is it weird to stretch at work, is declining a reference call a red flag, and more

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

1. Is it weird to do stretching exercises at work?

I have a full-time desk job and I have been taking a 10-minute break every day (for the last three months) at work to stretch. Nothing crazy, but I find it really helps!

My desk is in an open layout with three other coworkers and within sight of manager and two director’s offices. So I go into an empty, more secluded room that will not be used for another four months.

My director walked by and told me not stretch in there because it will eventually be someone’s office. He requested I not stretch because it is weird and could potentially make coworkers feel uncomfortable. No one has complained or brought it up to management or HR. If I must stretch, he instructed me to do it in open areas like the break room (where people microwave their food), outside of people’s offices by couches, or formally book a conference room (which come in half hour blocks).

I do not see how this is such a big deal. For my stretches, I do a figure 4 (lower body), side bending (torso), behind the back reach (arms), spine twist, and arms against the wall (chest and arms). I also bring a yoga strap for the figure 4, so maybe that puts it over the top? Am I crazy for wanting to stretch at work? Where is a good location besides my desk to stretch?

I think the figure 4’s and spine twists are putting it over the top, if the pictures online are correct in showing me that you do those while lying on the floor. And yeah, the yoga strap probably isn’t helping, although really any stretches on the floor are going to be weird in many offices. If you limited yourself to stretches that didn’t require getting on the floor, I bet it might not even have been noticed.

As for where to go now, it’s hard to say without knowing your office, but I’d think any of the locations you mentioned would be fine for the other stretches, as long as they’re reasonably out of the way.

2. Is declining a reference call a red flag?

I once supervised a young person who was fresh out of college and in his first full-time job. Due to some personal issues, he decided to resign with two months notice. My supervisor was very concerned about him staying on for two more months and believed that his work ethic would decline drastically. I decided to vouch for him and reiterated to him the expectations. I was very supportive of his decision to resign and told him I would be a reference for him if he needed.

Over the course of the next couple of months, his work ethic declined drastically. He failed to meet major deadlines, argued about policies that were set in stone, and even huffed and puffed out of the room when I attempted to have a conversation about his performance. When he did not meet a major deadline on his last day, he said he would still meet it before midnight. I did not hold my breath, and as expected, I never heard from him again. He then deleted and unfriended me on all social media that we had connected on, so I assumed that he got the hint that I may not be the best person to give him a glowing reference.

So imagine my surprise when I received an email from a company asking me to have a reference conversation with them regarding this individual. Even though he left on awful terms, I do want to see him do well, learn, and grow from his experience with us. If I have a conversation with this company, they are not going to be thrilled with what I have to say. Would declining a reference call be a red flag to a company? Also, should I attempt reach out to the individual and advise him to not use me as a reference?

Yes, declining to provide a reference will be seen as a red flag about him, although I’d argue that’s okay. You probably want references to be reasonably honest with you about people who you’re considering hiring, and your end of that bargain means that you shouldn’t try to hide candidates’ performance issues from reference checkers either. (In fact, that’s an argument for returning the call and giving a candid reference, but that’s up to you.)

I don’t think you’re ethically obligated to reach out to this guy and let him know that he shouldn’t use you as a reference. I’d say that you were if events had gone differently — for example, if he’d behaved well during his last two months but you discovered problems with his work after he was gone. In that situation, he wouldn’t have any way of knowing that the type of reference you’d provide him had changed. But in the case here, he missed major deadlines, walked out when you tried to talk about his work, and ghosted on you after promising to finish a project on his last day. You could reasonably expect him to know that you’re not longer a glowing reference.

But if you want to, you could certainly shoot him an email that says something like, “I received a reference request for you from X. Given the concerns I raised with you about your work during your last two months here, I’m not comfortable providing a reference for you, so I won’t be returning the call. I wanted to let you know so that you don’t suggest me as a reference in the future.” (Of course, it’s possible that he didn’t list you as a reference; employers sometimes check “off-list” references, so it’s hard to know if he put your name down or not unless the reference-checker explicitly said that he did.)

3. I feel disrespected at my job

I started working for an company last June. The position started off as an internship (full-time), paid hourly and with no end dates mentioned. The manager did not mention that I would need to provide my own computer, so when I showed up the first day and didn’t have a computer provided, I offered to borrow my father in-law’s laptop short-term until they could get me one. After six months of promising he would get me one, I eventually took a computer when an employee left and asked him if I could keep it.

Several people were hired after me with less or equivalent experience who were immediately put on salary and provided with a computer. The manager has a habit of hiring and firing people very quickly, and there is a lot of turnover. When I graduated, I approached him inquiring if my internship was over and saying that I was seeking full-time employment with a reasonable salary. He told me he could tell me in a month when he knew “what my position would be long term.” I had already been there for seven months at that point. After another month, he gave me a raise but told me he still wasn’t sure what me concrete position would be, so still no raise, no benefits.

I’ve been at this company for 10 months now. Other people with less experience get salary benefits and a computer right off the bat. Everyone will ask me to do petty errands regardless of how much work I have to do. They never ask the younger, less educated, less experienced workers to do so (I have somehow become the coffee barista of the office). I feel very disgruntled and disrespected and it’s hard to be the only one without insurance, salary, or benefits (besides the younger intern). I feel like I have tried repeatedly to assert myself and make my desires known, but I feel like a second class citizen despite my education, seniority, or efforts.

Get out. This is a shady place run by a shady person, and it will not benefit you professionally to stay there. Start looking for a new job, one that will get you real professional experience (and benefits and a reasonable salary). Working in a place like this will do you no favors in the long-term, regardless of what they pay you.

4. Re-applying at an organization that I turned down five years ago for ethical reasons

Five years ago, I got to the third interview stage at a nonprofit. I was one of the finalists for a decent position. In the course of researching the organization, I came upon some news articles that indicated some not-so-nice things about the organization. It was a healthcare-related nonprofit, and the articles indicated that the organization was funded and heavily influenced by corporate pharmaceutical companies despite portraying itself as an advocate for patients. I decided that I was probably not right for the organization given my strong anti-corporate political leanings at the time and took myself out of the interview process. I told them that given my political beliefs about the role of corporations in healthcare, the org was probably not a good fit for me.

In hindsight, I might have been rash in my judgment of them. I have done a Google search recently and have uncovered no more investigative articles along the same lines. Also, I’ve learned a lot more about how nonprofits and associations are funded and that “having corporate ties” and “being unduly influenced by corporations” isn’t necessarily always black and white. Many prominent mission-driven nonprofits take corporate funding from sources where if you dig deep enough you’ll uncover some sort of controversy. I’m willing to give this organization a second look.

Fast forward to today and I am job hunting. I see an excellent position at the same organization that is a really good fit for my skills, interests, and professional aspirations. Five years has made me a less strident in my political beliefs and how that may intersect with jobs and making a living. I would like to apply for this new position, but I saw in the staff list that the director of HR and the VP of marketing are the same people who interviewed me five years ago. If I get an interview, how would you suggest I address the issue (if it gets raised at all) about my earlier rejection of the organization because of their corporate ties? I imagine it might be an awkward moment for me to explain why I am interested in working for them now.

Well … there’s a good chance it’ll be a deal-breaker for them. Most organizations aren’t going to be super excited about hiring someone who was ethically opposed to their practices a few years ago but is applying again now.

But if you do get an interview and it does come up, I’d just be honest. Explain that you didn’t fully understand the issues and that now that you have a better understanding, you’d be excited to work for them. (That said, be sure that’s really true. It is indeed the case that many organizations take corporate funding that can feel less-than-ideal while still being on the up-and-up, but it’s also possible that this particular organization is unduly influenced by their funding in a way you’d be uncomfortable with, who knows.)

5. When job listings offer multiple ways to apply

I’m a college senior who’s well into her first major job search and I’ve recently come across something that confuses me. I’ll find a job listing that I’m qualified for that has multiple ways to apply. For example, the posting will have the job description followed by a paragraph that reads, “To apply email your resume and cover letter to hiring.manager@company.com,” but under that there are two buttons, one that says “apply online” and takes you to a form on the company’s website, and another that says “apply on LinkedIn” that routes you to LinkedIn.

So, does it matter which method I use to apply for the job? Should I be doing more than one? Am I overthinking the whole thing?

Definitely don’t do more than one. I’d avoid applying on LinkedIn, since that doesn’t let you customize your materials in the way you ideally would. Beyond that, it doesn’t really matter which you choose, although it’s always nice to be able to email the hiring manager directly so given a choice with that in the mix, I’d choose that one.

{ 291 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Milton Waddams

    2: Kudos to you for your responsible concern about their well-being! That’s really rare nowadays… In today’s hiring environment, a bad reference this early on has a good chance of preventing him from ever having another white-collar job, especially if he has “cultural fit” issues from his social class background or other concerns.

    Many older people who were hired in more easy-going times don’t realize what a tightrope new graduates are walking. Your word as their first professional reference can make or break whether they will ever use their $50,000 degree as more than something to cover the hole in the plaster. This always puts a person in a difficult spot when the reference feels that a straight positive isn’t possible; even ruling out the many positions with a zero-tolerance policy on even ambiguous references, it can still be difficult to figure out how to navigate explaining a person’s potential when they didn’t realize it working under you…

    I don’t have good advice here, sadly, but I do wish you the best of luck.

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I don’t think it’s helpful/fair/accurate to imply that OP’s reference, or lack thereof, will “make or break” whether her former employee will ever use his undergraduate degree in a white-collar or other professional capacity. This is a gross overstatement of the impact of a person’s “first job” (and first professional reference) on their future career prospects. And I’m not sure it’s fair to assume that he’s coming from a different social class.

      OP#2, you do not owe your former employee anything, especially given the extent to which his performance and professionalism deteriorated during his notice period. That said, I think it would be kind to let him know that you cannot serve as a strong reference. I’m a little surprised that he would list you (and perhaps he didn’t—maybe the employer is pulling information from his prior positions/managers), but it would be helpful for him to realize that the consequences of poor work performance can include the loss of a reference.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yeah, it’s not accurate to pin this on the manager. If it has repercussions for the employee, that’s the responsibility of the employee, who spent his final two months blowing up the reputation he’d created previously. (And it’s highly, highly unlikely that a single reference from an entry-level job will make or break anyone’s career.)

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    2. Gaia

      My goodness, I am glad that isn’t true. I am a fairly recent graduate and was a terrible employee at my first (and second) white collar jobs. And that is putting it mildly. Neither manager would have much good to say about me as an employee. Thankfully, I learned my lesson and my more recent managers would tend towards glowing references. But if I was forever punished because of that first job? Yesh.

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      1. RVA Cat

        There’s also the fact that the current environment almost certainly won’t continue for the next 40 years of this young man’s career.

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    3. neverjaunty

      Unfortunately, the employee didn’t share the OP’s concern for his well-being. And as such, he’s not entitled to a good reference.

      Reply
      1. Marillenbaum

        I think that’s a very important point. Your manager can’t want you to succeed more than you do, ultimately.

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    4. Temperance

      Eh, my first boss at my first real job and I were like oil and water, and I don’t think it held me back professionally. I just don’t use her as a reference, because she doesn’t like me. Easy enough.

      This clown did a bad job, for whatever reason, and doesn’t deserve a good reference.

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      1. Another Lawyer

        Same, I totally clashed with my first boss and use a board member to confirm employment from that job because my is no longer with the organization and there were only 2 FT staffers.

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    5. Nervous Accountant

      I don’t think I can disagree more. The way this employee behaved spoke a lot about his (lack of) work ethic. There’s being sincere and inexperienced and messing up, and then there’s just not giving a bleep about what you’re doing. He definitely sounds like the latter.

      The social class background/new grad etc just sound like cop out excuses for his poor behavior; I think OP is a wonderful person for being so considerate, but I wouldn’t fault them for not wanting to be a good reference.

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      1. PB

        I completely agree with you. Add to that, the former employee didn’t ask OP to provide a reference, or reach out in any way. I would consider providing a reference under these circumstances if the former employee contacted me, explained that they knew they’d messed up, and convinced me that they had learned and were trying to do better.

        An employee who missed deadlines, ghosted on their final project, dropped all contact, and listed me as a reference without getting in touch? I wouldn’t feel that I owe them anything.

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        1. AD

          An employee who missed deadlines, ghosted on their final project, dropped all contact, and listed me as a reference without getting in touch? I wouldn’t feel that I owe them anything.

          In fact, under those parameters, I would feel that I owed them a bad reference.

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          1. Artemesia

            This. An inept but earnest intern might get a lukewarm reference but this guy was aggressively terrible — he deserves to reap what he has sown. It isn’t a guy in over his head, or who tried and failed or who misunderstood; he is a guy who goofed off and showed his butt because he was leaving.

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        2. Creag an Tuire

          I mostly agree, but it’s a little unfair to add “listed me as a reference without getting in touch” to the pile of faults if you’re his/her manager — the former employee quite probably had no choice but to provide your contact information, and/or the hiring manager sought it out unbidden.

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          1. Anna

            And to be fair, the OP did say they would provide a good reference…Before things went so sour. The employee probably (and wrongly) assumed that offer was a pass to include the OP without contacting them first.

