living so close to work that coworkers could see in my window, employee is struggling with anxiety, and more

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

1. Living so close to work that coworkers could see in my window

As most people do, I have always despised the time spent (some might say wasted) commuting to and from work. I’m currently in the market for a new job, and the commute time to the potential new positions always weighs heavily on my decision to apply for them.

Well, there’s one position in particular that I’m interested in that has about the best commute time there is; it’s literally next door to my house. I live on a somewhat peculiar street in that, while it is mostly a residential street, there is a small business park in the middle of it, and my house is located directly next door. About a year after I moved in, an upstart alternative energy company moved into the suite closest to me. Over the past couple years, they have grown quite a bit and have created several new positions which they advertise with signage outside of their building and in the local newspaper. One of these positions is in my field and I’ve always been interested in the alternative energy industry, so it would likely be a good fit for me even if it wasn’t so close to where I live.

Obviously, the practically non-existent commute has advantages: saving money on gas and car maintenance, being able to spend my entire lunch break at home, being able to get too and from work safely in inclement weather, etc. But I can also see some possible disadvantages as well, such as how easily I could become the “go-to guy” when there’s an emergency at the office outside of regular business hours. Also there’s a privacy and boundary issue at play, not the least of which is that you can actually see into my bedroom window from the front door of the company! Then there’s also a potential of getting unexpected and unwelcome house calls from coworkers during my time off, for either professional or social reasons.

What’s your take on this type of situation? Obviously living close to work has its advantages, but is this *too* close? Should I try to apply and just weigh the pros and cons, or skip it altogether?

Ooooh, interesting. I wouldn’t worry too much about unwanted house calls; it probably wouldn’t happen, but if it did, you could put a stop to it immediately. What would worry me most is the potential lack of privacy; I wouldn’t want coworkers to be able to see right in my window. Even if you kept the curtains closed all the time (which isn’t really ideal), I’d still be concerned about your comings and goings being noticed more than they normally would. If you’re out sick, is someone going to wonder why they see you leaving your building and not returning for hours? Are they going to take note of visitors showing up at your door? Etc. It feels a bit too close for comfort to me.

That said, if you’re really interested in the job, you should apply and see what happens. You might end up wanting it enough that it will trump this stuff. (And if you happen to rent, you could always consider moving if you get the job and stay in it long enough for that to start to feel reasonable to do.)

2. I suspect my employee is struggling with anxiety

A question I’ve been pondering lately is how to be sensitive to potential mental health issues when an employee hasn’t disclosed an issue/this issue. I have a talented employee who gets paralyzed trying to do new things. When there is a roadmap and it’s something he’s comfortable with, he does a great job. He’s very smart and his ideas are usually great. To move into the next step in his career, he needs to start being somebody who is driving new projects where there isn’t a roadmap, and he’s starting to struggle.

Seeing this pattern and the fact that he has a hard time asking for help, it seems like he might be dealing with anxiety. It’s a lot of things having to do with his overall mood/demeanor. But the more tipping point to me is the degree of paralysis I’m seeing. Like if it’s in the “new project” box, he has a hard time recognizing the pieces he *has* done before or is familiar with. When we had a talk about this, kind of around the edges, I told him it’s fine to not know how to do things, he just has to communicate that with his teams appropriately and make a plan, and he told me that he has a really really hard time admitting when he doesn’t know something and asking for help (which, as a somewhat anxiety prone person myself, felt familiar, though the good chance I’m projecting is why I’m asking you first vs just asking him).

Is there a good way to be sensitive and supportive while giving feedback?

The best thing that you can do is to give him very clear, specific feedback about what you need to see him doing differently — and of course to be kind in the way you deliver it. You want to be careful not to be so kind that it obscures the message, though; rather, you’re going for kind in tone and vibe. Your tone should be “you’re not a horrible person or a failure for struggling with this” and “here’s what it would look like to approach it differently.”

I would not delve into the potential anxiety aspect of it, at least not beyond a one-time mention of “you know, sometimes when people struggle with this, it’s tied up with anxiety issues, and if that resonates with you, it’s something you could talk to a doctor about.” Beyond that one-time, very brief mention, it’s just really not your place to diagnose or nudge him on that aspect of things, especially if it’s not something he’s disclosed to you. Certainly you can use it as a reminder to yourself to be compassionate about whatever the reason is that he’s struggling with this (whether it’s anxiety or something totally different), but as his boss, your role is really just to give clear feedback and a reasonable amount of coaching, and then let him take it from there.

3. Can I ask my boss to lunch?

I’ve recently (within the last two months) earned a promotion and now have a new boss. New Boss and I have been in the same department for a couple of years, but of course I’ll have much more interaction with her now. We get along fine, but our check-ins are very tight on time and leave no room for getting to know each other. Can I ask my boss to meet for lunch so we can get to know each other better? Is that a thing? If that is a thing, what topics are okay and which should I steer clear of? My intended career trajectory could potentially mimic hers, so I’d love to learn more detail about her professional history. Also, she’s well known for negotiating a great salary – I’d love to learn more about those skills, but I’m assuming I need to avoid that topic, right?

Sure, you can say something like, “Could we go to lunch some time? I’d love the chance to talk to you outside of our check-ins.”

At lunch, I’d steer clear of personal topics unless she brings them up. It’s fine to tell her that you’re interested in having a similar career path to hers and saying that you’d love her advice in that regard. I wouldn’t get into her own salary negotiations though; that’s likely to just be too awkward since she’s your boss and since she’s the one you’ll be negotiating with for your own salary. (However, at whatever point you and she are no longer working together, you could absolutely ask her advice on negotiating.)

Read an update to this letter here.

4. Mentioning that your wife may go into labor before or during a phone interview

My husband has been applying to some jobs here and there, and a few days ago, was contacted for a phone interview. He’s written back but they haven’t gotten back to him. I’m also due to go into labor any day now. Is that something he should bring up now, during the scheduling process or not mention it unless he has to cancel the interview because I’m in the middle of delivering?

Nah, I wouldn’t mention it unless it turns out that he needs to. Odds are good enough that he won’t have to.

5. My loud coworker keeps working near me because he “needs company”

Where I work we, unfortunately, have an open office floorplan. I hate it. It is much of the time impossible to have a long stretch of quiet time to accomplish anything. I come in very early only to beat the pack and snare a precious few quiet hours.

One coworker who is quite a nice person and has a private office in another area has recently been coming over to my desk to work. He talks excessively loudly even when no one is speaking to him. I’ve even caught him singing a time or two. However this person has also been extremely helpful to me in my duties in the past so I don’t want to offend him by saying anything. I know others are disturbed as well but are too nice to say anything.

When I questioned why he was leaving his spot to come work by me, he claimed he needed the company. Our manager does not have much sympathy. And there is no other quiet spot to move to. Headphones and earplugs do little. I’m contemplating sneaking into the colleague’s office to work now just to save my sanity. What should I do?

Say something to him! You can’t worry so much about offending him that you’re not willing to speak up about a very reasonable thing — and since you describe him as a nice person, he would probably be mortified if you allowed him to continue bothering you without clueing him in.

Say this: “Bob, I love working with you, but working near you can be challenging when I’m trying to focus because you talk while you work. Would you mind giving me back my quiet space so I can get my focus back?”

Otherwise, yes, tell him you’re going to borrow his office while he’s borrowing yours, “because I need quiet to work.”

{ 181 comments… read them below }

  1. Al Lo*

    #1 – When I was little, my dad was an associate pastor (so wouldn’t have been living in a parsonage, even if our church had one, which it didn’t), and my parents were looking at purchasing a house directly across the street from the church. They decided against it, because that would be the kind of field where it could easily turn into being unofficially on-call, whether for church matters (which require a lot of extra hours and emotional investment anyway) or just for things like church members wanting the doors unlocked if they showed up when no one else was around. It sounds likely that your job wouldn’t run those risks, but it’s something to consider.

    On the other hand, my boss can see the backside of our office from her house (about half a mile away, as the crow flies), but the office is across a busy highway, so it’s much less direct to drive there. Both her house and the office are on hillsides, with the highway lower in between, so we keep teasing her that she needs to just install a zipline between her back deck and the office and cut her commute.

    1. AMT*

      The first one illustrates how important the type of job is to this decision. Clergy positions are known for their lack of work-life separation. I could see a lot of other jobs going in this direction (e.g. human services, especially something open late like a drop-in center, or one of those weird tech industry jobs with no set hours).

      1. Koko*

        Yes. I work in digital, so even though most of my team works from the office most days, commute distance is largely irrelevant to who can be tapped to do after-hours work. Nobody strictly needs to be in the office to do their job, so after-hours emergencies are the responsibility of the person who is responsible for that type of work during regular hours. Whether they leave 2 hours away or 4 blocks away.

      2. Katieinthemountains*

        YES! That’s an introvert’s nightmare! And, at least in conservative areas, there could be enormous pressure for the whole family to be “presentable” and decorous at all times.

    2. Rachel in Minneapolis*

      I do work as a clergy. In a previous position (before kids) I lived in a parsonage in the church building. I loved it.

      Things that helped me if you choose to work and live very close:
      – I didn’t necessarily tell people where I lived. I was a youth minister, so not obvious that I would have a parsonage. Most people didn’t know, so I had less after-hours calls than you might think. My boss knew but didn’t take advantage.
      – I made it a point to be fully presentable if I went outside for a bike/run/etc so I wouldn’t feel embarrassed if I ran in to someone from church. It happened infrequently in the off evenings, but I felt fine if appropriately dressed.
      – regular, defined schedule so I could separate work and home life.

      Good luck!

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I was going to suggest not telling people at the new company where you live. You can say you live close by to explain why you go home for lunch, but if they don’t know which window is yours and you keep the curtains closed during business hours, it might just never even come up.

    3. ThatGirl*

      I’m a pastor’s kid and for seven years we lived above the church building (a two-story apartment in the attached fellowship hall/office area) — it didn’t even have a separate closed doorway for awhile. And my dad definitely struggled with always being “on call” for both church members and homeless people in the area looking for help.

