4 reader updates: my coworkers use my email when I’m away, a creepy boss, and more

Here are four more updates from readers who had their questions answered here this year.

1. Should I take a job working with a creepy boss? (#1 at the link)

Thank you so much for publishing my letter! It was very helpful to hear what you and your readers thought. I spent a lot of time thinking about how it would be to frequently work one-on-one with this guy and in the end decided not to apply for the job. While it would have been a good step for my career, I wasn’t so excited about the opportunity that it would have been worth it to work that closely with him. Some commenters suggested going to HR, which I didn’t end up doing. I didn’t think I had enough concrete evidence that he was acting inappropriately for them to do anything.

One good thing that came of this is that it made me think about the direction I wanted my career to take and how my company fit in with that. I had a lot of other issues with the way my company operated and my work environment, and I didn’t feel like I had a whole lot of opportunities to advance my career. This issue gave me the push I needed to start seriously looking for other jobs. I was lucky enough to get a new job not too long ago. Your website was an extremely helpful resource during my search. I am enjoying my new job SO much more than my last job, and so far no one has given me any inappropriate presents!

2. My mother’s boss is spreading a false rumor that my mom is dying

There hasn’t actually been much drama since Mom’s had to take FMLA for the whole of her chemo. She’d gone back after surgery, but she quickly realized how tired it made her and she won’t be going back until February. She hasn’t said word one to her boss, or vice versa, since her last day there, and she’s dreading having to deal with her again in February. I’m sure I’ll hear more when she goes back to work, but right now there’s just silence while my mom works to get better.

3. My manager and coworkers use my email when I’m away (#6 at the link)

Maybe my manager also reads AAM. Since the question was in AAM, I have not had a problem with my password being changed/email being hacked while I am on vacation – to my knowledge anyway. My manager/IT did ask for my password of which I have given them a password they can use to change to while I am away instead of the one I regularly use – this way I know when they access my system. Thank you, AAM.

4. The reader whose cubicle was giving her migraines

So you might recall that I wrote in a while ago because I was stuck in a cubicle next to gigantic windows, and getting migraines, and my boss was throwing a holy fit about letting me switch to another desk less than five feet away. He did let me move desks but wasn’t pleased about it, as I mentioned in my first update.

So what’s been going on since then? In January 2013, my second boss (who would have been fine with me not sitting next to windows) had to move her office and lab four floors up. Eventually, my first boss would have to move floors too but last I heard, he was trying to delay that until 2014 or so. It was decided that I would continue to support both managers, which is cool, but it meant having to have desks on the two different floors. Okay, fine– it’s still a job, right? Only I couldn’t just do (for example), the morning on the original floor and the afternoon on the new floor. Oh no. It was decided that I would spend 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on the original floor, 12-3 on the new floor, and then come back down to the original floor from 3 to 5. Every day. Ironically, around this time, the financial manager is complaining about how we all need to be more efficient so we can save money, but then he authorizes a $5000 work order to get me set up with a second computer, telephone, printer, fax line, etc. on the new floor. And all the other people on the new floor weren’t related to my department at all but they were so totally happy and welcoming to see our lab! (sarcasm alert).

I’d been job searching anyway for a while because I’d been there long enough that it was time for a change. Luckily, earlier this summer, I got a lead on a job opening at friend’s company that led to a job offer! It’s much more in line with my degree and writing experience, it’s only a half hour away (previous job was a 90-minute, multi-mode trip on public transit), and I don’t have to switch desks every three hours (unless I really wanted to for some strange reason, like if I felt like writing in the conference room). My team is very nice too; total opposite of what I was dealing with at my old job. There had been a lot of interpersonal drama with my cubicle-mate and cubicle neighbors (on both floors) that I’d left out of my original letter to Alison. Nothing like that here at New Job (knock on wood). (I’m totally willing to agree that I was the problem in those conflicts but I’d also get random coworkers coming up to me about So-and-So to say that they’d had inappropriate behavior from her too. So I don’t think it was *all* my fault, you know?)

Sorry this update is so long! Thank you for all of your advice, Alison and commenters, both with these issues and job searching in general. I used Alison’s advice to rewrite my resume and cover letters, formulate interview questions, etc. and I think it definitely helped me land this new job.

