everyone in my office keeps their doors shut, who controls the mail room, and more

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

1. Is it odd that everyone in my office keeps their doors and blinds closed?

This is a perception question, but I’d like your opinion on it. I work for a great company, top 10 of the Fortune 500. I’m new to the company also, coming up on my 1 year anniversary in December. Is it weird that so many on my floor are in their offices with their door and mini-blinds shut? Our offices have a long window panel next to the door. So if someone is in their office, you can usually still tell if they’re in there or maybe on the phone. But so many people shut their door and blinds that it has me wondering what they’re doing. I’m new and want people to see me hard at work and want to be included in spontaneous conversations and projects. But if I’m always holed up in my office, I think I would miss out. What are your thoughts on this?

It’s really just an issue of office culture and personal preference; there’s no right or wrong way to do this. Personally, I could definitely see closing the mini blinds on the window facing the rest of the office to make it more like a wall and provide more privacy (which for some people lets them focus more comfortably without feeling like they’re being gazed at), and I wouldn’t worry about whether people physically saw me hard at work (I’d assume they’d see evidence of that in more substantial ways). But I think a lot of people agree with you on the benefit of being more accessible to spontaneous conversations. It really just comes down to personal preference though.

2. Who controls the mail room?

Who has the final say about the mail room? Yesterday, an office assistant sent an email to all staff detailing protocols on how to use the mail room and, most concerning to me, a restriction that we may no longer have personal packages sent to our place of work. Considering I use this service often, I want to follow up with her manager, as I do not believe an office assistant is in a managerial role to decide where I have my packages addressed. This person does not deliver my packages – I am notified by UPS of their arrival date and go to pick them up. Additionally, packages are received in the shipping room, which is a completely separate department under my organization structure, and which has thus far given no rules on staff’s personal packages.

The packages I request are never large, and they include personal items for use during my work hours, like dietary options, soaps, sanitation gloves, and disinfectants for sensitive skin. Some of these materials are provided by my employer, but I have unique needs and I purchase my own. If I direct these packages to my home, they could be delayed a day or further because UPS requires a signature for all deliveries.

How should I proceed? If I contact this person’s manager to see if he was aware of these changes, they could get into trouble, but I am a lower rank than them and have very little room to maneuver. Should I email? What language should be included? Help!

It’s pretty unlikely that the assistant came up with and announced this this rule on her own; it’s more likely that she was simply instructed to communicate it to everyone. But you can certainly ask her for more context; it would be totally reasonable to say, “Hey, what’s the story behind the new rule on personal packages? Do you know where that came from and why?”

And if you feel like you have reasonable cause to be exempted from the new rule, you could explain that to whoever the decision-maker is and see if an exception can be made for you. They might say no (because whatever prompted the new rule might trump your interests here), but it’s not outrageous to ask. (Do be prepared to hear no, though.)

3. My company wants me to use a vacation day to travel for a work retreat

My boss invited me to attend the managers’ retreat, which is exciting because they decided to go to Las Vegas this year. I said yes and now the tickets are booked and the weekend is coming up soon. I found out today that we are expected to take personal time off for the Friday that everyone is flying out of town. This only affects me and one other hourly person. All the other managers are salary and will not have a difference in pay. I don’t have a lot of vacation time so I was wondering, is it usual for a small-medium sized company to expect you to take vacation days for their work retreats? There will be a couple meetings during the retreat but I don’t think they will count that as paid time either.

Nope, not normal, not normal at all. It’s a work trip, and you’re going for work reasons; they’re being ridiculous.

Moreover, unless this retreat contains nothing truly work-related (like it’s all just gambling and poolside lounging, with no work-related meetings), you need to be paid for the time you spend there on work-related activities, and you also need to be paid for the part of your travel time that falls during your regular work hours.

If you were exempt and thus the pay was a non-issue, I’d say this to your manager: “I’m really excited about participating in this, but since it’s a trip we’re making for work, I’m concerned about using PTO for it, especially since I don’t have much PTO.”

But since you’re non-exempt and there’s a legally-mandated pay requirement, you might instead say something like: “Since I’m non-exempt, I know I’m required to log the hours I spend traveling that fall during my normal work day. I’m one of the few non-exempt people attending so figured it might not have been on people’s radar, but wanted to explain why I’m not submitting the time as PTO.”

4. Applications that want me to share something unique about myself

I’ve been filling out a lot of online applications, and many companies are using Resumator, which is great in some ways, but they all include a question asking me to tell them something unique about myself that will catch their eye/make them remember me. I’m totally a weirdo and there are lots of things that are unique about me I could put except I don’t think any of them are suitable for job applications. I have a blog for pictures of things that look like vulvas (e.g. orchids or the Cobra Commander logo).

I just don’t understand what sort of unique things they are looking for. Places I’ve been? Position-related accomplishments? Belief in ghosts? This has been a real roadblock for me in filling out applications.

Ugh, I don’t like it either. Plenty of what makes people unique is totally irrelevant to their job qualifications. They should be asking you to talk about why you’d excel at the role. I’d actually modify the question in your head to something more along those lines: “What makes you stand out as a candidate for this job? What about you is unusually well-matched with the role?”

Of course, if they’re looking for some wacky expression of personality utterly unrelated to work, then that won’t help you. Personally, I wouldn’t mind screening those companies out by providing an answer more along the lines of what I suggest above, but if you do mind that, then I’m of no help.

5. When should I start job-searching?

I’m in my final year of a dual-MSW/MPH program (yay!). If all goes right, I should graduate in May. I know that finding a job can take months, so I’ve been thinking about starting to apply for positions in January (mostly at nonprofits and in government agencies – I’m not looking at going into academia). My concern is that, even if I get an interview, I won’t be offered a position because employers won’t be able to wait that long; unless I’m able to start part-time, there is no way I will be able to start a position before May (in addition to classes, I also have a graduate assistantship and internship that I absolutely cannot leave before that time). It feels like a waste of time to start early, but it seems just plain stupid to start late!

I also bartend, so whether or not I start working right away is not really an issue financially. Mostly, I’m worried about losing great opportunities and just ready to start my career. What sort of timeline would you recommend?

For government agencies, start now. Their hiring process can take forever.

But most nonprofits aren’t going to want you to apply more than a few months before you’re available, so for those I’d start applying no sooner than late February at the earliest.

{ 308 comments… read them below }

  1. jesicka309*

    OP#4 – Ew, do NOT put your blog about vulvas anywhere near your job searching materials. Not on your resume, not on your cover letter, nowhere. No matter what the application asks.

    Actually, just never talk about it publicly…what you do in your own time is your business but…. blech, it definitely won’t get you a job!!! Can’t believe Alison didn’t warn you off that.

    1. Sara M*

      I thought it was quite clear from the letter. The OP knows better than to use that. That’s presumably why Alison didn’t see the need to mention the obvious.

    2. SJP*

      Also sorry to be a Judgy McJudgerson but seriously, you have a frickin’ blog about stuff that looks like vulvers..?!? For the love of….

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          It reminds me of a dinner theater play my husband and I went to on our first date nearly 20 years ago now. We still quote the old lady character who, looking at an O’Keefe-esque painting at a museum, cried out, “Looks like a vagina on a platter!”

      1. Carrington Barr*

        I sorry you’re so thoroughly disgusted by a body part owned by half the global population.

        1. SJP*

          I am not disgusted.. did I mention I was… no
          I just expressed exasperation at why everything has to be sexualised and to dedicate time into making a blog about it..

          1. Kelly L.*

            A lot of times it’s more like…did whoever designed this item really think through what it looks like? Like on Cake Wrecks where the decorator botched something and made it look like a penis or a pile of poo. Unintended double meanings and bad design can be fun.

            Oh, here’s another example of the same type of thing, but not sexual: I once passed by a building housing a medical supply company of some kind. The company was called Aim, but there was a stylized EKG right by the A in the logo, and the way the peaks and valleys fell, it made it look like the sign said Maim. Bad design ahoy!

          2. alma*

            If you want to not sound disgusted, you could try leaving out words like “Ew” and “blech” when you comment on someone’s hobby.

            Sorry but you really do sound overly judgmental. As my grandfather would say, “it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg” if OP wants to blog about vulvas.

            1. Elsajeni*

              I think you’ve mixed up SJP, who didn’t say “ew” or “blech” or really anything suggesting disgust, with jesicka309 above, who did.

          3. BOMA*

            Oh stop. This is hardly evidence of rampant oversexualization. It’s just a blog of things that look funny, basically, and as you can see from the comments, plenty of people find it entertaining. The good thing about the Internet is that if it’s not your thing, you can close the window and not have to look at it.

      2. Sarahnova*

        Because it’s fun, and funny?

        Hell, the Austin Powers films each have an extended sequence riffing on things that look like penises, and I don’t recall many people being all “Eeeeeeuuwww, WHY?” Girlparts are not inherently disgusting.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            I think it’s awesome, and I hope the flaming whatever that thing is from Lord of the Rings is on that blog.

        1. kozinskey*

          Exactly, this person sounds like a lot of fun. Personally, if I saw that blog, it would absolutely weigh in an applicant’s favor as someone I could get along with, but as this thread shows, there are a lot of people who feel the exact opposite way. Too bad =(

        1. puddin*

          I just had to explain Artist O’Keefe’s subject matter and the overall flower as vulva concept to my 22 yr old nephew. Then I showed him some Judy Chicago and he about ruptured his spleen making ‘ewwww’ faces. Mr. Puddin stepped in to provide some adult masculine ‘this is normal, grow up and get over it’ and ‘how this is a statement made with art’ with a healthy dose of ‘respecting women also involves not cringing at the thought of lady parts’. Very interesting moments for us all.

          1. Sarahnova*

            God bless Mr. Puddin. I have no time for grown men (or women) getting elaborately squicked about basic anatomy.

          2. Ms Enthusiasm*

            I had a O’Keefe calendar at work one year. I didn’t think about it when I bought it and first hung it up but later on I kind of worried that it might offend someone. No one said anything though.

            1. Calliope*

              I think you’d probably be okay with an O’Keeffe calendar at work. Now, an Egon Schiele calendar might be another thing (and if you find one, please let me know!).

          3. Simonthegrey*

            I used to be interested in this guy in college, but he had to take an art history class and asked me to study with him. As a side note, he had been raised pretty deeply religious, while I was more secular. Every single nude painting made him go “Aaah!” and try to cover the nudity with a post-it or his hand. Do you know how many nude Renaissance paintings there are? All of them. It was really childish and I lost interest in him after that.

      3. SJP*

        It’s not that i’m grossed out by them, but why do every day objects have to be made into things that look like vulgars/vaginas, penis’ boobs etc..
        Can’t they just look like what they’re supposed to look like and not always be sexualised..
        I’m a grown adult women, I own one.. I don’t need to see stuff that looks around me and be like “LAWL LOOKS LIKE A VAGINA” all the time.
        Don’t get me wrong I have a giggle at the odd thing but to dedicate a blog to it, it is, evidently, beyond me

        1. puddin*

          I like the idea of the blog because for ages people have tried to phallasize everything. So it is a nice tongue in cheek way of making sure women get ‘equal time’.