      I feel like pastoring is a particularly intensive thing for that, though – I would hope that a more typical office job would not have that much baggage.

    4. Alison Read*

      A little late I realize… But I have a tip for cloaking your room without blocking the window. If you place a low power lamp (up light, night light, whatever) between your window and a lace or sheer curtain you can still see out but it blocks people from seeing in. I discovered this by accident – but it came in handy for those apts next to the walkway in my younger days.

  2. ginger ale for all*

    There are two buildings and a street between my home and job. I was asked if I wanted to be the one to come in during inclement weather. There was no pressure but I was happy to say yes. I often see co-workers walking past my front door on their way to work and not one has ever dropped in or asked to. The commute is the best. But the drawback that I see is that sometimes I don’t get to mentally disconnect from work like I was able to when I had a wider divide. When I had a twenty minute walk to work in the past, it was better. Exercise and I cleared my mind.

    1. ZVA*

      Your point about the disconnect is a good one, I think… My commute to my office is currently ~40 minutes by car (tho this will be changing soon) and while initially I resented it I’ve come to appreciate the private time and space it gives me to mentally “reset.” I don’t think I could do without it at this point! Perhaps this isn’t as important to the OP, but it’s something to consider.

      1. shep*

        This is a healthy way to look at a commute! Mine ranges from 25-40 minutes, depending on traffic. I usually very much resent it, although sometimes it’s nice to be a captive audience to a podcast I want to catch up on, or something similar.

        But for the past year or so, I’ve been splitting my time between my home and my boyfriend’s home, and he lives about five minutes away from my office. It would probably take a good 20 minutes to walk there, but it’s a breeze by car, and I VASTLY prefer it to my longer commute.

        Also, just thinking of the way the condos and apartments next to my office are laid out, while it’s easy to see into MANY people’s homes, I doubt anyone would notice if I were to move into one of these unless I advertised it. Of course, this is probably just a quirk of the layout, and if I were taking a personal day of PTO, I would probably take more care in going out and about, but for me, the pros of living that close by would vastly outweigh the cons.

        (But of course it’s a non-issue right now because I could never afford the rent on my current income.)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Ha. all the houses near my office are McMansions in an upscale development. I couldn’t live there even if I wanted a huge house with no yard space that’s right all up in my neighbor’s business.

          1. shep*

            So much this! Except the condos near my office are all downtown high rises. My bf managed to find a small unit in a really nice, storied near-downtown neighborhood, but I think there was some dark magic involved. His location and rent are two halves of a beautiful paradox.

      2. Beezus*

        It really makes a difference! I have a <5 minute commute and my spouse has a 40 minute one. Sometimes I don't even get through an entire song on the radio on the way. He arrives at the house in "after-work" mode already (around the same time I arrive). It took a while to figure out that I needed to take 10-15 minutes of quiet decompression time to myself, especially after a taxing day, before moving on with our evening.

        1. JMegan*

          Yes, this is exactly why I love my commute (30-45 minutes depending on traffic; this is quite normal for my area.) With a full time office job and two little kids at home, sitting on the subway is just about the only time I get to myself!

        2. many bells down*

          It’s so funny, because for years my husband would come home tense and upset after his commute. Ranting about how he hated driving and why couldn’t we move where we’d be walking distance from his office.

          Then we replaced his 20-year-old car with a brand new one and suddenly he comes home relaxed and refreshed from his commute. He’s listening to audiobooks again (now that he doesn’t have to listen for funny noises coming from his engine!)

          I always thought he just hated commuting. Turned out he just hated his car!

      3. Koko*

        Mine is also around 30 minutes. Since I start work around 9:30 it means most businesses are open by the time I get in my car, so I’ve taken to using that half-hour as an opportunity to make phone calls. My car has Bluetooth integration so I can do everything by voice command and the sound quality is much better than just being on speaker.

        I never seem to be able to find time during the day to make phone calls so they’re one of those things that tend to pile up for me until I have a list of six calls I need to make! Since I started treating my morning commute as phone-call-time though it’s been much easier to stay on top of things.

        It’s interesting though that I don’t think of my commute as being long. I’m commuting across a city, so I never get on a highway and I’m really only going about 5-6 miles. You have to be a bit more mentally present and remembering to make turns, and since I’m leaving after 9 I never hit rush hour, so it doesn’t *feel* like I’m stuck in traffic either. Plus, many of my coworkers live another 30-45 minutes further out than I do so mine seems like one of the shorter commute options. (And I could never have afforded to buy or rent a place anywhere closer due to COL, so it’s a moot point.)

          1. KH*

            Yeah, agree. I work with people who take phone conferences in the car. I don’t know how they do it. I could never schedule phone calls while driving. If the phone rings when I am driving, I will not answer it. Unless it rings 2-3 times in a row to denote an emergency, it will wait until I get there. I hope my coworkers don’t think I am lazy.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      I used to have a 2-minute walk to the office and for me, the pros outweighed the cons by a long shot. I got to avoid a NYC subway, which was great because it was so much more peaceful to walk and I rarely caught colds from sharing germy train poles. The only negative for me is that my company had me on every “emergency” list as a first point of contact (my office plays a huge role after something like Hurricane Sandy).
      I now live an hour away and would LOVE to have my old commute back.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        I forgot to mention one weird thing – we had a goodbye party for a top boss in the fancy bar on the ground floor of my apartment building, and he got so drunk that coworkers carried him upstairs to my apartment and he slept it off there for a few hours. Awkward!

      2. Golden Lioness*

        Sorry to cut in… I have been dreaming about moving to NYC (love Manhattan!) bu have been holding back because of COL and housing prices. How have you dealt with that? Is it possible to live well or most money just goes to housing?

        Is the job market really difficult? I worry about not being able to find a job easily, even though I am a professional with good education and a lot of experience.

        1. self employed*

          This is a great question for the Friday open thread– you can even ask specifically about your industry too. :)

    3. Whats In A Name*

      I commented before reading all the posts and this was my only real issue when commuting such a short distance. No time to have coffee and leave home stresses behind on way in and no time to decompress before getting home. 15-20 minutes seems to be a good compromise now! But I have to drive now; I do miss the opportunity to walk!

    4. Person of Interest*

      Yes, this was true for me too, living 2 doors down from my office building. Sometimes it was nice to go home for lunch, but I also really missed the time to disconnect when I went home, or to mentally prepare for my day in the morning. I was glad when the office moved to another space, even though my commute became a 20-minute drive.

    5. Ama*

      Yeah, I just wrapped up a period of three years where I lived four blocks from work. I was given no additional duties (although I did avoid acquiring a front door key largely to keep myself from “just running into the office” in off hours). What I wasn’t prepared for was how small my world became — even trying consciously to have separate lunch and dinner places in the neighborhood, you do end up walking the same blocks over and over, and passing your work building frequently, which was always super weird on days when I was taking PTO, even though I never actually ran into a coworker on the street. My workplace is very flexible with work from home as well, and I always felt like there was a higher burden of proof on me to make the case that I needed it — that I had to be potentially contagious or on a project that required absolute concentration — weather obviously was never going to be a fair excuse. I did enjoy being able to sort of “restart” my day by going home for lunch when a morning was kind of a mess. I’d also note that we ultimately ended up moving because the neighborhood wasn’t a great residential area so if the OP really likes where they live they may not have as many issues with being in the same place all the time.

      Ginger ale for all is also right that having a 30 minutes commute to both get myself into work mode in the morning and disconnect at night was also something I ended up missing more than I thought I would. I am in the middle of my first busy period since we moved this summer and I feel I am much less stressed largely because I have that clear divide between work time and home time.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        I currently live a few blocks from my office, and can totally relate on the work from home thing. That was something I hadn’t anticipated when I took the job. My current company really frowns on telecommuting most of the time, though, so this isn’t an issue that comes up often for me.

        The biggest drawback for me is not really having that commute time to decompress, so if I’ve had a bad day at work, I usually still feel annoyed or agitated or whatever when I still get home. My partner knows to just leave me alone for a few minutes when that happens, but it’s not ideal. However, I do love the fact that when I have had a rough morning I can go home at lunchtime to just get a break from everyone. Overall, the pros outweigh the cons for me (I really, really hate commuting), but there are downsides to consider.

    6. Elysian*

      Totally agree. I had a 6 minute walk for a while, and while I never had issues with coworkers, I didn’t find it to be ideal because I could never fully disconnect from work. There just wasn’t enough time on the trip home to clear my mind. Even if I left the house to go out to eat or something, I always felt like I was walking “to work” if I was making a right out of my front door. I also passed the office a lot walking around the neighborhood. My 20 minute walk was a lot better in that regard. I was definitely expected to come in during inclement weather even if no one else was. I definitely feel like there is a such thing as “too short” a commute.

      1. KH*

        I was lucky enough to work from home 100% for 5 years and even before/after then, I was/am working from home 3 days out of 4. I have no trouble disconnecting from work. I just make a mental decision to no longer think about work. I get up from my desk and stop thinking about it. This may require a strong mental discipline or an ability to let things go, I don’t know.
        But it’s not as hard as it sounds. While having a forced decompression time may be nice to have, it’s not necessary.

    7. Blue_eyes*

      I totally agree about mentally disconnecting. I worked for a while at a school on the same block as my apartment and I found that when I arrived home I was still in “school” mode mentally. Walking even 5-10 minutes to get home would have helped clear my head and let me transition to home time more smoothly.

    8. sayevet*

      How about a 20-minute walk around the neighbourhood before going home? Or change into athleisurewear and head out for some exercise before dinner?

    9. Cath in Canada*

      My 20 minute bike ride is the best possible way to disconnect. On days when I take the bus instead, I really notice how much longer it takes me to unwind in the evenings.

  3. Greg*

    for number 1 if you work there and it starts to be an issue I would just go “look just because I live next to work doesn’t make it not be private, I don’t scope out where you live and track you so kindly stop” and go from there.

