employees aren’t covering their tabs when we go out for meals, my office is freezing, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Employees aren’t covering their tabs when we go out for coffee or meals

I have a question about etiquette and how to approach a subject with people at work. It is becoming a theme with a few coworkers that they always want to be involved in coffee and group meals but never offer to contribute once the food or beverages are purchased. As a result, one or two people (me and my assistant manager; I’m the manager) end up paying for the whole group.

At first I thought it might have been a misinterpretation on the staff’s part (that they thought the food or coffee were being purchased by our employer), but there have been two occasions where I’m positive money has exchanged hands on front of them after they have ordered food or beverages, and still they do not offer any money. Is there a polite way to discuss something like this with a person? And if so how?

I don’t know how to make the distinction that the organization is paying vs. I am paying. We work in a nonprofit where all salaries are low. I would love to treat my staff to lunch out of my pocket but I don’t have that luxury.

You have to speak up! It’s pretty likely that they assume that the organization is paying, or that you are paying as the boss. Even though other people are putting in money, some people are just oblivious and they really might not be noticing.

Next time a group meal or coffee outing is being organized, say something like, “Just a heads-up that we’ll all be covering our own tabs.” And then if money isn’t offered up when it’s due, directly ask for it — as in, “Jane, I think yours was 10 bucks.” (Don’t spring that last part on people with no notice, though; make sure you first set the right expectation when the outing is first being organized, so that they can opt out if they don’t want to pay.)

2. My office is much colder than everyone else’s

I was promoted at the start of 2017 and for this job I was moved to an office closer to the door. I love my new office and have arranged furniture, made design changes and I really feel like it’s my space now, but because it’s closer to the door it is colder than my last office. Every time the door opens a gust of cold air is let in and it brings down the temperature in my office. There is a sizeable gap in the doors anyway that lets cold air in round the clock (you have to buzz in to get into our building and so the anteroom isn’t sealed well). Because of its location, my office is 6° colder than my coworker’s offices down the hall.

Is there any reasonable accommodation that can be made? Apparently before I got here too many people in the office had space heaters and it blew a fuse and left the entire department without electricity. Even though there’s a ban on space heaters, two of my coworkers keep one in their offices and are the only people comfortable during the work day.

I understand the argument for putting on more clothes, but when I do (a headscarf, two shirts, leggings under my pants, a cardigan and wearing my jacket while working – yes, this is what it takes to be comfortable) people in my office stop by to have a good laugh on their way out of the building. After a certain point, putting on more clothes just isn’t possible or professional. Plus, my office is six degrees colder than my coworkers. The rest of the office isn’t exactly tropical and everyone makes comments on how cold it is on our floor but I definitely feel like an exception because, again, my office is six degrees colder than my coworkers. This has definitely impacted my work, since I try to type one-handed and sit on my other hand to keep it warm and then switch (yes, even with gloves), I’ve lost time with the inane “wow, someone’s cold” chit chat every time coworkers see me bundled up, and I try to do jumping jacks or walk around the office hourly to warm up. What, if any, would be a reasonable accommodation request to make to my HR department – which I think would take my concern seriously, although I’m not sure what they could do.

Go talk to HR and explain that your office is six degrees colder than everywhere else. That’s a pretty compelling point, and so that’s the main thing you want to focus on. Say that you understand there’s a ban on personal space heaters but you either need to be allowed to have one or they need to find another way to bring your office’s temperature up because despite wearing a jacket and layers while you work, you’re still freezing.

There’s a decent chance that they’ll let you have a space heater or will make some other arrangement — but you need to explicitly tell them about the temperature differential.

3. My competition looked at my LinkedIn

I have a question about an interview experience that bothered me. It’s not a big deal but something that got under my skin. I had a second interview (internal candidate in academia) with the director I would be supporting and reporting to. I was in constant touch with HR, as they had difficulty filling the position and a very high turnover. I also had a personal contact/connection at this department.

Turns out the person who was temporarily covering for this position (from an agency) ended up getting the position. Also, after I sent my follow-up/thank-you email to the director, this person — who was then a temp — looked at my LinkedIn. I learned in my interview that this role monitors the director’s inbox, which I knew but sent the email anyway. I’m very sure this is how he got my name to look at my LinkedIn. I didn’t know the person temping/covering was in the running for the position. I can’t help but speculate if he deleted it or it didn’t get to the director.

I didn’t say anything. I could have said something to HR (felt very comfortable), my personal contact, but I just decided to let it go and wanted to get your thoughts on it. I told a coworker I trust about it and she thought it was totally inappropriate. Should I have let someone know? HR? My contact? I figured he got the position so there was nothing to gain, but how wrong/unprofessional was this? Honestly I was relieved when I found out I didn’t get the role. I think it’s open again (three months), which reminded me of this whole experience.

I can understand why you feel a little weird about it, but this is not a big deal. Looking at LinkedIn isn’t a violation, and really, if he was responsible for screening the director’s emails, he could have just as easily looked at your resume when you sent it as well.

There’s no reason to think that just because this person looked at your LinkedIn, he would have kept your thank-you email from the director. I mean, it’s possible, but there’s zero indication that that happened (and even if it did, it’s very unlikely that the absence of a thank-you email from you was what clinched the job for him, especially since he was already temping in the role and was a known quantity).

Saying something to HR or anyone else there would have come across oddly (because they wouldn’t see it as complaint-worthy), so it’s good that you just let it go.

4. Canceling an interview after hearing terrible things about the interviewer

A former boss of mine told me his company was hiring and asked me if I was interested in applying. I said yes and sent him my resume. He told me all about the company and the project managers who work there. He said that all of them were great to work with, except this one person who, according to his description, was unbearable. He proceeded to tell me how several employees had quit or had developed mental issues because of him.

Fast forward a couple of days and I got a call from Mr. Devil himself. He had read my resume and was convinced I was exactly what he needed for his team. He asked me if I could meet him for an interview the following week and I reluctantly accepted. Now I’m having second thoughts, as I know I definitely don’t want to work with him. I talked to other people at the company and everyone seems to confirm he’s impossible to work with. Should I go to the interview anyway or simply cancel it? I might still want to work for this company in the future, just not this particular team.

There’s no harm in going to the interview if you want to learn more about the company and get some first-hand experience with this guy. Going to an interview doesn’t obligate you to accept an offer if one comes.

On the other hand, if you know that you absolutely wouldn’t accept an offer from this guy, it’s more polite not to waste his time. In that case, you could let him know that you’ve thought more about the role and it’s not quite what you’re looking for because of X (insert something here that isn’t “you’re a terrible person” and which wouldn’t preclude you from being interested in other roles there), or even just that your circumstances have changed and you’re not currently in the market.

You could also talk to your former boss, explain the second thoughts you’re having and that you don’t think it’s a role you’d accept, and ask his opinion on the best way to navigate it.

5. Working from home on snow days

The last two years, my Boston-based employer has changed its wording for when the office is closed due to inclement weather. They now tell workers that “if you have the ability to work from home, you should do so.”

The teleworking policy is very strict — only certain jobs are approved for teleworking, and if you are approved, you cannot watch your children, you cannot work more than three days at home, etc.

When the office is closed, most of the time schools and daycares are closed. I’m wondering if they can make us work from home or make us use PTO?

Yes, they can.

It actually doesn’t sound like the teleworking policy is particularly strict; it’s very normal for only some jobs to be approved for teleworking (it doesn’t make sense for all jobs or all people) and for teleworkers to have to have other arrangements for day care.

It’s also pretty normal to tell people on snow days to work from home if you can, even if the office is closed. And it’s not uncommon for employers to have people use PTO for snow days — although when the office is closed, it’s a pretty ungenerous move since people aren’t choosing to take the day off. But while it’s ungenerous, it’s not uncommon.

However, it might be worth asking whether the normal telework rules have any leeway on snow days. For instance, a lot of places will relax their “you must have child care while you’re teleworking” rules on snow days, since snow days typically mean that kids are home too. And they might be willing to let some people telework in inclement weather who aren’t approved to do it normally. (Or they might not, who knows. But it’s a reasonable thing to ask about.)

{ 344 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Nic

    LW2, I am nearly always cold at work and have found that a heating pad is a fantastic solution. I generally put it behind me, which covers a good bit of my core and keeps me warmer. I also keep fingerless gloves.

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      As someone who is always cold, I’m totally sympathetic re: the limits of layering… although you might want to consider base layers if you haven’t already—I learned the hard way that yoga pants under real pants are no help. I spent an entire year in the office wearing my parka, a beanie, fingerless gloves and a lap blanket because I was so cold compared to my coworkers.

      So I +1 the vote for a heating pad, and it might be possible to do some low-level weatherizing to help minimize the draft. You could also grab a stress reliever wrap that you can heat in the microwave—they’re filled with barley or some other grain, and they radiate heat the way a heating pad or hot water bottle would but don’t require continuous power (and are reusable). They also sell these stick-on heat-generating therapy things that you can buy in the drug store; they’re usually by the icy-hot patches. That’s of course more expensive in the long-term, but it provides direct heat to a specific part of your body and is pretty easy to hide under your clothes (so long as you don’t put it somewhere strange, like your stomach).

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        The heat wraps are really nice; I take one to bed on cold nights. In an office I would at minimum want one of those ceramic cube heaters which are small, discreet and safe.

        Reply
      2. JessaB

        You can also find the equivalent of a snuggie blanket in an electric heated blanket form.

        A lot of places say no to space heaters because of fire concerns. A corded electric snugglie or even just a plain electric blanket over or under you, would probably be less worrisome. Particularly if you vow strongly to never, ever, leave the office with it plugged in. You’d probably get a better result that way.

        Also if your office is so cold, there might actually be someone like me working there who would gladly switch rooms with you. Even though you love the space, it might be worth it to move.

        Regarding the who pays for lunch thing, please please whatever is decided make it very very clear. I was asked by a group to lunch to celebrate my getting put on the team. Or at least that’s what I thought the idea was. It was pay your own way, including me. I happened to leave my purse in my desk because well, “welcome to the team,” had never before in my experience been pay for your lunch.

        Reply
        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

          And to be clear, the fire concerns can be real – at OldJob, we had two fires that I recall that were traced back to space heaters under desks. Neither was large, but even a small fire can be a noticeable disruption in everyone’s day.

          Reply
          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            Yeah, we blew out the electricity in a wall and had an electric wall fire that left scorch marks on the outside of said wall. Nothing like trying to address a wall fire in a building with asbestos insulation.

            Reply
        2. Venus Supreme

          Switching offices may be a possibility– I don’t know how OP2’s building is laid out but I know there are people like my mom who can’t stand any ounce of warmth and would probably enjoy the draft. She keeps her house temperature set at 58 degrees. When I lived at home I’d cry from being so cold in the mornings! So, yeah, if my mom worked with OP2 she’d happily switch.

          Reply
      3. Thumbelina125

        I currently work in a closet and the temperature is about 15 degrees colder than the rest of the office. An overhead pipe pushed cold air into our server room next door. I wear layers year round and I have a heated blanket I wrap myself in. It makes being in the room bearable. Like Milton I am hidden away in closet they decided to make into a “temporary” admin space. 90% of the time I am alone in my Fortress of Solitude and my company moved the other employees to another campus. My campus slated to close two years ago is still up and running on a skeleton crew of myself and a part time coworker. No one can complain my heated blanket is unprofessional.

        Reply
      4. teclatrans

        I stumbled across this site ages ago, and am so happy it might be of use to someone: https://richsoil.com/electric-heat.jsp

        Skip past the greenwashing diatribe and focus on the tools and approaches to heating oneself at a desk. They include a dog-bed warmer, tenting under your desk, and heated keyboard and mouse.

        Reply
    2. Marcela

      OP2, I have to add to this suggestion a heated foodrest. I can’t live without mine now. And I did manage to convince my bosses to get me a heater, but the foodrest is the thing that made the difference.

      Reply
      1. Siberian

        Some research indicates that keeping people’s feet warm under their desks was the most effective way for them to feel comfortably warm. They were using something akin to a heating pad under the subjects’ feet rather than a space heater.

        Reply
          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            It’s super true! The same goes for cooling down. If you can get a fan/AC by your feet, you’ll feel cooler more quickly (and stay that way).

            Reply
        1. No day but today

          A few years ago I got my husband a foot massage at a Reflexology spa. One of the questions they asked was if he was often cold. He said yes and that he hates the cold. This woman massaged his feet and for the rest of the winter his feet were warm every day. To give some context: at the time we were living in my mothers unheated basement in New England, during the polar vortex! He ran so warm that winter that a lot of the time he couldn’t wear his coat because he’d sweat.
          I’m not saying that the LW should invest in a foot massage as a heater…only that the feet really can be the trick to keeping warm.
          I was sad when the place went out of business. They were amazing but had no advertising and were in a lousy location. :(

          Reply
        2. Marcela

          I had two, actually. One works as you said, like a heating pad, while the other has a fan. The pad is good for thin shoes or no shoes at all, but it can’t make a dent on most of my winter shoes. The one with the fan is like being under a hair dryer. It is very warm, but also noisy (like a computer working full speed noisy).

          Reply
    3. KR

      I lived in a basement apartment when I was in college and found one of the best ways to stay warm yet comfortable after sitting at the kitchen table all night multiple times a week was to have a heating pad on my back. I would use a space heater aimed at my lower back sometimes too, but the heating pad took care of things nicely.

      Reply
    4. Gadfly

      I had a heated chair pad and it was lovely…

      A coffee warmer that keeps a finger warming and body warming container hot liquid nearby is a lovely work around.

      Actual thermal underlayers help.

      Gloves with the little heating pads in them help.

      I worked next to a drafty window in a huge mostly open space building with bizarre hot spots/cold spots. And they refused to budge on heaters or fix the draft.

      Reply
        1. Siberian

          Agreed. I LOVE my mug warmer. But look for one that has a weight sensor and timer. I bought one at a thrift store that’s great. Whenever I put my mug on it, the heat and the indicator light go on. Mug off, heat off. And it turns off after 30 minutes regardless. Bought a new one for home and it has an on/off switch, no sensor. Damn thing will stay on for two days if I don’t manually turn it off. Freaks me out and I don’t use it.

