is it weird to have your spouse visit you at your office?

A reader writes:

I recently got a job running a research facility at a university. A few months into the job, my soon-to-be wife mentioned she’d like to come in and see my office. I, however, find this kind of weird. I don’t see anyone else’s spouses or friends dropping by. Also, as a new person, I don’t want to it to look like I’m socializing instead of working. She thinks I’m the weird one for saying no. Am I being too rigid? Is this just field-dependent (she used to work in publishing)?

I’ve seen you answer questions about spouses at work events or being there on a regular basis, but not about very occasional visits.

I think it’s in how you frame it.

In lots of offices, it’s not big deal at all for people’s spouses or significant others to stop in on occasion, except that it’s less often “to see the office” and more “we’re going to lunch and meeting at your office, and maybe I’ll meet a few of your coworkers when I’m there.”

I do think that “this is Jane and she’s here to see the office” would be a little odd in most offices — although not crazy-odd, just unusual-odd.

But if she wants to see your office, having her meet you there before heading out to lunch together would be a very normal way to do it.

I wouldn’t do that your first couple of weeks on the job, since at that point people know so little about you that every minor deviation from the norm stands out, and you don’t want it to look like you’re going to treat your office as some sort of odd clubhouse for family and friends. But you’ve been on the job a few months now. It should be fine to do.

That said, you know your office best, and you should be the one to make the call.

{ 157 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Leslie Knope

    I feel you on it being potentially awkward.

    I’d minimize this by having her drop by on your way to lunch or very near or past the end of the work day when you are going to be doing something near your office. Those are the only times my spouse has been at my office.

    I do, however, work in a field where we have confidential information so those who aren’t employees don’t come to hang out. I’d err on the side of it being a brief stop by with a purpose so that there’s no problem!

    Reply
    1. Amber T

      Yes well Ben Wyatt works right down the hall from you, Leslie :P

      I will say the only spouse that has visited the office is the head honcho’s wife, who is also an interior decorator and was helping design some offices. We have a lot of sensitive/confidential information, and while I guess it shouldn’t just be “lying around,” most of the information is okay to be known by employees, but probably not their spouses. Depends on your work place and what you do!

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    2. NonProfit Nancy

      Yeah I’d lean towards the end of the day, actually. Have her show up at five minutes before you usually leave, and you can show her around. If there are coworkers around who are packing up it would be non-disruptive to have her meet them if she’s interested. That would not raise any eyebrows, especially if she’s picking up up and you’re on your way somewhere else. Lunch in my office isn’t really a “thing” and would probably be minorly out of place (but still not egregious or anything).

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    3. Lemon Zinger

      I too work in an office with sensitive information. My colleague’s boyfriend got permission to come in one afternoon to help her carry materials to her car since she was going on a work trip. We also had a visiting remote coworker, out on maternity leave, come into the office with her husband and baby.

      Those are the only times non-employees have ever come into the office since I’ve been here. Frankly, I think it’s important to keep work and personal lives separate, and your spouse shouldn’t show up without a very good reason.

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    4. copy run start

      I think it is awkward and not the greatest idea… I’ve only seen spouses in the work areas for the typical “new baby” tour. And that is kept very brief.

      I do see spouses and families often in the office, but they’re always in the break rooms. You need a keycard to get the buildings in due to confidential stuff, so they don’t wander around. We do have a yearly holiday party spouses are welcome to attend, so that’s where I’ve met everyone’s SO.

      Even at previous jobs where it was less secured it just wasn’t done much, aside from a quick drop off/pick up of something or special-occasion flowers.

      Reply
  2. (Mr.) Cajun2core

    If she just wants to drop by to truly see your office, maybe that can be done after hours. Besides that, as Alison suggested, either have her drop by at lunch or right at quitting time.

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    1. Antilles

      Even if her true purpose is just to see the office, it’s completely fine as long as there’s nominally another purpose. “Hey, my wife was coming by to meet for dinner at Nearby Restaurant, so I wanted to show her around real quick” is completely and totally fine. Or you can do it on weekends, presuming that’s possible in your office. Even if you do run into someone who’s working Saturday, it’s very easy to go “oh yeah she wanted to see the office and we were already in the area”.

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    2. someone

      I second doing it after hours. The first time I visited my sister after she moved out of state, she took me in to see her office just for fun. The first time my mother came to visit me after I moved, I took her to see my workplace. Both were on the weekend, just stopping by to say, “Look! This is where I spend a lot of my time every week!” We didn’t think it was weird at all.

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    3. always in email jail

      I second the weekend or after-hours suggestion. You can say she came with you when you dropped some stuff off or came in on your own time to set up your office, etc. while ya’ll were out and about running other errands.

      My husband is coming in over a weekend with me soon to help me hang my bulletin board etc., as well as to see my office

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    4. Bellatrix

      I don’t know, after hours seems a bit sneaky to me. If I saw a coworker in the office afterhours with a non-employee, I’d presume that person isn’t supposed to be there and they’re hiding that. I guess this could be cultural though.

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        1. Lori

          I would totally agree that after hours usually means hiding something. The last person that was fired from my group tried to bring his son in at 2 AM on a Sunday night and security got involved. Since he had other issues with mistakes in work, it was the last straw and he was let go. The best way to do this is meet before or after lunch or at the end of the workday.

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  3. Laura (Needs To Change Her Name)

    The university context might make it less odd. I am a college professor, and when friends visit I am always excited to show them my lab. It’s where we spend basically all of our time, so it’s kind of like showing a visitor around your house! This might be different if your lab handles sensitive material (e.g., confidential information, if there would be patients present, if there is a risk that they would be exposed to something dangerous), but in general I think it is fairly common to show people around the lab – ranging from prospective students and colleagues to friends and family.

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    1. Dr. KMnO4

      As a fellow college professor I’m the same way. And even when I was a grad student I showed my family and friends around when they visited. It was very common in our grad program to meet, briefly, the family members of lab-mates and lab-neighbors when they were touring. I think it might be less odd in a university context, like you said.

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    2. Taylor Swift

      I’ve received many an open invitation to stop by labs! I think people like to talk about their work! Obviously this would depend on the type of work and the type of lab — some kinds of work aren’t conducive to visitors. But I don’t think it’s that strange and I think the best bet would be to tack a visit onto an occasion where the wife is meeting OP for some other purpose.

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    3. Rob Lowe can't read

      In my late teens and early twenties, I worked at a children’s museum. We actually had a specific policy of not admitting adults without children (obviously if someone was meeting family there or wanted a tour because they were thinking of buying a membership, we accommodated those types of situations), but the managers who oversaw my department were pretty flexible about letting us show curious, non-child-towing friends and family members around at non-peak times. Children’s museums weren’t quite as ubiquitous then as they are now, so it wasn’t uncommon for a staff member to show friends around for a few minutes before closing, or to come in for a quick visit with out-of-town guests for a brief tour when they weren’t working.

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      1. Pommette

        Interesting. Do you know whether the policy was meant to keep children safe from would-be abductors, to reassure parents, or to serve some other purpose?