  4. Gene*

    For #1, is your door (front or rear) invisible from work? If so, there’s no reason for anyone other than HR to know your address. I have some coworkers of decades whom I have no idea where they live. If asked, you just say you live within walking distance. Be vague.

    1. Purple Dragon*

      This would be my thoughts too. That and a set of sheer curtains that lets the light in but can’t be seen through (mine are purple). I live the closest to my office in my team so I am regularly the one to come in after hours/weekends if there’s an issue. This doesn’t happen very often and there is definite value in being the go-to person and earning that capital. It may depend on the job though, I’m in IT so it’s expected. If you’re not in a job where an after hours situation would come up then it may never be an issue.

      1. Gadfly*

        Or (if you rent, check with your landlord obviously) there are innumerable ways to do faux frosted glass or faux stained glass. The easiest being to get the contact-paper like stuff they sell at Home Depot or Lowes for just this reason. Might want to do that even if they don’t become your co-workers.

        1. Sparky*

          Or reflective film. I use this to keep sunlight and heat out, but it also creates more privacy. From the inside the film covered window just looks a bit darker.

        2. Doodle*

          I just did this on a bathroom window that looks into a neighbor’s bedroom (I kept the curtains closed, but was always still nervous) and a door that overlooks another backyard. It was SUPER easy to do and make a huge difference. I can have both light and privacy.

    2. OP#1*

      Unfortunately my front door is visible from the business. There’s a bit of a berm between my house (which I own) and the business park, but it’s not very big. it hides most of my driveway, but my front door is on the 2nd level, so it’s clearly seen from the business park; as is my deck and backyard. So I doubt I would be able to keep it a secret for more than a week.

        1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          I know that can get expensive, but might be worth it, even if you don’t end up working there, so business people aren’t peeping into your backyard

      1. self employed*

        It might also depend on company culture. Is it “we are family” or just “we like to work together”? Major diffeernce.

  5. ZuKeeper*

    At my last job I lived right behind work. I didn’t have people dropping in, or privacy issues, but I did become the person everyone called when they locked their keys somewhere or couldn’t remember an alarm code, or just needed an extra body for some reason.

    I have to say, being able to go home for lunch (and therefore get away from all the questions/blather that I got if I stayed in the building) was worth it. Plus, no parking hassle, no fuel costs are certainly a win. Although I did drive when it was really cold. But the day my truck battery decided to die and not start, it was sure nice to only have to walk a short way in that bitter cold! I say apply, see where that gets you. Only then can you really weigh the pros and the cons.

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      Yup, going home for lunch is great. People always ask me if I take naps – ha! I wish. I wouldn’t get back up for hours, and it would be the end of the work day by that point.

      There aren’t many drawbacks to living across the street from my job (except for the rent – ugh. This isn’t NYC). I’m not expected or asked to stay later or come in on days when I’m off, nobody pops by unexpectedly (except for my mother that one time, gah!), I can go home throughout the day to get snacks or use the restroom (I keep those breaks to a minimum though), and when the weather gets bad, I can get home quickly. Oh, and I can easily stumble home from a happy hour celebration without endangering anyone.

      1. Former Invoice Girl*

        I’d love to live across the street from work! It seems like OP’s issues could be solved by enforcing boundaries – I’d definitely not let this possibility get away.

      2. animaniactoo*

        I’m confused by your comment that this isn’t NYC? I work in NYC and unless you’re working in a primarily residential area, there is no such thing as a “reasonable rent”…

        In fact, anything within a 5 minute walking distance of my office is astronomical. My former manager looked into renting an apartment in the building down the street when it was built, to save himself the 1 1/2 one-way commute some nights, and discovered he’d be paying more in rent for one month than for an entire year of his son’s college tuition.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          What I meant was, my rent where I am is on par with NYC prices, which is ridiculous given where we are.

    2. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

      Our warehouse manager lives right behind work and her feedback is the trade off is well worth it. Yep, when there’s an emergency she gets The Call and she laughs that it’s a little weird she can never get away from work because out on the deck having drinks, look to her left and there’s work, but she says she would never trade it because of all of the other freedoms she has (like, running home 2x a day to take care of her sick dog in the same amount of time somebody else might have taken a water cooler break).

  6. Christopher Tracy*

    OP # 1 – I live in a semi high rise apartment building across from the high rise tower my company is located in. You can’t see into my apartment due to how far back the tower sits, but you can look out the window and clearly see my window (and the windows of my neighbors), and I can see into the company gym room from my living room. People joke about coming over to my apartment all the time, especially when there’s bad weather, but nobody actually does it – I think folks just like to make conversation and they think it’s cool I live so close (it takes me two minutes to get to work assuming no traffic crossing the street and I don’t go to Starbucks). Yes, people see me out and about when I’m out sick, but since damn near everyone in the company knows where I live, nobody questions it, so it’s not awkward.

    Your situation is a little different, and I don’t know that I could do it. People being able to see into my windows/doors is a no go for me – I walk around half dressed all the time, especially in the summer, and I don’t want my coworkers seeing the goodies. But if you don’t walk around in the buff or semi-buff, and/or you don’t care if people see you and various parts of your non-work life, it can work. (Still, if you’re renting and get a job at this place, consider switching units if you can.)

      1. Tweety*

        Sheer curtains should work, i.e. not able to see in during the day, especially if opaque sheer curtains.
        A tension rod can be used for the (opaque) sheer curtains.

        Of course, once you turn on the lights in the evening one would be able to see in through the (opaque) sheer curtains.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          The opaque sheer curtains are a good suggestion, but there is something to be said about having some distance from work. If OP’s door really is thisclose to the company’s door, curtains or no curtains, it could get uncomfortable if only because she’d constantly be thinking about it. This would be where switching units if possible could help should she get the job.

    1. Doodle*

      I could be wrong, of course, but if the business actually looks into her bedroom, she probably already has curtains? The question then is whether “my coworkers” knowing her goings about is worse than “random people I don’t know.”

      It would be for me, for sure, but YMMV.

      1. Brad Birmingham*

        Yes, we already have curtains. And there already is a privacy issue that we have to be aware of, such as making sure the curtains are closed *before* I take a shower, so I don’t have to worry about sneaking around in a towel to close them after the fact.
        We’re accustomed to lots of people having a line-of-sight into our bedroom, but there’s a difference between it being random people we don’t know and people I will be spending 40+ hours a week with.

        1. BRR, ,*

          I work in a high rise and the building next to ours is rental apartments. Last week a gentleman had gotten out of the shower and was walking around naked. We had a clear line of sight into his bedroom. Livened up the office. Would have been awkward though had it been a coworker.

          1. JMegan*

            I had the same at my previous job, except that our office looked into the model suite of the condo going up next door. One day we saw the sales agent and one of the construction workers having a little afternoon delight on the sofa! Almost impossible not to watch when something like that is going on.

        2. Gene*

          My rule has always been, “If you don’t want to see me naked, don’t look into my windows.” I don’t make an effort to stand there flashing the neighbors, but if I’m walking across the living room because one of the cats just hairballed, not my problem.

          Then again, those aren’t coworkers. And I’m a relatively out of shape, 60-yo male.

  7. Christopher Tracy*

    #2 – This letter hit home for me. Every time I get a new assignment at work, if it’s something I’ve never seen before, I tend to panic. My brain feels like it shuts off, and I sit there staring at my computer screen like an idiot. My heart starts to race, and I have to make myself stop, take a deep breath, and then break things down into small tasks. I’ve found that mentally outlining all of the various steps I need to take to conclude a file helps me to not get overwhelmed with the big picture. And once I have my small tasks figured out, I then go and ask my supervisor or manager whether I’ve missed something. I usually haven’t, but it never hurts to double check.

    1. WorkingMom*

      I really liked Alison’s response on this one, because a lot of people struggle with big tasks with no roadmap, and it doesn’t necessarily have to involve in anxiety. It certainly could and there is nothing wrong with that at all, we all have our struggles! But I also know that many people have a hard time making sense of a bigger project that doesn’t already have a clear timeline with benchmarks and direction. Especially when creating a new product, service, or process.

      1. Manders*

        This is well put. I have an anxiety disorder, and I actually really love working on new things–the only times I’ve panicked about not having a road map were when I was working for a boss who had a history of giving unclear directions and expecting me to be a mind reader. As a result of that I’ve become proactive about making my own to do lists with details of what I plan to do and showing them to my boss periodically.

        Maybe OP needs a sort of “middle step” where this employee could come to her with an outline, or a list of steps, or a wire frame, or whatever happens between an assignment and a completed project in this industry.

      2. Stitch*

        I have anxiety, and it can be almost more stressful when I *do* have a fleshed out roadmap than when I don’t. (Last week, I spent a number of hours researching APA formatting because my professor was hyper specific about it, for a paper that did not suit a lot of APA rules.)

        General guidelines and an open line of communication for “dumb questions” is my favorite setup. :) The ability (and comfort) to ask dumb questions is what reduces my anxiety tenfold.

    2. Ife*

      This was me too — the feeling that my brain just went blank when the assignment was slightly different than what I knew. For me it was a lack of confidence in my abilities that went away with time and experience. Another thing that helped is being organized and making some kind of schedule/gantt chart — when I am unsure where to begin I can start to fill in the pieces that I *do* know, and that helps clarify what I am actually confused about.

      1. ProductionQueenLA*

        I’ve had this same issue. I’ve been in this job for 5 years, and doing the same thing I’ve done for 9 and yet any time something “new” comes up – new client, new project – I go into panic mode and feel overwhelmed. I have to take a break, take some calm breaths and look at the project with a clear mind so I can map out the way from point A to B. Once I get my game plan together I can usually fly through with ease and then think “why was I worried? I got this!” There have been times where I am genuinely lost with a plan and will have to ask for help, which ends up making me feel more confused before it sinks in. It helps when you are comfortable asking questions. I have a client who prefers to act as middle man when I do have an issue or help is needed, which can end up making the problem more difficult than if I had gone directly to the source.