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      2. RVA Cat

        Also, it sounds like the employee’s lack of work ethic that comes across as inconsiderate and entitled – attitudes I associate with someone with a very privileged background who hasn’t had to have real-world consequences for his behavior.

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        1. Anna

          That is probably mostly true, but I work with young adults who could not be described as privileged in any sense of the word and some of them are a bit entitled. It’s not common, and it’s usually the kids who have an undeserved sense of their abilities, but it happens.

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      3. HR in the city

        I think you are half right and by that I mean in this instance I 100% agree that it is about lack of work ethic and not giving a bleep about what you’re doing. But because I have had this experience there are times when you take a job and the manager or boss or owner turns out to be terrible and so like someone else mentioned- you two are like oil & water. I think that most times the bad manager/boss/owner doesn’t actually realize they are horrible even though good employees are leaving because no one in a role of authority has told them they are horrible. Or in the case of an owner they just don’t care and as long as they are making money they continue done the path. I also agree with you that this employee is using a cop out. I know lots of new grads that care about the work they do & will work their butts off sometimes to their detriment.

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  2. KWu

    OP1: I find it odd that the director would say that stretching in an empty office is weird and could make coworkers feel uncomfortable…so you should do it in places like the break room where it’ll be harder for them not to see your stretching? Maybe they meant that if you’re putting your body in a position that you wouldn’t be comfortable doing so in a more public environment, you shouldn’t do that stretch? It didn’t sound like you were moving around in a dark room or something.

    Also, maybe it is the being on the floor portions of the exercises that cross a line for some folks, but I would’ve thought that if you’re in a workplace that’s casual enough for you to wear clothing that’s stretchy enough for those purposes, then the stretching should also be fine?

    Anyway, if booking formal conference rooms for you take your breaks in was an acceptable solution, even though you only need 10 minutes and the room would be going to waste for the other 20 minutes, if the director prefers that, why not go with that option instead?

    Reply
    1. MK

      Eh, I would reply very much in the negative for the second paragraph. A casual dress code is not an invitation to exercise in the workplace.

      Reply
      1. KWu

        Oh sure–I only meant it as a correlation towards, “this is not that traditional an office.” Though I don’t consider stretching to be exercise, since you’re unlikely to end up sweating or smelly. Then again, I have only worked in very casual offices that have gym rooms and where we’re happy if people keep socks on, if they’re going to be shoeless :)

        OP, I realized I forgot to say more specifically: I think it’s great that you built this habit of taking a break from desk work to stretch! Being at a desk all day really isn’t very good for our bodies. I don’t think it’s weird to stretch at work at all, but apparently your director does and maybe it’s because they object to specific positions, or maybe they object to the whole idea. Either way, I’m glad they’re not attempting to ban you from it entirely and hopefully one of the alternative solutions ends up working out for you.

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    2. Mookie

      OP1: I find it odd that the director would say that stretching in an empty office is weird and could make coworkers feel uncomfortable…so you should do it in places like the break room where it’ll be harder for them not to see your stretching?

      Yes. That’s… incredibly confusing. (Like many others, I regularly use all the stretches the OP mentioned, along with a whole 25-minute flexibility routine post-lifting days, and it’s very much a floor show. Or, you know what I mean–lots of floor space required, a combination of static and fluid poses. I should’ve thought an empty, out-of-the-way place without the possibility to annoying spectators would be preferable to a break/lunch room. If the LW can regularly book that conference room, it sounds ideal. No matter what the director says, don’t do this outside of people’s offices. DO NOT DO THIS OUTSIDE OF PEOPLE’S OFFICES.)

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        1. Artemesia

          This. I don’t understand why the empty office isn’t okay but outside offices seems highly inappropriate. Stretching ostentatiously can come across as showing off or displaying your body in appropriately. I have known a couple of women who made a big production of doing this in inappropriate places and they were attention seekers of the first water. It will rub some people this way especially down on the floor flinging your legs about. Find a private space and if that isn’t possible find as private a space as possible and confine the exercises to something you can do on your feet. There are lots of those; I have a twice a day routine and just use the ones I can do without getting on the floor. It is a great habit to have but something has bothered the boss about the current routine and you want to avoid that.

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    3. Lady Blerd

      I have a colleague who stops by my desk a few times a week and we do standing yoga stretches together. The others comment, we don’t care. Doing them on the floor is a stretch (ha!) but at the same time, I think your director is the one being weird, seems like OP1’s work place is very much into conformity. In any case, there are plenty of office friendly stretching sequences online (especially YT), I suggest OP1 look into those.

      Reply
        1. OhNo

          Stretches on the floor is regular stretching to many people. It’s not unreasonable to do some stretches on the floor in general. In the office, though, it’s a little… unusual.

          OP, are there standing variants of those that you can do?

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          1. BethRA

            There are at least seated variants of the figure-4 and the side stretch (my PT gave me a standing, active version of the figure-4, but trust me it would look even more odd to people than the floor version!)

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            1. JustaTech

              My PT gave me a seated version of the figure 4 (or reclined pigeon, to use a yoga term) with the explicit instructions that I was to do it in my work chair as often as possible. Thankfully my office-mate had lots of PT-related stuff too, so she was really good a reminding me to do my stretches. I don’t even get up out of my cube, I just scoot my chair back.

              Now, for questionable exercises, I knew some folks who would do some P90 wall-squats in the lab while waiting for their blood to spin. That got some eyebrows, but since they weren’t touching the floor except with their feet, or touching anything with their hands, funny looks was as far as it went.

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              1. Chameleon

                OMG you just gave me flashbacks to our lab tech/intern “Ridicholas” who would constantly do weird crossfit exercises anytime he had downtime. Wall squats while waiting for the centrifuge were the least of them–I saw him do squat jacks in the fume hood, and burpees in the cell culture room (which, gross. That floor is NOT clean). He also did less amusing things, such as constantly mansplain to women with advanced degrees and stare at women’s chests.

                He eventually left to–I kid you not–join the French Foreign Legion. (He is not French)

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              2. Cath in Canada

                Ooh, thanks for this – just looked it up and tried it while sitting at my desk and it felt sooooo good. I do the lying down version at least once a day, and as appealing as it sounds to be able to try it without the cats trying to join in like they do when I’m at home, it’s not something I’m about to do in the office or any other public space! I do shoulder and wrist stretches at my desk, and sometimes some leg stretches or twists while waiting at the scanner etc., but that’s it.

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          1. Green Goose

            At my office I use small hand weights every 90 minutes for about 1-3 minutes while sitting in my chair. People comment (positively) about that practice but I would not feel comfortable laying on the floor in my cube pod, or if one of my pod-mates was laying on the floor I’d think it was odd too. But I don’t think I’d say anything, but mentally note it as a bit too much.

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        2. The Cosmic Avenger

          I understand that many office cultures will find any kind of unusual physical action to be too awkward or informal for an office environment, but unless the company is worried about presenting themselves as professional to very conservative, stuffy clients, I think we need to destigmatize healthy habits, and stretching at/by your desk during the day is unequivocally a great healthy habit to add to your day. For those of us who rarely see clients at the office or only in conference rooms, it shouldn’t be an issue.

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          1. The Cosmic Avenger

            And I know the OP has to work for the company she has, not the one she wishes it was, but I do think that it’s worth noting that this is a value judgment, and we should evaluate why we judge it inappropriate to fit some healthy activity into the day because some people find it awkward or unseemly. There are many things I find awkward, but I deal with them unless I can also make a business case that they negatively affect the company in a way that isn’t just dependent on my reaction, because my reaction is totally on me.

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            1. Anna

              Thank you. I was a bit baffled by Alison’s response and the responses here. Especially the “inappropriate” comments.

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              1. Artemesia

                You have probably never worked with someone who loves to wear stretchy garments and thrust her body into people’s attention as often as possible. Believe me they exist. It doesn’t appear to be about fitness so much .

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                1. Anna

                  I’m going to say…that’s sexist. You have no way to know why someone is stretching and the clothes they wear may make it not a great idea (nobody wants to see a boob or have a boob accidentally pop out at work), but literally have no bearing on why a person might be stretching.

            2. pope suburban

              Totally agreed. I started my working life in a very, very health-conscious, active place, and none of this seems “off” to me at all. Yoga stretches and similar things were pretty normal, even at Giant Corporate Law Firm. Which I really appreciate, because having to sit at a desk all day is not good for the body, and being in a culture that recognizes that is good for the body and spirit.

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            3. Jadelyn

              Funny, that was the first thing that occurred to me. The company should be encouraging stretching and healthy behavior! My office had a “fit breaks” program we did for awhile, where everyone not currently on the phone or otherwise occupied (you could always say no and nobody would ask why, we just assumed you had a call or something urgent happening) would gather in the open area near the cubicles and do some simple standing stretches together, as a way to help remind everyone to get up and move around periodically during the day.

              I mean, we know sitting at a desk all day is not good for the human body. Much is made of ergonomics and taking regular breaks and whatnot, so getting up to stretch should be a positive, not seen as a weird thing.

              I will allow that stretching on the floor seems a bridge too far, but that will depend heavily on the office culture too.

              Maybe the office should designate a small stretching space or something. We’ve talked about doing that at my current branch – taking one of the smaller empty offices and making it the “yoga room” or whatever, with a CD player and some relaxation music, mats, straps, blocks, etc.

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                1. Jadelyn

                  Please do! It was part of our “wellness initiative” last year. Someone would make the rounds calling out “fit break!” and everyone who wanted to join would gather, then someone would lead the group through basic standing stretches. Simple, took 5-10 minutes at most, and was a little bit of a social time as well as helping make sure we all got up regularly. We did one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

            4. zora

              I agree with Cosmic Avenger. I think we should destigmatize things like this, stopping for some good stretching once a day should be encouraged by employers. As work days get longer and longer, stretching could save lots of money in future workers comp claims!!!

              Reply
          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            I think that’s true — that we should be encouraging people in offices to stretch during the day and trying to destigmatize it.

            But I think it can be simultaneously true that in many offices, there are stretches that are fine and stretches that are going seem too much like much, and where stretching on the floor where others can see you is going come across a little oddly. But there are lots of ways to stretch at work that don’t require getting down on the floor (which is what I was getting at in my answer to the OP — that it was likely just the floor stuff that’s the issue).

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          3. Anonymousaurus Rex

            This. As long as you aren’t wearing something where you will be revealing parts of your body inappropriate (don’t do that figure 4 in a skirt!) I think we should be promoting these habits, rather than chastising them. I think booking a conference room is the way to go.

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        3. Anna

          Can you define why it’s inappropriate? I don’t understand what you mean. It sounds like you’re envisioning something different than I am, but I’m wondering what that is.

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        4. k

          I have to agree. I often will do the type of arm stretches OP mentions while at my desk (though I’m not visible to others), and I might close my office door and quickly do some standing stretches. But something about getting on the floor seems odd. If nothing else, my clothes would become dirty. We have a cleaning staff but they don’t scrub the floors daily. If the office is anything but super super casual, I can imagine people thinking it’s weird that you’re rolling around the floor in your work clothes.

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          1. The Cosmic Avenger

            People in some offices might also think it’s very weird to be a vegetarian or keep kosher, but that shouldn’t mean you have to eat something that you don’t want to eat in the office.

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            1. Yorick

              Eating different food than other people eat (which isn’t even noticeable most of the time) is quite different from rolling around in the floor in your work clothes.

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                1. Yorick

                  I used that phrase as a response to k.

                  Some of these are floor stretches. While those are not the same as silly rolling around in the floor, it can definitely seem bizarre to see your coworker in the floor during the work day.

      1. bridget

        At my first job out of law school, a judge in a courthouse would invite all employees who felt like it to his chambers in the mid afternoon for a 10 minute “stretch time.” It was a totally great way to have a little break from our computers. None of it was on the floor (mostly arm stretches and stuff), but that background makes me feel that people who think stretching is inherently weird or unprofessional should probably just loosen up a little bit.

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        1. Ann On A Mouse

          “people who think stretching is inherently weird or unprofessional should probably just loosen up a little bit.”

          Pun intended? :)

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    4. Michelle P

      I think the floor stretching is really what is bugging the director. I work in a cube farm and many of us take a few minutes each day to stretch and it has never been a problem. Our director has been known to do a stretch now and then when he has “desk” day (sitting at his desk doing paperwork such as reviewing budgets, performance evals, etc.)

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    5. Rusty Shackelford

      OP1: I find it odd that the director would say that stretching in an empty office is weird and could make coworkers feel uncomfortable…so you should do it in places like the break room where it’ll be harder for them not to see your stretching?

      Yeah, that is strange. I could see the director saying they don’t want you to use the empty office for other reasons, but to say you’re doing something weird and then insist that you do it in a more public place? That makes no sense.

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Agreed—I found that part really weird. I don’t think there’s a problem with stretching at work, even if it requires floor contortions, so long as it’s out of view, private, and in an appropriate location (the breakroom and outside of people’s offices hardly sounds like appropriate alternatives, and it’s weird to me that OP’s boss suggested these as options). I’ve always worked at places where folks could close their office doors and have privacy or who have access to an in-building gym, and there’s always been at least one coworker with a yoga mat in their office who uses it to do a sequence or stretch 1-2x/day.