          Reply
          1. No day but today

            The company holiday gift this year was a steel insulated bottle that keeps cold for up to 24 hours and hot for up to 15 hours. I make my tea in the morning and put it in the bottle before work and pour out from the bottle (it holds 20 oz) all day. The tea is still so hot I have to give it a moment in the air to cool before drinking it. Company did good this year!

            Reply
      1. Turanga Leela

        I came here to post about underlayers! OP, you may well be doing this already, but invest in real, high-quality base layers if you can. Cotton just doesn’t do much. Silk, wool, or synthetic long underwear, like the kind they sell for camping, can make a very big difference. Uniqlo long underwear is also very nice.

        Reply
    5. S.I. Newhouse

      I agree with all of these suggestions. I disagree with Alison’s point that a space heater will almost definitely be approved; quite the opposite as they are generally considered to be fire hazards. But a heating pad is discreet, they shouldn’t generate enough heat to be a safety concern, and yet they really do work.

      Reply
      1. LQ

        Yeah, I’d be surprised if a space heater was allowed because of the fire hazard thing. But I think there are other options like heated foot rest, heating pad, I think I saw a heated back rest chair add on thing, those are what I’d push for. Just because of the fire hazard part, it might be a lot harder to get them to bend on a space heater, but doable for something else.

        Reply
        1. StrikingFalcon

          Plus those things tend to have models with automatic shut off available, which further decreases the risk of fire.

          Reply
    6. Zippity

      I sit right next to the freight elevator and am always freezing. I brought in a cozy chenille throw blanket and cuddle up in it. If people laugh, they laugh. At least I’m warm.

      Reply
      1. Lance

        Exactly: let people think, or react, how they want. As long as you’re comfortable, don’t look particularly unprofessional, and aren’t disrupting everything, then what’s the bother?

        Reply
        1. Gadfly

          If they are laughing, that usually means you’ve crossed the “professional looking in this office culture” line in my opinion. Who wants to be the manager everyone associates with laughing at you for freezing?

          Reply
    7. Spoonie

      I also use a heating pad in my lap to hide my non-working hand, and my friend found a mousehand warmer (I did not know such a thing existed!) that plugs in via USB. Unlike the heating pad, the one I have doesn’t have a temperature setting, just on/off, so that’s the only downside.

      Reply
      1. Freezing letter writer

        Thank you all of the suggestions! I always layer under my clothes, but I’ll try to find better pieces to keep the warmth. Do heating pads use less electrify than space heaters? Anything I end up using that will need to be plugged in will need to be approved by HR, so perhaps this is a good compromise if our bulding can’t handle another space heater.
        (I can not stress how fabulous our HR department is, I’m really lucky and I’m confident they’ll do all they can. )

        Reply
        1. taco

          I really like the silk long underwear that LL Bean carries. It is pricy ($50/pair), but for me lasts many years. I feel warm walking outside in the cold, but don’t overheat in a warmer room/building. And they have a great return policy, so you should be able to take them back if you don’t like them.

          Reply
          1. Jessie the First (or second)

            Yet to LL Bean’s long silk underwear (they have tops and bottoms both)! Thin so it doesn’t feel or look bulky at all under your clothing, and warm yet nicely breathable. I have a friend who swears by wool long underwear, though I don’t like wool so have never tried it.

            Reply
          2. Not A Morning Person

            Winter Silks is another good brand and you can also find them online. Also, most similar items will be on sale at this time of year, so stock up!

            Reply
        2. CU

          Cuddlduds! Or there are similar, less expensive brands, too. They’re long underwear that are discreet enough to be worn under regular clothing. There are pants and long-sleeve, short-sleeve, and sleeveless shirts with a variety of necklines. I used to work in an unheated basement during a cold spell where the high was regularly -20 F. It was a yarn wholesale company, so space heaters were definitely a fire hazard, but between Cuddlduds, hot coffee, and wearing an outer layer of our wool sample pieces I could stay pretty comfortable. That’s another thing — wool and silk will keep you warmer than synthetics, unless the synthetics are the high tech fabrics that are engineered for warmth. The acrylic hats and gloves that most stores sell dont do a great job of keeping you warm.

          Reply
        3. SimonTheGreyWarden

          I second cuddle duds. Worked as a grocery store stocker in the dairy dept. for a while and would wear these under the required shirts. They work!

          Reply
        4. Morning Glory

          If electrical outlets are the main issue and you have easy access to an office kitchen, could you try a hot water bottle? Behind your back in your chair, or in your lap – they retain heat a long time and are really effective.

          Reply
        5. Beancounter Eric

          Most heating pads are rated at no more than 100 watts. Space heaters typically are 1500 watt appliances.

          Very unlikely you will trip a breaker with a heating pad or electric blanket/wrap.

          FWIW, a major consumer products company markets a “back contouring heating pad with lumbar support” – might be something to look at.

          Reply
          1. zora

            Yes, definitely use less electricity. I worked somewhere with really finicky circuit breakers that tripped all the time when people tried to use space heaters, but my heating pad was never a problem.

            Reply
        6. No day but today

          Sears has these amazing fleece lined tights that I wear under my pants when I have outside, winter events. They’re very warm, not bulky at all, and comfortable. And on top of that they’re pretty affordable.

          Reply
        7. seejay

          A heating pad will use far less electricity than a computer or any other standard electronics would afaik, plus they come with shut off timers so you don’t fall asleep and leave them on all night (usually they shut off after an hour or two at the most). They’re pretty low footprint in general. You can find them on Amazon easily or your local drugstore should have them. I got both of mine due to various bike injuries (heat is good for sprains and strains).

          Reply
        8. Synonymous

          You could also look for leggings that are meant for running in cold temperatures. I have a couple pairs that have fleece on the inside. They keep me toasty. Most brands of athletic wear should have some.

          Reply
        9. TootsNYC

          Keeping your kidneys and your head warm can do a lot toward keeping the rest of you warm–your body will actively divert heat from other places in order to keep those crucial areas warm. So anything you can do to help there will be a benefit.

          But it sounds like you’re already doing undershirts and scarves around the next.

          Reply
          1. Ama

            Yes! I have several pairs of their socks and I just bought a pair of tights — they look like normal, semi-opaque work appropriate tights but I wore them to walk half a mile in sub-freezing temperatures the other day and it was just as effective as if I was wearing my wool lined work pants. I actually can’t wear the undershirts under anything heavier than a cotton blouse because they are *too* effective.

            Reply
        10. JB (not in Houston)

          You can buy heating pads with auto shutoff, too, so you don’t have to worry about leaving it on over the weekend accidentally. Also, I use a New Air oil filled personal spaceheater (looks kinda like a radiator). It was approved by our building manager because it doesn’t use as much electricity as a space heater, or at least it doesn’t trip breakers like a space heater kept doing. (I don’t know much about electricity, but that’s what I was told)

          Reply
        11. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          I agree with all the votes for LL Bean silk long underwear and Uniqlo’s heat tech, but I also really like North Face’s base layers. I usually buy them from REI when they’re super marked down, and they tend to last (unless you’re wearing only one pair every day, in which case it will wear out by the end of winter).

          Usually the concern with space heaters is that they’ll overload the electrical system and cause outages, and then the secondary concern is that when left unattended they can heat things to the point of combustion. But an electric blanket and a heating pad are WAY less energy-consuming than a space heater (they’re less energy consuming than an electric kettle), so hopefully they’ll be more “approvable” than a space heater would be.

          Reply
        12. Nic

          In my experience, heating pads use less electricity than space heaters. You can probably find some pads that are stronger than some weak space heaters, but in general it should fall that way.

          At my current job I have to move around enough that the heating pad doesn’t work for me, but hot hands or other hand warmers do! I nestle one in my collar and change position several times an hour as needed, and it really helps.

          Reply
    8. SJ

      I’m always freezing at work too — my cubicle is at the very end of the hall, and for some reason no heat makes it down this way, and you can actually feel the temperature drop as you walk from one end of the hall toward mine. Even when wearing a flannel collared shirt underneath a heavy Aran wool sweater, I’ve been cold (which means having meetings in other people’s offices makes me sweat). I’ve been using an oversized wrap and fingerless gloves to try and stay warm. Honestly, it’s a pretty big morale killer, especially because I’m someone who really loves clothes and fashion, and I can’t wear a big portion of my closet because I’ll freeze to death if I’m not in at least two layers, with one being a heavy sweater (and why even bother wearing something cute if I’m just going to be putting a big wrap on as soon as I sit my butt in my chair in the morning?).

      Anyway, my boss has suggested a space heater, but they make me nervous for all of the reasons already named here. But I hadn’t considered a heating pad! I should definitely look into that. Wintertime in this office has been brutal.

      Reply
    9. Venus Supreme

      OP2, I feel your pain. I currently work in an office where I share an exterior wall that has no insulation- it’s solid concrete. I have a thick tapestry hanging on that wall and my little Dollar Store space heater works wonders.
      And, ExJob was located in a historical building. The heating didn’t work well, and OldBoss told me that there was nothing we could do to fix the heating since the building needed to follow whatever codes are in place to preserve such historical buildings. I’d cover myself in an electric blanket, constantly drink hot beverages, and periodically go to the bathroom to run my hands under hot water.
      I second the heating pad idea, and perhaps maybe an electric blanket? If the workplace doesn’t allow for space heaters I don’t know where they stand with the blankets. Regardless, it’s worth a conversation with HR because you definitely need a space you can operate in!!

      Reply
    10. Rusty Shackelford

      If you choose to go with an electric blanket, it’s my experience that sitting on the blanket and bringing the sides up to wrap around you is warmer than putting the blanket on top of you.

      Reply
    11. zora

      adding a vote for a heating pad. I can sit on it, or put it on my lap and it keeps me much warmer than a space heater. But in my experience uses less electricity.

      Bonus: It’s great to have on hand for cramps!

      Reply
    1. Artemesia

      Exactly — I’d never do this without separate checks. But first the group needs to understand that these are not company sponsored and paid for events. Having let them mooch several times, it is now more awkward, so it needs to be very clear that everyone pays their own bill and arrange with the restaurant for separate checks.

      Reply
      1. MashaKasha

        ^^ I came here to recommend adding “this is not a company-sponsored event” to any email invites that go out for happy hours, team lunches etc. I’ve seen it done at several OldJobs, with good results.

        Reply
    2. Gadfly

      Beat me to saying it. I’ve been in situations where that wasn’t clear and was SUPER awkward and I couldn’t figure out who was paying. I would personally appreciate the clarity.

      Reply
      1. MrsBeater

        Thank you for your comments to help the matter bc money can be a touchy subject and I knew it was a matter of being direct, i just didn’t know how.

        Reply
      2. Just Jess

        Yes; please just tell the employees what’s going on instead of assuming they are trying to mooch or cheat. Assume the best of people; but set your boundaries to prepare for the worst.

        BTW, there are PLENTY of organizations, bosses, mentors, professors, giving co-workers and friends, etc. who do offer the occasional free meal. Be clear about what’s going on.

        Reply
    3. The Cosmic Avenger

      Also, it often helps servers to know that you want separate checks before you order, so saying that loud and clear as soon as you first speak to the waitperson would help remind anyone who wasn’t paying attention to your earlier warnings. (But you should make sure everyone knows that you’re all paying for yourselves before you leave the office, otherwise people might “forget” to bring their wallets.)

      Reply
    4. Kristinyc

      Might depend on location though. Most retaurants in NYC won’t do separate checks. They’ll let you split the bill on multiple cards, but you have to do the math and tell them how much to put on each card.

      Reply
      1. Audiophile

        I guess I don’t request separate checks all that often, but I do regularly split checks with friends.

        Reply
      2. AvonLady Barksdale

        Ain’t that the truth. I did a lot of splitting with friends. With many of my friend groups, we just did the even split, but I have insane memories of 20-person tables sending a notepad around and writing down how much to put on each card.

        I was shocked and quite pleased to learn that in many other parts of the country, separate checks are the rule and not the exception. It makes things SO EASY.

        Reply
        1. Mabel

          I was in Columbus, OH last year, and I was very surprised that it was no big deal for the waitperson to do separate checks. The gadget they took the orders on could easily create a check for each person in our party of 10 or more. Granted, this was in the area of the convention center – so lots of tourists – and the investment in the gadgets must have been worth it.

          I lived in NYC for 20 years, and I guess they still do order taking and check creation by hand in a lot of places because it’s a huge favor if they agree to separate checks (and they’ll often want to have a few people per check, rather than an individual check for each person).

          Reply
      3. Gwen Soul

        From the stories I have seen it appears the higher COL areas tend to be less likely to do separate checks. It never occurred to me that it wasn’t an option until I read about people having issues!

        Reply
        1. Retail HR Guy

          This would explain a whole lot about movies and television. My whole life I’ve seen the characters argue about how to split a check and wondered why they didn’t just ask for separate checks.

          But maybe in places frequented by LA and NYC scriptwriters the waiters are just lazy and so the writers think the whole country runs that way.

          Reply
      4. Allison

        Yup. I remember one restaurant in NYC (I’m sorry, I really don’t remember where, Slaughtered Lamb maybe?) where the waitress said “I’m not splitting the check, you’ll get one for the table and you can figure it out.”

        Reply
          1. Oryx

            I think it depends on the tone in which you read her answer. I don’t see anything inherently rude in what she said — it might be blunt but if she can’t split checks she can’t split checks.

            Reply
          2. Allison

            I mean, it wasn’t the sugary sweet demeanor you’d come across in Nashville, it was New York! People are blunt in the Northeast, and considering it was Saturday evening, maybe she’d had a rough shift prior to us. I brushed it off and had a good time.

            Reply
      5. Sunshine on a cloudy day

        I worked as a server in NYC restaurants for about 5 years – in my restaurants if you asked for the separate checks before any orders were placed it was doable. That was key though – you had to request it before orders were placed, and people rarely thought to do that. If you asked after any orders were taken it was a no-go.