  8. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    #4, as another person who’s due to go into labor any day now, I definitely relate to where you’re coming from – but I don’t think your husband needs to bring it up proactively. There’s nothing he or they can do to avoid the interview happening when you’re in labor (unless your doctor schedules an induction). And if he needs to reschedule with them because you’ve gone into labor, they will certainly be understanding and not hold it against him!

    Best of luck. This waiting is a very strange time, isn’t it? :-)

    1. the gold digger*

      The only flight delay ever that has not ticked me off was a flight to Rome from DTW. Everyone was cranky that it was 30 minutes past the scheduled departure time and we hadn’t even pulled away from the gate, but when the pilot explained that the first officer’s wife had just gone into labor with their first baby and we had to wait for a replacement to arrive from another airport, we all just shrugged. Babies happen and what can you do but be happy for the new parents?

    2. LBK*

      And if they did hold it against him, that would certainly give him some valuable info about their work/life balance expectations!

    3. AFT123*

      My due date is October 1st, right there with ya :)

      I agree with your comment as well. Just carry on as he would otherwise and don’t worry rescheduling or notifying it unless/until he has to. I can understand the urge to want to give the interviewers a heads up “just in case”, and in some situations that would be warranted, but for now it seems it would just have the potential to put them on alert and make things complicated when in reality, having to reschedule at the last minute for a birth is not likely to be a big issue.

    4. many bells down*

      A friend of mine just came to my town to interview for a new job and his wife is 8 months pregnant. I was honestly afraid she’d go into labor during her husband’s interview!

      (It’s been a month and she still hasn’t had it which might even be worse, because they can’t move until she delivers.)

        1. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

          Awww what a nice update! I love this website – I’m feeling happy for the friend of a person I’ve never met.

  9. Cambridge Comma*

    OP 5, it sounds like Bob is lonely. Coukd you formally swap offices with him? It sounds like it woukd suit both of your needs.

    1. Sara Whittle*

      OP#5 here. No, Bob has a private office due to the nature of his work. He makes lots of client calls but not every day. We’re prohibited from swapping offices although I’m tempted to just sneak in.

  10. Cat steals keyboard*

    #1 I actually love my commute. It gives me time and space to read and decompress. I think I’m in a minority and I certainly don’t love the cost! Anyway I’d apply and just take it as it comes.

    #2 It’s not necessarily anxiety – there’s a difference between healthy anxiety and the medical condition anxiety which involves a misfiring of the fight-flight system. There are other psychological issues it could be, but I’d avoid trying to armchair diagnose. I think you sound very perceptive and conscientious as a boss, and what you could do is ask him about what’s happening for him and if he has any thoughts on what would help him feel more able to try new things.

    1. Gadfly*

      My husband likes to listen to audio books and doesn’t when he is at home–his commute gives him some alone time. And he likes to drive. So sometimes he claims he likes it. But the cost sucks and even with books he likes it gets old, especially the commute home (getting off work Friday and still an hour+ before he gets home…:( )

    2. Temperance*

      I liked my SEPTA train commute when it was reliable and we had express trains, meaning that my door-to-door commute was only 45 minutes. Now, it takes over an hour, each way, just on the train, and they are always late and overcrowded. It’s really draining to me, and I get far less done in the evenings now.

      1. SJ*

        My boss’s car is in the shop so she had to take SEPTA today… and of course she was late because the train was late. I’m hoping things get back on track (pun intended) when they put all those trains back on the line that were taken off for mechanical problems.

        1. Temperance*

          I’m honestly half expecting them to only really restore the privileged lines, like Paoli-Thorndale (which already has amazingly frequent service – EVERY TEN MINUTES AT RUSH HOUR!) are going back to normal. My line has these stupid “Express Buses” that no one wants to take, because who wants to ride a bus down the Schuykill and pay train prices to do so?

      2. LBK*

        Yeah, when I had a reliable, consistent commute where I could always get a seat (took an express bus that ran an odd, unpopular route) I actually kind of enjoyed having that moment to myself. Now I commute on two trains that are always packed and frequently delayed and it often puts me in a grumpy mood before I even get into the office.

    3. AFT123*

      I think I’d like my 40 minute commute if it wasn’t in thick intermittent stop and go traffic. Going from highway speeds to complete stops (on the highway) makes commuting a mental exercise that just makes me anxious and crabby. I’m so thankful that I get to work remote a few times a week and/or leave the office before rush hour gets bad!

      That being said, I can’t imagine living across the street from work… the main concern for me would be coworkers being able to watch when I come and go and being able to observe when my house wasn’t being maintained or something. It’s not really that I have anything to hide or be concerned about, it would just feel like I was under a microscope. It would be like if coworkers could see my work PC browser history. Nothing to hide or anything, just kind of disconcerting. Even still though I’d probably take that situation over a 40 minute rush hour commute.

  11. Misc*

    For 2, this could absolutely be anxiety. Or it could just be executive dysfunction, where he just CAN’T figure out how to start/what order to do things in, but once he gets started, it all comes together fine (executive dysfunction is the WORST, it sabotages you most obviously when it’s stuff you should know how to do just fine). (Anxiety: freezing up over stuff you know how to do. Executive dysfunction: just… not seeing HOW to do it because brain is skipping a step, and then possibly ending up anxious over THAT). Or it could be something else entirely. Either way, a framework for ‘this is how to approach new stuff/create a process’ and a focus on ‘you seem to have issues with doing X and Y’ should help, rather than specifically worrying over what’s going on in their brain (though if they can identify the issue, that might help *them*).

    1. Misc*

      I may have gotten over detailed with my executive dysfunction example :D One of my major executive dysfunction issues is literally not knowing which examples my brain is throwing out are relevant >.>. My POINT was that it could easily be something else, including stuff I haven’t even thought of.

    2. MK*

      Or it could be that this so-far excellent employee is simply bad at this kind of work. It seems to be that the OP is thinking that, since someone who has been performing great so far cannot progress to the next stage successfully, there must be some involved explanation, but… I don’t actually find it unusual for someone who is great at following instructions to turn out to be not an independent thinker, nor is it odd that this person would be anxious at finding themselves failing at the skills needed to advance in their career. Not everything is about a condition.

      1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

        I concur.

        Which, could make you anxious, but anxiety not being the cause of the issue.

        I have no, zero, absolutely zilch sense of direction. I know that it’s some kind of spatial impairment in my brain, that’s the root. And of course I panic when somebody asks me for directions the way they’d ask a normal person and of course I get high anxiety over anything to do with directions or spatial stuff, and I’m sure it makes everything worse when I panic, but the anxiety isn’t the root of the issue.

      2. Anon 2*

        Agreed. And there are many people who are great at taking directions. Others who are great at idea generation, others who great at with idea generation and implementation. I think they are all skill sets. Some people can learn those things. Others can’t.

      3. LBK*

        Totally agreed with both. Some people are great procedure-followers but just aren’t good at synthesizing their own solutions or sizing up a problem without direction. I do think that there’s ways you can help him get better at this, though – for example, have him sit with you and work through the initial steps of your thought process when a problem comes up. It sounds like right now he’s mostly started to get involved at step 2 or 3 of the process, so if you bring him in at step 1, that can give him some guidance on how you usually approach a situation.

        If he likes written processes and checklists, you could maybe even come up with a list of questions or pieces of information you always gather when presented with a new problem. It may not be comprehensive if you have a lot of similar-but-not-identical issues, but it can help put him in the mindset of a problem solver.

      4. OP#2*

        this is all helpful! Did want to say what prompted my question is not so much that I feel the need to diagnose or that it’s the *only* explanation. More that I wanted to make sure that *if* that is the case, I’m doing what I can to make sure he has appropriate support for his work and hopefully signaling that it would be safe to disclose anything like that to me.

  12. Collarbone High*

    #1: I lived across the street from my office for three glorious years.

    Upsides: zero commute, could go home for lunch. There weren’t any drop-ins, and people generally respected that I wanted to keep work and home separate even though they were only a few hundred feet apart. (That said, having a secret relationship would have been out of the question.)

    Drawbacks: I had a balcony that I never used, entirely because it faced the office and I didn’t want co-workers stopping by to chat (or seeing me in my bathrobe drinking coffee in the morning). And I viewed the inclement weather aspect differently — while my colleagues could take a snow day, I really could not make the case that I couldn’t make it in. :)

    IME, the benefits FAR outweighed the drawbacks.

    1. LaurenB*

      Agreed on the inclement weather thing! Dealing with the weather was the best part of living so close to work for me. Although when I lived around the corner from my workplace, our office policy was that the entire building was closed for bad weather so I spent a few days that winter sitting on my couch, drinking tea and looking out the window at my workplace. But I found it such a massive relief to not have to get up an hour early to see if two feet of snow had fallen in the night requiring me to dig my car out, as I have to do now. As long as I could get the door open (I couldn’t a few times, this was in Newfoundland after all), I was good to go.

      1. LBK*

        Yeah, I’ve lived about a 20 minute walk from my office for a few years now through some bad snow storms. It definitely does suck on the few occasions when you’re expected to be in the office when no one else is, but I’ve found those are completely balanced out by the days where they do expect everyone to come in during crappy weather – I did not ever envy my boyfriend having to wake up at 6am to dig his car out before work.

  13. Fiona the Lurker*

    I think the commenters recommending sheer or net curtains to LW#1 are on the right lines, but there’s a plastic film you can get which would be better, smarter and more modern or they could use glass-etch spray. Or, of course, if they own the place, put in one-way glass.

    I’ve lived very close to work myself – it came in handy once when we needed a private ‘break-out’ space for a confidential meeting (other alternatives were the local pub or coffee shop) but since we were dealing with troubled children with a penchant for vandalism there was also the permanent risk that I’d be seen coming or going and targeted; luckily that didn’t happen, but it did make for a fairly insecure few months.