        I don’t want to discourage OP from stretching because maintenance stretches during the day might be medically necessary. For example, I have an old back/shoulder injury that requires stretching every 2-4 hours during the day, otherwise my back/shoulder lock up and become excruciatingly painful. Granted, I don’t usually do the floor-based ROM and stretching exercises at work, but I do close my office door for any of the more “involved” and conspicuous stretching.

        Reply
      2. Chameleon

        The only thing I can think of is that the director’s issue is that people can see the OP on the floor but aren’t clear what she’s doing–by making her do it in a more public area it’s clear to her coworkers that nothing, well, inappropriate is happening.

        Reply
        1. One of the Sarahs

          Yes, this is exactly my take on it – if she’s in public, she’s not taking a nap, or they can really easily tell she hasn’t fallen over or is having a fit etc. I get it, myself.

          Reply
      3. Dara

        I read it as, since the director gave the reason of the room the OP has been using would eventually be someone’s office (and thus unavailable to use), the OP needs to find a place that will always be an available option. What they’re using now is just a temporary situation. Since they’ll have to find a new location when someone moves into that office, anyway, it may as well be sooner than later.

        Reply
    6. Jessesgirl72

      Knit dresses stretch, and are work appropriate in just about any work environment- not only really casual ones. On the contrary, I couldn’t do yoga stretches wearing jeans..

      I would suggest that even though the director said “if you have to, book a conference room” it would negatively impact her career to do so- especially if others need to book the conference rooms for actual work!

      Reply
      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        I know in our office, if someone had the conference room booked for some personal thing, they would absolutely get pre-empted from it if anything at all business-related came up. And it would eventually become tiresome and weird to have to keep scheduling around or taking into account someone’s personal use of the conference room. At least now we know that when our conference room is booked, it is for a business reason.

        Reply
        1. John Jones

          It would depend on how heavily used the conference rooms are. In some places they’re at a premium and tend to be booked for most of the day every day while at other places the “good” rooms get booked but the smaller rooms, maybe the ones without whiteboards or video conference gear, are often under utilized.

          Look for a room that tends to have an open calendar. Also, try to find a time between, say, 11:30 and 1:30 (basically right around lunch); fewer meetings get booked around lunch hour in my experience as meeting organizers have a harder time getting attendees because lunch schedules vary.

          Reply
        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          Yeah, this may be a know your office situation. I’ve worked at places where this would be fine and in places where it would raise eyebrows.

          Reply
      2. Tuxedo Cat

        At least one company is making workplace yoga pants- they look like trousers but they stretch. I don’t know how good they are, but I agree that stretchy clothes aren’t always a signal of a more casual work place.

        Reply
        1. Cedrus Libani

          I wanted to love the dress pant yoga pants, but the fit was just bizarre. I ordered size medium based on their measurements, and while the waist was correct, the legs were so small that I couldn’t get them up past my ankles. I returned them twice, going up to size XXL before I could even get them over my calves – mind you, this is stretchy fabric – and while the lower legs fit like a blood pressure cuff, the waist and hip area was so loose that I would have needed a belt to keep from mooning the office. I’m not athletic, just a slightly soft desk jockey, and I have perfectly average calves.

          Reply
          1. kb

            If you’re interested in supremely comfortable work pants, I’d look at some wide-leg trousers. They’re on-trend again and they’ve been fused with the comfort-clothes/ athleisure everywhere trend. I bought a pair of really elegant looking trousers that feel like pajama pants. I am so excited because the band is stretchy, but not ruched or cheap elastic-looking. They’re even more forgiving than leggings-as-pants, imo, because they flow over everything.

            Reply
    7. Persephone Mulberry

      OP1: I find it odd that the director would say that stretching in an empty office is weird and could make coworkers feel uncomfortable…so you should do it in places like the break room where it’ll be harder for them not to see your stretching?

      My theory on this is that by only suggesting more public spaces, the boss is hoping to basically shame/embarrass the LW into not stretching in the office at all.

      Reply
    8. HR in the city

      At my workplace in an effort to reduce injuries for desk job employees we do ergonomic assessments of all work stations for new employees and for current employees if they are having issues (someone says I need a new chair, my shoulder hurts, etc.) . Part of this is that the Ergo guy gives everyone a sheet of stretches that can be done at your desk in your chair. We encourage stretches to break up the monotony that goes with desk jobs. I agree that what the director said was odd but maybe he is just uncomfortable with the stretches being done and is making a mountain out of a mole hill. I’m not sure if it helps the OP but perhaps it’s time to try some different stretches that you could do at your desk. With the open floor plan it is probably still where people can see but it’s worth a shot.

      Reply
    9. SW

      Spine twists are not my main stretch. It can be done in a chair, but I do them against a wall standing up or sitting down with one leg and arm crossed.

      After reflecting on the situation, I went to my Director and apologized. It was not my intention to bring any unwanted attention and I certainty do not want to make a big deal out of it. I really should have asked permission to use the empty room. Ironically, that same room will be used for an employee yoga session soon enough.

      Now, I go into an empty hall that no one goes down (unless you’re a contractor working on the building maybe). I still do not feel comfortable booking a room that could be used for business purposes to stretch on a regular basis.

      I am not doing stretched where anyone can see my skin. A. I would not feel comfortable with this and B. I am not using this time to workout. It is a 10 minute stretch. No sweating or changing of clothes involved.

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        If it makes you feel better, OP, once I read your comment re: rehab/PT, it completely changed whether or not I think your boss’s reaction was appropriate. In light of that information, I think you should opt for the conference room (or other private space). This is a medically necessary accommodation, and your boss should treat it that way.

        (Aside: they’re using that room for yoga?? Why the heck can’t you use it for stretching, then? Now I’m mad on your behalf.)

        Reply
    10. Kaybee

      I’m pretty much only wearing dresses and skirts right now and I do a lot of standing, so I wouldn’t be thrilled at my coworkers doing floor stretches in my vicinity. That said, the OP’s doing them in private wouldn’t be disruptive at my work.

      OP, your work could be weird about offices, even unused ones, or there could be back stories that you’re just not aware of. We’re kind of stingy about loaning out offices due to weird things that have happened in the past when folks have borrowed offices, especially for closed-door purposes. I wouldn’t worry about whether you’re making the most efficient use of conference room time – you’ve been given permission to use them for your stretches and it affords you privacy while keeping you out of your coworkers’ way. It sounds like the best solution.

      Reply
    11. Non-profiteer

      Most workplaces must have a space for mothers to pump breast milk – assuming the OP’s office has one, could that be a space you could also use to stretch? Ours is called a “quiet room” – a glorified closet, but colleagues other than mothers have gotten permission to use it for health-related things (of course, giving first priority to the moms needing to pump).

      However, I come from the nonprofit world where we regularly jump up in meetings and circle the room because our watches nudged us to stand up and move, and I have been known to do squats and lunges while on conference calls (though I do that behind a closed door).

      Reply
    12. TootsNYC

      I’m with you–I don’t understand why using an empty room is a problem. Sure, in 4 months it’ll be someone’s office, but until then, what does it matter? And I’m sure the OP isn’t planning to go in that room to stretch once it has taken on a new purpose.

      And I disagree w/ Alison that non-floor stretching wouldn’t be noticed–it absolutely would.

      I agree: book a conference room. Who cares that you only need it for 10 minutes?
      The other option is a storage closet or something.

      And yes, you may need to seek out alternatives for the floor stretches.

      When I start my own company, there are going to be two rooms set aside for exercising. With a DVD player, so people can put in a workout video.

      Reply
  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#1, there are stretches that are a little more “business appropriate” and then stretches that are more yoga/gym appropriate. So things like standing and stretching overhead is ok, or even the reaching back with clasped hands thing, but touching your toes, or bracing against the wall, or doing “happy baby,” etc., would probably be a little strange in shared public spaces. The spine twists and figure 4’s you can do while seated, if you must (but again, proceed with caution). I don’t think your boss is being totally unreasonable, although some of the suggested stretching spaces sound less than ideal.

    If stretching is necessary for your health at work, I’d recommend finding a space where you can put down a yoga mat and do what you need to do. The conference room actually sounds awesome to me, but I understand that a 30-minute standing stretch meeting with yourself might feel a little excessive.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      I will also add that some reaching overhead and behind the back stretches can be figure-enhancing for women in a way that isn’t office-friendly either.

      But I also wanted to comment on the “no one has complained to management or HR” thing; first, you wouldn’t necessarily know if anybody has or not, and second, it doesn’t matter, because your director has complained to you.

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        True—all stretches should probably be evaluated in the context of one’s outfit that day and the effect of the type of stretch on positioning (i.e., does something look too risque or awkward for the workplace).

        Reply
        1. zora

          meh, I don’t like the framing on this, that something ‘figure-enhancing’ for 10 minutes is inappropriate for the office. I think men should be able to avoid looking at my breasts for 30 seconds if I’m stretching my back, that seems overly strict to me.

          Reply
          1. Bette

            Yes, this is ridiculously pearl-clutchy and body shaming. Women should probably wear loose, baggy clothing so no one can see the outlines of their body at all, amirite?

            Reply
            1. fposte

              I realized I was risking getting into that territory, but I don’t think that’s what I said. And I also think we’re getting into the territory of objecting to restrictions because people don’t like to be restricted, but the notion that you, regardless of gender, don’t squirm around in public is a pretty old one. Some of the OP’s stretches are pretty darn squirmy.

              Reply
            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              That’s not really what fposte or I said. There are some stretches that would be normal in casual clothing but could be risque in business attire. It’s more of a comment to be aware of how that may or may not make certain stretches look more/less appropriate in the workplace. I don’t think that’s really a body-shaming comment so much as a “be aware of your environment” comment.

              Reply
      2. logicbutton

        I’m sure you didn’t mean it this way, but a human’s body can’t be office-friendly or office-unfriendly. Behaviors can, but a specific behavior is either appropriate for the person regardless of what their body looks like, or it’s not.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          Not only didn’t I mean it that way, I didn’t even say anything like that. An *enhancement* to a body absolutely can be work-inappropriate, as can postures that have that effect. To give specific examples, hip thrusts and swivels towards people’s seated faces are inappropriate; public stretches like downward dog that leave you ass up to your colleagues are inadvisable as well, and the one I was thinking particularly of was the wonderful bust-popping effect of a pectoral flex with some stretches.

          I do think there’s a bit of a cultural change and intersection here, in that there’s a cultural strand that says it’s bad to tell people not to stretch at work, it’s a normal human movement; however, there is also a really long tradition of postures and bodily behaviors being professionally meaningful (sit up straight and don’t squirm in an interview, for instance) and also of bodily adjustments, from makeup to straightening a bra strap to scratching an itch, being private activities.

          Reply
          1. logicbutton

            Then why say “for women” in particular? Either a behavior is inappropriate regardless of gender, or it’s not.

            Reply
            1. fposte

              Mostly because it was late at night and I was thinking about my own early work missteps, of which this was one.

              Reply
      3. Jadelyn

        The problem with that is that then you’re talking about saying, okay, men and small-chested women can do all these stretches, but women whose bodies developed more…emphatically can’t do them. You’re making a distinction in who can do which healthy behaviors based on a really subjective judgment call on women’s bodies. It falls into a similar category where someone with small breasts can wear a normal scoop or v-neck top and nobody comments, but the pearls start getting clutched when a woman with a more pronounced figure wears the same exact top. At what point is it inappropriately figure-enhancing? A cups? B cups? C cups? Or is it “whenever a male colleague looks and decides he likes what he sees”?

        “Be careful about squirming around in public” is neutral, sure, but this is making it about gender and body types in a way that is itself inappropriate for the office. It’s not my fault – or the fault of my aching back muscles – that a man arching his back isn’t taken as sexy, but me doing the exact same motion could be.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          That’ll teach me to go for euphemisms :-). No, it had nothing to do with bust size and everything to do with body movement. Don’t chest-thrust publicly at work, people. Men shouldn’t be doing this either.

          Reply
    2. Al Lo

      I have a former co-worker who would take part of his lunch and do a 30-minute yoga sequence some days (in an empty room). You might find that the 30-minute stretch meeting with yourself something you could fit in a couple of times a week.

      Reply
      1. Anna

        I worked with a woman who was getting her yoga teaching certificate and for a period of time she would have yoga class during lunch in the training room. It was so amazing. I always came back from lunch relaxed and ready to face the rest of the day.

        I do not find stretching at work at all weird or inappropriate.

        Reply
      1. Forever Anon

        I often do seated spinal twists at my desk but when I need to stretch my lower back I go to the restroom. I wonder if that’s a possibility for the OP.

        Reply
    3. paul

      I just brace my feet into my chair, and twist my back as far as I can 2-3 x a day for a few minutes. No laying required and oh my god it’s the best feeling thing you can do at work.

      Reply
  4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#3, were your coworkers also hired as interns? Or are you the only “intern” left? I agree with Alison that this doesn’t sound like a functional workplace, but I wonder if they’ve pigeon-holed you in your current role. All that said, the fact that they won’t open a conversation on coming on full time, won’t give you adequate work resources, and keep sending you on coffee runs does not bode well. Although there are certainly non-nefarious explanations for your manager’s conduct, it sure sounds like he’s stringing you along. I think it’s probably time to start aggressively applying for other jobs/companies.