        I also worked at a children’s museum (briefly – it turns out that I enjoy museums a lot more than I enjoy children). We regularly had adult-only visitor groups (I would guess that about 5% of our visitors were part of such groups). This might be because our museum was attached to a state museum (admission to one bought you admission to the other), so I understand that things might look different at a standalone children’s museum.

        In any case, our adult visitors were awesome, and I don’t think that they adversely impacted the children’s experience. Some were just curious about what a children’s museum might look like – they would do a quick walk through, then leave; some were there to vicariously enjoy the excitement and joy of younger visitors – they would look at the art and plays the kids created, and just bask in the noisy effervescence of the place; some treated the museum the way they would any other museum, reading the panels and looking at the exhibits; some were just happy to have an excuse to get silly and hands-on in a way that might not be possible in regular museums. For some reason, elderly people in particular seemed to love the museum.

        Either way, we did see a lot of employees’ families and friends. I got more visitors while working there than I have in any other job before or since.

        Reply
        1. Melissa

          It’s to keep the creeps out and reassure guardians that the creeps are being kept out. I remember the lone adult that would linger at the schoolyard when I was growing up. And now as a parent, I still see it. Only now I get to be super-confrontational and get them to eff off.

          Also, the point of children’s museums, and any kid-oriented space, is to have an environment where you don’t need to keep watch on your child every-freaking-second. It’s only worth the squeeze if I, as a parent, get a little bit of a mental and physical break from the constant vigilance.

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    4. CrazyEngineerGirl

      I work in a manufacturing company with a large shop, and I think every person that works here has had family and/or friends pass through and get a tour. I come from 7+ years of grad student work where we similarly often had people being shown around so I never even considered this an odd thing!

      Maybe it’s less weird when family/friends are being shown something that’s physically happening? Like, here’s the room with all of our fracture testing equipment, here’s our giant piece of equipment that does XXX, here’s what we make, etc.

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    5. Cassandra

      I admit to getting all starry-eyed “Hey, you have to come see the project I’m working on!”

      It does help that it’s a working project — meaning that campus and community members can sign up to use it anyway — so there’s nothing secret about it. Visitors help me get the word out!

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    6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I was going to say this. While it depends on the office, it also depends on the context and the size of your team. I’ve found that it’s frequently ok to bring your spouse around if your employer is small-ish (<10 employees), part of a larger nonprofit or public entity (e.g., a university or government), does not have super super top secret stuff, and tends to require long hours or intense work.

      For example, when I worked for a judge, it was very normal and encouraged to bring your SO over for lunch in chambers, and we would make sure to put anything confidential out of sight and that the SO was always with someone with adequate clearance. If we had folks who wanted a full "behind the scenes" tour (e.g., parents), we'd do it on the weekends or at a time when it wasn't likely to disturb anyone else. Similarly, a good friend works at the Livermore Labs and has brought his SO to visit before/after lunch for 10-15 minutes—he just doesn't go into areas that require higher security clearances. And even at Universities, it's not unusual to bring your SO to meet your departmental colleagues, your research team, or your division (although it's also normal for profs to host their students and employees for dinner, so perhaps the different vibe of universities makes a significant difference).

      Which is all to say that I think you get to make the call, but the request itself isn't super inappropriate or out there.

      Reply
      1. Bibliovore

        I think it does depend on the context. I work in a very cool part of my university and behind the scene tours for family and friends is pretty normal. Mr. Bibliovore liked it so much that after he retired he began volunteering two days a week in an adjacent department.

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    7. Mike C.

      Yeah, I think these sorts of visits make more sense if there’s something interesting or otherwise unique to see in the first place.

      Reply
    8. Another person

      Yup, I’ve met family members of every single labmate I have. It seems pretty standard to come and show people your labspace, especially if they aren’t scientists (sort of science-outreach). Even when I was an undergrad, I showed my parents the lab I worked on, and some of the flies I worked with. I think it is an important thing to do generally, in the science, to help encourage the public to trust and know science and scientists.

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      1. Honeybee

        That’s one of the reasons we show people around our labs – to not only teach about science and scientists, but also how science is used in industry.

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    9. MashaKasha

      Came here to say this exact thing. An ex of mine is a college professor. He took me to his office on my very first weekend in his town, showed me the place and the lab, introduced me to people. No one looked surprised, so I guess it’s a thing. Later on we’d drop by his office sometimes when walking around town when he had to drop off or pick up something in the office, or check on something in the lab.

      I drew the line when a fire alarm went off in his apartment building and kept blaring for a few hours in the middle of the night, and he said he was going to sleep in his office, and invited me to come along. I said nope and drove the hour back to my place instead. I could not begin to imagine the embarrassment if someone came in the next morning and found the two of us just chilling on the couch in his office. Other than that, it’s all good in academia.

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    10. GeekyDuck

      I agree that the university/academic context matters. I’m a grad student, and people pop in and out of this place all the time. My sister showed up with coffees for everyone the other day because she was at the hospital next door anyways, and my mom came over last spring to make everyone candy. Same goes for all the other people here — it’s an open house. We generally use sales reps as guidelines for individual labs — if the rep just wanders in then so can everyone else, but if a rep has to make an appointment (due to hazards, confidential information, patients, etc.) then so does your visitor.

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    11. Sam

      I’m university staff, but that matches my experience, too. I’ve worked at three unis and it wouldn’t have been weird at any of them. (That said, I absolutely hate being forced to make small talk with a random coworker’s parents or whatever. If the coworker is an actual friend, fine. Otherwise, I’m probably going to hide in my office.)

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    12. RKB

      Man, I’ve been trying to get my parents to visit my tiny psycholinguistics lab forever. It occupies a corner of a pre WWI building, but it’s my space and I wanna show it off!

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      1. Laura (Needs a New Name)

        You don’t happen to do any work on Hawaiian language do you? We have no psycholinguists (I’m in psychology) and we have a first year student whose primary passion in life is psycholonguistics and the Hawaiian language. It’s adorable and amazing and I so want to find him people to connect with!

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    13. Emi.

      This isn’t a lab context, but my father is a philosophy professor and we’ve been to his office loads of times. We leave our things there during faculty parties; when I was doing an independent study with a different prof I’d go to my father’s office afterwards and hang out until he was ready to go home; my sister went to that school and she’d meet him there to commute; that kind of thing. But philosophy is very safe and non-classified, so YMMV.

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    14. Pommette

      Agreed: this would not be odd in an university setting!
      In the time I spent as a grad student or on research teams, I got to meet colleagues’ spouses, kids, parents, friends, and even (especially?) pets.
      People whose work involved sensitive data or materials already had safety protocols in place to keep colleagues from accidentally or intentionally harming research subjects/materials, so bringing new people into the mix wasn’t an issue.
      We all thought that our work was super interesting (because it was!) and would have found it odd if colleagues’ various people weren’t interested in seeing the places where it took place.

      Reply
  4. Another Lawyer

    Every office I’ve worked in spouses have occasionally been in and out at lunch time or right after work when they are heading to dinner.

