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

A reader writes:

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

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

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

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

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

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 328 comments… read them below or add one }

          1. Falling Diphthong

            Sheer flabbergastery.

            There are people with whom I want to spend a week in a remote cabin, but I either married them or gave birth to them.

            Reply
            1. Red Reader

              And I don’t want to spend a week in a remote cabin with even the people I married or who gave birth to me.

              Reply
        1. Tardigrade

          I think brains sometimes auto-correct to something more sane, because an entire week is unimaginable and how could it actually say that?

          Reply
          1. JessaB

            Yes, I read weekend too, until I read the commentariat and realised that no the OP said WEEK as in at minimum five days and as much as 9 if you’re counting both weekends on the end. Gleep. Nope. Nopity so many nopes.

            Reply
        1. Yet Another Lawyer

          My boss has planned a rather similar cabin outing for later this year — and the dates include MY BIRTHDAY! He was un-phased when I told him how bad the timing was for me and stated that I was still expected to attend.

          Reply
          1. Lara

            Send him this thread. The mere idea of being stuck in the woods with coworkers for a week gives me the screaming heebie jeebies. And my coworkers are perfectly lovely people. Add in sharing a room? I’d literally rather quit my job.

            Reply
            1. NorthernSoutherner

              That’s it for me — the room sharing. Absolutely, unequivocally, no frickin way. Running into coworkers to and from the bathroom is bad enough, hoping no one can hear anything is bad enough, seeing coworkers first thing in the morning is bad enough, but letting a coworker in on my personal beddy-bye stuff? No way. Like, I snore, OK? You know that’s going to get around the office. This is a nightmare of such nightmarish proportions, I can’t even.

              Reply
              1. SarahTheEntwife

                Yes! I like almost all my coworkers. We get along really well and I consider many of them casual friends. But this is the sort of relationship that needs regular breaks from each other and no chance of seeing each other’s literal dirty laundry.

                Reply
        2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

          I once lived in what seemed like a remote cabin but was 5 minutes from a large populated city with all the amenities including a couple of well known hospitals (necessary for my medical issues.)
          It was truly the best of both worlds!

          Reply
      1. LouiseM

        Right?! I’m not pregnant, I just don’t want to spend any amount of time in the wilderness with my coworkers.

        Reply
        1. Augusta Sugarbean

          “Time In The Wilderness With My Coworkers” sounds like a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek movie about the end of the world. Would totally watch!

          [Actually, isn’t there a movie (maybe non-US?) about a company retreat that attendees think will be paintball but actually turns into people actually being killed?]

          Reply
          1. Augusta Sugarbean

            Just saw the comment below about Severance. Was there another one similar to that? I watched the trailer but it didn’t look familiar.

            Reply
          2. Artemesia

            I know someone whose FIL went on a retreat with a bunch of high powered executives to some remote location in Canada where several of them actually died in a rafting accident. Team building classic.

            Reply
              1. JeanLouiseFinch

                I think a firm that I worked for handled one of the insurance coverage cases that arose out of that. Happily, not me.

                Reply
    1. Bea W

      That’s as far as I got before screaming erupted in my head.

      What I find even more bizarre is that given the choice between sharing a cabin and a modern hotel with individual rooms, the OP is the only one strongly in favor of the hotel option.

      I don’t mind cabin retreats in general, but not with co-workers for an entire week! Oh hell no.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West

        A week in a remote cabin (electricity, please) with a madly-in-love-with-me hot boyfriend? I’d likely enjoy that. With coworkers, even for a weekend, whether I were pregnant or not? Hell to the no.

        Reply
    2. Kathy

      I would think the company would look at their liability. This is a perfect storm for someone to claim sexual harassment. Even something innocent could be misconstrued. How any company would think it is a good idea to have men and women employees share a cabin is beyond me.

      Reply
      1. Optimistic Prime

        I mean, I don’t think that’s the problem. Men and women are able to conduct themselves like adult human beings and stay together. I’ve stayed in co-ed living situations before where nothing untoward happened…and generally, sexual harassment isn’t “something innocent being misconstrued.”

        It’s more like who wants to share rooms locked in a remote location when they can just have their own room in a modern hotel that’s actually in civilization?

        Reply
      2. Lara

        It’s interesting that your mind went to someone *claiming* sexual harassment as opposed to actual sexual harassment occuring.

        Reply
  1. Stella70

    Does anyone else hear the theme song for “Deliverance” while reading this?
    Nope?
    Carry on.
    (BTW, I could be the most barren woman on the planet and I would never, ever, ever agree to this. And I love to camp!)

    Reply
    1. pope suburban

      There was a horror movie a few years back called “Severance” that was about a work retreat exactly like this. A bunch of co-workers in a big cabin in the remote scary woods. It does have some gore and jump scares, so fair warning for people who don’t like those things, but it’s also pretty darkly funny. It’s unfortunately the first thing I think of when I hear about a “rustic” company retreat in the woods now.

      Reply
      1. RVA Cat

        See above – my mind went straight to Cabin in the Woods.
        Whoever thought up this retreat needs to get gored by a unicorn.

        Reply
      1. Nea

        True, but it eliminates the perception that OP is just being annoying-while-pregnant instead of medically correct.

        Reply
        1. NorthernSoutherner

          If Bob in accounting had a medical condition that required he stay close to his doctor, it would be the resort in a heartbeat. When it’s a pregnancy, it’s immediately, oh the problem female who can’t keep up because she has two x chromosomes.
          That’s the reality, ladies. There’s no good way for the LW to demur, but I’d go for the doctor’s note too if I had to.

          Reply
          1. Specialk9

            Really? I’ve never had a single manager who wouldn’t back down immediately at pregnancy, and I’ve had some truly interesting managers. I feel like this may be going way too far out in ‘we women are so mistreated’ land, which is odd because that’s often my jam.

            Reply
    1. ket

      I bet she can say no without a doctor’s note — but she wants to keep doing the work. She wants to do the work without having to deal with night peeing, back pain, bringing 100 pillows to shape into a supportive nest for the belly and legs, downtime after work instead of non-stop socializing, a bit of time to do prenatal yoga or have half a beer without judgement or eat pickles and peanut butter or whatever crap helps without sharing all that TMI with coworkers. A doctor’s note doesn’t give her a door that closes so she can spent 20 minutes at 11 pm looking up stroller/travel systems or Bamboobies or diapers without everyone’s opinion on it.

      Reply
    2. LizM

      I was going to suggest this. When I was in my third trimester, my doctor didn’t really want me more than 2 hours for a hospital that had a labor and delivery ward and on-call OBs. She would have given me a note had I asked.

      Reply
      1. Hoya lawya

        It would also be advisable for OP to obtain a doctor’s note for liability reasons. If she obtains a note and the company still sends her, and if, God forbid, she suffered a complication at the cabin, that would be very strong evidence of negligence on the part of the company, and thus financial liability and punitives.

        HR probably knows this and would back down.

        Reply
        1. Wowza

          I got a doctor’s note toward the end of my high-risk pregnancy saying I should not leave my city. My boss told me (in an email!) that the doctor has no authority, only my boss gets to make those decisions! I quit as soon as I used up my maternity leave and got one month of severance pay, negotiated with the EEOC.

          Reply
    3. Purple Jello

      Okay, but what about the other person who’s not interested in going to a little cabin the the woods and is probably not pregnant?

      Reply
      1. tangerineRose

        I kind of hope that some of the others really don’t want to do this either and are just trying to go along with things. Because 1 week in a remote location?!

        Reply
          1. Stinky Socks

            None of these other people have children, for instance? Remote makes me think “No cell phone access.” I would be less than thrilled if Mr. Stinky Socks was out of touch for a week. Like this past week, when Stinky Jr. broke his wrist…

            Reply
            1. MsSolo

              I was just thinking that my colleagues with children would be the ones who jumped at this! Their partners maybe less so…

              Reply
  2. Js

    i cannot think of anything that would make me LESS productive than having to share rooms and bathrooms with colleagues, negotiate meals, etc.

    Reply
    1. SoCalHR

      I agree, the resort option (where meals/cleaning/etc, not to mention uninterrupted sleep) would be provided seems like a MUCH better solution is the goal is productivity versus team building.

      Reply
    2. jasmine

      Yeah, for an introvert like me it would be full-time stress with no way to get away from people to recharge. If only people could figure out how to get work done at the office so they wouldn’t have to go away on retreats…

      Reply
  3. Falling Diphthong

    Plus side, this is a good time to get a puppy. You’re already getting up to pee multiple times a night, so the puppy doing that is less frustrating.

    Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        I just took the puppy out whenever I was up to pee. (It was spring, so I wasn’t doing this in a snowstorm.) The puppy then got through the chewing-everything stage before the new baby achieved mobility and started crawling around chewing on all the things, so it worked out.

        Now that I think about it, there were a couple of years between “Intellectually we are going to stop trying for more children” and “Wow, I am old and now REALLY don’t want to get up in the night” and I think it was a sick dog who triggered that emotional realization.