    Reply
    1. Artemesia

      Many bosses will exploit you just as long as you are willing to be exploited. It happens to women all the time who keep taking on more work and not getting promoted or getting raises because they go along with it. This situation is broken for you. Get out as quickly as you can; start looking for another position and then take it and leave. These people don’t respect you or value you and are actively damaging your career development and your confidence. I know many people in regular positions who tried for years to get promoted and were only offered something when they gave notice; too little too late. Start over somewhere else and do what it takes to make progress in that new setting. Hope that happens for you sooner rather than later.

      Reply
    2. Colette

      I’d agree that the OP should find something else. And, in the future, don’t jump to offering to get coffee, or supply your own computer, or anything else that isn’t your responsibility (and isn’t the job you were hired to do). Trying to fix problems seems like it should be a good thing, but sometimes it just teaches people they don’t have to put in the same level of effort.

      Reply
      1. Lora

        THIS. Oh god, this. If only I could pound this into people’s heads.

        If the company doesn’t get you a computer in a timely fashion and you need your computer to do your job, then you are 100% entitled to show up and do whatever else you can do (if anything). If you need a cell phone for your job and the company doesn’t give you one, don’t take calls on your personal phone (unless you itemize deductions and are planning to deduct your phone as a business expense).

        If you need a thing it is your boss’ job to get the thing. Not yours. Your line management will fix a problem, such as a terrible onboarding process or a slacker IT group or a cheap tightwad office manager, only when it causes THEM enough pain to do it. Not when it causes YOU pain. If something is awful or terrible or generally sucky, it’s not that your boss doesn’t necessarily care, but they don’t have the same level of urgency to fix it if it’s not directly affecting the work getting done or not. When something endangers work actually getting done, they will fix it, because it’s now become more painful to them to NOT get the slacker / cheap b*****d fired and replaced with someone competent.

        Two years of “we need a technician to do the scutwork” did absolutely nothing for the headcount in my dept. “We will not be doing (important company goal to get more VC) because we are too busy doing scutwork” automagically meant our headcount went up 600%.

        Reply
    3. Person of Interest

      If you really wanted to push them to decide whether to give you something full-time you could give an ultimatum: Thanks for the intern opportunity but I am planning to leave by X date for full-time employment. If we could make a plan for FT role here I would be open to that but otherwise X will be my last day.

      Reply
      1. HisGirlFriday

        Unless OP either has something lined up or can financially afford to be unemployed, this is a risky move — the employer could very easily say, ‘OK, that’s fine,’ or, worse, ‘Actually, that doesn’t work for us, so how about we have tomorrow be your last day?’

        Reply
        1. Newby

          I would also say that the OP probably shouldn’t try to work there full time. It sounds awful. The high turnover and the fact that so far they have been brushing off the OP’s requests to transition into a full time role seems like huge red flags.

          Reply
          1. Artemesia

            This. He needs to look for a full time job and give notice here when he accepts it. And certainly not look to continue here under any circumstances. He is marked in this position; it will never be good for him.

            Reply
          2. Starbuck

            What I wonder is why OP didn’t apply for any of these new positions that have been hired for since they started? They don’t mention having done so or even considered it, and it seems like an obvious step. Presuming that they were a good potential fit (based on what’s in the letter it sounds like OP at least thinks they have the skills/experience for the positions these new people were hired for) I’m wondering why that didn’t happen, despite the vague assurances from their supervisor that a position would be created. As an intern, I’d assume that I have a better shot at getting a job that’s already been created and posted, rather than trying to have the company create a new position that they might not even need.

            Reply
            1. Lauren

              It sounds like a pretty casual (in the worst way) office, so I would assume OP didn’t necessarily have the opportunity to formally apply for the new positions. Plus, he may have been over or under-qualified for the new positions, or he may have felt uncomfortable applying for a new position since he already had made it clear to his boss that he wanted to be full time. I only say this because I was in a similar situation- out of law school I fell into a part-time position at an office that quickly turned into a full-time gig, but every time I tried to have the conversation with my boss to put me on payroll, enroll me in benefits, etc., it would be pushed to next week, or next month, etc. This went on for 3 years during which at least 3 more employees in different capacities were brought on full time and given benefits. I’m still not even sure if this slight was deliberate, I think my boss was just an extreme procrastinator and she assumed I was complacent (I wasn’t). Towards the end she even had the audacity to ask me to train/supervise a new employee and help on-board her and set up her benefits. When I finally left everyone was shocked, including my boss who took my departure quite personally. You’d be surprised at the level of dysfunction many offices operate at.

              Reply
    4. Newby

      The purpose of an internship is to help you gain the skills and experience for another job. It really doesn’t sound like that is happening. If the job actually hires people with the same or less education and experience as you currently have, you really don’t gain much by staying there.

      Reply
      1. Anna

        Is there such a thing as an internship with no end date? That’s the first thing that jumped out at me. Every internship I’ve been involved in, either as the intern or an observer, there was a definitive timeline and an outline of things the intern should do/know by the time they left.

        Reply
    5. HR in the city

      I agree with you but I want to add (and this goes for everyone) but don’t take an internship or job where there isn’t a job description. A job description will not cover all duties someone does but it can help to set expectations for everyone. For example- if your a social media marketing intern your job description would cover what you could be doing/learning in that role. If I need an intern who will only be getting coffee than that is what you put in a job description. A job description can also cover things such as whether your exempt- who the supervisor is. These things are very helpful when your boss asks you to work 80 hours a week but then doesn’t want to pay over time to you because you’re exempt but your really not (just as an extreme example). I know that most small businesses don’t have job descriptions but trust me that a job description can save everyone a lot of headache. I would also like to give a big thumbs up to the OP for asking about the internship continuing and a position. I think that sometimes people just assume that the manager (or someone else) will give them this information and that doesn’t always happen for a variety of reasons.

      Reply
      1. TootsNYC

        Oh, I don’t know–we had an intern once as part of our company’s internship program, and I tried to get our team to pull together some sort of job description. I got accused of wanting to micromanage her. I just wanted us to say, “let’s have her work on X, and be sure she gets experience with Process C on two small projects, and she should tag along for Meeting Y and F.”

        So….we didn’t have any job description written up.

        I think it was a pretty good internship, even so.

        Reply
  5. Casper Lives

    OP 1: it’d weird me out to see anyone in the office stretching on the floor, with the yoga strap adding to that feeling. It sounds like a warm up to a work out, and there’s something undignified (may not be the right word) about plopping on the office floor. (I can’t imagine trusting the cleanliness of my office floors enough to touch them!) I’ve never been in this situation, but even though I wouldn’t go to HR, I could imagine casually mentioning to my boss that I thought it was weird. The boss could take that to mean I’m uncomfortable.

    Do you have a lunch break when you could go somewhere a little out of the way to do these stretches since they’re helping you? Otherwise, I think the conference room where coworkers can’t see you is a good idea.

    Reply
    1. Wendy Darling

      I have been on the office floor to set up equipment. From this I have learned primarily that you do not want to be on the office floor. At least not where I worked! Maybe other places have more effective cleaners, but our floor was all gross road and sidewalk grit tracked in from outside and unbent staples.

      Reply
      1. Gaia

        Office floors are horrifically dirty. Ours are vacuumed regularly but haven’t been cleaned in…at least 3 years?

        Reply
    2. Gadfly

      Honestly, after they decided the office staff were going to do all our own vacuuming at my last job to save $, I know by a few years into it I thought my shoes touching the floor was a little iffy…

      Reply
    3. Emmie

      I wonder if OP is also laying on a conference table, or a desk in the room to do her stretching. If so, I recommend that she definitely stop that.

      Reply
    4. Mallory Janis Ian

      OP 1: it’d weird me out to see anyone in the office stretching on the floor, with the yoga strap adding to that feeling. It sounds like a warm up to a work out, and there’s something undignified (may not be the right word) about plopping on the office floor.

      I think it’s that OP is regularly making herself conspicuous, kind of like the guy from another letter whose coworker wrote in that it was weird that he was doing his karate/tai chi/whatever right outside the office windows every day. For whatever reason, people seem to grow weary of seeing another doing something conspicuous, especially once it becomes apparent that they’re going to be doing it regularly.

      Reply
    5. SW

      Spine twists are not my main stretch. It can be done in a chair, but I do them against a wall standing up or sitting down with one leg and arm crossed.

      After reflecting on the situation, I went to my Director and apologized. It was not my intention to bring any unwanted attention and I certainty do not want to make a big deal out of it. I really should have asked permission to use the empty room. Ironically, that same room will be used for an employee yoga session soon enough.

      Now, I go into an empty hall that no one goes down (unless you’re a contractor working on the building maybe). I still do not feel comfortable booking a room that could be used for business purposes to stretch on a regular basis.

      I am not doing stretched where anyone can see my skin. A. I would not feel comfortable with this and B. I am not using this time to workout. It is a 10 minute stretch. No sweating or changing of clothes involved.

      Reply
      1. Casper Lives

        Sounds like you’ve got it all figured out! You inspired me to look up some stretches I can do at work. I get up every few hours to walk to the printer, but my shoulders/back have started complaining from sitting all day.

        Reply
  6. kb

    OP #1: In good weather could you tack the stretching onto a lunch break and go all-out outside? I guess this isn’t really an option if you work in an urban environment without a park nearby, but in warmer months I do picnic lunches. I usually just lie down on a blanket and listen to podcasts, but I see people out with yoga mats. It’s not a perfect solution year-round, but it could be a serviceable option. And then you could even do more intense stretches without feeling constrained by office appropriateness.

    Reply
  7. Geoffrey B

    OP#1: huh. I work a mostly-desk job, and my employer strongly encourages us to take short stretch breaks after every 30 minutes of keyboard work. They provide an app that nags and eventually locks the screen if we don’t take breaks, although it’s optional and can be suspended when necessary. I agree with PCBH that not all stretches would be work-appropriate but for me it would be very weird for an employer to discourage stretching.

    Reply
    1. Mike C.

      Yeah, we have the same thing at work. Heck, most of the teams on the floor do group stretching at the beginning of the day.

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Yeah—stretching is very much an encouraged thing at my office, although we don’t group stretch (but 2 jobs ago one of our colleagues who was training to become a yoga instructor ran mini-classes at lunch, which was fantastic). We don’t do the 30 minute screen breaks, but most of us run a timer to go off every 45 minutes to 2 hours so we can take a screen break and move.

        Reply
        1. Geoffrey B

          Like I said, it’s optional and it can be suspended at will. It also has a “just another five minutes” option that can be activated three times before it starts to get more insistent, so it’s not going to cut you off without warning.

          I’m autistic and tend to hyperfocus. Left to my own devices, I’ll happily sit in a chair for hours working non-stop. But the consequence of that is pain, which is also not helpful to my train of thought and interferes with sleep, so I accept the rest-and-stretch nagging as a lesser evil. I can still think about stuff while I’m stretching.

          Reply
    2. eplawyer

      Would love to know what this app is. I need to move more during the day. Sometimes I’ll look up and I have been sitting staring at a screen for hours.

      Reply
      1. JanetM

        I can’t speak for Geoffrey B, but I use WorkPace. I think it was originally a standalone piece of software, but now appears to be owned by a company called Wellnomics.

        You can (at least in the older version that I have) set the intervals for your breaks, set whether you’re allowed to skip breaks, and customize the types of exercises you get.

        Reply
      2. Geoffrey B

        Ours is just an in-house app that somebody wrote years and years ago; AFAIK it’s not available outside our org. But there are plenty of others that do the same. I really ought to get one for my home setup.

        Reply
    3. AnotherAlison

      Stretch and Flex programs are common and encouraged in the construction industry, but I would be surprised to see anyone getting down on the ground or floor.

      I would Google a work-appropriate “stretch and flex” program, and share the literature with the OP’s manager. I think there’s a middle ground – keep the stretches, but make them more work appropriate.

      Reply
  8. lychee

    OP 1- how about using the restroom – stick to standing exercises. Or perhaps any dead end hallway or a stairwell, basically anywhere with some privacy

    Reply
    1. Anna

      Ugh. Why should the OP have to hang out where people are peeing and pooping to get some healthy exercise in?

      I don’t think it’s the OP that’s being weird in this situation.

      Reply
  9. Chocolate Teapot

    1. Our workplace health association, which I mentioned in yesterday’s 5 question thread, makes posters with recommended office stretches*. Basically, anything which can be done discretely or whilst sitting down is good for the office.

    *They can also arrange for a personal trainer to come over and give instructions to anyone interested in the office, with a colleague who checks your workstation and chair height.

    Reply
    1. Dizzy Steinway

      My osteopath gave me some stretches to do that are very simple and don’t look odd in an office. OP1, yours sound a bit overly workout-like. I think PCBH explained it perfectly.

      Reply
  10. Her Grace

    #1, is your stretching an Occupational Health and Safety issue? If so (and many offices consider it so), you might wish to speak to HR about options available to you. Floorwork or anything you couldn’t manage in a toilet cubicle might be inappropriate for the office, but there are many routines that are office-safe.