          And a lot of things look like vulvas – especially in nature and a lot of engineering mechanics because it is a good design :) It works well for its functions.

          I don’t think you sounded grossed out or prudish and made a good point about being careful to not sexualize things that aren’t.

          1. fposte*

            I also like that it correctly employs “vulvas” and not “vaginas.” To hell with symbolism, I’m about the nomenclature.

            1. JB*

              Right? This drove my old boss crazy. We had cases sometimes that involved discussing body parts, and it enraged her when people said vagina when they meant vulva. [It annoys me, but not to level it bugged her] If you did this, she would call you into her office and have a little discussion, complete with diagrams from medical dictionaries. No man made this mistake more than once.

                1. Sarahnova*

                  Since it seemed that discussing vulvas was a legitimate part of this job, can you really file a sexual harassment suit because somebody corrected you, in a non-sexualised way, on anatomical terminology?

                2. Anonsie*

                  I doubt being corrected on medical terminology that’s a necessary function of your job could constitute sexual harassment. There are plenty of jobs where discussion of genitals is quite necessary.

                3. JB*

                  Uh, this wasn’t sexual harassment. As Sarahnova said, if your job requires you talk about parts of the anatomy, and you use the wrong names, it’s not harassment for a superior to sit you down and explain what the real names are and what parts those names refer to. The reason it was funny that my boss did is because these men ought to have already known the correct terminology, and it’s their own fault that they didn’t. And the men who got it wrong were usually guys who were uncomfortable at the very idea of writing down or referring to parts of the female anatomy, even in clinical terms–probably because his discomfort with the topic and his ignorance about the correct terms were almost certainly related. THAT’s why it was funny. Because of who it was directed at.

                  I have no sympathy for someone who is made completely uncomfortable by the use of medically correct terms for female anatomy discussed in a clinical way when it’s part of his job.

              1. Adonday Veeah*

                “No man made this mistake more than once.”

                They can hear me howling all the way down the hall!

            2. puddin*

              There was a comedienne in the 90’s who said she was going to start using vulva as a positive adjective in place of ‘cool’ or awesome’ and the like…Wow, that sweater is soooo vulva!

              I cannot remember her name to my discredit. I watched the comedy special at the all women’s college I went to at the time. That concept spread like wildfire within our campus.

            3. jhhj*

              Vagina and vulva have different meanings in medical terminology, but are effectively synonyms in everyday speech and I use vagina more because (a) I like the word better and (b) it irritates pedants. There are lots of words that have multiple meanings, specifically a jargon one and a colloquial one, and I don’t see why vagina/vulva is the one that gets people all upset.

                1. jhhj*

                  I mean, enjoy your pet peeves. It’s fine. I do too (this is probably one of them, from the other side). But at least acknowledge that it is not abnormal or wrong for various terms to have different colloquial and medical definitions, and people using vagina colloquially aren’t misunderstanding female anatomy, they just don’t care about specific medical terms.

                  (Not the example above of the misunderstanding in a medical context, where it matters, unless you’re being jerks to your patients about it.)

              1. JB*

                I’m not sure if you were replying to me, but if so, it did matter in the context of my workplace. And this particular one bothers me for lots of reasons I won’t get into here. I don’t care that people say “hearsay” to mean something different from its legal definition, or other words that have a specific meaning in a field and a different one in colloquial use. But this one bothers me. For one thing, maybe if people used correct terms more, we wouldn’t have had so many men who didn’t realize there was a difference.

              2. OP 4*

                it’s problematic that they are effectively synonyms because if how little Americans know about both parts. while what you’re saying is true linguistically, it does a disservice to people with vulvs that the parts are so frequently conflated.

                calling a vulva a vagina is like calling a face a mouth.

        2. RS*

          Why does a female body part necessarily have to be sexualized? It’s possible that sex is the tone of this reader’s blog, but it doesn’t sound that way to me. At least not without some supporting evidence. If anything, as presented, it sounds like it’s doing the opposite. Demystifying the vulva! Haha.

      4. C Average*

        Add me to the list of people who think this is hilarious and plan to look it up when NOT on a work computer.

        Years ago, I had a boyfriend who subscribed to Maxim ( . . . yeah), and I used to love the “found porn” feature. Porn really is all around us.

      5. JustPickANameAlready*

        I can see it. Have you ever taken a close look at the decorations in The Cheesecake Factory? That place alone would be worth a good dozen shots or more.

      6. OP #4*

        hey! OP with the vulva blog here. Sorry to answer so late in the day, but I moved to a new city today!

        The answer to your question is that I was tired of everyone talking about phallic symbols, especially in art and literature. It was 20 years ago now but in AP english we had to grade an essay about a girl climbing a giant tree. And as much as I thought it was dumb, I knew it was actually about losing your virginity. because trees are “phallic symbols”. cigars are phallic symbols. bananas. hotdogs. I mean, they aren’t, they are just those things usually, but people read a lot into those things and I just wanted to counter it with things that are vulvic symbols. Georgia O’Keefe’s work being an obvious and intentional example, but also a lot of depictions of Mary (which I actually think is also intentional), a recent metallica record cover, -lots- of things in nature. It’s not about sexualizing those things, because I don’t think vulva’s are inherently sexual. It’s just because I think that people are too obsessed with penises and see them everywhere and totally overlook the things that are the same amount of vulvic as a cigar is phallic.

        1. Sarahnova*

          I love this rationale for doing it, and I kind of wish this was an appropriate thing for you to talk about in a job interview. It still isn’t, sadly, but we can dream :)

    3. Carrington Barr*

      Please re-read the post.

      The OP says nothing about including the blog. That’s quite clear.

    4. B*

      If one of my friends has a blog that has pictures of things that look like vulvas I would want to know FOR SURE.

      As ever, Know Your Audience :)

      (Is anyone else really wanting the link?? Just me? I’ll get me coat.)

      1. loxthebox*

        It looks like it’s on tumblr – google ‘things that look like vulvas tumblr’ and it comes up. Pretty impressive actually haha

        1. Mephyle*

          I am mighty peeved with Google – it seems to think I know nothing of terminology. I did that search and it is only returning tumblrs of things that look like vaginas.

  2. Mike C.*

    But that will go so well with my blog about things shaped like a phallus! Missiles, airplanes, ancient pottery, all sorts of things! How would they ever forget me?

      1. Liane*

        All this begs a totally facetious, hypothetical AAM question: I am just out of grad school and my thesis/dissertation is all about some plant/animal that looks like privates, how do I word this on my resume and cover letter? I am applying to my *dream job* & am afraid this will ruin my chances because HR/hiring manager thought I was that creep immortalized by AAM for linking to Very Icky Blog on a cover letter.

    1. Anonnymonny*

      Because I’m twelve I still find this funny.

      To the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap your Hands”:

      If it’s taller than it’s wide, it’s a phallus.
      If it’s taller than it’s wide, it’s a phallus.
      If it’s not taller than it’s wide
      Then just put it on its side
      And now it’s taller than it’s wide
      And it’s a phallus.

          1. cd*

            The version I know goes

            If it’s longer than it’s wide, then it’s phallic!
            If it’s longer than it’s wide, then it’s phallic!
            If it’s wider than it’s long,
            Then you’re looking at it wrong:
            You must turn it on it’s side, then it’s phallic!

  3. LikeOhMyGod*

    LW#4, I just ran a Google search, and I totally agree with you about the Cobra Commando logo.

  4. Ann Furthermore*

    2: My guess is that the number of people using the mailroom for personal deliveries has increased, and now a policy is in place because it’s become cumbersome. People used to do this at my company all the time, but it got out of control and the manager of that area put the kibosh on it. Now it’s not allowed, except for a window of about 6 weeks at the end of the year, when you can have deliveries made to the office during the holiday season.

    In your case, since your deliveries are related to what you do during work hours, I’d explain the situation to the manager of that area and see if they’ll grant you an exception. If not, consider renting a mailbox. I had one when I traveled for work all the time and really liked it. Your mail and packages are kept in a secure location, and they usually have early morning or evening hours for people to pick up larger packages that won’t fit in the mailbox.

      1. PEBCAK*

        UPS and FedEx have boxes now, I think.

        In any case, if the signature is an issue, you leave a note saying “USPS — Please leave package at the door” with your signature.

        1. LBK*

          Some packages require an in-person signature – even if you sign a note or sign the little tag they leave for you, they won’t accept it. Super annoying, I had to end up going to the FedEx store to pick it up because I wasn’t going to take a day off work just to get my Amazon delivery.

      2. Koko*

        They won’t deliver to USPS location P.O. boxes, but there are a lot of private “business/postal center” type operations that rent mailboxes and will accept packages from UPS and FedEx.

    1. John*

      The rise in personal deliveries to the office has to do with the rise in two-income families. No one is home anymore.

        1. LV*

          I can’t remember the last time a delivery person actually rang or knocked to see if I was home – it seems like they just automatically fill in the missed delivery notification slip, stick it to the door and speed away!

          1. Lillie Lane*

            Jamie (I think) had a story about this — about how she was home and caught the UPS guy not ringing the doorbell, just so he could be lazy and stick the note.

            1. manybellsdown*

              Oh, yeah, mine would walk to all the doors in my apartment complex to stick notes on them, but not deliver the packages. I’m thinking … you’re already here sticking notes on doors, you couldn’t take the extra time to schlep the package with you??

              1. fposte*

                While I’m annoyed as a recipient, I kind of get this from their standpoint–most of the people aren’t home, and there’s a lot of human wear and tear in hauling this stuff around; it’s doubtless pretty frustrating to end up sore at the end of the day for multiple instances of taking a package for a scenic tour that ends up back at the truck.

                1. Elsajeni*

                  Yeah, especially in large apartment complexes I think it’s totally reasonable to have a policy of “All packages are delivered to the office; notification slips will be delivered to individual residents.”

                2. manybellsdown*

                  That would have been great, but they weren’t actually delivering them AT ALL. Just slapping the notes on the doors that said “no one was home, sorry” and leaving. I wasn’t specific enough. Then I’d have to go pick my packages up. It would have made sense if they’d left them in the office!

                3. LAI*

                  I get this too, but I see an easy solution: just allow people to specify which days/times they are available to receive their packages if a signature is required. UPS already has this technology, they just charge extra for using it. Yes, I’m sure that’s a pain for their scheduling but is it more of a pain than making 3 separate trips to my house and finding that I’m not home each time? I’m pretty consistently out of my house from 8-5 M-F, like most people.