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      1. M_Lynn

        Agreed! I’ve always worked in offices where this would be very normal, and it would be seen as a welcome gesture to meet a new colleague’s spouse, SO, or even parents. I wouldn’t feel the need to couch it in terms meeting for lunch, as “seeing the office” and meeting some colleagues is perfectly sufficient to stop by. As long as it’s short and sweet, and not disruptive to everyone trying to work, it’d be fine. I agree it is very office-dependent, but here’s a +1 for the idea that it could be totally welcome.

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      2. Artemesia

        Oddly, I think it is less an issue with parents than spouse. It is pretty understandable that proud parents from out of town want to ‘see’ their offspring’s office. The spouse — well seems odd somehow and I would definitely do (and have done) the swing by to pick me up thing. But generally speaking, spouses don’t belong in the office and shouldn’t be showing up often IMHO. I think I was in my husband’s office maybe a dozen times in the decades he worked there and he was a partner.

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      3. Elizabeth West

        Yes, my mum dropped by once at Exjob on her way home (driving between cities) and brought me some things. I took her upstairs to see my cube. And other coworkers had spouses drop by for whatever, and even kids. We actually liked meeting people’s people. This has been the case nearly everywhere I’ve worked.

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    1. JB (not in Houston)

      Me, too. I was starting to think I was the only person for whom this would not seem weird! I mean, we don’t have guided daily tours or anything, but there’s nothing weird about a spouse wanting to see where their partner spends most of their waking hours.

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    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Yes! This practice has always seemed super normal in the different law settings I’ve been in and wouldn’t really raise eyebrows. I’ve found that conscientious coworkers/managers appreciate getting to meet a person that plays a significant role in their coworker/employee’s life—they don’t expect to meet them, but they usually think it’s nice if it happens and the SO isn’t batshit crazy.

      Reply
  5. Bobo

    My husband’s old job had him keeping very late hours. He was often there until 10 or 11 pm each night. It wasn’t unusual for me to drop by around 7 pm with dinner, eat with him at his desk (while he was still working), and then sit in one of their (many) lounges and read or do some of my own work until he was done. Most of his coworkers were unmarried but there were a few other spouses I met who did something similar. And none of the employees thought it was weird.

    Bringing your wife by for 5 or 10 minutes at lunch or the end of the day should be a non-issue.

    Reply
    1. Yetanotherjennifer

      Same here. My husband has busy periods at his job where we hardly see him during daylight hours. About once a week we’ll meet him at a restaurant for dinner so we can spend some quality time, but a couple times I’ve brought dinner and the kids to the office and we eat in the cafeteria. We usually have the place to ourselves since the cafeteria isn’t open for dinner.

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      1. Bibliovore

        same here. I would swing by his job around 7:00 while he was “finishing up” There would be no face time if I hadn’t.

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  6. Bryce

    My dad worked at a research facility, and once a year they’d have a Family Day where all the classified/volatile stuff was packed away and people could tour around relatively freely. It could be worth seeing if your university does something similar. Also, if you’re in a job that has to do guided tours occasionally, family can be a good practice for that. My college’s nuclear reactor staff loved to show other students around for that reason.

    Other than that I’d say neither your nor her wishes/concerns are weird.

    Reply
  7. AvonLady Barksdale

    Sooooo office dependent, though not necessarily field dependent. When my boyfriend and I were first together, I worked in a giant company in the middle of Manhattan, and I had my own office. He would often come meet me so we could go out together or ride the train home together, and no one batted an eye. He just hung out in my office for a while. Co-workers would drop by just to say hi to him. When I started working at a tiny startup with an open office, he got a friend to drop him off so we could go to an event, and he arrived way earlier than I told him to– super awkward. He was welcomed by everyone, and everyone was really nice to him, but it was weird to have him hanging around for that long. At my current office, family and friends drop by a lot, so it would be less weird.

    I don’t think stopping by for a reason is all that strange, though I do think it’s a little odd to just want a tour or something. A way to picture your loved one in his/her office environment? Sure, but I think you’re better off waiting for a reason for her to come by.

    Reply
  8. Kt

    Very office dependent! I worked at a private high school that was in a 200-year-old sprawling mansion. Everyone brought people to see it :)

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    1. Lucy Honeychurch

      Ha, I went to a private high school in a 200-year-old mansion (not sprawling by any means of the imagination, though) and we were forever bringing friends from other schools over to see it.

      And it was *very* exciting when faculty/staff brought their significant others. Particularly on overnight trips…

      Reply
      1. Venus Supreme

        I, too, went to a 200-year-old private high school! Alas, no mansions. But lots of beautiful scenery and very spooky/haunted. It was very common to see familiar faces giving tours to friends and loved ones.

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    2. Rob Lowe can't read

      If, on the other hand, one’s school is a pretty standard-issue early 2000’s school building, it is weird and awkward when one’s visiting mother-in-law wants to come see the place. Especially if one’s MIL is also a teacher who teaches in what is presumably also a pretty standard-issue early 2000’s school building. Especially if one is openly job hunting because one’s position has been cut and one was subsequently offered a demotion and pay cut to stick around. Especially if it is the last day of school.

      Um, no, that totally didn’t happen to me (*glances sideways*). But if it did, it would be a good thing that my husband is very adept at handling his mother’s more strange and insistent requests…

      Reply
      1. Solidus Pilcrow

        Oh, that’s rough.

        I hear you on the historical vs modern buildings. I took my mom to see a couple of my offices that were in renovated/converted historical buildings. One was an 1890’s tannery with true brick walls (not poured concrete or wood frame with a brick veneer – the walls were 18″ thick brickwork) and 16″x16″ cedar pillars and beams. The other was a 1930’s tractor factory with exposed riveted beams.

        However, I didn’t even think of showing her the generic cube farms in 1990’s office parks.

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  9. TotesMaGoats

    Generally, universities will be more open about this. I’ve always been in higher ed and bringing family by to tour the campus/see your office is pretty ok. Obviously a lab with chemicals and such might be different. I wouldn’t do it right in the beginning but after a little while, it shouldn’t be a big deal. A lunch visit or pick up before dinner happens all the time here.

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    1. hermit crab

      Yep, my mother is in college admissions and I actually went to her office last weekend when I was in town. I stopped by her house beforehand and picked up her dog, too. So the visit was partially because she invited me to see her office/the campus, and partially so that she could show off her dog to her dog-obsessed coworkers. :)

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      1. Lemon Zinger

        I’m surprised you were allowed to see her office. I work in admissions too. Because everything we deal with is protected by FERPA, outside visitors are not allowed into our space.

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        1. hermit crab

          Oh, I was just in the public(ish) areas — the waiting room where the prospective students hang out while they wait for tours, the interview rooms, a meeting room with cool architecture, etc. The admissions office is in a neat old building so it’s a fun space to check out.

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        2. TotesMaGoats

          Really? I’ve worked in admissions and as long as student files and such were put away, computer screens locked, there was no reason that family and friends couldn’t see an office. File room, nope. But otherwise, if you’d bring a prospective student into the space then family could come too.

