not talking about an ideal office where everyone is reasonable and people who don’t like chatting can avoid chatting, and people who do like chatting can chat, and I can eat peanut butter without triggering someone’s allergy.

          Joey is talking about the real world, where bosses are crazy (as seem in OP’s case). How is it helping anyone to ignore reality? Yes, it would be great is her boss didn’t hold OP’s refusal to go against her – but *he might* and OP needs to take that into consideration. How does that make Joey the bad guy?!

          Reply
      1. Mike C.

        Safety is everyone’s responsibility, and if someone has a serious concern it should be respected and dealt with in a manner that satisfies everyone involved.

        Reply
      2. Judy

        During my pregnancies, my doctor wanted me to know which hospital to go to where ever I went. I had uneventful pregnancies, and she still didn’t want any travel after 24 weeks. Before 24 weeks if I could show I’d be near a hospital, carried my records with me, and promise that I wouldn’t sit for more than 2 hours at a time in the car, she was ok.

        She tried to talk me out of going at 24 weeks to a cousin’s wedding, that was 3.5 hour drive, to a city with a great university hospital, and I was staying at my sister’s house. My sister and BIL are doctors.

        Reply
      3. Say it

        Let it reflect negatively. If dickish co-workers can’t take it, or management can’t help, she should eventually get out of it of the company.

        Also regarding “The other reality is that unless people speak up (and are able to vote with their feet, by finding another workplace) employers will continue to foster teamwork via this and other intrusive methods.”

        +10000

        If someone is in a place career-wise or financially where they can push back against this sort of nonsense, they should do it. Not only is it good for them, it’s also good for the people who can’t push back. Push back if you can. Push back.

        Reply
      4. OP

        Me, too. We have remote Skype sessions all the time with other office locations, so that might be a possibility if they end up tossing all reason and employee (not just mine) complaints aside.

        Reply
          1. The Clerk

            If comments could bottleneck and push each other out of the way trying to reach their destination quicker, that’s probably the thread where it would happen.

            Reply
        1. Elizabeth West

          It sounds reasonable to me. You could either do it from home, or from a conference room at the office, so either way, you could participate and still be away from the general hustle/bustle. And you would be near your doctor and hospital.

          Reply
      5. Canuck

        Joey, I get that you like to take the different view point, which is one of the things I like about this site. But in this case, I am not sure what it is about this situation that you find so unreasonable for the OP?

        1. She is pregnant. That itself should be enough.

        2. Sharing rooms while on a business trip – this is also not reasonable to me. I used to travel extensively for work, all over the world, and no matter what the cost savings are, people need to have their own place to go to after the work day is finished.

        3. This trip is not something that is typical for the OP’s workplace – at least not enough that she could have screened out this job based on “culture”. I get that culture and fit is important, but if it is, then you need to give people a chance to decline a bad fit before they start. Since this seems like a one-0ff event, it is not reasonable to punish people for “not being the right fit” for something they couldn’t have expected to come up.

        Reply
        1. Joey

          My point is don’t say you can’t go if its possible you can,but just don’t want to. Because god forbid my boss told me to arrange a stupid trip like this I would try my damnest to accommodate the medical restrictions. And once I accommodated and the decision to do it has been made it makes you look pretty foolish if you’re now scrambling to find other reasons you can’t go. Id respect you much more if you just flat out said ” I’m not going because I don’t want to.” There might be consequences, but Id much rather you be straight with me now then have to deal with hemming and hawing again later on.

          Reply
          1. Confused

            But she can’t.
            We can all hypothesize different scenarios, what if the cabin was next to a hospital, what if superman could carry her to her doctor and family at light speed, etc, but as it stands the cabin isn’t an option for her and there is an easy alternative to do it at the other nearby hotel/resort.

            Reply
          2. MiaRose

            I think I now see the point you are making. I reread the OP’s original post, and it was phrased so that her protests came off as preferences and dislikes, rather than a flat out inability to physically handle the situation.

            My guess is that if would have been better if the OP flat out said something like, “No, I can’t physically be able to handle this retreat because of my medical condition, and this is a bad idea, anyways in general.”

            On the OP’s side, though, if there has been a general culture where pregnancies were being treated as something undesirable or as something people were using to judge one’s ability to do work, then I can see her reluctance

            Reply
  14. The IT Manager

    I do wonder how pregnant the OP is? Is the fear of being far from medical care because she is close to delivery or is she further from delivery and is just overly concerned.

    I can see where the cabin with shared with living accomidation could be more conducive to brainstorming a redesign instead of individual hotel rooms and a meeting rooms where you only spend official “working sessions” together versus being in each other’s pockets for a week. The point of sending the team away seems to be two-fold (1) get them away from the day-to-day distractions of work (2) put them together to think about the redesign 24/7. That’s not a terribly pleasant idea for an introvert like me, but I can the logic. You can lose #2 at the modern hotel; however, if the company and bosses are offering an option then option #2 must not be too terribly detrimental to the brainstorming.

    I don’t disagree with Alison’s answer though. I do think it depends on how far along the OP is and how remote the cabin really is.

    Reply
    1. Rayner

      People can be sick in the first trimester. People can be unwell all the way through their pregnancy. They can experience morning sickness five times a day every day for weeks on end from day one to birth. You can need to pee every fifteen minutes from the beginning to the end. You can highly sensitive to animals, smells, washing powders, new allergens, and even food you once loved can suddenly become anathema to you. You may have to take medications, go off medications, or adjust dosages during pregnancy which can lead to unpleasant side effects, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Your body can become tired quicker and more sensitive to pain or sensation which can exceptionally unpleasant.

      The list of potential medical issues is vast, and spans all the way through the pregnancy, not just at the very end during the ‘about to drop’ stage.

      And it’s reasonable to expect all that to happen in a remote cabin far away from civilization, including a long journey to get there in a car/plane, locked up with colleagues for a week? Really?

      Wanting to be close to medical services – especially medical services that are familiar to the OP, such as a known OB/midwife – is not unreasonable for a pregnant person.

      (Honestly, would you want to share a room with a pregnant person going through all that? Really? Especially given the potentially ‘rustic’ nature of this remote cabin?)

      Also, why on earth would you think that insisting on making people live in each other’s pockets is a way to boost productivity? Unless every single person is totally and one hundred percent on board with that plan, it is the Worst. Idea. Ever.

      It doesn’t help ideas flow, it makes people who don’t normally spend that much time around each other tetchy and frustrated, especially when under pressure from management to come up with new ideas, and it makes them feel like rats in a cage if they don’t want to be there. Time and space, with plenty of opportunities to relax is usually far far far more conducive to producing good work.

      Reply
    2. Samantha

      As someone who had a first trimester miscarriage, risk is not relegated to the second or third trimesters! And first trimester miscarriages are sadly not uncommon in the least. I could hardly think of a worse place to experience one than a secluded cabin full of my coworkers.

      Reply
    3. Anonymous

      The problem with that is, unless OP works in a medical office, no one on staff is really qualified to make a judgement.

      Reply
      1. Mike C.

        Let’s make this a little stronger. Unless the doctor treating the OP is on staff, none of her coworkers are qualified to make a judgement.

        Reply
        1. Jamie

          You are just on fire today, Mike.

          (Although now I’m horrified at the prospect of going to a production meeting attended by my ob-gyn :))

          Reply
    4. Mimi

      It doesn’t matter how far along she is in her pregnancy. Her body, her pregnancy, her medical condition, her concerns. OP is under no obligation to justify any of this other than to say, “I cannot do this due to my pregnancy.”

      Repeat as needed.

      Reply
    5. Artemesia

      In early pregnancy sickness and miscarriage are common — no one wants to be throwing up or having a miscarriage at some isolated place. In mid-pregnancy, in addition to an assortment of ailments and tiredness, a crisis can be urgent and your life can be at stake — e.g. bleeding at 24 weeks for example can mean the beginning of a life threatening hemmorhage or losing the baby if there is no immediate care. if the baby is delivered very early than its life will depend on immediate NICU care. Late in pregnancy there is always the danger of embolism, early deliver etc.

      And roughing it is not everyone’s cup of tea anyway — but pregnant (or with IBS, an ostomy, a dietary issue, chronic constipation, diabetes, any of a dozen or two other medical issues that require daily management) as well as sleep apnea, snoring that drives everyone else nuts, or just difficulty sleeping — all will make this embarrassing and difficult.

      Reply
    6. Liane

      “I do wonder how pregnant the OP is?”
      It’s been stated several times in the comments by the OP & others that she is in her 3rd trimester.

      Reply
    7. Observer

      Firstly, the OP is going to be in the third trimester.

      Secondly, it makes no difference how far along she is. Pregnancy can get very complicated, very, very quickly. And, in many cases, if you get the right treatment RIGHT NOW, it all works out fine, and most people wouldn’t even know a crisis just passed. Not near immediate help – a relatively routine event turns into a tragedy.

      Thirdly, medical care is only one of two major issues that the OP has. The second issue is tied to the idea of not being able to have any privacy, and having to deal with a stranger who, at best, is going to be involved in every detail of her pregnancy issues, because of this total lack of privacy. At worst, she’s going to have any and all of these issues exacerbated by the person she gets stuck with.

      On top of which, the idea that putting people in each others pockets for a week will give you good results is simply foolishness. By and large, introverts simply can’t function (at least not for this kind of purpose) unless they get some time to themselves. And even extroverts need some time off. As well, wearing people down and stripping them of privacy is never a good rout to productivity. By the time day three comes around they will all be more busy sniping at each other or making all sorts of silly jokes to releive the tension, than actually brainstorming.

      Reply
  15. Mike C.

    I mentioned this before, but I’m really tired of hearing that “you can’t get a group of people to agree” and “majority rules is the only way to go”. You can get groups of people to agree (or at least minimize disappointment) and majority rules isn’t the only way to do things. It’s a math problem, and while you can’t make everyone happy, you can certainly make everyone happier.

    Look up Preferential/Ranked/Condorcet voting systems. You’ll find that telling people to “rank their choices” isn’t difficult at all, and these systems take into account second/third/Nth preferences.

    Also, what in the heck is it with this obsession with cramming all of your coworkers in the same space for days at a time? Are you trying to film a real life horror movie? If you as a manager/employer think this is such an awesome idea, why not just require employees to live in a company dorm?

    Reply
    1. NylaW

      +1000 to all of this

      I do not get this trend of forcing everyone to live together to get things done. If your workplace is not conducive to getting these intensive projects done, to building teamwork, or anything else, then there is something wrong with your workplace.

      Reply
    2. MaryMary

      “Also, what in the heck is it with this obsession with cramming all of your coworkers in the same space for days at a time? Are you trying to film a real life horror movie?”

      Now I really want to see a slasher movie set at a corporate retreat. Any screenwriting commenters? Get on that, please.

      Reply
    3. Mints

      Yeah the preferential ranking was eye opening at my office when I thought I was the only one who wasn’t really in to fancy dinners as the only reward/fun day. And then I was asked to plan a fun day, and it turns out most people preferred other more casual activities, and fancy dimers were at the bottom end of acceptable (except for the manager, who kept pushing fancy dimers)

      Anyway, it sounds like (with OP’s follow up comments) that the cabin was announced, and most people were okay with it, and it wasn’t until OP started pushing back that other people pushed back too. This type of thing really needs 100% buy in

      Reply
  16. Matteus

    Hey guys, let’s interrupt everybody’s routine for a week and trap them in an uncomfortable, intimate place with people they barely know! That’s sure to boost productivity!

    Reply
    1. Rayner

      Oh God, this. I do not understand the concept behind this supposed strategy. If you trap me in a cabin for days at a time with people I work with, there will be blood and murder before the end of the first night.

      People who are introverted or less excited by people time may be horrified at this but I warrant that most other people would also be slightly unhappy at the very least at that prospect.

      I would put money – big money – on the fact that no idea from this kind of event ever made it back to the office and was implemented. Ever.

      Reply
    2. Jean

      There’s also the joy that awaits some employees when they finally get back to a home totally wrecked in their absense. I’m talking about kids with special needs, spouses with higher-pressure jobs, and the chores left undone for several days. And what are single parents supposed to do? Just leave the kids alone with a box of cereal?!

      Reply
      1. Jen in RO

        But this applies to any business trip. I think we all agree that this plan in particular is a very bad idea, for multiple reasons not necessarily related to OP’s pregnancy, but let’s no go overboard.

        Reply
    3. Laura

      Seriously. Even if they were able to get a lot of work done, there’s the possibility that people will just be so burnt out on their coworkers that it’ll be harder to get any work done when they return to the office.