        Reply
        1. JeanLouiseFinch

          …and when the baby was teething, there were plenty of perfectly good chew toys under the couches and tables!

          Reply
        1. mrs__peel

          My mother attempted this back in the ’80s, but fortunately decided to keep me and give the dog to a friend.

          Reply
        2. RVA Cat

          We socialized a litter of four kittens while I was on maternity leave. Let’s just say my kiddo has a good immune system.

          Reply
    1. FrontRangeOy

      All the NOPE!

      I refused to let a puppy into the house until my youngest child was thoroughly potty trained. And then we got an older puppy who was already partially house trained and could go about 4 to 6 hours before needing a walk. Real, walking about the neighborhood walks for pre school children and puppy alike. That worked.

      Reply
  4. Seriously?

    That sounds pretty terrible. I am having trouble picturing why so many people would prefer cabin with shared room to hotel with individual rooms.

    Reply
    1. Little Bean

      I’ve actually done something like this and it wasn’t terrible at all – in fact, I had a really good time. I applied to participate in a management retreat through my company, which included staying several days at a mountain retreat (I wouldn’t call it remote – it was right next to a town but probably about an hour from a major city). There were shared rooms and I didn’t know my roommate prior to arrival. We worked all day, but there was a pool and hot tub to hang out at night, and I did manage to fit in one short hike during a break. I got to explore an area of my state I’d never been to before, and it felt almost like a mini vacation. I didn’t know anyone prior to arrival but met a lot of people and honestly think I bonded more with them because we were separated from the rest of the world. I get that this isn’t going to be for everyone but I’m honestly surprised that all of the comments so far seem vehemently against it. I would totally do something like this again.

      Reply
      1. Nothing in the middle of the road but dead armadillos

        “there was a pool and hot tub to hang out at night”

        Nope, nuh-uh, not happening.

        Reply
      2. Friday

        I would actually have done something like this willingly back when I was new in my career and had no spouse or kids. But now? A week away from them is a straight-up hardship and definitely would influence a Nay vote from me on any future job choice.

        I do however know working professionals who manage just fine to have one of them traveling for a week or so for work, but they have A. money and B. lots of company flexibility to manage two traveling parents of small kids.

        Reply
      3. Mayati

        It sounds like it might be fun if it’s opt-in. But a week of Mandatory Fun Time with people you already see every day? Noooooope.

        Reply
      4. Parenthetically

        Well, the main difference to me is that you signed up for it! A compulsory, week-long work retreat while pregnant sounds awful to me.

        Reply
        1. Matilda Jefferies

          Yes! And not only did Little Bean “opt in,” but everybody else there did as well. So it was an entirely self-selected group, where everyone who was there, was there because they wanted to be. Of course you’re going to have fun in a situation like that!

          Reply
      5. Liane

        I am so glad it wasn’t an issue for you but–
        **Were you PREGNANT at the time of your retreat?!?!??!**
        In case my voice went above the human hearing range, “Were you pregnant at the time of your retreat?!” (or dealing with some other issue that doesn’t play nicely with the whole “remote cabin retreat” sitch)

        Okay, maybe I should just kindly assume you missed the repeated use of “pregnant” by both OP and Alison…

        Reply
        1. Hmmm

          I mean, it’s possible they didn’t understand why *everyone* was so against it, assuming all of us readers aren’t pregnant right now :)

          Reply
          1. Little Bean

            This was my point exactly. I completely understand why the OP doesn’t want to do this, and why many other people wouldn’t. But some of the commentors seemed to be implying that NO ONE would want to do this and it’s ALWAYS a terrible idea, so I was just providing the counter point that some people would enjoy this type of work event. But obviously not everyone, so it shouldn’t be mandatory.

            Reply
            1. Observer

              Well, there are so many reasons why people have serious issues with something like this that it IS *always* a bad idea to make something like this mandatory or to penalize someone who can’t / won’t join in.

              Reply
            2. tangerineRose

              That makes sense. I don’t want to have a roommate, and the “remote” would be a problem. Having a nearby town would help, but…

              Reply
            3. Mad Baggins

              I think surely some people want to do this, but soooo many people would be against it that any mandatory retreat, especially in a remote location, especially with shared bed/bathrooms, should be seriously reconsidered. Even if you don’t have a pregnant employee, you might have that LW who didn’t want to share a room with Darth Vader in a sleep mask. Or other LWs who have written in about travel hardships due to pets, breastfeeding, childcare, being overweight or having a disability and requiring accommodations, or just plain not liking camping and spending all waking hours with coworkers.

              Even if it was opt-in, if my company were considering doing a retreat it would show me they’re not considering the above and that I would have to self-select out of future team building activities. How would that affect my relationship with coworkers? I’d seriously worry about whether it was a good culture fit. So if this is your thing, I’d take it private rather than risk losing employees over it.

              Reply
        2. Guacamole Bob

          Also, people’s experiences of pregnancy vary wildly, both emotionally and physically. I went to South America for a week for a grad school practicum when I was about 4-5 months pregnant and shared a hotel room with a classmate. My doctor cleared it, and it was fine. More exhausting than the trip would normally have been, and the flights were pretty unpleasant, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I really wanted to make it work. It was my choice, though, and if I were told I had to go to a retreat like this for work I’d object pretty strongly.

          OP doesn’t say how far along she was at the time of the letter, but that may also factor in. Early in my pregnancy I was fine with being away from my health care provider – I went camping and hiking in a national park, left the country a couple of times, etc. Some women feel too sick at that time of the pregnancy for that to be an option, so I was lucky. But in the third trimester, given that I had a couple of preterm labor scares? No way would I go to a remote cabin where I couldn’t easily get to my regular doctor.

          This particular OP doesn’t feel comfortable about this particular plan, and that’s fine and she definitely shouldn’t have to go. But to react as if it’s a total outrage that anyone would think it was okay to even suggest it because of the pregnancy does a disservice to pregnant women, many of whom are tired of being left out of normal activities by people who assume that they can’t do perfectly normal things because of the pregnancy.

          Reply
          1. Code Monkey, the SQL

            You make a good point Bob. One person’s “I’d be fine early in the pregnancy, but not when it gets closer to date,” is another person’s “HiHo Hyperemesis Gravidarium, I am not doing anything but my exact job tyvm,” and still another person’s “I’m fine! Just don’t make me go hiking.” Choice is important.

            It comes down to: if the company wants this to be an effective retreat, they need to *listen* when someone raises a concern, especially one that’s medically related.

            Reply
          2. Mel

            I very much agree that women should be able to do whatever they feel up to during pregnancy.

            One of my favorite memories during my pregnancy with my son was arguing with my female graduate advisor over how heavy 30 pounds is. I thought she was going to assign an undergraduate to pre-weigh everything I touched…

            Having said that, a previously uncomplicated pregnancy can suddenly require immediate medical attention. During my pregnancy with my son, I developed pain around my navel that I couldn’t get to go away one night. Hoping that my OB would tell me that I was simply having gas pains, I called the practice at 2am. The OB on call kindly asked me to go to a hospital to be checked out since I was a first-time mom and had never had a contraction to compare it with. I felt like an idiot, but went.

            No contractions – but it turns out I was critically ill.

            My blood pressure was at 206/115. My BP 10 days before had been 106/70. The hospital ran a blood test and found that in addition to severe pre-eclampsia I had developed HELLP syndrome which means my liver was hyperactive and had destroyed most of my red blood cells and platelets. The only treatment was to deliver my son at 26w 3 days. I believe he’s alive today because the OB/GYNs managed to keep me stable enough to get 28 hours of prenatal steroid exposure for Spawn – and he still had lung damage severe enough to spend his first 11 months on oxygen.

            My experience was very, very rare – but I can see why a pregnant woman may feel extremely uncomfortable being a long distance from a hospital even during the first or second trimester of an easy pregnancy.

            Reply
            1. Geillis D.

              Hello, fellow HELLPer. Had two micropreemies, the youngest one at 26w5d. What a rough start for both of you. I’m a huge proponent of modern medicine and would not consider being further than 20 minutes from a hospital when pregnant, maybe an hour away at all other times.

              Reply
          3. tangerineRose

            For legal/safety reasons, I wouldn’t want to be too far from emergency services even if no one is pregnant, and everyone seems to be in good health. What if someone breaks a leg?

            Reply
            1. Wintermute

              breaks a leg, previously unknown allergy either food or sting-related, sudden illness…

              There’s a reason that no one should be coerced into these kinds of things, because they recommend if you’re spending significant time far from medical care that you are up to date on your medical checkups and no one should have to disclose a non-work-relevant disability or risk factor to their boss because their boss decided it would be fun to re-enact the first act of every slasher movie ever.

              Also, I don’t have high faith in most companies that think this kind of thing is a good idea to take seriously the fact that you need contingency plans and emergency supplies: groups that self-select for this kind of thing are likely to be all in reasonable physical fitness, and because they have an interest in woodsmanship and the outdoors have things like wilderness first aid and survival training, they’re also likely to take safety planning seriously. Two things amateur non-hobbiests often forget when planning wilderness excursions.