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      2. Sam

        Dog visits are the best kind of office drop-in! I’m also at a university, and people are pretty chill about having random pets around.

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        1. Emi.

          A couple of the dorms at my alma mater had dogs too–one of them actually announced it at Hall Presidents’ Council as “We got a puppy so girls will visit us more.”

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    2. Another Lawyer

      Yeah, my mom was an admin at my college and we ate lunch together almost everyday. It was super normal and all of the other staff/faculty ranged from semi-jealous that we were that close to inviting themselves to our lunches.

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  10. Purest Green

    My spouse is a director of a lab at a university. He was in charge of its initial setup, even down to deciding where the chairs go, and I went to see it when it was finished. But since it hadn’t opened yet, no students or coworkers were around.

    I guess my point is that I fully understand your fiance wanting to see your office but recognize that there are more appropriate times for it to happen.

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  11. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    My spouse works from home and so could drop by my office if she liked. But I think it depends on where you work. I need security cards to get INTO the office, and am not allowed to even talk about work to family, regarding what the parties are or how litigation is going. But I would love to meet her for coffee nearby or have her drop something off for me! My building is attached to a skyway system so it would be a matter of “go straight down the elevator and meet a stone’s throw from work.”

    We’ve never met for anything though, because after the election, I’m more nervous than ever, and have stopped being out at work.

    So I don’t think it’s weird to drop by; just be mindful of security issues and don’t do it every week or more.

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    1. MEMEME

      Your personal life should be as private as you like, of course, but I don’t see that the election should cause you that kind of distress. Are you in a particularly hostile area?

      Reply
      1. discarvard

        I think plenty of distressing things are and were being said and done! It’s sad that anyone should be in a climate where those are things to be worried about, but I see why they are worried.

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        1. MEMEME

          Based on the username, some fearfulness of being in the public eye might be based on her geographic location, this is true, unfortunately. I just don’t like ascribing too much power to the election for the behavior of a-holes who were always going to be a-holes no matter who was President.

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          1. logicbutton

            I think whether the behavior of individuals is going to be consistent regardless of who’s President is debatable, but more to the point, I would advise against questioning the choices a queer person makes to feel safe.

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      2. A Signer

        I was previously very open about my same sex Muslim spouse but after the entire election season and seeing the new wave of homophobia/Islamophobia that coincided with it, I’ve been much more quiet. It wouldn’t surprise me if overcaffeinatedandqueer has had similar experiences.

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      3. Nonprofit pro

        *Solidarity hugs*
        I’ve been less forthcoming about how I am an immigrant since the election and my father who has a more noticeable accent and works in customer service has heard some truly appalling comments directly linking the person’s behaviour to the new president.

        Reply
  12. UTManager

    In my office it’s normal and even expected to bring your spouse around to meet everyone and for them to visit on occasion, and people will even ask “Hey, when are you going to bring Spouse around? We’d love to meet them!” if you’ve talked about them. People will sometimes bring other close family members as well – one has brought his father (it was sweet how proud Dad was of his son and how excited he was to see what his son does for a living), another her new stepdaughter, another his son and new granddaughter. The family member will usually hang out for 15 minutes or so, make the rounds, and then they’ll head out to lunch or whatnot. My spouse’s office is the same – some coworkers had said they’d like to meet me, so I came by for lunch one day and met everyone.

    So no I don’t think it’s strange, but we both have VERY informal offices (lots of joking around, many are friends outside work) and we’re all pretty open about our home lives and the privacy of more private individuals (we have a few) is 110% respected as well.

    Reply
  13. Professor Ronny

    I work at a large State university. No one would care or even notice. While my wife has no interest in my office, I have taken both of my grandkids (separately) in to see it and, during the tour, introduced them to coworkers and even my boss. They are seven and ten so no one mistook them for students. They got a big kick out of seeing how big the classroom I use is compared to the ones at their elementary school.

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    1. anonderella

      I remember taking classes (for kids) at the college my mom went to while she took classes at night – I remember seeing one of those large auditorium-size rooms and just feeling like Serious Things Happen Here.

      Reply
  14. Lucy Honeychurch

    When I worked at a museum, we’d have friends/family come by all the time to check out the exhibits/see us give tours/get to go into the secret tower room that tourists weren’t allowed in. Obviously that’s a bit different.

    I’ve also visited my mom at work (as an adult) a few times, normally because I was meeting up with her to do something else, and it didn’t feel weird. (And she worked at an insurance company, so very different from a museum in terms of visitor policies!)

    Reply
  15. Uni Anon

    I work at a university and it’s not weird at all on the academic side. On the admin/operations side it’s less common.

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    1. Lia

      This. I work on the admin side and while it’s not unheard of, it’s definitely not super common. Spouse/kids/family meeting you in the lobby for lunch? No biggie. Coming up to our warren of offices in the admin building? Odd.

      There’s also nothing to see up here. We have offices, conference rooms, a kitchen — seriously, it could be anywhere.

      Reply
      1. NonProfit Nancy

        That might be part of what I’m missing here. There’s nothing to see in our office (cube farm – you could get the gist in five seconds) so it would be a little odd. We also don’t usually socialize much together so it’s not like these are my buddies you’re meeting. They’re my annoying cube neighbors, don’t talk to them! :D

        Reply
  16. justsomeone

    It’s super office dependent. Where I work now, we have a couple of people who have their spouses and kids join them for lunch in the company breakroom sometimes, and I’ve met a bunch of my coworkers spouses when they’ve swung by to drop something off or pick my colleague up for lunch or dinner or the airport. My own husband has popped in for lunch a couple of times or at the end of the day. We also frequently have colleagues wander the halls with their spouses and new babies to meet everyone. Where I’ve worked previously this was a super non-standard.

    Reply
  17. Pup Seal

    It definitely depends on the building. I don’t work at an university, but I do work at a lab. The side of the building where my office is located is secured and you need a security key to get inside. The girl out front in the lobby normally has to call our office whenever we have visitors, though people don’t mind when you bring back a friend or such as along they’re not back there too long.

    My boyfriend is a mechanic, and I’ve only been back to the shop area once. Back in the summer one of my tires kept leaking, and he told me to drop off my car during his lunch hour (just so he could do the work without his employer having to charge me). His boss wasn’t there that day, and I’m sure spouses and S.O are normally not allowed back there.

    Reply
  18. Murphy

    I don’t think it’s terribly weird. (I work in a university, but not in a research facility.)

    Do you have cool equipment in your facility? Because I’ve had the opportunity to do a brief tour of some research facilities, and if my spouse worked in a place like that, I’d be curious to see it.

    Reply
    1. Letter Writer

      It depends on your definition of “cool”. There is equipment, but it’s not shiny or exciting to watch unless you’re the one getting data out of it.

      Reply
      1. Emi.

        I dunno, I’m pretty “WHOA, AWESOME!” about all scientific equipment and I don’t even know how any of it works (except for what I did in highschool, so basically gel electrophoresis and nothing else). It just looks so cool and smart and I love hanging out around it.