      Reply
    4. Neeta

      This! A thousand times THIS!
      In OP’s shoes, I’m sure I’d be asked to take part in an anger management class after 2 days (or less).

      Reply
  17. Say it

    Part of the problem are phrases like “I hate” and “don’t want to.”

    To many OP’s are not firm enough – if you can’t or won’t do something, say it. It’s not about what you like or don’t like (it’s your job and we get paid to do things we don’t like all the time, so this is not a strong argument). It’s about what you can and cannot do. If you can’t do something, or won’t do something, say it. Say it carefully, in terms of what it is important to the company, but say it.

    Reply
      1. OP

        I have said, “I can’t stay in a cabin less than 20 minutes from a major medical center, and I would prefer to not leave our metro area.” (We can get cabins or resorts around here.) They object to the local idea becuase they don’t want people to be able to leave or go home.

        Reply
        1. College Career Counselor

          These are people who think that “team-building” is the most important aspect of this activity. Because, as others have noted, NONE of this stuff has to take place at a cabin in the woods. These are the people who hated it when summer camp was over and now have the opportunity to re-create it and force others to attend. Ugh.

          I exhibit a fair degree of extroverted behavior, but it occurs to me that I’m able to do it largely because I take time to re-charge. And even in my most extroverted moods, I don’t like sharing rooms with colleagues, let alone 24-7 “retreats” (is it a retreat from common sense?). Conferences are bad enough, but at least you get to go to dinner on your own (sometimes) or go back to your room and read.

          Reply
          1. Poe

            +1,000 to this. I am often called an extrovert by people who know me because I am very outgoing at work (hi, receptionist, it’s my job!) and friendly, always talking to people and jumping up to help. I also do lots of things in my free time like go to plays, ride horses, day trips in the local area. But those things? I do ALONE. I recharge by myself, in a dark theatre watching Shakespeare then going home to hot chocolate and my own thoughts. In most scales I come back on the introvert end. All that time with coworkers would terrify me, not least because I would have to gulp down my evening drug cocktail in the secrecy of a locked shared bathroom. Ugh.

            Reply
          2. Sarberry

            I believe you are confusing “outgoing behavior” with “extrovert behavior”If you “exhibit extrovert behavior” but only do this because you have the chance to recharge in solitude, you are an introvert.

            You can be a perfectly friendly, outgoing, loud introvert. It simply means that you need time to yourself to recover, recharge, and be ready to be around people again.

            Reply
        2. Mimi

          You should lose the “less than…” and “prefer” qualifiers out. “I cannot stay in a cabin. I cannot leave the metro area.” That’s it.

          If it isn’t well-received, then get your doctor to write a note, or something. I mean, really.

          Reply
          1. Us, too

            Yes. The qualifiers you are using in your original letters and your comment above dilute your message substantially.

            Reply
              1. OP

                Well, the problem is, I wasn’t at the meeting where they were taking a vote, so I actually have’t said anything at all in the most recent meeting. What I said was said when the idea started getting tossed around. What I texted to my coworker while the meeting was going on was pretty direct – “Local metro area only. No cabins. No shared rooms.” They also sent a list of possible locations. I chose my two – both resorts/hotels within 10 minutes to my own home and my doctor.

                However, I’m not sure how that was actually relayed since I wasn’t actually present (I trust the person who I texted to pretty much quote me, though) and apparently the meeting went to hell in a handbasket shortly thereafter because no one could agree on anything.

                Reply
                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  My worry is that if you wait until this is decided, it could be a much bigger deal to get it changed at that point. I think you have to go to the decision-maker now and say, “I want to make sure this is clear since I wasn’t at the meeting. I cannot do this. It’s not a preference thing; it’s an actual no-can-do.”

                2. Us, too

                  Good heavens, you absolutely MUST make your position immediately clear to your boss and the people doing the planning. Texting a coworker doesn’t count.

                3. OP

                  To be clear, I was texting him to relay the information because hecontacted me because he was in the meeting and I was at the doctor getting an utlrasound. So it wasn’t like I was just copping out with a text message.

                  I did email the person in charge (just now) and he responded positively, so hopefully that will be enough and we’ll be in the local area at a resort. I made it clear that I’m not against an offsite in general, but that right now I just need it to be near my doctor and my husband. I’m also not against a cabin in the future, either, as long as everyone has their own rooms, males and females aren’t in the same cabins, and it’s at a corporate retreat facility where we don’t have to work in the cabin.

                  The idea of an offsite isn’t really what bothers me, although, I don’t think they are really that necessary. It’s the conditions and timing of this particular one that have me nervous.

        3. Hooptie

          “They object to the local idea becuase they don’t want people to be able to leave or go home.”

          My company did this for a couple of years straight. They made 50+ people stay in a Bible Camp for two nights for a ‘retreat’. The camp was within a 30 minute drive from home for most, which meant that instead of going home at night, people had to arrange to have pets kenneled, 24 hour child care set up, schedules for getting kids to practices and activities….the list goes on and on.

          The meetings were not productive simply because so many people were worried about the things they COULD have been taking care of, and were concerned over the additional costs. No, the company would not reimburse for kenneling/child care/etc. either, so it actually cost the employees to attend. Also, the internet at the camp was non-existent so you couldn’t even try to take care of your regular work during breaks and what little down time there was.

          While some loved the whole Kumbaya feel of the thing, the majority were left disgruntled and unhappy. Another example of why teambuilding and retreats are not effective and a horrible way to try to build a culture. If you’re going to make people be away from home for days at a time, at least make the location and down time activities desirable enough so they are excited and feel that it is worth their while.

          Reply
  18. Rebecca

    I’m curious about what this company expects of parents? What about people who have children? What if they don’t have family nearby, and they’re a single parent who utilizes daycare during the day while they work? It’s not like pets – you can’t just put children into boarding.

    I have to say this would be a deal breaker for me. I’d probably quit before I’d spend a week with my coworkers in a cabin in the woods. The very thought of it horrifies me.

    Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        That’s bad for the business, and the employer shouldn’t be okay with that outcome, as opposed to just picking a different alternative that achieves the goal.

        And it’s worth noting that of the group who hate this kind of thing, it’ll be the best employees, the ones with the most options and who can easily find a different job, who will be most likely to quit over this kind of expectation.

        Reply
        1. Joey

          Eh, some jobs require this type of thing. If it impacts your ability to keep or attract candidates that’s certainly cause for rethinking it. But I haven’t ever seen a high performer in a professional position quit because they just didn’t want to go on occasional overnight trips.

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Occasional overnight trips, no. But a whole week in a remote cabin, sharing a bedroom? Why stay when you have plenty of other good options?

            I’d be willing to walk away over it at this point in my career.

            Reply
              1. Cat

                Sure, but the problem is that this gets trumpeted out every time a workplace introduces a ridiculous policy. Most people will suck it up rather than quitting over a stupid cabin retreat, or stupid invasive health initiatives, or a stupid office chaplain who hectors people, or all the other dumb things we see on this site. However, if you take this attitude towards actually managing your own company, you’re going to start piling on the stupid frustrations and your top performers are going to start feeling ever less satisfied with your company as a result. It’s a bad approach; you should be thinking “is this a good or a bad policy,” not “will this by itself cause people to quit.”

                Reply
                1. Joey

                  Not quite. The thinking goes like this:

                  1. What can we do to increase productivity and get the most return on our money?
                  2. Where does our research show we can improve? How would we do it?
                  3. Does it make sense and can we do it?
                  4. Can we measure it?
                  5. Did it work?
                  6. Can we do it better next time?

                2. Joey

                  Or the alternative:

                  1. Boss that’s not a good idea because xyz.
                  2. Do it any way.
                  3. 10-4
                  4. Boss, here’s how it didn’t work an here’s how we can do it better.

                3. Cat

                  Okay, if you can show sticking co-workers, including pregnant ones, in a remote cabin for a week actually increases productivity and a return on your money, then do it. But that requires actual evidence not just “we think this is a good idea, so we expect everyone else to shut up about it.”

              2. Observer

                If management is this stupid, then the job is generally NOT “otherwise good” – or if it is, it’s generally a sign that things have changed for the worse.

                Remember, we are not talking about a minor inconvenience, but a really terrible idea that is not even well suited to its stated purpose, and puts the company at high risk.

                Reply
            1. Joey

              From my experience one week isn’t that bad at all. I know people who’ve had to train in other cities for 3-4 weeks straight or do this type of thing monthly/quarterly . And these are highly desireable corporate jobs with people beating down the door to get in. Sure the difference is they know what they’re getting into,but when you know there are jobs out there that require way more suddenly occasional trips aren’t so bad.

              Cue the worse doesn’t make bad good comments.

              Reply
                1. Joey

                  Well my wife traveled pretty much right up until the doctor said she couldn’t. The majority of professional women I know who’ve been in the same situation did the same.

                2. Heather

                  Well, if you don’t know anyone who had problems, then those problems clearly don’t exist.

                  Sorry for the sarcasm, but honestly. Do you really not see that your wife’s experience is not a universal one?

                3. Joey

                  Heather and Sophia (ironic that’s my daughters name) I never said there weren’t complications. I just said they worked until their doctors said they couldn’t. My wife couldn’t travel for a while and I told her knowing what lots of managers think that it’s best to have a doctors note so there’s no question and no room to doubt her. I hate that it’s even necessary, but I know what goes through lots of managers heads.

                4. Heather

                  But the comment Mimi was responding to was where you said a week-long trip wasn’t bad compared to what other jobs require – it didn’t have anything to do with whether a doctor’s note is required (although I’m glad to hear you don’t agree with managers who would require one). The original point still stands – it’s unfair, not to mention impractical, to assume that your experience or viewpoint is the most valid one.

                  I think most people do appreciate the way you point out alternative points of view, but I also think that sometimes your tone can come across as a little dismissive of people who have a different perspective. It’s fine to feel that way in your head (or even when you’re talking with someone you know agrees with you), but when you’re trying to convince people on a discussion board, a little empathy and humility goes a long way. That’s why they invented “IMHO” and “YMMV” :)

                  (I hope this is taken in the [constructive] way it’s intended. I’m not trying to join the earlier “how much does Joey suck” discussion!)

            2. AdAgencyChick

              Not only this — but the fact that THE COMPANY has (many) other options for getting this work done. They could pick a resort instead of asking employees to rough it. They could just tell everyone “we’re asking long hours of everyone until we get this done,” and, you know, LET THEM GO HOME, even if it is for only a few hours a day.

              I wouldn’t walk over a week away from my husband for, say, an important conference. The conference is when it is and if I need to go, I need to go. But I sure as hell would walk over a week stuck with my coworkers in a cabin for no good reason.

              Reply
            3. Windchime

              Yeah, me too. Because an employer who is forcing its employees to do this kind of stuff is probably doing other stuff I’d hate, too. I have options at this point in my career (or so I’d like to think).

              Reply
          2. Nancypie

            Most professional jobs make it very clear that a certain percentage of travel is necessary , if any is. Assuming that this is A workplace where some travel is required (or they probably wouldn’t be doing this), you have plans on place for how your family will manage to survive without you for a few says….some trips seem less necessary than others, but it’s part of the job.
            That being said, I hate the cabin idea, and have no interest on knowing what my coworkers pjs look like. But I have gone to multi-day offsite work sessions where much has been accomplished (when if we are 5 miles from the office). It’s very productive to not have the day to day distractions of your regular worksite.

            Reply
            1. Say it

              Yeah. There’s a difference between “I don’t like it” and “I can’t.” The pregnancy takes this to the latter level. And multiday offsites, if designed right with the right facilities can work well.

              PS – Yes, I am an introvert, yes I don’t like sharing rooms, yes, yes yes. But it’s work. We get paid to do things we don’t like.

              Reply
              1. Observer

                Besides the pregnancy, which is a huge issue by itself, this is NOT just a “multi-day offsite”. This is a poorly thought out and extra-ordinarily outrageous imposition.

                Yes, when you have a job, you expect to do things you don’t like. But this is not about not liking things. The issue is not knowing what your room-mate’s PJs are like etc. On the one hand you have a major imposition, which includes general loss of privacy (that’s NOT part of a normal job description), the potential to force disclosure of a good deal of sensitive and personal information, a stunning crossing of boundaries (forcing men and women to dorm in one small house? Seriously?) and a week that will mean ridiculous amounts of stress for a lot of the staff. On the other hand, you have the fact that this simply cannot meet the claimed goals. Everything about the set-up works against it. People don’t do this kind of work well, when they are always on – even extroverts. Stressing people out and wearing them down also makes productivity take a nose dive. And the fact that no one can ever get away means that any problem that any singled person has becomes amplified many times over. And, that’s all assuming everyone in the group is an extrovert and initially agrees to the idea. If anyone goes in negatively because it’s that or lose the job, or is not a total extrovert, forget about it.