              And then in the event something goes a little wrong a series of predictable bad decisions takes things from “a little wrong” to “the good news is you’re getting a movie made about your life on the Weather Channel, the bad news is your loved ones can’t agree who will play you.”

              Reply
        3. Wendy Darling

          I am not pregnant but I would still push back HARD if I was asked to spend a week in a remote cabin for a work function. I hate rooming with strangers. I am a major introvert and after spending all day with work people if I have to sleep in a room with them too I am at high risk for an emotional exhaustion meltdown. Nature and I do not get along (I have asthma and am allergic to basically all known types of grass and tree pollen). I hate hiking. The idea of wearing a swimsuit in front of coworkers makes me want to sink into the center of the earth. What if I had to *change clothes* in front of them???

          The entire scenario is basically my personal nightmare, even ignoring the pregnancy factor and including Little Bean’s “upsides”.

          Reply
      6. OlympiasEpiriot

        Not with people I work with. Not when I was 19 and not now at 50+.

        I worked on a boat for a while. I could definitely do that again. Close quarters and all, but, no one insists on “bonding”; we have drills instead. No one is expected to be friends, just watch each other’s backs.

        Reply
      7. Observer

        A pool and hot tub with a co-ed team? Well, some people are going to have a real problem with that. For some it’s just discomfort, especially if they don’t know the team. For others, it’s a religious issue. Which, aside from the potential legal issues, is just a stupid thing to do.

        Aside from that, there are two major sets of issues with stuff like this. One is that there are a surprisingly large number of people with issues that are normally no big deal but which can be extremely difficult to accommodate in this type of setting. The other set is around the potential for boundary crossing and the privacy violations.

        Reply
        1. CMDRBNA

          I definitely have a problem with this – I am 100% not comfortable being around my coworkers in anything more revealing that my normal business clothes.

          Reply
        2. paul

          If they want to get to know each other, I promise they’d learn more than they want to about me once I’ve had 3-4 drinks and I’m soaking in a hot tub :)

          Reply
        3. Cordoba

          Unless the pool and hot tub are compulsory I don’t see the issue with it being available and used.

          Yes, if they were having meetings in the hot tub that’s a problem.

          But it sounds like “a pool and hot tub existed at this location, and some people chose to hang out at or in them” which sounds reasonable.

          If I go on a work retreat and the facility has a pool and hot tub I am very likely going to use them, perhaps even with a group of others who are doing so of their own volition. Those with religious issues or discomfort are welcome to do something else. Is this not a valid approach?

          Do you propose that employers not book events at places with pools or hot tubs, or that they forbid employees for using these features for the duration of the event?

          Reply
          1. That Would Be a Good Band Name

            I think the bigger issue is that in a cabin, you can’t avoid seeing those in use. In a hotel you don’t usually have to walk past those to get to your room, so if you don’t want to see your coworkers in swimwear you don’t have to.

            Reply
            1. Cordoba

              I think that depends on the layout of the specific hotel/campgroup/whatever, but if the concern about a pool at a company event is that somebody not using the pool might walk past it and inadvertently see a colleague in their swimsuit I don’t think I’d be inclined to change the plan because of it.

              I also don’t see how a co-worker on their way to the shuffleboard court seeing me go off the high dive in a swimsuit can lead to “potential legal issues” and “privacy violations” that Observer mentioned. I suspect they’re picturing another scenario.

              Reply
            2. Beth

              Seeing people in a pool in swimwear isn’t exactly a violation of professional norms, though. The people swimming are dressed appropriately for what they’re doing, and anyone else can choose to avert their eyes or avoid the pool area if they so wish. Working with someone doesn’t generally come with a guarantee that you’ll never see them in a bathing suit.

              Reply
              1. Observer

                Which is fine. But it’s not fair to push people into behavior that pushes their boundaries when it’s really not necessary for work.

                Reply
          2. Observer

            No. I’m proposing that employers don’t set up events where people are *stuck* participating in these activities. The way this retreat was described, it sounds like “work all day, hang at the pool and hot tub in the evening” with no other real options.

            If they were at a decent resort, it would be different because those places have lots of options. A cabin as described generally doesn’t.

            Reply
      8. CoveredInBees

        I could see this working well for me with the right people because I’d happily go to remote cabin for fun. Still, I can see it being awful for me if I’d gone with a certain previous employer. Except for the shared room. I need quiet time alone first thing in the morning and at random points during the day.

        Reply
      9. paul

        I think it’s against being forced to do this. It’s one thing to sign up for an opportunity, it’s another to be told “hey you’re going to do this thing that’s only tangentially related to your main functions, and it’ll be a week away from home. Oh, and you share a room with a coworker.”

        And bluntly: I like my kids and my wife a hell of a lot more than I like my favorite coworker.

        Reply
      10. Sienna S.

        I’m not pregnant, but having multiple chronic illnesses that can make regular day-to-day life miserable (ESPECIALLY when I’m far away from modern comfort) would make a remote cabin trip in general not fun. Add to that the additional stress of trying to maintain a professional demeanor with colleagues 24/7 instead of just a few hours a day, along with having to share chores/cleaning/cooking responsibilities AND try to get work done… and well you just have a recipe for a very uncomfortable, possibly flare-riddled experience.

        It’s cool that some people dig that kind of thing, but for a work retreat it really has to work for EVERYONE to really, well.. work out.

        Reply
        1. Kate 2

          My coworkers are nice people, but impossible as it is when it comes to keeping the breakroom clean enough to be usable. Do I want to live with these people for a week? HELL NO!

          Reply
      11. Bea W

        I’ve done fun weekend trips with co-workers like this, hot tub included, but a week to do my normal work that normally gets done in the office and not for a special conference or skill building? Nope.

        A few times when teams at my work felt they needed an uninterrupted few days to churn something out, they’d book a conference room at a local hotel or in the building with catered meals.

        Reply
      12. Artemesia

        I did this sort of thing, although not for a full week, when I was young; as an OLD, nope nope nope. And when pretty far pregnant, it would have been a nope as well.

        Reply
      13. AdAgencyChick

        NO THANK YOU NOPE NOPE NOPE.

        Never been pregnant either. Just deeply introverted. At the end of a workday, I want to NOT be around other people, with the exception of my husband and a few carefully curated others.

        Something like this would NOT give me warm fuzzies toward my team. It would make me bat-poo crazy.

        Reply
        1. Tricksy Hobbit

          +1000

          I enjoy camping, but I NEED my alone time. It would also depend on the coworkers, some of them I could handle doing this with them, others not so much.

          Reply
      14. Little Bean

        I’m not trying to convince everyone that they should love cabins too, or saying that you’re wrong for not wanting to go to one. I’m just responding to Seriously?’s comment that they can’t believe people would prefer the cabin. Some people would prefer the cabin. Obviously we’re in the minority on this post but we exist.

        Reply
        1. OlympiasEpiriot

          My general impression is not that everyone’s opposed to cabins at all times, but a self-catering cabin with shared rooms with people you don’t handpicked to travel with is not conducive to a useful and deal-able working environment. People who don’t like cabins are putting that up front and center; but, people like me who do winter solos in northern Canada ALSO are opposed because this is something that is not efficient for work. Wifi? Old documentation that might need to be referred to? Quiet private places to sleep? Not having to let all your coworkers know if your guts decide to rebel?

          And then, there’s the fairness aspect to people who have commitments outside of work, medical issues, or just like to recharge w/o others. I mean, I’m an extrovert, but, lots of people aren’t and would be overwhelmed by that much togetherness. You want people to work off site? Flexibility is key. I’m not fond of resorts, either, but they are way more flexible. Still doesn’t solve the access to old documentation issue, might not solve a secure Wifi issue, but it would help some of the others.

          Reply
      15. JeanLouiseFinch

        My roommate and people in the adjacent rooms would all need to be stone deaf because my husband says I snore really loudly. Also I would need to share a room with someone who knows how to detect and treat really bad episodes of low blood sugar.

        Reply
      16. teclatrans

        Also, what you are describing does not sound like a working retreat with coworkers. The dynamics of literally never getting time away from your coworkers, and of working intensely with them all week to make a breakthrough, is fundamentally different from going to an event with strangers or near-strangers and going through training.

        Reply
    2. Friday

      Small, homogeneous company with lack of diversity so many of the team are samesies on what they think of are fun experiences?

      Reply
    3. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

      The only thing I can think of is that the employees would have to pay something out-of-pocket – maybe they have to pay the entire cost of lodging no matter which option they choose, or the company will only pay for the cost of the cabin and employees would have to pay the difference between that and the resort if they choose the resort. (This is assuming that the cabin would be much less expensive.)

      Reply
    4. Nye

      I would much prefer the cabin to a resort, personally. (We do exist!) Being closer to nature and outside activities, in an informal setting with a kitchen, is 100% more my speed than some generic bed-in-a-box hotel room where I would have to eat out for the whole week. I also think a shared cabin is much more of a retreat-like setting and is better for team-building and collaboration.