        It had to do with the ordering system. Once things were entered onto one check it was practically impossible to have things removed from the original ticket (that was the only way to create a split check – remove person B’s items and enter them on a whole new check, but that required a manager’s approval, their special swipe card and alerting the kitchen before the items are fired). The systems that all of my restaurants simply did not offer the ability to separate checks out. I know some software systems have that capability, but the ones that I used just did not.

        Reply
        1. Anxa

          You also have to be prepared for having slower service if need be and to be clear about what to do with apps, desserts, and the dreaded “I just joined the party half way through the meal” person. Also, please stay at one table, preferably in your seat.

          Splitting checks doesn’t take that long, but it does take an extra minute or two sometimes, which in food service can have a domino effect. I’ve had to get manager approval to split checks in the past, and that always means finding a manager that’s actually available.

          Reply
      6. ThursdaysGeek

        I was in New Orleans for a convention and went alone to a restaurant. The person before and after me in line were also alone, so we were asked by the server if we’d like to all sit together. We were from different companies, attending different conventions. That was fine, until they brought one check for the table! We had to fight a bit to at least get 3 receipts, and some of us paid with cash, just so we could do our three separate expense reports with that one check. And it was the restaurant’s idea that we sit together in the first place.

        Reply
    5. Hovitos

      Yep. And when arranging the gathering, it’s as simple as “Hey, we’re getting together for a pay-your-own-way lunch today at Joe’s Bistro. Who’s in?”

      Reply
    6. INTP

      Yes. If you don’t get separate checks and just tell people what they owe, the people that don’t pay now will hand up the exact number you tell them, leaving the same people that cover the rest now to pay for their tax and tip. Separate checks is always the best option if it’s allowed where you are, and of course tell the server before anyone orders anything.

      Reply
    7. JJJJShabado

      When I would try to organize meals with friends, I hated having to deal with the prospect of collecting money (and we’re math majors, it’s not like figuring it out was a problem, just it’s awkward trying to get money).

      What I always did to try to remedy this problem was to go places where you went to a counter, ordered a paid (something like Panera or buffets were my go to ideas in this regard). That cuts out the need to split checks or collect money.

      Reply
      1. JustaTech

        A running joke at OldLab was “How many PhDs does it take to split the bill?” We never found out because eventually the lab manager (who had a PhD and had also been a waitress in school) would get frustrated and do it for the group. She also didn’t let anyone skimp on tip, which some people had a tendency to do.

        Reply
        1. Cath in Canada

          Heh, I have photos of an epic “how many PhDs does it take to split the bill” discussion on the last night of a conference last year. The single bill (for ~20 people from five different organisations) was in French (which no-one else at the table spoke except me, and my French really isn’t all that good), the waiter hadn’t understood our request to put the alcohol on a separate bill (which meant that some of us would have a really hard time getting reimbursed for our food), we weren’t sure if the tip was already included, and everyone was drunk on strong Belgian beer. We figured it out in the end, but the photos of six or seven confused-looking professors using the calculator apps on their phones live on in conference legend. No wonder Douglas Adams invented Bistromathics.

          Reply
    8. caryatis

      Yes! It can be pretty annoying when the manager picks up the tab and then expects people to compensate him/her with cash. I often don’t have cash. If I do have cash, it’s often not the exact amount, and as a cheap person, I’m not paying $20 when my share was $8. So then I have to put “get cash for manager” on my to-do list, run to the ATM or somehow get ones…

      Much easier just to go separate and let me use my credit card.

      Reply
      1. Tuckerman

        Along those same lines, make sure people are only paying for what they ordered. Splitting the bill 10 equal ways for a group of 10 is going to be stressful for the person who purposely ordered something inexpensive because of budget constraints.

        Reply
        1. Parenthetically

          YES. I gather this is really common, but even for birthday dinners where one person is being treated by the others, my friends and I discuss our budgets ahead of time and never just split the ticket evenly.

          Reply
        2. SJ

          Yes! My mom doesn’t drink alcohol, so when she goes out to eat with friends, her share of the bill is often a lot less than everyone else’s, and she fights tooth and nail (politely!) against splitting the bill.

          Reply
          1. Aunt Vixen

            In my circles, the rule is that whoever owes the smallest share if we split the check accurately is the one to decide if we split the check evenly. Sometimes it’s worth five extra bucks not to have to do a lot of math, but only the person who’s potentially spending five extra bucks gets to say so.

            Reply
            1. Annie Moose

              That’s a good policy!

              I’m in the same boat as SJ’s mom–I don’t drink, so my check is usually smaller than everyone else’s, and that’s quite intentional. Luckily most places around here (in the Midwest) are fine with splitting checks, so it’s usually not an issue.

              Reply
            2. Natalie

              When it’s a little uneven but no one is too concerned, I’ve done an even split but only the people who got drinks, say, split the tip. (We tip on the whole amount, just distributed among n-1 cards rather than n cards.)

              Reply
        3. Marcela

          Ugh, yes. I am still mad at the professor and his wife in a dinner where we were the only “no professors”. They ordered appetizers, entrees, desserts and wine, while we just ordered burguers. Since I do not drink, my share was less than 8 dollars, and my husband’s around 15. But because those selfish agggghhhhhh ordered everything they could, we ended paying more than $40 when everybody decided to split equal ways. We were so angry we told my husband’s adviser, who had invited us to that dinner, that never again: we could not afford something like that.

          Reply
          1. Language Lover

            Ooh, I had a similar situation. It was my first year teaching so I was still on my probationary contract. My department went out for a holiday meal at a restaurant that was a little more expensive than I felt comfortable spending on a meal at the time. So I planned ahead. I noticed the salads on the menu were reasonably priced and looked good. A few others ordered the salad as well. The others in my party? Ordered appetizers, drinks, large entrees. They offered to “share” the apps but I purposely turned them down because I did not want to be asked to pay for any part of them in the end.

            When the bill came, my boss (who was also a salad person) said “let’s split it up.” No one else raised a fuss so I had to go out to my car to get extra money. I ended up paying twice the cost of my meal but I didn’t feel like I could say anything given my position in the department at the time. I’m still resentful that my boss went in that direction.

            Reply
        4. Anxa

          I’ve been really torn on this issue, and I think I’m arriving that it’s best to split the check each person’s bill in any sort of professional/school/organizational group, but splitting the check among closer friends and family can often be preferable.

          Reply
    9. Allison

      And if that’s not an option, pass the bill around the table. When my friends and I get everything on one bill, we pass it around and each person takes a turn putting cash in (and taking change out if needed), or writing what to put on each card, and before we hand in the check someone counts the money to make sure everyone put in enough.

      Reply
      1. Evan Þ

        My team at work’s done that a few times when we weren’t able to get separate checks. The time we ended up with ~$15 more than expected was a nice surprise.

        Reply
      2. Joe X

        There was a classic Dilbert on this. Everyone made a point of saying “and I’ll add a few extra bucks for the tip”, and at the end, the person totaling it all up says “we’re $15 short.”

        My experience when you do that is people often either forget tax or are bad tippers, so you end up with a really crappy tip.

        Reply
  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#1, I’m almost certain your employees mistakenly think that you and your assistant manager are treating them (unless I’m misreading your comment about money exchanging hands, but I couldn’t tell if you meant between some coworkers and you, or just between you and your asst. manager).

    Just be super clear in advance about it being splitsies, and also make sure they have some say in where y’all decide to eat—I’ve found people’s restaurant preferences sometimes change when they’re covering their own bill. I hate to say this, but I think you should write-off the prior outings, just because it’s hard to ask someone to pay you back when their assumption was that it was your treat. But you don’t have to eat the cost going forward, and I think they’ll understand you’re not swimming in a Ducktales-style pool of cash.

    Reply
    1. Zombii

      Agreeing with all of this. If a manager invites a group of subordinates out to lunch or coffee, and the manager chooses the location, and doesn’t give any advance notice that the subordinates need to cover their own tabs, it’s pretty much been implied that the manager is paying. This is normal.

      Yes, it’s going to be somewhat awkward to reestablish a new pattern after paying their way (however many times) before, but I will promise you that at least one of the subordinates will be mortified when they realize the previous generosities weren’t intentional—I would be. :(

      Reply
      1. Allison

        Yup. I usually wait for some kind of confirmation rather than assume, because it would be really awkward if I was wrong, but having the boss pay is standard enough that people will assume.

        Reply
    2. MrsBeater

      The option is always offered as ‘if you want to join us bc this is where we are going’. It is what it is about the last meals, I paid. It’s over and done with and I took them as a lesson. With the money ‘exchanging hands’ part that’s line staff giving us money in front of those who don’t pay, which changed our opinion of the obliviousness. The way given here is assertive, firm, clear and avoids embarrassment. I now have a new go-to because I was just going to not ask them to participate anymore.

      Reply
      1. Caro in the UK

        Ahh, so some of your subordinates are paying their portion, handing you the money in full view of others who are not? And those who aren’t paying, haven’t either offered to pay their own portion or asked you if it’s your treat? That does seem a little odd.

        If none of your line staff were paying then I’d agree with Princess Consuela Banana Hammock that they just assumed it you were treating them. But given that seems clear that you’re not, just be open and direct. If it’s a miscommunication, they’ll be mortified. If it’s intentional, then it’s all the more reason to be clear up front.

        Reply
        1. AMG

          Right–this is why I think that they know full well what they are doing and are just moochers. Definitely separate checks from here, and/or the moochers don’t get an invite.

          Reply
          1. Dr. Dulce

            I still wouldn’t necessarily assume they’re moochers. If some money were changing hands, it may be that Person A and Person B might owe Person C for something else and that’s why they’re chipping in. Or perhaps Persons A, B, and C have a pre-established agreement about picking up the tab. If I saw people chipping in I’d likely ask if we’re all supposed to, but the random covering of tabs happens often enough in my friend group that it wouldn’t be an explicit signal that this is a group tab.

            Also, I’d assume that if this is group tab we were all supposed to be covering, something would’ve been said after the first incident.

            Reply
      2. INTP

        Is it possible to request separate checks where you live (before anyone orders anything? That would signal to all the employees before they order that they’ll be paying in case anyone really was confused, and makes everyone accountable for their own bill. In my experience, even when it’s clear that everyone should pay for themselves, just collecting cash doesn’t work well. The moochers will still conveniently forget the cost of tax or their soda, or throw in a 5% tip figuring it will just blend in with the rest anyways, and you’ll still wind up paying more than your share unless you itemize what everyone ordered plus their tax and tip.

        Reply
        1. Naruto

          Yeah, I think asking for separate checks at the outset is a good idea. I like AAM’s idea to make it clear even before you go, but I would definitely also ask for separate checks. Getting the math right otherwise can turn into a real problem of its own.

          Reply
      3. Just Jess

        “I was just going to not ask them to participate anymore.”

        This is very interesting to me because people who don’t catch social cues/contracts that other people believe are soooo obvious are often cut-off from opportunities without being given any direct explanations. Maybe that’s fair, maybe it’s not fair because life isn’t fair.

        It might be a bit off topic, but could you tell us more about this initial choice?

        Reply
        1. Naruto

          I was wondering about this, too. It seems like a pretty strong reaction to ask them not to participate without first having ever asked them to contribute their share like you want. Which, you know, as a social thing happens and, if not fair, is what it is. But if you’re their manager you have an obligation to treat them fairly — which in this case probably means addressing stuff like this with them before moving straight to consequences.

          Reply
          1. Elizabeth

            In fairness to the OP, there’s a big difference between “not ask them to participate” and “ask them not to participate” – and he said the former.

            Reply
            1. Sas

              Ohh, I don’t see that at all. I think it was a strong reaction in the beginning of the comments, possibly?

              Reply
      4. Yorick

        Some people always offer to pay, even when the cost is being covered. I’ve seen friends/colleagues fight over who pays the bill, or at least insist that they can pitch in. Maybe some employees thought the others were just being extra?

        I don’t mind paying my own way at all, but I will happily let someone else pay for me if that’s what is happening – I certainly won’t argue with them about it. Hopefully no one thinks I’m a mooch.

        Reply
      5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Oh, that materially changes the situation. Then you have to be super clear that it’s pay-as-you-go, and I would recommend requesting individual bills before you begin to order to reinforce that each person pays their own way.

        Reply
    3. Fish Microwaver

      It sounds to me like the problem is only with some staff. You do get the element in any group that doesn’t want to pay their way. Alison’s advice about making the payment situation clear so people can opt in or out is good, as is being upfront to those who are slow to reach for their purse.

      Reply
      1. LCL

        The issue is partly a result as a way it is presented, per the OP. I know we have been asked explicitly by Alison to not criticize any OP’s word choice. OP says it is phrased as ‘if you want to join us bc this is where we are going’. That still doesn’t make it clear who is paying.

        Alison’s advice is the way to go. Asking and clarifying isn’t impolite.

        Also, figure out beforehand an easy way to calculate tip and tax and advise everyone. I have seen a lot of confusion on the final total of a check where I live, which is a sales tax state. People will add a tip to the total, not realizing that sales tax is roughly 10%, so server ends up with minimal tip. There will always be one in every crowd who has a philosophical objection to tipping as being demeaning & etc. Nevertheless, it is the system we have and not tipping because of reasons is mean and tacky. Not tipping because of not understanding the math can be fixed.
        And speaking for all of those restaurant workers, unless the place does a big lunch business and is used to splitting checks, don’t ask for separate checks. It is usually extra work.

        Reply
    4. AP

      My manager takes our group out every so often, and she’ll send an invite around saying where we’re going and in the body of the invite will say whether it’s her treat or we’re going dutch. I find it helpful- a lot of the time the ones where she treats is more like a meeting + coffee, where the ones where we split the bill it’s just hanging out so I don’t feel bad skipping those if I don’t feel like going.

      Reply
    5. Manager in CA

      It’s hard to tell from the OP’s summary, but are these lunches and group coffees work events or is the entire group just deciding to have a casual lunch?

      I manage 16 front line workers and 2 supervisors. If I invited the entire group out for lunch or a coffee, I would consider this a work event and pay the tab. I personally believe that as a manager, I shouldn’t be hijacking someone’s personal lunch hour or coffee break for work purposes without giving them something in return, like a free meal.