                Reply
            2. OP

              My job didn’t require any travel when I started or in the job description. Since then, I’ve had to go on a few trips (not offsite working sessions) and that’s fine. They are in cities at hotels with my own room. Rustic cabin in the woods with coworkers? No, those were not mentioned.

              Reply
            3. Heather

              My job isn’t supposed to require any travel. If they wanted me to go to a short conference, I would probably be somewhat annoyed because it isn’t supposed to be part of the job, but I’d deal. But a week in a cabin with all my coworkers (who I like)? That’s so far past reasonable, I can’t even see reasonable in my rear view mirror.

              Reply
          3. Anonymous

            An occasional overnight trip is VERY different from sharing a bedroom and a cabin from which you cannot escape for at least a week.

            2 nights in your own hotel room =/= a week in the same room without any chance to be alone

            Reply
          4. Brett

            You’ll have to take my word that I’m a high performer. It took me a long time to realize that I am, but I am pretty sure that I am.
            I turned down massive privately owned company that is 50% of the business in my field multiple because I will not handle the travel requirements. I turned down Google because I did not want to deal with the very skewed work/life balance.

            You are right, high performers rarely quit over “occasional overnight trips”. High performers ferret out unacceptable travel before they accept the job and choose not to work there in the first place.

            Reply
            1. OP

              There was absolutely no way way for me to “ferret out” this type of event when I started working there. Normal travel that happens every few months? Sure, and I don’t have a problem with it. This is totally different. And since, by your implication, I may not be a “high performer” because I didn’t ferret out this absurdity (which is not something the company ever did before I worked there – offsites, yeah, but not ones like this), I feel compelled to say that when I took this job, I had 4 other offers on the table. Good offers.

              I had choices and I still do. I get weekly contacts from recruiters. Overall, I like this company and this type of event does not gel with the type of company it is or the overall culture, so ferreting it out would have been difficult, if not impossible.

              Reply
              1. Brett

                You are reading my response wrong OP. I was responding to Joey’s claim that high performers don’t leave companies because of overnight travel (implying that anyone bothered by overnight travel is not a high performer) by pointing out that high performers that do not like overnight travel avoid companies with travel in the first place.

                And considering your response, and the response of others on your team, this time of overnight may just lead to the company losing out on candidates in the future. Maybe they lose one or two people over this, and think, “Well, this will rarely cost us people.” But the reality is that they will lose more people in the future than would quit right now.

                Reply
              2. Woodward

                OP, I think Brett was just responding to Joey @ January 28, 2014 at 12:56 pm. I don’t think he was saying it’s your fault for not figuring out this could be a potential problem or that you’re not a high performer. Joey said, “companies with high performers expect this of them” and Brett was saying, “I’m a high performer and I don’t do this.”

                Reply
          5. Colette

            There’s a difference between trips where there’s a business justification (e.g. visit to a customer site), and trips like this where there really isn’t one.

            Reply
            1. fposte

              That’s a good point. I’m thinking some posters are digging themselves in a little far on the no overnight/no sharing position, and it’s a reminder that we 1) skew to introverts and 2) skew away from fields where sharing and overnights are par for the work course. However, it’s different when you’re aboard a trawler, or at a conference, or on medical call in the hospital, because it’s stuff you couldn’t do back home. This is stuff you could do back home (or in the conference room of a nearby hotel if you’re determined to get out of the office).

              Reply
              1. HRAnon

                Yes! It’s the insanity that, without a legitimate business reason this is needed, their “because we want to!” should overrule someone’s “because I don’t want to!”

                Reply
                1. Colette

                  Yes, that’s exactly it.

                  If it were necessary for the business, it still wouldn’t be possible for the OP to go because of her medical condition, but she (and the rest of us) would be more understanding about why they asked if she could go.

        2. Say it

          “And it’s worth noting that of the group who hate this kind of thing, it’ll be the best employees, the ones with the most options and who can easily find a different job, who will be most likely to quit over this kind of expectation.”

          Yes.

          Reply
      2. Rayner

        No, you see, when you treat your employees like they’re in an end game scenario, especially when there are other, perfectly legitimate options around, it doesn’t make you a good employer. It makes you, as a boss, an asshole.

        And people leave over being treated like that. It may not be directly over a single incident, but it will continue to build resentment and apathy towards a company who looks solely at “This is what we want” and not at the employees requirements too.

        You don’t create good will, you don’t create positivity, you don’t create an environment where employees feel the need to go above and beyond for the employer.

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth West

          Exactly. Because there are other, more reasonable ways for them to do an offsite work session than to put people in a cabin far from everything. There has to be something closer that will work. If they insist on the cabin, that’s being unreasonable.

          Reply
        2. Hooptie

          Perfect, Rayner, because this is the point where ‘above and beyond’ quickly becomes ‘required’ and an expectation that most people didn’t sign on for.

          Reply
      3. Mephyle

        You figure it out or don’t go. Simple actually”

        Simple but not without consequences. If the choice is to spend a month’s grocery money on childcare or lose your job, it’s not that it wouldn’t be simple to implement either one, but whichever one you take, the consequences will be hard to cope with.

        Reply
    1. Rayner

      I expect that either management would give you leave if they were reasonable to not come to this kind of event/skype in every day, or they’d expect you to find child care somehow, if they were not.

      Same with those who had pets, disabled partners who required care, elderly parents living at home with them etc.

      Terrible management if they did though and I would also bail as fast as I could.

      Reply
      1. OP

        For the record, I have pets. My husband is traveling for work that week, so I get to shell out $500 for the pet sitter in addition to going on this circus of a trip.

        The irony is, no offsite prior to this (before my time at the company) has been successful, so I have no idea why they think this one will. I guess they think the others weren’t remote enough – one was at a local hotel and employees just came in for the day, the other was at a corporate resort type place in the metro area where people did stay overnight.

        Reply
        1. Rayner

          It seems like your company is throwing the idiot ball back and forth.

          Who was it who said that the definition of madness was doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results?

          And I hate hate hate hate companies who expect employees to just drop their lives for this kind of thing. Having pets is just as much a responsibility as children, or elderly parents at times.

          Reply
          1. AnotherAlison

            Seriously? Having pets is just as much a responsibility as children. Let me know where I can board my kids for $30/night.

            I think it’s pretty reasonable to expect employees to participate in this if travel is a regular part of their job. The way the OP framed it, with the communal living and the disregard for medical needs, is too extreme, but a week-long offsite work session isn’t unreasonable (at a hotel!).

            My mother has worked for 28 years, with ONE overnight business trip, while that’s my per month average. I guess she would think a retreat like this is outrageous, but it’s the norm in a lot of work situations. I’m just happy I have never had to go to Edmonton for work, yet.

            Reply
            1. PJ

              “Let me know where I can board my kids for $30/night.”

              I don’t agree that the cost of overnight boarding reflects the level of commitment one has made.

              Reply
              1. AnotherAlison

                Cost and committment are irrelevant. It’s about options for travel, in a work context. I have pets and kids.

                If you board your dog, you are taking care of your responsibility. You might love him more than life itself, and not want to board him, but he’s taken care of in a way that’s reasonably responsible.

                There’s generally not 3rd party child care that you can leave a child with for 120 hours, excluding family and really generous friends. It’s not about preference; the option isn’t there. You might have more options with an elderly or disabled person, as there are agencies to support them. You can hire overnight home health care. What can you do for kids?

                Reply
                1. CTO

                  There are professional nanny agencies that offer temporary overnight childcare… but it’s not cheap.

                2. Rayner

                  I have in the past had pets who had medical requirements – daily pills, weighings, and specific diets. My family has had horses. My mother has a dog who requires physical therapy.

                  Pets can have a long list of requirements, and can be equally needy in terms of having to supply for them.

                  I said, at times.

                  No, having a dog is not 100% like having children. But it can present equally challenging obstacles to taking long work trips, and retreats, especially to people who have pets with complex needs, or many pets of different kinds.

                3. AnotherAlison

                  I’m still going to have to be a PITA and disagree about “equally challenging” obstacles as children.

                  When it becomes socially acceptable to put down children or give them away, you will have won the debate.

                  I fully understand the challenges of pets & have *not* gotten the farm animals I’d like to have or additional dogs because of the inconvenience of even a short 3 hr trip to see friends. But, if push comes to shove, and keeping my job depended me on leaving my kids alone, the kids would win. If it was the job or my dog, it’s gotta be the job (for me). There probably are people who pick the dog over the job, and that’s fine.

                4. EM

                  I think this runs both ways though — as parents of children, you get much, much more leeway with care.

                  If your child has a surgery, there is no question you (or your spouse) need to be there and stay home to take care of your child and help them recuperate.

                  When someone’s dog is sick or has cancer, very few workplaces would deem it acceptable for their employee to stay home to care for their dog or miss work to take their dog to the vet for chemo treatments.

                  When you can use FMLA and bereavement for pets, then we can talk. ;)

                5. Rayner

                  Nobody is saying that having dogs or cats is 100% exactly the comparable experience to having children, money, time and investment match exactly one for one.

                  When it becomes socially acceptable to put down children or give them away, you will have won the debate.

                  Nobody is asking about that side of the debate and in fact, that’s kind of crass to bring it up. Derailing the conversation with a bigger, more drastic issue that is irrelevant isn’t going to help.

                  But, if push comes to shove, and keeping my job depended me on leaving my kids alone, the kids would win. If it was the job or my dog, it’s gotta be the job (for me).

                  Again, not what I’m saying. I am saying that owning a pet can present many of the same challenges to having a child or an elderly parent who lives with you – someone must take care of the pet via pet sitting or sending them somewhere else (boarding, a friend’s house, a day care facility), finding this on short notice, getting medications, etc.

                  It is not a one hundred percent, “I have a dog, therefore I have a child!” one to one translation. But many similar irritations and challenges can be presented to people who have animals to take care of, and people who have human beings to take care of.

                  Your opinions as a parent are valid. My experiences as a pet owner are equally valid.

          2. Anonymous

            “Who was it who said that the definition of madness was doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results?”

            Einstein. :)

            Reply
        2. Elizabeth West

          No you don’t, because you are not going. YOU ARE NOT GOING. I will kick them myself if I have to.

          Pets….I can’t go anywhere without making sure someone can feed and water my outside cat twice a day. Especially the water, especially in winter.

          Reply
        3. EM

          So does that mean you are going to go along with the trip if it comes down to that? I think you should refuse if you can deal with the potential fall out.

          Reply
    2. Say it

      I got laid off for refusing to go on a retreat-like event (and other things). But the company kept me on as a contract employee since they needed me, and then hired me back eventually.

      I’ll add that this wasn’t an “I can’t situation,” (like the OPs), it was an”I hate” situation, but that was enough for me to refuse – I said I don’t want to and it’s a waste of the organization’s money. So they said, well all staff have to go so we’re taking you off staff.

      I was in a decent position in terms of power and options at the time. Push back if you can, everyone.

      Reply
      1. Jen in RO

        My boyfriend successfully argued against something similar (but not this bad). He has to go on a 2-day useless training in another country, and the manager wanted him to take a 7 AM plane. He did not want to ruin his sleep for a training that could have been done via Skype, so he basically said “get me a different ticket or I’m not going”. He got his way in the end – he leaves later, lands on an airport that’s further away from the city, and the company is paying for the taxi ride.

        However, few people will be in such a position. He is a very high performer and he was willing to quit over a plane ticket… I wouldn’t dare do something like this!

        Reply
  19. Ann O'Nemity

    Once again, this site gives me another reason to be grateful for my company, boss, and co-workers. I can’t imagine any situation in which we’d mandate a week-long work retreat at a remote cabin. No way in hell.

    Reply
    1. Ethyl

      Me too! As part of my job, I organize and attend youth field trips, and the one we take to DC is 3 days long. During those trips, obviously, since I’m the event organizer, I’m rarely “off.” However, my boss always makes sure any staff attending get a private room, and that I get off at least the same number of days when we get back to town, if not more. And he is quite generous with meal reimbursements so I can at least usually sneak away for some sushi and some quiet reading time :)

      Reply
  20. webDev

    The comments here sound a bit like a culture clash: startup-y 24/7 extreme-sporty VS I want an adult job with regular hours. #1 is cool but #2 is more sustainable.