      That said, I would obviously prefer to suck it up and stay in a resort than strong-arm a pregnant coworker into a remote cabin situation!

      Reply
      1. Engineer Girl

        I love cabins.

        Unfortunately, cabins mean cooking. I would not want to cook after an entire day of brainstorming. My dinner would be a PBJ sandwich. I’d also like a private area to decompress after an intensive activity like brainstorming.

        For these reasons I’d be pushing for a resort with a separate room and a nice buffet. Preferably with a dining patio.

        Reply
        1. teclatrans

          Yeah, I think the nature of the project matters. This isn’t just — or even primarily– team building, and it is likely to be exhausting and run all hours of the day and even evening. While it’s probably beneficial for the project to have people thinking about it nonstop even through social gatherings, it’s asking a LOT of people who are not, say, the cofounders of a startup. I can *maybe* see throwing in for a weekend of this if travel time wasn’t too exorbitant and if there is some creative component that needs the blood, sweat, and tears…and also if I were a couple of decades younger and was okay with work being my Life.

          Reply
      2. nonymous

        > Being closer to nature and outside activities, in an informal setting with a kitchen, is 100% more my speed than some generic bed-in-a-box hotel room where I would have to eat out for the whole week.

        tbf, when I think resort for a work conference, I am thinking more along the lines of the (San Antonio) Marriott Hill Country and not the downtown airporter. Plenty of ad-hoc outdoor activities and healthy food choices (albeit incredibly overpriced – but hey! company’s dime), without having to do the legwork of tidying up.

        Reply
        1. Nye

          I’m thinking of the same kind of hotel you are. Better than an airport hotel, still way less appealing to me than a cabin. (I recently stayed at a fancy oceanfront resort for a conference, and while it was lovely, it’s just not my favorite type of travel accommodation.)

          Reply
          1. Observer

            The problem is that you are conflating your personal time with work collaboration. Different things. For myself – yes, having a kitchen and being able to cook is GREAT. In a work setting, with a group of people I didn’t choose? That’s a recipe for disaster 9 time out of 10. Because people have different standards of cleanliness, different food tastes and needs, different ways of working. And you have to learn and navigate all of the when your are trying to get a major project done AND while needing to be “on” all. the. time. No time to yourself, no time to recharge, no time to decompress, no time to let off steam or calm down if something upset you. That can turn ugly really, really quickly even for extroverts.

            Reply
            1. Nye

              I appreciate that many wouldn’t enjoy the cabin retreat for work. I also agree that it’s not a great option for many workplaces. But I am not conflating personal with professional travel when I say that I would prefer the cabin in this situation.

              For reference, I have been on work trips in much closer quarters than the cabin described, and it has always been a tremendous and highly productive experience. (Notably, one such time was an oceanographic cruise where I had a bunk in a tiny shared cabin for 2 weeks in the middle of the ocean on a 250′ ship with 45 other people.) This type of close-quarters work travel is not for everyone, but please don’t assume that means is isn’t for anyone.

              Reply
      3. MsSolo

        I’d prefer it too, and for similar reasons. We’ve done plenty of hotel type meetings at work, and the evenings are either “everyone goes drinking heavily” or “everyone sits in their hotel rooms watching netflix on their tiny laptop screens”. Something retreatish that involves non-alcoholic socialising, like cooking together or going for a hike, is much more flexible and relaxing. However, it’s definitely more of a teambuilding opt-in type event, rather than a everyone-must-focus-on-the-project-and-have-a-breakthrough type event.

        Reply
    5. Scarlet

      Yeah, I really don’t understand that at all. If there was no alternative, I can see how people would just grin and bear it. But you have a choice between a proper hotel with individual rooms and room sharing in an isolated cabin and most people choose the cabin????
      I’m wondering about the demographics. Maybe most employees are very young and would like to re-capture the summer camp vibe (feels very weird to me, but I heard that’s a thing). Or maybe the cabin aligns more closely with the “corporate culture” and people feel they’re expected to go with the cabin option.

      Reply
  5. LouiseM

    This reminds me of the letter about someone who didn’t want to go on a Scandinavian camping retreat for work…but that was at least optional!

    Speaking just for myself, I wouldn’t want to go offsite for a week for any non-essential purpose (and “brainstorming” does not count). I really value my home life and work-life balance. There are probably more like me on your team, OP, who would appreciate it if you spoke up.

    Reply
    1. ZK

      I mean, I could see off-site if it was book a conference room in a local hotel for the week and everyone goes home at the end of the day, but 24/7 with my co-workers? No. Big NO. I am an extremely poor sleeper and get up multiple times in the night. I also know I snore, loudly. Thank goodness my husband sleeps like the dead, so none of that bothers him. But it would be just mean to subject a co-worker to that.

      Reply
    2. GRA

      Whoever recommended “Force of Nature” by Jane Harper on that thread – THANK YOU! It was a good read, and I think this OP should get a copy for her co-workers who view this trip as a good idea …

      Reply
    3. Wendy Darling

      My last employer had employees scattered all over several countries but was based in my city, and held the annual 3-day company meeting 35 minutes from my house. Despite living within easy commute distance of the meeting I was required to stay in the hotel for the entire 3 days.

      The company paid for my parking and hotel room but I still had to find someone to look after my dog for 3 days and upend my entire normal schedule just because they felt it was somehow better for me to stay in a hotel instead of my house. My boss explained that I would be “too tired” if I drove back and forth — joke was on her, I sleep like crap in new places and my hotel room overlooked the train tracks.

      Reply
      1. teclatrans

        This is my biggest reason for hating hotels. It takes days before my nervous system figures out that I am safe and can stand down. I still would take that over shared rooms in a cabin. (Individual rooms? That might be a tossup.)

        Reply
        1. Quoth the Raven

          I always, without fail, have nightmares the first night sleeping somewhere that’s new to me, whether it is a hotel room or if I’m spending the night at a friend’s place.

          Reply
        2. Happy Lurker

          Yes, me too. About day 3 I am so exhausted from a lack of sleep I collapse about dinner time. I cannot even imagine a week of shared rooms. I would never sleep and my work would be terrible.

          Reply
      2. Database Developer Dude

        Wendy, how would your boss have enforced that? As long as you’re where you need to be in the morning, once the evening comes, is there bedcheck?

        Reply
  6. Engineer Girl

    This is where everyone needs to read “Democracy in America” by Alexis de Tocqueville. Specific attention needs to go to the “Tyranny of the Majority”. It talks about the problems with majority rule and how it can disenfranchise the minority viewpoint.

    The best (and more difficult) solution is to find a way where both sets of needs can be met. In this case it wouldn’t be hard – a rustic theme accommodation with modern amenities with easy access to medical.

    Does it take more work? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes!

    Majority rule (too bad, so sad) is for the lazy.

    Reply
    1. BenAdminGeek

      agreed- otherwise we’d all wear jeans every day and eat pizza for every meal. Majority rule is not ideal.

      Reply
      1. Teapot Tester

        You make jeans at work sound like it’s not ideal, why is that? I have worked in software my entire career where jeans have always been the norm.

        Reply
        1. GG Two shoes

          Not OP, but for me, jeans are less comfortable than my work clothes. I can wear jeans to work but I got about half and half with jeans and dress pants.

          Reply
        2. Myrin

          I don’t think they were specifically talking about work? I’m not sure, though.
          (For me personally, jeans are by far the most uncomfortable kinds of trousers I own; every suit I’ve ever worn had more comfortable and flexible trousers than my jeans generally are. I also look way better in them. I seem to be an outlier in that regard, though.)

          Reply
  7. Lisa Babs

    Could there be a third option? Instead of a cabin in the woods and a resort with other people. Could there be something in the middle. Like a small bed and breakfast the company could rent out. It has the homey getaway feel. But you still can get your own bedroom and not be in the middle of nowhere. Plus someone would make your meals so there is more focus on work. It “might” be a compromise to get the other people on board.

    BUT I do agree with Alison that keep saying “I can’t” is the best approach. But sometimes it’s good to have another option in your back pocket if you get push back on why the rest of the team “can’t” do a resort.

    Reply
    1. Jessie the First (or second)

      An entire week is a big ask, regardless the location and type of accommodation. Sure, some jobs involve travel and a week would not be a big deal. But for lots of people in lots of jobs, a week is unexpected and a problem.

      A lot of people have very specifically signed up for jobs that don’t involve travel, and so are not equipped for such long trips. Some have health concerns that are not amenable to B&Bs or hotels; some have family obligations (LOTS of us probably do); some may have 2nd jobs; some may simply have strong personal preferences. This is a “hey let’s all spend 24/7 together so we can brainstorm and really get this project moving,” which frankly is not a compelling reason in my mind to upend all my family arrangements and childcare issues.