        Reply
  19. Annette

    Anybody applying a corporate filter to this is off base. Universities are a very different atmosphere. My father was a professor and growing up my mom took us to his office to visit quite often, and I used to go to class with my mom when she went back to school for her degree.

    Now I work in a departmental office and my husband also works on campus and he comes by every day because we eat lunch together. I’ve met spouses/partners of many of the faculty and staff.

    You don’t have to sneak your wife in at night. Just have her come by to pick you up for lunch and show her around briefly.

    Reply
    1. Marcela

      Absolutely. I’ve worked 20 years in academia, in theoretical and experimental groups and having friends and family visit you is not weird at all. Of course, the zones with expensive equipment or chemical storages are typically off limits, but offices? We would show our loved ones where we spend most of our times without any strange look.

      Reply
  20. Employment Lawyer

    I recently got a job running a research facility at a university.
    This is crucial. You can do things which lower-ranked folks can’t do.

    A few months into the job, my soon-to-be wife mentioned she’d like to come in and see my office. I, however, find this kind of weird.
    I don’t. Universities are a bit different from private employers. If she just wants to “see where you work and what the lab looks like” it is not big deal, I used to show people my lab and almost everyone I know in the sciences does it.

    I don’t see anyone else’s spouses or friends dropping by.
    On a daily basis, probably not. (Some labs, it happens all the time.) But your fiance just wants to come once, right?

    Besides: does ANYONE come in your lab? If people would stick their head by to ask a question or borrow a pipette, it’s less odd.
    Also, as a new person, I don’t want to it to look like I’m socializing instead of working.
    There is very little chance that “showing the finance where you work during lunch or after hours” will be viewed as a problem.
    She thinks I’m the weird one for saying no. Am I being too rigid?
    You’re being pretty rigid. That said I am assuming it’s a normal chem/bio/physics type lab. If you work in level 4 biocontainment or w/ sensitive government stuff, the answer changes.

    TL/DR: If you’re in a normal lab, go for it once, during lunch or after hours.

    Reply
    1. Venus Supreme

      My best friend is finishing her PhD and works in her research lab at her university. She works with one other person. When I visited her (we live in different states) she gave me a quick tour of her lab/her campus. Her coworker was there and didn’t think anything of it! As a non-science/math person everything was SUPER FASCINATING!! I haven’t been near a lab since high school chemistry! I can only imagine how thrilled OP’s fiancee would be when she sees where her S.O. works.

      OP, let her stop by before the end of the work day then the two of you can grab dinner. It’ll be really nice and super chill.

      Reply
    2. Letter Writer

      Good point about the fact that I may not see anyone else’s spouses or friends because if they stop by, it’s infrequently. And people do come into my lab when they want to drop off samples or meet to discuss data. So it seems like it won’t be weird for her to stop by once at the end of the day. It’s a normal lab, so no biocontainment or sensitive stuff or anything.

      Reply
        1. JustaTech

          There’s a great video from 2013 called “Threading the NEIDL: TWiV Goes Inside a BSL-4” where the American Society for Microbiology goes on an in-depth tour of a new BSL-4 facility in Boston (before it opened) where they show you *everything*. It’s a long video (an hour) but totally fascinating.

          Reply
    3. Evergreen

      Agreed – not weird at all if there’s something worth seeing there (cool lab, fancy fitout, subsidised lunch etc). It becomes a bit weird if it’s a drab cube farm – I mean what would you want to see there!?

      Reply
  21. Pair of Professors

    Yet another vote for “not weird at all in academia” — especially if the spouse is also an academic, and double if they’re in the same field.

    Reply
  22. ScienceNerd

    I think this can be office-dependent, but is also field-dependent in this case. I work in an acadmeic research lab at a university. Family and friends often come by to see an office or lab, especially if it’s that of a new faculty member. As Laura said above, we spend more time in our labs than at home with our families! I suppose this could be different if the OP is running a core facility in comparison to having their own research lab.

    Reply
  23. R.A.

    OP, does your office ever hold social events where spouses and significant others are invited? Even my introverted office usually does one around the holidays. This would be a great time to have her meet your coworkers and see where you work. If the event is being held somewhere else on campus, you could still stop by your office and give her a tour on the way out.

    Reply
    1. Letter Writer

      Yes, there is an annual holiday party in the building, and spouses are invited. I couldn’t go to this past one due to a preexisting scheduling conflict, but I would have felt okay bringing her to that. She could just come with me to the next one, but I think that feels like a long time away to her and she is curious, haha.

      Reply
  24. Archie Goodwin

    Very much office-dependent. I used to work near the Holocaust Museum, and after my mother and I went to an event one lunch hour there I invited her back to see my office. She didn’t stay long…just long enough to meet whatever of my coworkers were around. In and out in about twenty minutes, basically, if even that.

    And that was a government office. It’s not that unusual, really, as long as a.) you don’t make an overbearing habit of it and b.) whoever’s visiting doesn’t go around irritating other people on a regular basis.

    Reply
  25. The Other Dawn

    I don’t think it’s super weird (but depends on your office culture, of course). I think it’s somewhat normal for a spouse or SO to what to see where that person spends so many waking hours. Or to see who the PITA is that SO is always complaining about. To me it’s just a curiosity thing. I’ve been to my husband’s place and he’s been to mine. But I would add that having an actual excuse for stopping by would make it less weird. My husband works 63 miles away so me stopping by just to see the place would be pretty odd. But to stop by and check it out while also bringing him dinner for his unexpected double shift wouldn’t be odd.

    Reply
  26. Alienor

    I wouldn’t think it was particularly weird even in a corporate environment. We don’t have spouses visiting every day, but it’s not uncommon for someone’s spouse to stop in for a few minutes on the way to/back from lunch. No big deal.

    Alternatively, if there aren’t any prohibitions on cameras, LW could take some photos or a short video to show their wife. Maybe she just wants to be able to visualize where LW is all day.

    Reply
    1. Letter Writer

      I can definitely take pictures, and have shown some to her. That just made her want to see it in person more, haha. (I have a really nice view.)

      Reply
      1. Bibliovore

        now, you are just poking at her. Having a nice view IS a great perk. All the academics have blessed the lab visit. Invite her out for a nice dinner and tell her to stop by to pick you up.

        Reply
  27. TheCupcakeCounter

    My last two jobs this has been a “thing” since in both cases we moved to new locations after I started working there. The first was due to building a state of the art LEED building that doubled as a showroom and the second was just because our President thought it was super cool (he’s a hoot). I often see people’s SO around so I wouldn’t think it was weird at all but it is true that there was always a second reason for the visit (meet for lunch, trade cars, etc…)

    Reply
  28. Isben Takes Tea

    And it may provide perspective to know that in a publishing office, there are frequently people dropping by or coming in for meetings or going out to lunch–authors, agents, vendors, etc.–so it’s not a Big Deal if someone’s significant other stops by because it’s just another face in the office. Whereas it sounds like in a (or at least your) research facility, there aren’t many visitors, period, so it becomes a big question of Who Is This Person and Why Are They Here?