                4. Revanche*

                  Ours, if they bother to deliver (and only 1% of our pkgs actually require a signature), will throw the package at the door and run. I can get to the door less than 5 seconds after I hear the THUNK and they’ll be LONG gone. The dog is highly offended by the throwing of packages. :)

          2. danr*

            Your house has to look like someone’s home… Our open garage door is a certain giveaway. And yes, I live in an area where that’s not an invitation to thieves.

            1. fposte*

              Mine too, but they still sometimes will just leave the slip rather than hauling the package off the truck. It’s actually USPS that’s most prone to that. It’s not about safety, it’s just about minimizing effort.

          3. puddin*

            There is a service you can sign up for on UPS’ website. You can indicate that it is ok to leave the package without signing and even limit which circumstances apply. I get nearly all my packages without a ‘missed you’ note. I mean, what is the good of Amazon Prime if UPS takes an additional day or two to get to you??

            You can also get email or text notifications of pending and completed deliveries. Although these were spoilers for a birthday gift or two :(

            1. Treena Kravm*

              Yes! MyUPS is amazing. When I lived in the hood, they would never ever leave packages without a signature. But I lived on the 3rd floor with a confusing doorbell and the door on the first floor. You can guess how that all worked out. After an angry call, I signed up and it’s the best thing ever. It emails you a day in advance when it’ll be delivered and when it was delivered. I love it!

        2. Judy*

          During the time I was living in an apartment, I was home sick one day and heard someone coming up the stairs, I caught the UPS guy sticking his note on my door, without knocking, and not only did he not have my package with him, my package was ALREADY in the apartment complex office. He stopped on the way into the complex and gave them the packages.

          1. Anonsie*

            Yeah I caught both the UPS and FedEx guys at my old place doing this, coming up with a “we missed you” without even having the package on them, no knocking. I was standing right by the door both times and happened to hear them both times, both times they claimed they knocked and got no answer. I pointed out that they didn’t even bring the package up. The UPS guy just sort of averted his eyes and went to get it, but the FedEx guy told me he wouldn’t go back to his truck again and tried to make me take the missed delivery slip instead. I wouldn’t take it from his hand so after a minute he gave up and went to get the package.

        3. Sabrina*

          It’s not just personal deliveries. I worked at a medical clinic that was open the day before Thanksgiving, and we were expecting a delivery with medications that we needed. Well UPS or FedEx (I forget which) said that they tried to deliver, and we weren’t open. Completely not true. The parking lot had plenty of cars in it, and we were very clearly open. They were medications that had been overnighted because they had to be refrigerated, and waiting a day would mean they’d go bad. So, yeah, that was a mess. It wasn’t our regular driver, but a fill in who clearly wanted to go home early and picked the wrong business and wrong delivery to lie about.

          1. Anonsie*

            Oh god I forgot about all the issues I’ve had with these types of shipments before. You’d think big coolers marked DRY ICE and BIOLOGICAL SUBSTANCE would spur some attention in people, wouldn’t you?

    2. Anonsie*

      The sticking point for me is that these are items for use at work, though. Doesn’t that make them work-related deliveries, and an exception to the “no personal packages” rule?

      1. Sadsack*

        Right, if the package is addressed to Jane Doe at ABC Co., will someone question it? I think if she is getting frequent deliveries, it would raise a flag, but how many deliveries of soap, etc., does one get in a month?

  5. acmx*

    UPS does not deliver to PO boxes. OP would have to get a UPS box -which usually are only open during normal business hours.
    I’m surprised all of the pkgs require a signature. Maybe OP can ask the senders’ to change that.

    1. Heartlover*

      Actually, you can sign up to use the street addressing service for your P.O. box, and thus have UPS and FedEx deliveries sent to your box, using the street address of the post office where your box is located.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Yes, that’s what I did — the address was the building number, street, and then the box number listed the way an apartment or suite number would be listed.

        It really is handy, although setting it up just because I could no longer get deliveries at work would bug me. For me though it was great because I was usually on the road Sunday thru Thursday, so it was nice not to have to worry about mail piling up in my mailbox while I was gone. I was able to go pick everything up when I was home on Fridays.

      2. Lyndel*

        Yes, Heartlover is correct. When I got a post office box in 2013, the post office gave me a delivery address to use for packages requiring signature or those who do not deliver to PO boxes. Also keep in mind, that with package deliveries, some of these companies then put you on a mailing list for catalogs. So that’s additional “non work” mail for clerks to sort. I have a coworker who receives five catalogs to the work address because she has packages delivered to the office.

    2. Jessa*

      Also there are UPS stores that have mailboxes in them. You can actually get a post box at some of them.

    3. JB*

      Yeah, I get UPS deliveries all the time that don’t require a signature. You can check with the sender to see if they’ll change how they ship your packages, or set up a free UPS account to see if it will let you waive signatures.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        I was starting to think I was the only person who got packages via UPS (mostly from Amazon) that did not require a signature. My UPS lady leaves them at the front door and the FedEx guy leaves them at the back door.

        1. JB*

          I’m glad you said something, but I was thinking the same thing. Maybe it’s something do with Amazon, because that’s where I get most of my stuff from? Maybe Amazon has a deal with carriers that their stuff normally doesn’t require a signature.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            It might be. My Amazon orders usually come via the mail (FedEx uses SmartPost). My Amazon UK packages come via ROYAL mail. :D My regular mail carrier puts my packages behind the screen door sometimes.

            If I order something from elsewhere (like my Eddie Bauer stuff), I have it sent to the office so it doesn’t get stolen off my stoop. Unfortunately, now EB is spamming me with catalogs at home AND work. I need to get off that list.

          2. Anonsie*

            Around here Amazon uses their own special courier service.

            I never need to sign for anything regardless of where it’s coming from, though. This deal about UPS is news to me.

        2. Treena Kravm*

          It’s the neighborhood you’re in. UPS tracks where packages “go missing” when they’re left on a porch and then the entire neighborhood gets marked as “unsafe” to leave the packages unattended. So if you don’t need a signature for anything (barring a $3,000 TV or something) it’s because you’re in a super safe neighborhood where no one steals packages off your porch.

    4. Artemesia*

      I live in a doorman building and so we always get our packages and the building crew delivers them to our apartment, putting them just inside the door if we aren’t home. This is just so great. When we lived in a house, we often had those dang notes on the door even though we lived in a safe neighborhood to leave packages and we had authorized it.

    5. MaryMary*

      If UPS decides your address is in an “unsecure” area, they won’t leave packages at your doorstep. When I lived in Chicago (in a nice, safe neighborhood, btw), UPS insisted that someone accept my packages in person. My only other options were to pick up my package from UPS, or have it sent to a “secure” address, which for me was my office. It was a pain in the butt.

      1. Natalie*

        They’ll also put specific addresses on a blacklist if too many things get stolen from them. Then you have to sign for everything, no matter what the delivery instructions say.

        1. chump with a degree*

          “too many”in our case, was one. Which UPS said they had left inside the screen door; we located it months later under a tarp at the far side of our long driveway.

      2. AnonAnalyst*

        Ugh, yes. I had this issue in another large city (also in a nice, safe neighborhood), except my issue was with FedEx. No matter how much I asked, begged, or provided something in writing(!) stating I wouldn’t hold them responsible if the package was stolen, the FedEx delivery person refused to leave packages and customer service could do nothing since it was up to the driver’s discretion. It was incredibly frustrating, and is now the reason I try to avoid using FedEx for shipping whenever possible, both at work and for personal shipping.

    6. Koko*

      There are also third-party/independent places in many towns that rent mailboxes that can accept UPS and FedEx boxes. These places usually also sell packing supplies, phone calling cards, copier/fax services, key copies, etc. Sort of like a Kinko’s but they’re just little small independent businesses, usually found in the phone book under business center or postal center.

  6. SJP*

    Can someone explain to me about OP2’s post… really. Cause I guess it does depend on size of the company but I think it’s totally unreasonable for a company to not have personal stuff delivered. And this is coming from someone who regularly takes deliveries of personal parcels and hands them out to people.
    We all spend so much of our day at work and parcels are too big to be sent to home if no-one is there, so you have to go to the depo to pick them up..
    Why can’t they just suck it up and keep having them delivered. Or even just a restriction on size (people have had things like bikes and BBQ’s delivered to work which is totally silly as they’re usually so large) but smaller parcels I really don’t see the problem with.
    Way to annoy 99% of your staff…

    1. Jessa*

      It may be that there are just so many that it’s overwhelming the one person they have to do mail, or it may be that someone got something inappropriate sent. Until the OP asks however, nobody knows. The problem is it may be legit or it may be a huge overreaction to one person’s behaviour. The old “Jo did something bad so nobody else can ever have nice things,” routine.

    2. Henrietta Gondorf*

      I had a co-worker who was responsible for ordering a lot of supplies which frequently came addressed to him personally. He had a medical emergency and was out for 10 days, so his replacement kept opening boxes that were coming from our regular suppliers. Unfortunately for my co-worker, one of those boxes was from Amazon and included a huge box of condoms and some sex toys.

      After that, no personal deliveries.

      1. Melissa*

        Yeah, that is one of the reasons I have not had personal packages diverted to work. Not that I regularly order sex toys online…but almost everything I do order is for personal use, and I just don’t necessarily want my coworkers in my business (or to know how often I order things online). I even ordered the few things I bought for my office to my apartment and just took them to work with me the day after they came.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Receiving packages uses company resources. Let’s flash back to the $6 military vet or the “how much is it okay to copy on the copy machine” conversation. It’s all okay up to some point and then somebody in charge says “it’s not okay anymore”.

      I don’t think we’d ever cut it off as we receive hundreds of packages per day so occasional packages are no big deal. If someone was regularly receiving multiple packages per week personally, it would start to stand out. You don’t want to stand out when you’re borrowing company resources. (Like, clogging up the copy machine with your personal stuff when your co-workers are trying to print work stuff.)

      1. jag*

        Here’s the thing.

        Letting employees receive packages at work is probably a very cost-effective perk. If an employee has to take half-a-day off to receive a package or rent a box at a packages place, that’s a lot of money. Whereas for the company it’s, say, five minutes of mailroom staff time. That is, the value to the employees is much larger than the cost to the company. In my opinion, the company should allow it and let it be known that it’s a perk. It’s a low-cost way to adding value to the employees lives.

        1. Tenley*

          I don’t know, thinking even about my apartment complex, which has about the same number of people living here as work where I do, the front office workers became so literally overwhelmed with the resident packages that didn’t fit in the mailbox (and so much of their work day time became centered on organizing and retrieving the packages) that management installed a 24 – hour electronic locker “package concierge” so staff could focus on everything else. I think it’s easy to think it’s nothing when in fact it can come to dominate the operation.

          1. Tenley*

            (Just adding: The apartment complex is one of those high rises from the 1960s — so the front office has always dealt with this issue. It’s that people’s package-delivery habits have changed dramatically in the past 10 years or so, with people buying everything off of Amazon etc. I mean you would be astounded to see the number of packages the front office housed, and how much foot traffic that generated, when that staff was really there for rental issues, maintenance requests, to show prospective renters apartments, basically everything else.)