      (I mean, I literally could not do it, because of complicated family health issues, which is why I’m in a job that does not require travel. I would actually simply leave a job that refused to take my “No, I can’t go away for a week to brainstorm” response.)

      Reply
      1. Lisa Babs

        I hear you Jessie. I wouldn’t want to be away for a whole week from work anyways, not alone pregnant. BUT the OP didn’t seem to have the same concern about going away for a week that you or me would have. She just stated not wanting shared rooms/bathrooms and not being near a hospital.

        Reply
  8. Margo the Destroyer

    Who in their right mind would choose a remote cabin sharing rooms over a resort? Thats not a comparison at all, take the resort. You get a room for yourself, and probably some pretty decent food.

    Reply
    1. Little Bean

      I would totally choose a remote cabin over a resort. I would rather be closer to nature and cook my own food than stay in a hotel, any day. I get that not everyone would make this choice and I especially understand that the letter writer’s pregnancy affects her choice, but I don’t think it’s obvious that everyone would(should) prefer a resort, as you seem to be implying.

      Reply
      1. Nothing in the middle of the road but dead armadillos

        For a personal vacation, I’m right there with you Little Bean. For a work trip? No way would I find cooking with my coworkers (Boss? Direct Reports) relaxing.

        Reply
        1. k.k

          Agree. With family or friends, the cabin sounds fine. But if I’m on a work trip, I want to be in professional mode which means modern amenities to make myself presentable and no one seeing me in my pajamas.

          Reply
        2. OlympiasEpiriot

          Absolutely.

          And I go remote backwoods canoeing for fun and have wilderness first responder certification.

          Unless my job requires me to be somewhere remote to do it (running seismograph tests in remote part of Alaska? or taking soil samples by Hudson Bay?) I am not going to go to a remote cabin w/o catered food, cleaning and my own bathroom with random fellow workers. For one thing, ime, 95 percent AT BEST don’t have my skill set and if anything goes pear-shaped, I’ll have to clean up the mess w/o additional compensation, plu, there’s my Watchdog instincts kicking in and I won’t be able to concentrate on my job.

          Plus, none of us get any kind of a break from each other.

          Bah.

          Reply
        3. Long Time Reader, First Time Poster

          Yup yup yup. I freaking looooooove camping, cooking with my friends is a favorite activity, I’d adore a week in a cabin. BUT not with my co-workers!!! That sounds like a nightmare and I’d probably get canned because I’d lose my mind on someone by the second day of 24/7 togetherness.

          Reply
          1. Long Time Reader, First Time Poster

            Also, I can guarantee that a bunch of dude bros in a cabin are going to want to booze up on this trip. That’s super extra fun to be around when you’re the lone preggo chick.

            Reply
        4. Khlovia

          Yeah, no. I’m either “Serve me!” or “Get out of ‘my’ kitchen and I’ll play short-order cook for the lot of you, but no co-cooks underfoot please!” I’m retired and nothing like this ever came up during my employed years, but if this is supposed to be a team-building exercise it strikes me as ill-conceived.

          Reply
      2. Margo the Destroyer

        I am more of a hotel and room service kind of girl. I have never been camping and even church camp growing up had air conditioned cabins, so I have been spoiled. But vacationing to me is going to even bigger cities, have never been one to enjoy nature. But I meant more for a work trip and mores for her. The resort might even have a spa so she could take this a little pre baby relaxation trip.

        Reply
      3. Nye

        Co-signed. I’m just not a resort person and it would make me pretty grumpy to have to stay in one for a week. (But I also co-sign that I would never force a pregnant coworker into the cabin situation just so I could have a nicer time.)

        Reply
      4. Erin

        I love camping, but that is how I let my hair down have a couple beers and some s’mores and relax. I would be against this if it was for work. Because I need that separation from work to private life. Camping and work are not to be combined.

        Reply
    2. Bagpuss

      IT’s the room sharing part which would be the issue for me.
      The cabin would not be my first choice for a personal trip, but it would be do-able*, but not if it involved sharing a room.

      (*well, depending just *how* remote it was. I have some medical issues including at least one life-threatening allergy, “How long would it take to get an ambulance there in an emergency?” would be on my mind!)

      Reply
    3. Happy Lurker

      I am not sure what kind of cabin this is, but I keep thinking about the work aspect. Is everyone sitting around a table under a dim antler chandelier to brainstorm or are they sitting on the buffalo plaid check futon trying to take notes?
      When I am working and/or brainstorming I have a hard time doing so without appropriate work equipment. I like to sit comfortably and appropriately. I can’t sit on a sofa and type. Sure, I can write notes on my back porch or at my kitchen table, but with a bunch of coworkers it gets a little tight.

      Reply
  9. Irene Adler

    The work group is slated to hold a week long session in a cabin to work out the details on a product redesign-right? But, wouldn’t that put everyone far away from the work tools needed to do a redesign? Seems counterproductive to me.
    I get that the redesign calls for some long hours together for the employees, but again, away from the work tools, reference items, etc. that might be needed? Yes, laptops work anywhere, and I’m betting WiFi is assured at the cabin, but what about all the things one needs to look up that are at work- prior designs, specs, drawings not contained in any computerized format, mock-ups, old documents, etc.?

    Sounds like someone just wants their mountain vacation subsidized by work. Otherwise, why not book a conference room at a hotel + rooms for all for a week and locate this near the OP’s medical facilities? They will still have the off-site experience, be in relatively close quarters and have a large space together for working on the project for the extended hours this project requires.

    Reply
    1. Anonny

      That’s kind of a stretch though. You have to assume that if this is a trip that is being planned to do the redesign, that the people planning it know what tools are needed to DO a redesign.

      There are a million reasons to not want to go for personal reasons but why would you assume that this particular product would have physical things (“old documents”?) that they needed that couldn’t be brought with them? I’d assume that the work can be done using laptops and wifi, and if any physical assets are required, they’d be brought along.

      Reply
    2. Eplawyer

      That’s what I don’t understand. Isn’t you know, the OFFICE where you hammerr out the details of your project?

      Why not a conference room in the office during the work day?

      How many details need to be hammered out that you need a WHOLE WEEK away from the office and 40 hours devoted to it?

      Reply
      1. RVA Cat

        My cynicism is thinking they’re pushing this trip so they can get 80+ hours out of people without paying overtime because “we’re paying for your vacation!”

        Reply
        1. Exempt and glad

          Except that’s not how overtime works. If you’re requiring non-exempt people to attend a work event, even if characterized as a retreat, you compensate them for their time.

          Reply
      1. Myrin

        I’m reasonably sure that the OP posted in the comments of the original thread shortly before the trip but I don’t think there was ever an (“official”) “afterwards” update? I asked the same below, so I’m sure Alison will shed light on the situation!

        Reply
          1. good at ctrl + f

            Thanks! This is what the OP ended on (after a meeting where team members were texting her during her ultrasound so she could “vote”):
            “Well, as of today, there’s a whole new complication to this mess. It seems likely that only the core team will be going now. I’m part of the core team. I’m the only female. Because it’s a bunch of males on the rest of the team and most of them want a cabin, it looks like they are going to go to the cabin and I’ll be completely left off the project. I should mention that the non-core team members who were against it were also female. There is one other core team member who was against it who was male.

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

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

            Reply
              1. Dove

                As far as I’m aware, it would probably fall under the ADA – pregnancy is a temporary disability and needs to be accommodated accordingly.

                Reply
      2. J.B.

        I posted the link in a separate response. OP is in comments. I noticed this about a quarter of the way in:

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

        Reply
        1. J.B.

          And it continued even more up in the air at the end, so not resolved:

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

          Reply
          1. R.F.

            The only woman on the team is not comfortable going to a remote cabin with a group of men, while pregnant, and is then left off the project? That sounds like an easy gender discrimination complaint.

            Reply
            1. Gazebo Slayer

              And the kind of guys who would be pushing for this are the kind you really don’t want to be the lone, pregnant woman in a remote cabin with. :-/

              Reply
          2. AdAgencyChick

            WAT OMG

            OP, please update us again! Please please please tell me someone in HR had enough sense to put a stop to this idiocy!

            Reply
          3. SoCalHR

            well if she did go and was the only female, upside is she’d get her own room! #silverlining (also, that was full sarcasm, there is no way I’d go to a remote cabin with all male coworkers – pregnant or not and actually, that’s probably not a safe assumption given the craziness of the situation to begin with – they’d probably stick her out in the living room on the foldaway couch bed!)

            Reply
              1. Sarah M

                And the grocery shopping… And doing the dishes… And cleaning up the cabin afterwards… Yeah. Just NO.

                Reply
  10. k.k

    I would suggest that OP band together with the other employee who doesn’t want to go. When she voices concerns, coworker can be at the ready to chime in with support. If OP’s point was instantly validated, it might deter others from protesting. Plus, the coworker might not have a good reason to say “I can’t” vs. “I don’t want to”, so this gives them an easy way to help push back on the idea.

    Reply
  11. Susan Sto Helit

    This is 100% the setup for a horror movie.