  14. Y Nadie No Puede Parar*

    I live one block from my office building. When I first started the job my supervisor told me not to tell anyone I live so close because people would ask me to come in early or leave late since I have a four-minute commute. Some people eventually found out when my direct coworkers spilled the beans by saying practically every day “rough commute this morning?” And “how was that traffic crossing the street?” Ho ho ho…

    People did actually ask me come in early or leave late because “you just live across the street and Jane lives in the suburbs.” And I am always expected to come in on snowy days (it snows a lot here) and I’d be the only dope in the office. The city doesn’t do a great job of plowing right away so many times it’s a slog to walk/slide in the snow and ice.

    If OP can get away with not saying where he lives as long as possible then he should. But expect it might not last long.

    1. Jax*

      I don’t think it’s unreasonable in the snow day situation to say that you’re happy to come in-once the city plows the streets/sidewalks. Your safety matters just as much as the other people in the office, regardless of how long you have to commute.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        THIS. When it snows out, my maintenance man comes around 8 to start shoveling and putting salt down out in front of the building; however, the side street sidewalk doesn’t get done until 8:15ish or even later, so I’ve now begun coming in very late when that happens. I almost slid on ice and into traffic one day while trying to cross over to the side of the road my job is on – never again.

      2. OP#1*

        I like this idea, unfortunately the street I live on is also a designated snow route, which means it’s one of the very first streets to get plowed when there’s snow. So that probably wouldn’t work on them haha

        1. LBK*

          Frankly, if that’s the price you have to pay to get such a good commute for the rest of the year, I think it’s worth it. Unless you live somewhere that has horrible snow half the year, a few days of having to ski into the office alone is a fair trade for those who spend the other 250ish days wasting hours of their time on their regular commute. I don’t live quite that close to my office but I’m more than happy to come in a couple times a year if it means I can walk home for the rest of it.

          1. Y Nadie No Puede Parar*

            My issue is I always feel slightly “geographically discriminated against.” Out of an office of 200 there are only two employees who live in the city. The other employee is in a different department which is very 9 to 5 so they are not expected to come in early or stay late. When there is a snow storm everyone in my department takes PTO but since the work still has to be done I’m the one they say has to come in. (I don’t know what they would do if I moved farther away.) Basically they say “Fergus, Lucinda, Percival and Gladys, you can stay home. Nadie will cover it.”

            I usually wait until 10 or so to come in based on whether I hear the city plowing my street. (I face away from the public street so I don’t see them actually plowing.) My boss doesn’t care what time I come in, just that the work gets done. I suppose I can call in sick but I’m the type who is never ever sick and they know that.

            The issue is more subtle at other times of the year but it still happens. This isn’t a huge issue in my life so I don’t mean to be so dramatic about it but it’s one of those niggling things. I know when they send an office-wide email saying “Snow expected tomorrow. Work from home if you can (my department can’t) or take PTO” they mean “Take PTO unless you’re Nadie, then come in.”

            1. LBK*

              That’s exactly what I’m saying, though – it’s part of the trade off you make when you decide that you want a short commute. It goes the other way, too; there’s surely days where your coworkers’ commutes suck but they have to come in anyway. If you make the call that retaining more personal time rather than having it be lost to commuting is important to you, you have to accept the potential downsides of that, too.

              1. LBK*

                Oh – and I forgot to make my final point, which is that I think the pros far outweigh the cons in that situation. You’re focusing solely on the isolated incidents when you have to come in and ignoring the 98% of the time that you have the exact same expectations about office presence as your coworkers *and* you only have to spend 5 minutes commuting every day.

                1. Y Nadie No Puede Parar*

                  Yes, I fully acknowledge that there are social (more food options!) and logistical (5 minute commute!) benefits of living where I do but people make decisions based on many factors. My property taxes are much higher, I have a high condo fee, and the area is much more dangerous (a rape and a double murder within 8 blocks recently). But I made the decision where to live understanding all the factors, cost commute time, safety, etc.

                  They made a decision to live farther away which has its attendant benefits and detriments including longer commutes. They all totally understand that was part of the package.

                  Overall we all love working here and we cover for each other all the time. Management actively encourages us to take PTO. My coworkers may grumble about their commutes and I may worry about safety but we try not to let that get in the way of work.

                  It only becomes an issue with snow events. For all practical purposes there’s not much I can do. They are just not going to come into the office when it snows and I’m going to be expected to come in no matter what. I’m a bit resigned to that, but as mentioned, it’s still a niggling thing.

                  The reason I’m focusing on that 2% (probably less than 1%) is in response to the OP. My point was that once people find out you live close then they may expect you to always be in the office. YMMV of course.

  15. Arya Parya*

    I live around the corner from my office building. Since all my colleagues can also work remotely, I’m not the one always being asked to come in if there is an issue. I also don’t have any unwanted house calls for any other reasons. I do have colleagues walking by my apartment building when they come in to work or go home. However my living room and balcony don’t face the street, so that isn’t an issue.
    The only drawback is that when I have a day off, I occasionally run into colleagues when they are outside during their break or having a smoke in front of the building. That really doesn’t outweigh the benefits for me though. A commute less than a minute is great. Being able to go home or go grocery shopping during my lunch break is also really great.
    The sad thing is that by the end of next year they are going to close the office building and I will have to go work in one that is a lot further away. I’m really not looking forward to that and am seriously considering trying to find a new job. Maybe not as close as this one now, but one I can ride my bicycle to.

  16. Naomi*

    Thank you so much for posting #2. I’ve been considering writing in with a very similar issue – I suspect my employee is suffering from depression, but I don’t want to armchair diagnose and there’s a chance I might be projecting. I’ve been giving him feedback on the behaviour I need him to work on (he’s become very demotivated and stopped contributing new ideas, which he was doing before). I’ve mentioned seeing a doctor (prompted by him crying in a meeting with me, extremely uncharacteristically), but to my knowledge he hasn’t. I think it would be much easier if he had a diagnosis and some help, as it is I’m left with keeping an eye out for anything really worrying and coaching him on the work – he tends to improve for a few weeks and then slump back.

  17. Millenial teacher*

    #2) I teach college and find that many (but not all) of my students are terrified of making mistakes. They don’t know how (and likely haven’t been taught) how to handle messing up. That tends to lead them to just fail on purpose by not doing it. I don’t think all of them have anxiety I think it’s just something that has been learned/taught. I struggle to teach them that along with the course content. And while I identify this with the millennial generation the most, I also strongly identify myself as a member of that generation.

    1. Not an IT Guy*

      This. I’m not a millennial by any means, but I am deathly afraid of making mistakes. In all honesty though I think it’s because I’m fully aware that in the working world one little mistake can cost you everything.

  18. Hannah*


    “you know, sometimes when people struggle with this, it’s tied up with anxiety issues, and if that resonates with you, it’s something you could talk to a doctor about.”

    I don’t think this is a good idea. I’d be offended if someone at work said this to me, even if they were being kind. I’d personally take exception to the idea that because I didn’t handle a work assignment well, I must have a mental health issue and need to see a doctor. Work assignments aren’t that important to me in life, so it would just seem really presumptuous to me that someone was judging my health like that based only on what they see at work. I think you should treat this like part of your employee’s personality that isn’t going to change.

    You know this employee struggles with new tasks. Either stop trying to give them new tasks, or when you do give them something new, plan for extra time spent supervising and coaching them. This person probably isn’t going to become the leader for projects with new tasks, but it sounds like they can still be a good worker for you if you use what you’ve observed to assign them tasks they’ll excel at.

    1. Pudding*

      I think in the push to de stigma mental health that many of us forget how personal the topic is.

      If you wouldn’t go up to a coworker and say you think that they have a boil on their butt and need to see a doctor, don’t do it for anxiety or any other mental illness. A simple “I’ve noticed X, is everything okay” is a safe way to cover both physical and mental illness.

      I have an anxiety disorder and a comment like that would destroy me at work. It is a private and sensitive issue. I have no problem with people at work commenting on my behaviour in terms of impact to work, but don’t try to diagnose me or refer me to a doctor.

      The more I think on it, the more condescending the comment sounds. Most people do not need to be told by an observer that they have anxiety.

      1. Annie Moose*

        On the other hand, when I was struggling with depression a couple of years ago, I think it would’ve been extremely valuable for someone outside of myself to go, “hey, Annie, how are you doing? You seem like you’re having a rough time lately” and gently bring up our company’s EAP policy or something to encourage me to seek help (because I clearly wasn’t seeking it on my own).

        I certainly don’t fault my manager for not doing that–she probably didn’t have any clue what was going on, and it wasn’t her job to monitor my mental health anyway–and I’m happy to say that I’m in a much better mental place now, but man, do I wish someone would’ve said something to me, because it might’ve gotten me to actually talk to a counselor about it. Friends and family, at least, if not my manager.

        Yeah, most people don’t need to be told that they have a mental illness or problem of some kind–but they might not seek help without someone encouraging them to do so. I didn’t.

        1. Hannah*

          Your point is definitely taken. I am big on boundaries between work and real life so I feel pretty strongly that this is an inappropriate topic for someone at work to broach. But it’s definitely true that not everyone would feel that way or keep their worlds compartmentalized that way.

    2. Sue Wilson*

      It’s pretty interesting to me how some of you are taking a personal implication from words that aren’t actually personal. I wouldn’t get upset about this at all, especially since it’s framed as “this is one possible cause, so if you think that’s possible, a doctor might help” in a conversation about a lot of other solutions.

      I think OP should be aware that that could be a possible reaction, that any suggestion involving mental illness will strike people strongly and personally.

  19. NYC Weez*

    OP #1: I used to live less than a block away from work. The benefits were the ridiculously short commute, being able to pop home easily for lunch, etc.

    I didn’t have any issues with coworkers expecting me to be at the office more than them (although my husband did when he was the one living near his office). Really the only major downside was that bc my commute involved so little effort, my fitness levels plummeted. I didn’t realize how much walking I did during my previous commute until I turned into a slug that rolled out of bed into work every day and lost all of my endurance!