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Sure. We also let people ship personal packages out as a perk, with the money going into a petty cash drawer. That’s all fine unless someone decides to run their eBay business that way.

          It’s still all a company resource and not an entitlement. Definitely not a blanket “any company is crazy/stingy for saying no”.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            I just remembered the best story that goes along with the topic, albeit packages going out.

            So, if you need to ship a personal package out, what happens, practically, is that you go into the warehouse and find the very nice woman who runs it and say, “I have to get this stupid vase to my my stupid Aunt Mabel, can you help me.”. She finds a box, she helps you pack it, she ships it for you and tells you to pay the receptionist for the $x.xx discounted UPS charge.

            Last year, I walk in the warehouse and there is this giant ass piece of driftwood – at least 4′ long, and at least 2′ high at highest point and about 1 to 2′ wide. There are four people crowded around it. there’s shipping knives and pieces of cardboard everywhere. and tape.

            I say, what the HELL is going on?

            The very nice woman has trouble saying no. An older (much older) gentleman who works for us part time apparently needed to get the piece of driftwood to his sister who collects driftwood.

            Four people had been trying to make a box for this for over half an hour.

            I’m like, no! The very nice woman was all “awwwww, he’s so old………..” I yelled at her (playfully) for being too nice and made her promise is there was any more driftwood, her only answer would be directions to the UPS store.

        3. MK*

          Who says it’s five minutes of mailroom staff time? In a not-small company you might have lots of packages delivered daily, which could means hours of staff time.

              1. LBK*

                Presumably the same person that’s always held responsible if something goes missing, whether it’s a work or personal item? That’s not really an exclusive issue to employees using the mail room for personal shipments.

                1. fposte*

                  But usually an individual isn’t responsible–the company’s responsible. The company is unlikely to accept responsibility for your missing personal shipments.

          1. jag*

            ” you might have lots of packages delivered daily, which could means hours of staff time.”

            Right. And lots more staff’s time saved. I’m saying five minute of mailroom versus much more of each staff member’s time per package. Multiplied by however big the company it is.

            It’s like it costs the company $.25 for every $1.00 it saves employees. Win-win if that is considered as a benefit.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              I don’t think you are understanding how the logistics are different company to company.

              I have not a few customers who have things delivered to their home, work related, because it is so cumbersome to receive at their place of business (usually institutions).

              The UPS driver does not walk through the front door and drop the package on your desk. The salaries and time of other employees are involved in getting that package from UPS to you. You wouldn’t like it if people counted your work time as cheap value so I think it’s important to not disregard the value of receivers everywhere.

              1. fposte*

                Yes, there are a lot of logistics, risk, resources, etc. involved in this. It’s great when a workplace can do it, but the justification for why they should spend workplace assets on employee personal services seems to be “because I want them to.” I don’t see why that flies more for this than, say, letting the employees commute in the fleet cars.

              2. Judy*

                At my last employer, all shipping came in through the incoming production dock. They had a “cage” for the non-production incoming items. You would generally get an email if you had a shipment, and then you had to arrange for the coordinator to meet you at the locked cage to get your package. Otherwise, it would get to your mail drop area in 2-3 days, as they moved it from that cage to the main guard station, where our admin would move it to our mail drop.

                I certainly found it easier sometimes to work from home until 10am, to get an overnight shipment of prototypes or samples and then come in to work. It was a good 1/2 mile from my desk to the dock, and I had to wear hearing protection through part of it, dodge fork trucks, wear safety glasses and “production ready” shoes through all of it.

              3. Anon for this*

                Yes – totally depends on the company.

                And my guess is it was fine until someone started going overboard with it and as happens they pulled the perk from everyone.

                If this came up now they are probably trying to nip it before Christmas. A package here or there may not be a big deal, especially to a larger company, but to a SMB with a small shipping/receiving department who have things to do everyone sending out and receiving holiday packages through them is a huge disruption.

                And for companies where people are regularly shipping stuff over seas – which get out of hand over the holidays as well – it’s not always an immaterial cost.

                This falls into the category of ‘it’s nice if they allow it but no one is entitled’ perks.

                I would just get one of those boxes or have it shipped to one of those shipping places. We’ve used that when the item was spendy and no one was going to be home to get it and you don’t need a box to ship to mailboxes etc. or whatever.

            2. MK*

              You are ignoring the fact that the staff time saved is personal time, not work time. What you are suggesting is that a company offer to run an employee’s mailing errants for them as a benefit. And most people don’t spend such an inordinant amount of time collecting packages; if they do, it’s probably going to be a significant resource for the company too.

              By the way, I seriously doubt you can spin this as a perk without having the employees eye-rolling; and even if you do, that would create a whole other series of problems. If you tell people this is part of their compensation, it’s something they are entitled to; they will want the mail delivered promptly and safely, they will hold the company responsible if it’s lost or damaged, etc. It’s just not as simple as you make it out to be.

              1. Natalie*

                Depending on the company, saving employee personal time might be a worthwhile perk to offer. Consider Google and their free meals and laundry service or whatever it is – they kind of want you to be working all of the time, so they provide a bunch of services to make that easier.

                1. Judy*

                  I did work at a company that offered time saving perks but they were just the company allowing other businesses access to their lobby.

                  One was a photo kiosk, so that you could drop your film (see how long ago that was) in the envelope, and the prints would be mailed to you. You had to put a check in the envelope with the film canister.

                  The other was a dry cleaning place that would set up their truck outside the lobby on Tuesday mornings. They would gather clothes, clean them, and return once a week. I think you could pick up your clothes between noon Thursday and noon Monday at the store, also.

                2. Observer*

                  Sure. It’s not that it’s crazy to think that a company would do it. There are a lot of good reasons, in fact, to allow the practice. But, there are also some real issues and there could be good reasons why a company decides not to. So, while it could be that the LW’s company decided not to allow it for stupid reasons, there could also be good reasons for this – and no one knows which it is, because the LW has no idea who came up with the idea and why.

          2. Niki*

            Or, if it is a small company but there is only one person that goes through the mail (that would be me) and going through a few extra packages a day adds up by the end of the week.

        4. Student*

          This is highly business and employee specific. It’s entirely possible for a person (especially a group of people) to use shipping services enough that the business needs to hire a new mail room employee. to handle the volume.

          It’s also possible that employees are shipping problematic items. There are laws about shipping (and rules set by shipping businesses), and violating those laws are a much bigger problem for businesses that do lots of shipping than for private individuals. What if Doreen is shipping moonshine to her out-of-state relatives for Christmas through the company mail room? What is Francis is having his firearm purchases delivered to the company? What if Bethany is running a side business and using the company shipping department to defray her costs? What if Fred decides to take advantage of this company perk to ship his son’s room to his dorm, including 10 boxes of books (and then to receive all that stuff at the end of the school year when Sonny moves back in)?

        5. Chinook*

          “Letting employees receive packages at work is probably a very cost-effective perk. ”

          Only as long as it isn’t costing the organization money or business. If the mail clerk or receptionist spends so much time dealing with personal deliveries that they have trouble completing their regular job, then it is no longer cost-effective. I think the kabosh on personal deliveries got put in by my office manager when I, the receptionist, had a line up of couriers waiting for me to sign for items while I was answering a busy phone line and the area behind my desk look like a storage place from all the boxes employees ahd to come pick up. While our mail clerk took care of delivering items internally (when she decided she had time, but that was another issue) if theey weren’t too large or heavy, I still had to sign for them when they came in. OM actually had me track for a few weeks how many came on a given day along with all my other tasks and interruptions so she could make the case to either decrease the workload (i.e. ban personal deliveries) or get another body to work with me.

          1. Observer*

            Well, sometimes the cost to the business is well worth it. A lot depends on the specific company.

        6. Elizabeth West*

          Exjob used to let people send and receive packages. They didn’t abuse it. I had to make out a slip for them with the shipping cost for FedEx packages sent and they would pay the accounting department. The best part was you got the special rate that the business paid when you sent stuff–you didn’t have to pay the higher individual rate.

          It would have been hard for them to say no to it, as LadyBoss did it ALL THE TIME. It never bothered me to do a package for someone. Of course, they might have changed that since I left there.

        7. Sadsack*

          It is low cost until christmas time when 500+ people are having their amazon packages delivered to the office where there are five people working in the mail room.

    4. Elkay*

      I used to work in a company with 5 sites (4 in the city, one out of town) with over 2000 people. We had one mail room at the out of town site where all our mail went, regardless of the address you put on the package. Most of the other buildings got minimal mail, despite each site having between 150-500 people (the one mail room was based at our widget dispatch/receiving site) so the mail room was tiny and unstaffed. If we’d been allowed personal deliveries it would have been carnage, not only on top of our widget deliveries but the unstaffed mail rooms would have been piled high with deliveries and complaints about things going missing. Sometimes it makes sense to not allow personal deliveries.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Most of my parcels end up being delivered to the post office, so I can easily collect them from there. I happen to be fortunate my company offers working from home, so if I know I am expecting a bulky order (I often have cases of wine delivered) I will arrange to work from home that day.

      2. doreen*

        My employer does something similar. In certain areas, we have offices in a number of buildings that are close to each other and pursuant to arrangements with the USPS, Fed Ex etc, all deliveries go to the one building with a mailroom ( because it’s pretty common for something to be addressed to Person X or Dept Y at 350 Main Street when that person or dept is actually located at 14 Elm St) and then the mailroom staff in that building delivers to the other buildings. If personal deliveries were allowed it would be burden on the mailroom staff- not to mention what happens when a personal package shipped to the office (contrary to policy) goes missing. Lets just say according to the recipients, nothing gets misplaced, only stolen.

    5. Meg Murry*

      We had issues in the past one place I worked because the area UPS dropped off in wasn’t all that secure, and the UPS guy would just ask anyone to sign for the packages he left in the other room – at most they were jut counting the boxes, not actually checking each one. On more than one occasion, one of the boxes containing a valuable item went missing – once the person’s assistant took it back to the office without telling the package staff, other times there was a miscount and the box got left on the truck and the driver brought it back the next day. Either way, since someone had signed for it, UPS and the company wouldn’t have been able to replace it if the item was actually lost, since there was a signature. I can totally see a company not wanting their mailroom staff being held liable for losing someone’s personal valuable delivery (or a work related one) because they were overwhelmed by the number of packages they were dealing with. And have you seen the number of packages people get now with things like Amazon Prime, Subscribe & Save, Birchbox, Zappos etc? I get no less than 2 packages a week at my house – that’s a lot to ask your mailroom staff to deal with.

      OP, since these are items you plan to use at work, you might be able to talk to your supervisor about the new policy and if that is an exception. But while I get that the policy stinks for you, I totally understand why the company would do it.

    6. FamilyofRobot*

      Perhaps it’s for security reasons. Or too many people are doing it it could take up a lot of just for people to sign for all those personal packages.

