employee is refusing to share a hotel room, no-talking mornings, and more

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

1. We have no-talking mornings three times a week

My boss went on a meditation retreat, and then came back and asked our team if we’d like to try a no-talking Monday morning. We said sure, and everyone enjoyed the half day of quiet to do some more writing than usual. But then he asked, since it had gone so well, whether we should do no-talking three mornings a week. And since he’s the boss, we said yes.

It’s been three months of the no-talking rule three mornings a week. I hate it, and besides not everyone follows the rule. Is this even allowed?

Yes, like most things, it’s allowed.

Frankly, it sounds like heaven to me. But if it doesn’t to you and your coworkers, speak up and say so! Really, y’all should have just answered his question honestly to begin with. Unless your boss has a history of ignoring input even when he asks for it or of punishing people who offer opinions contrary to his own, there was no reason not to answer honestly when he first asked if you thought this a good idea. But the fact that you didn’t speak up then doesn’t prevent you from speaking up now. Tell him that you want to go back to only one no-talking morning a week or get rid of them altogether or whatever you want to do.

2. Employee is refusing to share a hotel room

I have a problem with two employees refusing shared twin room accommodations and I want to handle it right. They stay nearly one or two weeks every month away for 3-4 days and complaining they can’t sleep because the other person snores. Our hotel expenses are quite high; each month is over £6000 and they are staying in the nice hotel rooms. Other engineers don’t have a problem with sharing. I am thinking of telling them that if they would like a single room, they must pay the difference.

You’re sending people on the road for one or two weeks a month and you’re requiring them to share rooms? That’s not reasonable. That’s a huge amount of time to have zero privacy or time alone. And certainly if one person snores and the other person is a light sleeper, you really, really don’t want them sharing rooms, because you don’t want your traveling employees to be exhausted (and rightly angry).  There are some industries where sharing hotel rooms is normal if it’s for an occasional conference or trip, but what’s different here how often these employees are traveling.

Providing private accommodations to people who are traveling that regularly should be considered part of the cost of doing travel-heavy business, even if it means that you need to downgrade to a cheaper hotel to be able to afford it.

3. What to do if my boss doesn’t agree to let me work from home two days a week

What if my new boss doesn’t accept my proposal to work from home two days a week?

In my proposal, I detailed stats and research findings about the benefits of remote work to employers, all the communication tools we have in place for remote work, and how our Summer Hours policy (where we work remotely one day a week during the summer only) has worked great for four years. I focused on the benefits to my company and detailed info to calm our dept head’s fear that you can’t have teamwork with remote staff.

I also briefly mentioned that two days remote will give me more time to manage my health and family responsibilities (which have been brutal for four years but have never impacted my performance).

Because I asked my old boss for two days remote a few months ago (but didn’t provide a detailed proposal and was turned down), I also proposed to my new boss that if 2 days remote are still not possible, I’ll need to go part-time. Offering two choices was borne out of desperation–I need one or the other very much. I was clear that I love the company and would rather stay full time. I included a five-bullet list of my top projects, several of which helped advance the company greatly in a recent initiative, and which would not have been conceived or executed without me.

I’m valuable and valued, but I’m afraid I’ll be turned down again. I’m willing to take part-time and get a second part-time job or consulting work. But what should I do if they say they want my position to remain full time–and in the office every day of the week?

At that point, you’d have to decide if you’re willing to do that or whether you’d rather look elsewhere. And you should definitely prepare for that possibility; no matter how strong your arguments, it’s still possible that the answer will be no, and you want to know what you’ll say if that’s the answer they come back with. (I’m sorry — I wish there were another answer here like “try ___ to persuade them!” but it really might just be that they’re not going to allow it.)

4. I now have to punch a time clock

I am a low-level supervisor in a very large government organization (I have three direct reports). Due to the new labor law, my once exempt position is being made non-exempt. I should note my salary is above the cut-off, but the salary range for my pay scale would require 9+ years of experience to get above the cut-off.

I have not been clocking in on the time clock, nor has much effort been made to document my work hours. Now that I am non-exempt, my employer wants me to punch a time clock, including time out of the office used for lunch. I am college educated with an engineering degree. This position is beneath my qualifications, but since it is close to home and has reasonable hours, I took it to accommodate my children’s schedules. To me, punching in seems “blue collar” and I feel it is demeaning. What’s more, it seems the administrative positions in my department may not have to clock in even though they are 8-10 steps below me. Punching in was not a contingency when I took the position, nor was it suggested as forthcoming.

I feel that I should be exempt from punching the time clock. I don’t need Big Brother to monitor my work life – which essentially I think this is. Should I contact HR to fight this decision? Often times in my organization, people who do not like new policies get “grandfathered” in and do not have to do what new hires are expected. The overtime would be nice, especially if I have to pay for extra childcare, but I would just as soon work my 40 and not punch in, as has been the case from my start date. It is very difficult to not feel singled out, as my manager could have just as easily chosen to make my position exempt. Maybe they hope I will quit over it.

If you feel strongly about, then sure, push back. If your organization has a history of grandfathering people in when there are policy changes, they might be perfectly willing to do the same here. Or they might say no, if they have overly rigid ideas of what they need to do to comply with the changes to the law, in which case I’d recommend just rolling your eyes and dealing with the time clock. If you’re otherwise happy with the job, this doesn’t need to be a huge deal in the scheme of things.

(And I really wouldn’t assume they’re trying to get you to quit, unless you’re seeing other evidence of that.)

Note to commenters: If you are inclined to comment angrily about the idea of punching a clock being “demeaning,” it’s been addressed below and I’m asking that we leave it there, in order to avoid a pile-on. Thank you.

5. How do I explain in an interview that I don’t like working with other people?

I’m an entry-level worker looking to move into a new job. Most entry-level positions are very customer-oriented and I really DO NOT like working with people. I am introverted, but more importantly, I have bad social anxiety. Dealing with people regularly would lead to exhaustion at best, panic attacks at worst. Either way, it would be awkward for everyone.

I don’t want to disclose having social anxiety in an interview, but I want to make it clear I want very limited customer interaction. I know that just saying “I don’t like people” or “I don’t want to handle customers” would get a bad reaction. Is there a way to spin it into something neutral or even positive?

For what it’s worth, I can be cordial with other people, like coworkers. I’m just a withdrawn person and would like to work independently.

First and foremost, make sure that you’re doing your best to screen jobs well before you apply, and make sure that you’re only applying for things that already look like pretty solitary jobs. Then, in the interview, ask about it directly: “My sense from the job posting is that this is relatively solitary work, without a ton of interaction with others. Is that correct?” Assuming they say yes, you can say something like this: “I know that a lot of people go stir-crazy in jobs without a lot of interaction, but I really enjoy working on my own so that element of the job is appealing to me.” For the right job, that’ll be appealing to the hiring manager; often the worry when hiring for solitary jobs is that the person will get bored or antsy for social contact, so hearing you say that you prefer working on your own is likely to be a plus.

{ 540 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Sticking this up here so people see it: Letter-writer #4’s comment about punching a clock being “demeaning” has been discussed below and I’m asking that we leave it at what’s been said, in order to avoid a pile-on. I may remove comments that ignore this request, as of the time it’s being posted.

  2. CC*

    #2.) I wouldn’t be so sure the other engineers don’t have a problem with it. They might just not be actively complaining.

    1. Lena*

      That’s my theory. At my work people will always complain about things and I’m the one who ends up telling our boss. She’s surprised and I’m like…literally every staff member is talking about this.

      1. Annonymouse*

        Are these two people married to each other or siblings under the age of 13?

        Because those are the only instances where it is ok to share a room for more than 2 nights.

        1. room sharer*

          Eh, OT but I think it’s ok to share a room indefinitely with any sibling when you are living under your parent’s roof/not paying them rent (which for me was through 18 and then college summers) especially same-gender siblings. My husband shared a room with his brother until he moved out at 24 because he had 3 siblings and his parents house had 3 rooms. Seems normal to me.

    2. gingerblue*

      Oh, god, I would either be a seething mass of rage or have quit by now with this arrangement. OP, this is like telling your employees that if they don’t want to share an office computer, they need to pay the cost of another one themselves. It’s just a basic thing you need to pay for to run your business; the employees shouldn’t be asked to subsidize it.

      Dealing with a coworker snoring and flossing their teeth and wanting to turn the tv on while I read, for days or weeks on end, would drive me straight round the bend. I live alone for a reason.

      1. Gaia*

        +1. I live by myself and nearly lost it when my very best friend stayed with me for 3 days. I love that lady but I cannot live with other humans. I’m very extroverted but I.Need.My.Space. It isn’t every personal, it is just how my lizard brain comes out.

        1. Amber*

          Yup same, I would rather sleep outside in a tent and cot than share a room with someone that snores. I would literally be up all night ending in tears from frustration and lack of sleep.

        2. Future Analyst*

          Yesssss. I have a husband and 2 kiddos, who I can handle most of the time. But if anyone comes to visit, I can handle them being in my space for about 1.5 days. I LOVE when people come to visit and stay in a hotel.

        3. Whats In A Name*

          I live with my boyfriend and have for about 5 years. he is the only person I can tolerate for more than 1 night. We are actively looking to downsize so that family has to book a hotel when they come into town. We. Can’t. Take. It. Especially because we live so far away that when people invade, they invade for 6-10 days.

          1. Vicki*

            We didn’t downsize, we simply turned the “guest room” into something else. Oops, sorry, no bed, too bad, but there’s a nice hotel three miles away!

      2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        “I live alone for a reason.”

        Yes! These are adults – even if some of them live with roommates at home, they’re very likely not actually sharing a bedroom with anyone other than a romantic partner. And many adults are excited to hit a financial point in their lives where they don’t have to have an apartment-mate at all. Heck, even at my college you were able to get a single in the housing lottery by junior year.

        1. Daisy*

          I don’t understand why American colleges make students share rooms. I genuinely don’t think I could have done it.

          1. JaneB*

            I know I couldn’t have done it! Every ounce of energy would have gone into dealing with someone else in my space, none over for studying. One of the best days of my childhood was when I got to move into the box room – you literally couldn’t open the door all the way with a bed in, and my dad made me a tiny homework space inside the closet but I no longer had to share with my sister and it was bliss!

          2. Jeanne*

            It was great! Well, it was great the first two months. When I left college I vowed I would live alone even if it was a tiny apartment. I would feel awful sharing a room with a coworker 2 weeks a month. I need more alone time than that.

          3. Claire (Scotland)*

            Yeah, I could not have coped with that. My room in the Hall of Residence in first year was a shoebox, but it was my shoebox and I could close the door and have solitude whenever I needed it. We had communal spaces (lounge and kitchen) and we often spent time together in each other’s rooms, but having that escape was vital.

            I never had to share a room as a kid either, so I was used to having my own space. Sharing would have been hellish.

          4. INTP*

            When I applied to colleges I ruled out any that required Freshmen to share rooms, and I stand by that. I heard way too many gross stories to see the value in it. Plus, college has enough distractions from studying, the last thing students need is literally no private place to go do it.

          5. Grits McGee*

            My small college required that all freshmen had to live in the on-campus dorms, but hadn’t yet built housing to meet the needs of their program to expand incoming class sizes. Their solution? Take housing staff out of the dorms and move 5-8 freshmen into each small, one-bedroom apartment.

            1. Case of the Mondays*

              I had a triple in what was supposed to a double my freshmen year and 5 in an apartment made for 4 my junior year. Both times they just made bunk beds where there would have been regular beds. Talk about lack of privacy!

          6. Allison*

            My university had single rooms, but privacy carried a price tag. Single rooms were more expensive than traditional double rooms. In the upperclassman suites, single bedrooms were more expensive than double rooms, and studios were the most expensive. I wanted a studio, but my parents were footing the bill and they were against paying that much when they wanted me to have the “experience” of living with roommates.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Same. And freshmen who came from out of town HAD to stay in the dorm their first year. I had a really cool roommate, but I was ecstatic when I moved out of the dorm my sophomore year, even though my apartment was only half a block from the school. It was MY space and MINE ALONE.

            1. AnonAnalyst*

              My school was similar. There were single, double, and because the school had a severe housing shortage, triple rooms. Single rooms were more expensive and were mostly reserved for RAs and upperclassmen. There were also off campus options that were set up as suites where there was more space, but those cost more.

          7. ChrysantheMumsTheWord*

            I spent so much time in my college career moving around campus because of this.

            Freshman year I lived in a double room that was part of a suite of 12 girls.
            Sophomore year same arrangement, but I couldn’t deal with my roommate anymore and moved into a different room with another roommate in the same suite.
            Junior year I lived in a townhouse arrangement with 6 girls I hadn’t lived with before that had a single bedroom, thank goodness!
            Senior year I lived half the year in one townhouse with 6 girls and when I reached the end of the road there I moved again into another townhouse with a different 6 girls.

          8. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

            It was hands down the worst part of my college experience. And by and large I didn’t have terrible people as roommates. I would have happily taken a room the size of a shoebox that was my own. (My friend at another college had this – teeny tiny single dorm rooms – and it was a revelation, and made me wish I went there!) I moved off campus into a pretty lousy housing situation (ironically, WITH some roommates who were terrible people) solely so I could be guaranteed my own bedroom.

          9. Valor*

            I believe the current research shows that freshman year roommates increase GPA, the chances a student will join extracurricular clubs/take advantage of campus resources, and persistence to degree.

            1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

              Sure, that worked for me, in that I never wanted to be in my room because I couldn’t be alone!

            2. Dr. Speakeasy*

              I’ve done research in this area – roommates and living communities can increase persistence to degree. But it’s correlational though – the real variable is getting hooked into the social network and that can happen through a variety of different mechanisms.

          10. Jane D'oh!*

            It’s terrible and makes no sense. If college is supposed to prepare you for the real world, what part of being an adult involves living with a roommate chosen for you by a committee of people who have never met you?

          11. leukothea*

            Wow, there are colleges where I wouldn’t have had to endure a roommate? I feel cheated — back at that time in my life it never occurred to me I could get out of that! :P

          12. MashaKasha*

            Not just the American ones. I went to college in Eastern Europe. I shared a room with four people my first year, three in my second, and with two people in years three through five. Then I relocated for my first job out of college, and the way it worked was, you were assigned living quarters by your employer. You were placed on a waitlist for an apartment, and in the meantime, you lived in a dorm with roommates. I had two in my first year, and one the next year, then I got my own apartment. There were no rental properties available (believe me, I looked).

            After seven years of that, though? I’m done. I am all roommated out. Sharing a room with someone else will give me major creeps, unless one of the three conditions is met: I gave birth to them; or, I am in a romantic relationship with them; or, they are a dog. In OP’s employee’s situation, I’m afraid I would be frantically looking for any job that doesn’t require me to room with a coworker, snoring or not.

          13. Stacey*

            Agreed! I grew up in the US and having roommates in college was hard. I had a couple good experiences, but loved living alone.
            Then I moved to England for school and only shared a kitchen. I loved it. Sadly, when I moved to Edinburgh that switched to sahring a bathroom/kitchen. Worst roommate experience ever! Made me vow to never live with another human being unless we’re married. So far, I had to do it once and it was hell. I moved out of state for a job and found temp housing with a “friend” who owned the condo. I literally felt like I was renting my room and the rest of the house was not mine.
            Now I have to great feline roommates and we are very happy. I wish US unis would stop this sharing a room thing. Especially with the sizes of the some of the dorms!

          14. Vicki*

            I was so lucky to grow up in a University town. I lived at home the whole 4 years of College. (I have a sister but we each had our own rooms.)

        2. Allison*

          Yes, aside from brief family vacations here and there, I haven’t shared a room in . . . I wanna say 6 years, and thank goodness! I hope I never have to share a bedroom again until it’s time to shack up with someone I’m dating. And heck, I know at least one couple that lives together but has separate rooms. I’m sure they spend nights together, but they enjoy each having their own space.

      3. RVA Cat*

        There’s also the fact that this could potentially be discriminatory. Would you expect a man and a woman to share a room like this? Either way it’s influencing your hiring decisions and corporation culture. They are your employees taking time away from their families, not bros in a dorm.

      4. TootsNYC*

        I could be OK sharing a room on infrequent short trips if we’re out of the room for everything except crashing at the end of a hard day. Or at a conference sort of thing where there is lots to do outside the room, and other places to go sit and read.

        But twice a month, every month, for 3 to 4 days? I want to be able to get away from people so I don’t annoy the heck out of them.

        And if the other person snored?

        I’d be quitting.

        I’d rather stay in a hole in the wall than have to share a room w/ someone who snores.

        1. tink*

          Yeah, if this was “we have this annual conference that is 3 days and they’re refusing to share” I’d be more in Camp “Tell Your Person To Suck It Up And Deal” but twice a month? Heck, I’d almost rather have a questionably clean but cheap space than share with a coworker that often.

    3. Engineer Girl*

      This is a real problem, especially if you have introverted staff. They’ll become less and less efficient because they don’t get the alone time to re-energize. Even extroverts need quiet time off. And it sounds like this is going on months at a time.

      There is another flaw to your logic. You are assuming people would prefer nice expensive hotel rooms instead of privacy. I would suggest you ask people about that. Me, I’d rather stay at a Motel 6 than share a room. Really, as an engineer I prefer function over fashion. Give me a cheap hotel room where I am ALONE.

      Or why not rent an apartment instead? It’s usually significantly cheaper than a hotel. There are many apartments that have once a week cleaning, etc. I know on one assignment they rented one apartment but swapped people in and out of the apartment every week. People bought a group popcorn maker and a group blender for the apartment. This was for an assignment that went on for several months. It was significantly cheaper than a hotel room. And people were happier because they had kitchen facilities, etc.

      1. Mike*

        Not to mention that cheaper hotels tend to throw in useful accommodations (like free wifi) that more expensive hotels charge for.

        Personally, on a 1-5 star scale I go for 3. It is nice enough to not worry but not so nice they nickle and dime on everything.

              1. TBoT*

                Holiday Inn Express also usually has a machine where you push a button and two freshly made pancakes come out.

                1. hermit crab*

                  The pancake machines are the BEST. I don’t care if the pancakes don’t taste good, I could watch them roll down the little conveyor belt all day long!

              2. Marillenbaum*

                God bless Hampton Inn. It was my go-to when I had domestic business travel at my old job: decent rates, comfy, and almost always conveniently located.

            1. WorkerBee*

              So does La Quinta. I started at one in Houston that has Texas shaped waffles, which I thought was great.

              1. Annie Moose*

                I’m pretty sure I stayed in that same La Quinta, unless there’s more than one La Quinta in Houston with Texas-shaped waffles. They were pretty delightful! I want a Michigan-shaped waffle maker.

                1. JoAnna*

                  The one in downtown Austin (near the state capitol) did when I stayed there a few years back. :) I loved the Texas-shaped waffles!!

                2. Pennalynn Lott*

                  LOTS of hotel chains (and some independents) have Texas-shaped waffles here in the Lone Star State. :-)

              2. Jessesgirl72*

                I love the Southern La Quintas the best. They almost always have biscuits and gravy as a free breakfast offering.

                1. Cynicaal Lackey*

                  I not only had Texas shaped-waffles, but my bathroom sink was shaped like Texas as well. The drain was a bit west of San Antonio, and the area north of Amarillo was flattened in order to make a nice Texas-soap dish.

              3. Texan*

                Waffles exist that aren’t Texas shaped?

                Only half kidding. Everything that can be Texas shaped, should be.

                1. LawPancake*

                  I will only buy Texas shaped corn chips, the panhandle makes such a great handle for scooping dips. HEB forever!!

              4. So Very Anonymous*

                My first time in Austin I ordered Texas waffles thinking that I was getting some kind of specifically prepared waffle (you know, like French toast — maybe with peppers or salsa or something). And then they brought them out and it was just that they were shaped like Texas. :)

            2. Jessesgirl72*

              La Quinta also has them. Most of the mid-range chains do.

              We like La Quinta because they allow pets, and don’t charge for them, so we end up staying in a nicer hotel for the same or less money than the cheap hotels that pile on the pet fees. So we stay there even while not traveling with pets!