    1. EddieSherbert*


      My coworkers always get very impressed when they realize I bike to work…. but it’s a 3 minute bike ride. Not that impressive. Not that fit. Haha

  20. BackintheSunshine*

    OP #3 – I’ve asked my bosses to lunch on several occasions. My goal was to get to know them more on a personal level and build a relationship with them. For one boss, it was a regular thing every month or so. The conversations were 40% personal and 60% work. It helped to have a regular private forum to discuss work related issues as the office was mostly open plan and having a private conversation was challenging.

    For a more recent boss at a new job, it was a slightly different experience. Evidently this wasn’t a done thing at this company. Boss told me when told the spouse about it, the response was, “gee, I hope she’s not resigning!” Boss was very relieved when I said nope, not leaving. Just trying to get to know you better.

    At current job, I work remotely about three hours from office and Boss. When I’m in the office, Boss and I have lunch together at least one of the days. Again, it’s all about building the relationship and learning more about each other’s professional background.

    TL;DR – go for it!

    1. OP #3*

      Thanks! Sounds like my goal is similar to yours in the past. I know my boss really doesn’t care to discuss personal matters with coworkers, but I think as long as I’m clear from the outset that I’m more interested in her professional background, opinions on trends in the industry, etc., it should be OK. Also, you make a good point – this is a two-way street, and right now, she doesn’t know a ton about my background either.

  21. Pudding*

    I live right around the corner from the office and it is a dream. I maximize my day because I only leave at 8:50 and home at 5:05. Being able to come home at lunch to see my dogs and eat fresh food is amazing. I don’t have to own a car or pay for a bus pass at this time and that is amazing.

    I’ve only had benefits. No one calls me for anything or comes by my house.

    The one thing is that I get extra paranoid when I am sick. I always worry someone will be strolling on their break and see me outside or they’ll be casing my house.

    The only downside is that the boss is considering moving the office across town which would be a huge lifestyle change for me.

    1. Salyan*

      I live in the building behind my work – the boss can see my home parking space from her window! Thankfully, my windows look the other way (if I’d had to look at work every time I looked out them, I wouldn’t have moved there). It is definitely a bonus to be able to run home and grab lunch, or take a nap, or be on hand if the cable guy shows; but I’m also paranoid about sick days. So it’s a little close, but not too bad. I think what you’re describing with the windows/front door being so close would be waaaay too close for me, though – but then that’s me. But I’m also the one that needs light and curtains open all the time, just for sanity’s sake.

  22. Anon 2*

    #2 – Are you sure that your employee is capable of driving projects? When you regularly drive new products it’s easily to believe every one, but the truth is not everyone is capable of this at least without intensive mentoring. And do you have the time to do that? Or has he driven projects in the past, but now isn’t capable of doing that?

    I work with a guy who is very nice, but despite being on staff for more than a year, he simply can’t cope with projects that aren’t divided out for him by step and spoon fed to him. When we hired him, I believed he was capable of managing and driving projects, but since working with him, it’s clear that he’s not.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Also, does this employee *want* to take that next step?

      Or do you want them to, because you see the advantages for you, but they’d rather just keep doing what they were doing?

      1. Anon 2*

        I think this is a great question to answer. The other is, if he doesn’t want to take that next step is that a major issue for the role he is in?

        Some roles are created with the expectation that they will grow over time. If the person hired can’t grow with the role, then they aren’t the right person for the job. There are other roles that are not an issue if they remain as they are, and so it wouldn’t matter if he didn’t want to take the next step if he can excel withe the current job duties.

      2. Camellia*

        I came here to say something similar. My greatest strength is to take some vague new project (Let’s do Disaster Recovery!) and wrestle it down to something concrete that can be programmed into a computer. I have a coworker who absolutely hates doing that and doesn’t do it or cope with it very well at all. On the other hand, she adores working non-stop on defects. If that was all, or even most, of what I had to do, I would have to find another job quickly because I would be bored out of my skull.

        I love new-project work, she loves knowing everything about an existing system and researching issues it has. We both value and appreciate what we bring to the table.

  23. Whats In A Name*

    #1: I don’t think you should be worried about unwanted house calls, but I do caution living that close to work.

    I once moved 1/4 of a mile away from a job I worked at. I found most of the benefits were amazing – run home to meet the cable guy or have lunch, forgetting something was no big deal, I could walk to work! But overall, living 10-15 minutes away is more enjoyable for me.
    Outside of 1 thing I’ll mention below, my boss didn’t bug me or expect more of me because of location. Granted, this was before the days of texting and email capability from home.

    These were also some pitfalls you might want to consider:
    1) If I woke up late or had some odd thing happen in the morning (cat threw up, spilled coffee, whatever) I didn’t have time to listen to morning radio and decompress before I go to work
    2) Similarly if I had a bad day at work or left frustrated I felt the same when I walked in the door at home. No decompression time.
    3) One time, when the campus shut down due to ice and snow, my boss called and ask me to go into the office and do a few “must do” things. But she did it in more of a “I am really in a pickle, if you can help that would be great, if not I totally understand” and she meant it. It’s just the kind of boss she was.

  24. Time Immemorial*

    OP 1: My aunt lives across the street from where she works, and she only has good things to say. While they can’t see in her bedroom window, everyone respects her boundaries and doesn’t come calling after work hours, and she loves spending her lunch break at home. Also, if she forgets something either at home or at the office, it’s super easy to go back and get it. Sometimes she gets tapped to go to the office after hours if the roof’s leaking or something, but that’s about it.

  25. Temperance*

    Re LW #5: open floor plans sound like my own personal hell. Does your office have conference rooms or anything that you could reserve for especially quiet work?

    It sounds like your coworker is an extremely chatty extrovert. That would drive me bananas. There’s a man on my train who once loudly started chatting up the woman next to him, exclaiming that he was an extrovert, and I have avoided him since that day. Seriously.

    1. Sara Whittle*

      OP#5 here. Nope, no conference rooms available. I’m going bonkers. Funny thing is our office work space was tolerable with headphones until Bob started dropping by. I may just have to ask if I can “borrow ” his space once!

  26. Catherine*

    #2. Ah, this used to be me. For some reason I was always convinced I was a slow learner, and this belief would nearly paralyze me when I was learning something new. One day my manager was showing me something and I apologized for being slow and admitted I’m kind of a slow learner. She said, “Oh, I don’t know about that. From what I hear you’ve picked up the teapot inventory process faster than anyone else.” That was a big turning point for me. It took a year or so but I’m much more confident when learning new tasks/processes and I’m able to jump into new projects with almost no anxiety.

  27. Rachel*

    I just started a new job about two weeks ago but prior to that I worked for a company that was located in the same building as my apartment. My office was on the second floor and my loft was on the fifth floor. I lived/worked in that arrangement for about 2 1/2 years. It did become difficult to “turn off” work sometimes, and I was definitely the person to be asked to come in if the weather was bad. There were a couple times where employees saw me in casual clothes/not in work mode, like if I had taken a day off or someone stopped in on the weekend and I felt a little weird about it but it wasn’t a huge deal. Other than that though it was pretty great. I frequently did chores or took naps during lunch and I never had to pack food to bring to work. My commute was about 15 seconds so I didn’t have to get up until 8 to be at work at 9.

    Now that I’ve taken this new job I have a commute of ten minutes, which is still no big deal, but my SO & I are actually moving to an apartment complex 1 1/4 miles from my new job. I didn’t feel comfortable living in the old building anymore because I knew I’d keep running into ex-coworkers which is weird. Plus now my commute will be down to 3 minutes!

    1. Rachel*

      Maybe worth mentioning I did have one weird run in because of my work/living situation. One of the directors of the company came into work on a Saturday and parked near the dumpster where no one is supposed to park. I was cleaning my apartment and ran outside to throw trash away wearing very short pajama shorts and tshirt with no bra on, no make up, dirty hair, etc. and of course, he was getting out of his car. He acted like he didn’t notice I was a mess and we chatted for a few minutes (including about work stuff, ugh!) and then I excused myself as quickly as possible. It was super uncomfortable but he never brought it up again so I just let it go.

    2. Christopher Tracy*

      Your former setup sounds fantastic. I only wish my company’s building had apartments/condos in it because I would so be there, thus not having to worry about walking through the snow.

    3. SJ*

      I didn’t feel comfortable living in the old building anymore because I knew I’d keep running into ex-coworkers which is weird.

      I totally get this. Running into current coworkers is a little awkward, but getting a new job and saying all your goodbyes and then running into ex-coworkers all the time would feel so weird to me, like I wasn’t able to fully disconnect from that part of my life.

  28. Dust Bunny*

    1) Window film. Easy to install, doesn’t require any weird adhesives (ours went on with a dish-soap solution), blocks the view but not all the sunlight.

    2) OMG this could be me. It’s not my boss’ job to be all hand-holdy but I definitely have anxiety issues (I’m Asperger’s, which is its own set of issues, but anxiety is one of them) and, again, at the risk of armchair diagnosing, this sounds way too familiar, and it’s been a problem for me at work. Structure, clear guidelines, and feedback, please. Honestly, I don’t think I could be the kind of person who could be a leader on major projects. I’m not saying this guy can’t, but not all of us can.

    5) This guy would end up with a No. 2 pencil in his jugular if he did this to me.

  29. sometimeswhy*

    op1: I used to work across the street from the person I critter sat for (which made that super convenient). The organization was large enough that people only saw me coming and going a handful of times across nearly a decade and only a tiny fraction of those did more than the basic sidewalk nodded greeting and was never directly asked about my comings and goings or if I lived there or how nice it must be to be able to go home for lunch etc. I’m in a major metropolitan area, ymmv, of course.

    Possibly even more telling, unless we made plans, I tended to not randomly run into the person belonging to the critters I sat even though they lived across the street, kept their curtains open, spent time feeding birds on their fire escape, and frequented many of the same restaurants and retail establishments in the area.

  30. Jady*

    #5 – Ask him to TRADE.

    He clearly likes the open plan. You clearly don’t. Win/win.

    I’m 100% serious. Any even remotely potential opportunity to escape the dreaded open office floor I would jump on.