    My office mandates that everyone stretch for ten minutes twice a day for the benefit of employee health. Maybe it’s an Aussie thing.

    Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        It’s not weird! It’s more common overseas, but there are U.S. workplaces that mandate or strongly encourage workplace stretching.

        Reply
    1. SW

      This all got started because I had a surgery about 9 months ago. A surgeon, my rehab lady, and my doctor all told me to do this. I worked with my rehab lady to come up with what would be the most beneficial series to do during a 10 minute break. I like the recommendation of doing most of the stretches at my desk.

      Reply
      1. Manders

        That changes things a bit, in my opinion–if your medical team is telling you to do this, then it’s fine to book the conference room if it’s the only place available for stretching.

        Doing some quick stretches at your desk can be nice, but if there’s a documented medical reason to get on the floor and use the yoga band, then obviously that’s a priority and you shouldn’t feel bad about booking the conference room.

        Reply
      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        OP, that changes things considerably. I think you should definitely book the conference room and feel free to use it. I’d also suggest, if you have a competent HR person/team, that you request access to a private space (like the conference room) as a medical accommodation.

        Reply
  11. 01`112022044

    With the exception of arms against the wall, I think LW1 is probably doing the other stretches seated (would love for the LW to confirm this, please). I agree that the yoga strap will probably raise some eyebrows and earn you some stares.

    Reply
    1. lychee

      If you check the links Alison has posted you would see that the 4’s and the twist is actually lying on the ground..which is a wee off in an office imo

      Reply
      1. Stretch Goals

        If you do a little research beyond the links Alison has posted, you will see that these stretches can also be done seated and/or standing. Alison is assuming that the OP is doing these lying down, and they certainly might be, but it’s automatically the case.

        Reply
        1. Jessesgirl72

          She mentions she’s using a yoga strap to help with them. That would be more unlikely if she’s doing them seated.

          Reply
          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            Yeah, agreed. You usually don’t need a yoga strap if doing a figure 4 from a standing or seated position (yay gravity!). But maybe OP is doing archer or chair-based seated twists and using the strap in that context, which would be a little less eyebrow-raising.

            Reply
      2. PB

        I agree that stretching on the floor in an office environment would be odd. However, there are variations of the figure 4 and back twist that can be done in a chair. Until OP responds, we don’t know which variation they’re doing.

        Reply
      3. 01`112022044

        @lychee: I checked them before I posted my comment, thanks. And beyond those results, as Stretch Goals mentioned, are images of people doing the same poses (or variations of it, as per PB) while seated.

        @Jessesgirl72: LW could be using the strap as a hamstring stretch (I’ve linked to an image in my username), so it’s not unlikely.

        Hope to hear from LW soon.

        Reply
  12. Hey Nonnie

    #1: Personally I vote in favor of normalizing office stretching, given the growing body of evidence that sitting for 8 hours a day is really bad for your health. (Google “dormant butt syndrome.”) Of course these butt, hip, low back, and hamstring stretches pretty much require you get down on the floor. Sitting without stretching those muscles can be excruciatingly painful for someone dealing with tightness and/or spasms in those muscle groups — and just getting up and walking around isn’t enough (speaking as someone who knows). If my cube neighbors think I’m a little weird for taking care of myself when and how it’s necessary, that’s their problem. If my boss had a problem with it, I’d invoke reasonable accommodation for a health issue, because that’s what this is.

    BTW, you CAN find dress pants that stretch enough to allow this. I was thrilled when I found mine. I think more pants of all kinds are made with a cotton-elastane blend nowadays.

    Reply
    1. Mallory Janis Ian

      My ponte trousers from Lane Bryant are like secret yoga pants that look like dress trousers. Our university fitness/rec department has a fifty-minute staff yoga program at lunch, so I wear the ponte trousers and a dressy t-shirt as a yoga outfit. Worn with a blazer or cardigan, this outfit is very office appropriate, as well.

      Reply
      1. Seal

        “Dormant butt syndrome” made me laugh because apparently I’m 12, but it turns out it’s a real thing!

        Reply
      2. Hey Nonnie

        Correct, but stretching helps alleviate the pain symptoms from dormant butt syndrome, as well as treating the co-morbid tightness/spasm issues in other muscles that tend to cascade from DBS. If some of your glutes aren’t firing properly, your other muscles get overworked because they’re doing both their own job and taking over for the glutes. This very often leads to those muscles getting super tight, which can pull on your pelvis, femurs, and/or knees (depending on which muscles are at issue), causing low back and/or knee pain.

        You ALSO have to get your glutes firing properly in order to truly heal, but that’s a process, and one which can be hampered by pain.

        Reply
        1. Hey Nonnie

          And of course you can also simply have tight hamstrings, butt, back, or hips simply from sitting in the same position all day every day, even without DBS.

          Reply
    2. Future Homesteader

      Seconded! Normally I’m a huge proponent of professionalism, but I found myself oddly bristly at the idea that stretching isn’t professional (although after thinking about it, I absolutely get it. I certainly don’t get down and stretch on the floor at work). I’m pretty young but have sciatica and near-daily tension headaches when I’m at work if I’m not incredibly careful. Two years into my first desk job I landed in physical therapy – and that’s despite walking two miles a day and being moderately active outside of the office. So yes, let’s all normalize office stretching!! In professional and appropriate increments, of course. :-)

      Reply
      1. Manders

        Same here! Pretty much everyone in my office stretches. I don’t think I would get down on the gross office floor, but I’d be miserable if I couldn’t take periodic breaks to stretch my wrists and shoulders. And on days when I have a calf cramp, I do have to get up and stretch to relieve it, even if it looks a little odd.

        I tweaked a muscle between my shoulder blades yesterday. I know I’m going to have to take regular stretch breaks today so I’m not in pain at my desk.

        Reply
        1. MegaMoose, Esq

          I 100% think that there’s a good chance that lying/sitting on the floor is the issue here. Standing and chair stretches seem pretty unremarkable. I work in an open office with 10-40 people and you see that not infrequently, but if someone got down on the carpet it would definitely raise eyebrows.

          This threat is reminding me to stretch now!

          Reply
          1. One of the Sarahs

            +1 I think it’s this too.

            There used to be a big thing in the UK 10 years ago about moving and stretching at work, and if you google “stretching at work”, there are all kinds of other options for seated and standing work exercises. I’d definitely recommend swapping up the routine to some of these.

            Reply
        2. Hey Nonnie

          If my office floors were grody and I needed to do on-the-floor stretches, I might be inclined to bring a yoga mat. I have long muscles so a figure 4 doesn’t do anything for me — if I’m in desperate need of a piriformis stretch, I would need to do a face-on-the-floor pigeon stretch. Often just sitting on the floor and folding in half is enough, though, and I’ll save the pigeon for home.

          There’s a certain irony in being painfully tight and flexible at the same time.

          Reply
    3. The Cosmic Avenger

      Thanks for saying this, that’s what I was trying to get across upthread. Just because someone finds something distasteful or unprofessional isn’t a good reason to disallow it. There should be a business need, and while distracting coworkers is a valid concern, that has to be balanced with the importance of the distracting action. If someone just likes making loud animal noises at their desk, there’s (we hope) no good reason for that. But being more active and more healthy is not only one of the more important things for the individual, it also benefits the company. Premiums will be lower; focus, attention, and productivity can be higher, sometimes significantly so; workplace injuries should be reduced, and so on. The more compelling the case for the distracting action, the more compelling a reason you should need to disallow it.

      Reply
      1. Mints

        Yeah and like other people noted, it’s more common in other countries and also health related companies, so it’s not at all a universal thing everyone finds distracting.

        Like when I started at my old job almost everyone used disposable coffee cups but I brought one in and they thought I was weird to spend extra time washing it, but I kept at it and eventually regular cups creeped in to popularity. There are some things that I’m okay with being the office weirdo about because they’re harmless, not disruptive, healthy, free, etc

        Reply
  13. Jess

    A few years ago we had a woman working in our office on a short-term contract and I will always remember her for her daily stretching routine. Once a day she would use the meeting/training room and do a series of stretches which required lying on the ground. She left the door open so I couldn’t avoid watching her from my seat at reception, and I remember it being SO awkward.

    My feeling is that ergonomic-type stretches that you can do at your desk are fine – and should be encouraged! – in the an office environment, but more intensive stretches are just…odd. It’s possible that the fact that she was short-term and not very chatty coloured my opinion – if she had chatted to me and had a bit of laugh explaining what she was doing, or was a co-worker I was friendly with, I might have felt differently. But she was quite closed off and didn’t explain her stretches she just started writhing on the floor, which…no.

    Reply
    1. Marillenbaum

      I think that’s an excellent point. I’m also a big believer in getting up and walking around–take a few minutes to walk to the bathrooms, refresh your cup of coffee, maybe grab a nice new box of pens out of the supply cupboard.

      Reply
  14. Katie the Fed

    OP 1 – Stretches you’d do for running are fine for public. Anything like yoga/dancer stretches should probably be done in private.

    Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        I agree with JB. If you google “running stretches” and any of the positions OP currently does, they’d find variations that will look less like yoga/dancer stretches. But for anyone who stretches regularly, hearing “running v. yoga” stretches invokes pretty distinct imagery, even if there’s shared names.

        Reply
        1. Decima Dewey

          I think OP 1’s boss is afraid that the eventual occupant of the empty office will come in one day and find OP1 doing stretches on his/her office floor.

          Reply
          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            Sure, but that’s not related to Katie’s comment, which was about identifying stretches that are more/less work-friendly if they’re done in view of other people.

            Reply
      2. Lady Blerd

        I also got what Katie the Fed meant. That said many when we do group training sessions with an instructor, the glute stretching exercises look very much like the yoga poses that may have given pause to OP1’s director. That’s all I’m saying.

        Reply
    1. Anna

      She was doing them in private. In fact, for whatever reason, the director asked her to do them in less private settings.

      Reply
  15. Susan

    #3 – This seems like a pretty weird situation. I can’t figure out from your letter why you are being singled out while people with less experience and education are being hired for permanent positions with benefits, but you don’t have to put up with it. You probably started your internship with the hope of it becoming permanent once you graduated, but there’s no guarantee of that on either end (yours or the employer’s). Since this was an internship, you don’t even have to worry about the appearance of job-hopping if you leave after less than a year on the job.

    Reply
    1. CoffeeLover

      It’s not that she’s being singled out, it’s that the employer found an opportunity to keep someone on board, doing the same work, at a lower pay and with no benefits. Basically, her employer is a jerk that’s trying to take advantage of the fact they have cheap labour, and is probably hoping OP is inexperienced/docile enough to a) not push back too hard, and b) stick around for a while.

      It’s also partially a laziness thing, i.e., with the laptop. Why go through the effort of getting OP a laptop when she conveniently brought one for herself and can just keep using it. I bet the others got a laptop quickly because they didn’t offer to bring one and the employer would rather go through the hassle of getting a laptop than to have people sitting around doing nothing. (20/20 hindsight OP: NEVER bring your own equipment when the employer should provide it for you.)

      OP I think you need to stand up for yourself more. I say set an end-date for the internship. “Boss, as you know, I’m now looking for full-time employment. As such, I need to make the last day of my internship Month XX. I would love to receive an OFFER from you for a full-time position, but I hope you understand that I will be looking at other opportunities as well.” Of course, this is assuming you still want to work for these guys. Otherwise, just find another, better position and quit.

      Reply
      1. Susan

        Yeah, I agree they’re taking advantage of OP #3 (and I bet you’re right that she probably would have been given a computer earlier if she hadn’t been so willing to bring in her own). What I don’t understand, though, is why she was hired as an intern without benefits, but people with less experience and education were then hired as permanent employees with higher pay and benefits. If this company has no qualms about taking advantage of people, why didn’t they pull the same stunt when hiring other people?

        Reply
        1. Kathleen Adams

          I expect – and I hope the OP will forgive me if I’m reaching here – that “less experience and education” is a relative term. They could very well have less experience and education overall but still have more of the education and experience that the employer wants.

          I have little doubt that the OP is being used here and should have been hired full-time, as was promised to her, but she really doesn’t need to talk down about the other workers to prove that her employer is a jerk.

          Reply
        2. CoffeeLover

          Sometimes it’s as simple as which position you’re hired for. With the same level of education/experience, I can be hired as a full-time admin with benefits or a part-time data entry clerk with no benefits. They don’t pull the same stunt with these other people, because they signed a different contract before they came on. Education and experience have nothing to do with it really.

          Reply
      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        I do want to note that there are different expectations for interns v. staff, though. I was an intern at a nonprofit and had to provide my own laptop, which was not onerous because I was a law student, and it was in the pre-tablet days. They disclosed that you’d need to bring your laptop when they made internship offers, and they worked with low-income/limited-means interns to try to find alternatives in case that person could not supply their own computer. But when I became staff at that organization, they outfitted me with a computer. They weren’t trying to be evil; they had limited resources and had eliminated desktop computers.

        I don’t think OP’s experience is necessarily the same, but I was definitely confused about whether OP is referring to people who started as interns and were hired into staff positions, or whether other people are being hired directly as staff. If it’s the latter, then I don’t think the difference in responsibilities is inherently wrong, but I do think the length of the internship—absent an opportunity to advance—has now become problematic.