      It seems weird to me that they all require signatures but who knows. Regardless, I don’t think the added processing time for having it delivered to their home is a valid excuse. If you know it’s going to show up a day later, then order it a day earlier. Plan ahead. It’s not that difficult.

      I don’t have a problem with OP2 getting personal packages at the office and I think it would be reasonable to ask if an exception can be made due to special needs. However, most people manage to get personal items without getting their office involved so I think this is something the office can also reasonably say no to.

      1. shellbell*

        I think it depends on where you live. In some places (NYC and other urban areas) it can be more difficult to get packages at home. It can be almost impossi le if it requires signature. Depending on work hours and commute times it might get sent back to a main fedex facility until the person has time to get it on saturday. I am lucky to have package acceptance at my apartment and it saves a ton of trouble.

        1. FamilyofRobot*

          And yet 9 million New Yorkers figure it out. I would bet the majority of them are not able to receive packages at work. A lot of residential buildings in NYC sign packages at the front desk for just this reason.

          Again, I think OP2 should absolutely ask if the exception can be made. I get it. I have peripheral neuropathy and get a prescription medicated lotion I can apply to help with pain in my hands. In the past I often needed it at work and I couldn’t touch anything after I put it on because the pain killers in it will transfer to other people through their skin. So I have to put sweaters on and wear gloves for about an hour after I apply it. OP2s description made me think of this. But this is not a medical condition I need accommodations for through my employer. So I get my lotion delivered to me at home and I plan ahead to make sure I have it when I need it. I’m sure there is a way OP2 can get it without relying on her employer if she had to.

          If OP2 needs accommodations then that should absolutely be pursued. But if we are talking about extra sensitive skin or something like that then that is a personal issue you handle yourself for the most part. You plan ahead and find a way to make it work.

          1. AVP*

            Actually…in NYC it might be considered a deal-breaker for a company not to accept packages, I literally can’t think of one company that doesn’t do it. And I freelanced for years so we’re talking dozens of places that I’ve worked at. None of my friends have ever worked at a place that didn’t do this, either.

            Doorman buildings will sign for packages but those are places that typically start around $3000/month for a 1BR. Anyone who can’t afford that, we have figured it out…by sending packages to our work addresses!

            I’m sure there must be some companies who can’t do this for security reasons, but it’s really so normal here that it would be an odd quirk.

          2. MousyNon*

            Yeah, I don’t think your assumption in the first line is correct. Anecdotally, this is a perk I’ve seen at every NYC company I’ve worked in. I’ve had this conversation with colleagues as well, and they concur. This is very much a cost that I would say many, if not most, large NYC companies eat in order to make their employees lives a little easier.

            Most NYC apartment buildings, by the way, do NOT have a front desk, or even locked/secured mail rooms. Packages that don’t require a signature are just left there, and theft is a serious problem, which is why so many New Yorkers have personal items mailed to their offices.

            As long as employees don’t abuse the privilege (which can and is at the company’s discretion), I don’t see what the problem is.

            1. FamilyofRobot*

              Anecdotally, I worked at 3 different companies in NYC and was never allowed to receive packages. I think you are discounting the fact that not everyone who lives in NYC works for a large company. Many people don’t. And you’re right that they probably don’t live in buildings with doormen or front desks to sign for packages but they still figure it out. My brother and sister-in-law used to live in NYC as well. They had a front desk that accepted packages and most of the people I met through them I noticed also did when I went to their places.

              They probably were able to receive packages at work. There is probably a correlation to how much money you make and what kind of job you have and whether your job allows perks like that. There are plenty of people who live and work in NYC at places that won’t have that perk and special needs are not exclusive to people who do. Yet, they still figure something out. OP2 can too.

              1. shellbell*

                I could also bring my own T.P. to work if I had to, but I’d rather work at a place that provided it.

              2. AVP*

                Oh, I was actually thinking about it in the opposite way – all of the small companies that I’ve worked for haven’t had a problem with this, since the scale is so small, and it might be the larger companies who have blanket policies against this.

                Someone down thread recommended renting out a Mailbox Express box, which is an annoying expense but might the the OP’s best option. The main fedex office in downtown NYC will hold packages for recipients but if you don’t live/work downtown it’s in the middle of nowhere.

                1. FamilyofRobot*

                  I can see what you are saying. I was thinking more along the lines of say, fast food workers and the like. I just don’t think anyone can make the blanket statement that “most people can have packages delivered to work”. And to imply, as shellbell did above, that most people have the luxury to up and leave a job that doesn’t allow this and just go on over to another, is woefully ignorant of the average workers situation in this country. In this job market very few people are in the position to be so choosey. Even for high powered executives, I seriously doubt this would be a deal breaker (though it’s probably a non-issue for them).

                  I wasn’t actually intending to get into a debate like this. My point was really that this isn’t something that can’t be handled by planning ahead. It is a luxury to have your packages delivered at work and I didn’t think an additional day of processing was really a valid reason to imply that packages absolutely have to be delivered at work. That part of it really isn’t a game changer.

                  Perhaps OP2s assumption that the office assistant made this rule up just soured me on the whole thing. Sorry to get so off course.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I used to work at a giant company with a giant mailroom and limited staff. At one point, my team moved to a different floor and all desk-to-desk mail delivery stopped entirely– you had to go to a central box to pick up your stuff. The mail staff had 50 floors and hundreds of people for whom they had to deliver mail, and they did 2 runs every day. Now imagine every single one of those employees getting their Zappos packages on a daily basis and taking up room on the mail carts and taking time to go floor-by-floor on the already slow elevators… It’s a strain on resources. The company had a policy in place but never enforced it because we lived in NYC and way too many people lived in buildings where they could never get packages, and post offices had limited hours, and and and… They tried to establish a policy that people had to come to the office to get their packages, but that meant one person had to call EVERY SINGLE RECIPIENT to tell them to come down, and that was a big waste of time and resources.

      I get it, believe me– when I lived in Brooklyn I had the worst time getting my packages, and it really, really sucked. But I dealt with it because those were the rules and at the end of the day, it wasn’t a huge deal for me to wait 3 days to get my stuff from Amazon. There are ways to make things more convenient, like the UPS Store boxes several people have suggested (UPS Stores here stay open pretty late). I just think that of all the policies to rail against, this one is pretty low on the list.

    8. The IT Manager*

      A bunch of people have already explained good business reasons why above me. 1 person with 1 package not much extra work no matter how small your office is, but when multiple people start doing it especially around the coming holiday season…

      We have had this discussion before here. IIRC people in cities (NY mostly) seemed to think of this as a important employee benefit because of their living situations and the security or lack thereof at their homes/apartments. People in other parts of the country/different living situations seemed to have less of a problem with it.

      I live in a townhome. I once had a package sit outside my door for about a week. I was expecting it and kept checking my mailbox, but never thought to check for the box at my side door/entrance which I never use because I always enter through the garage.

      1. the gold digger*

        the security or lack thereof at their homes

        My husband ordered a new computer. It arrived while I was at work and he was not at home and sat on our front doorstep all day. We are lucky to live in a place where we didn’t even think twice about that being a problem.

        1. Judy*

          Especially back in the day of the cow spotted boxes. Really, you can’t put that on the back porch or at least by the garage doors?

          1. Heather*

            Oh yeah, a few years ago I ordered a Blu-ray player on Buy.com…and it arrived in its original packaging, as in the box you’d see on the shelf at Best Buy, with a lovely picture on the front to let thieves know exactly what model they’d be stealing. I am still thanking my lucky stars that it was still there when I got home.

              1. Pennalynn Lott*

                Last year my neighborhood experienced a rash of package thefts as we got closer to xmas. I recruited several neighbors to put dummy packages full of dog poop on our porches. I had two such packages stolen off my porch in early December, as did the other neighbors. . . and then the thefts stopped entirely. >;-)

                We’ll be doing it again this year. I’ve already Photoshopped some realistic-looking fake labels for us all to use.

        2. Natalie*

          Ugh, I was very annoyed when I ordered a new cell phone through my carrier and they refused to deliver it to my office. Obviously I wasn’t home to sign for the package at my apartment building, so I had to drive out to the burbs to get my dang phone.

          1. Chinook*

            I feel your pain. One of the major courier companies doesn’t have a pickup place in my small city (which is 20 km from the big city). So, whenever something comes for me, I have to drive back into the big city to get it. The really cut boots for a great price were so not worth the effort and I now refuse to purchase from any site that uses said courier.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            That’s why I went to the store to get my new phone last week. I did NOT want to order one through the mail and have it sit on my stoop and 1) get stolen, or 2) get rained on.

        3. Carrie in Scotland*

          I can remember a complaint from a customer about her (expensive) Christmas parcels being delivered by a dept store and left underneath her car

      2. Student*

        I don’t understand why the packaging companies don’t just change their hours to serve people outside of the 9-5 window better. I suppose it’s a small business waiting to happen. “Ship your stuff to our company, and we’ll hold it until you pick it up. Service desk is open 5 PM – 1 AM.” Put the depot near a major subway station or bus station for major cities.

    9. SJP*

      Very good comments from you guys, thanks. Does help me clarify.

      Although as someone said above, it is a perk I guess and one that staff really do sometimes come to rely on. I know the OP didn’t put in size of the company and I totally get it it’s a huge company and it gets crazy then fair enough.

      But if it’s mid sized and as I suggested putting a size or quantity limit on then thats fair enough but blanket ban does seem to be a bit far.
      Also as someone said, running a Ebay business or ordering excess from Amazon is not cool but the odd thing surely doesn’t seem a huge deal.
      I dunno, it’s 6 of 1, half a dozen of the other with this issue I guess

    10. Juli G.*

      My guess is that Christmas was a disaster last year. That’s what usually happens around here (but we’re big enough that all of the higher ups are probably not connected enough to know it).

      I’m actually surprised that so many people do get personal packages at work but I live in a suburban area – I suppose it’s different for apartment/condo dwellers.

    11. LQ*

      I’m just the opposite, I think it is incredibly weird that any company would allow personal packages to be delivered to the office. I actually think it is really weird that anyone would WANT to have their packages delivered to the company. Who knows who is going to open your package accidentally or intentionally.

      (I’ve just found out a lot of my friends do this to their offices and it continually weirds me out to think about someone else opening my package.)

      1. JB*

        I get how it’s a nice perk for employees, but I don’t see why employees think they are *entitled* to it. It takes employee time and therefore company time to deal with the incoming packages. I order so much stuff from Amazon that I get at least one package a week, usually more. If a good number of my coworkers are doing the same thing, why should my employer be responsible for dealing with that? And as others pointed out, what happens if the package goes missing?

        We have a no personal packages at work rule at my current job, and I was surprised by it when I first started, but now I don’t mind. I get it. And they do let me receive package for stuff that it strictly for the office. I have a lot of dietary restrictions and so I order a lot of my food from online places, but i don’t have that sent to work even though some of it will be eaten there. But if it’s office supplies that I’m personally paying for but will be using only for work, I can have that sent to the office. That seems like a reasonable compromise to me.