    On the plus side, you’re the pregnant lady, so you probably get to live. So there is a silver lining here.

    Reply
    1. Pollygrammer

      “I’m not going to a remote cabin in the woods with you guys. I’m going to end up being the only one not murdered, and our EAP only goes so far.”

      Reply
      1. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

        This is basically the setup for In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware – except the event is a bachelorette weekend, not a work retreat.

        Reply
    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      Of course, on the flip side there’s the chance that you’ll subsequently give birth to a haunted demon baby 8|

      Reply
    3. Not a Blossom

      I keep hearing Gene Belcher (from Bob’s Burgers) in my head: “I’m not going to a cabin in the woods with you! Didn’t you see Cabin in the Woods?”

      Reply
    4. Liane

      “On the plus side, you’re the pregnant lady, so you probably get to live.”
      Of course she will get to live–she’ll be the one doing the killing.

      Yes, this is a joke about how little tolerance I had for even tiny annoyances at that time. Plus, a much kinder, gentler, calmer friend who who *bragged* about nearly stabbing someone with a fork for trying to steal from her plate when my friend was expecting.

      Reply
      1. MsSolo

        Alice Lowe made the fabulous Prevenge while she was pregnant, in which she got to stab lots of annoying people. It’s very cathartic to watch!

        Reply
  12. McWhadden

    I think this could be easily resolved if you explain that you have the shining and its telling you this is a bad idea.

    Reply
  13. goetta_mmmmm

    I feel like I have 100% pegged the gender makeup of Team Yes to this Mess: lemme guess, it’s all dudes with maybe one other woman sprinkled in?

    OP I fervently hope (1) some higher up with brains steps in and says what a horrible idea the cabin is before you have to assert yourself; and (2) that you don’t get any BS about being physically unable to go to the week in a cabin. I’d provide a doctor’s note (if possible) and I’d also try to keep everything in email/document everything so that (God forbid) you can push back if you get guff from anybody.

    Reply
    1. k.k

      I suspected that as well, mostly because I think women would be more likely to realize that suggesting this to someone that is pregnant is a terrible idea.

      Reply
      1. Tuesday Next

        In my experience, men and women who haven’t had a pregnant person in the immediate family are equally likely to be insensitive.

        Reply
    2. Myrin

      Given the updates in the original comment thread, you’re dead-on, but I really wonder (on a more general level, not even pertaining to this letter in particular) why that is – surely men don’t inherently value privacy less than women? I mean, we have several men in this thread alone who are Very Much Against This and most conceivable reasons for not wanting to do a trip like this – preferring to spend time with family/friends/just privately instead of with coworkers, having medical issues, not wanting to be “on” 24/7, having a sleep disorder, finding retreats unpleasant in general, etc. – aren’t gender-specific.

      Reply
      1. R.F.

        I’m a guy and I have to travel several times a year for work. I don’t mind being out of town, but I do value my privacy and being able to stay in touch with my family when I’m away. Being in a remote cabin where I potentially can’t call home, or where I have to share a room with a coworker for a week, does not sound like a pleasant experience. I’ve had to share a hotel room a twice, but both times it was with someone I got along with and hung out with outside of work. I would not want to share a room with most of my coworkers. Sharing a room is the kind of thing that can work out but that can also be very uncomfortable. Room-sharing and staying at a remote location should be by unanimous consent, not majority rule.

        Reply
      2. Detective Amy Santiago

        I think guys are socialized to be a little less private about some things than women.

        Like, it’s not unusual for a men’s locker room to have a communal shower, but a women’s locker room usually has individual stalls. And guys use urinals in public restrooms that aren’t typically in stalls.

        Reply
    3. Guacamole Bob

      A team that’s mostly on board with this plan also strikes me as likely to be young, mostly single, likely all-in on work, and potentially homogeneous in other ways. If this is normally a travel job, then fine, but if it’s an occasional travel job or usually doesn’t include travel, then do none of these people have pets or kids or elderly relatives to care for? Standing evening commitments?

      Reply
  14. Myrin

    This is one of the rare cases where I actually remember the original letter! But not only that, I indeed think about it randomly from time to time because I was so aghast! IIRC, the OP posted some additional information in the comments before the trip but I don’t think she ever came back to share how it went? Do you happen to have heard from her later, Alison?

    Reply
  15. BBBizAnalyst

    Can companies please stop doing this to their employees? Just have an on-site meeting or something. There are very few people who want to spend a week away from home with their coworkers.

    Reply
    1. Kyrielle

      Or rent a meeting room for a week, a half-mile from the office, if you really need them off-site. It probably costs less than the cabin and they can all go home each day, without being in the office for interruptions.

      Reply
  16. scmill

    I used to work for someone who wanted to take us off site to an Outward Bound type experience. We had known one another for a long time, so I didn’t mince words and flatly told her I’m not doing that. We ended up at the Grove Park Inn and had a wonderful time!

    Reply
    1. Observer

      Not really. One is “I don’t wanna!” and the other is “This is a really bad idea for these medical reasons.”

      VERY, VERY different.

      Reply
      1. Murphy

        Yeah, but most of us in the comments, pregnant or not, come down firmly on the side of DO NOT WANT when it comes to remote cabin trips with co-workers.

        Reply
        1. Observer

          True. Because remote mountain trips with co-workers is never something that is reasonable to demand of your workforce. It’s far more than “I’ll be bored and I don’t see any reason I should be bored.”

          Reply
  17. Argh!

    I don’t want to spend any time in any remote cabin with anyone at any time for any reason! I would do anything to get out of something like that.

    Reply
  18. Mike C.

    Why do people insist on this? Not only are you going to be in less than ideal conditions, but you have to still maintain that facade of being “perfectly polite and professional at all times”. All while your coworkers are now your room mates.

    Why why why???

    Reply
  19. MocahGirl

    I am not and never will be pregnant. This is a NO for me, dawg, You can dial me in on the conference line, but never on God’s great green Earth will you ever catch me anywhere remote for a week with my coworkers.

    No.

    Reply
  20. Vaca

    I’m just curious about what the next line of the conversation is. You say “I can’t.” The team says, “Well, we voted and we’re going to the cabin.” At that point, do you go to HR? Just not go and suffer the career consequences?

    Reply
    1. openallnight

      I’d talk to a doctor, get a note from that doctor, and next stop is lawyer’s office if they try to force the issue.

      Reply
      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        Plus, she’s almost guaranteed to go into labor while on the trip, probably at the nadir of dark-and-horrifying, and do you really want Bob from Accounting to be the one catching the baby?

        Reply
  21. Goya de la Mancha

    In my own world filled with constant/varying degrees of anxiety, my job is actually pretty free of it. However, remote cabin, sharing rooms/bathrooms with co-workers, a week of NO break from these people??! Not even throwing in carpooling because that would be a huge NOPE from me… I would have to be pretty drugged up (aka not able to work productively) to survive all that.

    It’s not reasonable for this to be made mandatory when there are more suitable options available. I will give the benefit of the doubt that a lot of the people wanting to go have never been pregnant or have not had a significant other who has been. It’s not that they’re insensitive jerks, they just ignorant of the realities.

    Reply
  22. Guy Incognito

    If you do end up going and you hear a noise, please don’t split up.

    Also, avoid speaking Latin in front of any strange books.

    Reply
    1. Kuododi

      A round of applause for the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” reference….one of my personal favorites BTW. ;)

      Reply
  23. Matilda Jefferies

    Okay, so. Pregnancy. I don’t know if OP’s pregnancy was anything like mine, but IME pregnant people are an absolute nightmare to share a room with. In addition to the getting up to pee a dozen times, there’s also heartburn, insomnia, and, um…noises that come out of various parts of the body. Depending on how far along in the pregnancy you are, it’s also pretty much impossible to turn over in bed, which means a whole lot of heaving and flopping and trying to get comfortable. I needed about ninety pillows to get settled, and of course they *all* had to be rearranged every time I got up to pee or needed to turn over or sat up due to heartburn or whatever.

    Also, ask my husband about the night I woke him up because I was mad that he was sleeping and I wasn’t, kicked him out to the livingroom, and then burst into tears because I didn’t want to be alone. Pregnancy hormones are super fun for everybody!

    Reply
    1. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

      I burst into tears because my husband brought home the wrong brand of pasta and then I accused him of deliberately starving me and the baby. Fun times.

      Reply
    2. Teach

      I vomited at least six times a day, sometimes mid-sentence, for 9 months times three kids. I was in as fine of a mood as one would expect a surprise vomiter to be. I had a trash can outside my classroom door and casually excused myself as needed. Things that made me barf: smells, lights, the sight of random food items, air. This also caused me to need more frequent monitoring and the occasional IV. Luckily, IVs can be portable in backpacks, and home health nurses can deal with them.
      Do you really want to share a remote cabin with pregnant me? Really? Because my spouse has some strong opinions to share about that…

      Reply
  24. allthatjazz

    I also think it is not the right set up to get the best work out of people. If you want professional work done right on a deadline, you take care of the team’s creature comforts and don’t make the workweek look like a camping trip. I’ll bet more than one of the group that likes this idea likes it precisely because they see it as a break from work. I understand going offsite to minimize distractions, but going to a remote cabin in the woods sounds pretty distracting to me.