      If this is just the entire group planning a casual lunch, I wouldn’t do it as a manager. I view it as the price of doing business once I decided to become a boss. Right after I became a manager, I tried to do a casual “pay your own way” lunch with my direct reports (none of whom were my friends before becoming a manager). However, I had one employee who didn’t want to go but then felt that I was playing favorites by actually going to lunch with everyone else.

      I decided that as a manager, if I want a casual lunch with coworkers, I should be having lunch with other managers and supervisors and not my front line workers. And if I wanted to have lunch with my front line workers, I should pay for it and not ask the front line workers to contribute. But that’s just me.

      Reply
    6. Cassie

      Money exchanging hands is not necessarily a big red flag that everyone’s supposed to chip in. I’ve gone to lunch with two bosses and a coworker. One boss will pay with a credit card and the other one gives him cash. I’m pretty sure they would wave us off if we tried to contribute, but honestly, we’ve never tried either.

      Reply
  3. Mike C.

    Sizable gaps in the doorways? This sort of thing is easily fixed with some advice from the local utility (some will even come out and find your trouble spots for you for free!) and a trip to the hardware store. I’m willing to bet that a few minor fixes would not increase your comfort but save your company some money as well.

    Reply
    1. Hotstreak

      I was coming to say this. I would bet that the worst part of the problem is not the average temperature difference of 6 degrees, which would be easy to overcome by layering, but is the much larger temporary temperature swings that happen every time the door is opened. As soon as you get used to the warm, -bam- you get blasted with just above freezing air.

      Reply
      1. mreasy

        The 6 degree temp difference probably does a lot though, too.
        – someone who sits far from the door but at the weird meeting point of AC vents

        Reply
        1. animaniactoo

          YES. People are tired of seeing my “office sweater” I’m sure, but then they come stand by my desk to ask me something and look up and go “wow, it’ cold here, why is it cold here?”

          Reply
        2. JustaTech

          At my office we officially abandoned a cube because it was so much colder than all the others (and on the end so simultaneously lonely and in the traffic flow morning, lunch and evening). I turned it into storage.
          When we first moved into the building it was so cold that people would come in, take off their outdoor coats and put on a heavier coat, hat and blanket.
          Five years later we’ve finally gotten the heat up.

          Reply
    2. KR

      When I read about the gap under the door I thought of those felt things that fit under doors to block drafts. Could you have your office order you one?

      Reply
      1. Yetanotherjennifer

        I have those all over the house and they work great. The ones made of cloth and plastic or foam tubes are very inexpensive and attach to the door with a piece of Velcro on the hinge end.

        Reply
        1. Chriama

          Can you add a link to a picture or a product page from home depot or something?? I just moved into a new apartment and there’s a pretty sizeable gap between the bottom of the door and the floor. I have no idea what to look for.

          Reply
            1. Sara M

              Oh, there’s a link just now. :)
              They do work, but you have to put it back in place every time someone comes through the door.

              Reply
      2. SLR

        Yes this! I’d also be blowing up my facilities system with tickets it’s too cold. Also, maybe invest in a small thermometer that you can download readings. Just saying it’s 6 degrees coolet isn’t really enough for most facility techs. They need to see the evidence that every time the door opens your office temp drops, thing like that. I’ve been in this situation before and basically it took me putting in multiple tickets per day regarding the temperatures. The building finally realized there was a system issue and it wasn’t my thin lady blood.

        Reply
        1. Tuckerman

          Yes. I also found that I was able to convince them there was a problem by explaining that it was warm in the morning, but got very cold in the afternoon. Identifying patterns seems to help.

          Reply
          1. SLR

            Yes! They really need to see it with their own eyes, facility techs are pulled in many directions so having evidence of the patterns helps immensely. We wound up buying a temperature reading gun thingy (that’s the technical name I am sure!) and a thermometer for the specific area we had problems with.

            Reply
            1. Natalie

              Also, honestly, people exaggerate a LOT. If they come in the morning and get a normal reading, they assume the issue is with the reporter rather than the system.

              Reply
            2. Cath in Canada

              Yup! I have the opposite problem – I sit in a hot-spot – but other people who sit nearby are constantly cold. Our Operations people have handed out thermometers and come around every once in a while to log the temperature in various different office microclimates.

              Reply
        2. Rusty Shackelford

          Yes, this. “It’s 60 degrees in my office, and it drops to 57 every time the door opens” is a lot more convincing than “my office is 6 degrees colder than Wakeen’s office.”

          (Also, I’d be fighting to get that cold office. Switching with someone might be a possibility. I’d love to rearrange our office based on who wants it warmer and who wants it cooler.)

          Reply
    3. NotoriousMCG

      Agreed, it really sounds as though your building management needs to do some weatherproofing. Weather strips around doors, better insulating the entrance to the building, maybe more insulation in your office? It’s a building problem.

      Reply
    4. Parenthetically

      Yeah, weatherproofing doors is pretty cheap and simple. Good advice to call the local utility company — I know ours here locally will come out and do free energy audits, and some companies offer credits for making improvements.

      Reply
  4. Jeanne

    #5, Have you asked if they will relax any of that on snowdays? If you have a young child, maybe you can work two hours during a nap, two hours after kid bedtime, and take a half day of PTO. If your child is older, maybe you can easily work 4 hours without interruptions. They seem to want you to work from home rather than you demanding it so there might be a compromise.

    Reply
  5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#3, this may be cold comfort, but I think you/your friend may be overanalyzing what happened. Your “competition’s” actions aren’t inappropriate or outside the norm. It’s true that some bosses/departments would have been more sensitive about separating out correspondence in light of the circumstances, but it sounds like monitoring email was a core job function for the temp who’s now becoming permanent.

    Plus, there are about 1 billion ways that person may have stumbled on your LinkedIn that are totally unrelated to the fact that you both went up for the same job. I know it doesn’t feel great, but I’d shake off the suspicion if you can, and I would assume he didn’t delete your emails. The temp hasn’t really given you any reason to believe he’s shady or dishonest or sabotaging, and I think fixating on it is only going to make you feel more paranoid/worse.

    Reply
    1. OP3

      Thanks! Yes that’s what I was going for. I was out to lunch with the coworker I told and we saw the whole department (I don’t think they saw me, we were already seated and they were walking in) and I let her know then that that happened. She told me the temp kept staring at me ( I don’t know if he was). This coworker has a flair for dramatics but based on her reaction and she suggested I should have said something, I was second guessing mine about the whole thing. Glad my instincts were right!

      I’ve definitely let it go, it was just always something I wondered about.

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        I’m so glad! And yeah, your coworker sounds like she’s into the “intrigue” :)

        Reply
    2. Sunshine on a cloudy day

      Just +1″ing” that this really isn’t outside the norm. I’ve been in almost the exact position (the temp’s) twice – where I was temping in the role while a more thorough interview process continued. Both times I was ultimately hired (I was a more known quantity), but both times I had some sort of role in the hiring process. First time I was actually the person contacting/corresponding with/scheduling the candidates. It was a pretty awkward, but I was very aware that it was “conflict of interests” so to speak (I wanted to be hired), so I was extra careful to not do anything that might be construed as underhanded. I figured that if I was aware that this was an awkard situation, then others would too, and because of that my actions might be scrutinized to higher degree. Second time I wasn’t quite as directly involved – but I was managing the hiring managers calendar and had access to their inbox.

      Honestly, I might have looked up rival candidates on LinkedIn (I really don’t remember), just out of sheer curiosity.

      Reply
      1. OP3

        That’s so interesting! I really think that’s what I was most surprised about. That someone in the running had access to candidate information/correspondence. He didn’t have a role in the hiring process and I never saw him or met him when I interviewed. Interesting that it’s somewhat common.

        Reply
  6. Red In SC

    LW2, My office is the coldest in the building as well. What I have is an electric lap blanket (they had them at Costco and bed bath and beyond. ) It’s not the full sized blanket, but it’s great, I drape it over my chair and sit on it, Keeps me toasty and it’s not bulky like the hats and scarves and such. I still wear a scarf all year round, but the electric lap blanket has saved me.

    Reply
    1. Uyulala

      I was going to suggest an electric blanket too. Much less pull on electricity, silent, and you can have it wrapped around your legs so it isn’t so noticeable to people walking by (unless you have more of a table than a desk).

      Reply
    2. caryatis

      But part of OP’s complaint was that, after a certain point, bundling up like you’re on a January camping trip looks unprofessional. I think the burden is on the maintenance staff to keep the office at a normal temperature–no one should have to go beyond normal office attire to be comfortable IMO.

      Reply
      1. I'm Not Phyllis

        I agree with you – there’s no way the OP should have to wear winter gear inside just to stay warm. I would definitely follow Alison’s advice to start with, but these options above might work if they refuse to help. Frankly, I’d ask to be reimbursed for this stuff too (though I’m sure that wouldn’t go over well …).

        Reply
        1. fposte

          I think that depends on the actual temperature, though. I have a colleague who freezes under 75º, and we’re really not going to be able to heat the building to 75º to keep her out of underlayers.

          Reply
    3. The work fairy

      I would have to try that. I am constantly freezing in my office. The maintenance person from my work place still hasn’t figured out how to keep the offices at a constant and comfortable temperature. I spent the last two summers wearing scarves (plural) and the thickest fleece jacket I could find at REI. we would get in the morning and the temperature would be 56. In August.
      i talked to him and was told that “if I didn’t like Washington State weather [I] could also move to Mexico.” this is very frustrating and quite exhausting.
      Now the temperature is as low as 62 when we get here in the AM but by 3pm it reaches 76. I can’t stand it anymore.

      Reply
  7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#4, I think you should go to the interview and check the guy out for yourself. If you’ll indulge me, I’ll share an anecdote. I interviewed for two different jobs with different offices for a regional employer. I loved both hiring managers and would have been happy to work for either of them (and to date, the one I did work with is one of my all-time favorite bosses).

    But the hiring managers hated each other because they’d gotten into a really intense argument that involved shouting and required a more senior manager to step in in the moment and deescalate. So both thought the other was a total jerk/wingnut and was pretty comfortable saying so to any direct report who was considering transferring. But from the perspective of a direct report, they were both independently great bosses. Your boss’s perspective is totally valuable, especially because it sounds like you trust him. But I’d encourage you to do the interview and go in with an open-mind, just because you never quite know if this guy is truly a jerk who runs through junior staff or if your boss’s reaction has more to do with his relationship to the interviewer.

    Reply
    1. Dizzy Steinway

      If you do this, just be sure to trust your instincts – because if the guy seems nice but something feels off (maybe you know what, maybe you can’t put your finger on it), then you really need to listen to that. I’d also be checking out Glassdoor.

      And I’d have some questions for your former boss. Why tell you about the vacancy but then seemingly try to put you off – can he explain why he did that? Has he or anyone else raised a grievance about the guy and if not, why not?

      I worked for a manager like this early in my career. (Second ‘career’ job post-university.) He was a nightmare. He caused a number of people to quit, including me. Everyone was watching him like a hawk and when he did something proveable (started a rival business and worked on it in company time, on his work computer, so there was proof) he was reported and fired because finally there was something they could ding him on. Except he was already doing something wrong. If I could have my time again, I’d be pointing out that we should all be reporting him for bullying.

      If it’s a big enough deal to tell you, then why isn’t he telling HR? I’d ask that, and really listen to the answer. Is it because he’s what Captain Awkward calls the creaky stair? Is it because HR won’t help? I’d want to know the bigger picture that’s happening around this guy – if he is that bad, why is he getting away with it?

      Reply
      1. zora

        “Why tell you about the vacancy but then seemingly try to put you off – can he explain why he did that?”

        From my reading, it seems like the former boss said they were hiring in general, for several positions. Then this one supervisor was the first one who reached out to the OP. Not that the former boss specifically told OP to apply for this job.

        Reply
    2. Myrin

      Yes, I agree.

      There are reasons for me not to want to work with someone even before meeting them – let’s say it was well-known that this guy regularly sexually harasses all of his direct reports. Because then, there’s something wrong somewhere in any case – either he really is a predator and everyone knows but nobody does anything about it, in which case that’s not a company you’d want to work for, or he isn’t but this is a place where unfounded accusations and rumours run rampant.

      But absent such egregious circumstances, if your former boss’s description is just something kind of vague or a general “nobody gets along with him”, I’d totally go and check it out myself. Like Alison says, if you find that you feel uncomfortable around him or that he’s a total douchegoober once you meet, you can politely decline any offer coming your way.

      I’ve worked with plenty of people of whom others would probably say they’re horrible to work with. My current part-time boss is like that. He’s a total marshmallow, very helpful, attentive to any problems one might have, very talented in a wide range of things. However, he’s also quite loud. He’s not actually yelling, but he has a loud voice, is very tall and quite bulky, and has quite the presence, so to speak, and can additionally be kind of brusque when he’s stressed. I have absolutely no problem with any of this, partly because I’m very loud myself (my mum regularly says I’m yelling even though it feels like I’m talking normally), come from a loud family (yes, that includes the aforementioned mum; the irony!), and am just not very sensitive. I really like my boss but I know a ton of people who wouldn’t want to work with him because he’d scare them, which is obviously not something you want at work. But yeah, it’s almost certainly best to try and find out for yourself.

      Reply
    3. Detective Amy Santiago

      Agree with this.

      I had a manager that I got along with great, but his management style didn’t mesh with several other people on the team. This could easily be that kind of situation. Like Dizzy said, you need to pay attention to your instincts though.

      Reply
  8. The IT Manager

    LW#1, please use your words. These people can’t read your mind. And even a freeloader would have to be incredibly ballsy to tell you “no” when you ask for their share for their food. Why did you not tell these people to pay up the first time it happened? You’re putting the risk of the embarrassment off (if that’s the reason you haven’t said anything before) but you’re magnifying the level when people realize you and your assistant have been paying out of your own pocket for weeks, months (??).

    The absolute worst free loader would conveniently forget her wallet, but once or twice of that and you can require that person to pay in advance.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      To be fair to the letter writer, a lot of people end up in this situation because they’re not sure what to say in the moment and feel awkward about it, and then it feels even more awkward saying something next time. I don’t want to make people feel bad for not speaking up initially; it’s such a common thing.