        If the OP is buying stuff that is really and truly JUST for use at work, then hopefully his or her manager will allow it. It seems so inefficient to have go home and get it and then take it the office (although I’m perplexed by statement that UPS requires signatures, unless it’s the sender who is requiring signatures).

        1. AVP*

          I don’t think it’s entitlement, exactly, it’s just that in some parts of the world this is so normal that it seems odd to think of people not offering it, and not having it would truly necessitate reworking your life in a new way (no online shopping, no Amazon) so the idea confuses people.

          1. JB*

            I see what you mean, but I didn’t mean people who were surprised or confused by it. I’m one of those people who was taken aback when I found out my work place wouldn’t allow it. I’ve had to leave work early before because I had a delivery of raw meat sitting on my porch in the summer, so I get the inconvenience factor.

            I’m talking about people who push back on such a policy and argue that the company should do it, that there’s no reason not to, people who act like they’ve been told the company doesn’t allow bathroom breaks. Especially since these people are usually not in a position to know whether the company’s reasons for not doing it are justified or not. A number of people in the comments here today have made arguments about how it’s ridiculous for the company to not do it, but I haven’t seen any who were, say, the president of the company, or someone who would actually know the reason for the policy or the basis for it.

            And in the US, at least, as other people have commented, for many people, there are options other than delivery at work or no deliveries at all. Not for everyone, to be sure, but there are more and more options popping up for more people.

      2. bkanon*

        Yeah, I think this is odd, too. Though most of my experience was in retail, so packages came on a semi and were opened by whoever grabbed the boxcutter first. Privacy would be nonexistent. I wouldn’t have something delivered to work even if it had been usual practice.

      3. Joline*

        I think it depends on the size of your office. I just came from an office that had at max times 30 people. A receptionist who received mail and packages – which weren’t huge volumes as we were an accounting firm (so no goods for resale being shipped or anything). If something came in with your name on it she’d just shoot you an e-mail or communicator message saying you had a package and you’d walk the 30 feet and go pick it up from her.

        Current job with all sorts of employees over multiple buildings I’d never even consider it.

      4. Cat*

        I mean, I’ve never had a package opened by my office but I also don’t send anything to work that I care if the mailroom people accidentally see. They’re nice people; they’re not going to judge me for my taste in novels or kitchen equipment. Not that big a deal.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I never opened personal packages, but Exjob was small enough that I knew if something came in addressed to Susie Creamcheese, that it was probably personal, because she didn’t get packages from clients. I also knew what the client packages looked like / who they were from. But I could not have remembered all that for 500+ employees.

    12. Karowen*

      I’m on the opposite end – for our company it’s totally unreasonable TO have personal stuff delivered. We have one woman who sorts incoming mail, plus deals with our benefits, payroll, etc. She has enough to do without traipsing around the building trying to find a person so she can deliver the personalized Dr. Who mug that isn’t even staying in the office.

      There are exceptions – my co-worker had a prescription come in that was a controlled substance and it had to be signed for. There was no sending it back to the warehouse and trying another day; if the delivery was missed it went back to the manufacturer. That’s fine. But I have another co-worker who is just trying to hide his purchases from his wife so he gets (admittedly small) packages delivered once a week. While I can completely understand it happening once in awhile, he’s abusing the system and will probably get it taken away from all of us.

      1. Jeanne*

        We had someone abusing personal package delivery back before the internet (catalog shopping). I ended up with terrible trouble getting my prescription meds delivered. The company health plan wanted us to use mail order pharmacy. But my meds needed a signature and I needed a day off a month to get delivery. I got permission to have my meds delivered at work. Nothing else but at least I could get meds. Companies can make exceptions if you ask. The key is to not brag about it if you get one.

    13. Andrea*

      For me, I don’t have packages delivered to work because I don’t think it’s ok to ask our courier staff to do personal errands for me. I wouldn’t like it if they asked me to do something for them when I’m busy with my own work, so I return the courtesy.

  7. Carrie in Scotland*

    #1 – I work in an academic setting. Most of my building’s offices are off a long corridor. Generally the norm seems to be that unless out to lunch/in a meeting/wanting privacy the doors are open. Everyone’s blinds are shut next to the doors.

  8. Yo Joe!*

    Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization bent on ruling the world (and promoting the art of Georgia O’Keeffe)

  9. Kelly L.*

    I agree with Alison that the rule is almost certainly not actually coming from the assistant. A substantial part of my job is communicating announcements that someone else, someone higher up, wrote.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Yup. In fact, I’m amused that OP #2 doesn’t assume the directive came from someone higher up. That’s what I always do. When our admin assistant sends out a policy email, the default is that her boss asked her to send it.

      1. some1*

        You’d be surprised. At a former company whenever I had to send out emails about policy reminders or changes, I would even write, ” Per Director/AVP” and people still would act like I was trying to make up rules to upset people.

        1. JB*

          Our secretary has that problem. She’s taken to saying in these kinds of emails several times, in different ways, that a directive has come from a higher up and not from her own whim.

          1. Judy*

            Maybe the directives should be written like a news story.

            “Mailroom Usage Per Ms. Jane Smith, Director:
            * Employees should not use the mailroom for personal deliveries or shipping says Ms. Smith.
            * Outgoing business packages should be in the mailroom before 3 pm says the Director.
            * Smith also explains that employees should use the new tracking form when submitting packages for shipping.”

        2. Andy*

          This happens to me ALL THE TIME and I also do the “per so-and-so”. For some reason there isn’t a single person I work with who understands that I’m not the boss. I’m the assistant. I had to ask someone one day, “Do you think I’m the boss of anything? I can’t even dictate when I get to leave my desk for the restroom let alone which office which professor should get or who gets the new laptop.”

          1. Kelly L.*

            A related peeve is when I’m passing on an announcement that has a specific not-me contact person. Let’s say I’m forwarding a press release about the seminar Wakeen is holding next week. In the message, it’ll specifically say “Contact Wakeen at (number) or (email) if you have any questions.” Without fail, I get a million messages asking for info that only Wakeen has. And of course I can forward them on or call Wakeen myself with each of these questions, but it’s annoying.

            1. JB*

              I have taken to pretend obliviousness. “Oh, gosh, I don’t know. What did Wakeen say when you asked?”

              It doesn’t prevent the annoying questions from happening, but it makes my petty spirit feel better.

    2. Heather*

      Yeah, am I the only one who thought the tone of that letter was a little, I don’t know, presumptous, superior, something like that (it’s Monday morning, my brain’s thesaurus hasn’t started working yet)? Until I got to the vulva blog letter, I thought there’d be a lot of comments about it….but naturally, a vulva blog takes precedence. :)

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yeah, it read a little like, “this person has no authority to dictate this,” when I think there’s about a zero percent chance that it’s actually being dictated by the assistant.

      2. Miss Betty*

        No, you’re not. Unfortunately, when you work as an assistant, it’s a tone you hear frequently. *sigh*

    3. Frances*

      Yup, I’ve had that job, too. Granted, sometimes I *was* the person who initiated the rule change by going to my boss and saying “this ongoing problem has developed, could we change office policy to help address it?” but even then it had to go through several layers of approval before I was given clearance to announce any change.

    4. Jeanne*

      I have encountered low level people making their own rules and announcing them like they had the authority. Some bosses will stop this. Others are bad bosses and don’t.

  10. Elysian*

    I’m going to differ a little on #5 – OP I think you should check with career services at your school, or with your professors. Lots of places that hire new grads will know that you can’t start until after graduation, but may start their hiring timelines much much earlier. In my field (which is law, and is admittedly weird in a lot of ways) you’d be starting too late if you waited to start until Jan of the year you graduate. I would suggest you get in touch with your professors and career services and see if you can figure out what the hiring timelines are in your field and geographic area. They’ll likely know when their grads need to start applying to get jobs in various places.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I agree with this, the firm I work for has a massive graduate intake and has set up the process to extend offers prior to the students being available, but the offers are conditional on the student getting the grade they expect to.

    2. Melissa*

      Yep. I worked with a lot of senior undergrads, and in certain industries (consulting and finance mainly, but some others like advertising) many of them had job offers before they went home for the winter holidays.

    3. Artemesia*

      I agree. Many many companies have a seasonal employment cycle for new grads timed to graduation. If you don’t apply by November, for some companies you may simply not be considered for that year and you have aged out or been unemployed too long for the next year. Consulting firms are notorious for this. Waiting to job search until you graduate is often way to late. When my husband got his advanced degree, he had his job locked up in October of the year he wouldn’t graduate until August. (he was on a specialized year round program — most people hired at that time graduated in June but his firm hired all the yearly grads in the same wave.)

      You might find that you need to apply to particular places you are interested in later — you can find that out — but waiting without checking may mean you get ‘oh we are already in interviews for those positions; applications were due by December 1.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Totally agree it’s field dependent, but in this case we know the fields the OP is applying: government (start early) and nonprofits (start a few months before).

    5. Anonsie*

      I agree with this but with the added caution that the odds of you getting anything from your school’s career center are extremely slim, so don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t give you any leads.

      My university (massive state uni) has a career services department that was more like career “services.” They maintained a database that employers could theoretically post jobs in, but most of the time was empty. That was about it.

    6. themmases*

      I would add that I’m in a public health program right now and she should talk to her boss and coworkers at her practicum and her job.

      I’m at a public school of public health and almost everyone you encounter as a part-time worker, even if you don’t get your job through your program, is an alum who was in your position a few years ago. Tons of MPH and MSW grads work in the schools they graduated from, or research and public service organizations connected to the school, and they are incredibly helpful. The same goes for outside organizations where you do your internship or practicum: there is a good chance that part of their connection to your school is that they’ve hired other graduates. Ask them!

      1. OP#5*

        Original poster here. Thanks for the feedback! Based on the experiences of other grads and my limited conversations with professors, extremely early job offers are not the norm in my field (I wish!). However, one professor did suggest that I just apply for any job I’m really interested in and, if it’s numerous months before I graduate, just stipulate my timeline in the cover letter. While I have been trying to connect with alumni and do informational interviews, I’ve focused on more general career advise rather than “when should I start applying” so it’s a good suggestion to ask both types of questions. While professors have some wisdom to offer, unfortunately many have never entered the non-academic work environment (or, in the case of my social work professors, entered it 30 years ago)! Thanks for the feedback!

  11. Ali*

    #4 has been happening to me a lot lately. I don’t think of myself as particularly “unique,” yet it seems like every application wants me to answer this question. At first I thought it was just the type of jobs I was looking at (social media/communications, etc.), but I wish companies wouldn’t make this a required question.

    Then again, a week or so ago I saw an application that required you to write an acrostic poem about yourself, and I X-ed out of there as soon as I saw the poem was required. I might want a new job, but I’m not writing poetry to get it!