    Reply
  25. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

    I can see this week falling apart after the first meal when everyone gets up from the table assuming that someone else is going to do clean up and no one does.
    This has a Lord of the Flies vibe to me.

    Reply
  26. Mb13

    How in the world is a staying a week in a remote cabin in anyway conducive to productivity.

    -is there wifi? How about running hot water?
    – how will food be prepared? Are they going to make the female staffers prep it?

    – will everyone need to eat together or is the manager going to throw a tantrum when Fergus has his lunch break early?

    – will there be acomidations for nude sleepers.

    These are all things I need to know

    Reply
  27. Where's the Le-Toose?

    I’m opposed to off-site retreats regardless of whether it’s at a mountain cabin or a hotel with conference facilities.

    The truth is that once the end of the day rolls around, I really don’t want to spend anymore time with coworkers that I see every day. There are some coworkers who I love taking business trips with because they are a blast! And I have a couple of close friends at my work, but they work in other divisions. But an off-site retreat with the team I already spend 40+ hours a week with? No. Not for a roll out, not for team building, not at a 5-star resort, and not on the face of the moon.

    Reply
  28. Quinalla

    This sounds lovely with family or friends for me personally, but awful with coworkers. And to suggest this with a pregnant person on the team is extra awful, but seriously this sounds nightmarish to my introverted self. I’ve been on a week long company retreat, but it was in a hotel/resort (off-season in Vail, CO) and everyone had their own room with their own bathroom and while there were plenty of evening activities that were optional (for real optional) and we got plenty of work done during the day. My introverted self needed my own room after a long day of lots of interaction with folks to be able to read a book or watch a movie in peace. And while pregnant, yeah, just for the increased bathroom use alone.

    Reply
          1. Database Developer Dude

            On the one hand, Scott is usually a male name, so that’s a safe assumption. On the other hand, Scott did not criticize the OP for not wanting to go, so there’s no reason for the hostility. Are we not entitled to our own opinions?

            Reply
            1. Scott

              I think its a really fun idea. If this were my office, and everyone would be on board (this is key), I would over the moon to spend in a week being paid to do my job but in the wilderness.

              Reply
  29. Oxford Comma

    While I accept that sometimes going off site is a good idea for work (e.g. retreats), this is like my idea of hell and I am not even pregnant.

    Reply
  30. openallnight

    I mostly like my coworkers and get along with them but a week in a cabin with them sounds like a nightmare.

    It also sounds like the set up for a horror movie, literally, esp. with a pregnant person in attendance.

    Reply
  31. MissDissplaced

    OMG! What is it with companies and these remote and rustic camping trips? Is this a thing now? They’re bad enough as a teambuilding thing, but I can’t imagine it being condusive to getting work done.
    Having to share bedrooms and bathrooms with coworkers just sounds like a terrible idea to me.

    Reply
  32. Granny K

    I actually had to go spend a weekend in Tahoe for team building. Nice enough cabin but the ‘activities’ surrounding it…eesh. We had to build a survival igloo. Out of snow bricks. NO REALLY. As my coworker stated: “Each brick become my own personal hell.” And then we went out drinking/to the buffet where I got a nice case of food poisoning. The drive home seemed to be the longest one ever.

    To the OP I say: put your foot down. Don’t go.

    Reply
  33. Lexielex

    For the last question? A shared Google Calendar! Create one called “Visitors” – and anyone expecting a visitor needs to add their name on the appropriate day. You can check the calendar when the bell rings, and see if they are on the list. Best of all, you’ll have a record and will be able to track the quantity and frequency of guests, which you can use as documentation in case you need to bring this to Management’s attention to find a new solution in the future.

    Reply
  34. Tiny_Tiger

    Quite literally the first thing that ran through my head was Gabriel Igelsias saying “Aw hell no!” You could not pay me enough to spend an entire week in a remote cabin with my coworkers (OK you probably could, but it would be the most exorbitant amount ever)! I’m around my coworkers enough as it is without them being privy to my personal hygiene/bed time/etc. rituals. And the fact that you’re pregnant on top of all of this but your coworkers are conveniently ignoring it because they want to do it, alarm bells are blaring! Definitely put your foot down on this one.

    Reply
  35. puzzld

    Whenever travel for a group of employees is suggested, my mind goes to the Whippoorwill Tragedy. A tornado hit a showboat, killing 16 people including three faculty members from the School of Library Science at Emporia Kansas. Just about destroyed the program… I suspect a week long retreat at a remote cabin could have equally bad results.

    Reply
  36. UtOh!

    You go to a remote cabin for a week with people you know and WANT to be with, it should never be forced upon anyone as part of a work project (unless you work for a company that handles travel to remote cabins, but even then should not be mandatory). That the end result was the one core team member being left out of the project is completely gross, they could have come to some other reasonable accommodations. I would love to know the stats of the other (male) core team members. All single guys with no kids perhaps?

    Reply
  37. selfish anon T_T

    I’m going to admit, I would love BOTH of these options. Like LOVE. And I might even prefer cabin. But maybe there’s an age/responsibilities factor? I’m not pregnant, have no one at home but roommates and succulents, and am in my mid-20’s. I’m a female as well, and my job is pretty 50/50 male female, but i guess more women. we have a healthy age range too, from early 20s to middle age. I don’t see my job picking a cabin for a work retreat (i feel like my boss is the type to think vegas is the perfect place to bond with a team) but I wouldn’t be horrified at all if it was announced. just offering POV from someone who would love this trip!

    and (extremely unpopular and immature!!! disclaimer!!) opinion, but I think I’d be a weeeeeee bit annoyed if there were 20 ppl on board for one idea and 1 or 2 ppl opposed and they expected us to change plans for them, especially if i was super excited for cute cabin retreat with hiking and campfires and great pictures and we ended up going to a motel 8 T_T. (I KNOW ITS A BAD THOUGHT I’M JUST SAYING I WOULD 100000% BE ANNOYED)

    Reply
    1. Observer

      And, you would need to get over that IMMEDIATELY. The idea that it’s in any way, shape, or form appropriate to push someone into something this uncomfortable (and possibly dangerous) so you can have a fun weekend is . . . let’s just say, it’s not a good attitude to have with people you need to be able to work with.

      Reply
      1. selfish anon T_T

        ._.

        I mean that’s why I put the disclaimer. and I said weeeeee bit annoyed. like not that i would push to have her fired or picket that they better have the conference in the woods, fetus be damned. it’s like when your office mate has allergies and you know it’s killing them- you can feel reeeeaaaallllly bad for them but still be a weeeeeee bit annoyed at the constant sniffling.

        people can be a little bit annoyed at not getting to do something they really want to do. that doesn’t make me a bad person; marching to my boss’s office and throwing a fit that the preggo lady is ruining my life would.

        Reply
        1. Triple Anon

          I get it. You were just being honest. A lot of people would feel that way. You can be annoyed about something but still understand that it’s the right thing to do.

          Reply
      2. Right On

        You don’t have anything to apologize for, T_T. Your opinion in favor of the camping trip is every bit as valid of all the introverts whining about it.

        Reply
    2. Student

      I note that none of your excitement about this idea is work-focused whatsoever.

      It’s fine to think this is your idea of a fun personal vacation plan.

      But please realize this is being billed as a way to force this group to plow through a group work assignment by forcing them all into close quarters, with isolation from other activities that might take their time and attention; not as a way to go have team-building s’mores ’round the old campfire. Think of this proposal as less of a work-sponsored summer vacation, and more of a work-imposed death march to finish a project on time over several late nights of work in an isolated area where your boss can supervise you 100% of the time AND criticize your diet/pajamas/preferred shower length/usual bed time/morning hair/breakfast habits/driving.

      Reply
      1. selfish anon T_T

        I work in big law- trust me, I get that this would be a whole lot of work and being “on” 24-7. I get that. My comment was a response to people being incredulous that anyone would choose a cabin over resort (both would be week long work trips) to say that a) oh there are def people out here who would defintiely take mandatory cabin over mandatory resort (again, responding not to people who are against the mandatory work trip at all, but to the people who are aghast at the cabin part) and then b) hypothesizing over what the reason might be that some people don’t find the cabin to be a hellscape (i.e no responsibilities except plants that are gonna die anyways, no kids, never been pregnant, makeup of my office, etc). I commented to offer a different perspective over a wave of LITERALLY WHO WOULD PICK CABIN OVER RESORT??? i get that it’s going to be 24-7 work and deadlines and stress. i’ve been on these “retreats”. but maybe because i work 12-16 hour day on average i don’t mind the close quarter and no downtime issue? that’s why i commented! to show that there’s different opinions out here :D

        i’ve lurked here for ages and never commented, i only did this time because everyone seemed so truly horrified at the idea of cabin in the woods (a haaaaaa) i really just wanted to chime in and say hi i would like cabin in the woods hard work crazy hours no privacy at all. .-.
        (the last part was me exposing the petty yet honest voice in my head who would be a wee bit annoyed, but would not kidnap the OP and make her go relive Deliverance with me)

        Reply
        1. Nye

          FWIW, I totally agree with you. And I would also be annoyed if nearly everyone preferred a cabin but we were all forced into a resort week instead because of one or two co-workers who didn’t like the idea. (Note: I would have no issue with the resort if someone on the team had a medical issue that precluded the cabin. But if one person just didn’t like the idea, I’d be kinda peeved that their preference trumped everyone else’s. Quietly peeved, but peeved nonetheless.)