      Reply
      1. Gadfly

        I wonder if I’ve been the moocher on the other end because of similar awkward situations and trying to go with the cues of people around me. So there may be a number of people who would appreciate the clarity.

        Reply
        1. Duck Duck Møøse

          Some people are just moochers, or really bad at math, or other reasons. We got used to throwing in a little extra money (a buck or two) because we would always be short. Some people would underestimate their drinks, tax, or tip. This is before most restaurants could easily split bills, so it was always a chore to pass the check, count the money and find out how close (or far) we were from the total. Ugh.

          The worst example was my very first office holiday party, where we went to a restaurant and ordered from the menu. 20+ people, and the bill ended up over $50 short, in 1986 money (so like over $100 today) The GrandBoss announced we were short, but no one would own up to it. He (and maybe the two other managers present) ended up covering it, out of pocket. We were pretty sure the culprits were mainly the two under-aged secretaries, who ordered multiple cocktails during the party.

          Reply
          1. hbc

            Ugh, a group in college had one guy who was notoriously cheap. As in, we were underage and go to the $1 burger night at a bar and he’d literally tip 15 cents on the burger. The only time I ever saw him toss money in willingly was when we were mysteriously short about the cost of one entree and he’s all, “Okay, everyone, throw in a dollar!” Comparing notes afterwards, he was the only one who wasn’t seen paying into the original pile, of course.

            Reply
          2. INTP

            This always happens when the honor system, hand me the cash that you owe system is used, in my experience. There are people who conveniently forget the cost of their soda or tax and tip, and the people that care enough to add up the money and add what’s missing. (And people like me, that throw in cost, tax, and tip but try to get out of there before anyone can pressure me to cover for the people that didn’t pay.) Separate checks are always best.

            Reply
            1. Falling Diphthong

              I so appreciate it when I travel overseas and everything is included in the prices. So many people assert that there is no way they could ever estimate a percentage–even 10%, from which you can get to 15 and 20 easily–because numbers are in league with Satan.

              Reply
            2. LQ

              I will never forget the first time I went out with a group and we had too much. It was like this…oooOOooo moment. I’m regularly in groups now where there is overage rather than being way under. I never want wait staff to be undertipped in a group that it large so I always over pay because of that, which I think is common in some of the groups I tread in now. It’s definitely possible!

              Reply
              1. Gen

                The worst dining experience I ever had (in the UK where tipping is usually optional) was a party of 20 where we unexpectly ended up with more than the bill, so we separated the extra out as a tip and the birthday girl (well 30yo grown woman) TOOK IT as a present for herself. Then when it turned out there was an automatic gratuity on parties over 10 she refused to give it back and expected us all to reach into our wallets again. Because she “didn’t believe in rewarding people for doing their jobs”. Unsurprisingly no one goes out to dinner with her any more

                Reply
            3. Sara M

              I have the opposite situation on the honor system. I think my friends and colleagues overpay. It’s much better when I can hand a dollar back to everyone.

              Reply
          3. Nervous Accountant

            Oh gosh. Reminds me of when I went out with coworkers for drinks. The place didn’t split the bill, so all of us (2 tables/12-15 people) went around looking at it, and putting in what we had ordered plus splitting the tax and tip equally. This ended up being like $400+ bill. A few people had left early, so they handed me the cash. Me being…umm…not paying attention? I only considered that it covered their drink(s)/food, not the tax/tip. Somehow the bill ended up being $50 short, and my coworker covered it. He messaged me afterwards and he said that I should have been more responsible and assertive or just not taken the money if I was uncomfortable, so I paid him back the $50 that he had put in. Expensive lesson learned.

            Reply
            1. Nervous Accountant

              I call it my “stupidity tax”….when my own carelessness or shortcomings cost me actual $$.

              Reply
            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              Ugh, he should be mad at the people who underpaid, not you. Just because you received their contributions doesn’t mean you inherited their bad math or had a responsibility to notice they’d underpaid!

              Reply
        2. animaniactoo

          My general go to is to assume that I’m paying and allow them to say “No, it’s on me”. Because that makes sure I keep my hand off their wallet, whereas assuming the other way can unintentionally dip into it. When there’s uncertainty and social miscues/misunderstandings, it’s harder to ask people for money (imo) than to turn money down; and I’d rather give them what I believe to be the easier situation to deal with.

          Reply
      2. Falling Diphthong

        I agree–escalation of awkwardness is a real thing. There’s a pathway:
        (small problem you should shrug off) ——————— (pattern you should have halted earlier)

        And it’s usually a lot easier to look back and see the hypothetical, now past, ideal time to raise it, rather than recognize that not-too-hot, not-too-cold moment as it arrives.

        Reply
    2. MrsBeater

      To get technical it’s been one exspensive meal, several coffees, and offering to loan someone a medical copay that they’ve conveniently never paid me back for. Then the same people burn everyone around the office. And of course I don’t want to embarrass people. The final straw came when another meal was purchased by my assistant director and only one person paid him. Yes, one of them can be identified as a mooch, the other two do appear to be quite oblivious.

      Reply
      1. Dizzy Steinway

        Ever heard the saying that you should only lend money if you’re prepared to not get it back? I’m so sorry you’ve been burned in this way, but I also think a) it’s a blurring of boundaries to lend money to your reports unless it’s an official hardship loan you recoup by taking it out of their wages (NB this would be possible in my country but maybe not in yours) and b) it would be wise to stop buying meals without getting the money up front.

        Reply
        1. sstabeler

          In the US, I’m 99% sure it’s legal as long as a) it doesn’t bring them below MW (basically, with the exception of tax, MW is calculated after payroll deductions.) and b) the employee agrees in advance.

          Well, that and c) it’s not an expense the business really should be covering themselves.

          Reply
          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            Usually you need a written agreement as well. You can’t “lend” someone money from your own funds and then use the company’s payroll system to recoup it.

            Reply
      2. hbc

        For what it’s worth, if people are unsure and the one mooch is very confidently not making any moves to pay, others may be following that lead. Even seeing one person hand over money and another not is a message that might not be interpreted the way you expect.

        There’s no need to embarrass anyone. “We’re going out to Shenanigans, separate checks this time.” Anyone who tries to mooch after that is embarrassing themselves, and has earned a non-shaming lack of invitation the next time.

        Reply
      3. Audiophile

        Coffees and meals are one thing, but a doctor’s copay is a whole diffrren matter.

        It’s definitely time to speak up. I was treated by my manager to lunch. The next time we went to lunch, she ended up treating because I truly did forget my wallet at work. I only had my driver’s license and nothing else. I offered to pay her back or treat for our next meal.

        Reply
      4. Rusty Shackelford

        offering to loan someone a medical copay that they’ve conveniently never paid me back for

        Wait, what? Okay, this person isn’t confused about whether their manager actually intends to pay their way. This person is a mooch.

        Reply
      5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        There’s a world in which the person who borrowed money for a med co-pay is a mooch, but there’s also a universe in which that person might be really economically insecure, at least in terms of cash flow… in which case it makes sense that they haven’t paid you back because they’re struggling to cover the cost of basic needs. I’m not saying it’s right or forgivable, but I would be wary of assigning moral blame just in case you don’t have the full story. That person should pay you back, and it might make sense for you to bring it up (but not in your capacity as a boss—bring it up in a personal capacity).

        And definitely be clearer and firm with not covering costs that you don’t want to cover. But I think it can be remedied, OP, and hopefully we’ve offered enough strategies for you to be able to transition things away from the “bosses will cover it” framework that the non-payers have been exploiting.

        Reply
  9. Dan

    #5

    If you don’t actually *tell* them you have kids under your supervision, are they going to know? Are they going to care?

    Reply
    1. GovEmployee

      I guess it depends on the job and age/independence of the kid in question. I certainly could not do my job and watch a toddler at the same time, for instance.

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        It seems conceivable that they are recognizing:
        • Not safe for employees to travel
        • Not safe for kids to travel
        • Not safe for babysitters to travel
        And want people to work as possible–check email while the kids watch a video; older kids may just need someone for occasional ‘no, jumping off the roof into the snow is a bad idea’ reminders. Snow days are usually less than 5/year, so could be a considerable relaxing of the normal policy. (Which is quite reasonable–kids don’t just quietly care for themselves or parents would be hip-deep in overqualified people eager to add this simple task to their regular job.)

        Reply
        1. GovEmployee

          I don’t know about a lot of employers, but I know my work product is tracked. If you claimed you were working but got nothing done consistently during snow days, I think it is possible someone would notice.

          Reply
      2. Turtle Candle

        In a lot of cases it really does depend on the job. I have worked jobs where it would be pointless for me to work if I was going to be significantly distracted (so if I had to watch someone I needed to take the whole day off and use PTO rather than try to work). But I currently work a job where, especially when we’re on deadline, being around to answer questions, approve things, and do even a teeny amount of work is valuable enough that paying me for a day where I was 1/2 or even 1/4 productive would be better than losing the entire day–especially if one can’t-get-out-of-the-house day turned to three or four in a row. It wouldn’t be okay to do except in exigency, but when the only choices really are ‘take the entire day off’ or ‘work at a vastly lowered capacity for the day,’ there are some jobs where it really does occasionally make sense to pay someone for the latter.

        Reply
      1. Justme

        He and I went to the same university (he graduated maybe a decade before I did). You bet they posted a link to the video on the school’s FB page.

        Reply
    2. Lady Andthetramp

      This was my thought too. How can they actually KNOW you have your kids? It all seems a little Big Brotherish to me.

      Reply
      1. caryatis

        It’s the honor system. I don’t think it would be right to take pay for a day of work when you’re actually spending your time child-minding. Even if no one finds out.

        Reply
          1. Siberian

            My work (state university) issued me a laptop and iPhone. If I take a work at home day because my grade schooler is sick, I’m up front about it. I keep my email alerts turned up loud on my phone, work in hour chunks while my kids is occupied, and work before breakfast and after dinner to get in my hours. So it really depends on the work environment. I appreciate the flexibility and my employer is happy I’m keeping my work going.

            Reply
    3. Colette

      In general, it’s pretty east to tell if someone is at home but not consistently available. I mean, on a snow day it’s reasonable for them to relax their policy, but the policy makes sense in general.

      Reply
      1. Not Yet Looking

        I don’t know, it’s hard to call me consistently available even when I’m at my desk doing accounting, because I’ll often have a spreadsheet or pdf open on one screen, and a database on the other, with my email open underneath one of them. It won’t be until I notice the New Message icon that I respond, which might take 20 min or more if I’m in the middle of some detective work or a particularly complex transaction set. I mean, I suppose you can tell if someone is less available than they normally are, but if they normally aren’t Johnny-On-The-Spot for email replies to begin with, being distracted at home isn’t going to look a lot different.

        Reply
    4. blackcat

      I think this works if your kid is pretty independent–generally, on snow days, all of the kids on my street are out or, playing in the snow. Sometimes they float between houses, too. We end up with giant snow forts lining the street. The kids that roam range in age from 5ish to 16, with the older ones doing some shoveling and generally keeping an eye on the young ones. Snow days are my street are the best! We have one Scrooge who gets really annoyed at the kids for being loud. She’s the only adult on our street who has to do all her own shoveling…

      Most parents on my street, even parents of elementary school aged kids, might be able to work a full day if their job is something they can do from home. And I suspect it’s not a problem at all for most parents of kids aged 12+. If you’re sure that your kids don’t need your supervision, I see no problem in not telling your boss.

      Reply
  10. GovEmployee

    FWIW, the policy described by Lw5 is pretty much the same one we have for the federal agency I work for. If you normally have hourly or notice restrictions they are waived, but parents whose kids schools or daycares close often end up taking PTO or flexing some time.

    Reply
  11. Amber

    #4, I once worked with someone who was difficult to work with. Most people just avoided working with him but I got along with him and he liked my work. At my current job someone told me that Jamie is a nightmare to work for but he’s my manager and he’s been fine. So I’d suggest get more info. Find out what about the guy caused those people to “quit or have mental issues” then go to the interview and question him about it professionally without mentioning names. Something like “I heard that sometimes your department can have a demanding work schedule, can you tell me about that? I heard there isn’t much of an onboarding process and it’s sink or swim, can you tell me about that?”

    Reply
    1. Kj

      Yes, this. My former boss had a reputation for being hard to work with. But that was not my experience with him at all- to me, he was kind, encouraging and supportive of my growth. Most of the ‘hard to work with’ reputation came from people who looked at the world in a very different way from boss- and neither boss nor them were all right or all wrong. I would go on the interview. If you are still nervous, see if you can talk to one of his direct reports at a similar career stage to you- sometimes bosses are great with the people they supervise, but not with other managers. Or it is a worldview difference, which you can suss out pretty well in an interview. But it is absolutely worth an interview.

      Reply
    2. sstabeler

      particularly because if they are a good manager, it is extremely unlikely that it is news to them either way, and if they are a bad manager, then you’d have dodged a bullet.

      Reply
  12. Dizzy Steinway

    #3 If you’re both in contact with the same people, e.g. you’ve both emailed the director, LinkedIn may well suggest you look at each other’s profiles. Whatever the reason, it’s not unprofessional to check out someone else’s LinkedIn profile – or however much of their profile they’ve made public. Or someone you both know may have ‘people who viewed this profile also viewed’ switched on – which is really quite stalky and doesn’t respect private browsing.

    I turned on private browsing which means I can’t see who’s viewed mine, and nobody can see I viewed theirs. Most people see that as a trade-off – they want to browse invisibly, and not seeing who visits their profile is the cost to that. But I actually prefer it, because I think it’s possible to drive yourself a bit crazy wondering why someone looked at your profile, what it means, etc.

    Anyway, I don’t know about you but I’m always curious to see other people’s career paths. And it’s also possible this person was asked to look at your profile by the director, or something. But I don’t think it’s helpful to assume a connection between them looking at your page, them monitoring the inbox, and you not getting the job.

    Reply
    1. OP3

      Thanks, no I hadn’t made that assumption that I didn’t get the job because of him, just speculation or superficial what ifs. This was over 3 months ago but one of those things I kept wondering if I should have handled differently. I’m not sure that if I were in his situation if I would have searched me on something where you can see who’s looking at you. My coworker’s reaction was I should have said something but I’m glad I didn’t and trusted my instincts after hearing from Alison.