{ 20 comments… read them below }

  1. Ruffingit*

    #4: OldJob was one taco short of a combo plate and it’s good you got out of there. Seriously, they sound inefficient and cruel. Glad to hear NewJob is better and more sane all-around.

    1. Gracie*

      I like that metaphor too. Now I’m hungry.
      Thank you for your support :-) What was frustrating about the whole “moving floors” thing is that after the move, my bosses and the “head admin assistant” would ask me, “so, how’s it working out, having two desks?” If I didn’t immediately reply with anything less than joyous enthusiasm, they would get pissy about it:
      “Well, what’s wrong?! You’re just going up and down four floors! Don’t you like the change of pace?! Besides, we all communicate with you by email and phone anyway!”

      Well if I could technically do my job anywhere I have internet and phone access, why couldn’t I just stay on one floor all the time then??

      I don’t want to badmouth my former job but…yeah, that was a really stupid decision on their part.

  2. blu*

    #3 Glad you involved in the system accessing now, but it still seems weird to me that they 1) don’t have admin ability to access your system in emergencies 2) seem to regularly need to access your email/system while your away. I leave an out of office message and I hand off items while I’m out, so I’m really struggling to understand why they need to do this regularly.

    1. Anonymous*

      According to the original post they do have admin access, they used to change her password.

      OP, did they ever tell you why they do this? What is the motivation?

      1. blu*

        Yeah I guess maybe it’s more that if your using the admin access to get in, you would get what you need and get out. I don’t get why they change the password. That seems to imply they need to keep accessing it over and over and I cannot think of why that would be the case.

      2. Harriet*

        It doesn’t say the manager has admin access. At my old job, when a colleague was suddenly called away, we had to get IT to change his password so we could go in and set up his out of office. Maybe that’s what’s happening.

        1. Anonymous*

          Access to change the password is admin access. If they can change it they can get in as an administrator.

          1. Anonymous*

            If they’re asking OP for her password, then it sounds like they’re using that to login (and then change the password??)

            1. blu*

              That’s what they are doing now, but before that they were just logging in without her knowledge and changing the password, so they have the ability to access her system even without her handing over the password. I just cannot understand why they wouldn’t rather just have her hand off whatever needs to be cared for rather than accessing her system. Also it still doesn’t fix the problem of them logging in under her name (with the password she provides). I would be very uncomfortable with that.

              1. Jamie*

                Absolutely – that’s my issue with this. It’s not a privacy thing, there should be no inferred privacy on a work computer – it’s the sharing log in thing that makes me clenchy.

                If you don’t maintain the integrity of everyone’s electronic footprint then you’re a serious issue waiting to happen.

    1. Anonymous*

      Eh, at this point I consider it as a minor semantical quibble. Half the time what people call “hacking” these days is “OMG I left my facebook account logged in”.

      1. Ethyl*

        I kind of agree but on the other hand, if I was this person’s manager and they repeatedly accused me of “hacking” their email, I’d have a problem with it, since they are sort of accusing me of doing something wrong/unethical/illegal, and because they still don’t seem to grasp basic business practices — i.e., that they don’t understand that your work email and computer aren’t “yours” in any sense.

  3. TootsNYC*

    Re: accessing your computer and email while you’re out–

    Out IT department doesn’t like people using others’ passwords to access anything. They cite their internal procedures that are a response to the Sarbanes–Oxley Act, and say that they need to be able to accurately track *who* was on the desktop or network at what time.

    So I’d rope IT in on that. And ask them to invoke their authority to say, “Nobody is supposed to ever be using other people’s passwords.” Isn’t that the point of a password? Why have one?

    I’m a little confused by this:
    “My manager/IT did ask for my password of which I have given them a password they can use to change to while I am away”
    I’m not sure why they’d need a password; my IT team can get into my stuff without mine, most of the time. If they -really- needed to.

    My other tactic would be to find out -why- people are getting into my computer and email, and then start placing that stuff somewhere that’s not my computer (like, put the spreadsheet on the server, or use Google Docs, or something).

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