        Reply
        1. CoffeeLover

          I think there’s a big difference between outright being told you’re expected to bring your own laptop vs. when you’re told they’ll provide one, but conveniently forget once you bring your own.

          Reply
          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I agree. I was just responding to the idea that it’s always unreasonable/wrong for an employer to request that the intern/employee provide some of their own equipment. That’s not the case, here, where it seems like OP#3 is being exploited, but there are functional jobs and workplaces where it’s not inherently wrong for the employee to be expected to bring certain materials with them.

            Reply
            1. CoffeeLover

              Ah gotcha. Yes, I totally agree. Contractors are a good example… they’re required to bring their own equipment.

              Reply
              1. Noobtastic

                In my last job, I did on boarding for both employees and contractors, and we always provided laptops for both. Contractors were not expected to provide their own computers, because we wanted everyone to be on the same system, with the same specs, and most importantly, the same security features. Our IT department took care of all of that, and they didn’t care if you were the lowliest intern or the CEO.

                Newer employees got newer computers, but eventually, older computers got upgraded, so no one was ever operating anything that was too out of date and non-functional.

                I think a lot of it depends on the industry and office culture, as well as the sort of work you’ll be doing.

                Reply
                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  Oh, I read CoffeeLover’s comment as responding to actual contractors (like people who build buildings)—oftentimes folks in construction, car mechanics, cosmetic fields (hairdressers/stylists), and other trades are expected to bring their own tools.

  16. AlwhoisthatAl

    There is a time and place for exercising, simply easing your muscles can be done at your desk, but stretching out on the floor using exercise bands is a complete no. Doing it in private is the way even up to organising a pilates or such-like class at lunchtime for everyone to join in. However some things really shouldn’t be done as a public display. Wierd no, innappropriate yes.

    Reply
    1. Jamey

      So what are you supposed to do if you need to stretch for health reasons? I have doctor’s orders to do my stretches every three hours. But I can’t do it for the 9 hours I’m working because it’s inappropriate?

      Reply
      1. Doodle

        I would imagine it would be a combination of doing standing/chair stretches rather than on-the-ground stretches and then asking for an ADA accommodation if that was insufficient and the need rose to that level.

        Others upthread have also made a bunch of good suggestions: outside in the park during lunch, book the conference room, etc. AlwhoisthatAl also suggested organizing a lunchtime class, which could work in some places as well.

        Reply
      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        I don’t think this would be a problem if you’re in a private location, even if that location is at work. AlwhoisthatAl is fairly clear that stretching in private would be fine and draws the line at involved stretching with exercise bands that occur as “a public display.”

        Reply
            1. Anna

              Yeah, but I’m not sure that means it’s not technically private. I mean, my office has big windows facing outside, but I would still count it as a private space and if I needed to stretch, I would feel okay about it.

              Reply
          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I don’t disagree—I think it’s more appropriate to let OP continue to use a private office than to have OP doing these stretches in the breakroom or hallway.

            Reply
      3. Beth

        OP#1, this makes me so grateful that my company has a “wellness room.” I think that they created it to meet the legal requirement of the ACA to provide a non-toilet room for nursing mothers at businesses of a certain size (my prior company had one as well) but it’s for the use of anyone. It was a lifesaver for me as I did PT for my lower back earlier this year — at its worst, I couldn’t even get through the day without lying on the ground and doing some stretches. I would assume if you had a room like this, a boss would have recommended it, but figured I’d bring it up just in case.. my company considers it a “benefit.” I thought that was a little silly at first since they are legally required to have a room for nursing mothers, but after reading all these comments about how no one has anywhere to stretch, well, I can see that it is definitely a benefit!

        (Of course, I make sure not to hog it — we don’t have any nursing mothers who need the room currently, so I’m not stealing it from anyone who legal requires it at the moment!)

        Reply
        1. Temperance

          Our wellness room has been amazing for me. I have chronic migraines, and occasionally just need to crash for 30 minutes to an hour while my pills kick in. In the past, I had to reserve a conference room or just go home, but because of this, I’m way more functional at work and productive.

          Reply
            1. zora

              my coworkers are close to triggering me today, talking about a horrible violent crime behind me all morning it’s stressing me out so much. I might just go to the wellness room today for a few minutes of quiet.

              Reply
        2. zora

          Yeah, we have a wellness room, too. I still haven’t actually used it, but I’ve been meaning to book it for some quick mid-day yoga or even just for the quiet and do some guided meditation or something.

          We also have a separate mother’s room. Our weird, loud co-work space does have a couple of great benefits!

          Reply
  17. Name changed for this answer

    #5 I’d give it a go – they may remember that you turned them down, but not why.

    I work for a health-related non-profit (in the UK) and we don’t accept any money from pharmaceutical companies (individuals can donate but we don’t accept company funds including donation matching), companies that hold shares in pharmaceutical companies or receive significant sponsorship from them, as it would be compromising for us (for reasons that are hard to get into without saying where I work). We also don’t accept money from a couple of other industries that would contradict our mission. (Think along the lines of a cancer charity not taking money from tobacco companies.)

    We do, however, receive money from some corporate companies through things like fundraising and charity of the year partnerships.

    I think it would have been better to do your own due diligence, rather than relying on the presence or absence of news articles. You’ve looked on Google, but I do wonder if you’re searching for the right things?

    I’d suggest you have a look at the following (though as I’m in the UK I don’t know what of this advice does or doesn’t translate?

    – How do they make decisions? Who are their trustees and how is their board run?

    – What policies do they have for companies that donate money to them? We have very clear guidelines about what this does and does not mean. Are they allowed to make restricted donations (where the donor or grant giving organisation specifies how or when the money is used) and if so what restrictions are permitted? Some are totally not shady, e.g. stipulating that funding is only used for a specific project or department.

    – How does their funding break down? What percentage of their income comes from different sources e.g. corporate, community and individual giving, legacy donations, grant funding, charity shops, etc etc? (Over here this is publicly available information, not sure if that’s the case where you are.)

    – How are they structured in terms of staff? Do the same people have anything to do with both corporate fundraising and patient advocacy or are they independent teams, for example?

    For the record, if I was the hiring manager I’d be open to interviewing you again. I wouldn’t want to hear that you’ve changed your mind purely because the news stories have died down. (Because the presence or absence of news stories doesn’t tell you the whole story.) I’d want to hear some awareness of our governance and strategy, based on publicly available information.

    If their practices haven’t changed and it’s simply that you were mistaken about them in the first place, and as a result you made a decision that demonstrates commitment to our cause and values, I wouldn’t hold that against you so long as you expressed it politely at the time.

    As an example, let’s say you honestly thought my organisation burned people with teapots despite fighting for better teapot burns clinics. The kind of person that would turn down that job is the kind of person I actively want to hire in terms of their values and ethics, just not their fact-finding skills. If you can admit you were wrong? Fantastic. That’s someone I’m open to working with. However, I’d want to know that you’d learned to more critically appraise information (because all kinds of sh*t gets written about non-profits when they do anything anyone doesn’t like and the news is only ever part of the picture). If the practices have changed and they really did used to burn people with teapots? Or take money from people who did? Again, in terms of your values that makes you the kind of person I want to hire and I’d expect some critical questions from you.

    Reply
    1. Name changed for this answer

      If I have in fact misunderstood a bit and you objected purely because you were idealistic and objected to the idea of receiving money from any corporate companies, I’d definitely want to know that you’d learned more about the following:

      how nonprofits and associations are funded and that “having corporate ties” and “being unduly influenced by corporations” isn’t necessarily always black and white.

      But not for the reason you give, that there’s always a controversy if you look deep enough. I’d want to hear that you’d learned more about how corporate giving works, that being a donor doesn’t mean a company is buying influence, and any relevant policies helping to safeguard this (I’d expect you to have read our public guidelines for donors).

      Again, I’d have no issue with your values but would want to see evidence of your research and critical thinking ability.

      Reply
      1. Anna

        Excellent points. It’s really important to understand that a lot of those corporations provide a LOT of funding to small non-profits working directly with people. I worked for a very large healthcare provider looking over grant applications because they had a huge amount of money to give to small organizations. It’s not so cut and dry as Big Corp Health is bad for Little Non-Profit. In fact, for most non-profits who do patient advocacy, most of their money is going to come from a large corporation.

        Reply
    2. OP #4

      Excellent advice! Thank you very much! You’ve given me some good, concrete steps to demonstrate doing my due diligence in researching publicly available records to see if there is/isn’t any impropriety with this organization. Looking through their website and Googling the names on their board of trustees, their Charity Navigator profile, their annual reports, should be a good start and I’ll see where it leads me.

      Reply
      1. Big10Professor

        This also depends a lot on what you told them when you removed yourself from the process last time. What did you tell them your reasoning was, and how polite/professional was your language?

        Reply
        1. OP #4

          I told them it was probably not a good fit because of my beliefs about the role of corporations in healthcare and cited a couple of the links I found. I was polite and not ranting and raving at all.

          Reply
      2. Ama

        If you do still have concerns you can also always ask (if you get to an interview) the interviewer to tell you more about how their corporate giving relationships work. I work for a similar type organization that takes pharma money for certain programs, but we have very clear policies in place that state exactly what a corporation will and will not receive in return for sponsorships and we have turned down gifts in the past when certain corporations have wanted a degree of access or control that ran counter to those policies.

        Reply
    3. CM

      I really like this answer. I would also be wary of someone who jumped to conclusions based on a news article. I think the last paragraph above is spot on about fact-finding skills versus values and ethics. Since it happened five years ago, you can explain that you’ve learned since then to think more critically and, based on your research in the company, you realized your initial assessment was wrong. But I don’t think you need to bring this up proactively unless they ask why you withdrew last time or remember why you objected.

      Reply
      1. AndersonDarling

        I work at a healthcare non-profit and about every 5 years there will be a surge of articles poking holes in our mission/organization. It is easy to pick and choose what pieces to report on that makes a sensational story that gets clicks. I can read the articles and say, “Yes, that’s true. And that’s true,” but it isn’t the whole story, so it sounds scandalous in the paper but if you knew the whole process, it would be ethical and boring. Some stories are just wild accusations.
        But if the articles gave you pause, it shows you have some ethics. And non-profits want to hire people with ethics.

        Reply
    4. Bwmn

      I agree that bringing in the presence/absence of news articles isn’t the way to discuss this. Lots of nonprofits have gotten the media bop on the nose from time to time around their fundraising – and in a number of those cases the issues at play don’t really change but it’s more like the optics of the issue. Every now and then different Dietitian’s associations get attention for receiving corporate support from “debatable” corporate donors – whether it’s on the food production or restaurant side. Sometimes it’s a hotter topic than others, but it doesn’t wildly change the overall practice.

      Acknowledging an openness to address the greyness of the issue I think will go along way given who the organization is and what kind of job you’re applying for. That being said, I’ve worked for an organization where I have said “uff….we’re really going to take money from them…..” – and had the response been very negative. Some people will get very abrasive about these decisions, and if that’s the case I wouldn’t beat yourself up on that.

      Lastly – I will also add that while corporate money is one issue – issues of “good” money vs “bad” money can easily cut across all sectors. Be it corporate, government or individual. I think that some staff get awfully abrasive about it, but I would say that most others acknowledge that there’s not a lot of “perfect” money out there.

      Reply
      1. OP #4

        Very good points! I’ve learned pretty much the same thing the past five years that the notion of “good” money versus “bad” money is not so cut and dried and black and white. And it does cut across all sectors

        Reply
  18. Dizzy Steinway

    #3 This sounds awful and you do need to get out.

    I will say that education level perhaps isn’t so relevant, as this doesn’t necessarily translate to seniority in an office and many people start out doing routine or menial tasks after getting a degree. However, the rest of the picture completely sucks. It’s really shabby of them to treat you like this and you shouldn’t have to provide your own computer.

    I hope you find another job asap.

    Reply
  19. nnn

    OP#1: I was picturing the figure 4 stretch and the spine twist stretch as being done seated, but if that’s not what OP is doing they totally can be done seated. Arranging your legs in a figure 4 position while seated in a chair is not an uncommon natural sitting position and won’t merit a second glance as long as you’re not wearing a skirt.

    You can then do the stretch without looking like you’re stretching by keeping your gaze on your computer screen and leaning forward as though you’re reading intently. If the combination of your flexibility level and the nature of your office furniture permit, you can wedge your knee under the desk and have the desk hold it in a static stretch. To the observer, it will just look like you have your ankle crossed over your knee and are sitting closer to the desk.

    Reply
  20. Liifi

    My office has a standing item on the calendar for stretching every day. Whoever is available and wants to will go to a conference room and we all stretch, doing whatever kinds of stretches you want. OP 1, I’d suggest seeing if anyone else wants to stretch and then booking that conference room for 30 minutes. If it only takes 10 minutes, let everyone know you finished with the room early.

    Reply
    1. Emmie

      Booking a conference room is a know-your-office kind of thing.

      Our space is limited, and the need for group collaboration exceeds our space. Blocking time off for a personal activity would be wildly out of touch with our office professional norms.