              1. cercis*

                We either stay in La Quinta or Drury/Pear Tree because of the free pets. I prefer Drury because of the free evening happy hours and hot “snacks” (they’re really meals) and great breakfasts. Plus free wifi (and it’s good, strong wifi – I used to get it just walking along the riverwalk in San Antonio).

            3. Dr. Speakeasy*

              Marriott Residence Inns have awesome free breakfasts (waffle makers included) and would solve the OPs problem. You can get a two bedroom suite for less than two rooms in other 4-star hotels. The kitchen and living room are shared but each person would get their own bedroom and bathroom. And since they are staying for long periods of time they’d probably appreciate the grocery delivery/kitchen option.

          1. Liane*

            If you mean the wonderful ones that you flip over halfway through cooking when the bell chimes, those can be bought. Amazing Mom-in-law got our family one for Christmas a few years ago, because our son had loved the hotel one when he took a trip with Grandma & Grandpa.
            (I need to find where to get another, ours was lost in a move. Will try to remember to post any leads in weekend thread)

        1. BRR, ,*

          There’s a drop off of amenities it seems when hotels charge more. I just stayed at a Marriott this weekend and it was $15 a day for wifi and no free breakfast. It wasn’t even a nice Marriott.

          1. MsChandandlerBong*

            Yeah, the $400-a-night places all charge $40+ per night for parking, $10 or $15 per day for Wi-Fi, and so on. (I’d never pay $400/night, but I often get deals on this type of hotel using points or shopping around, so I’ve had the opportunity to stay in a few nice places.).

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Yeah, screw them–if I’m paying that much, I don’t want to have to pay for amenities too. As for wi-fi, I can tether to my phone–I had to do it at HoJo during the writing conference because I couldn’t get on the free wi-fi.

          2. Formica Dinette*

            People who can afford to spend more on hotel rooms will generally pay those additional fees without even thinking about it, so the hotels tack them on and make extra money. Those of us who are on a budget generally won’t pay extra for those things, so hotels throw them in as “bonuses” to get our business. Or so I have been told.

        2. Catnip Melba Toast*

          Cheaper hotels have vending machines! I hated staying at super posh hotels that had services I’d never use, but I couldn’t obtain so much as a Snickers bar anywhere on the premises.

            1. Solidus Pilcrow*

              Same here. On a business trip last year the company set us up in this “posh” downtown hotel – no vending machines, ice machine on even numbered floors only (of course I was on an odd numbered floor), valet parking only, no coffee maker (I just want a quiet cup of tea in the evening), no breakfast bar, refrigerator filled with mini-bar items and no room for anything else…

              What exactly is so great about the posh hotel, I don’t know.

        3. Sadsack*

          Yep, just need a clean, safe room to sleep in, but I’d also like a mini fridge (not a mini bar) if I am going to be in that room for several days at a time.

            1. Rachel*

              Yes! Most of the midrange hotel chains have those in the rooms these days. And some, like Hilton Garden Inn, have a little pantry shop next to the front desk where you can buy food and drink 24 hours/day. (That is great, especially if you get in late and there’s nowhere convenient to go eat.)

        4. chumpwithadegree*

          Alas, letter writer appears to be in the UK and the same does not hold true for their hotels. I am not sure what freebies you can get at Premier Inn. Having said that, the apartment sounds like the best idea.

        5. neverjaunty*

          Agree completely. There is a particular hotel chain I use where the 3 level hotels offer free full breakfast but the 4-5 don’t.

      2. INTP*

        And aside from the social/emotional drainage, these two employees say they cannot sleep in the room together. Chronically sleep deprived people are going to run at a fraction of their normal productivity. Chronically sleep deprived people who are angry at their companies for making them get sleep deprived for a silly reason will be even less productive. If it makes financial sense to significantly sacrifice their employees’ productivity to save on hotel costs, they should probably look at whether it really makes sense to send these employees on site so frequently in the first place.

      3. Gaara*

        Yeah, I’d strongly prefer a less expensive room with more privacy, rather than a roommate in a more expensive hospital tel room. I can’t believe how anyone would think otherwise!

    4. Bwmn*

      In addition to this – it also has me wondering on how assignments are done based on gender. Because this also has me wondering if assignments are then assuming that only men (or women) will ever have this job? Or that women have to work with other women and men have to work with other men? Because while the same gender sharing a room is one thing, this also sounds like a budgeting dynamic where you’re setting yourself up to not be able to hire a woman (or man) should that disrupt the two to a room system.

      1. HR Jeanne*

        This is a really excellent point. There is no reason to make employees stay in the same hotel room. I appreciate that you started the letter with “I really want to handle this right”, and the right way to handle it is to not make employees share hotel rooms for two weeks out of the month. No one is working at their best when they can’t get a good night’s sleep, or feel that they were only hired to make the genders equal so there are appropriate “travel buddies”.

        1. HR Jeanne*

          And are employees missing out on certain assignments because they are the wrong gender to travel to that assignment?

    5. Jinx*

      Hoo boy. I would absolutely be willing to take a cheaper hotel room if it meant getting privacy! I think I could handle a rare one-night stay in a shared room, but definitely not 3 – 4 nights on a regular basis. Not being able to sleep due to snoring sends me into rage spirals (just one of those noises I can’t handle), so this would make me Hulk-Jinx smash.

  3. Mags*

    #1 – I can understand why it may not be for everyone, but that sounds AMAZING! I am seriously jealous. But the fact that your boss asked first if you all would enjoy it means he is probably probably open to revisiting the topic. Meanwhile I’ll be thinking of a way to bring this up in my office…

    1. The Bread burglar*

      Me too. I would love a quite morning. Only once a week though. We sort of have a quiet hour on monday mornings but thats more the coffee not kicking in yet.

    2. mazzy*

      It should be an impromtu thing though, how can you plan what is going to be happening three days per week to know that no talking will even work?

      1. Purest Green*

        I’m imagining “no talking” as in no chit-chat in the halls and other open spaces, but necessary work talk happens behind closed doors.

        1. OhNo*

          I was thinking either that, or this was a variation of the no-meeting Mondays thing, where you have to plan your collaborative projects around that time.

    3. Sled Dog Mama*

      I’ll fourth our whatever a No-talk morning. I share an office with the most talkative person I have ever met, it’s like he can’t stand more than 30 seconds of silence and expects my full attention anytime he speaks. I seriously wish I could tell him to STFU and let me work but since he’s senior to me (not my supervisor but a Contractor who is sort of filling a role that I provide support to and I’m doing most of his work ) and threw a hissy fit the last time I said I was working on something and needed to concentrate….so yeah. So glad I just accepted a new job (with much better pay and benefits thanks to Allison I was not afraid to negotiate on this) and can’t wait to see his face when he finds out, although I’m thinking of asking my supervisor to wait to tell him.

      1. Allison*

        The colleague who sits next to me, swear to god, has to talk all day. If she’s not talking to someone about a work issue, she’ll bring up her kids, or go over to someone and talk, or she’ll just murmur to herself. And her voice is annoying, which I know she can’t help, but it just makes the constant vocals that much worse. She’s often either at home or in the office but in meetings, but when she’s at her desk . . . I’m not a happy person.

        1. Marisol*

          I find self-murmuring to be so awkward, because I’m never sure how or if I’m supposed to respond. For example, someone yawns and then quietly says, “hmm, I’m so tired today…” Are they talking to ME? Am I expected give some empathetic response, like, “yeah, trying to focus when you’re tired is a bummer” or ask a question like, “were you up late last night?” Or do they expect me to ignore them, in which case, why speak at all? I was taught to give a speaker undivided attention, and to expect someone’s undivided attention when I spoke. So this kind of thinking aloud where you’re sort of, just verbalizing to the ethers makes no sense to me. Usually in a situation like that I split the difference, responding for a bit until I get a sense that the person is really just talking to themselves, but I find it completely non-relational and wish people wouldn’t do it…

    4. LCL*

      No talking sounds horrible to me. I would have been the dissenting voice when the boss first asked. But followed the consensus for one no talking morning.
      It is interesting to me that that social avoidance, which I consider pathological, is becoming normalized. I grew up with a socially avoidant parent, and the avoidance was a source of misery for me. And a cause of what I consider some of my bad traits as an adult.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I have a socially avoidant kid, and it is really hard. I hesitate to say this, but when I was in my depression, one of the things that made it worse was that when I came home from work, I felt like nobody cared, nobody was interested in talking to me. They were doing homework, or something. So I tended to hang out at my desk so as not to face it. Which of course just made it worse when I -did- go home.

      2. Turtle Candle*

        Well, wait. I think there’s a big difference between limited, pre-defined periods of no conversation, and social avoidance. I sometimes come in to work on a Saturday just to get projects that require a lot of focus done, because being pinged with a question every fifteen minutes really breaks my flow–it has nothing to do with whether I like talking to people (I do, I will talk my coworkers ears off under the right circumstances) and everything to do with needing deep unbroken focus, which talking breaks. Having times when I could get that without having to work a weekend would be heavenly, and not because I don’t like talking to my coworkers.

        If it was “thou shalt not ever speak to thy coworkers,” then I could see your point, but three mornings a week isn’t even half the work week. For jobs that require deep focus, it seems entirely reasonable to me, and unrelated to pathological social avoidance.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yeah, this sounds much more rooted in mindfulness, which is kind of the exact opposite of social avoidance.

      3. Charlie*

        I’m not socially avoidant in the slightest. I enjoy and seek out company and conversation. But I also spend 8-10 hours a day doing heavy analysis and technical, scientific writing, and conversation is insanely distracting and unwelcome when I’m really in the groove and laying down text. I’d be all for periods of no talking.

  4. Recruit-o-rama*

    What’s “demeaning” about blue collar? I’m stunned. In my industry, almost everyone is blue collar and they are smart, hard working, highly skilled individuals. The punch clock is not about how “high level” someone is, it’s a payroll process which is being established to accommodate new legislation.

      1. Cat steals keyboard*

        Came here to say similar. This letter has been answered from the perspective of it being a practical problem but I think the LW actually has more of an emotional problem going on here.

        What does it mean to you to feel blue collar and like you’re being treated differently to your colleagues who have less standing? Is there some relevant family history affecting how you are reacting to this?

    1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      Yeah, I’ve been non-exempt my whole career. Nice to know my positions are less worthy.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I went back and forth on whether to address that. I agree the wording was bad, but I think the OP likely means that there are certain practices that are common in more regimented environments that can feel demeaning in professional environments when people aren’t used to them (see also: doctor’s notes when you’re sick, less control over your own schedule, points-based disciplinary systems, and other things many professionals aren’t used to dealing with).

      1. Elf*

        Not piling on – delete if you think it’s non-contributory anyway.

        It doesn’t sound like the case here, but punching a time clock can be very demeaning in class-oriented ways. I am a teacher and I have worked in exactly one environment where you had to punch in/out. It was being used by the principal as part of a systematic effort to denigrate the professionalism of the staff, with definite classist implications. For another example of this culture, my first staff meeting in the building consisted of the principal yelling at the teachers for 20+ minutes that if he caught anyone sitting down, he would take all the teacher desks away, and that we would grieve it to the union and win but by the time that worked we would have been without desks for three months and used to standing.

        I know I would be uncomfortable with using a time clock again after that experience. Perhaps the letter writer had a really demeaning experience with a time clock in his youth and is reacting largely based on that?

        1. nofelix*

          By classist undertones do you mean the principal wanted to ‘keep the teachers in their place’? How horrible that would be.

        2. babblemouth*

          That’s the first time I hear teachers sitting down is somehow a controversial thing. Why did the principal think it was a problem? Not that he sounds in any way like a reasonable person anyway, but I’m curious about the reasoning…

          1. Former Teacher*

            I was a high school teacher. I once sat in a circle with students while facilitating a post lab discussion. Basically, the goal was for students to come together after finishing their lab to present their data and discuss their conclusions, and to compare their findings with other students’ findings. My role was to ask guiding questions if the conversation stalled, bring them back to the topic at hand if they wandered too far off, and stop any unproductive line of discussion. The real contributions to the discussion came from them.
            I was observed by my principal during the lesson and written up for being seated. Apparently it put me “on the same level” as my students (which was kind of the point…I didn’t want them looking to me to approve/disapprove of every comment, I wanted them to talk to each other!) He felt it was “unprofessional” and I should’ve stayed standing and walked around outside the circle, behind the students, while the kids spoke to each other. Because that wouldn’t be intimidating or creepy in any way!
            After my post observation meeting, my union rep told me to never ever sit on a chair the same height as the kids while teaching in this principal’s building again. My rep said if needed, I could sit on a counter height stool so I was still visually higher than the students. Never mind that I’m 5’2″, so most of my students towered over me when we were all standing during labs. No word on if I should have worn stilts on lab days…

            1. the gold digger*

              I truly do not understand this whole “written up” thing. If you do something your boss does not like, then she can tell you in person. Unless your boss is building a case to fire y0u, then all that is necessary is a, “I noticed you sitting on the floor with your students. In general, I find that unprofessional. Was there something going on that I don’t understand?”

              1. MillersSpring*

                I hate “written up” situations, too. I think that ideally your boss does speak to you directly, then a note is placed in your HR file or manager’s file, which is then available to future managers and/or for discussion during any performance review/rehire opportunity/legal question. To me, the issue better be pretty damn egregious to merit this.

                Of course, the bosses that do not speak to you directly before writing you up/putting a note in your file represent an ancillary despicable issue.

              2. Former Teacher*

                It was a drop in observation, a written evaluation was part of the observation process. I lost points for being seated.

                Also, not that it matters, but we were sitting in chairs arranged in a circle. I sat in a chair that was the same as the kids’ chairs, not in a special teacher chair.

                Ironically, the lesson itself was praised for how the students took responsibility for their work and the discussion. I felt putting myself “on their level” by sitting with them facilitated that. He did not.

            2. Erica B*

              jeezus. I have never heard of this.. and my husband’s a high school teacher. What part of the country (assuming US) are you in? It sounds like the principal was not the best person to work for.

              1. Former Teacher*

                It was the north east. He wasn’t my favorite. He often nit picked, but to his credit, he had his teacher’s backs when it really counted. It was a bad time to be at that school for many reasons beyond the control of those in the building, and it caused people to get very very controlling over little things.

                But that comment on my evaluation about not sitting always bothered me. It was part of the lesson, I made a conscious choice to sit as a part of the discussion and not to stand over it as an outsider.

                Its been years…still bothers me!

            3. Moonsaults*

              And people wonder why it’s hard to get good teachers to stay anywhere too long, bad pay isn’t horrible enough, right?

            4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Ugh, this sounds like some hierarchical New England b.s., FT, and I’m sorry you had to deal with it. I find it mind-boggling that there are principals who don’t realize your approach had clear pedagogical objectives that are certainly more important than whether students think you’re a peer (although I don’t even buy that. I promise all K-12 teachers—your students don’t think you’re their peer).

      2. TootsNYC*

        I think that the “demeaning” part comes back to the idea of trust. And that we institute controls on people we DON’T trust.

        Your parents give you a curfew when they don’t trust you to make good decisions about your social life and your sleep. You earn the right to NOT have a curfew when you earn your parents’ trust.

        It often seems that you make people punch a time card when you don’t trust them to not lie about when they started and how much you should pay them. You make them get a doctor’s note when you don’t trust them to not lie about being sick.

        And for someone who has had that level of trust exhibited, to have it taken away seems insulting.

        One way our OP could frame it is that it’s not about trust; it’s about documentation and accounting accuracy. If she/he can negotiate that idea, then you punch in to establish the documentation, and nobody penalizes him if he’s late, or skips lunch to make it up, etc.
        It doesn’t take away the need to truly work the hours he’s being paid for, but it could take away the “we don’t trust you! prove it!” vibe and replace it with a “I’m enabling the payroll people to fill out their forms without having to create two systems, etc.”

        1. Natalie*

          This is interesting. And still, I think, accurate as far as the timeclock goes. But it’s not that the employer doesn’t trust the employees. It’s that the government doesn’t trust the employer.

          1. midhart90*

            Not to mention it can be viewed as protection from unfair competition against companies who force their employees to work excessive hours.

      3. TheBeetsMotel*

        Perhaps an example that can shed some perspective:

        At an old retail job, I used a timeclock, as I’m sure will be familiar to a lot of people who’ve had a retail job. In and of itself, I didn’t consider it demeaning; it was large store, with a lot of employees, and it’s a lot easier to keep track of comings and goings with a timeclock than with scribbled-down times on bits of paper. Was it also there to make sure people didn’t fudge their times? Sure, to a certain degree. But really, it was an organizational tool, and little more.

        When you found out, around 3 months before the labor hours budget was reset for the year, that YET AGAIN the store has been throwing hours around like they were going out of style at the beginning of that year and now they’re going to shave everyone’s hours down to an absolute bare minimum, up to and including having someone standing over the timeclock to ensure that no one punches in a minute (and I mean a minute!) too early – that’s a timeclock being used to demean people.

    3. Engineer Girl*

      I think the OP has a problem being blue collar because they have and engineering degree (essentially a professional degree). The problem is, the OP isn’t doing engineering work. So there should be no expectation of being treated as an engineer because they aren’t doing an engineering job.
      OP, your degree doesn’t mean a thing here. It is all about the job you are currently doing. There is nothing wrong with punching a clock, and in fact it will give you overtime. Rejoice for that part! There is also nothing wrong with being blue collar. I know a lot of techs that are better at their work than the engineers that supervise them.

      Your logic (I should be treated as an engineer because I have an engineering degree) is the same as an older person (I should be paid more because I’ve been in the job longer). It’s not about your background – it is about the job you are currently doing. You get paid for the job, not years of experience, not degrees earned.

      1. KAZ2Y5*

        Also, there are plenty of professionals who clock in. I’m a hospital pharmacist and clock in every day I work. It is not demeaning at all! I much rather have a job where I can clock in/out as opposed to salary.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          All of the operations staff except the people at the management level had to “clock in” at Evil Law Firm where I used to work. It was with Kronos, so not a physical punch clock thingy, but it still sucked because everyone would be trying to punch in at 8, and the dang thing would either freeze or boot us out entirely. Then we’d have to email our supervisor’s to have them fix our timecards, which had to be a pain in the ass for them, but that was the easiest way for them to track overtime I guess. Still, it was highly annoying.

          1. WorkerBee*

            Kronos is super slow software, even if everybody isn’t on it at the same time. Of course, my company has bigger software fish to fry before they get to Kronos. :(

            1. Cordelia Naismith*

              This is discouraging to hear. I’m going to be switching over from exempt to non-exempt in two days, and I’m going to have to start punching in with Kronos.

              1. S*

                Used Kronos at old job (Professional job that required degree.) Even 1 minute after start time got you a red box around your time stamp. It did feel pretty demeaning to not be trusted to manage my own time.

                1. Fortitude Jones*

                  Yeah, that red box of shame was the worst part of it. Any time we had one on our timecard, our HR department would send nastygrams to our supervisors demanding to know why we punched in a minute late. Then the supervisors would send us a nastygram because they got their wrists slapped. It was so childish.

            2. Elizabeth*

              Kronos is as fast or as slow as the particular setup that an organization uses and the server it runs on. There is nothing inherent to the software that causes it to be slow. I manage the time & attendance system at my employer, and I set it up & optimized the performance.

            3. Candi*

              A friend of mine in Oz works for a company that switched to Kronos some years ago. Her descriptions of events were… interesting. -_-

              Luckily, she was in charge of payroll at her store. She would be on the phone to whoever had to be talked to to straighten out paychecks, because even That One Worker deserved to be paid, dammit!

        2. EB*

          I know plenty of professionals who have to keep track of their time in 15 minute increments for billing, project management, and other purposes.

      2. Jessie*

        Lots of positions require logging hours or punching in, depending on the company and how customers are billed. It’s not about big brother keeping track of anyone, but about proper accounting. Engineers often have to do it. Lawyers have to do it.

        1. Jess*

          My husband is a lawyer and a procrastinator. The last day of practically every month he’s up until 1am doing his timesheet.