          So you’re not alone, Selfish Anon! I often read the comments here about off-site work with some amusement, since it is clear that most commenters think my preferences and the standards of my profession are horrifying. (Field bunks, anyone?)

          Commentariat, no need to convince me of how very wrong my feelings are. I read the comments and I understand the arguments. Just wanted to chime in since Team Cabin is pretty under-represented on here, and we do exist.

          (And again: OP should absolutely be accommodated on this trip! Forcing someone with a need to be close to medical care into a remote area is a non-starter.)

          Reply
          1. Right On

            FWIW, I totally agree with you. And I would also be annoyed if nearly everyone preferred a cabin but we were all forced into a resort week instead because of one or two co-workers who didn’t like the idea.

            Bingo. And if T_T is a lawyer, she knows the Coase theorem. The people complaining about the cabin are impeding on the people who would enjoy the cabin and are not a prior right.

            Reply
          2. Proud member of Team Cabin

            “Just wanted to chime in since Team Cabin is pretty under-represented on here, and we do exist.”

            Exactly. The reason that the complainers are dominating this conversation is because this blog attracts a disproportionate number of introverts (who thanks to that awful book “Quiet” think they are God’s gift to the world). I’m sick and tired of it. If they hate it that much, let them skip the trip.

            Reply
            1. WillyNilly

              To be fair, there are a LOT of anti-cabin-for-mandatory-work-week folks who are pro-cabin for recreation.

              I think the cabin sounds fun with friends or family. Or even as a voluntary team building or voluntary additional training (obviously this would depend on the job field), but staunchly anti-cabin for a mandatory non-cabin-related project. Several other posts say the same.

              Its not an introvert/extrovert thing (the vast majority of people are neither, but rather fall in the middle of the ‘vert spectrum) but rather an “inappropriate setting for a mandatory week” thing.

              Reply
            2. Database Developer Dude

              I’m a serious extrovert, and I say hard pass on this situation. I’m gregarious, mildly funny when I’m not trying too hard, and I genuinely like people.

              I do not, however, suffer fools gladly. It takes energy to be a professional…energy I need to recharge each day by GETTING AWAY FROM WORK AND COWORKERS.

              A week in a remote cabin WITH PEOPLE I WORK WITH??? Hell no. Besides the roughly even male/female split in my office, and the fact that no one’s pregnant, I’m not dealing with a business analyst at 11pm having an ‘idea’ he wants to discuss with me when I’m deep in the middle of a Jeffrey Archer novel, or when I just want to sleep or watch the news. No, no a thousand times no.

              And what happens if there are CONSENSUAL hookups? I don’t want to hear two of my coworkers having sex.

              I was active duty Army for a long time…..privacy considerations are a tiny bit secondary for me, but I get how they are primary for many many others, and it’s no joke. If I’m on the toilet defecating, I’m not trying to have a conversation with someone.

              Reply
            3. Nita

              This has nothing to do with introverts. OP is an integral member of the team and has the right to participate in the key project meetings without putting her health and safety at risk – and for her, at the time, a remote cabin with no quick access to a doctor would have been a huge risk at the time. FWIW, I would jump at the chance to spend a week in a remote cabin, either with friends or with coworkers, so there’s no distaste of camping coloring my opinion.

              Reply
            4. Scarlet

              So now introverts are whiny sticks-in-the-muds? Nice.
              No, we don’t think we’re “god-gifts” to the world, we’d just like our preferences to be respected too, you know.

              And the problem we have is with *mandatory* cabin retreats. You can go to a cabin and sh*t in the woods all you like, just don’t push it on other people.

              Reply
            5. J.B.

              Umm did you miss the pregnancy part? Or the if she skipped she would be cut out of a major project part? End result were plans to look for a new job.

              Reply
  38. San Diego

    Honestly, who thinks these kinds of things are ever a good idea? I am fond of my coworkers, but the fact is, I already spend more time with them each week than I do my own family and the idea of spending all of the 24 hours, for FIVE days with people I already see more than my own kin? NOPENOPENOPENOPE!!!

    Reply
  39. Flash Bristow

    I totally agree with Alison’s advice. You can’t go, so you won’t be going. Don’t get into whether you would otherwise want to go or not (if you present it as “I’d love to, but…” then people may see that as a problem to be solved.

    Don’t be apologetic but be factual. You don’t want to scupper plans, but you can’t attend. It’s a fact, and now it is bounced up to your manager to handle.

    Reply
  40. A Nickname for AAM

    My work has a mandatory leadership training course where everyone in the organization has to do a three-day lock-in immersion at a hotel, with random roommates who are also in the training course.

    The kicker? They also don’t pay for travel…so people have to do these lock-ins in the city nearest to where they live. Most people are *close enough to drive home for the evening* but somehow *are not allowed to do so.*

    Reply
  41. Triple Anon

    I think the cabin thing would be cool if it was completely voluntary. I can imagine a small team doing this and it going well. But it’s a bad idea if people are pressured into it. There are so many reasons that staying in a remote cabin and sharing rooms might not work for some people and they wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable talking about it.

    I think extra stuff like retreats and team building activities need to either be opt-in or modeled after what people are already doing at work. Or planned in a way that’s really inclusive.

    I really have mixed feelings about all these newer companies doing things like camping retreats with rock climbing and obstacle courses. If you’re into it, it could be really fun. But it’s also divisive and singles out people who can’t do the activity for whatever reason. There has to be a middle ground – a way to do fun things without excluding people. Maybe the answer would be to have a variety of optional activities or plan the trips really carefully so everyone can participate and no one is made to feel singled out or left out.

    Reply
    1. Triple Anon

      I meant to add, re: the letter:

      It sounds like the resort is the official second option, but I can imagine a compromise. They could camp near a city. Near a hospital. Everyone could have the option of staying in the cabin or a nearby hotel. With private rooms. They could all work together in the cabin during the day, then some people could go back to the hotel at night. It would be yucky in that it would draw attention to who wants to stay in the cabin and who doesn’t or can’t, but I think it would at least be worth considering.

      Reply
  42. Middle School Teacher

    I know this is an old letter, and I know I’m late to the party, but this is the plot to a horror movie, right? Right????

    Reply
  43. Greg M.

    ok so why is this even a thing? like this is a group of people wanting a pseudovacation on the company dime. Like I get some jobs there’s “we need you to negotiate a deal in Tokyo so you’ll be flying there for a week” and that makes sense but this is a local project that could just be done at work. You don’t get to just lay claim to an entire week of my life to design a product.

    Reply
  44. Andy

    As an outsider, the more I read AAM, the more I think every single American business has mandatory overnight camps. Also day-long interviews and LinkedIn means everything. :p

    Reply
  45. 60% Stubborn, 40% Snark

    There is no way in hell I would go to Camp Death March no matter how “mandatory” they tried to make it. I am pretty sure I’d laugh in their face when they brought it up “No seriously, what is the _real_ plan?” and I don’t even have a uterus, let alone one busily 3d printing another human.

    I won’t even share a double room with a single coworker at a conference, I need my alone time to decompress, and as far as the cabin goes, so not interested in “fun” team-building tasks like cleaning the cabin, fighting with my coworkers who are up till oh-god-am socializing because I want to sleep, sharing a bathroom when I’m trying to get ready in the morning (grew up with 3 brothers sharing the same bathroom with me and nope nope nope), eating random menu shared meals that oh joy, I “get” to help cook. And remote, so I can’t escape my coworkers for even a couple of hours? That sounds … great.

    Real hotel or resort, sure, I could grudgingly tolerate it as long as I had some real privacy time, but a cabin? I’d stay at the office and be shopping my resume around while the rest of the team is off visiting my personal hell.

    Reply
  46. senatormeathooks

    I don’t know why employers consider that kind of “remote retreat team-building” appropriate. That’s far too familiar, for one, and there is literally nothing that situation can do besides confirm my suspicion that I would never want to live in close proximity to my coworkers.

    Reply
  47. oh heck no

    There is nothing on this earth that could convince me to spend a week in a remote cabin with my co-workers, much less share a bedroom with one (or more). I would looooove the hear the follow up on this one. Did they go (and videoconference in LW, I hope)? How many of them were still on speaking terms when they returned? Did anything actually get accomplished?

    Reply

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