    Approaching 10 years working in IT and every single office is open planned now. I’d be willing to even take a chunky pay cut if I could have an office. I would like to punch the person who came up with this idea.

  31. Hotel GM Guy*

    On-site hotel manager here. I have a two bedroom apartment that I live in rent free on the top floor of the hotel.

    Upsides: the view is beautiful, as the hotel backs up to a lake and then a large natural area with awesome sunsets. I pay no rent, which considering the average cost of an apartment and utilities in the area, saves me about $1400 a month (goodbye, student loans!). The commute is just walking down the stairs, so I very rarely have to use my car for anything (but I do have to have one, because public transport is not a feasible option)

    Downsides: my staff knows where I live, and newer desk staff take a bit to figure out what situations warrant calling me after 8pm and which ones don’t. I end up working much longer days (of my own volition) than I would otherwise, because the office is literally right there. If I bring women home, I have to sneak them up the back door and up the stairs to avoid front desk awkwardness. I only get 30 TV channels, and no option to upgrade because it’s just the generic hotel satellite TV.

    It evens out pretty well, and I suppose I’m in a different situation because I’m everybody’s boss and can enforce boundaries, but generally people realize, after being told, not to bother you at home too much.

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      Upsides: the view is beautiful, as the hotel backs up to a lake and then a large natural area with awesome sunsets. I pay no rent, which considering the average cost of an apartment and utilities in the area, saves me about $1400 a month (goodbye, student loans!).

      So jealous. That sounds lovely.

      1. Hotel GM Guy*

        It is quite pleasant to sit and watch the sun set, or watch thunderstorms roll in while drinking coffee.

    2. Candi*

      Look at it this way: what you’re not spending on ridiculously expensive cable you can add to your loan payments or put in the bank. :) And there’s always DVDs at least.

  32. EddieSherbert*

    OP1: I live about a block from my office, in a small town, whenre 95% of the company commutes at least 20 miles.

    One thing with these being your coworkers and professional relationships is that they usually aren’t actually your close, personal friends. There’s no reason to think you’re going to have a higher personal obligation to them just because you live closer to the place you meet professionally every day.

    I’d guess there’s roughly a 1% chance of anyone randomly stopping by your house (??!!) and only if it’s an odd person who doesn’t get social norms. And then you’d be 110% within your right to tell them that’s not okay. and they can wait to see you at work.

    Quite frankly, most of my coworkers don’t care where I live. Many don’t know. Most of the others just know “it’s less than a mile away” or “down the street.” Beyond a “oh, that must be nice!” no one cares.

    Also, you aren’t obligated to give your whole office your personal phone number. Again, most of mine does not have it. They wouldn’t dream of calling me to make me let them into the building or something!

    Obviously, I don’t have the window issue with work, but my house is close to the next door neighbor’s and I’m a little overcautious with that by nature – regular old blinds are fine. You can leave them half turned so you still get light but no one sees in.

  33. manawar*

    I have a coworker like #2 except if you’re not also very, very nice when asking him to fix the mistakes he made because he refused to ask questions, he gets either angry or sad. To the point that sometimes he just takes the rest of the day off. It’s frustrating.

  34. Bend & Snap*

    #2 I’m going to give a big NOPE to bringing anxiety into a work conversation. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and my boss knows because sometimes I have to ask for temporary accommodations, but he has NEVER brought it up to me and I wouldn’t want him though.

    Manager needs to stay in her lane, focus on the performance and issues and help to correct them within the context of work. Do not ever, ever, ever proactively bring up an employee’s mental health, especially as a result of an armchair diagnosis. Gah.

  35. C Average*


    If your employee ISN’T able to develop the skills you’re looking for, what will his career path look like? Would he be able to stay where he is, doing what he’s currently doing, just without the opportunity for promotion or growth? Or does his current position demand that he step up? If so, and if he’s not able to step up, would he need to be managed out? Let’s say his skill set never expands beyond what it is now. What are his prospects?

    I know we’re not supposed to armchair-diagnose, and I’m not going to, but I am going to share a bit of my own perspective here. I have an autism-spectrum learning disability (nonverbal learning disorder) that limits my executive function. I’ve come to accept that I simply do not have leadership qualities. With a lot of work (reading this blog and its comments, reading books about my condition and related topics, analyzing past mistakes, making detailed to-do lists, working with a great therapist who specializes in spectrum disorders, etc.), I’ve become capable of taking charge in certain situations where it’s truly necessary, but it will never be my strong suit and it will always be stressful for me.

    When I left the corporate world last year, I promised myself that when I looked for a new job, it would be one where the work is within my current capabilities. I’m happy to learn new discrete skills and to bring my best focus and work ethic to the job each day, but I’m done trying to transform myself into a different sort of person in order to excel at work. It’s exhausting.

    If your guy is like me–if he’s already doing his best and has just plain found his limit–what are his options?

  36. animaniactoo*

    OP#2 – One of the best things you can likely do for your report is to tell him outright that you expect him not to know things. It goes beyond assuring that it’s okay for him to, or that you need him to reach out when he doesn’t. It’s an active granting of permission for him not to know things – that that’s what IS expected rather than a neutral okay if he doesn’t.

    So that his path of clarity can be what you do expect him to do about it, and if he knows what to do about the stuff that he doesn’t know, that can help all on its own. A lot of the time, people who ask for help rarely have the consequent lack of experience in doing it and therefore don’t know how to do it without simply looking incompetent. What this guy may need is for you to teach him how to do that. How to work the process of dealing with something he doesn’t know when he can’t find the answer on his own, and standard phrasings for asking for help. “Hi, I’ve checked Resource 1 and 2 for more information about Step G, but am still unclear about it. Can you fill me in or point me towards something that might be more useful?” “I’m trying to figure out where teapot safety reports should be stored. From what I can determine, it seems like they should be stored with the inspection reports – is that correct?”, etc.

  37. MM*

    #1 – would your colleagues (besides maybe your boss – and maybe even not him/her) even need to know where you live? They don’t necessarily need to know just how close you live.

    1. SarahTheEntwife*

      If you live that close, coworkers are probably going to see you entering/leaving the house pretty regularly.

    2. OP#1*

      It would be pretty hard to avoid. The front door of the business and the front door of my house are about 100 feet apart. Additionally the exit to the parking lot is only a side-yard away from my driveway. There’s no practical way I could keep from being seen walking to my house as coworkers would be leaving for the day as well.

  38. Karon*

    Some years ago at my office I was talking to a young woman in another department, and she mentioned that she lived right down the road from the office which I thought was great. She asked me not to tell her manager (I wouldn’t have even if she hadn’t asked!) And she explained that if he knew, he probably would take advantage – keeping her late knowing she didn’t have far to go, asking her to volunteer to open the building in the morning etc. He was notoriously demanding, and she knew him best, so I believed her. So basically her strategy was not to be open about it. I noticed her walking home a few times, and I figured she didn’t spend too much time hiding it, but she didn’t volunteer the information to him. I don’t know how long she could keep her secret though.

    Unfortunately not revealing where she lives doesn’t sound like an option for OP#1 or I’d suggest that she just keep the information to herself, at least until she got an idea of how her co-workers might react to it.

  39. MashaKasha*

    We had a guy at OldJob who lived five minutes from work. We were a 24-7 operation. Not gonna lie, I’ve been a witness to several conversations like “let’s call Bob, he’ll come in and get it done from the office, he lives right next door” and poor Bob might not even have been on call those weeks!

    Bob ended up buying a house on the opposite side of our metro area (at least 40 miles from work, iirc) and moving there with his family. Don’t know if it was because living next to the office had gotten on his nerves or if he just liked that particular location.

    This really does depend on the nature of the work and on the OP’s role: Bob was a DBA for a manufacturing company with a 24×7 process.

  40. BBBizAnalyst*

    I live super close to work as does my manager and most people in my office. I’ve only had one instance where a coworker who lives an hour way demanded I stay late. A firm, but respectful “no” goes a long way in these instances.

  41. Anonmoose*

    I feel talking to your employee about possible anxiety won’t be helpful. Don’t intrude like that.

    I would feel watched and singled out if a manager did a similar thing for me. Don’t say anything, even if the issue is more obvious.

    For me at work, it’s people like that that really can cause a lot of worry and even physical discomfort. I’m now a young professional in a trusted field, but when I was in high school and college, I self-harmed.

    I am badly, obviously scarred.

    Because of nosy people, I HAVE to keep my jacket on and wear long pants instead of skirts or cooler summer clothes. My area, the Midwest, has extremely hot summers and cold winters, so if the AC is too warm due to wanting to be green, it breaks, or I sit in any sun, my tie-and-jacket gets unbearable.

    If people weren’t as nosy, maybe the employee would be more likely to work on what his problem is. I mean, I go to counsel, and stagger the appointments and have them less often because leaving at the same time each week will be figured out. I would go more if people had better boundaries.

    Sigh. Mind your own. And I still don’t know what to do about my comfort vs. exposure at work.

    1. animaniactoo*

      Hmmm – have you thought about revealing the scars without disclosing how you got them if you’re not comfortable with that, just so that you can be physically comfortable? “They’re from when I was younger. I really hate talking about them, I hope you understand.” and then bean dip for your life. Note that you’re not even explaining how you got them with doing this. It could have been a bad accident with a bunch of shrapnel wounds kind of thing. Or whatever. And then the boundary isn’t around people pretending not to notice this really noticeable thing that would leave compassionate people concerned to see exists, but around taking you at your word that you don’t want to talk about it, and having the info that they’re not recent or relevant to “now”.

      And in terms of revealing, you don’t have to go whole hog “people will gape” reveal. You can wear something with a 3/4 sleeve (if that’s enough to show some of the scars), and allow just a small amount to be seen that you can then explain and mention that they extend up farther, etc. Because most people react better if they have time to process before a full visual. Just food for thought.

      I urge you to work with your therapist about this and the possibility of being able to own the scars and finding emotional comfort in not being physically uncomfortable. If that’s not really possible for you any time in the near future (or ever, and that’s totally fine), then somebody who can help you figure out a wardrobe that includes lighter weight long sleeve clothing?