          1. Elysian*

            You can really tell who is an isn’t on the ball in my office by who has to stay late on Fridays to get their time done. It is a just punishment for the crime. My darling husband knows better now than to make Friday night plans. If you don’t do your time properly my firm revokes your direct deposit privileges and makes you pick up a paper check, so there’s also that shameful option…

            1. Allison*

              “If you don’t do your time properly my firm revokes your direct deposit privileges and makes you pick up a paper check, so there’s also that shameful option…”

              That sounds harsh, but before I judge, does that mean they get a check if they fill out their time card wrong, or is it if they don’t put enough time in?

              1. Allison*

                Disregard, just saw the context. I’d never dream of putting off my time card, always best to track it as I go. but I guess some people are too important for such a menial task.

                1. Jessesgirl72*

                  Or see my response just below: Some Managers don’t give employees the information needed to do it daily. It has nothing to do with feeling the task is menial or they are too important. What an insulting assumption!

                  The company I reference, in the early days, had a policy of not paying you if you didn’t put in your time. Even if you were salary. You could then go to Payroll and request a check, but that wasn’t available until the following Monday/Tuesday.

                2. Megan Schafer*

                  Or we find it easier and more efficient to only touch it once a week, instead of once a day. Don’t be snooty.

            2. Moonsaults*

              In this case, I don’t think it’s that the firm has much of a choice about the direct deposit privileges being revoked. My payroll processing company is a pain in the butt on many levels and the first thing that they told me was “Get payroll in by X time or your direct deposits won’t settle until late.” it’s a banking rule, not company :)

              1. Elysian*

                Well, it is against the law not to pay a person for time worked just because they didn’t turn in a timesheet. But in this case my billing/timekeeping has nothing to do with my payroll, so it really is just a company policy to encourage compliance. You get a check either way – that’s the law – its just a matter of whether you have to go to the bank to physically cash/deposit it or not.

                1. doreen*

                  I see people say this all the time- but I wonder how this works when the employer doesn’t actually know if the person worked unless they turned in a timesheet. For most of my career, my supervisors wouldn’t actually have known when or if I worked unless I turned in a timesheet – there were multiple locations where I might be working on a given day , my supervisors were based anywhere from 10 to 150 miles away from me, we didn’t speak on the phone on even a weekly basis, my work didn’t need to go to them for approval etc. It’s one thing to say Fergus who sits in the same office down the hall from his supervisor every day has to paid even if he doesn’t submit a timesheet – presumably the supervisor would notice if Fergus didn’t show up for a week. My supervisors literally wouldn’t have known.

            3. TootsNYC*

              See, I’m not keen on this “punishment for the crime” and “shameful” tone.

              I really dislike when criminal or parental paradigms are used in business.

              It’s a contract, and fulfilling one’s obligations.

          2. Jessesgirl72*

            My husband finally added it to his google calendar to do his timesheet every Friday, after getting complained at for it multiple times in 3 different companies- but he was never alone, the managers were sending out the complaint emails to most of the department in all 3 places! It’s a pretty universal requirement in Engineering type jobs, and something Engineering types seem to struggle with!

            1. Annie Moose*

              I don’t get this, to be honest. You just do it at the end of the day. It’s 4: 55, I’m done with my projects for the day, I’m shutting down IntelliJ and my VM, I check my e-mail and Slack just in case there’s any last-minute things that need my attention, and I go put my time in.

              At my old job, I only transferred my hours to the official system once a week, but I had a spreadsheet I’d update daily, and then take ten minutes on Friday to copy the hours over. (I personally tracked my hours in a slightly different breakdown than the company wanted, which is why I did it this way.)

              You just gotta make it part of your routine! Takes thirty seconds a day.

              1. Jessesgirl72*

                In my husband’s case, I think it started with bad habits he was forced into at his first job (worked there 5 years, went somewhere else for 2, then they sought him out to give a very good offer to come back, for another 5) where even though he was straight salary, like a lawyer, he had to record all his time so the company knew which client to charge. Only unlike a lawyer, there were a lot of things he did that benefited no clients or multiple clients. He would ask his manager who to charge, and they would tell him to just do the work and they’d get back to him with the charge number. Which sometimes took days. Sometimes even longer than that, and he’d have to go back in later and amend it, after he’d been paid- and then the upper management complained about people making too many changes after the fact.

                And too often, since a lot of his work is collaborative, there’s no time at the end of the day to put in his time. If he pauses in something at 4:55, one of his coworkers just takes that as a sign it’s a good time to come talk to him about project X, and then he’s trying to wrap that up and run out the door in time for whatever we have planned.

              2. Elysian*

                It takes me so much longer because all my time records require narrative descriptions, and there are a lot of them. So I can’t just say I was here from 8:30 – 6:30 with a 30 minute lunch, I have to say I spent 1.1 hours on “Research and drafting email to client regarding topic” or whatever I was doing. It is writing the narrative part that takes forever sometimes because it isn’t always clean-cut. And if I have 6 or 7 or 10 of those a day, and if I procrastinate… then that is my Friday.

                1. Little Missy*

                  We did when I worked in the mental health field. How many hours we spent with clients, phone calls to and/or about clients, record-keeping; professional development, etc. This was from 1981-1986.

                2. MillersSpring*

                  SJ, describing your time is super common in many fields–legal, marketing/advertising, consulting, medical. The clients/payers want and need to understand exactly how many hours and the type of work that are spent on each project/patient.

                  And Annie Moose, when you’re working long hours, sometimes it’s tough to find a stopping point and get out of the office at 8:45 p.m. It’s better to record your hours as you go throughout the day, but if it isn’t finished, and you’re just trying to get home, eat something and go to sleep before you have to get up and start the same pace all over again, yes, timesheets get put off.

                3. Megan Schafer*

                  When I worked in a lab it was for various metrics. We needed to know if we were doing internal work or external work, and if it was external work who we should be billing for how much time.

                4. StellaMaris*

                  I worked once in place where we had to account for our time in 15-minute increments. So if you spent 5 minutes doing something for a client, they got billed for 15 minutes. It made it REALLY hard to do time sheets because almost no task was an exact multiple of 15 minutes.

                  And no more than X amount of your time could be non-client-billed.

                5. Natalie*

                  @ SJ, not only is it common, but those descriptions end up on the bills that go out to clients. So they have to be pretty accurate, professional, etc.

                6. sam*

                  to SJ – law firm time sheets are a bit different that just clocking in and out – they’re used to bill clients, rather than to figure out how much to pay the lawyers, generally (of course, bonuses and other things are often based on how many annual hours you’ve billed).

                  The reason many lawyers fall behind is two-fold – first, because they’re often a pain to complete, with lengthy (detailed) descriptions required in many cases and these days with corresponding T360 codes (especially if you’ve done numerous different things), and second, because if you’re actually really busy, you just don’t have time to do them – if I’ve worked a 20 hour day or even pulled an all-nighter (which happened plenty of times in my law firm days) and I’m about to collapse from exhaustion, the last thing I’m thinking about before calling a car to drag my to my apartment is spending 20-30 minutes filling out a billing report/timesheet. And then once you fall behind for a day or two it becomes an ever more vicious cycle.

                  This is literally the best thing about working in-house.

                7. TootsNYC*

                  Yowz! I just had a conversation with someone about tracking time in order to allocate costs to which project/budget, and I made the point that I didn’t want a system that was too complicated, bus then you were focusing not eh tracking and not the actual work.

          3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Gahhhh, Jess, he’s breaking time-keeping rules and could be s.o.l. if someone challenges his fees statement! I’m sure he knows that, though.

            But yes, most lawyers have to track their time contemporaneously and in 6-minute increments.

        2. Engineer Manager*

          I am a salaried exempt engineer and need to track my time daily on a timesheet, down to 15 minute increments.

      3. Jessesgirl72*

        The OP, just in general and aside from the time clock aspect, believes she is above the job she is doing.

        She will be happier if she adjusts her attitude.

        Regardless of whether or not she can be happy about it, though, government agencies aren’t known for their flexibility. If they say everyone at the OP’s level has to clock in, everyone has to clock in.

      4. Jinx*

        Oh man, I’m in white collar work (software) with a degree and I’d happily punch in if it meant we got overtime. :(

      5. Monica*

        My husband has an engineering degree and basically runs a multi-million dollar construction business… and he clocks in and out, as he’s still technically hourly.

      6. No Name today*

        Also, as someone with an engineering background, I still have to punch in and break my hours down further. It is so we can bill our clients appropriately for the time spent and so upper management knows how many hours we are spending on a particular project.

    4. Greg M.*

      I’m working retail with 2 bachelor’s degrees and punch a clock all the time. I found it kind of insulting.

        1. Pommette*

          I think that Greg M. meant that the OP’s comment is insulting, not that clocking-in is insulting.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That’s just retail (and food service). It’s always been that way there because those jobs are hourly. If you’re hourly, you have to clock in and out. I had to at my job, the one I just had, and that wasn’t retail. But it was nice to know that when I punched out, no one could bother me with work crap. My time was just that–MINE.

    5. L*

      This might be too political, so please delete if so.

      LW #4 brings up an interesting sentiment that many clearly feel in the US – “blue collar” jobs are less than. I think the intentions in some ways are good – parents who didn’t have the opportunity to go to college, want their kids to do better and saw education and office jobs as the natural path forward.

      It seems like we’ve made that the new standard by which to judge everyone, but I’d ask what is actually “wrong” with blue collar jobs? You see this reflected in the commentary regarding increasing minimum wage at fast food restaurants. Regardless of the dollar amount, you hear “they’re only flipping burgers” when in fact, they’re preparing someone’s dinner. Sanitation workers are as important as health care providers, when it comes to ensuring the prevention of disease — have you ever experienced a country that didn’t collect and dispose of trash well? Rodents, and subsequent disease run rampant.

      People seem to be angry that LW#4 has voiced this opinion, which in fact is reflected in a lot of Americans. It’s easy to pile on, but I think the better question to ask is how to do we elevate and respect “blue” collar workers collectively? Probably not the question for AAM, but I think something society should grapple with.

      1. mazzy*

        I hope it isn’t considered a pile on if I just respond or try to explain what the OP meant?

        I agree with OP. It is not about blue vs white collar. For me, it would be more about the fact that my boss can trust me with hundred-thousand-dollar decisions but not trust me to come to work on time.

        And it is hard to go back to thinking about your hours if you ever done things like come in early for quiet time before people come in, or worked late because you wanted to do a personal chore during the day.

        1. Jesmlet*

          This was my interpretation. If there’s no business related reason for the punching in, it can feel a little like they don’t trust you to do your job right. If you’ve been judged your entire career on the quality of the product you put out and are suddenly asked to be meticulous about when you get to and leave work every day, it isn’t surprising that this would feel like a bit of an affront. Going from the mentality of ‘as long as the job gets done on time and well’ to ‘you have to be here from exactly 9 to 5 everyday or you’ll be penalized’ can be a bit of a culture shock if you’ve never experienced it before.

          1. Future Analyst*

            Yes, so much this. When I worked for the govt, I seethed every time I had to write up someone for showing up 3-4 minutes late, even though those individuals did their jobs well, and the person who was really bad at his job was never addressed properly, because he showed up on time every single day. If it were up to me, you could show up 30 minutes late on any given day, as long as your work got done, and you contributed to our dept. I know we’re had this conversation on AAM before, and some people feel strongly that showing up on time (to the minute) is just as important as contributing to a major project. (I obviously don’t, but I understand how they could feel like that.)

            1. Sam Stabeler*

              There’s three main reasons.
              1) for shift work, if you’re late, it often means whoever you relieve needs to stay late
              2) it is sometimes important for the job that you are on time.
              3) if it’s stated up-front you need to be there on-time to the minute, it’s a basic expectation of the job- which needs to be done or you need to find another joob.

              I agree it shouldn’t have the importance it does though.

              1. Jesmlet*

                Yes, all this is true, but if this is new then it sounds like the job isn’t shift work and being there at an exact time isn’t actually needed. It’s just a new inconvenience that comes with changing from exempt to non-exempt without a change of the actual job.

            2. SarahKay*

              For what it’s worth clocking in and out doesn’t automatically mean you’re on fixed hours. Everyone eligible for overtime where I work has to clock (and lunch) in and out, but the company is incredibly flexible on what hours are worked. We have people start (entirely at their choice) at 4 am and others at 9.30 am, and no-one cares if someone is five-ten minutes later or earlier than their agreed time. Even if they’re half an hour late then the only reason anyone cares is “oh, gosh, Andy’s late, hope he’s okay”.

              1. doreen*

                The timesheets for the overtime-eligible employees at my job have extra ins and outs, so you can work from 7-10, take off from 10-3 and then work again from 3-7:30 as long as that schedule meets business needs.

        2. MsCHX*

          BUT the LW is non-exempt. It isn’t about “trust” it’s about legalities. If his work isn’t exempt level work…then it isn’t exempt level work.

          1. Xarcady*

            But it used to be exempt. I think that’s the root of the problem. The LW is seeing the change from exempt to non-exempt as a “demotion” of sorts, and the time clock is where the anger/annoyance/unhappiness in the change is getting focused.

            And the LW states that her manager could have made her exempt. If that’s the case, then the switch to non-exempt probably rankles even more.

            And then the admin people below her aren’t going to have to clock in and out. At that point, I’d begin to wonder what was going on, myself.

            1. Fortitude Jones*

              And the LW states that her manager could have made her exempt. If that’s the case, then the switch to non-exempt probably rankles even more.

              I can see that. I know that my company will start converting formerly exempt employees to non-exempt beginning next Monday, so one division I know of has decided to bump some of those people up a few job grades so they’ll be exempt. But since that’s not an across the board situation, I can see some people getting pissed that they’re now non-exempt when their managers could have just done what the other division did and change the job grade (these people are most likely making over the salary threshold) so they could keep their position flexibility.

      2. Jessie*

        I think the lines between blue and white collar jobs are going to get more and more blurred, especially in manufacturing as the technology changes. Traditionally blue collar jobs are beginning to require things like knowing how to code and I think we’re going to see a huge shift in that area. And the reverse may also be true: I think it’s going to be harder to be a pure business person (with the exception of specific support roles like finance and law) without having a solid foundation of what the doers do.

      3. Cranky Pants*

        People can look down on blue collar jobs all they want until their heat goes out in the middle of winter, they don’t have running water or their sewer line is backed up.

        1. Nella*

          I completely agree and want to add that certain blue collar workers make decent wages. My husband was over at my parents picking up toddler. My brother walked by his lunch cooler and noticed his paycheck. Later on he told my mom that he was surprised that my husband made that much money because he was only a mechanic.

        2. TootsNYC*

          I loved the story of the sanitation strike in NYC. Some jobs, no matter how seemingly “lowly” (i.e., they may not required specialized training), are more valuable than the stereotype would have you believe. And they probably should pay more.

          1. Candi*

            Our county, and most cities in the county, contracts garbage-recycling-yard waste out to a private company -and they pay something like $12 and change starting, with a bump of at least a dollar once the workers pass six month probation. Any worker who makes it five years makes a good amount of cash -and (it says here on their site) good benefits.

            Because not everyone wants to handle trash. :p

            (The recycling is also real and large scale -none of this ‘it goes in the landfill anyway’ the pops up on the media from time to time.)

      4. FiveWheels*

        My take on the fast food (and similar) workers isn’t that the job isn’t important – it’s that almost anyone can do it. As such, it’s considered less worthwhile/worthy of respect.

        Being overeducated for a job sucks, and I speak from personal experience. But wanting the respect or working conditions of a better job doesn’t make it happen.

        I’d argue that resenting a job because you feel overqualified will have adetrimental effect – you won’t be motivated and your colleagues will notice.

        1. Gaia*

          I’m sorry, but no – not almost anyone can do these jobs (at least not well). Fast food requires a high level of customer service and multi tasking. Anyone can do it poorly, but anyone can do any job poorly. Doing it truly well requires actual skills that lots of people don’t have.

          1. Megan Schafer*

            I’ll agree with that, but also throw in there that hiring managers generally don’t care about getting the job done “well”, just about having bodies to stop the roof from falling in. There’s no incentive to excel.

          2. Oh no, not again*

            Gaia, thank you. I wish everyone who is able would work a few months of fast food work–it might change their perspective, and perhaps they’d treat fast food workers with dignity and respect.

            1. Miss Betty*

              I think part of the problem is that most Americans have worked a few months in fast food and realize that maybe not everyone can do it well, but the majority of fast food managers don’t care if the job’s done well, they just want it done and that employees are pretty much seen as interchangeable. (At least it was that way 30 years ago when I was working fast-food – in one Wendy’s and two different McDonald’s – and it doesn’t seem, from observation, to have improved.) Almost everyone I know has worked fast-food – it’s kind of like a rite of passage – and some people treat fast food employees well and others don’t. Having done it one’s self doesn’t seem to help much and in some cases it seems to make the attitude worse.

              It is mostly teenagers and retired people who work there and if someone outside of those demographics either chooses to work fast food as a vocation or is stuck in fast food while they’re looking for a better-paying job, too many people think these employees are horrible for doing such an “easy, unimportant job that anyone can do and isn’t meant for anyone to live on anyway” and wanting more than minimum wage to do it. If you don’t pay people enough to live on, you’re not going to be able to hire people who will do the job to the best of their ability. The comments that surface from the inky depths of the Internet whenever that minimum wage issue arises can be so hateful and venomous.

              1. princesspeach*

                I had a friend’s teenage son tell me that he was to good to work at McDonalds when he was in high school. Now this kid considers me to be his big sister so we are close. I told him then he must think he’s better than me b/c I had no problem working there for almost 2 years between high school and college breaks, like Christmas break and summer breaks. It’s for sure a learning experience. It’s a great place to learn how to deal with people b/c you get all kinds in fast food.

          3. INFJ*

            Yup, yup, yup. 3 years in fast food and 1 episode of Undercover Boss is all I needed to know that not just anybody can do those jobs well…

        2. Kate*

          (Hi Allison, I hope posting to this comment thread is okay, I don’t want to pile on, and I read your note, which sounded like we can discuss blue collar jobs with each other, but not direct our discussion to the OP. I am sorry if I read that incorrectly.)

          I agree with Gaia. Blue collar jobs, being a sales associate, being a fast food worker, require a lot of skill.

          When I was a sales associate, we had to memorize the new layout of the store bi-weekly, handle angry customers with skill and charm, learn each type of hundreds of fabrics, and how they wash, what purposes each fabric is appropriate for, etc. At one point myself, my manager, and I were doing complex geometry trying to decide how much fabric would be needed for a customer’s project.

          Believing that blue-collar jobs and others aren’t skilled is a huge mistake, and in my experience, people (in general) who think this have not, in their adulthood, actually held such a job for a long (at least 6 months, preferably a year) time period.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          This is so offensive. But what bothers me even more is the notion that because your work is “unskilled,” you don’t deserve to be treated with respect or paid a living wage.

          1. Can't think of a username*

            It’s not about deserving it though, it’s economics. It sucks, yes, but I grew up in California and I’ve seen the results of increasing the minimum wage. They weren’t pretty. Inflation, lay offs, replacing workers with self check out machines. It’s so bad over there I literally could not survive on my own. (I’m disabled and unable to work much. I’m given a living allowance from the government to help, but it wasn’t nearly enough to live in California even working as much as I could. I spent plenty of time living in my car because California is just that expensive. I finally moved to Texas recently mostly to be with my girlfriend but also because the economy is so much better here so my prospects are better. I don’t have to live in my car here because I’m a disabled person in a bad economy!)

            I understand why people are mad, but I just can’t see how raising the minimum wage will help. It made things so much worse in California. I don’t know what the right answer is, but I’m pretty sure it’s not that. :(

      5. Jean*

        Excellent question. Let’s also include the “pink” collar positions (admin assistant, secretary, receptionist).