      Reply
      1. Dizzy Steinway

        It sounds like your coworker is a bit of a drama llama. I agree with you – if I was in that situation I wouldn’t look, or would change my settings before I did, but not everyone totally gets that aspect of LinkedIn.

        All other things aside, I think it’s easy to drive yourself a bit mad with what ifs if you haven’t got a job. Nature abhors a vacuum, as they say, and your mind does too and will try to find ways to fill in the blanks. I’m not seeing anything you could or should have done differently though!

        Reply
  13. Dizzy Steinway

    #1 I’d actually try to keep group meals to a minimum if you’re not paying. Partly because they create just the kind of awkwardness you’re describing. And it is hard to speak up – there’s so much unwritten etiquette around restaurant bills, it can feel really difficult dealing with them.

    But also, if you’re not paying then you’re going into territory where people have to choose between paying for a meal or drinks or whatever and being left out of something the team is doing all together, especially if the boss always goes along. That’s not such a great set-up and can affect your relationships with your reports. So I’d maybe have a careful look at how often group meals are happening, and whether you, as the boss, are making it seem like everyone should be going and anyone who doesn’t will end up with FOMO.

    I may be way off, as I’m sure this is geography and field specific.

    Reply
    1. Chocolate Teapot

      I suppose there is a perception that “Boss makes shedloads more cash than me, so they can afford it”.

      For group dining, it might also depend on context. For example there was a canteen in the building where I used to work, so it was quite usual that a mixed group of employees would all go for lunch together, and it would often include Big Boss. Everyone paid for their own food but we all sat together and it was good to chat to people who were not in the same department.

      There was also a posh restaurant nearby which often got use for business lunches or if we got a Bigwig from Head Office visiting. Sometimes there would be smaller department lunches there and Department Head would not always pay. To be honest Posh Restaurant was the sort of place you go to when somebody else is paying!

      Reply
      1. Gadfly

        LastJob it was also something the bosses sometimes did to say thanks and we recognize you did a lot and we still won’t/can’t get you raises but we can get you this…

        Reply
    2. always in email jail

      I completely agree. Even if it’s just presented as “hey we’re going out and ya’ll are welcome to come along”, it does create pressure on people to go. Who wants to miss out on facetime with the boss that everyone else is getting? However, there may be people who are not in a financial situation to buy lunch that often.

      Honestly, I avoid suggesting team lunches unless I’m paying for that reason. I would resent it if my boss was like “let’s get lunch!” and I felt like I couldn’t say no, but really wasn’t planning to drop that money that day.

      Reply
      1. Anxa

        When I’ll only go out to lunch if someone else is paying, that could be perceived as mooching. But I literally don’t go out to eat for lunch more than a few times a year, and I’m not spending my date-night and social budget on a restaurant I don’t really care, unless I really don’t want to miss out on some sort of staff activit.

        So many people think nothing of going out to eat lunch, that it may be hard to understand that this is the sort of major splurge others plan for a week or few in advance.

        Reply
  14. Akcipitrokulo

    LW 2… is this ccovered by any regs where you are? Here (uk) its a legal requirement for tempwrature for a sit down job to be over 16 degrees. Might be worth checking :)

    Reply
    1. seejay

      According to the desk thermometer I have, it’s usually hovering between 22 and 24C and I’m still freezing and in pain. :(

      I have lost my Canuckian winter tolerance apparently, thanks to California.

      Reply
      1. MK

        Eh, are you the OP? Because the level of cold in the letter would be very weird at 20-24 Celsius; either the thermometer is malfunctioning or there might be a health issue.

        Reply
        1. blackcat

          20 can be chilly if you’re seated all day, though. And if the main area is of her office is 20 (which is reasonable), that would make her office 14(!!) if we’re in celsius.
          If we’re in fahrenheit, it could be 65 in the office in general (18C), which again, is chilly but okay and then 59 at her desk (15C).

          Reply
        2. seejay

          Nope, not the OP, just saying that I find the temperature chilly at 20-24 when someone said the requirements are 16, so I’d be *freezing* at regulation temperatures.

          Reply
      2. Channel Z

        Wind chill factor? If there is breeze blowing in its going to feel colder, plus the thermometer might be sheltered. Maybe try putting it on the floor or nearer the door to see if it changes

        Reply
    2. Gadfly

      Celsius, right? Because that is below freezing in the Fahrenheit Americans still tend to use. Roughly 16c/60f versus 16f/-9c..

      My brain went to the 16f and was horrified for a moment :)

      Reply
    3. Some Sort of Management Consultant

      We’ve been complaining that it’s too cold in our office (people are wearing their coats!) but I’ve even brought a thermometer to check and it is 20 degreees (70s F) and therefore… not too cold.
      No one has been able to figure out why we’re all freezing even though it’s not actually cold.

      Reply
      1. Nic

        I find that artificial temperatures (heater, AC) affect me stronger than many outdoor temps. Especially AC. I’ll be freezing indoors with an AC set at 72, but outside it can be 65 and feel lovely.

        Reply
      2. Jeanne

        Interesting. Many of us were really cold at my last workplace but I never brought in a thermometer. I keep my house around 71-72 in the winter. The only thought I have right now is a difference in humidity. Workplaces are often very dry. Is it enough to make you feel cold? I don’t know.

        Reply
      3. Christy

        20°C is only 68°F, which I’d say is pretty cold for an office! You’re sitting down, not moving, which radically affects your perception of the temperature.

        Reply
        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          70 is considered room temperature, so I don’t think 68 is unreasonable.

          I have the opposite problem of the LW. My desk is in the warmest part of the office and I constantly have to run my fan.

          Reply
          1. Natalie

            Yeah, 68 F would generally be considered fine in this US. The most commonly used office standards suggest a range between 67 and 74.

            Reply
              1. That Would Be a Good Band Name

                I can’t even imagine trying to be in an office all day at 74-78F. I’d be sick within an hour.

                Reply
              2. Natalie

                Well, the temperature the thermostat is set at and the air temperature won’t necessarily match. If your house is rather old, for example, it might be drafty or poorly insulated, the heating system might be inefficient, or if you have radiant heat maybe the radiators are in weird places. Whereas an office building, especially a newer one, is usually pretty tightly sealed and has forced air heating.

                Reply
              3. Detective Amy Santiago

                Wow, I keep my apartment at 62F to avoid big heating bills. It’s really easy to bundle up and use blankets at home.

                My office gets up to 74 and I feel like I can’t breathe because the air feels heavy.

                Reply
                1. Dankar

                  62?! And here I thought I was being economical at 68.

                  Our apartment complex in New England required us to keep our thermostat above 65 in the winter to keep the pipes from freezing. Never made much sense to me, but hey, they make the rules.

              4. Rusty Shackelford

                And I would probably be too uncomfortable to work in your office (or stay very long in your home).

                Reply
        2. ThatGirl

          I know 68 can feel cool to some people, but there are also a lot of people in an office, typically, and more people = more body heat which can make the actual temp feel warmer. But being alone in a closed-off office, you lose that particular benefit.

          Reply
        3. INFJ

          It certainly depends on the person; 67 to 68 degrees F is right around the temp that my fingernails start to turn purple if I’m just doing computer work all day.

          Reply
      4. FDCA In Canada

        An office I work at is usually set at 20 degrees but always feels freezing, and we figured out it’s because the front is all floor-to-ceiling, poorly-insulated windows. So when the wind comes straight at us cross-ways, it creates a draft, which combined with the poor layout of the vents (only in enclosed offices, and only one in the common area) makes it feel much colder than it actually is.

        Reply
      5. Natalie

        Could be air movement from the heating system. Air moving across your body blows away the heat bubble you create. That’s why wine chill is so terrible.

        Reply
  15. Edith

    #3: If I was applying for a job and found out the name of another candidate who had made it to second round interviews I’d check out her LinkedIn profile too. Not for any nefarious reasons, but because she’s clearly a strong candidate and I want to know how strong candidates present themselves. To me that kind of thing is on par with reading a “this is what a good cover letter looks like” post on AAM.

    Reply
    1. OP3

      Hmm, I think what made me uncomfortable was he was in the job, got my name from something not intended for him and looked at it. I’m not sure I would have done the same thing if I were in his position – at least not on LinkedIn. To me the fact that it’s traceable for the amount of information I have on there/use LinkedIn for makes it not worth it to me. I use it to have an online presence, not necessarily market myself.

      Reply
      1. Dizzy Steinway

        You know, I totally hear you on this – the fact it may have come from correspondence that wasn’t intended for him. But, it is possible you were suggested due to mutual email contacts – LinkedIn is forever suggesting people from my address book or people with whom I share other contacts in common.

        Reply
        1. OP3

          True, I hadn’t thought of that. The timing of the Follow Up and viewing were pretty close but it’s possible he got it from elsewhere.

          Reply
      2. Edith

        “…for the amount of information I have on there/use LinkedIn for makes it not worth it to me.”

        Okay, but he couldn’t have known that before he looked.

        And I wasn’t saying This Is Why He Looked At Your Account. I was saying this is one possibility that doesn’t involve conspiring to deny you the job. I mean, if he was a temp at your work that makes you coworkers. I get that it’s a big place and you didn’t know each other, but you’re still coworkers, and looking up coworkers on LinkedIn is completely normal. He didn’t even have to look you up specifically. He might have been surfing around people he knew and happened to click on you via a connection with someone else. Maybe he saw your picture in thumbnail and said “Oh, is that the other lady who applied for this job?” and looked at your profile to confirm it.

        Hell, I was once on a conference call with people at a sister organization in another city and one of the people on the other end had an unusual last name that happens to be my grandmother’s maiden name. My grandmother’s family is from that city, so I checked him out on LinkedIn because I thought we might be cousins.

        Looking somebody up on LinkedIn just isn’t that evil. Even if you were up for the same job. Even if you think he could only have learned your name by seeing your thank you note, which is silly because you were coworkers. You put up a public profile and somebody looked at it. It really doesn’t have to be anything more than that.

        Reply
        1. OP3

          I completely see what you’re saying and it’s possible but not likely. The context is very large university in Major US city, we’re in two different schools within that university (think School of Education and Medical School) that just don’t interact, in two different very large buildings .5 miles away. I used department to simplify the example. It’s possible but I’m pretty comfortable with my assumption of looking at my profile post Follow Up note based on the context.

          My instinct was it wasn’t worth raising, a coworker I told was adamant that This Was Wrong. I wanted to see what Alison thought. I didn’t make judgements about me not getting the job based on this but did speculate on What Could Have Happened, say if a different type of person were in that position.

          Reply
  16. MommyMD

    Collect the cash prior to even ordering. If they can’t pony up, they don’t get a meal. Or stop the group lunch thing altogether. I never assume someone else is covering my expense.

    Reply
    1. LQ

      This seems like a strange tactic to me. If someone demanded I pay them (my boss?) before I ordered food I’d feel…pretty unwelcome and like they were really suspicious. I’m all for stopping the group lunches. But if we are all on our way out to a restaurant and my boss stopped and demanded I fork over the cash for a menu I hadn’t even seen to be allowed to come it would feel a little hostile.

      Reply
    2. Rachael

      My boss does a “first round is on me” to let people know that only a portion of the cost will be covered. That allows people to only drink or eat what they can afford while still getting something. If you take them to a pub or a place with cheap drinks you can point out the happy hour menu or something.

      Reply
  17. Channel Z

    OP4, I don’t think there is anything wrong about going for the interview if you are truly interested in the position. Meeting some one in person can be informative as you can gauge better how he interacts with you and anyone else who he introduces. It is possible you might get along fine with him, for instance someone who is blunt and has high expectactions may be seen as too critical to some, but others might appreciate his candor.

    Reply
    1. INFJ

      I agree, especially since this is a place of interest for OP. Go to the interview and see for yourself what this boss is really like, and at the very least it keeps a connection with this company even if you don’t end up wanting that position.

      Reply
  18. Juli G.

    #2 At my company, this would be a facilities issue, not HR unless you were looking for a reasonable accommodation for medical purposes.

    If you go the reasonable accommodation route, make sure you’re telling them what you want i.e. a space heater and not just saying that your office is too cold.

    Reply
      1. Ana Eats Everything

        +1000! I mentioned this down below as well, but really, building management would much rather make your office comfortable than discover you have a dangerous, power-hogging space heater below your desk. Please don’t do that.

        Reply
    1. Spoonie

      Depending on how the building is set up, HR may be the one to coordinate with facilities. At Old Job, HR was the liaison to the building management, so she would have been the one I would have gone to. At Really Old Job, I would have just gone straight to the facilities manager and had a conversation because it was a much smaller company and not a Thing. Ymmv there.

      Reply
    2. caryatis

      It’s only a reasonable accommodation if there’s a medical or religious issue, which i don’t see in the letter. That said, part of HR’s job is to make employees happy, so I would follow up with them if facilities doesn’t come through.

      Reply
  19. Not Today Satan

    #4. I recently was offered an interview, but when I went to their Glassdoor, their reviews were terrible. The reviews were well-written, from various roles at the company, and many in number, etc., so it didn’t seem like a case of some bitter ex-employees. Because my search isn’t urgent, I declined the interview. Part of me wanted to let them know that Glassdoor was a factor, so that they might see how the way they treat their employees impacts recruitment efforts. I couldn’t think of a way that didn’t seem hostile, though, so I didn’t.

    Reply
    1. J.D.

      I am not sure you should have told them anyway. Some companies, after realizing they have terrible Glassdoor reviews, ask their employees to write glowing recommandations to outnumber the real ones.

      Reply
    2. the gold digger

      When I got my offer for my current job, I looked at the Glassdoor reviews. They were horrible – said it was a sweatshop. So I asked the hiring manager (who is now my boss) about it.

      He said that those reviews applied to the HQ office in another state – said that the local office had been acquired a year before and that the environment was very, very different. He was telling the truth – the people in HQ tell me stories that make me go hmmmm, but the people in my office are very cool.