    If you’re uncomfortable having her visit and she seems confused by your hesitance, it may help to share this difference (if you feel it’s accurate).

    Reply
    1. Lore

      Exactly! Plus…everyone I know drops by periodically to see if there are any good free books on offer. I took requests when I used to have an office but now there’s just no room for them so you have to visit if you want swag.

      Reply
  29. ginger ale for all

    Another vote for office dependent.

    I once brought cupcakes for an ex’s birthday to his office – the county jail. I was going to surprise him. I had asked casually beforehand where his office was and how do visitors arrive etc. He told me where it was and then he said (jokingly but I didn’t realize it at the time) that visitors had to stand on a box and slowly rotate with their arms out to the side of them to show that you were not armed after pressing a buzzer that was by their security camera by their door in the parking lot. He also said you had to yell the persons name out loudly several times because the security camera’s sound receiving system was wonky. So I did that for about three or four minutes until I was buzzed in. His co-workers were thrilled that I had fallen for that. Apparently you just had to press the button and wait to be buzzed in, no spinning and yelling necessary.

    He later told me that I was the only friend or family member to ever stop by their office. They all talked about how no one could ever remember having a personal visitor before.

    Reply
    1. Letter Writer

      Hahaha this is excellent.

      (Though frankly, the embarrassment of this alone would be enough to make him an ex immediately.)

      Reply
      1. ginger ale for all

        To be fair, he never thought that I would ever drop in.

        Also, another weird part of it was that it was the first time they had birthday cupcakes at work before. They would usually have random doughnut days from various co-workers though.

        Reply
  30. Yet one more lawyer

    Wouldn’t have been a weird thing any place I worked either. (Government agency, law firm, corporation.) Usually people bring family (spouse, kids, parents) in around lunch time and may walk the floor and introduce them to their coworkers. This is probably very workplace specific. But definitely very normal some places.

    Reply
  31. 15012

    My dad was visiting me once and I took him by my office, even though I had taken the day off. We didn’t have a working printer at home and I needed to print something for him. Two birds, one stone. Nobody cared.

    Reply
  32. TC

    When I was growing up, my dad worked shifts for a major telco company — to a kid, it was very sci-fi and cool, large screens, blinking lights, mainframe computers, all that — and while it wasn’t an everyday occurrence, it wasn’t weird for my mum to bring my brother and I in if we were out visiting a relative nearby and my dad was on nights. Someone would usually down tools for 5mins and set up a video game for my brother, which was obviously exciting. We never went during the day, unless it was family day (which happened once when they moved). My dad had worked for that company for decades, and all the guys knew each other’s families.

    Since becoming a “grown up”, I’ve definitely spent time studying in my husband’s office, but once again, they were a tight-knit group and my husband spent 10 years there. He’s since moved on and I haven’t seen his new office, although I imagine if I asked, it would be ok to go after work one day for 5mins. At my last job, which was a “cool” workplace (ping pong table and stuff like that) you’d often see a partner or some kids come in for 5mins or so. Another office I worked in was beautiful — regularly featured in interior design wrap ups and that kind of thing — but I brought a friend by for 5mins once and everyone just stared. I thought it was weird because the office itself was a big boast, but it turns out that the culture was just different, so I didn’t do it again.

    Reply
  33. femmebot

    My take is: Life is too darn short to worry about things like this.

    Background: met my husband late in life, we have quite an age difference between us. The healthy years of life we will have together are so small that, so long as I’m a high-performing employee/friend/whatever, I really don’t give a hoot what anyone thinks of his presence in the office or anywhere else. We would spend every second of every day together if we could. If people want to judge us for that then that’s on them.

    Doesn’t matter what your circumstances are, life is just too darn short.

    Reply
  34. Alex

    I work in a non-academic department of a university. I have never met any of my coworkers’ spouses. It’s rare to even see people bring their kids by if they are sick or out of school. I personally like keeping work and personal stuff as separate as possible.

    Reply
    1. Lemon Zinger

      Also non-academic at a university, and I agree with you 100%. I don’t care to meet my coworkers’ partners unless we are friendly outside of work. I certainly don’t want to meet them in the course of an average workday!

      Reply
    2. Letter Writer

      I agree. I definitely care strongly about a work/life boundary and I think that’s part of why I find it weird. But I’m coming around to the idea that her stopping by once at the end of the day won’t violate that, especially since she may not even meet any coworkers. It would depend on whether or not someone happened to drop by at that time.

      Reply
  35. Jessesgirl72

    If it’s field dependent, the university research departments are one of the most likely places to find friends and family (briefly) dropping by!

    So, first, OP double check the manual to make sure it’s not expressly forbidden.

    But it probably isn’t, and it’s not unusual. I’m not sure I saw a picture on FB of my SIL and her now husband while she was in grad school (biology research at a top bio research school) that wasn’t in her lab. He was always stopping by to drop off a meal or coffee. He even set up her surprise proposal in the lab with the help of the rest of her department.

    However, if you don’t want her to stop by, for any reason, up to and including “Yes, I’m rigid, but it makes me uncomfortable” then don’t do it. You don’t have to do this just because Alison or the commentariat think it’s okay to do.

    Reply
    1. Letter Writer

      I’m sure it wouldn’t be forbidden, so I think it’s up to me.

      Hearing the range of perspectives has been helpful. I’m coming around to the idea, and I think I will be comfortable with it in the near future once I feel more established.

      Reply
  36. Allison

    I can’t speak for an academic setting, but I will add my non-academic voice to those who read these comment threads for more info. I have found that in the city, it’s normal for someone’s spouse or SO, or even friend to stop in the office during lunchtime or before dinner. In suburban offices, I can’t say I’ve ever seen it happen, probably because any picking up for lunch or dinner involves a car that would need to be parked if the picker-upper was to go inside.

    Reply
  37. Anxa

    Oh man, I think this is so facility dependent.

    I would visit my SO all of the time when we both were working at the same lab. I was in a molecular bio lab which while kept cleaner, had a lot more hazardous stuff. I was an intern/volunteer and didn’t really have my own space. There were definitely more hazards in our lab. My SO only came by occasionally (mostly to drop off the car key or something logistical like that). I went to his office more often because he was far more senior and it was more low-key and had a different culture, plus most people knew me there. Always with closed-toe shoes, of course! We’d often walk home together so it made sense to meet (our buildings were close by).

    I have never been to his current office and while of course I’m curious as to what his work area is like, I probably never will see it. Theoretically he could visit me at work easily because there really isn’t a centralized office where I work.

    Reply
    1. Anxa

      Oh, another reason he only showed up like twice at my office is because my lab was 3 labs in one 1 lab. As in, one physical laboratory with 3 different teams. Many of the researchers spoke English as a second language and we had to share some expensive equipment without knowing the PIs so there was a more quiet atmosphere. Also, my typical benches were not in sight of the door.