    It seems to me that OP is in the building a family time of life, and has moved beyond the startup culture. You need your downtime and your home time. I had the hot IT job in the late 90s, but as I got older I wanted time away from work. Got a more “adult” job and have been happy ever since.

    Reply
    1. Sarabeth

      I’ll say, though, that I think it’s bad business practice even at a startup. My husband is a software engineer in the Bay Area. His skills are in high demand, but he won’t even interview with most start-ups because we have a baby that he’d like to occasionally see. I think most of these firms are underestimating the costs and overestimating the benefits of the frat-house, 24/7 start-up culture.

      Reply
    2. OP

      I don’t work for a startup. It’s a large, growing company. It is a tech company, but it’s definitely not a startup. I have no desire to work at a startup at this point.

      I like my company. They have really good benefits (minus crappy maternity leave, but good maternity leave is hard to come by anywhere here in the US, so whatever on that one) and are generally family friendly and is in favor of a healthy work/life balance. This situation is definitely a weird outlier and I’m hoping it works out favorably because I like most other aspects of working here.

      Reply
    1. Trillian

      Pregnant women make great roommates, as far as I’m concerned. They need quiet and sleep more than I do, and they’re as much into conservation of energy as any introvert. I can trust I won’t come back to my room to find it has been turned into a hangout because the bar is too loud, or spend half the night sleeping on edge in expectation of the loud farewell conversation in the hall and the not-so-quiet entrance at 2 am.

      Reply
  21. Doy

    Pregnancy is a potentially life-ending condition. Being sent far from medical help isn’t on the table. At all.

    If you’re looking for productivity from your introverts, a week long off-site is a bad, bad idea.

    I took part in one two years ago- separate rooms, shared washrooms, grounds to wander in, optional mixers in the evening, reasonable sleep time. Even though I slept well and took some time away in the evening, by the end of the week I was a sensory overload mess.

    The whole next week I was mentally shuffling around in fluffy slippers, mumbling to myself.

    Reply
  22. Heather

    It’s not just pregnant people who would have issues with being far from a hospital. A lot of people have diseases or issues that require them to be close to a medical facility. Type 1 diabetes for example. Often people with this need to wake up in the middle of the night to check their blood sugars. Every night. And even if they do everything right (dosage, eat right etc) they can have crazy blood sugars (high or low) that are life threatening. If they can’t get them under control they could need to go to the ER. That would be ridiculous of an employer to expect them to be somewhere like that if something happened.

    Reply
    1. AnotherAlison

      Yep, you can’t be a long-hauld truck driver with Type I diabetes. Ya know, because they’re often in remote places away from medical facilities.

      Reply
    2. MaryMary

      My father uses a CPAP machine at night for sleep apnea. I’m picturing him lugging his machine and oxygen to a remote cabin, and to the dismay of whoever his roommate is.

      Reply
      1. Judy

        My kids report that my dad’s CPAP is really loud in their house. “PawPaw sounds like Darth Vader when he sleeps.”

        Reply
      2. Poe

        I spent 2 nights in a hostel where one of my (many) roommates had a sleep apnea machine. A group of us decamped to the lobby on the second night to drink beer and make gradiose conversation about what we would do with the machine once we stole it in the morning. Fortunately, he left.

        Reply
  23. Victoria Nonprofit

    I’m interested in how unhappy the idea of the retreat seems to make many folks on here, and I’m curious where the line is for everyone.

    For example: My organization has two all-staff retreats each year. The content is really good professional development; we’re known for our excellent training. They are generally two to three days long, with a full day for travel on either end – so essentially, folks are gone from home Monday through Friday. We all work remotely and are spread out throughout the country, so these are the only times we come together. We share rooms and have scheduled activities from around 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. There are optional group activities scheduled in the evenings.

    My team (~20% of the organization) has three additional such conferences. The details are similar. All this adds up to ~5 weeks of staff conferences/retreat. Everyone on my team travels extensively for our jobs, so while these additional weeks are obviously more time away from home, it’s not out of line with our expectations.

    Although I’m an introvert and a total homebody, this works for me (mostly because I really, really value the training we get, and because I love my colleagues and appreciate the little bits of time we get to spend together). I’m sure it’s well beyond the line of what’s acceptable for others. Where does everyone draw their lines?

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      This might make an interesting question to pose in a post of its own! But my own answer is a combination of these factors:

      1. Utility — do I really believe that what I’m going to get out of the time is worth the hassle? Or does it feel like the company is doing it for reasons that aren’t well thought out?

      2. Unpleasantness quotient — does it include unreasonable or highly unpleasant expectations like staying in a remote cabin with shared bedrooms for a week, nude saunas, constant togetherness with zero break, etc.? Or do people have their own rooms, time to themselves if they want it, and comfortable accommodations?

      3. How well employer treats people overall — like most people, I’ll bend more for a great employer who makes me happy most of the time (this includes salary, among other considerations)

      Reply
    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Oh, and one more: Dignity. Certain things just aren’t for sale. I’m not going to perform a dance for an assembly of coworkers (see that awful post from a few weeks ago) or otherwise do things that are insultingly unrelated to what the employment relationship is about.

      I might perform a dance after having a few drinks with some friends, but it will be because I find it amusing to do so, not because I’m a trained monkey.

      Both sides of the equation in a business relationship get to decide what’s being offered for sale.

      Reply
      1. Hooptie

        Alison, I’d love to see you write a US News article on how NOT to build a company culture. It should be required reading for all managers and HR departments. The whole ‘building a culture’ thing doesn’t appear to be going away, and from my experience these types of things are driven by Pollyanna do-gooders who just don’t GET that most people aren’t like them and don’t enjoy the forced teambuilding and other activities. Instead, focus on work-life balance and respecting your employees.

        Dignity is so important – I’ll never forget when several mid-level managers were forced to get up in front of an entire group of high-ranking employees and not only do a choreographed dance, but sing a brand-related song that some weirdo dreamed up. Not only were the performers excruciatingly embarrassed, but the audience clearly felt horrible for them.

        Reply
    3. Joey

      Totally depends on what my options are. If I have options I’m less tolerant of inconveniences or bad parts of the job. If I have no options I’m happy to have a job, but won’t ever compromise things like faith, family, the law, or my dignity.

      Reply
      1. Victoria Nonprofit

        I guess what I’m getting at is what constitutes inconveniences or “bad parts of the job.” It’s different for everyone, of course – and of course we put up with more if we feel we don’t have the choice.

        For me, the staff conferences don’t go in the “bad parts of the job” column. If anything, they are part of what I really value about this gig – incredibly good professional development.

        Reply
        1. Colette

          For me, 5 weeks away would be over the line. I have regular commitments out of work (volunteer work & a boxing training class that is not cheap) and, while I’m willing to travel occasionally (and if there’s a legitimate reason for it), 5 weeks is too much.

          Reply
          1. Victoria Nonprofit

            I hear you on the classes and other regular commitments. I travel around 50% (normal, given the nature of my job), and that’s one of the things that I struggle with the most. There is so much I would love to do along those lines (choir, writing class, running group, etc.).

            Reply
    4. Mena

      Really? And people go along with this? Way too communal and any etiquette blog will tell you to throw the party you can afford (you never ask guests to bring an ‘assignment’ and in this instance, don’t double bunk staff).

      Five weeks a year – no, you wouldn’t get that from me. I wonder how many super-awesome employees have left your organization.

      Reply
      1. Victoria Nonprofit

        Yeah, I’d prefer single rooms too. But… this isn’t a party. It’s something my workplace has decided is important for our staff development.

        It’s quite possible we’ve lost some super-awesome people because of this. It’s also possible that we’ve kept or attracted super-awesome people who are grateful for the skill development we get. That’s my whole point of starting this thread; people have different lines.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          But why does skill development demand sharing a room? Why do I have to see my coworkers in their pjs in order to develop my skills? These two things are not requirements of each other.

          I get great skill development and have exactly zero idea of what they wear to bed.

          Reply
          1. Victoria Nonprofit

            Obviously skill development doesn’t require sharing a room. However, working for my organization, which offers unusually good professional development (along with other benefits and flaws, like any organization), requires sharing a room.

            Reply
        2. Jamie

          What do single rooms have to do with it being a party?

          I understand that this is common in non-profits and academia, but it’s certainly not frivolous to find it off putting to share a bed and bathroom with co-workers – I’m not sure how wanting to sleep and shower alone is analogous to a party?

          Reply
          1. Victoria Nonprofit

            Mena compared the conference to a party, saying “you throw the party you can afford” (and don’t ask guests to bring food, etc.). I was responding to that; I don’t think the analogy holds.

            I agree with you: it sucks to share a room. I don’t draw my line there (because I couldn’t be employed in my field if I did, at least not until I’m at a more senior level and/or could afford to pay for my own rooms) but I would if I could.

            Reply
        3. Mena

          If they could afford it, they wouldn’t be double-bunking staff so it looks like they can’t afford this development program. The real, professional world DOES.NOT.DO.THIS.EVER. And no, the five weeks you describe is not attracting top-notch-staff but perhaps it is attracting less than top-not-staff because they need this training.

          Reply
          1. Victoria Nonprofit

            You’ve used that line in other threads – “The real, professional world DOES.NOT.DO.THIS.EVER.” That may be what you and I wish were true, but it simply is not. Saying it over and over again doesn’t change the reality that in many fields, sharing rooms is absolutely standard.

            As for what attracts people (top-notch and not) – it obviously varies. Some people are attracted by salaries. Others by vacation time, the chance to work with someone they admire, the mission of the organization, the culture of the office, a concrete 9-5 schedule, or, yes, the training and development available. I assume for most of us it’s a mixture of all or most of those things.

            Reply
            1. Jamie

              As for what attracts people (top-notch and not) – it obviously varies.

              A thousand times this! We all have different motivations and priorities. There are people for whom excellent heath benefits are their #1 – over salary. My husband has that covered (ha – covered – I kill me), so you can’t woo me with a health plan. I also care very little about vacation – some people need X amount of time.

              For me it’s all about the work, autonomy, and the money. Not necessarily in that order. Some people see a company with a gym on the premises and want to sign right up. I’ll already be making mental calculations of how much that perk costs and wondering how much of this comes out of what would otherwise be bonuses and raises.

              Not only do we all have different priorities, but they change throughout our lives. If I worked when my kids were small flex time would have been way more important than salary. If I somehow lost insurance through my spouse then health benefits would shoot to the top of my list.

              If there is one thing top notch talent has in common, as do average talent, and under performers is that we all have individual motivating factors.

              Reply
              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                Out of curiosity, what are you basing that on? I’ve known it to be common in some nonprofits and so have other commenters who have talked about it here in the past.

                Reply
                1. Observer

                  Yes, but non-profits engage in a number of cost cutting measures that are not common in well run private organizations – and which DO cost them staff. It’s not obvious, because what often winds up happening is that these folks just leave the nonprofit sector altogether. (I know a number of people like that.)

                  I speak as someone who has spent most of my work like in the nonprofit sector – still am, for that matter – and has seen the trajectories of a number of people.

              2. Victoria Nonprofit

                In my experience – over 15 years in the nonprofit sector, including serving on sector leadership boards – it’s prevalent. My organization hasn’t offered an explanation to me; I wasn’t surprised by it. I’m not sure what explanation they would give to someone who asked about it.

                Reply
          2. Jamie

            I thought the same thing, because it’s so unheard of IME it was on par with asking co-workers to share a toothbrush…but I learned on AAM it’s really common in non-profit and academia. So there are professional worlds where this is such a common practice if you wouldn’t do it (and I wouldn’t) you need to figure out how to navigate that.

            But yes, I was really surprised to find this is common in those fields – I’m assuming it has to do with being prudent with donations and government money. Which I appreciate both as a donor and a tax payer – I just wouldn’t appreciate it if I were the one subjected to it.

            Reply
            1. Felicia

              Although I know from experience that sharing a room for a business trip is common in non-profits and academia, from my experience this is sharing a room in a city in a normal hotel. Never for a week at a time, in a remote cabin in the woods where you can’t leave. Two nights in a hotel in a real city sharing a room is different.

              Reply
              1. Jamie

                ITA that this situation is just completely unreasonable. And the meals thing – have to say I’d be completely screwed…it’s just way too ‘pretend to be a family’ for me.

                Reply
                1. Rayner

                  Given that I am ridiculously limited in the food that I will eat, the concept of fixing meals together is painful. Painful.

                2. Windchime

                  Exactly. I don’t need my co-workers to “be like family”. I already have a perfectly fine family, thanks. My co-workers are my co-workers and, for a select few, also my friends that I sometimes see outside of work. But even for those friends, I do not want to share a room with them for a week. I need down time; time to recharge and to think, and I can’t do that if I am forced to be in the company of other people non-stop for a week. Honestly, it sounds like hell to me.