        1. Cordelia Naismith*

          This is one of the reasons why I’m upset about the way my changeover from exempt to non-exempt is being handled by my workplace. I work for one of several colleges at a large university. The vast majority of employees being affected by this change in my college are male — except for the office I work for, where 100% of affected employees are female. (I work for student services/academic affairs.) None of the other departments are requiring their newly exempt employees to clock in; their timecards are going to have a default of 8-5 with an hour for lunch, and if they deviate from that, they will email their supervisor to make the changes.

          Affected employees in my office are being required to punch in and out. It’s pretty infuriating. On top of realizing that my office has a huge pay disparity between male and female employees, I’ve also come to realize that my bosses, who I thought trusted me to be a professional, don’t even trust me to come into work on time.

          So, yes, this feels pretty insulting to me. Not because of being required to clock in and out, though, but because of everything else with the way this is being handled.

        2. Morning Glory*

          I know that this is a genuine classification, but I find putting admins in a different category from other office professionals by calling us ‘pink collar’ to be both insulting and outdated. It reinforces the perception of ‘otherness’ and makes it more difficult to transition into other ‘white collar’ positions.

          1. Natalie*

            “Pink collar” is describing exactly that issue, that admin positions are ghettoized as “women’s work” and not paid appropriately or taken seriously on a professional level. The mere act of naming that sexism is not what is causing it.

            1. Morning Glory*

              Wiki defines pink collar as service positions and lumps together entry-level and unskilled labor jobs like retail, and babysitting, etc. with admin and teaching positions.

              It did not seem to be making the statement you describe.

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                Not that wikipedia is the definitive source for anything, but even if wiki is right, that doesn’t really change Natalie’s point. I agree with Natalie that by using the term “pink collar” to describe admin jobs, it seemed like Jean was saying that admin jobs do not get the respect they deserve because they are classified as “women’s work” and not taken seriously. So Natalie and Jean are saying the same you are saying, basically–admin jobs shouldn’t be othered and they shouldn’t be treated as “less” than other office jobs. The difference is that Jean and Natalie were expressly acknowledging that this does happen.

                1. Morning Glory*

                  No criticism was meant to Jean or Natalie. I understood Natalie’s point but do not agree that it is the only definition.

                  I will continue to hate the term, but will not complain when it is used here.

      6. Jessesgirl72*

        Speaking as someone who has done both, and grew up in the Rust Belt, I will say, it kind of goes both ways. And it’s really regional.

        In my town, the absolute best jobs that most of us were raised to strive for were the ones at the Major Car Manufacturing Plant and the Major Car Manufacturing Plant supplier. The “smart kids” in school were raised to maybe set their sights on being an Engineer there. And I’m a mid Gen Xer- we’re not talking about the 50’s here! Those line jobs had better pay and benefits than 90% of the Professional jobs in the area. Including 100% reimbursement for getting a degree in something, if you wanted to. The skilled trades workers there were making as much- or more- than the local doctors and lawyers! So there really was a lot of disdain for people who were “too good to do a little work”, especially when the white collar workers weren’t even making more money.

        Almost all those jobs have now gone away, and the pendulum, even there, is swinging the other way, but even that just creates more resentment and classism.

        The only good solution to elevating the perception of blue collar workers that I’ve ever seen, comes from Mike Rowe. He has a whole “Dirty Jobs” foundation now that tries to get people trained for these “shovels up” jobs, and tries to stress the value and dignity of those who do them.

        1. Salamander*

          Yes. I grew up in a similar area. The Big Jobs in my hometown were in chemical manufacturing. And I never did grow up to be an engineer, much to my father’s everlasting disappointment!

          I also enjoy Mike Rowe’s work immensely and his efforts to show people that all kinds of work should be respected.

      7. Pommette*

        I’ve seen the attitude you describe expressed in relation to blue collar service jobs (anything to do with cooking or cleaning; working a cash register), but not really to other blue collar jobs. Manufacturing jobs and skilled trades tend to be described in more positive terms, whether it’s because they are perceived as strongly associated with the union movement, because they are seen as having a macho aura, or for some other reason.

        I don’t know if this is true more generally, or if it’s particular to the area I’m in (rust-belt town).

        I suspect that some element is sexism is involved in the service vs other kinds of blue collar work distinction. And classism is definitely involved in the blue collar vs other kinds of collar work distinction. Either way, making fast-food is hard work, and being good at it requires certain skills and aptitudes.

        By the way, “you hear “they’re only flipping burgers” when in fact, they’re preparing someone’s dinner”: very well said.

    6. WorkerBee*

      And let’s be honest, engineering is pretty much blue collar. College educated blue collar, but blue collar nonetheless.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        It depends. The Engineering where they are out in the field directing things to be built, yes. But a lot of people now get Engineering degrees, and make their money as Code Monkeys. They never leave their computers.

        1. WorkerBee*

          Ah yeah, I forget about those folks.

          I work in construction, so my experience with engineers is highly educated blue collar workers (not that I’m not in the same boat, but with a different degree).

      2. Rocket Scientist*

        Nope, your assumptions are 100% incorrect. I’ve spent my entire career working with SW, not HW, in an office environment, including when I worked for a Big 3 in Detroit.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Not 100% incorrect. I used to work for one of those Big 3 on the floor, and spent a certain amount of my time most weeks with an Engineer standing next to me, trying to convince me that what I was telling him about his design not being the fool-proof way of preventing mistakes had to be wrong because “it worked on paper” He wasn’t a very good Engineer, but he was being paid as an Engineer and spent almost as much time on the factory floor as I did.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            It sounds like you’re talking about structural engineers. Although they do appr in the field more frequently than some other engineering positions, 90% or more of their time is spent in white-collar office settings. That allocation doesn’t sound consistent with how we think of “blue collar” jobs.

      3. Engineer Girl*

        Disagree entirely. I did my internship at one of the Big 3 auto makers. Even there, I was isolated from the plant. I was in a completely different building.
        In Aerospace it was even more isolated. I was “upstairs” and away from the daily work that was performed by the union folks.
        I wore a suit and heels every day. That isn’t blue collar.

    7. Anon Accountant*

      I think more places will be using time clocks or timesheets/time entry software to record hours worked now with the new overtime laws for staff including engineers, etc. Just as a compliance matter to help with the new legislation. Several of my payroll clients have implemented simple timesheets to be completed now by everybody (they’re small companies so a time clock didn’t make sense for them).

    8. sstabeler*

      I think it’s more that needing to punch in has overtones of “we can’t trust you to honestly report your hours” which is what is demeaning about it- NOT that blue collar itself is demeaning. Basically, OP is irritated that they aren’t trusted to work the hours they say they are. To be honest, though, I agree with those that say that if they are working a job they are overqualified for, they have to accept they will not be treated like they are employed in a job that is in line with their qualifications (within limits. I vehemently disagree with people that say that MW jobs are for teenagers, so MW does not need to be enough to live on. (many people have little choice but to take a MW job while looking for a better job. As such, MW should at least be enough to live on. However, I’m willing to accept it not being much more) On the other hand, an experienced worker in an entry-level position should understand they ARE entry-level

      1. Megan Schafer*

        I don’t even think it’s about trust – I’m not interested in noticing the exact minute I came in and the exact minute I leave and recording it before my day can even start or end. Depending on how they round their payroll, that may be necessary. I just punch the clock and it’s automatically taken care of for me. Easy peasy.

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          I think it’s great that your work just wants to track total hours. But, in my three decades of work experience, every single place that had some kind of time-tracking system also had clock-watchers for managers. Every. Single. One. And I’m not talking about retail or shift work. I mean professional jobs where the quality and efficiency of work was [supposedly] paramount. But once time-tracking software was handed to management, they used it to monitor everyone’s comings-and-goings, down to the minute, despite there being literally no business reason for it.

  5. HMM*

    LW 4, punching a time clock or tracking your hours isn’t exclusive to blue collar work (I do it myself in my degreed, white collar job), and it certainly isn’t demeaning to do so either way. If you haven’t tracked your hours before and now you have to, it’s an annoying change. Talk to someone and ask to be exempt. Leave the elitism at home.

    1. Cat steals keyboard*

      Let’s not all rip into the LW, hmm?

      I also track my hours (but because I work on flexi time and can take time off to make up for extra hours) but it means something different to the OP.

      1. HB*

        I have a masters and white collar job, and my hours are also flexible. So I punsch in when I come and if I want to take a long lunch or leave earlier one day the systems keeps track of my hours. And honestly it is easier and make for a more flexible life. That being said it (of course) depends on how closely bosses would check/micromanage and other things that make it seem like they don’t trust you. Maybe asking why it has changed and how other things in the workplace are? Is just the clock the problem or is it s symptom?

    2. Wendy Darling*

      I have definitely had people MAKE tracking my hours demeaning. I had one dreadful temp job where my boss made us clock out to use the bathroom and called me on the carpet for taking too many bathroom breaks one day (I was having an unexpectedly heavy period — super fun to explain to my very conservative older male boss). He also told me off for taking a 31 minute lunch. Once.

      My current job is salaried but I have to track my hours and not only my boss but the project managers to whose projects my time is billed micromanage my time. PMs want as little of my time billed to them as possible because it comes out of their project budgets, but my boss wants 100% of my time billed to client projects, so no matter what I do someone is complaining at me.

      I think the LW worded things unfortunately but I can definitely understand where they’re coming from to some extent, depending on how their workplace deals with hourly employees. If it’s crappy and micromanage-y it gets very demeaning very fast, like you’re not an adult who is capable of managing their time.

      1. HMM*

        Sure, I agree with you there – those environments suck. But my point was that the LW conflated punching a time clock with blue collar work and feeling demeaned because it feels like blue collar work. And implies that it’s lesser than. Perhaps a poor choice of words written in frustration on both our parts but I do think it should have been pointed out regardless because it seems a lot of his frustration stems from feeling like they’re not being treated appropriately for a job of their education/rank/pay grade. Maybe they are/maybe they aren’t, but they could have still said as such without being demeaning toward blue collar workers.

      2. Observer*

        Eh, micromanagement happens with or without a clock to punch. And, for any adult who can manage their time, it stinks either way. But let’s be clear, what’s demeaning is someone telling you how how often you can use the bathroom, or even just tracking each bathroom break to the minute (ewwww!), not basic clock punching.

    3. shep*

      #4 – I agree with many others that this is certainly not exclusive to blue-collar positions (I have a bachelor’s AND a terminal degree and clock in every day), but I can see your annoyance if your workplace is going to nickle-and-dime you for clocking in and out, and perhaps judging your weekly hours as though you were non-exempt even if you’re doing great work.

      That said, I also work in a government office and my six-figure-making supervisor always clocks in and out. She doesn’t mark her lunch hours or anything; it’s more of a placeholder for “here are the hours I was here today,” and I believe even though she’s exempt, she still needs to track her hours for audit purposes.

    4. Ashie*

      I work at a nonprofit and everyone from the CEO to the janitor uses the time clock. It’s a way to indicate to donors that we are being responsible with their money. I think it’s really great.

  6. Ann Furthermore*

    #2: Thank you Alison for being the voice of reason. I couldn’t tell if it was 1-2 weeks per month, or 3-4 day every 1-2 weeks, bu either way it’s not reasonable to make people share a hotel room that often and for that long. The OP says that other people are fin with that arrangement. I doubt it. They just haven’t said anything.

    I know in some industries or circumstances it’s common for people to share hotel rooms, but personally I find the idea absolutely horrifying. Traveling for work is bad enough; having to do it with no privacy or alone time would be unbearable. Sharing a hotel room with someone else means you have to agree on what TV shows to watch, share a bathroom, it would be weird ordering room service, you may want to read but your roommate wants to go to sleep, you have to worry about snoring…the list goes on and on. And what if you talk in your sleep? What if you eat something for dinner that doesn’t agree with you? OMG. So many potential landmines!

      1. RKB*

        I just went on vacation with my long term partner for the first time ever. By the end of it I wanted some peace from him! Something about hotels is way different than sharing a house together.

        1. AnonAnalyst*

          Yeah, I’ve lived with my partner for 10 years, some of those in fairly small apartments. Hotel rooms are just not set up for sharing. If we both get up at the same time or want to go to sleep at the same time it’s fine, but if one of us wakes up a little early or wants to stay up a little later, it’s annoying because there’s nowhere to go to avoid disrupting the other person.

          It definitely grates on both of us when we travel somewhere for a few days. I can’t imagine how much more annoying it would be to do this much more often and with a coworker instead of someone I already live with!

    1. WorkerBee*

      We’ve got it so that our techs share a room and our supers have their own room. Not much complaining from the guys, but they’ve all known each other for years.

      If OP is having pushback and you want to separate them, then downgrade the hotel they’re staying at. £6000 a month for a single pair is crazy expensive. We spend about $11000 a month for 5 guys (3 rooms), and we put them in mid-level hotels.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Although I wasn’t sure if the 6,000 pounds was just for these two individuals, or for more individual traveling for the company also — but these are the who complained and OP is concerned if these two get single room, everyone will want them.

        That said, I definitely would want a single room also! So I’m with everyone else suggesting cheaper hotel with single accommodations.

      2. One of the Sarahs*

        As a Brit who’s travelled a lot for work, that cost sounds crazy to me – even booking at the last minute, and a Serviced Apartment with 2 bedrooms in any city/big town has to be cheaper.

    2. Artemesia*

      I was kind of stunned that the OP thought the problem was punishing people who resent having no privacy for weeks on end. It is monstrous to expect employees to work remotely and then not provide them with some minimal amenities — one of those being private space — and I would argue also at least kitchenette space with at least microwave and refrigerator. It is miserable to have long away assignments and being forced into a no privacy situation makes it worse.

      I am with those who would be happier with a private room in a hotel 6 than a nicer room with a roommate sharing my bathroom, and invading my privacy as I sleep. ugh.

    3. Marillenbaum*

      Exactly. I listen to podcasts and books on tape to fall asleep, and I am well aware that someone else might find listening to a podcast about haunted hotels and things deeply unnerving (shout out to Lore, for any other fans!)

    4. TootsNYC*

      “The OP says that other people are fin with that arrangement. I doubt it. They just haven’t said anything.”

      They may be fine with it. I personally would be fine with it, probably, right up to the point where I couldn’t sleep because of the snoring.

  7. LeisureSuitLarry*

    #2. As someone that has done a lot business travel, your room-sharing policy would have made me quit without notice. After spending an hour with my co-workers, I need some time to myself. After spending the whole day with co-workers, all I want is a night of peace where I don’t have to interact with anyone, or fight over the television, or try to sleep through a stranger’s snores. You’re not happy with the hotel room expense? Find another hotel or hotel chain or whatever. Don’t damage your employees by making them share a room.

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      I don’t even view is as being wholly about the rooms themselves; when you drag someone away from home every two weeks, you need to show your employees that you understand what they’re sacrificing. If you require that much travel but can’t afford to give your employees private rooms, you can’t afford to stay in business.

      1. Willis*

        This. It’s a cost of doing business so maybe you need to reassess how many people you need on-site, look for cheaper lodging options, or charge more in order adequately cover your hotel costs. Asking employees to double up or cover part of your travel costs really shouldn’t be an option.

        1. Joseph*

          +1. There are just so many other ways to cut down on costs without forcing employees to share hotel rooms that it shouldn’t be your primary option and probably shouldn’t even be on the table at all.
          1.) Re-evaluate if you actually need two people on site. Could you have one person on site and the other available via phone? Could you use Skype for meetings rather than actually flying someone up there?
          2.) Negotiate with the hotels. One of the little secrets about hotels is that they very rarely fill up (particularly on weekdays), so they’re often very willing to work with you on price if you can assure them that you’ll book 10 nights every single month. Hotel chains are even better for this, because their corporate offices know very well that if they give you a good discount, they can lock up your entire company-wide business travel rather than having to lose some business to their competitor.
          3.) Can you get cheaper lodging? One trick is that hotels in a central business district are often wildly more expensive than a similar-quality hotel 10-15 minutes away in a suburb. So if your employees already have a vehicle, you can save a bundle by just asking them to take a hotel slightly further from the site.
          4.) Raise your rates. I listed this last for a reason, because I know it’s not always feasible, but it’s worth considering.

          1. zora*

            +1 on negotiating with the hotel. I’m not sure if this is different in the UK, but in the US many chains have ‘long-term rates.’ I used to negotiate these for a previous job, but basically anything over 7 nights in a row is considered a long-term stay, and some chains have a set rate for that, or if you will be using the same chain for more than 7 nights per month regularly, it is entirely likely you can negotiate a lower rate for your company.

            In the US there are also chains/brands that are specifically for long-term business stays which often have multi-bedroom suites, or kitchenettes, or other amenities that make the stays easier for your employees, but are much cheaper than a ‘nice hotel.’ You should definitely do some research to see if there are some options that work better for your employees, give them their own private bedrooms, but would actually be the same cost or cheaper.

    2. Troutwaxer*

      Tell the employees, “If you’re willing to stay in a cheaper hotel, I’ll get you separate rooms.” Problem solved.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have only shared rooms with friends or family members, but I look forward to returning home, and my own bed.

        A former company had a directory of approved hotels, with preferential rates, and a note of how far the hotel was away from the company’s locations (i.e. 2 km from the London office, 900m from the Paris office, 500m from the New York office etc.) Reading through it, it appeared that there were few options in some locations which would not involve travelling to and from the office, and I wonder if sharing rooms in this case is partly because there isn’t a cheaper hotel nearby?

    3. Sled Dog Mama*

      My company doesn’t have preferred rates with any hotels due to the fact that we might be one night here, one night there. It’s up to us to choose the accommodation but we have a cap on per night expense.
      Figure out what you are willing to spend per person on lodging and set that as policy. Then make it up to the employees, they can stay in individual rooms for X or less or pool resources for nicer rooms/hotels.

    4. Jessesgirl72*

      I thought the same thing- that the OP is lucky they even have people still working for them. I’d have quit too, as soon as I determined this was their standard procedure. A one-off share for 1-2 nights I could manage, unhappily, but for half the month? Really?

    5. MashaKasha*

      Not related to your comment (which I agree with), your name takes me all the way back to my first job in 1989. We had an office full of monitors all connected to a mainframe, and one color PC in the corner, where everyone took turns playing Leisure Suit Larry on breaks. Ahhh the memories.

    6. Jane D'oh!*

      Same here. Being made to share a room with a stranger seriously oversteps my bounds between personal and professional life.

  8. Gaia*

    What, exactly, is demeaning about blue collar work? I’d bet you – and many – couldn’t do a huge number of those “demeaning” jobs. I certainly wouldn’t use that as your argument as you’re bound to offend a lot of people including those in and out of blue collar fields.

    For what it is worth, there is nothing “demeaning” about punching a clock. Sure, it is a perk to be able to manage your own time but even exempt positions sometimes have to track time. You should really check your attitude. It is one thing to be frustrated, it is another to be classist and rude.

    1. Fire*

      I’ve never been anything but hourly, so I’m a bit confused. What does clocking in and out have to do with managing your time? Does needing to clock in automatically mean you are now working a “shift” of sorts and have to clock in and out within a certain range or get in trouble? IE have set hours? I would’ve thought if the job didn’t originally involve set hours and you were later required to clock in and out, you could still work at your discretion, you just need to keep track of when you do work. Unless your workplace ALSO institutes set hours, but OP doesn’t mention that.

      1. Gaia*

        Not always, not, but it means your hours are being tracked and therefore – potentially – scrutinized. So, for instance if you are in office 35 hours but check email and do bits here and there from home and over the weekend that get you to 40 hours when you are not clocking in that isn’t inherently obvious, when you are clocking in it looks like you’re only working 35 hours because it is difficult to account for that other time with a time clock. Typically that means you then revert back to 40 hours in office as opposed to working for free (which is, of course, illegal) and therefore you aren’t really managing your own time anymore.

        Or, you might find your time scrutinized more if you need to run out midday for an appointment and now you have to actually clock that.

        In either case it is ridiculous to assume this is demeaning and (horror of horrors!) blue collar.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          I had a boss who scrutinized everyone’s timesheets in real time and called me over to demand an explanation for my unusual number of bathroom breaks one day. In front of all my coworkers.

        2. tigerlily*

          Not at all joining the conversation discussing the merits of blue collar vs white collar work, just wanted to say something about clocking in.