      Reply
  38. Chocolate Teapot

    I have sometimes stopped by a friend’s office when we were having lunch together, but the oddest incident I remember was just before one Christmas when a co-worker came around the office to introduce a friend. We exchanged greetings, and then the friend spent the morning sitting next to the co-worker at her desk and they left at lunchtime.

    The friend had nothing to do with the company.

    Reply
  39. PK

    I wouldn’t think it was unusual to meet a spouse if they were there for lunch, ride home at end of day, etc. I would find it a little odd if it was purely for the purpose of meeting them though and not for some other primary purpose.

    Reply
  40. Sarah

    I agree with folks that say this is totally normal for a university. I’m a professor, and so is my father. All of our family has been to his office plenty of times, and he’s visited my office everywhere I’ve worked, as has my spouse and some other family members. Certainly as the director of a research institute, it is hard for me to believe anyone would be tracking your time as to whether you’re “socializing” or “working” — I mean, I end up “socializing” with coworkers all the time during the day, and would think nothing of having a friend stop by or whatever. We don’t even have/track vacation or sick days — as long as you’re getting your research done and not skipping out on teaching responsibilities, no one is paying attention to every second of your time in a university research setting. I’m curious if maybe you’re coming from an industry setting where there were different norms around this sort of thing, but I do think it’s completely normal at a university.

    (I also have to laugh at the person who thought it would be weird to be there with your spouse “after hours” or a on a weekend. Academics just do not have a 9-5 schedule and no one will think it’s odd if you are in on a Saturday!)

    Reply
  41. Managing Attorney in CA

    I think that there doesn’t need to be a pretext or that it has to be near the lunch hour / end of the day. In fact, having a pretext seems more odd to me than having the OP’s fiancee stop by the research lab. My wife, when we were first dating, wanted to come by and see my office. I didn’t think twice about it. Also, I have a few friends who have worked in labs at major universities and I’ve seen all their labs.

    I think it’s fine.

    Reply
    1. Rick

      The pretext confused me, too. It makes it sound like you’re purposefully breaking a rule, which totally isn’t the case. Even if you don’t think it’s normal, the comments here demonstrate that a significant portion of the population do think it’s normal.

      Reply
  42. Margaret

    Agree with many others, if they truly just dropped by and explained it as to see the office, maybe a little odd, but dropping by on the way to lunch or dinner or something is totally normal. My husband saw my office when we were dating after hours so I could do his tax return.

    Though I understand feeling weird about – I felt like I had to create an excuse (meeting for lunch) just to have my husband bring our new baby by to show off, even though, really, I know no one would mind us bringing by the baby (once, not every day or anything) just for the sole purpose of introducing him.

    Reply
  43. I'm a tailors apprentice

    I think it’s weird. My mother wanted a tour of where I work because she “wanted to visualize it correctly” when I would talk about my job. She met me for lunch one afternoon and came in despite my clear instruction to stay in her car. The receptionist, a woman about my mom’s age, picked at me until I finally gave in and walked her around to see my desk and the office. I work in health care and there was a lot of stuff that she wasn’t able to see which bugged her (and was kind of my point when I told her “It’s not worth coming in, all you’ll be able to see is my desk.”) What bugged me is how she wanted to talk to my co-workers. Um…no. I dragged her through that tour so fast that she told me I was hurting her arm. Oh well! Didn’t want her there in the first place!

    Reply
    1. Letter Writer

      Ugh, that’s so weird. I don’t think my spouse would act like your mother, trying to talk to everyone and be nosy about my stuff. I think she’s just curious because I’ve got a good view and have some freedom to decorate, more than in most corporate environments.

      Reply
      1. Leslie Knope

        You’ve mentioned this view a lot. If it’s as great as it sounds (my view is of the door to the stairs) then I think it would totally make sense to let her come see it! And if you have any hesitation, do it at a time of the workday when it won’t interfere with other’s work.

        Reply
  44. Letter Writer

    Thanks so much for answering my question! And thanks to everyone sharing their range of experiences. It sounds like it is indeed dependent on field and office.

    It sounds like it would be reasonable for her to visit me briefly at the end of the day, especially at a university. I’ll give it another few months until I feel a little more settled, and see if she wants to stop by once on our way out to dinner.

    PS Of course now that it’s a published letter, I notice that I added an extra “to”. It should say “I don’t want it to look like”…

    Reply
    1. aaaaaaaaanon

      Late to the post, but I’d just want to say that her working in publishing is not industry specific. I’ve worked at several different publisher’s and it would have been weird at those offices for someone to drop by. Even then, at some of those places it’s mostly be waiting in the lobby (the big ones I worked at always had a strict sign-in policy so it was a pain to get anyone upstairs).

      I think it’s more environment specific than industry specific.

      Reply
    2. MissDisplaced

      If you work at a university they may also have planned Open House, and featured speaker type events she can come to. I remember that being the case and seeing more family members at those sorts of things things.

      Reply
    3. TL -

      Heck, in academia, if it’s your lab, you could probably hire cancan dancers to come through on a weekly basis and give your wife a singing tour. :)

      Another person saying I work in academia and spouses, children, and families all come through without anyone blinking. I think most visits last no more than 15 minutes and it’s never been a big deal as long as the visitors don’t touch anything.

      Reply
  45. Nabby

    My office is in a landmark building with a gorgeous view that people pay good money to see anyways. I brought my sister up to see the view/office for a few minutes, but it was late in the evening and my team wasn’t there anyways. I know a lot of people might bring college students or networking coffee people into the office too, but that probably depends more on culture.

    Reply
    1. Jessesgirl72

      My husband works in one of those landmark buildings, but no one without a badge is allowed inside. Someone even got a reprimand for letting their kid inside to use the bathroom one day when he and the kid were downtown.

      But they ignore people bringing friends and family to the top level of the (badged access) parking garage as long as we stay out of the building. The parking garage is an excellent place to watch the city’s fireworks displays.

      Reply
      1. Sheworkshardforthemoney

        My daughter worked in a very high level secure building. I went to meet her after work and while I was in the lobby, I was approached by security and had to identify myself and she was called to confirm that she was expecting me. I wasn’t allowed any further into the building and security stayed with me until she came downstairs.

        Reply
  46. Paul

    I’ve never heard of it being weird for family to want to “see the office.” Your work environment is a huge part of your daily life and for most people one of only two environments they’ll be in regularly, the other being the home.

    The nature of your work environment is also a big influence on your mood, positively or negatively, when you get home.

    This is possibly cultural though, I’m not in the US.

    Reply
  47. animaniactoo

    At my company, it’s widely encouraged. There is a strong emphasis on being family friendly here, and while you’re not supposed to have people in every week, a couple of times a year, particularly as a meetup for lunch, etc. is endorsed.

    As the company has grown, your visitor might have to wait for you to come pick them up from reception. But it’s expected that you don’t just go out with them if you’re meeting them in the building, you bring them by for introductions, and maybe up to see the showroom if you can.

    However, it’s a family owned company that makes products for children. And there is lots of cool stuff to see in the showroom. So pretty much every member of my immediate family has been here at some point, along with a few friends. Now that I think about it, I think the only people who haven’t been here are my BILs simply because they never tagged along for lunch.