          3. AnotherAlison

            Hmm. I work for a privately held Fortune 500 company that’s profitable, and they do it in many situations. Employees are stockholders so they go along because it’s increasing their bottom line.

            I don’t necessarily agree with double bunking, but I know in addition to the cost savings, there is a cultural, acclimating reason that they do it for. If the employees are drinking the kool-aid, that’s fine. The ones who don’t want to can leave. There are plenty who come along and fill their shoes. Like I said, I don’t agree with the practice, but it definitely exists.

            Reply
          4. Anonymous

            Not true about not sharing rooms in the “real, professional world.”

            I work for an organization that has contracts and funding from major global corporations and US government agencies. Over two decades old with some major successes. Contacts with presidents and heads Fortune 500 companies.

            And money is tight. Sometimes the number of rooms in a space is tight. We’ve done shared rooms at times. I don’t like it myself. But it is done. All the time in some fields, and sometimes in others.

            Reply
    5. AnotherAlison

      I actually ike the idea, and it would not be a stretch for my team, though we’ve never done a trip that required working and staying in a cabin. Most of my team are road warriors, and then there are a couple of us who travel a few times a quarter, including whatever team offsite we have.

      I’m an introvert, and while I wouldn’t want to share a room with anyone, that’s my boundary. I’m fine with just about everything else, as long as I’m not pregnant or sick. Last summer, we water-skiied. That was a little weird, but I’m in shape & you didn’t have to go -or- get in the water if you did go.

      Reply
    6. Judy

      I’m fine with an occasional offsite that I have to travel and stay away from home. But staying in a cabin with shared rooms and bathrooms, no alone time and fixing meals together, no way. That’s something I do for fun with my family and a group of 11 8 year olds.

      Is part of the team building planning meals? Because that’s what we do when we’re planning a girl scout camp out.

      Even when we go camping with the girl scouts, we make sure that each adult get some “time off” during the day.

      Reply
      1. Victoria Nonprofit

        I’m not sure if your question about planning meals was directed to me, but just in case:

        We don’t stay in cabins, do any of our own cooking, or anything like that. We stay at hotels, attend sessions in the conference center, have meals catered or eat at restaurants, etc.

        Reply
    7. Jamie

      I think the key is being clear about this during the hiring process, so you’re hiring people for whom this doesn’t cross a line.

      If I had worked when my kids were small there is no way I could have done a week away from home. I have a child with autism, being gone for a week when he was young would have been wildly traumatic and not as easy and a trip to Gramma’s house. So had I worked I would have screened for jobs with no travel (and they are certainly out there.)

      So if something like this was sprung on me, and it was mandatory, yes – that crosses a line because it wasn’t the deal going in. Foul on the employer. If I knew about it and then just refused, foul on me…I shouldn’t have taken a job where travel was required.

      But it’s an interesting exercise so my personal lines would be (and to be clear I have no home issues to preclude my traveling, so this is all about my own very precise and well guarded boundaries.)

      1. I would never share a hotel or any type of bedroom with the exception of select family and spouse.

      2. I would never share a bathroom* with people with whom I work (I don’t mean the toilet at work – I mean a bathroom where one would shower or bathe.)

      3. I would never use my personal money for company expenses, of any material amount. IOW I sometimes pick up half and half for coffee and leave it in the fridge for everyone and don’t ask for reimbursement. But if I was asked to do this out of my own money, or pay for client meals on my card, etc. I would refuse on principal. Employees shouldn’t be paying for business expenses.

      4. Echoing Alison’s comment below about dignity. I won’t participate in silly games, songs, anything that makes me feel foolish and ridiculous in the name of team building. Nor would I participate in those asinine team building things discussed in other posts where people share personal or traumatic details about their lives. (For me athletic events fall in here also, I feel silly)

      5. I wouldn’t trot my spouse out if required. he’s met the people with whom I work and he likes them -it’s mutual – but I wouldn’t have allowed them to vet me by meeting my spouse or require him to accompany me for any kind of dog and pony show.

      6. I wouldn’t allow an employer to require me to have people in my home. Either for an inspection or social event – and I’ve had people from work over and it’s been lovely. Nothing to hide, I just feel it’s a personal invasion to require it.

      7. I wouldn’t use my own software or equipment for work – if they need me to do X they need to supply the tools to do so.

      8. I wouldn’t travel a long distance by car with one other person, unless I liked said person. I would go in a group – but no way would I sit for an hour or more with someone I found painful to talk to.

      9. I won’t be forced to give rides to the bus/train for non-drivers because the company thinks it’s the drivers job to perform shuttle service. I’ll give a ride of my own volition, but I’m not a car service or chauffeur.

      10. I would not be sequestered for overnight or longer in any remote location. I’m not a fan of nature, remoteness scares me, and I refuse to spend the entire time trying to keep the voices in my head from screaming.

      Now – seems like a long and unreasonable list, and maybe it is, but I’ve managed to find a workplace where none of the above ever comes up. I also refuse to jump out of airplanes, or recite Shakespeare to large groups – also never come up.

      A lot of issues can be avoided by people screening workplaces properly, workplaces screening hires properly, and not springing crazy unreasonable one-offs like a week away hidden in the woods on people otherwise never asked to travel.

      Reply
        1. Jamie

          Only 8 and 9 – as both happened at a previous job. The rest all come from reading here, since fortunately I have far fewer instances of crazy in my real life.

          Reply
    8. MaryMary

      I was about to comment pretty much along the same lines as what Jamie said. The amount of travel and work-life balance are just as important to job candidates as salary and work activities. To one person, trading five week-long conferences for the ability to work remotely the rest of the time is a great situation. To another, that kind of travel and closeness with coworkers is a non-starter. Situations happen and there may be a sudden business need for travel in a position where it wasn’t necessary before, but the more employers can be transparent the better off everyone is.

      Reply
    9. Ann O'Nemity

      I’ve thought about it for awhile and here’s my basic requirements for a retreat:

      1.) 4 nights away from home, max.
      2.) Private room and bath.
      3.) Cell phone coverage.
      4.) A way to escape – rental car, access to cabs or public transportation, etc.

      Reply
    10. Jen in RO

      In my current job and life situation, I’d do it and I’d probably be excited about it. I like my coworkers, I like my job, and my boyfriend rarely travels, so in 99% of cases he can take care of the cats while I’m away.

      I will even share a room and not be super uncomfortable, as long as it wasn’t for more than a few days (I’m somewhere between extroverted and introverted, but I need my recharge time). If the retreat lasted more than a week, then I would need my own room. If I was single and without pets, I might enjoy going on such a retreat several times a year; with an SO and two cats, I’d limit it to once a year, 2 weeks max.

      My deal-breakers are “team building” stuff as described below: stupid games, dancing, sharing embarrassing stories. I hope those die a quick and painful death.

      (And, obviously, if I hated my coworkers I wouldn’t be caught dead with them for more than 8 hours a day.)

      Victoria, now you made me want to go on a company retreat, or training, or conference, or anything! People in my role never get to go anywhere :( The one business trip I ever went on was a blast!

      Reply
  24. Rebecca

    This almost sounds like the makings of a reality show.

    “This is the true story of 12 coworkers, picked to live in a remote cabin …”

    I wouldn’t even want to be trapped in a cabin with my best friends for a week straight.

    Reply
    1. OP

      Someone suggested bringing our corporate media crew to video tape this. I’m not kidding. Not kidding at all. The person who suggested it also was not kidding.

      Reply
  25. Mena

    Why is it one extreme or the other … remote and close-quarters or resort?

    I suggest you stick to ‘can’t’ terminology and look to your supervisor for a new plan. And like Alison said, an option that distresses holds greater weight than an option that is less popular.

    And I am OH SO WITH YOU ON THIS – too much close proximity (and I am not pregnant). But in this instance, given your health and the health of the baby, you can push back. I’m thinking they are not going to have a helicopter on stand by.

    Reply
  26. Us, too

    I’m one of those people who LOVES team activities. LOVES them. Generally speaking, at least. But if my company planned something like this and I made clear how strongly I objected to it and they did it anyway? I would be PISSED. I don’t want to work somewhere that doesn’t provide a workplace of respect and dignity. As soon as they announced the offsite at the cabin, I’d grab a pad of paper and a pen and would have my resignation note of “My last day at SoonToBeExCompany will be ” written in about 30 seconds. I’d then verbally wish them well and head back to my desk to write up my exit plan to transition my work.

    Frankly, I’m really good at what I do. I get calls several times a year trying to lure me away. I can do better than abusive jerks.

    Reply
  27. MiaRose

    I mostly lurk, but I have to comment on this because of some things that really bother me about this situation, and some of the commentary.

    I was in a position where I was pregnant and had not yet disclosed it to employers because it was very early in the pregnancy (1st trimester). I was then told that I had to go for a two week training course on the other side on the East Coast (I’m on the West Coast), where I was going to stay over during one of the weekends. Since it was in a metro area with access to healthcare and other modern amenities, I sucked it up and went. My employers paid me my usual salary, plus they reimbursed me for food, lodging, car rental AND entertainment (yes, I got to see a bunch of movies and went to visit some museums and other places on their dime). I did not want to go, but it was a reasonable request, my health was not put at risk, and they compensated me for the two lost personal days over the weekend as much as they could reasonably.

    However, the situation with a known pregnancy, a remote location with little access to medical care, plus no reimbursement for lost personal time, and the indignity of sharing a room with no privacy for dealing with personal issues, does not sit well with me. I think that, given the other options for other locations for this retreat, putting even one person on the team with any medical issues at risk (it doesn’t necessarily have to be a pregnancy, as mentioned above) should be a clear “no”. In addition, if employers still insist on forcing employees to give up their precious free time in any way, and in such an inconvenient manner to boot, they should be ready to compensate them for their non-work time.

    Forcing anyone to do anything “team-building” against their comfort level defeats the whole purpose, especially with the whole remote area, room-sharing thing. As the OP mentioned, past events like this have not worked, and this one has the potential go down that same road in a badly spectacular fashion.

    Reply
  28. Anon

    I want to say something controversial. I’m a woman, I plan on having a family someday and I am planning my career around having a family.

    But this idea that being pregnant demands accommodations in the workplace only reinforces discrimination! We’ve seen posts about wondering if we should hide pregnancy in interviews because “being pregnant doesn’t make me any different than another co-worker”. You know, implying that the woman won’t ask for accommodations but is wondering if hiring managers will assume she will.

    I agree that pregnancy DOES make a difference. . It is a medical condition and should be viewed as such. Furthermore, it’s temporary. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is taken into consideration during hiring. This is why it’s viewed as a factor during interviewing and hiring.

    So where does the line get drawn? The overwhelming response here is that pregnancy is a reason to avoid this trip. Personally, there’s LOTS of reasons to avoid a week-long exile into the wilderness for a work retreat. That’s the real issue to me, pregnant or not. If there’s a round the clock project, do it at a hotel where everyone gets their own room. If there are budget reasons to explain why that’s not an option, then understand that your company doesn’t have those resources.

    But at the end of the day, I get upset when pregnancy is the reason women refuse to go along with their jobs. This is the reason women don’t get promoted, or hired, or whatever. If pregnancy is the ultimate trump card for why “I just can’t” (EVEN WHEN IT’S REASONABLE), then it makes it harder for women in general.

    I guess I’m just mad that when a woman says “Pregnancy won’t affect my job!” receives feedback that it will never be an issue and shouldn’t be held against her, and then I see equal support that pregnancy deserves special accommodations.

    I am feeling philosophy whiplash.

    So which is it?

    Reply
    1. the gold digger

      I don’t think this is a reasonable request to make of anyone, pregnant or not. The fact that for a pregnant woman there are legitimate medical concerns only makes the case against going stronger, just as it would for someone who has other medical issues. Spending the night in a remote cabin in the woods is not a job-critical definition for most people who are not park rangers. Demanding it of a pregnant woman in a 9-5 office job is not reasonable.

      Reply
    2. Jamie

      If pregnancy is the ultimate trump card for why “I just can’t” (EVEN WHEN IT’S REASONABLE), then it makes it harder for women in general.

      Maybe I missed it, but where in this thread has anyone mentioned a reasonable work request which commenters posted being okay to dodge using pregnancy.

      The vast majority of posts I’ve read feel this is unreasonable for anyone, pregnant or not, but the medical issues add another layer of complexity. Not that she should get out of doing something reasonable due to pregnancy.