      1. Anonmoose*

        “Bean dip for your life?” I don’t get the reference but it made me laugh. Unless you’re referring to the Dilbert comic where a party is awkward so he starts eating the bean dip like crazy?

        1. animaniactoo*

          It’s a social etiquette tip that gets tossed around when you want to avoid a topic, particularly when you’re at some kind of event. Basically it’s a diversion into a new topic “Have you had some of the bean dip? It’s really excellent.” equivalent to “How about them Yankees?” but usually subtler. The Dilbert strip was a brilliant piece of taking that one step further. 8•)

          1. Anonmoose*

            Totally! I do enjoy Dilbert. I don’t know that gaping or questions might come from a place of compassion, though. Usually in non-work situations, reactions have been more “WTF?” than “are you ok?”

            1. animaniactoo*

              Gotcha. Possible to investigate lighter weight longsleeve/long (enough) flowy skirt stuff when you’re out of the office? Possible to wear a skirt with lightweight leggings far enough down (capri length?) to cover the scars? Would the scars significantly show through something that is semi-sheer (but much more towards the opaque side) on the arms? Tell me to shut up and go away at any time here, I’m just spitballing because I hate that you feel so physically uncomfortable.

              I had a realization recently about why kids can get away with asking about or mentioning stuff that adults can’t without it being offensive on the same level. It’s because kids generally ask out of curiosity, uncertainty, awe, fear, astonishment, fascination, etc. It’s not just that they’re too young to know better – it’s that they generally they ask or state without judgment. They don’t have background and context that makes them judge (particularly negatively) rather than just be an information well soaking up more info. An adult’s “WTF?” tone of voice/face usually communicates “This is not normal, not normal is bad”.

              1. Anonmoose*

                Agreed. Basically, yes, the scars show through anything sheer, but I think I would be okay with lighter fabrics, just patterned and/or black/blue/green instead. I might get away with leggings; but capri length might not work.

                TW: description and specifics.

                I have a couple of clear inches on my forearms, enough to get my sleeves out of the way or wash my hands, but not for shirts. But then it’s pretty much all the way up to a few inches from my shoulder, since the brachial artery runs through one’s upper arm.

                Then there’s several more scars from knee to ankle on the outside of my legs (again, avoiding arteries that go through one’s thighs). But overall, not a great look. And…sigh…I don’t want to get graphic, but I have some actual words that I’d cut in, on my non-dominant arm, and a few times where I should have gotten stitches, but didn’t.

                It’s been some years, and so I’ve healed to the point where they’re definitely not fresh, but won’t ever get back to normal skin. Basically, scar tissue does not burn or tan in the sun, or hold color in the same way, so I’ve got several deep, slightly raised marks that are a lot paler than the rest of my skin, on each arm and leg. And owing to the sun, they become MORE visible in summer, just when I would want to wear less clothes.

                Sorry if that squicked you out. Hey, you asked!

                1. animaniactoo*

                  Not squicked out. A shudder of compassion maybe and I’m glad that you’ve been able to reach the point where you can let the pain out in other ways.

                  I’d stay away from black if you can because as I’m sure you know living in that climate, dark colors absorb heat. Patterned stuff sounds like a good bet if you actually like the patterns (or at least like them enough to be more comfortable wearing them than dealing with the heat lol). Do you prefer shopping online or in stores? Do you have somebody that you’d feel comfortable taking with you for a “let’s get some stuff that won’t leave me sweating” exploration trip?

                  It sounds to me like you’re talking about scars that have keloided? Is that correct? If so, and if you haven’t done it already, you might try talking to a dermatologist. I’ve got some prescription stuff that I’m using on a small patch of psoriasis, but I’ve discovered that the Aquaphor (available OTC) that I was given to use in between the prescription stuff to keep it moisturized is amazing stuff that has been able to help a 25 year old surgery scar that keloided. After I saw how it was working on the patch on my wrist, I was inspired to try it on my leg and it took about 2 weeks, but I saw some significant progress. I don’t know how much improved it will get, but yeah – it’d be nice not to have it stand out *as* sharply when I’ve gotten a tan.

    2. Chocolate Coffeepot*

      I understand what you mean about wanting to cover up yet stay comfortable in the summer! A few years ago, I suddenly developed allergies to a number of chemicals (some topical, some in food) that caused chronic hives. I am mostly able to avoid the substances I’m allergic to, but avoiding them in restaurant food is harder. So I have flareups of awful red splotches all over my arms and legs from time to time, and then they last several months before they vanish.

      I wear chino-weight pants all year, paired with cotton dress shirts or (my favorites because they are cooler) gauzy cotton Indian-styled shirts. The pants are light enough that they aren’t too hot in normal summer temperatures (mid to upper 90s where I live), although I do feel overheated in some of the dress shirts. The gauzier shirts are usually patterned and come in a variety of colors, so if they are not too casual for your workplace they might work.

      Can you ditch the jacket for the summer and just wear a long-sleeved shirt? (And are you sure that other people can see the scars through your sleeves as clearly as you do? No disrespect intended, just that I’ve learned that I see my physical flaws more clearly than anyone else!) If I had to wear a jacket I would pick one in seersucker or linen, although seersucker may be considered too casual in other places/industries.

      I saw an episode of a police show once in which the detective concluded that the suspect abused drugs because he wore a long-sleeved shirt to a family picnic during the summer “and who wears long sleeves unless they’re hiding track marks?” I wanted to tell the detective that the suspect could be hiding hives as well.

      Of course, ymmv on any/all of this. Best wishes on finding a wardrobe that works for you!

    3. Candi*

      Nosey Nellies can buzz right off -even if you have to tell them that politely and professionally.

      Someone I Know (TM) has a recent cutting history, although not as scarred. (The mother found out and packed them off to therapy.) If anyone notices, SIK tells them it happened in the past and doesn’t want to talk about it. Repeat ad infinitum. They eventually give up, especially with a subject change.

  42. the.kat*

    I live across the street from my work and I love it. I was worried about boundaries when I moved in, but no one has asked me to do anything extra or put in any crazy hours that I’m not already doing. One thing that definitely makes a difference is that I’m hourly. There are other people who live close who are salaried, and they have a lot more demands on their time. Because I don’t have “unlimited” availability and they have to pay me for my hours, my boss has been great about my living close.

    The privacy thing can be exhausting. Somebody upthread mentioned making sure the curtains were closed before showering and I completely agree. Unfortunately, my dog has no such scruples and likes to push the curtains back open while I’m showering. Luckily we haven’t had any issues yet!

  43. CMT*

    I live two blocks from work and it is literally the only thing I like about my job. Going home at lunch is so great. I can completely forget about work for one hour during the middle of the day. Sometimes I even nap. And I actually just this morning ran home to get something I had forgotten. But, I also don’t have the kind of job where I’d be the one called in for emergencies or things like that. I might start to resent the closeness if that were the case.

  44. Maria*

    I worked within walking distance of home back when I worked retail, and it brought to light problems that already existed. It was easy for managers to find employees crouching over a sandwich in the break room and make them go help a demanding customer. When I would walk home for lunch and a manager couldn’t find me, they would hit the roof. I was actually told I could not leave the building during my unpaid breaks, which I shut down very quickly. If they expected me to be available to help customers, it would be on the clock. They backed down once I pointed this out.

    That said, I don’t see that sort of thing being an issue in an office environment.

  45. The Bimmer Guy*

    #4: I’ve never been in a situation where someone said his / her partner could go into labor during an interview…but last year, I was test-driving a car with a salesman who informed me that his wife might call and say she’d gone into labor…and then, halfway in, she did call to say just that.

    When I returned the next week to buy a car from him (not that same vehicle I test-drove, but one of the same make and model), I got to see cool baby pictures.

  46. doodling*

    I live across the street from work and under another business. My managers were great because a former employee lived here before I moved in. They set up a plan so that every time the person who was living closest had to come in for a “quick second” i.e. letting someone in or whatever that was less than half an hour, they still got an hour’s pay. By the time I moved in, calls like that are nonexistent. I managed to be unavailable for the first few calls, so they hardly even try.
    As for the privacy, I have sheer curtains that let in light but don’t let people see. I also spend a lot of walking the dogs or carpooling so that if my car is there, it doesn’t mean I’m in. There’s still a little overlap but none more than living in any small town.

    1. Candi*

      “come in for a “quick second” i.e. letting someone in or whatever that was less than half an hour, they still got an hour’s pay”

      I’m laughing at this. Those are awesome managers.

  47. Phoenix Feather*

    #4 – Wife potentially going in to labor during phone interview.

    Regardless of what movies and tv tell you, your water isn’t going to break without warning and send everyone into a blind panic. Can it break unexpectedly? Sure! But that’s very unlikely, and even if it did, you’ve still got a lot of time before you need to be at a hospital. Even if you are feeling contractions and the progression of labor, a brief phone call is hardly likely to disrupt the process. Labor is a long process and if you do start, he can either contact them ahead of time to let them know he is on his way to the hospital or you can spend the 20-30 minutes he is on the call putting things in the car and sending texts messages to the people who need to know you are about to head in.

  48. MissDisplaced*

    Commuter: By all means apply!
    I used to have a job that was like 5 minutes (driving) from my home. I went home for lunch every day, but I did also have to go in snow too, though it wasn’t bad. I loved it, and wish I could have that no commute life again.

  49. Blurgle*

    This was me about 25 years ago. I lived not beside but behind my office, in an apartment facing the sacred back alley.

    My only issue was the day I did a big purge of my lingerie drawer only to have the local ravens* fish it all out of the dumpster and drape half a dozen disreputable unmentionables – lacy pink bras, stained tap pants, etc. – right over the third floor windows of the office building where I worked. I didn’t tell anyone it was mine but I was still *mortified*; my coworkers thought it was hilarious.

    *Ravens do stuff like this. I do not know why. There used to be one that mimicked a motorcycle so successfully you’d be jumping out of the way. They also delighted in kicking snow onto people’s heads.

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