      Reply
      1. INTP

        For future reference, you can actually filter reviews and salaries by location on Glassdoor to check for this kind of situation.

        Reply
        1. paul

          That’s assuming the location you’re curious about has reviews though. I’ve run into a few cases where satellite offices or regional offices of larger organizations simply didn’t have any reviews.

          Also, if there’s negative reviews of many locations I’d be nervous that, even if this particular office was good now, that it might well not stay that way

          Reply
  20. Nervous Accountant

    #2—I almost got jealous because I’m one of those that gets super hot and our office is tropical warm these days. The only time it’s comfortable is on the weekend when the heating is shut off, and even then its at least 68+. But I sympathize, it can’t be comfortable to be working wearing so many layers. Good luck!

    Reply
    1. hermit crab

      A couple office moves ago, I had a great space carved out of a former corner conference room. But it was an absolute greenhouse in the summer and I have a photo of my desk thermometer reading 90F. I’m often cold at my current workspace but it’s always better than 90F!

      That said, the facilities team was very apologetic about it being so warm. OP2, I agree with all the advice to speak up! While all the recommendations about how to keep warm are good, I think you should definitely bring this up to building management (or whoever your contact is). They’d probably want to know about the underlying heat loss/energy inefficiencies anyway, so you’re doing them a favor too.

      Reply
  21. MuseumChick

    OP1, to me this comes down to setting clear expectations and, as other have said, getting separate checks. Just let your server know about the start of the meal if you have a large group that it will all be separate checks.

    Reply
  22. Roscoe

    #1 I really think this is about how the invitation is going out. If my boss invited me to lunch, I’d assume he was paying. If my co-worker invited me, I wouldn’t. As Alison said, just make it clear that everyone is paying their tab when the invitation goes out, and that should work.

    #3 This doesn’t seem like a big deal at all. If I somehow found out who my competition for a job was, I’d probably look at their LinkedIN too in order to get an idea of who I’m up against. and the accusation that they deleted a later just seems out of nowhere. When you have a public social media profile, this is what happens.

    Reply
    1. OP3

      Thanks for your input. I think accused is a strong word, which I didn’t do. Just speculation (which I know doesn’t help) of things maybe someone less professional could have done in that position. I think I am just surprised he was in the position to see correspondence when he was going for the job as well, but it seems from other comments that this happens sometimes (internal person in the running can see correspondence from candidates) which was surprising to me.

      Reply
  23. The Cosmic Avenger

    OP #2, I’d not only advise you to let your office manager or HR know that your office is 6 degrees colder than your coworkers’ offices, I’d strongly urge you to give the information in absolute temperatures instead of relative. To me, 6 degrees difference isn’t a big deal if it’s between 68 and 74 (F), but if it’s between 60 and 66 it is definitely time for a sweater and a mug of tea. I think your plea will be more effective if you give the actual temperatures.

    Good luck! And don’t underestimate a cup of tea or even hot lemon water to warm you from the inside. It also works wonders for frozen fingers.

    Reply
    1. Ama

      Yes, the most effective I’ve ever been at lobbying for a change in HVAC strategy was when my coworker and I brought thermometers in to show that when the other end of our (city block-long, open floor plan) office was overheating and cranked the a/c, the temperature dropped as low as 50 (F) at our desks.

      I still kept a fleece blanket and heavy sweater at my desk because the best they could do without making the other side an oven was around 65, but since the other side had the offices of the most senior employees and they initially did not believe our complaints, the thermometer actually got results.

      Reply
  24. Anon10111973

    #2 Cold office
    If you are desk/computer bound* like I am: Stand up! Get up! Go file something!

    Moving just for a few minutes every hour will improve blood circulation; cold fingers/feet gone. I still need a shawl or scarf on really cold days but overall am much warmer. Oddly, I still need my fingerless compression gloves in the summer to combat the air conditioning.

    *YMMV, but a stand up workstation has saved me.

    Reply
  25. Purest Green

    #2, I seem to be one of those rare people who’s always warmer than everyone else, and I love a cold office. Is it possible you can swap with someone else who might prefer your office? (Though if it’s a door/building issue, I imagine this means your office will be warmer during the hot months.)

    Reply
    1. LizB

      We were just talking about this on my team – we share offices, and we’ve been contemplating swapping around so that the people who run cold and blast their space heaters all day can get the warmest office & keep it at tropical temperatures, and the people who run hot/average can share the other office and be comfortable with the normal building temperature. If OP2’s whole building is cold or she doesn’t have a coworker who runs hot, though, it might not be workable for her. Maybe she could get maintenance to bump up the overall temperature so everyone’s closer to comfortable, and then see if anyone’s willing to switch?

      Reply
    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      Mom, is that you?

      Seriously, though, definitely look into possibly switching offices. You may have a coworker who is complaining that their office is too warm all of time.

      Reply
  26. Important Moi

    LW1: Are these coffees and group meals extensions of meetings? As in the meeting starting at 11 but it’s 12, let’s continue talking about work? If this is the case maybe on those occasions, stop the meeting formally and break for lunch?

    I don’t doubt you work with nice people, but sometimes certain folks are anxious they might miss something and lose an advantage if they’re not present. I only offer this because you say a few coworkers “always want to be involved.”

    Reply
  27. Allison

    #5, it’s reasonable to tell people that if the office is open and they can’t go in or work from home, they need to take PTO, but pay people for the day if the office is closed. I think whoever made the “WFH or PTO” policy probably wasn’t thinking about how many people don’t have a teleworking option.

    However, while the teleworking policy is usually pretty strict, could it be that they’re more lenient on snow days? Have you asked whether you could work from home on snow days, even if you don’t generally have the approval to do so?

    Reply
    1. Allison

      Adding to this, if you live anywhere where snowstorms are common in the winter, even if it’s just 1-2 a year, it’s worth asking about snow day policies when you’re interviewing. You want to get a sense of whether you’ll be able to work from home, whether everyone is expected to come in as long as the T is running, etc.

      Reply
  28. Liz T

    Why is telecommuting considered such a boon for new parents if most of the time you have to have childcare anyway?

    Reply
    1. ThatGirl

      Because it means no commute and often increases schedule flexibility?

      And while I’m not a parent, I can’t imagine having to do any serious childcare while working from home.

      Reply
    2. Judy

      When my kids were young, the daycare we used was about 5 minutes from the house. My commute was 25 minutes, in the opposite direction. Any day I could telecommute, I gained an hour from not commuting. Our doctor is near the house and daycare. When the kids had appointments (and in their first year, they have 4 or 5 well child appointments), that’s another hour to gain that I could be working instead of driving. If the mother is pumping breast milk, having a calming place to do it is essential, rather than sneaking away to a broom closet.

      If I’d been able to telecommute, I might have hired a babysitter, and “hid” in the home office.

      Reply
      1. always in email jail

        Exactly. If I could telecommute, I would gain 1.5 hours a day with my child because of eliminating the commute. That’s a lot of essential time. And I’m not even a “new” parent, my child is in elementary school!
        Also, as Judy pointed out, there’s a looooot of appointments for babies. I have to take at least half a day off any time I have an appointment for myself or my child, because my home/my child’s school is 40 minutes away from my office. Telecommuting would allow me to work longer that day!

        I agree though, your children should be in childcare when you’re telecommuting. Our agency’s telecommute policy specifically states that.

        Reply
      2. Evan Þ

        “If I’d been able to telecommute, I might have hired a babysitter, and “hid” in the home office.”

        My mom was the babysitter for some friends’ dad exactly that situation when I was around 9, and my sister and I always came along. It felt odd at first to know that Friends’ Dad was upstairs working but not coming out, and Friends knocked on his door two or three times (for, yes, important issues) in the couple years we were doing that, but it worked out really well in the end.

        Reply
    3. Bend & Snap

      I have a toddler and telecommuting makes my life a lot more manageable. I’m a better employee and a better parent because I’m not trying to make both of us presentable, get out the door on time and get to work on time. I just throw on yoga pants, take the kiddo to daycare, come home and get online while I’m drinking my coffee. I can take care of a little laundry during breaks, my kid spends less time at daycare because it’s closer to home than work, and I can give my work my full attention because I’m not stressing about leaving at 5 on the nose to get to daycare before my pickup time comes and they start charging me $15 every 7 minutes for late pickup. She gets to bed earlier and so do I.

      Pretty magical. I wfh twice a week right now and would like to do more.

      I have worked at home with in-home childcare and it was a friggin nightmare, although I know it works for some people.

      Reply
    4. Temperance

      Because you can still throw in a load of laundry or run your dishwasher while working from home. One of my friends has a full-time WAH situation, and she uses her lunch break to do household chores. Her kid is in preschool. She also gets away with wearing workout gear all day instead of putting time and effort into dressing into officewear, which she has informed me is the best part.

      Reply
      1. Bend & Snap

        100% on the clothes.

        When I do have to go into the office, I lay out 2 sets of clothes (one regular one backup) and wash my hair the night before so I can do a donut bun. I do my makeup in the car. This cuts my getting ready time to about 20 minutes. Dawdly toddler getting ready time is less predictable.

        Reply
        1. Nan

          So you are the one doing your makeup in traffic, putting the rest of us at risk? Why? When you are driving you should be driving. It’s also an excellent way of poking your eye out with a mascara wand.

          I have had a toddler, he’s older now. And there was no BS and futzing in the morning, because I was the parent, and I said so. It only takes once of hauling the kid out to the car half dressed to for them to learn they don’t want that. And they won’t do it again. Don’t let a misbehaving child or an unwillingness to get up earlier put the lives of everyone else on the road at risk.

          Reply
          1. Shiara

            Goodness. While I certainly agree that it is vital (literally) that drivers eliminate multitasking while driving, it’s quite possible that “in the car” meant “while it is parked at the office, before I walk in”. Even if it doesn’t, casting aspersions on Bend & Snap’s parenting style seems counterproductive to trying to persuade her to stop. It’s wonderful that your parenting was successful for your toddler. That does not mean such methods are universally applicable to all toddlers (nor necessarily advisable, depending on location and a host of other circumstances.) I have more than one friend who discovered that their tried and true methods of dealing with their first recalcitrant toddler had to be completely reworked when confronted with their second.

            Reply
          2. LoiraSafada

            Oh stop. Doing makeup in the car does not mean doing makeup while driving. Let’s give Bend & Snap the benefit of the doubt.

            Reply
          3. Government Worker

            Can you tone down the judgment a bit? I’m glad that your parenting strategy worked well for you and your kid and that getting out the door in the morning wasn’t a struggle for you. But the morning routine is a struggle for lots and lots of parents, and not all kids respond the same to particular parenting methods. I have twin three-year-olds, and they are very different emotionally. My daughter might learn a lesson from being carried to the car half-dressed, but there’s an equal chance that she’d think it was hysterical, you’d have to go through the same battle once you arrived at daycare, and she’d refuse to wear pants the next day so that you’d do it again. My son would have an epic meltdown and would not learn the intended lesson. He rewards patience – if you take the time to let him do things like his shirt buttons himself, he’s happy and proud and a delight, and if you force doing it quickly yourself it’s a miserable 20-minute screamfest to get him out the door in the morning, every time.

            Not all parents who mention that something is tough are just lazy and overly permissive and need to assert their authority. Sometimes kids/developmental stages/parts of the day are just hard.

            Though I agree on not doing makeup in traffic. Maybe in the car once parked at the office?

            Reply
          4. Bend & Snap

            Oh wow, a get a double scoop of judgment and shaming for my grooming AND my parenting.

            Not that I owe you an explanation, but the car is parked.

            And my toddler is happy, healthy and listens well, so I’m all set on the holier than thou parenting model.

            Maybe next time think a little harder before you haul off and make a jerk post.

            Reply
    5. Maxwell Edison

      Even for less-new parents it can work well. My son is in middle school and my spouse travels a lot, so working from home is great because I can deal with son’s pick-up/drop-off/extracurricular schedule.

      Reply
    6. Electric Hedgehog

      In addition to the excellent reasons everyone else has, I enjoy telecommuting as a relatively new parent because I can be more involved in my child’s day to day life. I am lucky enough to make enough money that my husband can be a stay at home dad. I hide in my home office and he watches our nine month old daughter. But I can keep an eye on her if he wants to jump into the shower, act as emergency assistant in the event of an explosive diaper/other horrible mess, help carry up groceries + baby, etc. Additionally, I get to enjoy breakfasts and lunches that my husband makes for me and see when my daughter makes developmental leaps or does something cute. It’s amazing.

      Reply
    7. Meg Murry

      In addition to what everyone else said, the biggest benefit is companies that allowing telecommuting/working from home plus some flexibility in hours. When I took a “work from home” day, it typically wasn’t a straight 8-5 day, but rather a couple hours in the early morning, then a chunk of time in the middle of the day to deal with an event at school or doctor’s appointment etc, then another concentrated block of time in the afternoon, and a few more hours in the evening after my husband came home.

      It wasn’t a workable schedule every day, but when I had something kid-related in the middle of the day, or a last minute cancellation of my after school babysitter, etc, it was a lot easier to not have to drive to the office and to allow me to get done what I needed to do from home outside of regular business hours. Again, not ideal, but better than me taking a full (or half) PTO day and leaving everything on my plate for someone else to deal with or ignoring my emails for 24+ hours.

      Reply
    8. Government Worker

      Before I had young kids I hadn’t really internalized how much more controlled they make your schedule. Most families with two working parents that I know have a pretty tightly managed routine – the two parents stagger their working hours at least a bit, one handles drop-off and the other does pickup. The drop-off parent often gets home late enough that they don’t see their kids for very long in the evening, and vice versa (I do pick-up and I leave for work 20 minutes after my kids get up, at the most). Often the mornings are rushed with getting everyone out the door, and getting dinner on the table after getting home can be stressful and cranky, too. Days where one person is traveling or has a late meeting can make things that much more hectic.

      So getting an hour of commute time back by working from home can be awesome. When my spouse works from home and can throw something in the oven for dinner before I get home with the kids, we can have a nice relaxed evening together with the whole family in a way that we can’t on a typical weeknight, for example.