      Reductio ad absurdum – you’re arguing against a a trump card no one has even alluded to, much less thrown.

      FYI – women get hired and promoted every. single. day.

      In reality, yes, maybe the pregnant woman shouldn’t be lifting the giant water bottle. Nor should the guy from accounting who just had surgery, or the other guy who threw his back out. If it’s not a core function of one’s job, people work around other people’s limitations – temporary or long term.

      Reply
      1. OP

        This. There are lots of medical conditions that could restrict certain activities, which is why ADA exists.

        I’m concerned about this trip for a million reasons, one of the major ones is pregnancy because you know, I just don’t want to die from complications that could come out of nowhere on a work trip that wasn’t really a matter of life and death. Sorry if that sets the women’s movement back by a generation. (By the way, it doesn’t.)

        I should reiterate, I haven’t used pregnancy as an excuse to not do my job. I haven’t missed a day of work due to pregnancy, even if I was throwing up in the bathroom or only had an hour of sleep the night before. I’ve been at work, continuing to work on and finish my projects. This is a on-off circumstance, not an “I can’t do my job because I’m pregnant.”

        Reply
        1. Jamie

          Was this directed at me? Because I’m totally on your side here – and I don’t think you’re setting the women’s movement back on second because you are having a baby. :)

          Reply
            1. Anon

              You’re being overly sensitive. You wrote to get advice and the primary reason was your pregnancy. Therefore that’s the key issue.

              Reply
              1. VintageLydia

                Wow. Are you going to tell her she’s “hysterical” next? She has a valid medical reason to avoid this trip. She brought up other issues as well (at least half her coworkers don’t want to go, trips like this have been proven useless in the past, etc.) The pregnancy is relevant to her, specifically, but it’s far from the only reason it’s a bad idea.

                And even if it were, if they go through with this trip, specifically excluding her (because she cannot go, because of a valid medical issue, and one that is outlined by the ADA as needed to be accommodated, especially since she is a key person attached to this project) a reasonable person may infer they are trying to push her out due to her pregnancy. IANAL so I have no idea if it’s actionable, but most people would at least side eye the hell out of her manager.

                Reply
              2. OP

                I’m not even sure what you mean by this comment. I don’t feel that I’m being overly sensitive at all. The comment I was responding to was insinuating that I (or other people) use pregnancy as an excuse to not do their jobs and that my question was an example of this. I was simply stating that this is situation is above and beyond any normal working conditioning and making it clear that I haven’t been trying to get out of regular work because of being pregnant, so I believe my response was completely valid and not overly sensitive at all.

                Reply
            1. Jamie

              I totally failed at reading comprehension yesterday – second time I missed an important part of a comment.

              Every word is important – I’ll stitch that on a sampler so I don’t forget. :)

              Reply
    3. Zahra

      We’re talking about “I have a temporary, but serious, medical condition that may require me to get emergency health care. The probability of needing that emergency care increases during the latter part of the medical condition. Furthermore, I’ll need to take a leave of absence for X weeks in about X months.”

      I’m advocating that her pregnancy is a good enough reason to refuse to go along, *because* of the arguments above (and because other arguments don’t seem to get traction with TPTB). Furthermore, the ADAAA now makes it illegal to discriminate against pregnant women if there are pregnancy-related impairments as long as “they are severe enough to substantially limit a major life activity”. We don’t know if OP has a such condition, but it is possible (and she should absolutely bring it up if it is the case).

      Yes, pregnancy will be taken into account during hiring, but it shouldn’t be taken into account more than my any other impairment that fulfills the criteria in my opening paragraph.

      Reply
    4. Ann O'Nemity

      But at the end of the day, I get upset when pregnancy is the reason women refuse to go along with their jobs. This is the reason women don’t get promoted, or hired, or whatever.

      Do you have the same issue with disabilities? If you replaced the word “pregnancy” with the word “disability” throughout your comment, would you feel the same way?

      Reply
      1. Mimi

        Here’s the difference, though: OP’s “job” is not to sit in a cabin all day, every day, away from home. This is an exception to her normal job. And in this case, even if OP weren’t pregnant, I’d say she’d have valid reasons for not wanting to go.

        But the scenario presented does not constitute “refusing to go along with [her] job.” Manager wants to ship them off to a remote cabin for a week. OP happens to be pregnant. The answer is no. Not, “No, I’m not doing anything off-site” or even “No, I’m not willing to work longer hours.” She’s just saying, “No, I’m not willing to spend a week during my third trimester in the middle of the woods with no privacy and no easy access to my healthcare provider.”

        Totally different.

        Reply
      2. Hooptie

        I could easily see some people give a disability greater credence than a pregnancy simply because pregnancy is usually a choice. I’m not saying that some people didn’t become disabled due to a poor choice, but the decision to have children is a much more common choice.

        Wow did that make sense at all?

        Reply
        1. OP

          In my case it actually wasn’t a choice. It was an accident and totally unplanned. I never planned to have kids, ever. But here I am. Also whether it was a choice or not doesn’t make it any less of a health risk. But I can see where some people may follow the logic you mentioned, although I find it flawed.

          Reply
    5. MiaRose

      I think that pregnancy is definitely a temporary medical condition, but that it should not be used as an excuse to perform reasonable tasks in relation to the job. Going on this remote retreat would be unreasonable even for someone who does not have any medical needs.

      I think there is a huge difference in discrimination vs. a reasonable accommodation, and I think that people need to make and understand that distinction. Having been through two pregnancies, there are a lot of “I can’t” situations that pop up, many that I did not expect, and the situations are different for each person. More often than not, I see pregnant women try to do more than they should because they are afraid of discrimination.

      Reply
    6. marbar

      You know, I typed out a long response, but…it’s too TMI and no one is going to be that interested in my personal medical history. What I’ll say instead is that, Anon, I really, truly hope that you don’t end up with a high-risk pregnancy experience, because trust me, you will realize quickly that the concept that pregnancy may require accommodations in the workplace is more than just an “idea.”

      Sure, there are women who use healthy, easy pregnancies as reason to get out of having to man the phones, because of “THE BABY!” Just as there are people who use stubbed toes as a reason that they can’t be expected to wash out their coffee cups rather than leaving them in the sink. But there are also quite a few women who fully expect that their pregnancies won’t require any accommodations at all who are brought back to earth by physical realities. Because, while pregnancy isn’t a disease, it is an ongoing medical condition that can act an awful lot like a disability as it progresses. (Yes, I’ve been pregnant, and no, I’m not offended at the comparison, though I do want to make it clear to those with real, ongoing disabilities that I do not equate a temporary condition such as pregnancy with the lifelong struggle represented by an actual disability.)

      The OP’s pregnancy is not the only factor affecting this situation…but it IS a factor. She is pregnant. It is reasonable for her not to want to be too far away from full-blown medical care for a week at a time. And, I’d say that, given that her other perfectly valid reasons for not wanting to spend a week working in a cabin in the woods with communal bedrooms and bathrooms are apparently being ignored/pushed aside by others at her company, bringing up the pregnancy aspect is reasonable, just as it would be if she, say, had a heart condition that wasn’t debilitating on a daily basis but that would require quick medical care if not-unforeseeable problems started to crop up.

      And sure, pregnancy is a choice. However, I don’t know of any other condition that 1) is necessary for the ongoing survival of the human race and 2) only affects one half of the population. I am SO GLAD we live in a time when you don’t “have” to have children for both philosophical and selfish reasons (thanks, all my childfree friends, for unselfishly battling overpopulation so I don’t have to work at that myself!), but…I do think it’s preferable for at least SOME people to have children, and I don’t think it’s preferable for pregnancy to be unfeasible for women who work outside the home. Given that, yes, I think it’s reasonable for employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, and what the OP is discussing strikes me as a reasonable accommodation.

      Reply
      1. MarBar

        Clarification: I left off a comma in my response. The “philosophical and selfish reasons” is intended to apply to me, as in they’re the reasons I’m glad to live in a time when having kids is a choice (rather than applying to childfree folks). Sorry!

        Reply
  29. cubicle cellmate

    You know, Joey, by your standard of majority rules, you should just concede defeat, as almost everyone who has commented on this issue disagrees with you.

    My question to you is – actually, I don’t care that much as I usually ignore your comments but I am mildly curious – do you really believe what you write? Or do you just see yourself as a provocateur?

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      That feels unwarranted to me. Joey is thoughtful and insightful, and I find his stances highly practical, even if I don’t always agree (and I think I agree with him far, far more often than I disagree).

      Reply
      1. KJR

        Part of what makes this blog so much fun to be a part of is that we make each other think. How boring if we were all to agree. I for one wouldn’t stick around for long.

        Reply
      2. Jessa

        And Joey is always polite about it. I like reading Joey’s comments, I often find something I hadn’t considered.

        Reply
    2. fposte

      My impression is that Joey is absolutely, totally straightforward in saying what he means, and that in addition to an impressively wide history he brings a wonderful ability to disagree without taking things personally. I’m kind of hoping that’ll rub off on me eventually.

      Reply
      1. Kelly L.

        He’s been an exercise for me in seeing that even people who drive me nuts are more nuanced than they often come off. I disagree with him on almost everything related to how to run a workplace, and I’ll be reading his comments and metaphorically tearing my hair out, and then he’ll pop into a different thread and tear someone a new asshole for being racist or homophobic. Reminds me that a person can drive me utterly up the wall but still kick lots of ass in another arena as needed.

        Reply
        1. Zahra

          I don’t always agree with Joey, but I think he represents the reality of many workplaces. It’s not always what’s reasonable, it’s not always good management, but it is what it is. I think we all need the reminder that, sometimes, we have to work with the reality of our workplace, and not what we wish it to be.

          Reply
          1. Kelly L.

            Yeah, that too. He comes down pretty harshly against the employee and for the employer sometime, and it’s useful to know that there are people who think like that–whether he even does, personally, or not.

            Reply
        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          I’ve noticed that Joey is often explaining how things work, but people think he’s saying that he advocates that way. But there’s a difference between “this is how offices work and here’s why” vs “I believe in XYZ.” When I’ve seen people get riled up over Joey’s input, he’s more often saying the former.

          (Joey, correct me if I’m wrong.)

          Regardless, though, I agree with him an awful lot, and I think you guys find me generally reasonable.

          Reply
          1. Joey

            Maybe I need to more clearly separate my views from reality.

            Here’s the general clue though. When I talk about how managers will react I’m generally talking about reality. When I talk about what to do I’m generally giving my advice on how to deal with reality.

            Reply
            1. Mimi

              This is exactly what I (and others) mean. Do you really not see how “When I talk about how managers will react I’m generally talking about reality” rubs others the wrong way? Who’s to say my managerial experience isn’t more closely aligned with “reality” than yours?

              Gotta tell you, those types of comments really rankle.

              Reply
              1. Joey

                Sorry if I rub you the wrong, but you’re getting the unvarnished me. I don’t think I’m better than anyone. I just think I’ve had enough experience dealing with tons of employee issues and knowing what goes through the heads of people in charge to be able to give people some insight into what I’ve found works best.

                Reply
    3. Joey

      To answer your question, yes I do believe what I write because I’ve seen it with my own eyes time after time after time from bad managers all the way up to what most people would consider very good managers.

      Reply
      1. Rayner

        The problem I have with your answers is that they are grounded in reality. Your reality. Stepping outside of that experience and taking a walk down other people’s seems to difficult for you.

        And the occasional wandering down into hyperbole.

        But then again, it’s often helpful to have someone to push back against, and someone who makes you label something specifically and explicitly rather than relying on nuance and ‘you knows’ is good too.

        Reply
        1. Joey

          Eh partly. I’m always up for a good debate and I’m not afraid to disagree or to realize someone else has a better way. But at the same time I am one that really grills an idea if I don’t think it’s the best solution. But that’s just me. I’m a little bit conservative when it comes to risk taking and only take calculated risks. And when it comes to how to get the best outcome for an employee unless I know otherwise I plan for a not so good manager (because they’re so common) and hope for a good one.

          But you’re right I do use hyperbole to make a point sometimes.

          Reply
  30. AnonEMoose

    There are lots of reasons, medical and otherwise, why this might be a very, very bad idea for people. Just off the top of my head:

    Diabetes: Type 1 or Type 2 – medical emergencies can crop up very suddenly for someone with this disease. And if they have to test and inject insulin, does the cabin have facilities to dispose of sharps and blood-contaminated items? What about a refrigerator for insulin?