    1. MaryMary*

      Oh no, is the poetry question spreading? I ran into that one a couple years ago (and the application was not for a writing-oriented position).

    2. C Average*

      Where are all of these wacky creative applications?

      I’m sick unto death of reciting dreary facts about my professional experiences. I want to write acrostic poems about myself.

      1. Ali*

        This particular posting was for a social media/marketing firm. You also had to tell them what meme you most identified with and why. (Although I just double checked and saw the poem was not required, yet they still asked…)

        Fortunately, the company I do social media for on a part-time basis did not make me do this silly stuff before they took me as an intern. I’ve been there almost six months, so I’m relieved that not all social media jobs do this, and I’ve worked out just fine not having to write a poem about myself.

        1. Hlyssande*

          My new favorite meme is from this post at Shakesville, in which Tommy Lee Jones is 1000% done.

          But yes, Grumpy Cat all the way otherwise. And Maru.

    3. folklorist*

      I was applying to a hip news data visualization company recently that asked that question (“tell us something about yourself that will catch our eye in 120 characters or less…bonus points for creativity!”). I have a master’s degree in folklore with an emphasis on art and storytelling. A big thing in folklore is finding trends in how stories are spread between people (though this is a massive generalization).

      Anyway, I wrote something to the effect of, “I’m a folklorist! I can find visually interesting data in any story, big or small…from creation myths to penis jokes.” I didn’t get the job (or an interview), and I probably wouldn’t reference penis jokes on a job application again, but this was a long shot anyway…and it was really nice to be myself, inject some humor/creativity, and take a chance. It shook some of the dust out of my applications, that’s for sure! But yeah, as many people are saying, it’s hard to toe the line between quirky and weirdo. I’ve never been good at it myself in the application process, but if I do find the company that embraces my quirks, you can be sure that I will 1) be there for a long time, and 2) work my ass off for them!

      1. C Average*

        The fact that you used “big or small” in the same sentence in which you referenced penis jokes makes me think you share my sometimes sophomoric sense of humor and we’d enjoy watching Beavis and Butt-Head reruns together.

        I wouldn’t ever put something like that on a job application, but I am cracking up at the fact that YOU did!

        I, too, would love to work someplace where my quirks would be an asset. My dream job would be to work at Despair.com. I think it would be amazing to work at The Onion, too.

        1. Folklorist*

          Hah! I know you probably won’t see this because I’m late replying, but 1) Yes, I have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old. I want to write for Cracked, personally, but I would definitely take The Onion.

          2) The “I wouldn’t ever put something like that on a job application, but I love fact that YOU did!” response has been the universal response. I was kind of hoping the hiring manager would see it that way too–“Wow, this person has balls! [Err…ovaries, in my case]. S/he would bring something different and innovative to the team!” Ah, well–didn’t work; moving on.

    4. Jeanne*

      Writing a poem? What a nightmare. These “unique” questions are only ok for a very few jobs. Things that are already very creative fields. They are not ok for pretty much everyone else and to have them in a general application that lots of people use is awful.

      Could I write I was unique because I don’t like these questions? I once completely refused to answer What animal are you and why.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Nope, just for work time and any travel that happens during regular work hours (even if the travel time is on a weekend — so if her hours are 9-5 M-F, but there’s some travel from 12-5 on Sunday, she’d be paid for that travel time).

      1. Anonsie*

        That’s interesting. When I looked this up before a trip earlier this year (admittedly I don’t remember where, but I believe fed gov sites?) everything I saw said travel for non-exempt employees only had to be paid if it is during your regular work hours. If it’s outside, it’s basically treated like a commute. I didn’t clock (and wasn’t paid for) my travel time on the weekend.

            1. Clever Name*

              Seriously. What’s so wrong with getting paid when you are doing something specifically for work, because that would be considered, you know, work, regardless of when it was taking place?

            2. Jazzy Red*

              If I’m doing anything work related, I expect to get paid.

              The one time I traveled for work, I had to drive to the airport which was in the next city. Not a big deal, and I really didn’t think anything of it. After I returned to work, my work buddy told me that the department b!tch said something like “I bet Jazzy Red is going to try to get paid for her drive to & from the airport” real nasty-like. I never even thought of that, but my buddy told me I should check on it. So I did, and I got paid for the 90 minute round trip, at time and a half. I bought a new skirt with the money and my buddy asked me at work if it was new. I said “Yes, I bought it with my travel expense money” and watched the dept b!tch’s neck and ears turn red with fury.

  12. shellbell*

    When I worked as an admin, I was always baffled and annoyed by people who thought announcements made by me (like no more personal packages) were justed invented by me. I was doing my job (communicating). I was making rando rules for my own fun. At least now I know it wasn’t just my disfunctional work place. Maybe it is a common thing.

    1. Sarahnova*

      Yes, OP #2, the odds that the admin just decided to take it on herself to make a rule about the mail room are very low. (I won’t say it never happens – Alison has had letters about this kind of thing – but it’s unlikely.) Tackling this as “the admin doesn’t have the authoritaaaaaaah” is likely to be unproductive. The rule almost certainly comes from someone who DOES have the authority, so question it rationally and not on a power basis.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        +1. Most likely this is a resourcing issue. It’s not a big deal for a mailroom to deal with an extra package now and then, but if everyone is doing it, then there may need to be one or more mailroom workers hired just to deal with employees’ personal packages! And that is not something the company likely feels like spending money on.

        OP #2, I get it. It’s a pain in the tail. I wonder whether you also live in NYC, where there really aren’t a lot of great options for getting a package delivered. My office does accept personal packages, but I know others that don’t (including my husband’s), and if you can’t get the package delivered at home and you can’t get it delivered at work, you’re stuck going to the post office or UPS and dealing with their crappy opening hours every time.

        My husband has solved this problem by getting a mailbox at a Mailboxes Etc.-type business. It’s not perfect, but it beats coming home every day to a “we tried to deliver this package” notice, and it’s not terribly expensive.

        The one thing I think OP would be within her rights to ask (ASK, not tell the bearer of the bad news “I’m going to go ahead and do this because you have no authority over me”) is whether exceptions can be made for items that are to be used in the office. It would be pretty annoying to have things delivered home only to have to bring them in — but I’d still be prepared for a “no,” given the potential for abuse of exception-making.

    2. some1*

      I’m an admin and I agree. It seems worse in large companies/departments.

      Also, LW, keep in mind that the admin would probably like to have the occasional package delivered to her, as well.

    3. FamilyofRobot*

      Yes! +1 to this.

      At last job I did shipping for the department I supported and there were often policy changes that I had to send out. Most of the time they were communicated to me by phone, so I didn’t have a message to forward. I just wrote up the policy in an email and sent it to everyone I was supposed to. I’d have been super annoyed if someone started calling my boss and asking if he knew about the changes. And he would have too since he was Senior Director level and didn’t have anything to do with managing the mail room at all. I’m not even sure he would have given the question the time of day.

    4. CoffeeLover*

      I don’t know if it’s a common thing. I think only someone that doesn’t understand business norms would make this mistake. This doesn’t even necessarily mean someone new to the work force, but possibly also someone that has never worked with executives that delegate all sorts of things to the admin, communication being at the top of the list. At my first company, the only people that were able to send company wide communications were the admins.

  13. Blue_eyes*

    OP #4 – I’ve been seeing a lot of that too and they are super annoying because there’s really no good way to answer and you have almost no idea what they’re actually looking for. Many of them even ask you to “say something unique that will catch our eye in less than 140 characters.” I’ve started calling it the Twitter Test. It seems especially common at startups, in my experience.

  14. CAA*

    #4 — that “tell me something unique” question is totally customizable. We just switched to resumator and don’t use it at all.

      1. CAA*

        I assume so. I’m a hiring manager, and HR/IT configured the system for us, so all I know is that we don’t have that question on our list. We do have all the EEOC questions though.

    1. hayling*

      Yes! We use The Resumator and it’s great from an employer perspective but I always leave that stupid question off. I didn’t like answering it as a candidate the few times I saw it when I last applied for jobs, so I don’t want to subject our applicants to it.

    2. OP 4*

      I kinda figured that but I’ve had some applications that actually had it as a required field.

      a bunch of folks who know me said they thought I should mention that I’m a musician and have out out records and toured, but I agree with Alison that I should try to find something relevant to the job. I just wish more folks left the question off like you.

  15. AndersonDarling*

    #1 My office had offices where you couldn’t see in. Then it was discovered that a lot of hanky-panky was going on on a regular basis behind those closed doors.
    We moved to a new office where the offices had frosted glass “walls” with no blinds. The frosted glass gives some privacy, but nothing strange can be happening inside. The office instantly changed, it became a more open and inviting environment. (The hanky-panky folks were fired, so that could have made things better at the same time.)

  16. Christian Troy*

    #5 – I agree with Allison about waiting on the non-profit apps until closer to graduation, but if it’s possible check out places you want to work and start pre filling applications (if that’s the system they use). You’ll probably have some updates by the time you’re ready to apply, but at least you’ll have an account set up with some basic info.

    1. Sheep*

      It really depends. I applied for the job I’m now in (nonprofit) on the 29th of December 2013, and started on the 16th of June. It does say something about HR in the organisation though, unfortunately..

  17. JC*

    #5-I’d caution that for government job, the timeline can vary and is not necessarily long. A job that has an ad now might not have its act together and not hire until the school year is over, but others may want to hire closer to a nonprofit/for-profit timeline. So it’s fine to apply for government jobs now, but don’t be taken aback if you are hired for one but they can’t push your start date post-graduation.

    In my personal experience, I was in my final year of grad school 6 years ago and applied for a federal job that closed in late November. I was hired in early January, and couldn’t push the start date later than March (which worked for my personal situation, but I ideally wanted to start after graduation in May).

  18. Melissa*

    OP #2 – If UPS requires a signature and you can’t get stuff delivered to work but don’t want to rent a UPS box, you have two options to avoid delaying your packages. You can sign up for UPS MyChoice, which is the best option IMO. They will send you an email a day ahead of your scheduled delivery, and you can tell them that you want your package left at your front door (or porch, or wherever) and sign electronically. It’s totally free and I use it all the time – in fact, I have it set to just automatically leave all of my packages at my front door.

    Two, if you don’t want to sign up for the service, you can track your packages normally and then just leave a note on your front door with a signature and the tracking # on it requesting that they leave the package. You can do this with FedEx, too.

    I buy most of my goods online, so I’ve figured out a lot of ways to just get them to leave my stuff lol.

    1. JB*

      Yes, this. I suggested signing up for a free UPS account, couldn’t remember what it was called. This service is great. Never thought I’d say that about anything UPS related.

  19. JC*

    OP#2: This isn’t available in most places, but if you happen to live in a city that has Amazon lockers, they are a handy way to receive Amazon packages when you can’t get them at work and home isn’t secure. There happens to be an Amazon locker near my office and it has been very useful for me.