          I do payroll for a small non profit preschool and I would love it if we clocked in and out! Almost no one I work with completes their timesheets as they go, they do them all on the last day of the pay period and they end up leaving off so many things. I’m constantly tracking people down to ask them if they went to the after hour staff meeting and what was the day of their late pick up and didn’t they provide childcare for the board meeting, etc. Sometimes it’s four or five hours that are getting left off a person’s timesheets. For me, clocking in and out is not about staff being unable to manage their time, it’s about staff not documenting it correctly and not getting paid for hours they should be.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This has been addressed above too, and I’m going to ask that we leave it here now that it’s been called out, so that it doesn’t become a pile-on. Thank you.

      1. Fiona the Lurker*

        Apologies; I sent off my comment before I saw this request – the curse of reading down the page.

        1. HMM*

          Same. Sorry Alison, thats the last I’ll say about it. Feel free to remove if I’ve fanned the flames.

  9. Kc89*

    Sharing hotel rooms sounds like a nightmare to me

    If it was just a trip here or there I would pay the difference myself to have my own room, of course that’s not always feasible when you have to travel often

  10. Gaia*

    #2, I just dealt with a sort of similar issue with an employee of mine. We’re sending about 20 people to another office for 3 weeks and as everyone began to plan talk came up of sharing apartments to save cost. This wasn’t brought up by managers, but rather by employees. Only one of the employees reports in any way to me. I was quick to reach out to him privately and let him know that if he wants to he can, but he should feel no obligation to share a room or apartment with anyone. Not only is he the only male going, he is the only independent contributor going. All that aside, if we can’t afford everyone to have their own accommodation, we need to adjust elsewhere. I’m certainly not sharing an apartment or room. I won’t expect him to.

    1. WorkerBee*

      Generally best to separate men and women on trips like this anyway. If only to prevent any perception of anything going on.

      1. a different Vicki*

        Don’t have anyone share, if you want to avoid that perception. It’s likely that not all your staff are heterosexual, and it’s not a good idea to make someone choose between coming out to their boss and coworkers now, or dealing with possible anger from someone who finds out later that they’ve just shared a hotel with a colleague who is attracted to people of their own gender. Nor do you want someone complaining that Fergus got his own apartment because he’s bi, and the straight guys had to share. Meanwhile, Fergus may not like the implication that being bi means he’s going to cheat on his wife.

        1. RVA Cat*

          Not only that, having to share a room and bathroom opens the door to possibly ADA issues if someone has a medical issue that might never come up otherwise. For example, my husband has sleep apnea and uses a CPAP.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Why would that be an issue, though? (I mean, I’m completely against forcing people to share rooms, but I don’t understand this aspect of it.)

            1. Case of the Mondays*

              You might not want to disclose it. I have sleep apnea and wear a CPAP and I openly talk about it but I’d be pretty embarrassed to wear one in front of a coworker. Same with my retainer.

              1. Jessie*

                Right, you might not want to disclose it but that’s not an ADA issue. RVA mentioned “ADA issues” so I think that was what Rusty was asking about. (It adds another layer of suck onto the situation, and it would feel like a violation of basic privacy to be essentially forced to disclose medical information to coworkers. But that’s not an ADA thing)

                1. RVA Cat*

                  I was using it as a shortcut for disability/medical issues, though.

                  There is also the fact that sharing a hotel room might mean changing clothes in front of coworkers. That is not something you typically sign on for in a job that doesn’t have a locker room. Honestly the lack of privacy plus 50% travel makes this almost like they’re in a firehouse or something.

                2. Rusty Shackelford*

                  @RVA Cat: Sure. Like I said, I’m completely against this idea. I just don’t see any ADA issues (unless for some reason people had incompatible needs).

              2. Rusty Shackelford*

                Like Jessie said. There are all kinds of things one might not want to disclose to coworkers that would become apparent when sharing a room (I use a cpap and I couldn’t care less who knows about it; in fact, I’m kind of an evangelist about it, but obviously not everyone feels the same way). But I don’t see the ADA issue here.

          2. Eleanor*

            Yes, I have ulcerative colitis and sometimes take a good while in the bathroom or need it immediately. Someone like me may not want to disclose but would want to have their own bathroom.

        2. Bananistan*

          YES. Omg yes. For some reason people tend not to realize I’m queer, and I don’t realize that they don’t know, and my #1 biggest worst fear is having to share a room with someone and then later finding out they’re not ok with it.

  11. Stellaaaaa*

    OP4: I went to college. Grad school even! And I’m an hourly employee. I’m paid a very good hourly wage but I still clock in and out. I had no idea that my job situation was shameful or **gasp** WORKING CLASS. Working-class tax dollars are paying your salary so I’d check your attitude.

  12. Fire*

    I can’t even fathom wanting to quit over needing to keep track of my hours. Like… yeah? They want to know when you’re in and out of the office, and/or working from home? How is that an issue? Presumably they know that anyway, and just want to start keeping records because of a new law. And that’s not even getting to the bizarre idea that it’s “blue collar” or “beneath” someone (??????????).

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      I think maybe OP doesn’t always work 40 hours a week and is worried that the higher-ups will look at the time cards and realize that.

      1. Fire*

        Yeah, in the weird draft in my head I think I originally added the phrase “unless they DON’T know how much you actually work and don’t want them to find out….”

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Whoa, there’s nothing in the letter to indicate that! Lots of people have issues around going from exempt to non-exempt and starting to track time when they didn’t have to before; it’s an incredibly common thing.

        Repeating my call not to jump all over the letter-writer, please.

        1. A fly on the wall*

          I agree, I think that the LW is trying to address a real issue, but they are just not communicating effectively.

          More effective ways to communicate this might be (in the case of an engineer): “Hey, boss, I’m not sure how you want me to handle clock in clock out situations WRT the intellectual/professional work I do. If I have an idea regarding the safety of that bridge were evaluating while off duty, should I forget about it and try and build on it the next day, should I record my time on a manual card, or should I come in at night and clock in and work the problem?” Other examples might have to do with clocking in when off site for meetings and how travel and conferences are paid.

        2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          Maybe an addendum to your original reply? It seems like people are missing your request inside the comments.

    2. Cat steals keyboard*

      I hope AAM adds a note about not ripping into the LW as this is going south. People are reacting emotionally which is what they are doing. Yes it’s tone deaf but do you want to help or just shame the person who sent this in? Do you want to find out why they’re reacting this way or just tell them they are wrong? Do you know anything about their background or emotional relationship with work? No.

    3. Alienor*

      Well, leaving aside the blue collar/white collar issue, punching a time clock leaves you vulnerable to nitpicking in a way that just tracking your time doesn’t. Years ago, I used to work in the back office of a business where everyone clocked in and out, and the time cards were scrutinized and held over people’s heads constantly. If you were two minutes early clocking in for your shift, or a minute late clocking back in after your lunch break, someone would mark up your time card with a red pen and you’d be called into the office and confronted with it like a kid with a bad report card. No one liked that, so you would see people standing around the time clock waiting for it to change so they could punch in or out at exactly the right time and avoid getting in trouble. It was a huge relief when I got a job where all you were required to do was fill out a weekly time sheet by hand, and an even bigger relief when I got an exempt job and didn’t have to worry about it anymore.

      1. Courting Trouble*

        That’s not actually about the time clock, though, that’s just poor management. There’s no reason punching a time clock HAS to be used in that way. And poor management will find a way to nitpick you no matter which tool is being used.

        1. LBK*

          I dunno, I think there’s managers who wouldn’t go out of their way to clock you if the data weren’t readily available, but if they can see your exact hours worked down to the minute at the push of a button, it’s more tempting to start using that data to micromanage.

          I worked in two roles under the same boss, one that required me to log in and out of my phone every day and one that didn’t. He was much more obnoxious about my schedule when he was getting a daily report of how many hours I was logged in for. Once I changed roles, he couldn’t be bothered to go out of his way to track my hours now that it wasn’t right there for him to see and thus relaxing his grip on the reins a little.

          1. Alienor*

            Yep, that’s exactly it. And if someone decides they don’t like a particular employee, punch data is just another thing they can use to harass them. I saw that at my old job too–a favored employee could be a few minutes late or early every day, or “forget” to punch in or out altogether, and no one would say anything, but if someone who was disliked did it even once, there’d be hell to pay.

    4. INTP*

      Maybe I’m dumb but I assumed the OP was having to check in at an actual time clock, and feeling a bit embarrassed about doing it, not just having issues with tracking time. I don’t think it should be demeaning to anyone but I can see how, if a highly visible division between exempt and non-exempt is being created by the latter employees having to wait in line at the time clock, someone could have difficulty adjusting to that, especially if others below them don’t have to do it.

  13. AcademiaNut*

    I’ve shared hotel rooms at conferences – this is pretty normal for junior people in my field. In general, I’d rather share a room in the conference hotel (with a reasonable roommate) than stay off-site, because of the convenience. For the duration of a conference, I’m pretty much only in the room to sleep and shower.

    But for a couple of weeks of travel a month, or a single extended stay, I’d vastly prefer to stay in a Motel 6 in my own room than a Hilton with a roommate. I’d be pushing for separate rooms if my husband were a bad snorer.

  14. Anon for this*


    I’m a little confused, and I think you might need a bit of perspective.

    First, many non-blue color positions track hours, or even punch in on a time clock. I’d actually consider some sort of hour tracking to be the norm outside some extremely unhealthy industries, and government jobs may be unhealthy, but they aren’t an IT startup (or corporate sales). In fact, some of the highest paid people I know (who’s jobs – lawyers and business consultants define white collar) track hours religiously, even when not billing by the hour.

    Second, the new overtime threshold isn’t particularly high. The situation you describe matches a GS-07 almost exactly, and that grade is almost the definition of “entry level professional” in much of the federal civil service.

    Third, it’s probably going to be unproductive to approach this from a “blue collar” / “white collar” mentality. These laws weren’t written to create a caste system in an organization, they were written to prevent organizations from exploiting their workers, something that is actually starting to be a bigger problem in traditionally white collar fields or management than on the line (and I’m not saying it’s better on the line, just saying companies are getting better at screwing everyone else). Everyone is focusing on the pay basis test and ignoring the fact that pay basis is only the first of the tests. It’s the easiest to measure, so many orgs played fast and loose with the rules and decided everyone passing pay basis passes the duties test. Trust me. They don’t, and they still don’t. Certainly not everyone.

    Are there better ways for your organization to handle this? Probably. But if you brought this to me, I’d start looking at your interactions with your subordinates and with other people to look for other signals that you might not have the healthiest attitude for a supervisor. Take this as an opportunity for a “reality check” about some of your assumptions.

    1. Anon for this*

      That should read “if you brought this to me /this way/”

      Please bring it up with your management, but try to rehearse it before you do. This is one of those times that presentation is going to matter as much or more than content.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      Yes, and I’ll add to this. I worked as an engineer for 35 years and I had to track my hours on a timecard in 6 minute increments (tenths of hours). And let me assure you, as a senior level engineer I was earning way more than the minimum. Everybody had to track their time, and what they were working on.

      I think the new laws will prevent the exploitation of a lot of low level managers. They’ll finally get paid for the hours they work.

      1. Mike*

        > I had to track my hours on a timecard in 6 minute increments (tenths of hours)

        I think that might be my nightmare.

          1. FiveWheels*

            Yep, although only billable time. (ie only in relation to hourly rate work – not for fixed fee or non fee earning work)

          2. Princess Carolyn*

            I’m in advertising and we track our time in 15-minute increments. 6 minutes would drive me nuts. But engineers are probably better at mental math than I am.

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              They may be good at math. They likely are not good at filling out their paperwork. ;) I speak from long experience.

          3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Yup, but like FiveWheels mentioned, only billable time, and we’re technically required to do it contemporaneously if we want to be able to recover that money down the line (e.g., if a client doesn’t pay or if we win a lawsuit). We measure in 6-minute increments b/c it’s equal to one-tenth of an hour, and we round if we’re between units (so we don’t track count 9 minutes as 0.15 hours, we track it as 0.2).

        1. A fly on the wall*

          Certainly one of mine now. Right up there with the never ending Gantt chart and the SharePoint form that always has one misspelling.

          1. Mike*

            Oh jeez, not gantt charts! We have a project manager consultant that loves them. When I look at them I just see a giant web of lies! And of course I get to sit at the level that has to translate them to actionable items for theteam.

        2. Engineer Girl*

          Not so hard, as I would usually dedicate 1/2 days to certain projects. Meetings were on outlook, so I knew how much time those took.
          One big benefit was that I didn’t have to clock in and out. I just put down my hours electronically.

        3. INTP*

          I have to do this for every project (some of which only take 10 minutes total) and every internal task and I literally spend about 3 hours per week on my time sheet. I’m not great about making note every single time I shift tasks for a minute or two, so some of it is guesstimating. (We aren’t billing clients for my time, it’s just for internal metrics.)

          1. Liane*

            The last time I had a job that required time tracking (a quality assurance chemistry lab, so nothing to bill) I put down the amount of time I spent filling in the darn thing, and I believe the higher level lab people did as well. (They were Chemists I-Senior and I was the sole Chem Tech.) There was even a code (TT) for time spent time tracking!

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              Oh, it’s been so long that I almost forgot that trick. In one part of my blue collar job working for one of the Big 3 auto makers, we used to do that! We did piecework, not line work or work nonstop from 9-5 and had quotas. And we deducted the time it took to fill out our sheets from the amount we had to make every day. It was totally sanctioned by the unions.

        4. Anon Accountant*

          At my old job we did that and it was awful. Both billable and non-billable work was tracked this way.

        5. the gold digger*

          I had to track my hours on a timecard in 6 minute increments

          I worked at the IRS for a few months and we had to track our time that way. There was even a code to use for the time we spent completing our time sheets.

        6. Solidus Pilcrow*

          Yeah, it’s bad enough to do 15 minute increments. 6 minute increments would drive me nuts.

          When working as a W2 contractor, I’ve had to fill out as many as 3 timesheets, all on different cadences: bi-monthly for my staffing company that paid my salary (this was to invoice the client), weekly for the client’s contractor time tracker (again for invoicing – so they knew how many hours to expect to pay for), daily for the client’s internal project management tracking system (in part for the client to invoice *their* customers). Luckily the first 2 were only reporting hours per day and PTO. The project tracker wanted 15 minute increments per project. Honestly, a time clock would have been easier to manage.

      2. Jubilance*

        This reminds me of my days in defense. I worked in a lab and would run tests for various project codes at the same time. It used to take me 30 mins a day just to figure out how to charge everything!

      3. NW Mossy*

        Years ago, I worked at a firm run by CPAs that went down to 3 minute increments so that we could bill our clients appropriately for time. It was not an uncommon occurrence for my boss to come over to my desk mid-afternoon and say “What have I given back to you [from her review] today? I’m missing about 3 hours on my timesheet!”

  15. Goreygal*

    OP4. .I’m college educated with 2 degrees, a few post grads and a masters and have to clock in as do many “college educated” people I know in many different industries. If that’s your main argument against you may need to suck it up and “be demeaned” like the rest of us. If however you can come up with a logical reason why your job doesn’t require it you may find your appeal to HR goes better.

  16. emvic*

    #1: I really hate it when people discover something that works for them and start pushing it on others. It risks pushing away people from something that might be helpful down the road. Personal development stuff (even more so if it has any kind of spiritual side) is strictly a *personal* choice and should be at most suggested. No size fits all, really. I do practice meditation, but a no-speaking morning would be a torture. My flavor of this has words woven all over it.

    1. Mike*

      Did the boss really push it on them? Sounds to me it went “you interested in trying this?” and then “it seems to be working well, should we expand it?”. That is a totally legit thing to do.

      My team does it quite a lot. We see an issue and then try out a solution. If it doesn’t work we trash it and if it does we discuss whether it should be expanded. And a few time we’ve shrunk it down.

      1. INTP*

        Yeah, sounds like the boss proactively sought opinions on whether it was working to avoid pushing something no one wanted to do. He can’t help that he wasn’t given honest feedback. (Unless there is something else at play here, like he tends to ignore or penalize any feedback he doesn’t want to hear.)

      2. emvic*

        Did the boss really push it? I don’t know, but given the power differential I’d guess it might get problematic. Hence, more attention in dealing with that kind of stuff, I say.

          1. T3k*

            same. It became a running joke at my last job that one of the bosses wouldn’t disturb me until noon as I wasn’t fully awake until then.

          2. Lies, damn lies, and...*

            Same. Although now that I work from home no talking mornings doesn’t have the same effect.

            1. Liz*

              One of my coworkers took a new position and was asked, “Do you want a phone?” He said no, and put an unconnected phone on his desk to stop people asking about it (or helpfully hooking one up for him). He’s more productive than ever!

          3. Purest Green*

            Yes! This is partly why I work an hour before everyone else – little to no morning greetings!

    2. mazzy*

      True. And your comment just reminded me of the struggles I’ve had with younger people who work with headphones on and send wall-of-text style emails back and forth that I really do not have time to try to understand (since most are technical).

      So much easier to discuss certain things in person and quiet days would send them right back into wall-of-text mode, which causes lots of misunderstandings, and the wrong person takes the initiative to respond, or someone responds to an older email in the thread

      1. LBK*

        Speaking as one of those younger people who prefers to trade wall-of-text emails 99% of the time: it’s because it gives me more time to organize my thoughts and to verify what I’m saying. I hate discussing complex issues over the phone because it puts me on the spot and doesn’t give me time to double check any technical details I may be discussing. This is why half the time when someone calls me I end up just telling them I need to look into it and will follow up with them via email once I have an answer.

        If I’m talking about something particularly complex, I also want to make sure I’m explaining it in a way that provides full context and is easy to follow for someone who may not be totally familiar with the inner workings of the system. I don’t like feeling pressured to deliver complete, eloquent answers to something that might take a lot of research and clarification while someone’s sitting on the phone breathing down my neck, especially if I was in the middle of doing something else when they called and I have to rapidly switch gears. You will get better information if you just wait for me to email you back.

        I also like having a paper trail so there’s never any question of whether an issue was raised or not – I can’t tell you the number of times someone has come to me in a huff about me not telling them about something only to slink away with their tail between their legs when I forward them an email I sent them outlining exactly the thing they’re now angry about.

        1. Annie Moose*

          I feel much the same way you do.

          I also strongly prefer being the recipient of instructions or explanations in written form–I can talk over the phone to someone, but the instant I set the phone down, I will have forgotten everything. (I once rather infamously went to type a sentence that I had just spoken, and forgot halfway through what I’d said.)

          Different people have different preferences!

        2. The Strand*

          Thank you for explaining this so well! I find that email is useful for all those reasons, especially with less technically adept people who want answers over the phone but can’t understand them.

        3. Mazzy*

          I totally get you. But there are also moments when I do unfortunately miss emails when I get 10 from LBK per day and think I read 10, but only read 8 and the other 2 are really important. Or someone writes a wall of text when I’m already involved in other things, and then I half read it and change it back to “unread” and forget about it. And there are times when things aren’t clear cut and need to be discussed, as is evidenced by the wall of text. Not all of them, but some.

        4. Candi*

          Email is better for not having to ask the same question this many times.

          That said, I would be all for asking them to break it up into paragraphs, please. If they want to add headings to the paragraphs or do annotated bullet points or leave it plain orwhatever, that’s fine. It’s just easier to read with paragraph breaks.

      2. Cobol*

        But for some people having a written record might work best. Discussing in person for me would mean discussing in person them sending back-and-forth emails, so I could make sure I was remembering everything we discussed

  17. INTP*

    #2: Besides Alison’s and the other commenters’ points about how it’s unreasonable to expect people to share rooms with such duration and frequency, why is it necessary for those two employees to share a room with each other? If I’m reading correctly, they’re refusing to share a room with each other, not with anyone at all. Even if it’s absolutely necessary for employees to share rooms for some reason, and everyone is miraculously okay with it, some people are going to be incompatible roommates and there needs to be room in the policy for them to veto each other. Pair them with other employees, and if no other employees will room with them, get them their own rooms. Two employees forced to share close quarters while sleep deprived and stewing with resentment for 25% of the month are going to cost you a lot more than the cost of a hotel room in the long run.