      Reply
    2. Noobtastic

      Scheduled stretching sounds really nice! I also like that it’s encouraged, but not mandatory.

      Perhaps OP could suggest something like this at their office, and make that 30 minute booking a regular thing for anyone who wants to participate as part of an office-wide health program.

      Reply
  21. Kbug

    I have Ehler’s Danlos and spend a large portion of my life (it feels like at least) finding out of the way places to do odd exercises that put my bones back in place. Even my more “typical” moves often feel office inappropriate, so I have a network of back rooms, closets, offices and even a lactation room where I can be alone long enough to move. I feel you on the necessity of stretching, but I’d also be thrilled for permission to book a whole conference room!

    Reply
    1. (different) Rebecca

      Fellow EDSer here, and the need to say “just reseating one of my ribs, won’t be a mo…” is a distressingly frequent thing. *sigh* *zebra hoof bump*

      Reply
    2. TJ

      I imagine you could get an ADA accommodation for Ehler’s Danlos, though, if you couldn’t find a good place to do that.

      Reply
  22. Yoga Instructor

    OP 1: in addition to my day job I’m also a yoga instructor so I totally get the need for stretching. I agree that anything done on the floor is going to raise eyebrows but figure four, forward fold and even side bends/twists can be done while seated (it’s somewhat dependent on your range of mobility and the design of your chair).

    Instead of taking a full 10 minutes to stretch I’d suggest holding each postures for just 3-5 breaths and doing it a few times a day. Maybe once before lunch and once as a mid afternoon break. If you look up “office chair yoga” you’ll find lots of examples that can done without any props or straps that will feel great but look less conspicuous.

    I do wish more offices were more ok with kind of thing. Sitting all day is really hard your body so even just setting an alarm on your phone to get up for a midday walk around the block is great!

    Reply
  23. Lady Julian

    I do yoga, and it’s worth noting that many stretches/poses can be done at your chair, even. You can do a modified pigeon by crossing one ankle over the other knee and bending forward for instance, and you can do a modified cow/cat by alternately slumping and flexing your back. This way, you stretch but less conspicuously. :)

    Reply
  24. Recruit-o-Rama

    Yoga and stretching can include deep inhaling and exhaling and on top of the yoga strap and laying on the floor it would weird me out if my co-worker was doing it in our shared work space. I would almost feel like they were doing yoga AT me. Maybe he suggested the lunch room because people wouldn’t be a captive audience in the same way they are in a shared work space. Also, this is not an HR issue. If an employee came to HR with this complaint, I would expect HR to refer them to their manager.

    Reply
  25. Channel Z

    OP#3 I hope feel better after reading the comments, that you have support and it’s not just you over-reacting. Giving your notice for the end of your internship was a good suggestion, and it might help you in your own mind to detach and turn full focus to the job search. It might be worthwhile to have someone other than the manager give you a reference, because he may not respond favourably to your resignation, given your description of him.

    Reply
    1. RVA Cat

      There’s also the fact that OP 3 needs to get out before they internalize this company’s weird norms. My first real job was at a small, family-owned business and it took quite a while to unlearn the Ways of the Jerk Lord’s Fiefdom.

      Reply
      1. Noobtastic

        Second this! It’s important, not only for yourself, to unlearn the WOTJLF, but also for anyone who might be working under you in the future. You don’t want to become the Jerk Lord, after all.

        Reply
  26. Lowercase holly

    #5: multiple ways to apply
    Is this the company’s job page or an aggregate jobs board like indeed or monster? If an aggregator, the buttons might be the job board’s, but the company wants you to send the cover letter and resume.

    Reply
  27. Recruit-o-Rama

    On #5, my guess is that the company has a relatively new ATS and they are just cutting and pasting the same old job description (with the same old application process in it) into the new system. It’s surprisingly common for people to not even read the description they are using at all.

    Reply
  28. Murphy

    OP1: I’d go ahead and book the conference room. It’s not your fault that they’re reservable in 30 minute blocks and you only need 10 minutes. I think it would be a little weird outside of someone’s office or in the break area. If anyone questions the conference room, tell them that that’s what you were told to do.

    Reply
  29. AthenaC

    OP#1 – For what it’s worth, I think what you’re doing is perfect – finding an empty office reasonably out of view of most people to do your stretches. In my experience, it’s not all that rare for people to need to do some weird-looking stretches throughout the day as part of physical therapy or whatever, and they do just what you’re doing.

    Reply
  30. Tuckerman

    #2 The only other thing I’d consider is whether the employee was great before the “personal issues.” If he was dependable and easy to work with for a period of time, then experienced something awful and his behavior changed, I might still offer to give a reference, with the caveat that I’d mention his performance worsened towards the end due to a personal issue.

    Reply
  31. Falling Diphthong

    Re OP#2, why would someone very junior, who is leaving because they dislike the job, give two months notice? I understand long notice if you are on very good terms and leaving for outside reasons (moving for spouse’s job in June, going to school full-time starting in June, retiring in June, staying home once you have baby due in June). And I understand it if you don’t like your high-level job but recognize that finding and training a replacement will be time-consuming, so the long notice is a norm that preserves positive ties and your reputation.

    It seems like new grad engineered themselves into a situation where they could make things far worse with a long notice during which they intended to increasingly sulk, and grandboss correctly recognized the building blocks. But it’s a very odd choice.

    Reply
    1. MK

      Who knows what he was thining? Maybe he was starting some post-graduate course in 2 months, maybe that’s how long he thought it would take him to get a new job. And I get that someone who is leaving without another job lined up might be overly generous with notice time, not realising how difficult it’s going to be to stay motivated when you have one foot out the door. But he could have gone to the OP and said that.

      Reply
    2. Tuckerman

      I thought of the possibility that “personal issues” could mean something along the lines of a parent receiving a serious diagnosis, and the employee anticipating needing to step in as a full time caregiver in a couple months. I do think that the nature of the issue would affect how or whether I would give a reference.

      Reply
    3. Marillenbaum

      It does strike me as being somewhat odd. I mean, I gave about six weeks’ notice, as soon as I knew the start date for my grad program in DC, but I also felt a desire to give them a heads up because I worked very closely with my boss and we had a solid relationship. It worked out for us, because I had a couple of projects and some travel I needed to wrap up as well, and allowed me to save up a little more money for the move.

      Reply
    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      It could have been related to finding a new job or needing an income stream, as well.

      Reply
  32. Fawnly

    OP #1 – Do you make any audible noises while stretching? I ask because my cube partner does his daily stretches which are fine and dandy – except he grunts, moans, and roars (and I really mean roars) while he stretches. It’s very distracting and frankly it’s rude. I wish he’d do it in the break room, hah.

    Reply
    1. BadPlanning

      I imagine if your joins pop as you stretch a lot that could be irritating for others. Although that would be an argument for staying in a room — not for standing out by your peers.

      But now I’m happily imagining the roaring of your coworker stretching.

      Reply
    2. JustaTech

      Yeah, I don’t make noises when I stretch (except maybe a quiet “ahh” when something feels really good) but I would never, ever roll at work (with a foam roller or a tennis ball) because that hurts enough that I make all kinds of ridiculous squeaky sounds that no one else should have to hear (although my husband thinks they’re hilarious).

      I guess my rule of thumb would be “give your co-workers the option of ignoring you”.

      Reply
  33. Alli

    #1: I work for a company where we have regular break reminders pop up on our computers, and each one recommends some stretches. Most of these are a bit less intense than you describe, but still, stretching is great for workers and a forward-thinking company should realize that. Maybe consider booking a conference room if your boss is weird about it, but also consider telling him about the health benefits of stretching.

    Reply
  34. neverjaunty

    OP #4, did you actually tell them last time that is why you turned down the job? If so it sounds like you’re in a tough spot here. Talking about how you were mistaken before may very well come across as “but now that I really found this job I want, I’m willing to rationalize my principles away to get it” whether or not that is actually the case.

    If the issue comes up can you perhaps focus less on having thought badly of the company in the past, and more on the now? You’ve looked into what the company has done in the last few years and you’re impressed by their direction, they’ve got a great reputation in such and such a field, etc.

    Reply
    1. HR in the city

      I agree that focusing on the now is important. Just say very straight forward that you were influenced by news articles (which is part of the job of a good journalist) and didn’t know enough about how things actually work. I’m sure they will appreciate your honesty.

      I was also wondering about how you turned down the job- did you say it was just not a good fit or was it more of a political rant. I’m jut mentioning this because like Alison said it might be a deal breaker for them but I think that if you went with the generic “I don’t think it’s a good fit” they are more likely to listen to you now. But I think that if it was more of a political rant than you have less of a chance because they will probably remember you as the crazy political person. I say try it and see what happens because you never know what could happen but go in with proper expectations.

      Reply
    2. Creag an Tuire

      OP #4 might also get more of a “pass” if s/he was young and early in his/her career the first time around — which isn’t entirely fair but “I was young and idealistic, but experience has thought me that you have to work with all of the stakeholders to effectively accomplish the mission, etc.” is a common enough story.

      Reply
  35. ilikeaskamanager

    LW#4–I hope that a lot of job seekers will read this letter. I thank the OP for being honest about what happened and this letter offers a good learning lesson for job seekers. It’s very important to realize that we quite often do not have all the relevant information we need to draw conclusions like this one, and it is not necessary to share all of one’s thinking about why a job might not be a good fit.

    In face, it could be a good question to ask in an interview–“I looked at your 990 and saw that a large chunk of your funding comes from company XYZ and such, what kind of things do you do to maintain your autonomy with your research, etc? “

    Reply
    1. Allypopx

      That’s great phrasing for an interview question. If this bridge is burnt, I think that would be great for OP to keep in mind going forward, especially if this is still a concern for them on some level.

      Reply
  36. Nervous Accountant

    OP #2–I think you are incredibly considerate and nice for even thinking this way. I’m a lesser person–if it had been me, I would be fully willing to give an honest, unemotional and factual overview of what happened.

    If anyone thinks I’m cold or lacking empathy–I still remember what it was like to be desperate for a job and try to put 100% into anything I did. The skills may not have been up to par, but my effort and sincerity were there. A “F you” attitude isn’t welcome at any company.

    Reply
  37. Lauren

    #5 – I disagree with Alison about LinkedIn as it can be a direct line to the hiring manager similar to knowing their email address – but only if you choose the upload your resume option and if a person is listed as the job poster who is not HR. That means that it is the hiring manager that created the job post on LinkedIn using their own account. THAT person will get the email with your resume. To me, this is the best way to get your resume in front of the right person – all other options (online systems, emailing generic HR emails) seem to have a way to cull the resumes down (sometimes based on random biases) by someone that may not be in the department at all.

    Reply
    1. HR in the city

      You are wrong- companies are going to have an HR department that has worked closely with the department and hiring manager to recruit. Just because someone is not in the department doesn’t mean that they are making random biased decisions on whether someone gets passed through to the department. The department and hiring manager have other things to do and it’s usually part of the HR persons job to screen applications and get the best candidates to the department. When I have used LinkedIn for recruiting I have had issues getting anything that I could print or even getting contact information for an applicant. I used linked in when I was the HR department of 1 (along with all the other things I was supposed to do in my job as office manager) and I didn’t find it very user friendly as a recruiting tool and so I would never use it again. Also, no matter the size of a company they will follow EEO requirements and so they will try their hardest to make hiring decisions fairly without bias.

      Reply
      1. Lauren

        I said ‘sometimes’ includes bias. Recently I haven’t been getting many resumes for open positions in my department – so I have asked the HR team to send me everything from the last several months and I asked why they weren’t sent to me. Turns out they have removed resumes with the exact experience I am looking for – most due to 1-2 misspellings, a lot of them that only had 4 of the 5 years I had stated for experience, and one specifically for ‘we hired someone that worked there last year and they didn’t work out’.

        I could care less about a few misspelled words, I was annoyed about the rigidity of X years experience, but overall it was a good experience to have a conversation of what was more important in candidates for my team. The HR person assigned to my open reqs decided to just pass everything to me vs. screening. That works for my team, but won’t work for others who get 100s of applicants. Unfortunately, my experiences with HR screening resumes in my past 3 companies hasn’t worked the way it should work (ie. removing completely unqualified candidates – that have no experience in the field for a mid-level to senior job).

        The bias one – because one person didn’t work out who happened to work at the same company – that shouldn’t be a reason to disqualify a completely different person. I still don’t understand why that mattered to HR.

        Reply
  38. Sue Wilson

    #5: Honestly, for me it would depend on your experience. If 5 years ago, you were just out of college/grad school/didn’t have a lot of experience, I would chalk it up to naivete but good intentions. If you had a longer work history or more non-profit experience, I would question your critical thinking skills.

    Reply
  39. paul

    Stretching: at my work we all do some seated and/or standing stretches, but nothing on the floor. That would get some side-eye even here. The *only* time I’ve done anyting like that at work was when I was doing medically supervised rehab for a back injury and my therapist told me I should do those first thing in the morning, some time mid day and some time in the evening; I brought documentation to my boss and tried to just close my office door while I did em. But barring medical need, no, I wouldn’t.

    Also be careful on standing stretches. My height is *all* in my torso (6′ 1″ with 26″ inseams) and if I do the hands above the head on tip toes stretch, my shirt comes up well past my belly button. Not work appropriate really.