  20. JB*

    OP#1, I’m wondering why kind of work you do that you think this is weird. I like having spontaneous conversations, but in the break room or by the mailboxes. The work that I do requires concentration, so most of us work with our doors shut and blinds closed so that we can concentrate. If people are having spontaneous conversations in the hallway outside my door, it’s a major distraction. My sister works in an office where she feels pressure to keep her door open, and so she has to do a lot of work at home at night since some of what she does takes concentration, and she can’t get it done when she’s constantly being interrupted by people walking in or distracted by people talking outside her door. Like AAM said, some places it’s normal to keep the doors open, and some it isn’t.

    What concerns me is that it makes you wonder what they’re doing, and that you want people to see you hard at work instead of thinking they’ll know you are working based on the work you do. Why do you need people to see you working, and do you assume that people aren’t working if they aren’t being watched? Or do you work someplace where other people assume that employees aren’t working unless they’re being watched? If it’s the latter, that’s what I’d worry about.

    1. Jazzy Red*

      She also said she wanted to be included in spontaneous conversations and projects that happen in her office. You know how it is, if people can’t see you, they don’t include you.

      What’s so wrong with letting people see you working? It’s better than letting them think you’re sleeping.

      1. Mary in Texas*

        I agree with you. I think working with your door closed is fine, but the blinds closed too might make me think that they were taking a nap or something. Plus, if I have a question, I’m probably not going to the person that always has their door and blinds closed. There’s something to be said for an “open door policy.”

      2. Koko*

        If my coworkers thought I was sleeping – or doing anything else besides working – without some kind of significant evidence that I was failing to produce work, missing deadlines, being unresponsive to coworkers, etc., I would be pretty offended. I was hired as a professional to do a job and I’d like the default assumption to be that I am in fact a professional doing a job.

        1. JB*

          This exactly. That’s what made me pause about the OP letter. What kind of office do you have where you assume people are slacking off if you can’t see them working?

          I have the equivalent of an open door policy in the sense that everyone knows that they can knock and come in, whoever they are. They don’t need to have an appointment, and they don’t need to be at a certain level in the organization. It’s the same everyone else at my office who works with their door closed, which is most people. But our work is such that most of us work better when we can’t hear the conversations of everyone else. And seeing people walk by is distracting, too, sometimes, hence closing the blinds. We still have plenty of spontaneous conversations that people join in on, they just happen in places other than the offices with closed doors.

          It’s not that I think you should try to keep people from seeing you work. That would be weird. The concern is if you need or want people to see you working, as though somehow that proves you’re doing your job, rather than just doing your job.

  21. HR Manager*

    #2 – I’ll chime in though I think everyone has discussed the pros and cons of this one. I worked for a mid-size company once that had to ask folks to refrain from having deliveries sent to the office. Some folks may think “I only have 3 packages/year” delivered, but multiply that by the 800+ employees and you realize half the packages coming in are personal. I understand companies not wanting their staff to be personal delivery service. Plus the liability! What if they sign for something and you lose your Limited Edition $3000 vintage toy you ordered off eBay? Yikes!

    #4 – I agree with OP’s sentitment. Without having a sense of them, it’s hard to tell what’s the line between quirky vs weirdo. I appreciate their asking, as it may give hope that they have an office that appreciates ‘fun’ personalities, but it’s meaningless when you’re only interacting with an electronic form.

    #5 – It does vary depending on what and where you want to go. I would seek out the advice of your career svcs office, and also find out if there are any on-campus recruiting efforts. Employers who come on campus usually anticipate later graduation dates. If you choose to look on your own, you may not see employers who are willing to wait more than 1 month for someone to be available.

  22. Hooptie*

    #2 – If I were the assistant, I would feel much more respected if you had come to me first rather than my manager.

  23. soitgoes*

    Ugh, the mail thing is so annoying on all ends. Solution: have your packages sent to your mom’s house, like a real grown-up.

      1. soitgoes*

        Ha. idk, I live in an apartment where nothing has been replaced since the ’60s (and actually I think that’s sort of the issue – it’s impossible to get deliveries if you work and don’t have delivery acceptance. Online selling/shopping exploded and no real-world adjustments were made). The mailboxes are teeny tiny. But my mom’s a professor and is home to get the mail most days of the week.

        1. Jazzy Red*

          The apartments where I used to live had two large bins for packages. If you got one, it would be put in the large bin, and the key to that bin would be placed in your mailbox.

    1. afiendishthingy*

      I once had something sent to my mom’s workplace, and asked permission after I’d already ordered. I was about 25. She was not pleased.

  24. Vicki*

    #1 – Do you work at Apple?

    Apple moved from cubicles to offices with doors when they built the Infinite Loop buildings in 1990. When Taligent spun out of Apple, they also configured their buildings with offices with doors.

    Many of us believed that if you have a door, you should be able to use it. Engineers like to have quiet for working, or be able to play music without disturbing co-workers, or have an in-office conversation without disturbing co-workers. An open door encourages drop-in visitors and lets noise in and out.

    I had a co-worker who was “marked down” on his annual review for closing his door. His response was “If I can’t close it, why do I have a door??”

    The windows? Who wants to work in a fishbowl? Many people, myself included, don’t want to have co-workers peering in, looking at our screens, staring at us behind our backs. If we have the window in our peripheral vision, we don’t want to be distracted by people walking by.

    Facilities gave us doors. If they didn’t want us closing them, they wouldn’t have given us doors.

    What I wouldn’t give for every company to have offices with doors!!!

    1. Koko*

      The music is why I always have mine closed! It means I can listen to music without headphones and without disturbing anyone else.

      We don’t have any blinds for the window panel next to the door, and I actually moved from a high-traffic area to a low-traffic one this summer partly because I found the constant stream of people passing by my office window highly distracting.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I’d give anything to be able to close the door. Though someone who was a little noisy has moved, I still have to wear headphones to edit, and the other day I had to ask people to please hold it down when I was on a webinar (the sound from the conference call wasn’t great). They got all huffy with me. Well, I’m SAWRY, but you don’t have to talk so LOUDLY.

    3. the gold digger*

      The reason to have a window is if your office is against an exterior wall with windows. That way, everyone can get some of the sunlight. For an interior office, I guess a window to the hall is not necessary, although I would not mind one just because I hate being in a space with no windows.

    4. Jamie*

      I had a co-worker who was “marked down” on his annual review for closing his door. His response was “If I can’t close it, why do I have a door??”

      The same reason your phone has a DND button, but it would be an issue if it was used all the time.

      No secret I’m a big fan of private offices and think open plans are designed to test anger management skills of people of my ilk, but we have an open door policy for private offices and it makes sense to me.

      I can absolutely close my door when I need to. On a call, webinar, need more focused concentration, etc. I end up doing this maybe a couple times a month for a little while. I used to feel the same way, I’m happier and more productive when my door is shut so why have that as the default. But I’ve absolutely come to realize the wisdom of the open door thing, at least in my environment. Because while may get more stuff done as far as measurable work product in solitude, I would fail at the parts of my job that require me to be available and approachable to end users, co-workers, etc.

      I don’t encourage drive-bys and 99x out of 100 I’ll stop people who stick there head in for interruptions to send me an email or tell them when I will get back to them because I’m not sitting here just waiting for someone to come along and give me something to do. (Unless you sign my checks. :)) So one could argue I’m just as available with my door shut since I’m going to follow up the same way. Logically my door being shut only sends the message of “this door is shut right now” – but it doesn’t. It can send a much stronger message to others that says “I am way too busy to deal with your issues, leave a message” and it’s off putting.

      If you have a job where relationship building isn’t needed then it doesn’t matter – it’s like working from home. But for most of us it’s not going to be helpful to our careers to send asocial unspoken messages to our co-workers. I’m not one who cares about greetings at all, but I notice things. Everyday after a certain production meeting a bunch of production managers file out of the conference room and past my office on the way to the plant. They don’t stop and bother me, but they wave say hi Jame, whatever…as they pass. And I take the opportunity to drag into my office the people who owe me paperwork. :) But while I don’t need this personally, I’ve come to totally accept and respect how others do and being visible and sending the message that you’re door is open goes such a long way to good working relationships where you can get more done because it’s more cooperative.

      Once I let go of the notion that I shouldn’t have to make small talk, or greet people who notice if you don’t, or smile and do the “hey” head tip passing someone in the hall (which I still believe that logically as long as I’m professional and civil I shouldn’t have to) and just started being a little more “hey what’s up?” my whole world changed. I firmly believe I had a lot of people’s professional respect before based on my work, but once they liked me all kinds of things changed because the tone of the interactions changed.

      If someone has a professional and civil tone when they speak to you about work matters, but spends all day in a closed office which limits even head jutting interaction a lot of people get the message that you’re dealing with them because you are paid to do so and see them as fellow cogs rather than people.

      And here’s a secret – it’s so EASY! I thought the leap would go from civil to hand holding and singing kum bay ah – but it’s really just acknowledging people, a quick joke, asking about their weekend, hell in Chicago you don’t need anything more than weather comments to interact in the office. But the biggest surprise for me was that I’ve realized that work is a lot more satisfying when you actually like the people you work with and I like a whole lot more of them than I did before I bothered to “play the whole social game” as I thought of it.

      Don’t get me wrong – I still decline most of the after hours get togethers and I eat lunch in my office – and there has been zero handholding or backrubbing or dinner invitations involved. I didn’t have to change who I am as a person…and I still spend 85% of my day alone in my office…but with the door open.

      And bonus – when the door is always shut people bother you more. In an open door office if it’s shut people do not knock because they know you are elbow deep in something serious or confidential. So a shut door really accomplishes what it’s meant to do, which is keep people out.

      1. Mary in Texas*

        Jamie, I agree with you totally. When I read OP#1, I found myself nodding. I agree that closing the door is necessary many times. But for those who have their door and blinds closed 80% of the time, I think it limits them from just casual plesantries. When it comes down to bonus time, I don’t want the deciders to say “who is she? Oh, the one with her door closed all the time?” Just my 2 cents worth.

  25. TheTemp*

    Recently I got the “tell us why you’re special in 100 words” thing, and I may have compared my work experience and personality to the X-Men.

  26. Anon for this*

    Didn’t get through all the comments yet, but as someone who works in an office with huge windows lining both walls and blinds ALWAYS drawn I’ll tell you why.

    People are creepy when it comes to windows. I don’t know why perfectly nice reasonable people feel the need to peep into any occupied room with a window in a way they don’t with an open door. You are working you look up and people walking by just gapers blocking because there is something so fascinating about watching people type and look at a screen. Not even looking at my screen – just looking in.

    It’s totally creepy and I do it too! I walk past the conference room and if the blinds are open will glance in to see who is in there. Or past someone’s office glance to see if they are there…I don’t know why I do this because this information is totally irrelevant to me.

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