  18. Matt*

    #1: this sounds like heaven for me too …

    #2: I agree with most others – better alone in an EconoLodge than sharing a room in a Four Seasons.

    #4: I’m a software developer and I always had to punch a clock – and I like it this way. Every minute I work is recognized, if I have to work outside normal hours or on a weekend, it’s noted separately (meaning it can’t easily become as “normal” and “usual” as elsewhere where they don’t have time tracking) and after heavy “crunch” episodes I have collected a lot of hours that I can take off. A lot better than “this is your work, you have to get it done on time, your hours don’t matter” in my opinion …

    #5: guess why I became a software developer (which isn’t quite as solitary as it used to be, but at least with very little actual customer interaction)

  19. ..Kat..*

    Hahahahaha! You don’t want to share a hotel room? My company makes us share BEDS. They book rooms for employees with two double beds and a roll-away cot and cram 5 employees in! You haven’t lived until you have had a coworker sharing a bed with you and asking how you feel about her sleeping in the nude. At least she asked. Hahahahaha!

      1. the gold digger*

        Exactly! Primo is cranky that we are using a bunch of hotel points for two nights in Spain and they won’t guarantee a queen-sized bed. He does not want to sleep together in a double bed! I pointed out that two nights in a double bed will not kill us.

        1. Artemesia*

          I now always book twin rooms when I can’t be sure of getting at least a queen size bed when my husband and I travel — he has a bad back and has to sleep in a sprawl with pillows etc and this leave me about 15 inches of bed — and it is miserable in a double.

    1. Emma*

      Not even joking, I would fucking quit without another job lined up. I could maybe tolerate sharing a room, but a bed? That’s so ridiculous.

      1. LawCat*

        This would be immediately quit-worthy to me as well. I wonder how quitting under these circumstances would be viewed by unemployment insurance. I mean, I know rules vary state-by-state, but requiring employees to share beds strikes me as so unbelievably unreasonable and inappropriate that I wouldn’t expect much variation on this particular issue. It has to have come up before!

      2. One of the Sarahs*

        OMG yes. I literally have nightmares that I am in bed with a stranger – I would sleep in the bathtub rather than risk rolling over in my sleep and snuggling a colleague, or vice versa. THE HORROR!

    2. misspiggy*

      I’ve travelled for work in some of the nastiest and grottiest locations in the world (as well as some lovely ones). Only once have I had to share, and that was because dormitories were the only accommodation for miles around. Your company sucks.

    3. INTP*

      If I had to share a bed with a coworker I’d be wearing a sleeping bag over my pajamas just to have some sense of buffer. Sleeping NUDE? With a COWORKER? What on Earth? How did she think that was appropriate?

    4. Menacia*

      Sorry, no company could *make* me share a bed. I don’t get that at all, what kind of company do you work for?

      1. Student*

        I had an employer do this to me also. Best part was that they sprang it on us – the company made the arrangements, and we were not aware until we got to the hotel that we’d be expected to share a bed. It was on an island with only a few ferry rides per day, so there was no reasonable escape once we were there. If I’d known, I probably would’ve booked my own hotel room at my own expense, but everything was full by the time we got there (popular tourist area). I was so very pissed.

        Same employer – I once had to explain that I was unwilling to sleep in the boss’s office under any circumstances. Other employees would sleep in his office for certain events. Now there’s an awkward work conversation to tackle.

        1. Student*

          Still the same employer – expected me to share a hotel room with a stranger from a different company once (at a conference). I NOPE’d out of that one, booked my own hotel room (didn’t even ask permission because WTF) and made them reimburse me.

    5. Allie*

      They had us do that on high school debate trips, but at least you could pick your friends to share with. And we were in high school.

      I had to share with my sister a lot on trips as a kid and she was a total bed hog. I can’t imagine putting up with sharing with a coworker: is it socially acceptable to push them away when they invade your space while asleep?

      1. the gold digger*

        Or to hit them when they snore? And push them until they DAMMIT TURN OVER? Or force them to turn over when they are facing you and exhaling morning breath?

        I sleep with my husband only because we are married and he insists. I would love to have separate beds. In separate houses. (He likes a lot more togetherness than I do.)

        1. Relly*

          Husband and I actually have separate beds. I generally do not admit this to people in real life, because they assume that it means we are estranged or divorcing or no longer a couple, something traumatic.

          What it actually means: he snores, he flails in his sleep, and I have difficulty falling asleep under perfect conditions, much less next to my wonderful husband who, despite being my beloved soul mate, freaking kicks me.

          Having separate beds is BLISS.

          1. Queen Anon*

            We have not just separate bed but separate rooms. He’s the world’s worst sleeper and is up and down literally all night long. I wear a bipap mask which I don’t notice much anymore but I know it’s noisy. We both have a form of insomnia. Separate rooms is perfect! (I know what you mean about people’s assumptions, though.)

            1. Relly*

              I should have clarified: his bed is down the hall, in what family thinks is a very nice guest room. :)

              Do you tell people you know? I’ve admitted it to some friends that I think won’t be weird about it. We even share a bed on occasions, but it’s wonderful knowing that it’s a choice, so if the ideal of “let’s snuggle and fall asleep” turns into the reality of “I will strangle you if you kick me again” you can just disentangle yourself and seek refuge down the hall.

              1. Queen Anon*

                I’ve told some people but not too many, and I always feel like I have to give the whole “2 poor sleepers” backstory to justify it so they don’t think we hate each other. Which is silly, I know, but there it is.

      2. Annie Moose*

        Yeah, we used to share beds back when I went on mission trips in high school/college, except:

        – you could choose to have your own bed or even your own room if you wanted, you just had to pay for it. (basically all of us were broke so we just shared :))
        – you could choose who you shared with, or if you really wanted to play Mission Trip Roulette you could get matched with someone at random.
        – it was only one week, once a year.
        – and it was a mission trip anyway, so some form of sacrifice for the greater good was to be expected.

        And even then, I wasn’t a huge fan of it, and tried to work things out so my sister and I could share. (the secret is, stick a pillow between you like a Great Wall of Making Things Less Weird, and then you don’t have the problem where you can’t roll over because what if the OTHER person is rolled over facing you, and it gets awkward??)

      3. Moonsaults*

        Yeah back in school for trips like that there was always the poor kid that got to sleep in the bathtub because there was nowhere else to squeeze them in or they were determined not to share a bed.

    6. Bad Candidate*

      The last time I had to share a bed with someone I wasn’t either related to or in a relationship with was for a trip for our college newspaper. And it wasn’t that big of a deal, but in my late teens a lot of stuff wasn’t. Now? Yeah I’d quit too. Nope nope nope nope nope. And just for good measure, Nope.

    7. Karanda Baywood*

      Details. How often is this travel? For what duration? Have you ever tried to refuse?

      I can’t even. I couldn’t share a room with my sister, and a bed…? What the actual?

    8. Liane*

      There is a post about this very thing linked in You May Also Like below today’s questions!
      I hope it wasn’t you. Either way, this is not something I would be doing.

    9. NW Mossy*

      I once had to share a bed with a teammate for a college sports event. I learned to my horror in the middle of the night that she’s one of those people who hits out in her sleep.

      1. SignalLost*

        This is why I would decline, were it ever to come up. I nearly strangled a friend in my sleep once. Never mind that 4 years of sleeping with my partner has civilized a lot of that out of asleep!me.

      2. MashaKasha*

        Ah, yes, last time I shared a bed was on vacation with my then-BFF when I was 21 and she was 22. She was a tiny petite thing less than 5 ft tall, so what could possibly go wrong, right? Little did I know that she rolls ALL OVER the bed and kicks and punches in all directions when she sleeps.

    10. The Wall of Creativity*

      I’ve ended up sharing a bed with a colleague on a business trip.
      The company had paid for separate rooms, mind.

    11. Hermione*

      NOPE. Nope nope nope nope nope. I can barely share a bed with my SO (he’s a blanket thief – we’ll each go to sleep with our own identical blankets because I roll a lot, but I’ll wake up freezing to find his on the floor on his side of the room and mine half-draped on him, the rest in a pile also on his side of the room).

      I’d be pissed off by sharing a room with a coworker I liked – sharing 1 hotel room with 4 other people, and my bed with a coworker? NOPE.

    12. Leatherwings*

      Yep, I had to do this two. Twice a year for ten day chunks at a time. The worst was when they booked a king room with a pull out for four people. Then two people had to sleep on the roll out couch together. And we were typically strangers too (it was a national company so I’d end up rooming with people I’d never met who lived 3000 miles away from me).

    13. Maxwell Edison*

      I shared a bed with a friend at Comic-Con one year. It worked out fine, actually. She was relieved that I didn’t steal the blankets and I was relieved that she didn’t snore.

    14. Beancounter Eric*

      Dear employer;
      If you expect me to share a bed with anyone other than my spouse, you can hire my replacement.
      Now. Immediately. Today.
      Your former employee.

    15. Anon for this*

      Oh my god, I can’t even imagine the shame of having to explain to my boss that I can be, erm, handsy in my sleep.

    16. Noah*

      I had to do that once, when I was a flight attendant and as a crew we ended up stuck somewhere due to a snowstorm and they could only get us two rooms for six crewmembers. Two beds per room, and there were no rollaways available. I sucked it up but didn’t like it.

      I wouldn’t work for a company that required us to share rooms on a regular basis. Sharing beds without extreme circumstances would make me refuse to travel and likely quit immediately.

    17. aeldest*

      Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. I am a sleep cuddler and automatically gravitate towards any warm body in the same bed as me. I’d spend the whole night awake, terrified of falling asleep and doing something mortifying.

  20. Jeanne*

    I’m confused about the new labor law I guess. If you are above the salary level, supervise people, have an engineering job (usually exempt), is your boss really allowed to just make you non-exempt? I thought this law was mostly changing the salary level, not the definition of who was exempt as far as job definition. Is it because it’s a government job? It seems to me you would have to stay exempt.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Employers can treat everyone as non-exempt if they want. The restrictions are only on who can be treated as exempt (you must meet specific criteria for that).

      1. Tracie*

        At one of my first jobs I was an HR supervisor and eligible for an annual bonus. One year the payout was higher than the accrual and my boss posed changing to non-exempt status to be paid for OT. I made much more that way and never missed the bonus payment money again!

    2. LBK*

      You can always do more than the law requires; making someone non-exempt when they could qualify as exempt generally costs the company more, because it means they have to pay overtime (plus any associated administrative costs of tracking and paying out that overtime). The FLSA is happy to let employers pay more than necessary, it just doesn’t let them pay less.

    3. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      It sounds like because some of the people in the job classification would be below the salary cutoff, they’ve just made everyone in that job non-exempt regardless of salary.

  21. The Bread burglar*

    OP4: I will avoid the whole blue collar demeaning thing because its already been covered and I respect Alison’s request.

    So trying to be helpful: I would be careful with your word choice when making the request. And I would leave out which other roles do or don’t have to. Its really shouldn’t be your business or concern how others hours are tracked or paid. Stick to you.

    And be aware that fair or not its likely to make people suspicious of if you are actually doing your 40 hours. In the same way people say you shouldn’t be worried about governments monitoring your emails/everything else if you don’t have anything to hide. So this is something to consider along with the fact that I imagine this will take up a lot of the sway? you have with HR ( gah I forget how Alison words it).

    Personally I would dislike having to physically punch in and out. If it was just writing my hours onto a spreadsheet that would be fine but an actual clock in machine would make me nervous and I get over my 40 hours.

    If it was me I would approach it as being that I enjoy my autonomy and feeling trusted to manage my hours/workload. Its given me flexibility for making up time for appointments, etc. Having to have my every minute monitored would make me nervous about losing my flexibility and makes me feel that the company no longer trusts me to manage it myself which is a demoralising thought.” If you have other concerns you could mention them as well. Just stick clear of the demeaning or blue collar and try to be diplomatic in your wording. I would also bring with you what you would like as part of the grandfathering in (to be exempt, etc.) And how you see that working for you and them.

    Its possible they will grandfather you in. Or its possible they won’t and you’ll have to decide if you still want to keep it with the clock being part of the role. Though leaving to a new job may also have an hour tracking system in place.

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      100% agree with your suggestions. Also, I think that most managers inclination will be to jump to the conclusion that OP isn’t working 40 hours regularly, however unfair that conclusion may be.

      And for all those affected by this new law, I would be concerned long-term about management beginning to use more and more of that data to draw conclusions, however inaccurate, about what employees do or don’t do based strictly on hours worked.

  22. INTP*

    #4: I don’t think that the time clock needs to be a big deal, but if you do want to push back, try putting together a work-related argument for why it doesn’t make sense for your position, and offer an alternative solution (like recording your arrival and departure times in a spreadsheet instead). Maybe the time clock is in a different part of the facility than where you work and it’s inconvenient, maybe it’s used by the production workers to make sure they adhere to their shift times and get their breaks but you don’t have a set shift and you are able to take breaks as needed throughout the day, etc. You need a business case for why keeping track in another manner makes more sense for you. (And there might be something else going on, like the clock is connected to the payroll system for non-exempt employees, in which case you’ll have to stop pushing back and use the clock.)

    Also, this might be a California thing, but IME recording arrival, departure, and lunch times for non-exempt employees is standard, not “Big Brother.” It’s for your protection, to make sure you really are only working 40 hours and to ensure you get to take your breaks. I’ve always filled out an online time card, not punched a literal clock, but I’ve done this at most of my “white collar” jobs and it’s never been used against me later or anything. I would not push back on this requirement, just on the use of the literal clock, assuming there is some reason against it other than feeling demeaned (not because your feelings are wrong or invalid, but because you just need a more objective reason to request to change a procedure at work).

    1. FD*

      I suspect this is a California thing. I live in Minnesota, and I don’t know of any exempt people who have to record their time. I’m sure some businesses do, but I don’t think it’s the standard here.

      My guess would be that it has to do with some California workers comp rules, but IANAL.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I’m exempt and have to record my time, and I’m in the Midwest. Though our online timekeeping system (Kronos) auto populates 8 hours M-F, and it’s up to us to go in and change the time only if we take PTO/UTO or are doing out of town business.

      2. Persephone Mulberry*

        I think you misread the second paragraph:

        Also, this might be a California thing, but IME recording arrival, departure, and lunch times for non-exempt employees is standard, not “Big Brother.

      3. Judy*

        Many, many project driven environments have time tracking systems. They want to be able to estimate the cost of projects using historical data. “This new project is about the size of the widget project from last year, let’s look at those metrics to get the initial estimates.” Some companies I’ve worked for even classify projects and will give an average for update, minor, medium, major and mega projects. I’m also talking about engineering companies where product development cycles are several years long.

        This is different from a time clock, that only tracks time at work. This is how much time you spend on a given project.

        1. Jeanne*

          I’ve had to do some very detailed project tracking. It can be highly annoying but I know it’s necessary. I was exempt. I had used a paper to report 8 hours a day but eventually they got it all from the project tracker.

      4. INTP*

        Exempt workers aren’t required to do the time sheet in California either, but there are non-exempt workers in every area of the company so it’s not specific to “blue collar” jobs. It’s not unusual for someone to be, say, a non-exempt engineer.

      5. MsCHX*

        I’m in MN (HR Manager), I record my time as does everyone else here, exempt or non-exempt, project work or not. The President of the company records his time.

      6. Jubilance*

        I’m in MN and I had to track my time via Kronos. As I mentioned in another comment, it was for the company to track what work was being done and to make sure it was charged to the appropriate budget, along with data for headcount and other things.

    2. Elysian*

      I agree with your second paragraph, and I think Allison’s advice here is a little off the mark, actually. If you’re going to be non-exempt, the law is that you have to track your work hours (recordkeeping is part of the FLSA). The law doesn’t require a time clock per se, but it does require tracking how much time you work. If time clocks is how your company tracks time, it makes the most sense to integrate you into that system, rather than having you be the only person in the company using a paper time sheet, or something (someone would just have to enter that info into the timekeeping system I assume, creating more work for someone else). I don’t think this is a policy it is reasonable to push back too hard on – your company has to track your time to comply with their classification for your position. This isn’t just like any old policy where they have a lot of leeway, they’re a bit more constrained.

      1. Jeanne*

        The push back isn’t time clock vs paper. It’s about staying exempt. It appears his job qualifies for exempt but they have some weird rule about level 2 can’t be exempt but level 12 can be. So if he can push back there would not be any laws broken.

    3. hbc*

      I’m guessing those practices (even in California) are more for the protection of the employer than the employee. If OP later goes back and says, “I worked unpaid overtime,” a few lines in the handbook about full compliance with labor laws isn’t going to help much. A spreadsheet from the employee saying they worked 40 hours is better, but can easily be falsified by either side. A time clock record looks much, much better in an investigation.

      Of course, the employer could still be messing with things by, say, having people swipe out and then work more, but they’d have to be much more open about their abuse.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        At least in California, protecting the employer is often a big part of the reason because failure to comply with labor laws can carry huge financial penalties and back pay for affected employees. In addition to mandating breaks, California law stipulates that overtime kicks in daily (when someone works more than eight hours) as well as weekly (when someone works more than 40 hours). Making sure non-exempt employees track their time and breaks helps the employer make sure they are in compliance.

    4. Chomps*

      DC recently passed a law to ensure that non-exempt employees are being paid appropriately. I’m not sure exactly what’s required by law, but I had to change the way I fill out my timecard to include start, stop, and lunch times.

  23. Wrench Turner*

    #5 – Consider technical positions in ‘the trades’ like electrician, plumber, HVAC or even auto mechanic that tend to have minimal interaction with people. You can be great with customers for a few minutes then get to work and be too busy/focused to talk. It’s glorious.

    1. the gold digger*

      Not to mention such jobs can’t be sent overseas. Learn a trade, learn how to run a business, show up on time, do a good job, clean up after yourself, and invoice quickly and you can live quite well.

      1. EmmaLou*

        “…clean up after yourself…” Oh! Yes!!! We had a maintenance guy. Would leave big messes. Never washed his hands, (after doing things one should wash one’s hands after) and then would move right on to working in the kitchen! Eventually they got a new guy. Cleans up, brings his own soap even! Takes out any trash he creates (which isn’t necessary, but so nice!) If I’d not seen him and the broken thing wasn’t fixed, I’d never know he’d been here.

  24. L*

    Alison, what industries is it normal to share a hotel room? I can’t think of one instance where a friend or I have been asked to share a room.

    1. Boris*

      It’s not uncommon in not for profit and public sector jobs. If your job involves trying not to spend any more of the public’s money than possible, you might share a room. I have never done it, but colleagues of mine have.

    2. Juli G.*

      From other times this topic has come up, I believe in academia and non-profits. Not to say it’s the case in all of those but seems to be more reports of sharing from those folks.

    3. BK*

      Yes, hotel room-sharing happens in academia. Most universities give faculty a set amount of money for travel expenses (i.e., “you get $1,000 for conference travel this year”) and expect the employee to cover any expenses beyond that out-of-pocket. As a result, a lot of faculty members will voluntarily share rooms at conference to maximize their travel money. I’ve done it before, but because I travel maybe 4-5 nights per year at most, it’s not a huge deal. There mat be different norms for non-academic staff at universities who travel regularly (I’m thinking of the recruiters in the admission office).

      In general, I think that Alison is right that employees who travel regularly for work have a reasonable expectation to privacy via their own rooms.

      1. blackcat*

        I’m a grad student. Last year, I had 8 days of conferences in a row (two back to back) where I shared hotel rooms with 2 other people. We had a fold out bed in each room (thank you, Marriott!).

        I love these two other women. They are fantastic. We are all pretty social people. And we were so sick of each other by the end.

        (The general rule of thumb we are given is no more then $100 per night per grad student for accommodation. Find a cheap air b&b? Go solo! Conference is downtown in a major city, and all of the rooms are $250+ per night, even the nasty ones? Get ready to share beds. And as grad students, we definitely do not have money to top off our travel expenses.)