    Reply
  40. KarenD

    For OP # 5 (multiple ways to apply) I would also go with the format specifically requested in the job posting, because the manager who’s doing the hiring is probably the one who wrote the posting in the first place.

    A lot of companies don’t give individual hiring managers the ability to “opt out” of their online application process, even if it’s not suited for a particular job or even (as in one notable online system I have experienced) it’s just a terrible, horrible online system. A friend was forced to input her application in an online portal a few years back (for a job she essentially already had; she was just jumping through corporate hoops) and it was a nightmare of redirects and “whoops, that whole section wasn’t saved, gotta re-enter it.” It took hours to complete. And then her hiring manager showed her what the application looked like from their end and it was a mangled, well-nigh incomprehensible mess.

    My company’s online system is purpose-built for our industry so it’s not so bad — which is good because all our job postings automatically get that little “apply online” button as well.

    Reply
    1. HR in the city

      Yes- this!!!!! Not following instructions in the job posting (or if job posting isn’t clear- call) is usually the #1 way to get rejected. Also- if the company has an online system and its junk- mention it. Most likely the employees know and will be willing to help you through it. We have a good online system that was created in house but its not without its quirks. We will walk you through the whole thing.

      Reply
      1. KarenD

        Exactly. The people hiring her were very apologetic and unhappy about the hell she had to go through but their corporate HR required that the “itch” of the online application be scratched before anyone was formally hired.

        My favorite part was where she was supposed to upload examples of her design work. It gave a choice of several formats, .pdf being the most commonly used. Except that the system was somehow set to reject .pdf attachments until … get this … the third time the applicant tried. (Ironically, the header on that screen was “You seem to be having trouble.” ) They warned her about this; I can’t imagine how embarrassed they must have felt.

        So yeah, I could see someone saying “Apply this way, no matter what else it says elsewhere on this page” and if they were jerks about it, making that an exclusionary maneuver.

        Reply
  41. Amber Rose

    I am always suffering some sort of strain or pull or breakage or something, so I keep a supply of bands, heating pads and stretching diagrams in my cube. But nobody knows I stretch. There’s a lot you can do subtly at a desk. The only muscles I haven’t figured out how to move are around my ribs.

    Reply
    1. Noobtastic

      Try belly-dancing rib circles. You can move them horizontally and vertically, with practice, and as long as no one is looking at you right then, in the moment, you can be discreet.

      I say belly-dancing because I learned it from a belly-dancer, and you might want to ask a belly-dancer, especially a teacher, how to do it properly. Or someone else you knows how to do rib circles.

      It’s a good stretch, though.

      Reply
  42. Delta Delta

    Re – stretching: I wonder if there’s a way to spin this so that the OP could get other people stretching in office-appropriate stretches? Maybe find a local yoga instructor or ergonomics expert who could design a 10-minute stretch plan for the office. I’d phrase it to the director something like, “I understand my stretching is distracting. I find it really helpful, and I think it could help others, also. What if I find someone who can help us all?” Or something like that. Then it could be something discreet and helpful for everyone and more people benefit.

    FWIW, I went to law school with a woman who made an absolute production out of stretching during class. She had some legitimate physical issues where stretching benefitted her. When one of the deans finally talked to her about it she toned the stretches way down and did the more involved stuff between classes. Some people joined her for the between class sessions. It worked out.

    Reply
  43. Creag an Tuire

    Thinking on it, OP #2, I’m leaning towards “provide an honest reference, which would include the fact that employee did good work but checked out after he gave notice”. You’re being truthful, and if I’m on the other end of that call I may be more willing to take a chance on someone who committed a youthful violation of professional norms but has solid potential than someone whose manager won’t pick up the phone. (Especially since as his former manager you’re going to be a reference to the guy whether he lists you or not.)

    Reply
  44. Rachael

    OP#1: Unfortunately, stretching at work is very subjective. It is only as weird as the person watching who makes it weird. The only thing I, personally, would care about is if someone was making noise. However, there are A LOT of people who have issues when others do things that they consider “private” (see all the negative comments people left about public grooming in another post.)

    Unfortunately, you are not going to get away from those who are uncomfortable. You need to decide if you are going to be the “lunch room stretcher” or be clandestine and have to hide your stretching like a criminal. Another route you could go is to directly ask HR (or whoever is in charge of such things) if there is a place that can be designated for stretching. A lot of workplaces try to incorporate fitness. Maybe there is another empty office or corner of room that can be converted. If you presented it as a fitness benefit you may get the other stretchers who are living in fear to sign up with you.

    Reply
    1. Chickaletta

      Yes. It depends a lot on office culture.

      One time I was in a meeting where another person got down on the floor and started doing leg stretches (!). Everyone just ignored the fact that he was on the carpet and kept the meeting moving along, but it was weird, like he completely tone deaf to the atmosphere in the room. Everyone else was sitting in chairs, discussing business, and here was this guy who thought that was a good time to stretch his quads.

      I think it’s important to be aware of what’s considered normal in your office, and it sounds like turning a spare office into a yoga room isn’t going to fit in.

      Reply
      1. Rachael

        HA! In a meeting? Now, that is just a little weird. It’s not even that he was stretching, but that he was doing an activity during a meeting. Imagine me pulling out my hairbrush or texting. Weird.

        I did have a coworker who, when standing at people’s desks, would lift one of his legs up and stretch forward while taking to the person at the desk. However, we knew him well enough that we laughed at him and told him to do his “man stretches” at a different time. I think that some people just don’t get it? LOL.

        But in your case, depending on how well I knew that guy, I would have commented on his stretching during the meeting. I mean….WHAAAA?

        Reply
      2. gmg22

        “I think it’s important to be aware of what’s considered normal in your office, and it sounds like turning a spare office into a yoga room isn’t going to fit in.”

        But sometimes these situations present opportunities to change a workplace environment for the better — if that’s the case, why should employees just throw up their hands and say “oh well, office culture”? See post above re eventually persuading colleagues that bringing your own reusable coffee cup to work is environmentally friendly, not weird.

        Reply
  45. Tracy

    One thing to consider for the office stretcher is sound effects. In my last place of employment, which was very laid back and stretching was not a problem, one coworker used to emit loud groans while stretching in his chair. If you went around the side of the cubicle and could only hear and not see, you’d think you’d walked onto an adult movie set.

    Reply
  46. Sarah

    For OP1 – I would see if there are others in your office interested in stretching and then reserve a conference room for the group. An old office I used to work with actually brought in a personal trainer a few times a week to do 30 minutes of stretching over lunch, which was AMAZING. I’m not necessarily saying to ask for that (I’m sure it wasn’t cheap – that office was really generous!), but everyone could do their own thing for free and I think having it as a group activity would make it less “OP1 does this weird thing” and instead “Cool option anyone can take part in.” Plus, it would better justify reserving the conference room if there are multiple people participating as a group.

    I do agree with your manager that any sort of stretch that involves getting down on the floor or stretching to the extent that a yoga strap is needed is not super office-appropriate. But, there are probably other stretches you could do that could accomplish a lot of the same things without making people feel they are observing a yoga class while they’re on an important call!

    Reply
  47. Yorick

    I would occasionally go into the copy room and see a coworker I didn’t know well doing the downward dog pose. I have no problem with yoga in theory, but that was always the weirdest.

    Reply
  48. N

    OP1–in my office up until a few months ago I had a coworker who was very passionate about fitness and would do stretches while we were having meetings in the board room. Like, she would literally stand there, in the center of the room, and start stretching her quads and stuff. To me it always seemed kind of weird, and I had to wonder if she just wasn’t aware that it wasn’t appropriate in the moment, or if she was trying to show off. No one said anything to her, I think because she was a young, attractive woman, but I always thought that if it was, say, an older man who was spreading his legs and doing various poses in the board room, he would be getting a Talking To in a heartbeat.

    Reply
  49. hodie-hi

    Regarding #1, maybe you could see if anyone else is interested in stretching. If you get enough interest, you could see if it’s possible to formalize it with the company’s blessing.

    Where I work, there are formal 10-minute stretch sessions in cubicle land. They are lead by the person who runs our on-site fitness center, and happen at set times and locations. Everyone is welcome to join. I have not observed anyone lying on the floor.

    We also have free on-site instructor-lead yoga two days a week. Mats, straps, blocks, and yoga pants. It hasn’t gotten weird yet, and seems popular enough.

    Aside from that, we are all encouraged to stretch or walk routinely. We are lucky that the building is conducive to these activities.

    Reply
  50. Jill

    #1 Does your work place have any kind of Wellness program? If so, maybe speak to the coordinator about teaching a quick workday stretch class. We have one at my workplace. It’s a 15 minute class done during the normal lunch period so you can tag it onto the start of your lunchbreak or the end, depending on when you go. It’s all stretches that can be done right in your work clothes. Yoga mats are optional. And none of the moves are anything where you’d be pushing your rump into somoene’s face or exposing cleavage or other awkward positions. Just stretches that work the areas that often get stiff doing desk jobs. Maybe suggest it as something others can join in on and it won’t be seen as so weird?

    Reply
  51. emma2

    #1: It’s not weird to WANT to stretch at work, but it is weird to do it. (Trust me, I 100% understand the toll of sitting in front of a computer screen for hours.)

    Is there any chance you work close to a yoga studio or a fitness studio that offers yoga classes? A lot of studios specifically offer 30-minute “lunch-time yoga” classes designed to be in the middle of a work day (though it may tighten the amount of time it takes for you eat lunch and change back into work clothes.)

    Or just take a quick break outside your building and do some standing stretches.

    OR…you can initiate a lunch-time yoga session in your office. I know a lot of offices do this (as well as lunchtime walks.)

    Reply
  52. neverjaunty

    OP #2 – please do not enable the Turkey Shuffle. Not only is it unfair to the people who hire a bad employee, but it damages your own reputation and standing.

    “Potential” is just another way of saying someone isn’t any good right now, but might be later. And whether to take a chance on developing a new hire’s “potential” is something an employer should get to choose with open eyes.

    Reply
  53. Cassie

    OP #1 – I think stretching would be fine in many offices (as long as you’re out of view of clients/the public), but I think the figure 4 and other stretches on your back would be odd unless you were in your own office. Not someone else’s office, even if that someone else doesn’t exist yet. Presumably if you were in your own office, you could close your door. I assume you aren’t closing the door to this office (hence why your director saw you) – and if you did close the door, someone would probably check to see who’s inside and why the door was closed.

    If there’s enough room in the break room, I’d suggest going there. We have a couple of sofas in our break room so you could lie down to do stretches without lying down on the floor (ours are gross). Yes, you may have coworkers coming in and out of the room, but I don’t think they’d be too fazed by it. It’s a break room, after all.

    Seated figure 4s and other stretches are probably fine at your desk. I’ve been known to do toe rises and shoulder rolls while waiting for the copier :)

    Reply
  54. Noobtastic

    OP#1 – I will often do my stretches in the restroom. The handicapped accessible stall is big enough, and if no one needs to use it right then, there’s no problem with my using it, for a few minutes. My stretch breaks never lasted 10 minutes, but I’d take more of them, morning and afternoon. Of course, if you have someone who needs it frequently, you’ll either have to work out a schedule, or find some other place. It is private, and you don’t have to reserve it.

    Reply
  55. Noobtastic

    OP#3 – My sibling once told me about a job situation similar to this. There was a pool of “clerical workers” who were never assigned permanent desks, and they would race in every morning, to claim one of the spots available, and they’d go to great lengths to make sure they had a chair for the day (picture 10 workers and 8 chairs, at 6 desks). Also, while they were hanging onto the chair (if they managed to snag one that morning), for the day, they were responsible for scrounging up their own paperclips around the office. So, 10 workers, fighting over 8 chairs, 6 desks, and digging around in the other employees trash cans, and looking around the floor of the whole business, hoping to pick up a paperclip or two.

    When told that they would need to start stapling their papers, rather than paper-clipping them together (because clips sometimes latch onto other, nearby papers, and disattach from the original papers, or else attach unrelated papers to the original papers), my sibling asked about staplers and staples, and upon being told that they would NOT be issued either staplers or staples, my sibling promptly walked off the job, never to return. Scrounging on the floor for paper clips is bad enough, but digging old staples out of the carpet, and trying to bend them into shape, with your bare fingers, is another thing.

    Oddly enough, this happened years before Lemony Snicker and his Unfortunate Events. For all I know, the man worked at my sibling’s office, too.

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  56. Joe

    Reading all the comments here about #1, I find myself struggling to understand why so many people think it’s weird to stretch on the floor in the office, and more importantly, why so many people care. Even if this is an activity you would never do yourself, in what way does it detract from anyone else’s well-being? If I saw a coworker stretching on the floor, I’d want to make sure they weren’t doing it somewhere I would trip over them, but otherwise I wouldn’t be bothered by it at all. Similarly if a coworker were wearing a weird hat, were taking daily photos of the ceiling, or divided their lunch every day onto four separate plates based on color. None of these things impact the quality of their work in any way, nor their quality as a human being, and I don’t understand why we are condoning such a judgmental attitude over something that benefits the person and harms nobody.

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