    Reply
  48. Nina-Marie

    You can count me as one of the ones that my husband and I have always invited each other to our offices – just to see it and to be introduced to particularly close work friends. Just a quick tour before a lunch or at the end of the day. Even when I worked at a university it wasn’t unusual. My mother always did it with me when I was an older teen and I do it with my daughter. It was never seen as odd since it was only once. For us , since we talk about our day, it gives each other a frame of reference as we hear workday stories.

    Reply
  49. O Oyl

    Here’s the thing – working on a campus is like working in a small town – typically ok, but yes, wait for an opportune moment. We have summer daycamp here, so when I moved locations, I showed my family where I was because they have to re-map, like me.

    The trickier part of spousal visits is my spouse has been wonkish about having a quick kiss. I’ve said that the minute he sees professionals kissing at his work, I’ll reconsider my no-PDA stance. As a female, it’s just too weird for me.

    Reply
  50. MissDisplaced

    I don’t think it’s weird, but it is definitely not something that happens often either.
    We do have spouses & kids visit on occasion (like maybe once per year). One employee’s husband visits more often (every few months), but only because he works in the same very large corporate campus and knows a lot of coworkers from a “back in the day” sort of thing when we were part of a different company.

    But regardless, if they do visit, make it kind of a quick thing unless there is a planned event like Bring Your Kid to Work, Open House or something like that. I think it’s nice, but it can be distracting, especially if kids are involved.

    Reply
  51. Anon 2

    My mother used to find out where I worked and randomly dropped by for a tour every time I changed jobs. To the point where I worked in a hospital and she showed up in the emergency department and had them call me for a tour.

    Where I work now it’s not unusual for a family member to get a tour, but I’m not a fan of it as it’s distracting, and our offices are closed over the weekends and family members could be shown around then.

    Reply
  52. M

    Agreed with Allison: it’s all how you frame it and how your office runs. My friend at work does this – her mom occasionally holds meetings nearby our office, and when they have lunch together, she brings her mom up to say hi to everyone which we all love because her mom is terrific. It’s never struck me as odd.

    Reply
  53. Hmmm

    It really depends so much on the setup.

    But I’ve always had a little too much free range in my life. My office was private enough.

    Reply
  54. NCKat

    We’re not really allowed to bring in non-employees outside of office hours, and management encourages visitors to wait in the lobby for employees. The only time I’ve seen family members is children when schools are not in session.

    Reply
  55. S

    See, I just don’t quite get why it matters all that much to see your significant others work space, it’s really not something that I’ve ever had any interest in. My fiance travels around, visiting doctors offices to show them medical equipment, and at one point he asked if I was interested in seeing the equipment, and in specifically swinging by the office of a local doctor he had been to recently and had a good rapport with. I thought that was the strangest question ever, and the idea of stopping into a business he wasn’t actually affiliated just to poke around was actually kind of horrifying. But it must run in his family, at one point his mom said she’d love to see my workplace (I’m a chemist in R&D, so my workplace is genuinely interesting and not just an office). Fortunately for me and unfortunately for her, my site is closed to visitors unless they’re visiting for a business related reason and registered in advance.

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  56. Chelle

    My office is on a sprawling google-esque campus with about 30 buildings, designed by Disneyland’s architect…So this wouldn’t be weird there at all! :)

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  57. Honeybee

    I work in research in the tech industry and the labs at my office are kind of cool, which is why I brought my husband on a tour (and later, my sister). But this is pretty common where I am – people bring visiting relatives and friends on tours of our labs all the time, and we conduct tours for schoolchildren, and our boss specifically said that these activities are okay.

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  58. Cassie

    I think it kind of depends – I work at a university and while I wouldn’t think much about a spouse or SO (or non-work friend) stopping by on the way to lunch or dinner, it may be different if the employee then takes the person around and introduces them to everyone. If it’s a small office, then *not introducing* a spouse/SO would be weird, but if it’s a large-ish office with many employees, it would be weird to introduce the spouse/SO like they were a new employee.

    I don’t think I’ve seen most of the spouses/SOs of our ~50 faculty members. Granted, there are couple of sets of married professors, so obviously we’ve seen them together, but as for the rest of the faculty and staff – I have never seen their SOs. The one exception is the wife of my primary boss – she stopped by a few times to drop off his lunch and I have to go downstairs to get the lunch from her.

    So yeah, I guess it would depend on a lot of variables. (I’m curious to see other people’s offices, but I personally wouldn’t want to visit someone else’s office, because I’d find it awkward).

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  59. Sheworkshardforthemoney

    A quick pop-in on the way to a lunch date is appropriate. It’s not necessary to introduce her to everyone in the office. I met an ex for lunch and he introduced me to everyone in his office, he even had me meet his grandboss. Most people were polite but a few were clearly puzzled as to why they were being interrupted at their desk to meet a stranger. I’ve never seen any of these people since. I’m terrible with remembering people out of context and luckily for me I won’t run into any of them.

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  60. The Data Don't Lie

    My goal in life is better Work-Life Integration. I don’t want it to be weird for a spouse to come by my office because I don’t want to have to put “work” and “life” in completely separate boxes, never the twain shall meet. I don’t think this has to be weird or inappropriate except under very extreme employment circumstances (like, those requiring a security clearance), and I wish more people would make an active effort to break down the idea that this is weird and shouldn’t be done. Your significant other deserves to see the place where you spend the majority of your time. Why are you so against the idea? It’s a big part of your life.

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  61. Rachael

    I guess it truly does matter where you work. I was a little put off by people’s responses that it would be unprofessional because at LastJob we did it all the time! Family members would come in and say hi if they were in town and so forth. But….then I realized that I haven’t seen one family member at my new job. I realized that even though I brought my mom by my old office when she visited from out of state it would not be as accepted here.

    So, I would just feel around and see if this is something that you see as a norm and go accordingly. You may not get the opportunity to show your office at all if it is not something that people do at your new job.

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  62. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

    When my daughter was in junior high – my wife and daughter were in downtown Boston so they dropped in at the end of my workday – I was excoriated for that – “don’t bring your daughter in here.” She was not disruptive or anything, just sat quietly. Although the boss had brought HIS infant daughter in at times, but I guess “that’s different.”

    Um-hum…. ok…

    Then when they had that “take your daughters to work” day, I was aghast when they asked me “why didn’t you bring YOUR daughter in today?”

    I replied – “she’s going to do better than this when she hits the working world.” By the way, she did.

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  63. Legal Secretary

    I’ve worked in law firms for 20 years and honestly, LOVE meeting the spouses/significant others of attorneys I work with. Who cares why they’re there?! To meet them for lunch? To drop off something they forgot? To pick up something? To see their newly decorated office?

    The only thing that’s not cool is when they blatantly steal office supplies “Oh, I LOVE these post-its!” or when they ask me to do things for them “Could you give me 20 copies of this?” when I don’t work for the spouse. But those rarely happen.

    Reply

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