    Other chronic diseases/conditions/disabilities: I know people who have various issues going on that cause them pain – sometimes constant, sometimes intermittent but really bad on occasion. Good, regular sleep is essential for them to manage their health. A week in a strange bed, sharing a bedroom with someone who isn’t their SO would mess them up – a lot. Or the person with OCD who generally manages well, but doesn’t handle changes in environment well… I could go on, but I won’t.

    Food allergies/restricted diets: I would bet that in a team of 2o people, you’ve got at least one person with one or more food allergies and/or food intolerances, possibly someone with celiac disease. And probably at least one vegetarian or vegan, someone else who is eating low carb, etc. How would you handle all that in that environment? And “suck it up” is not an option for someone who can’t be in the same room as peanut butter without dying. Speaking personally, NO ONE wants to be around me if someone feeds me pepperoni or tofu. Trust me.

    If the company expects the employees to cook for each other, are they willing to take on the liability if someone honestly forgets that Jane is deathly allergic to shellfish? Or dairy products, or eggs? Or decides that food allergies aren’t real and they’re going to prove it to Jane by slipping her some? (Yes, some people really are that dumb/asinine.)

    I actually like my current coworkers, for the most part, but a week of constant togetherness would result in bloody murder. A week when I could at least retreat to a private bedroom at night and watch Netflix or read a book or just soak up some quiet and have some privacy to talk to my husband would be a lot more manageable. Still most definitely not my preference, but probably d0-able.

    Reply
    1. Laura

      Another issue with potential medical/food problems is that a lot of people don’t want to reveal this stuff to their coworkers because it invites all kind of unsolicited advice, and it’s not always apparent who has diabetes or food allergies if it’s managed well and they bring all their food from home.

      Reply
      1. AnonEMoose

        That, too! I know I don’t notice what my coworkers have for lunch on a regular basis. I mean, I know that one person generally doesn’t eat sweets, and if we’ve had lunch together I might know that Person A prefers this restaurant, that sort of thing. But beyond that, I have no idea. And I kind of like it that way!

        Reply
  31. Ruffingit

    I wonder if the members of this team are related to the manager who forced everyone to go rock climbing and 10-mile hiking followed by parasailing as team building events.

    Seriously, not everyone is into the cabin in the woods thing and that’s OK. Resort should totally win out here just by virtue of it being generally acceptable for everyone. I’ve never heard of anyone who is against resorts whereas tons of people would hate the cabin in the woods.

    Reply
  32. A Jane

    Does your coworkers watch a lot of Parks and Recreation? They always have a few cabin episodes and they get into crazy high jinks.

    Reply
  33. Jeanne

    Pregnancy or not — companies should ALWAYS give people a private sleeping and bathroom when making employees travel for work. We did the cabin thing once (not my suggestion), but the cabin was located within a 10 minute drive of a town, where we stayed in hotels. I would NEVER agree to do a work trip where I had to share a room/bathroom. If a business can’t afford a private hotel room + bathroom for each person that it expects to travel – well, then that business shouldn’t make employees take overnight trips. Good job in putting your foot down.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      I can understand that you’d like that, but there are fields where it’s not the norm, and if you opt out of travel as a result, it will hurt your career.

      I don’t like sharing a room either, but it’s really not death on toast.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        “I would NEVER agree to do a work trip where I had to share a room/bathroom.”

        “Never” is a strong word. I assume you have an awesome job.

        Reply
  34. Cath@VWXYNot?

    Ugh.

    Ugh ugh ugh.

    I’m a super social person. I love my colleagues. I’m always strongly in favour of and first to sign up for any after-work outings (which are always genuinely optional) – potlucks, pubs, picnics, ice skating, bring it on!

    I would never, ever, ever want to spend a week in a cabin with them. No way.

    Sorry, OP.

    Reply
  35. AnonEMoose

    May I suggest of group viewing of the movie “Cabin in the Woods” directed by Joss Whedon, before a final decision is made? That should take care of the issue…

    Reply
  36. Anon

    To answer questions, yes I have an ADA disability as well. It’s not fair. It sucks. In fact, I would be happier if workplaces could better accommodate me. But this doesn’t change my original point.

    The points made against this trip focus on her pregnancy and lack of approved medical access. If I weren’t pregnant I would still want to avoid this trip because it’s overly personal and conflicts with my personal values. Yet the reasons given to not go is that “I’m pregnant”.

    I stand by my original statement. Persons with disabilities have a hard time getting promoted or hired because they ask for accommodations. And I think it’s reasonable to ask for the tools you need to get hired.

    But at the same time, don’t act like it’s not a factor. If you have a disability or in this case are pregnant, don’t pretend you’ll be like any other employee. I don’t understand why you want to get hired on the idea that you won’t ask for any special accommodations when you will.

    I’d have a lot more respect if this woman said that she didn’t want to go on a strange company slumber party, instead of using pregnancy to get out of it. This trip is weird for any standards, and using pregnancy to get out of it hurts all sorts of types of people.

    Reply
    1. VintageLydia

      It’s not using pregnancy to get out of it. It’s to reinforce why it’s extra bad in her situation. She’s bringing it up because it’s relevant. Just like it would be for someone with IBS. Or has sleep issues. Or a restrictive diet. Or just really really hates the woods. Or the million other valid reasons discussed in this thread.

      Reply
      1. Anon

        The OP asked, specifically, how to get out of this trip without being the “annoying pregnant woman”. This letter could have just as easily been written without mentioning that.

        This trip is strange. For many, many reasons. But her focus is on being pregnant. As in, “I don’t want to go and while there are other reasons it’s because I’m pregnant”.

        That is relevant to the discussion. She asked how to use her condition of being pregnant to get out of a repugnant situation, not how to deal with the repugnant situation itself.

        Reply
        1. OP

          You’re taking this way, way, way out of context. I didn’t want to get out of the trip. I wanted to sway the vote so I could actually attend it. Meaning, I want to stay close by and not be far away from medical treatment should I need it. You are missing the point entirely.

          It wasn’t, how can I use pregnancy to not go at all? It was, how can I make them see that it’s not safe for me to be that far away and get them to stay closer under more reasonable accomodations? And for the reasons you stated (people not promoting/hiring pregnant people, etc) are exactly why I wanted to tread carefully.

          Reply
        2. VintageLydia

          And her pregnant situation is a relevant reason to get out of it. She said up thread that if the situation was different, she’d have less of a problem with it, but her pregnancy changes things from a “rather not” to a “CAN not.” And that is valid. There are certain restrictions pregnant people must live under, just like those with other disabilities (short term or permanent.) Being close to her doctors is one of them. She’s not setting feminism back or making other people with disabilities look bad because of it. Part of feminism (and laws like the ADA and Civil Right’s Act for those populations) is recognizing that issues half of the population potentially faces are valid and should be taken into consideration and they should be punished for it whether immediately or by way of future career opportunities and advancement.

          Reply
        3. OP

          I never, ever wanted to frame it as “I’m pregnant, so how can I get out of working.” That’s a horrible attitude and one I’d never be okay with or perpetuate. I’m sorry you read the letter incorrectly. I did think it was clear, though, when I mentioned the other option of a nearby resort and stating that I wanted to sway the vote in the other (the resort) direction.

          Reply
    2. OP

      Listen, I’m not using pregnancy as an excuse to not do my job. I’m a high performer where I work and to reiterate (again) have not missed a day of work because of pregnancy. Sorry if I don’t want to have a medical complication and die on some work trip. I guess that’s just overly sensitive of silly pregnant me.

      Maybe you also missed the part where I said I was still willing to go to an offsite under certain conditions. I’m not trying to get out of the trip (even if I think it’s unncessary), I just am not comfortable going under certain circumstances.

      If I had cancer and was in the middle of chemotherapy and unable to go, I’d imagine your reaction would be much more sympathetic.

      Reply
      1. VintageLydia

        “If I had cancer and was in the middle of chemotherapy and unable to go, I’d imagine your reaction would be much more sympathetic.”

        This.

        Reply
      2. Anon

        I’m not accusing you of being bad at your job, or slacking off, or being a poor performer. Forgive me if that’s how it feels, because this is not my intention. I am sorry for the perception, and wish I had chosen my words more carefully.

        As it stands, pregnancy is a hell of a challenge. I haven’t been through it yet, but I have firsthand experience like you and your SIL. I know that things can go wrong quickly, and have catastrophic effects.

        ANYONE can have an unexpected medical condition at any time, not just pregnant women. Heart attacks, choking on food, slips and falls that result in paralysis, brain aneurysms, the list is endless.

        I still maintain that focusing on WHY this trip is unprofessional, unsafe for lots of people, and unnecessary is better than asking to opt out due to pregnancy.

        This trip is horrible to any human being, not just you.

        Reply
        1. Anon

          And there is a difference between ongoing medical care like chemotherapy with appointments and what is acknowledged by the OP as a currently safe pregnancy.

          Reply
        2. Anon

          And there is a difference between ongoing medical care like chemotherapy with appointments and restrictions or what is acknowledged by the OP as a currently safe pregnancy.

          As I mentioned before, I don’t know where the line is. We’ve gotten questions before about how a safe pregnancy doesn’t require special accommodations and shouldn’t be a detracting factor in hiring/promotion.

          And yet right here is a case of a healthy pregnancy wanting to use it as a trump card in a highly weird situation. The real question is why ANY employee should have to go through this, not just the pregnant ones.

          Reply
          1. OP

            Well, I will be missing a regular doctor appointment for this trip. Maybe you aren’t aware, but pregnant women have regular visits to monitor their health. At the point when I’ll be gone is when I could develop things like gestational diabetes. And pre-eclampsia can happen unexpectedly as well. I could also go into premature labor. A perfectly normal pregnancy can go to life threatening in a very short amount of time. Why risk it when it’s not necessary?

            Reply
          2. Us, too

            I’ll confess something: I did a quick “girls trip” to Las Vegas at 34 weeks pregnant because I thought that pregnancy isn’t a disability. I was perfectly healthy and wasn’t due for another 6 weeks. I look back at that trip in horror now because less than 1.5 weeks after getting back from my extended weekend I was holding my baby. He came early after preterm premature rupture of membranes – something that can kill a baby without emergency medical intervention/monitoring. Fortunately, I was only a couple miles from the hospital when my water broke and made it there ASAP. Despite being told that most women in my situation deliver in 18-24 hours, I was holding my baby just about 5 hours later. I only had about 45 minutes of real pain and there wasn’t even time for an epidural. (Do not recommend).

            Hindsight being 20/20… Currently safe pregnancies DO have regular treatments and appointments – just like cancer. But, unlike most kinds of cancer, they can turn from perfectly normal into “you and/or your baby can die in minutes”.

            Anyway, my point is only that pregnancy is a perfectly legitimate reason not to attend a remote offsite. Too risky.

            Reply
        3. OP

          Yes, anything could happen to anyone at any time. Someone could fall and break their arm on the trip, or have a heart attack, or whatever, but I know I have a direct. known risk right now and it is the main reason why I’m not comfortable going to a remote location. If we all lived our lives in the land of “what if” when direct risks were’t known, no one would ever do anything. But having a known risk and not doing something stupid is just being responsible. Again, if I had cancer and had to miss a chemo treatment for this, I’m sure your answer would be much different.

          And just in case I wasn’t clear in my previous posts, if I weren’t pregnant, I wouldn’t care if the location was remote. It’s not my favorite thing, but I’d survive and wouldn’t find a reason not go (or whatever you think I’m doing). I still wouldn’t want to share bedrooms and prefer a corporate retreat facility with separate male/female cabins, but when I said that in our original meeting, pregnancy wasn’t the reason I used. In fact, I didn’t use any reason other than I don’t want to share a room with a coworker because it’s just weird. And eventually, other people spoke up about not wanting to do that either.

          The remote location was the biggest issue here. So what reason should I use then if I have no other reason for not wanting to go to a remote location other than pregnancy? Pregnancy is the reason. It’s a known risk and not one I’m willing to take.

          Reply
    3. Emma F

      “I don’t understand why you want to get hired on the idea that you won’t ask for any special accommodations when you will.”

      This statement confuses me. Why do you assume the OP has ever implied anything like that to her employer? It seems she got pregnant long after she was hired, so I don’t even see how the subject could have come up when she was hired.

      Reply
      1. Zillah

        This.

        I also feel like it’s really important to distinguish between degrees of accommodations. There are certainly situations in which certain accommodations would be detrimental to the business or which the business would be unable to work with… but there are many that are not.