      2. cataloger*

        I came to say exactly this. It’s not so much that you’re asked to share a room, but you can make your set amount of travel money cover more conferences if you do.

        As another data point, my husband went to a small academic conference earlier this year for which lodging was covered by conference itself; the host institution had dorms, and they just paired you up with another random attendee to share a dorm room with.

    4. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      The last time I traveled for work, I shared a room with 14 people. But 12 of them were 10-year-olds, I’m a teacher, and it was an outdoor ed trip that I was supervising. (Also my bed was my sleeping bag on a narrow bunk bed! And one of my “roommates” woke me up because she was homesick.)

      When my school’s sent me to conferences, they used to have us share rooms, but lately they’ve moved to giving us private ones. I definitely appreciate it.

    5. SignalLost*

      My company sends a huge contingent to a convention every year. Not sure if it’s the size of the group going or space available in the destination, but we double up, and it’s very much a for-profit, and a very, very large company in its industry. But it is a nightmare getting everyone there – company policy is no more than two people on the same flight going to this event, and a very large group (over 40 people in a division of about 400).

      1. SJ*

        company policy is no more than two people on the same flight going to this event

        What? What’s the reasoning behind this, if you aren’t all top-level execs?

    6. zora*

      We were expected to share hotel rooms in a previous nonprofit job. However, I was really uncomfortable with sharing a room with my boss (we were frequently the only two women), but we were allowed to get a private room or our own AirBNB if we paid the difference between that and the organization’s costs for the shared room. It was a lot of money for me, but it was worth it in that situation.

      The place was too toxic for me to deal with it, but in other nonprofits I’ve been able to push back on that a bit and get the budget increased enough to get private rooms for people.

  25. Grits McGee*

    OP#4- If this is about your feelings rather than a quantifiable burden placed on your work, I’d be cautious about making an issue of this. Objectively, does it make sense to spend a lot of political capital (potentially fruitlessly) just so that you don’t have to swipe in and out during the day?

  26. Peregrin*

    I worked one job which required a lot of travel. Not only were the cheapest motels selected, but also rooms were shared. On two of these trips my roommate was also my boss. He had the annoying habit of going to sleep with the TV on. That job lasted less than a year.

  27. FD*

    #1- Please tell us where you work so us introverts can all apply. ;)

    No, but seriously, Alison’s advice is spot on. If your boss asks you how you like something, and you tell him/her that you do, they’re likely to take you at face value. They can’t make good decisions without good data, right?

    #2- Remember too that the cost of pushing this issue is probably going to be that you’ll loose some employees. You should balance the cost of the hotels against the cost of loosing good employees.

    #3- I won’t pile on the wording here. I will just say that I do get the annoyance of being used to working on a salary and having to punch in and out. It can be nice to manage your own time–work late some weeks when it’s needed, leave early on other weeks when it isn’t. Politely pushing back might be successful here, or it might not be. Your best bet is to show how it helps the organization. For example, “In this job, I usually work overtime 5 times per year, which would have cost the company an additional $x on an hourly basis.”

    #5- Alison’s advice is good. Some entry level jobs that might be good for you: overnight stocker, file clerk, some factory jobs, warehouse workers, some cleaning jobs, some dishroom jobs, data entry.

    1. FD*

      #5- Also, while there’s nothing wrong with any of these jobs, some of them don’t pay really well. For a long term career, many of the trades allow you to work without much interaction with the public. For example, I have a sibling who helps build airplanes and never sees the end user. It’s not completely solitary–you do have others on your team–but I know a lot of people with social anxiety do better with small groups they work with regularly instead of lots of random stranger interactions.

      1. KR*

        This – also many times when you’re working with customers and clients they expect customer service. They want you to bend over backwards for them and put a positive spin on everything and not call them out when they act inappropriate or rude. That’s exhausting and anxiety inducing! Working in a team at work I can set up boundaries and communicate with my coworkers like equals. It’s a lot better.

    2. KR*

      Also, time clock employee should ask if they are losing their exempt style of managing their time as well as having to punch. I have to punch but I enjoy the benefit or staying late or leaving early or working through breaks to make it up later. I just stop by a time clock on my way in or out of the building or when I take a lunch break (out time clock is in our employee kitchenette). It hardly takes any time at all.

  28. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    OP#2 gives cost figures in pounds, so I assume they’re in the UK.

    Seriously, OP, there can’t be many places where your teams travel to that don’t have Travel Lodge or Premier Inn – there seems to be one in every UK town. If you’re spending six grand a year on travel to ‘nice’ hotel rooms maybe it’s time to reconsider your travel model, look at business / corporate accounts with budget hotel chains, plan and book well in advance to get the best value rates, and most of all realise that when your employees are away from home they need personal space away from their work colleagues. I would resign on the spot if I was told I had to share a hotel room with a colleague for any amount of time, let alone on a regular basis.

    1. JustAnotherNonProfitManager*

      This. Travel Lodge/Premier Inn are your friends if you are in the UK OP#2 – the corporate discounts aren’t great but the faff and automatic billing more than makes up for it. They are basic but reliable and you’re unlikely to be sending staff anywhere there isn’t one, not least because our public transport infrastructure ain’t great so I suspect your staff are driving any way. Failing that AirBnB is also getting pretty damn good.

      I’m in the UK, in the voluntary sector no less, and nobody has ever suggested that sharing a hotel room is in any way ok. Mostly because it’s not. We don’t have the college room sharing culture that the US does to give most of us any exposure to it. In my last job I probably travelled a couple of times a month, spending the whole day with colleagues is great, but I need to be able to escape.

      The last time I shared a room with anyone other than a (very) close friend was as a 17 year old undergraduate on a field trip. Never again – not least because one of my roommates brought back another classmate and proceeded to get… friendly…

  29. A.*

    #3 – Best of luck. Assuming that your job duties don’t require you to be physically present every day and you’ve proved during the times you have been allowed to work from home that you are productive, it sounds like a very reasonable request. I requested 2 days from my manager and was turned down because it wouldn’t be “fair” to allow it for me, a proven high performer, and not allow it for the low performers who also wanted more work from home days to goof off. Some managers also just prefer to see their direct reports in person every day and dislike the idea of someone being out there in the world not being physically supervised. So just keep in mind that whatever the response is, you made your case for it and it’s really more about the manager’s preference.

    1. Security SemiPro*

      Your point is valid, your manager is an idiot.

      My definition of fairness is that I allow perks for high performers. My high performers can work from wherever they will continue to deliver high performance from. Low performers do not get these perks. Its equal treatment.

      1. A.*

        I agree; this is just one of many examples showing my manager is an idiot. It’s time for me to find a better one.

  30. Murphy*

    OP#4, could you talk to your company about moving to an electronic timesheet? I’ve been salaried nonexempt for a while, so I have to fill out a timesheet, but it’s just an excel spreadsheet, so I’m in charge of keeping track of my own hours. There’s no actual “clocking in”. Once a month, I have to print it out and have my supervisor sign it.

    1. Princess Carolyn*

      This seems like the best solution, along with maybe broaching the concern about losing autonomy and flexibility. Tracking time doesn’t have to be onerous (well, it’s a little onerous in my billable time environment) and it doesn’t have to substantially change the role. I have to track all of my time (like I said, billable) but I also can use codes like “clerical” and “company culture” to round it out to eight hours a day. I still have the freedoms of an exempt professional, but I get paid for all the hours I work instead of a flat 40.

    2. Marisol*

      I was going to suggest something like this. “Tracking hours” is not necessarily the same thing as “punching a time clock.”

  31. Jen*

    I work for a teeny tiny startup with a shoestring budget. The cofounder and info a lot of travel. We use AirBnB and get 2- bed/2-bath condos and they are great-and always way cheaper than hotels. One time we got a 4 BR/2Bath house because it was cheaper than a hotel in a no/condo area.

    If there’s a city/meeting with no good AirBnB option, we stay somewhere like a La Quinta/Holiday Inn Express/Hampton Inn etc (but always check online for bedbug reports- this applies to all hotels not just budget).

  32. boop the first*

    1. No talk mornings sound awesome. I wouldn’t like it as a “rule” though… some days you’ll start up with an issue and then what would you do? Or is this “no-chat” morning? Are you allowed to talk if you say, needed permissions or had a problem?

    1. Joseph*

      I would guess that the intent is mostly to prevent chit-chat, avoid pre-scheduled meetings and also that the team tries to handle simple minor issues with email/IM rather than talking. Since OP#1 specifically mentioned that not everybody is following the rule, I’d assume that the boss isn’t treating it as a hard-and-fast rule but rather as a general guidance – if you absolutely must talk to a client or handle an emergency, do so, just try to minimize it.
      That said, if it’s going to be a regular thing, I really think the way to split the difference is to have a designated ‘talking’ area (conference room, break room, empty office). So people who need to discuss work-related items or people who want to chit-chat about the ballgame can do so without interrupting the rest of the office.

  33. Workfromhome*

    #2 This made my blood boil. I want to be careful not to direct this at the OP because its possible that the pressure for “cost containment” by sharing rooms is coming from above the OP and its not truly their own belief that they should share. Wherever it comes from though it sends a very bad message: Its spun as if the problem is that employees are unreasonable (since its only these two that complain) and ungrateful (since they are staying in the “nice hotel” and they should realize how privileged they are.

    The fact that your hotel expenses are quite high is absolutely none of the employees concern. Unless they are booking the hotel themselves and forcing you to pay higher costs then they have nothing to do with the cost of accommodation. Even if someone is salary exempt you down own their time 24 7. They must be allowed to sleep.

    I know from experience (doing 16 -20 weeks a year or more of travel for a number of years) that repeated travel is a big sacrifice. Being away from home s like working extra hours.

    How about rather than judge these employees you ASK all of them what they would prefer. Give them the option if you can. Sure there may be a tradeoff (you can stay at x nicer hotel and share or at y hotel and have a single) but to force people to give up their entire 24 hour day to work is ridiculous and frankly demeaning and shows you don’t care about them.

    Snoring is an absolute deal breaker. I’ve had to have my room moved in the middle of the night because a gust in another room next to me (who I never knew who they were) was snoring so loudly. If the OP were on a business trip and they were required to stay in a room with a loud running refrigerator that contained work product would that be OK because its for work? Or would they demand a separate room because they could not sleep?

    If they want separate rooms give them separate rooms. If you cant afford it then you need to revaluate your business model. If you are going to continue this then it should be explicitly put in the job ads/requirements…Must be able to share rooms for 2 weeks a month and be sleep deprived.

    1. eplawyer*

      This is my thinking. If your business model requires people to be traveling 2 weeks out of every month (that is half the month), then maybe you need to look at what the travel is for? Or look at long term options. Like if they are at the same city every month, why not have an apartment or other long term accomodation.

      Don’t stick the employees who have no control over the situation with your company’s budget problems.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        Yes. If this is the only way to make your business model work, it is an unsustainable model. You need to adjust somewhere else.

  34. Pudding*

    OP4: If you feel so stronngly about not having to punch in don’t be scared to ask if there are alternatives.

    While your views aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, I can sympathize. When I went from a grocery store to an office job it felt amazing to not have to punch in, when I had to transition back to punching in for a new position I can certainly say there was an emotional sting.

    First I just wonder if this is a gut reaction to what you think this will be like (has is started yet, have you seen the clock?), but picturing one of those ‘workshop’ time clocks may make you associate it with something you are not comfortable with. Office time clocks can be very modern where ‘punching in’ is just swiping your ID badge or having your finger scanned or signing in on your computer.

    If that still makes you feel uncomfortable you can ask if it is possible for you (and others at your level) to record your time in a scheduler or excel sheet and then have that entered into the time program.

    If any concept of tracking your time has you down then you are in a bad spot. One thing you need to remember is that there are legal implications to not having your time recorded so only so much could be done. There is a chance you could quit but chances are other jobs would have the same requirement with the new law in force.

    If and when you bring this up, please watch the language you use. Expressing the ‘beneath you’ and ‘blue collar’ aspects could majorly backfire depending on the background and views of who you are speaking to… stick to the simplicity of just feeling uncomfortable punching jn/out and suggest solutions that work for you instead of no time recording at all.

    1. Liane*

      Good ideas. A couple of points.

      “If that still makes you feel uncomfortable you can ask if it is possible for you (and others at your level) to record your time in a scheduler or excel sheet and then have that entered into the time program.”
      This might not be feasible since someone would have to enter it into the system, as another commenter pointed out. For all I know, there might not be an easy way to do this, with the time equipment/software at you job, either.

      “If and when you bring this up, please watch the language you use.”
      I would also stay away from bringing up your family/children’s schedules. This is another hot-button thing that could be held against you. There’s been several discussions here about the resentment stirred up over people playing the I Have Kids! card every time someone is required to work late or on a holiday. Not saying you do that–but it happens enough that it likely won’t be helpful to your case.

      1. Observer*

        “If that still makes you feel uncomfortable you can ask if it is possible for you (and others at your level) to record your time in a scheduler or excel sheet and then have that entered into the time program.”
        This might not be feasible since someone would have to enter it into the system, as another commenter pointed out.

        I was thinking the same thing. That’s a significant amount of work that is also error prone – getting away from that is a major reason many organizations go to automated time keeping systems in the first place.

        It also smacks of a certain sense of elitism – I’m too high up to do things for myself. And while it is true that the higher up on the scale you are, the more valuable your time should be to the employer, doing a spreadsheet and handing it off to someone else to enter into the system is not likely to save you time. So it’s just about “I’m too good for this.”

        Either that or “I’m not comfortable with new ways of doing things / new technology”. A totally not good thing for your career and place in your organization.

  35. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    OP 4: It might be worthwhile to talk to colleagues in the industry and find out if others at other companies are experiencing similar changes in how time is tracked. If you’re that unhappy with that aspect, it may be worth checking out whether that is common or normal in your industry. If it’s not common in your industry, it’s reasonable to ask your management “why the change”.

    On a somewhat personal note, I know for my father, when they instituted a timeclock at his employer, it was the beginning of the end for him. He worked for them for over 30 years without it and having to punch in and out felt similarly to the way you describe like he wasn’t being trusted to manage his own time. At first, he ended up using it to his advantage (taking shorter lunches, getting in early, etc now gave him significant amounts of overtime). When the company implemented no-overtime rules, he still took shorter lunches and came in early, but started taking off at lunch-time every Friday. He really hated keeping track and felt that by not “trusting” him, they were the ones losing out because he had always just listed his times 8-5 with an hour lunch. He ended up retiring a couple years later. That may or may not be an option for you, so you need to look at what is going on overall, not just at your own company.

  36. SophieChotek*

    Off-topic, I realize, so I apologise Alison, if you need to delete this. [But I admit I didn’t want to wait ’til Friday or Saturday)…

    But a shout-out to Alison and Evil HR Lady who called AAM: “best advice columnist on the web.”
    [“know, is that when I’m stuck on a work problem, I turn to fellow Inc. Columnist Alison Green (probably the best advice columnist on the web).”]
    (I’m sure most AAM readers agree)…=)


  37. Allison*

    1) Quiet mornings would be awesome . . . for me. I can’t get anything done hearing my coworkers talking and talking and talking about fantasy football and all the cute things their kids did this morning, and if I can’t be productive in the morning, it’s very difficult to gain momentum later in the day. But again, that’s what I would like. If the whole team was against it, and they probably would be, I’d be fine giving it up. These sorts of things only work if most of the team is behind it. Speak up.

    2) Nope. Just nope. I could see why a cash-strapped nonprofit would try to do this, but in my opinion, people shouldn’t have to share rooms on work trips. Speak up.

    3) Thing is, whether you’re new to a job, new to a department, or just have someone new in charge of you, you can’t act entitled to a perk like that. Your old boss allowed it, and that was great, you should mention it, but go into this understanding that you may need to build trust with your new boss before they allow it as well. Going into work M-F is still very much the norm in most industries.

    4) I get it, it’s a crappy change, it can feel like your employer doesn’t trust you anymore and is cracking down with micromanagement, and that sucks.

    1. Allison*

      Correction re: #2, I’ll admit I only skimmed your question and didn’t realize you were a manager expecting people to share rooms, normally we hear from employees on the other side of this. So I want to drive home that it’s very common for people to not want to share rooms when traveling for work. Even if only one person is complaining, their concern is very valid and probably shared by others. I know this is expensive, but you need to give people their own rooms unless they seem genuinely okay with sharing. This s a great way to lose talented people.

  38. J.B.*

    I work for state government and tracking our hours per day is common. We have an electronic system rather than a timeclock, but a) the system tracks time to correct fund codes (which can vary a lot – receipt, grant, general fund) and b) we are expected to record all time not worked as leave but are strongly discouraged from working over 40 a week and get a generous leave allotment. It works for me, and the leave and reasonable hours are a primary reason to continue working here.

  39. Morning Glory*

    OP 5: If you have never tried a customer service position and are looking for entry-level jobs, I recommend that you not rule them out altogether. I am highly introverted and have suffered from social anxiety all of my life. In my current job, I am very happy to have no interaction with the public, and that most communication is via email.

    However, I worked customer service in a grocery store in high school, and then waited tables every summer in college. It was definitely miserable at first – the first time my restaurant manager told me I had to go to up a group of people that were talking to tell them our specials, I wanted to cry. However, forced interaction with humans on a regular basis was good for me and helped me grow as a person, and learn subtle social norms and interactions. It was also exhausting at first, and I needed a lot of alone time to recharge – but that also became more mild over time.

    Customer service is a relatively low stakes place to make mistakes because most of the people are entry level and young, it’s pretty normal for people to mess up in small ways. So if you have a panic attack, or are awkward with customers, that’s not going to haunt you forever. Good luck though, I hope it works out for you!

    1. Justin*

      Yeah I’m also an introvert (even more so as I get older) but a lot of people seem to think that their -vert type is an excuse to avoid things that they don’t like or make other people accommodate them. Whether introvert or extrovert, you sometimes have to deal with situations that don’t fit your type and it helps to be forced out of your comfort zone.

    2. Xarcady*

      One thing I have found, as an introvert, is that it is easier to interact with people if that is part of your job, including customer service jobs. You sort of have a script to tell you what to say, and most of what happens on the job is pretty routine and repetitive.

      As an introvert currently working a retail job, I have set “scripts” that I go through with most customers. “Hi, how are you today? Did you find everything you were looking for? Will this be on [store card] today? Then go ahead and slide it.” “Do you want your receipt with you or in the bag? Okay, here you are! Have a good afternoon!”

      When I’m playing the role of “cheerful sales associate,” I don’t get nearly as nervous or anxious about dealing with people. And I’m not going to have to deal with them for long, and will probably never see them again. So a lot of what’s threatening about going to a party and standing in a room full of strangers is simply absent from interactions with people in the workplace.

      It is tiring, though. Some of my co-workers leave work and go out together. I stagger home and veg out for an hour or two, until I feel myself again.

    3. Chomps*

      I’ll second this. I had horrible social anxiety as a teenager. My first non-babysitting job was working as a cashier at a pool over the summer and it definitely helped me gain confidence in socia. settings. I understand that it’s different for straight-up introverts, but if any of it is anxiety based it’s definitely worth considering what Morning Glory said.

    4. OP 5*

      Hello! I have done customer service jobs before. I might actually have workplace PTSD. In a job I liked I had a coworker harass me because I’m gay and trans and she would out me to customers. In my very first job, I had no training and impatient customers and consistently panicked. Also had creepy older men hit on me.

  40. GertietheDino*

    I am a government contractor and last year had to start punching a clock (well, it’s a website, not a physical clock). I felt infantilized, thinking someone took advantage of the previous system and this was punishment. It was pushed to all levels of my org so I know everyone feels this way.

  41. Jules*

    #4 It could be that there are other supervisors that are in the same job classification as you are and they are paid under the new minimum. When electing to move someone exempt or non-exempt, it has to be done as a whole. If job code 12345 – Teapot Supervisor, has half of the population exempt and the other half of the population are non-exempt, it could jeopardize the exemption of the whole group. So our legal counsel advises us to pick one, either all exempt (and bring everyone to the minimum – causes compression issues) or all non-exempt (make everyone clock in – there will be grouses since some sees exemption as a status symbol – some organization do differentiate perks for exempt vs. non exempt).