      Reply
  29. Rebecca

    #2: I have a similar problem, but it’s an open floor plan, not an enclosed office. It’s so hard to prove, and I regularly wear my jacket and hat, even after being issued a desk heater (like a space heater but less effective and much safer). It’s so frustrating.

    Reply
    1. Nolan

      I mentioned this in my own comment below, but wanted to reply here so you see it, get a thermometer and keep it on your desk, then you can document the exact temps with management and hopefully they’ll start taking you seriously!

      Reply
  30. Hangry

    OP #1: Are the employees who don’t pay thanking you for lunch afterwards? Seems to me that the expression of gratitude — or lack thereof — would clarify whether it’s a simple misunderstanding that the boss is covering lunch vs the employees being habitual moochers who are trying to fly under the payment radar.

    Reply
    1. always in email jail

      This is an excellent point/question!! I didn’t think of that! Are they saying “Thanks for lunch!” or not after?

      Reply
    2. Hangry

      To clarify, I’m not saying AAM’s advice changes either way, but this may help you decide how explicit/strongly worded you need to be.

      Reply
  31. Jen

    #3. My husband and I have lived, worked, and managed in Boston for over a decade. What’s most common:

    – bad weather (delays, some schools closed, office still open): if you aren’t in the office, you are expected to put in a full day’s work or take PTO. If your job can’t be done from home (receptionist), if you aren’t in the office you take PTO.

    – terrible weather (almost all schools closed, public transit closed)- office closes but no notes out to clients. Those that can work from home should do so, with the understanding that there is flex for dealing with kids, shoveling, whatever. If you have tiny littles and home and nobody to help you (or you want to go sledding all day!!), you call it PTO. If this were a “I have no PTO left” sort of situation, there’d be some leniency.

    We typically expect some productivity, along the lines of most critical meetings with clients etc on terrible weather days. But we both work in offices with mid career white collar workers who are not new to snow in Boston.

    Reply
  32. Will's mom

    OP #1. Invest in a room warmer. The cost is from $20 to $40 usd. They are a self contained electric unit that resembles a radiator. It has oil in the coils that is heated by electricity. Most models have a thermostat so you can control the temperature. It uses much less electricity than a space heater. The surface does get warm (duh) but it won’t burn you and it is much safer than a space heater.
    Space heaters warm the person, the room warmer warms the room. Your office would be warmer if you could close the door, but it that is not an option, I would wager that it would definitely make a noticeable difference. Good Luck!

    Reply
      1. Jessesgirl72

        I should say “still” called a space heater. We have one in our basement, and they aren’t sold as a “room warmer’

        Reply
  33. Jessesgirl72

    Op5: While it’s true that the days when the office is closed, the schools are also closed, there are plenty of days when schools are closed and offices are not. The rules probably can be relaxed for office snow days, but it’s also not totally unreasonable for your company to expect you to make the same arrangements for your children as you would make if school was closed but the office wasn’t.

    I know it seems unfair because you didn’t choose to take the day off, but the company didn’t choose it either! Not all companies can absorb the cost of paying people for not working, and not all people can absorb the loss of a day’s pay- allowing you to take PTO or work from home is actually doing their workers a favor!

    Reply
    1. always in email jail

      The difference is, as you stated, schools frequently close but offices are open. The backup arrangements I usually rely on are not available if weather is servere enough to close offices. If I can’t report to work, employees at the daycare center I use as a backup probably can’t either. If everything is shut down, I’m not going to ask my mother in law to travel treacherous roads to watch my child while I work from the house. Sometimes there are truly no options.

      Reply
  34. Sympathy For The Devil

    LW2: Go on the interview with Mr. Devil. It might be awful, but you might be surprised. Years ago I interviewed with a hiring manager whom Every. Single. Person. on the rest of the project hated. He was quirky, abrupt, brusque, abrasive, and most of all exacting in his expectations, and it rubbed everyone the wrong way. Turns out he was the best manager I ever had, because I got along with him just fine. I’m proud to call that guy a mentor.

    So take a chance, and listen to your gut AFTER the interview.

    Reply
  35. Countess Boochie Flagrante

    Ugh, OP #2, I feel you! My last office had really abysmal air circulation, so depending where you sat, you either froze or boiled — and making it better, space heaters and anything else that plugged in to produce warmth were super-banned after a couple fires started.

    As far as layering goes, look for insulating materials more than thickness. Cotton leggings won’t do much at all, but hose are a good base layer (saved my life back when I rode horses), and if you can afford it, silk is (surprisingly) a heck of an insulator layered under other fabrics.

    Reply
  36. Ana Eats Everything

    LW#2, this doesn’t seem like something you need to take to HR just yet! Figure out who in your office has contact information for building management – generally it’s going to be the person staffing your front desk, but if not, you can usually find contact information on the building directory or written subtly on the front door. Property management wants you to be comfortable and can often adjust the temperature in individual offices. And believe me, we would MUCH rather adjust the temperature than have you bringing in space heaters, which are both serious energy hogs and quite dangerous as well (most building rules & regs actually don’t allow them).

    Reply
    1. sstabeler

      I’d also be more inclined to go to building management because I’m slightly cynical about why the company banned space heaters without apparently considering why they were being used in the first place. (or worse, are deliberately ignoring the temperature issues presumably to save money on the heating bill, however, that’s unlikely to be helped by going to building management, since I would imagine they’d insist on the temperature being turned back down. I will admit this is highly unlikely, but it’s not impossible)

      Reply
    2. Dust Bunny

      Or maybe they can do something about weatherstripping or something to reduce the cold air leakage in the first place. They’re losing a lot of money trying to heat a drafty space.

      Reply
  37. Ingrid

    LW #2: I’m sorry, I didn’t quite get that. How much colder did you say your office is than others on your floor?

    Reply
    1. animaniactoo

      I thought about that, and then I thought about the fact that there is an ongoing argument over the AC temperature setting in my house every summer. I want it at 78, my husband wants it at 74, 76 is the compromise, and son wants it at 72. Which means that I get home and it’s at 74 or sometimes 70! – and it is utterly freezing for me.

      Plus, I am in the seat at work that gets the full force of the AC vent nearest our desk, and some of others, and my desk is far colder than all the others around – even my cube neighbor on the other side of the wall. People are consistently surprised by the temperature when they stand *at* my desk to talk to me about something.

      6 degrees might sound like nothing, but it can be huge in actual effect.

      Reply
      1. Rusty Shackelford

        Six degrees doesn’t sound like nothing. Six degrees is huge when you’re indoors. If I’m too warm or too cold at home, I will literally adjust the thermostat by one or two degrees. Six degrees is the difference between comfortable and miserable.

        Reply
  38. Clever Name

    No 2: It shouldn’t be the letter-writer’s responsibility to bring in weather-stripping or buy a heater or wear antarctic expedition-level clothing in the office. It’s the building management’s responsibility to ensure that the office spaces are heated (and cooled) adequately. I think it’s perfectly reasonable for the letter-writer to request that building management look into heating issues in your office and address the fact that the front door is not at all weathertight.

    I had a similar issue in one office. It was boiling in the summer and freezing in the winter. We did complain to HVAC, but the manager at the time just kind of shrugged his shoulders. Then we got a new HVAC guy, and he came up and looked at our system and noticed that it hadn’t had regular maintenance performed in probably years. He cleaned the coils, added some freon, and like magic, we had AC and heat again. It was about a half hour’s worth of work for him.

    Reply
  39. Nolan

    #2 – I used to work 30 stories up in an old building with original windows and old iron radiators. It took around 45 min for the stream to get from the boilers in the basement to us, so everyone in the lower floors were being cooked alive and we were freezing.

    Initially the building management didn’t really take it seriously, during a polar vortex winter. To help get the building management to do something about it, we got a bunch of digital thermometers and placed them around the office. Then, when it was too cold, we’d call and tell them what the actual temperature was. We were also using them to document the issue in case they continued fighting us about the problem. Eventually they covered the cost of adding supplemental electric heat to our AC system.

    I’d also recommend getting a pair of fleece or wool lined slippers, the kind that look like loafers. They’ll keep your feet warm, and since they look like shoes, you can keep them on all day, even when you leave your desk.

    You may also want to talk to maintenance about having some weather stripping added to that outside door, I can’t imagine how much heat and money is being wasted by that setup.

    Reply
  40. AnonPi

    LW2 and others like me who have trouble with being cold, if it’s not just the office but an all the time thing, then you may want to mention it to you doctor as well. Some medical conditions can contribute to cold intolerance such as anemia or raynauds (I have both turns out, but for years just thought I was cold natured). It may not resolve everything, but if there is a medical condition contributing to the problem then working on that can help (I still don’t tolerate the cold well, but it’s not as severe as it was just a few years ago). That and when people feel like being full on snarky (as in full on rudeness) to me about running my heater or bundling up, I mention the anemia and it shuts them down pretty quick.

    For me fingerless gloves help (I often use the thin crafter support gloves, since they’re thinner and easier to type with), thick socks, and if it’s real cold I wear silk weight thermals under my clothes (fleece lined tights are great too!) Sometimes hot drinks like coffee or tea will help a lot when I just can’t seem to warm up, and I also go run my hands under hot water a few times a day as someone else posted earlier. Thankfully my current office lets us have space heaters (they do require we use ones with all the safety mechanisms built in, like tip-over turn off, etc), but I try to use it as a last resort since it helps perpetuate the snarky comments. At home I do use an electric blanket on the couch to sit on to keep warm, and I don’t usually have to bundle up or use additional blankets with that method. So that may work well for you. They usually have an auto-shut off, so that should address any safety concerns, or plug into a timer that shuts it off at the end of the day.

    But my best advice (and that of several others above) is see if you can switch offices and snag a warmer one.

    Reply
    1. Anxa

      I have this problem. When I read my lab results, it looks like I should be concerned about anemia and hypothyroid (on the border).

      I have symptoms of both. I was told flat out that I’m too thin to have hypothyroidism. I ran very hot as a child and a teen, but after about age 21 I had a major shift. I’m always freezing, but prone to sweating. I have already gone to the doctor, but I’m technically not hypothyroid (unless you go by other standards on forums)

      Reply
  41. Asheley

    LW2 Ask HR or whoever you go to for building maintenance to have your HVAC person look at your office next time they are on site. There might be a system issue or a minor fix like the damper was closed because a former occupant was always warm.

    Reply
    1. Property Manager

      This! #2, please mention this to your facilities and/or property manager! I work in property management for office buildings and I can’t even begin to tell you how easy it is to fix so many things that make people uncomfortable, but they never speak up.

      It could be as easy as adjusting the vent in your office. My manager, in fact, had the vent completely removed from her office because she was so cold. As Asheley mentioned, it’s entirely possible the previous occupant had their airflow increased — it happens all the time, more than you would think.

      Reply
  42. Mb13

    lw 2 in addition to heating blankets I suggest you think of what materials you are layering on. Some materials (such as thermal clothing and animal furs) keep heat better than just nylon and polyester. I really like Uniqlo’s line of heat preserving clothing

    Reply
  43. Oh, snow

    OP5, definitely ask about flex working time on snow days, especially if you have children and no other care option. My husband’s company does it really fairly. If the office is closed, telework if you can, but that can look like getting stuff done at 6 am and 9 pm. For those who cannot, they get to charge a certain number of days as something like (office) emergency absence. I think they found that forcing nonteleworkers to use precious leave, which during bad winters left you SOL for the rest of the year, was a huge morale killer.

    For days when the office is open but the conditions still awful, they allow nonteleworkers to charge AWP, which is in a separate bucket from their vacation. Generally it should be approved in advance and used for things like dr. appts. or having the plumber come, but it’s a way Company lets workers deal with stuff that comes up.

    Perhaps these options are something for the suggestion box, framed as morale boosters?

    Reply
  44. Manager in CA

    Re #2, this is probably the biggest issue my office has, and it’s because of the construction of our office. You may also want to check with building maintenance on the structure of the office before meeting with HR to see if it’s even possible to raise the temperature in your office and keep everyone else’s the same.

    We’re in an office building that was built in the early 70’s. The thermostat layout is that the same thermostat controls the temperature for 4 offices. So if the office near the door is 6 degrees colder and we raise the thermostat 6 degrees to account for it, then the three other offices go up by 6 degrees as well. Which usually results in other coworkers being too warm.

    I hope your office is designed differently, but if you have a linked thermostat like we do, getting special dispensation from HR for a space heater may be an easier sell.

    Reply
  45. AmyJH

    OP 4 – I had this exact same situation several years ago. I applied to an internal position at my employer and everyone I worked with told me that I did not want to work for the manager with the opening. I went to the interview and ended up taking the position despite what people were telling me. It was one of the best decisions of my life. This manager was wonderful to work for. I no longer work for him but he remains one of the best managers I have ever had. You can’t always trust what people are saying so it wouldn’t hurt to go to the interview.

    Reply
  46. Nicole

    OP #2 I sympathize because I’m always cold as well. I couldn’t have a space heater because it would blow a fuse so I got these two items that have become life savers for me and they are both low wattage and safe from fire concerns (the first one moreso than the second one):

    https://www.walmart.com/ip/Cozy-Toes-Carpeted-Foot-Warmer-Heater/42287040

    https://www.amazon.com/NewAir-AH-400-Portable-Space-Heater/dp/B009L40S0S

    I paid for them myself but it was well worth it to feel comfortable at work.

    As for cold hands, if you’re not already using a mouse pad, I highly suggest one. Just not having my mouse rest on a cold desk made a world of difference. Good luck!

    Reply
    1. Gadfly

      On the mousepad, look into the over-sized gaming pads. You can often get a plain black one for under $15 on Amazon. I’ve a 36″x18″ one on my desk and it means I almost NEVER touch cold desk.

      Reply
    2. PlainJane

      For hands, try fingerless heated mittens that plug into a USB port. They’re wonderful – like an electric blanket for your hands.

      Reply
  47. The claims examiner

    #2 – ask if an additional outlet can be installed. When we blew the electricity with heaters my director got permission from corporate to install additional outlets. They even run straight to some of the cubicles and are on their own breakers. It has made our building so much nicer.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Please follow the site's commenting rules.
You can report an ad, tech, or typo issue here.

Subscribe to all comments on this post by RSS