        For a pregnant woman who works in an office setting, wanting to do a team retreat near her family, medical team, and a well-equipped hospital rather than in a remote location is not an unreasonable accommodations, nor is it an accommodation that puts the employer out in any meaningful way. By the same token, keeping peanuts out of the vicinity of a person with a serious peanut allergy does not put out the employer in any meaningful way. It may not align perfectly with their preferences, but that is not even remotely the same thing, and that may be true of many people.

        Accommodations =/= meaningful automatic inconvenience.

        Reply
  37. VintageLydia

    There is a HUGE difference between whether it’s an issue for day-to-day work activities (it usually isn’t) and if it’s an issue for something like this. This is an unnecessary work trip. It’s a trip that can be accommodated by changing the location. The trip itself isn’t an issue when it comes to the pregnancy. The location of the trip during this very short time period is the issue.

    And as for chemo treatments being like a pregnancy, honestly, it depends. This trip is during the third trimester where medical appointments are much more frequent and any issue is magnified. I’m not sure when in the third trimester this is happening but if it’s towards the end she’d be going in every other to every week. Yes, even with a perfectly normal, perfectly safe, low risk pregnancy.

    Reply
    1. KJR

      And a missed “routine” appointment can mean a missed problem. I went in for a routine visit and was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. I was induced 3 hours later.

      Reply
      1. WIncredible

        My sister started labor normally and then they said she had preeclampsia — but it turned out to be HELLP syndrome (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HELLP_syndrome) and — bam — C-Section. Pregnant ladies should not have to wander off into the woods for no better reason than “the boss wants to.” No person should have to. I really hope that reason prevails and OP and her colleagues can do their meeting close to home/her medical providers.

        Reply
  38. Anon

    I agree that that are lots of reasons to avoid this. Like you asked, you ARE NOT the only person who thinks this is a bad idea. You wanted ideas to swing perceptions the other way, and this is what I suggest.

    Sharing bedrooms is awkward even with friends. Having to share food doesn’t always work. People have different sleeping habits.

    You mentioned that no one other than you and one other co worker thought it was a bad idea. And then you said you hadn’t missed any work, but had to answer during a meeting via text due to an ultrasound. I’d pick an ultrasound over work, too.

    And now lots of other coworkers think it’s a bad idea too. That’s what I mean. It’s horrible for anyone, not just pregnant people.

    So find the common ground and agree that it’s bad for anyone as a professional to be expected to act like a 23 year old at a friend’s vacation house. You deserve better, pregnant or not.

    Reply
    1. OP

      You are still missing the point. The location is the issue because I’m pregnant. No one else cares about the location (meaning, remote). The things other people ended up agreeing on were no shared rooms.

      Also, when I said I didn’t miss work, I meant that I wasn’t calling out sick. I have had doctor’s appointments but went in after them and then stayed late to make up the time. And I was answering texts while getting an ultrasound for crying out loud. I mean, really. Obviously, I’m trying to be present. I guess no one other person who works has ever had a dentist appointment or anything.

      Again since you keep missing it, the problem is the remote location and I’m the only one who had an issue with that specific thing and the reason is due to pregnancy. It’s not because I don’t want to go. I’d go if I weren’t pregnant without an issue as long as the other stipulations that other people have also now spoken up about were met. I’m not sure why this is hard to understand.

      Reply
      1. Just a Reader

        I bet other people are jealous of your pregnancy as your golden ticket out though! I would be. 100% sane and reasonable to say you can’t do it for that reason, and just a bonus that you’re missing something awful or prompting a change that makes it not as awful.

        Reply
        1. OP

          The thing is, I don’t want to miss this. I want to be a part of this project. I’m doing everything I can to make sure I can attend.

          Reply
      2. OP

        And to reiterate, when I said I didn’t want to share rooms/stay in the same cabin, etc, I never used pregnancy as the reason when talking to my coworkers. I just said it was weird and uncomfortable and then jokingly said, something like besides no one wants to share a room with the pregnant person who gets up 50 times in one night to use the bathroom. But again, the remote location is the main issue related to pregnancy here and pregnancy is the only issue I have with that. I also have asthma. I could have an asthma attack at any time. But I didn’t bring that up because it doesn’t matter. Just like the “well anyone could have a heart attack at any time” idea is silly, too.

        There are degrees of risk. Pregnancy and far from health care isn’t one I’m willing to take. But I will go on a hike in a remote location (when I’m not pregnant) and risk breaking an arm or getting stung by a bee and having an allergic reaction because I don’t want to live in a bubble and be scared to do anything because something bad could happen at any time.

        Reply
        1. Just a Reader

          Nobody’s arguing with you. I’m not sure why you’re not willing to treat your pregnancy as a legitimate medical condition and say unequivocally that you can’t go.

          Nobody is going to look out for your baby but you, and jokes about going to the bathroom aren’t going to make anyone think about whether or not this is safe for you.

          Reply
          1. OP

            Yeah, anon was arguing with me saying that I shouldn’t be using pregnancy as an excuse. And I did say I couldn’t go if it was in a remote location (check upthread in the comments, it’s up there somewhere). As of this afternoon, everyone else has agreed to no shared bedrooms and if there is a cabin situation, that females will go in one, males in another.

            There are other people advocating for no remote location but it’s not because they don’t want it, it’s on my behalf. I think my manager is reasonable and this will work out, especially because he knows I’m not “trying to get out of work” and really wish to participate as long as it’s not remote (because of pregnancy) and we have own our rooms and no male/female sharing of space (because that’s weird among coworkers, pregnant or not).

            Reply
    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Yes, she deserves better, pregnant or not. But the reality is that the non-pregnancy arguments against this may or may not succeed in her office. The pregnancy one certainly will. She shouldn’t not use it just on principle.

      Reply
      1. Kelly L.

        Yup. It’s just like the wilderness extreme fitness thing from the other day. There are lots of arguments for why something might be a bad idea, but sometimes people only listen when you put the fear of possible lawsuit into them.

        Reply
    3. Victoria Nonprofit

      Yikes. “I’d pick an ultrasound over work, too.”

      First of all: That’s an uncalled for attack on the OP. Are your seriously suggesting that she’s super-lucky to “get” to miss work for a medical appointment?

      Second: Really? You’d prefer to spend an hour naked in a exam room, hoping against hope that you don’t get any devastating news, than attend a meeting? Sheesh.

      Reply
        1. OP

          Yeah, I’d have much rather been at work. I got sick in the middle of the ultrasound, almost passed out, they had to stop and I had to lay on my side for about 20 minutes, then sit up and drink juice before they could resume. It was so fun.

          Reply
            1. OP

              Well, they actually warmed it up for me, so that was a bonus. At least I didn’t have to deal with the cold jelly. It did get all over the bottom of my shirt, though.

              Reply
      1. Anon

        I wasn’t being aggressive. How is it mean to say I would rather go to an appointment to check the health of my baby than be at work? I think everyone here agrees that getting healthcare during pregnancy is important.

        Reply
        1. Kelly L.

          You’re making it sound like “fun,” though, like blowing off work to go shopping. Everyone agrees it’s important, but it’s not fun, and a lot of us really do not enjoy being at the gyno even though we know it’s necessary.

          Reply
          1. Jen in RO

            For what it’s worth, I didn’t read it that way. I thought Anon was saying that any reasonable person would choose to do something for their/their baby’s health rather than something work related.

            Reply
  39. Katie the Fed

    Oh man. This was at 100-something comments a couple hours ago and now it’s above 400, so the discussion must be something amazing. Time to catch up.

    And I’ll just say this: Things like this make me glad I work for the broke-ass federal government. The most we ever did was a 1-day offsite (at another office building) for management in my office, and I came away wanting to throttle most of my colleagues. A week of that while stuck in the woods? What is this, 6th Grade Camp? Shudder.

    Reply
  40. Confused

    OP, you said the person who came up with the cabin idea said they were going to make the final decision even after the vote meeting…wow. I know you feel you already texted your thoughts during the vote meeting but you don’t know how your co-workers communicated your texts. I agree with Alison. Send an email to this person before the decision/announcement is made and use FIRM language. Maybe CC your own boss on it so she’s in the loop.

    Reply
    1. OP

      I did send an email (mentioned it further up in the comments). It very explicitly stated, “I can’t do this if we don’t stay local. I want to participate, but at this time, it’s too much of a risk to go far from my doctor’s care and since we have local options, that is the only way I’ll be able to go.” He seemed receptive to this.

      Reply
  41. Anony

    Slight threadjack:
    What do people think about a job (white collar, advanced degree required) where I wasn’t told during the interview process that I would need to work eight-hour shifts from 5 PM to 1 PM or on weekends (either 9-5 or 5-1) on a fairly frequent basis (i.e. usually 2x or 3x/month)? To complicate it, we can switch with other co-workers on a voluntary basis if we can find someone to switch with (and technically management has to approve, but they pretty much always do), but if you can’t find someone to switch with, you’re working from 9 AM to 1 AM on Wednesday and back in the office at 9 AM on Thursday. We do get 1 vacation day for every shift like this we work, and we can roll over our vacation days.

    I really think this should have been disclosed in the interview (process, which was really 3 interviews I flew in on my own dime for), but maybe I’m wrong?

    Reply
    1. Katie the Fed

      Hmm, that’s more than a slight threadjack :)

      You should email your question to Alison or post in the Friday open thread, maybe? I think you’ll get a much better response.

      Reply
  42. Jean

    While browsing through comments before heading off into the wild cold yonder (evening meeting) I got ambushed by “broke-ass federal government.” LOL! Thanks.

    Reply
  43. OP

    Well, as of today, there’s a whole new complication to this mess. It seems likely that only the core team will be going now. I’m part of the core team. I’m the only female. Because it’s a bunch of males on the rest of the team and most of them want a cabin, it looks like they are going to go to the cabin and I’ll be completely left off the project. I should mention that the non-core team members who were against it were also female. There is one other core team member who was against it who was male.

    As I mentioned before, I’m the only one who does what I do, so this project will not go well and not turn out right without my input (the teapot is going to be missing the spout and the handle in the end design). It’s a crucial piece. I need to be present. This feels an awful lot like discrimination, whether intentional or not. While I’m glad to probably not have to go to a cabin, I don’t think their solution to sacrifice the good of the project because a few people are so hellbent on going to have fun in a cabin is right either. Skype doesn’t seem like an option they want for this (since that’s been mentioned before in this thread).

    I like my company, but this has me thinking about starting to look elsewhere fairly soon.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I think you need to stand up pretty assertively on this one: “I’m on the core team, my input is important, and I need to be at this meeting. It needs to be held somewhere that I can attend.”

      If they start talking about you being outvoted, then you say, “This isn’t something appropriate to vote on, any more than it would be appropriate to vote one whether to go somewhere wheelchair-accessible if we had someone in a wheelchair.”

      And you should be saying this to your manager, not the guy organizing the venue. Your manager needs to be the one to step in and say this can’t happen.

      Use the wheelchair-accessible language. It’s designed to make them think about discrimination issues without you having to say it. That assumes you’re uncomfortable saying it. If you’re not, then go straight to step 2, which is calling it exactly what it is.

      Reply
      1. Zahra

        Indeed. I don’t know how the jurisprudence goes in the US (or your state for that matter), but in Canada, discriminating because of pregnancy amounts to discriminating on the basis of your sex, since pregnancy is something only women can experience. (Same for breastfeeding.)

        Reply
      2. Katie the Fed

        OP, do you have an HR department? They may need to get involved at some point on this. This is just A Bad Idea for these folks, and someone who doesn’t have their head up their ass probably needs to inform them of exactly that.

        And yes, you need to go through YOUR manager, and if the response isn’t acceptable, then I’d raise it to your manager’s manager and bring in HR.

        This is an EEO violation in the making and no manager with half a brain cell would find it acceptable.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yes — and keep in mind that you’re doing them no favors by not helping them realize this. If you realize it and they don’t, that’s really, really bad for them.

          Reply
      3. Heather

        Yes to Alison’s suggestion, and also yes to the idea of looking for a new job. Even if you win on the cabin issue, you’re still apparently working with a bunch of people severely lacking in good judgment!

        Reply
    2. Joey

      Two options:

      1. Ask why you are the only core member being left off the project? It can’t be because you objected to the cabin since the other core member who objected is going?

      2. Ask why only the males are going?

      Reply
      1. Heather

        I agree with #1 as well – I think I would start with that, and then provided the reason they gave was BS (and how could it not be?), ask #2.

        Reply
  44. KJR

    This has just gone from bad to worse from yesterday. This latest development is just…well, I have no words. They are absolutely setting themselves up for a discriminatory situation. My main question though is, since you are an integral part of this process, how do they expect to get anything meaningful done? Are they turning this into an excuse to have a “guys weekend?”

    Reply

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