    The outcome of this change will not make everyone happy. In HR, we know all the issue we’d have to face but we’d take the one that works best for the business. For the salary compression, don’t worry, if we believe in the free market theory, it will correct itself. I have heard of many organization that will make it right the next year going forward. Don’t feel disheartened. For those who has to clock in, it has nothing to do with how you do your work. If before you can come in at 9.10 a.m., nothing says you have to be in by 8 a.m. on the dot. We all know of managers who manages exempt people who requires them to be at 8 a.m. or they’d get a write up. Let’s not mix bad management with having to clock in. I get it, it’s a big change. HR while we keep a game face on when facing our customers i.e. you, finds this process a pain too. People in HR gets shifted to non-exempt too if the business doesn’t want to bring people to the new minimum. We all feel it. Have that in perspective as you speak to your leaders and HR. Maybe if you can convince the business to bring everyone to the minimum and keep the exemption by building a really good case of it cost more to pay OT vs rise the minimum.

    1. Jessie*

      “hen electing to move someone exempt or non-exempt, it has to be done as a whole. If job code 12345 – Teapot Supervisor, has half of the population exempt and the other half of the population are non-exempt, it could jeopardize the exemption of the whole group.”

      That’s not always true, actually. If a role would be exempt *but for* the wage the person earns – i.e., it is functionally exempt based on Dept of Labor rules but the person makes below 48k, so it is non-exempt strictly because of salary, then classifying differently would not jeopardize anything. (But it could lead to errors, so on a practical level it’s easier for a company to treat roles the same, if those roles are functionally exempt but do not always meet the salary floor).

      1. Jules*

        Our legal counsel are very conservative. What we would hate is to get sued for OT pay, 3 years from now because other employees were non-exempt, why am I not?

        1. Jessie*

          Right, but I am saying that it is just not true that everyone in a certain role has to be the same classification, IF the reason for the classification is *strictly* the salary – the classification can absolutely be different. Doesn’t matter. Now, if a job should be non-exempt or exempt because of job function alone (i.e., the entire range for the role is, say, 50k and up, but the nature of the job duties = non-exempt), that’s a separate animal.

          But, legal counsel might think to themselves “no way will the company implement this correctly. They will make a mistake and end up missing someone who should get OT, so we’ll make everyone in this role non-exempt because it’s easier,” and then telling you all that everyone in the same job to be the same thing.

  42. Bachitecture*

    #4 – I’m confused from my limited understanding of the change (haven’t paid too much attention to details as my position is firmly exempt/not changing). Wouldn’t the switch to salary non-exempt actually enable you to potentially earn more annually? My understanding of the rules was that salary non-exempt positions had to get the same base salary each week for anything under 40 hours (so whether you work 36, 38 or 40, for example), but now if you go over, you actually would get paid overtime. So wouldn’t this shift be extra-good for you as your base salary is high AND you’ll qualify for overtime potentially?

    I would try to remember that your employer is being forced to make a change and so it really isn’t a reflection on whether they trust you with your time. They only elected to make this change on account of the law shift and seem to be trying to implement a fair/equal structure for all employees in that department/group/level. Personally, I would appreciate that more as it shows a real view/effort towards equitable treatment to all employees. The time-tracking is really a compliance issue and you shouldn’t take it personally. Once you get that mindset, hopefully you could see that there might be a real potential positive side of this for you in terms of income from overtime (for example, if you earned $50k and worked an extra 4 hours one week, that’d be about an extra $150 pre-tax). Maybe viewing the time-tracking as a necessary evil to also then be able to earn more/add to your savings will help remove the sting as well?

    And please realize that tracking hours is very common in a lot of industries that work on a client-bill basis (lawyers, architects, engineers, advertisers, etc.) in addition to shift-based positions (manufacturing, food service, retail, hotel staff, etc.). I’ve worked in both types of positions and, believe me, I wish I could go back to just the punching in/out each day rather than having to track time for billing clients/projects (as that can get down to breaking your day into 15-minute increments by client). Hopefully you’ll only have to log your times in/out each day.

    1. Princess Carolyn*

      Yes, OP could potentially earn more per year with the switch to non-exempt. Many companies (and, I would guess, the government) will be careful to limit overtime so they’re not paying more than they’ve budgeted for that salary – or at least not much more than they’ve budgeted. So, it’s more likely that someone who’s been working 50 hours a week will simply work less rather than making more. But… the possibility of making more is there.

      Now, they could switch OP to hourly nonexempt, and then there’d be a possibility of losing money for weeks under 40 hours. But that’s not likely in a professional position where you’re expected to be there 40 hours a week and presumably have paid holiday, vacation and sick time.

      My whole career has been spent as an individual contributor, so most of it was nonexempt (and some of it was likely miscategorized as exempt). It’s hard for me to understand why people in other industries are so wary of nonexempt positions, as if they’re somehow not professional positions. That whole “real” job mentality is problematic anyway, but my jobs have all been “real” jobs in the sense that they required a college degree and some experience, with a theoretical path for advancement.

  43. Jessie*

    OP 4:

    I think you need to readjust your perspective and consider the legal and practical issues involved for the employer. It’s not personal and understanding that may help you deal.

    If a person is non-exempt, they have to be paid overtime for work over 40 hours. An employer who does not want to get in trouble *needs* to track people’s hours so that they can make sure they comply with overtime requirements. If a role is non-exempt, an employer takes a risk if they don’t have people in that role clock in and out. A cautious company simply won’t want to take that risk.

    Admin people who are lower than you on the salary scale (or hierarchy, or whatever measure you’re using for your 8-10 steps lower issue) are exempt because admin roles are exempt. It isn’t about salary or years of experience or awesomeness, but role type. They will not get paid overtime because admin roles are exempt. So without overtime there is simply no reason for them to clock in and out, regardless how you feel about your place in the hierarchy and how that place should be acknowledged.

    If I understand your post (it’s not entirely clear) then you personally make a salary that is above the cutoff, but the overall range for your position goes both lower and higher. Is that what you mean? So that if, for example, a new person came on in your role it would be at a salary below the exempt minimum? If so, again from the employer’s perspective, it’s easiest perhaps just to treat all roles of the same type as exempt or non-exempt. They minimize the chance for errors (having someone end up making less than the floor without having paid them overtime could result in Big Problems for the company). Less chance for error if everyone in that role (rather than any particular person) is non-exempt.

    Salary and overtime laws are not really flexible with the Dept of Labor and state agencies, and an employer who is trying to be conscientious in making sure they are paying you appropriately is a good thing.

    1. Jessie*

      And I missed that you work in a government agency. I am very surprised you have not had to clock in before. I had to clock in when I worked for the government, and every government worker, federal and state, I have ever known has had to. Government agencies have whole layers of rules and they have to justify their budgets to many different people/agencies/legislators. Having an accurate understanding of who works when in certain roles can help them justify their budget requests.
      And add to that all the overtime rules – the LAST thing a government agency wants is to make a mistake with wages of exempt vs non-exempt, so of course they are making anyone non-exempt clock in, and of course they are making entire roles exempt vs non-exempt (instead of person by person based on salary). It’s government. That’s how government rolls.

      1. PK*

        Yep! I work in government as well. All non-exempt keep timesheets. In fact in my department, exempt folks have to track their hours as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if the rest of the departments handle it the same way.

  44. TotesMaGoats*

    #2-No. Just no. I have very little in the way of boundaries and I’ve got several coworkers I’d happily share a room with but I will not share a bed with one. High school band trips are one thing. Work trips are just no. And don’t put it on the employee to find a cheaper hotel or pay the difference. You are sending them. You do the work.

    #4-My husband is an engineer for a government contractor. He has to track every single hour he works on each particular contract. I’m honestly surprised that you haven’t had to do this already. It is the government after all.

  45. Beancounter in Texas*

    Op #1 – I know it can be intimidating to speak up to your boss, but do it. A good manager doesn’t want an unhappy or blindly obedient team. You could say, “I enjoyed trying the no-talking mornings in the beginning, perhaps because it was a nice change, but now it feels restrictive to my work and I’d like to [reduce it to one morning a week]/[do away with it altogether.] Not everyone follows the rule and instead of enforcing it, I think we’d all relax and be productive if we just did away with it.” Qualify why you hate it.

    (And it sounds like hell to me, but I live on music.)

  46. Jubilance*

    #4 – I’ve always been salaried in my career, and the first 2 companies I worked for required everyone to account for their time. We didn’t physically “punch a clock” but each day I had to log into the timekeeping system and state how many hours I worked on different projects. One company was a defense contractor, where I’m charging to various contracts. The other company simply wanted to understand where their people were spending their time – R&D projects, manufacturing projects, lab maintenance, training, etc. While I had to account for my time, I never felt like I didn’t have control of my schedule – I could set my hours as necessary, come and go for appointments, take PTO or sick leave when I wanted, etc. Perhaps the OP can think of it as simply providing the company more data on how people are spending their time, instead of “demeaning” or insulting. Lots of people are exempt and still have to track their time.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      I’ve been in the same situation, Jubilance. Before my company grew to the point where we had a dedicated R&D team, we had to break down our hours between R&D, Tech Services, and QA/QC. To my knowledge, this was because the R&D expenses were taxed differently than other expenses.

    1. Xarcady*

      Sometimes. There are nice customers out there, and sometimes they come in with a problem and you are able to help them. (Even if it means sending them to another store that has something your store doesn’t carry.) There’s a father-daughter dinner/dance at a nearby school every spring, and it’s fun to ring up the frilly dresses for the little girls–they are so excited, they will tell you all about the dance and how they are looking forward to it. Or a dad and three kids come in the day before Mother’s Day and buy a Kitchenaid mixer and ask you to triple bag it, so Mom won’t be able to see what her Mother’s Day gift is going to be.

      And then there are the customers who tell you you don’t know how to do your job and where’s your manager and how did a [expletive] [really nasty word for a woman] like you get hired anyway? And then your manager comes over and they are all smiles and nice, even when your manager tells them exactly what you just told them–that what they want simply cannot be done.

        1. LBK*

          I think it can be a decent philosophy in industries with high margins and low costs to satisfy most customer complaints. I certainly had much less of a problem doing whatever a customer wanted at Starbucks (where the worst that could happen is we threw a $5 latte down the drain) than at Best Buy (where we had to make agonizing decisions about whether we would replace a $3000 TV that had a cracked screen).

    2. Anxa*

      I do!

      I’m super introverted and pretty anxious, but I grew up in a family that owned a retail store. So I really like it. Plus, I don’t find customers to be that difficult most of the time; the bad ones are a small minority to me.

      I have worked alongside people that really seemed to hate dealing with customers at all, who would complain about having to serve them. As servers! I just didn’t understand how you could be upset when a customer orders a drink mid-meal. I mean, I know it can mess up the flow and is an inconvenience, but if actually serving a customer with a reasonable request is such an issue to the workflow, that’s on management, not the customer. A random example, but I could never understand the ire towards customers for just being there and having reasonable requests.

      I love it, though. I have found that annoying customers come and go, but a bad manager…

  47. JanMA*

    As a career admin, I’ve never had a job where a certain coworker didn’t come in 20 minutes late or leave 15 minutes early (or both!). Managers never seemed to want to deal with it (mainly, I think because they never actually witnessed the person coming/going) but didn’t realize the effect it could have on morale. 30 minutes/day x 5 days a week = 2.5 hours/week or 10 hours a month! My last job had a time clock and I couldn’t have been happier. My feeling is: If you’re working when you’re supposed to be working, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. Perhaps more than “demeaning”, the OP is afraid they’re going to lose the coming/going as they please ability (which is another animal – yes, if they stayed late the day before they might be leaving early the next day. However, I’m seeing more exempt people who never seem to come in early/stay late….yet *leave* early on a regular basis – but maybe they’re working at home, who knows).

    1. Jessie*

      “However, I’m seeing more exempt people who never seem to come in early/stay late….yet *leave* early on a regular basis – but maybe they’re working at home, who knows”

      I’d assume they do work from home. That’s often one of the ways exempt jobs function: you are expected to respond to emails even if it is “after hours” (in my job, there is no really no such thing as after hours). Policing other people’s schedules would be exhausting, and since you have only a quarter of the information, it seems not really useful either.

    2. Student*

      Your co-worker may be slacking.

      Your co-worker may not take the breaks you do. Your co-worker may work straight through lunch. Your co-worker might’ve worked a conference or other job travel this quarter where they were “at work” from 6-9 every day for a week, or had to work on multiple weekends. Your co-worker might go home, eat dinner with family, then spend another 2-3 hours doing work-related stuff. Your co-worker may come in a little late every day but never take a full vacation day off in a year.

      Give people the benefit of the doubt unless there’s a business impact. If there is a business impact, speak up to the problem person or their boss!

  48. Meg*

    There are many benefits to an employer for requiring employees to clock in/out or track their time. At my current job I am salaried, but I still have to fill out my time sheet, it’s done online, but we have certain codes that correlate to different budgets. So, for a lot of places it’s normal because they need to know what their employees are spending their time on so they know where to pull funds for paying their employees. For instance, if I spent 4 hours on task A, my time on my time sheet is connected to Fund A. I kind of wonder if the OP is so appalled by this new system because he isn’t working 40 hours a week because “I’m salaried and shouldn’t have to stick to a strict work schedule.” Now he actually has to show up on time or can’t leave early because it will show on his time card.

  49. Coffee and Mountains*

    I won’t get into the demeaning part, but man, I wish we had a time clock at my last job. I was in charge of running payroll for 60 contractors and they filled out timesheets and e-mailed them in to me. It would take two days of my week to collect the timesheets, make sure the right approvals were there, make sure the totals we correct, enter the hours and run the pay. Punching in and out for everyone would have made my life so much easier.

    1. Observer*

      Yeah, anyone who works in payroll wants decent time clocks or something like that. In our case, what finally pushed us to move to an automated system, rather than time sheets, was our audit findings (I work in a non-profit.) Basically, our auditors maintained the position that once you get past a small number of staff, paper / manual time sheets are inherently error prone. If you are going with a decent timekeeping system, then it’s also a HUGE time saver, in terms of processing etc.

      Accurate time keeping is a benefit to everyone, if it’s done in the context of decent management.

    2. JanMA*

      Employees would still forget to punch in or out so, like you, my manager still had to chase people down in order to complete payroll.

  50. Tracy*

    Letter write #4 said, “It is very difficult to not feel singled out, as my manager could have just as easily chosen to make my position exempt.” Does anyone know if this is true? I thought that some positions were inherently exempt or non-exempt and management can’t decide to designate a job one or the other based on what he/she wants.

    1. Emmie*

      Some positions are exempt and non exempt. But you also now have to meet the salary threshold- even if it’s an exempt position. When an exempt position falls below the threshold, a company should figure out what makes sense for them and the employee. Sometimes the gap between the current position’s pay and the threshold might not make financial sense – especially if there’s minimal overtime for the position or jumping to that threshold involves significantly increasing the budget for impacted positions.

      1. Emmie*

        Edit: the new law didn’t change who was categorized as exempt and non exempt. It also added a higher threshold to exempt positions. So, an employer must meet both the exemption test and the salary test for the position to be exempt.

    2. PK*

      No, there are no requirements for making a position non-exempt. Only requirements if you want to make one exempt. However, you are not required to make a position exempt regardless of whether it meets the requirements for it. That’s my understanding at least.

    3. fposte*

      Non-exempt is the default–it means the FLSA law applies to you. While employers can make some positions exempt from the law, you don’t ever *have* to do that.

      1. Jessie*

        Yep. They don’t ever have to classify as exempt, and sometimes they can’t. Perhaps OP’s job is simply not eligible for exemption. He/she manages 3 people, but that’s not always sufficient under the FLSA to be classified exempt. (It satisfies one of the tests for the executive exemption, but there are other aspects to that exemption.) OP describes herself as a “low-level supervisor” so her role might actually be non-exempt, notwithstanding her salary.

      2. Judy*

        It seems like some confusion would be avoided if the words were “exempt” and “covered”, with the discussion being exempt from the FLSA and covered under the FLSA.

        1. Jessie*

          I generally find that the IRS and Dept of Labor are not spectacularly interested in clarity or the elimination of confusion…. :-)

        2. Ultraviolet*

          I think that’s actually more confusing, because it makes it unclear whether you mean “not covered by the FLSA” or “exempted from the FLSA’s overtime and minimum wage protections,” which are very different. In my opinion the best way to avoid confusion is just to remind people that “exempt” is approximately short for “exempt from overtime pay laws.” I think a lot of people learn the words “exempt” and “non-exempt” without knowing where the words come from, which makes it pretty hard to understand and remember the difference.

  51. Marche*

    #2, In addition to everything already said, when coworkers have to share hotel rooms as often as yours seem to, they don’t really get a chance to unwind and recharge. Because they’re sharing a room with a colleague, I wouldn’t be surprised if they feel the need to maintain Professional Mode in the evenings, which means they can’t relax and they’ll only end up more tired. Definitely look into cheaper hotels and getting them their own rooms. Please don’t punish employees for needing separate rooms, that will kill morale very fast.

  52. ilikeaskamanager*

    #3 I don’t know how this is going to play out for you, but if you get another chance to discuss it, I would suggest a couple of things;
    1. suggest that you try this out for some period of time and then you and your boss and your team evaluate how its going. A lot of managers would be more open to this idea under these circumstances.
    2. Don’t talk much about how it will help you with your health or personal issues. . This would be seen as a red flag that you would not actually be working full time–it’s kind of like asking to work from home because you don’t have reliable child care. It’s still a full time job and talking about how it will help you manage your personal life is sometimes seen as code for: “I won’t actually be working full time.”
    3. Don’t say “it’s either this or I will have to go to part time.” Keep these issues separate and discuss them separately. What choice does your manager have if a. they don’t approve the remote work and b. they don’t want to make this job part time? Don’t give them a reason to starting thinking about how you can’t meet their needs.

    1. Wheezy Weasel*

      I agree with keeping the issues separate as well. Phrasing this as a stark choice ‘let me work remotely or I can only work part time’ can be seen as putting someone in a corner. If your remote work proposal is shot down, you can come back (perhaps a few weeks later, if you can tolerate it) and ask if there is any way for the position to go part time. If they can’t accommodate it, they’ll have two data points once you leave: you could have been retained as an employee with either remote work or part time scheduling.

  53. Tiny _Tiger*

    OP #1: At first I loved the idea of the “no-talk time” that your boss suggested. Especially on a Monday when my brain is still trying to adjust itself to having to stare at a computer screen for 8+ hours. But then as you went on it became a lot less appealing. Maybe a 1 hour no-talk time would work where I’m at, but a half day? Not so much. If it’s making you and others uncomfortable but your boss really seems to like it, maybe ask him to scale it back to only a couple hours instead? That way you still can communicate effectively throughout the majority of the day.

    OP #2: If this were only a once a year deal then yes, people can suck it up, but they are doing this regularly. Travel alone can be exhausting, especially when it’s for work, but having to travel with a coworker and then be expected to share a room with them the whole time? No. If you’re willing to send your people out that frequently, then you need to be prepared to accept the consequences of it. I can guarantee if you tell them they’re going to have to start covering the cost difference for separate rooms when they’ve given you very valid reason as to why they can’t room with each other, you’re not going to have those employees for much longer.

  54. Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys*

    While I concede it is annoying to go back to non-exempt once you have been exempt, in the OP’s case it is a legal issue for his company. While it feels personal, it is not.

    The new FLSA requirements go into effect December 1 and the OP’s company could have raised everyone in their role up to the minimum (and give the OP nothing) or they could make everyone non-exempt. If you work your 40 hours, your pay does not change but you have to remember one new task each day. If you work more than 40, you get paid more. My current company has chosen to up all employees to the minimum and it is costing us a fortune in unexpected human capital expenses. The OP’s company may not have been able to take on this cost. Also, pay rate is not the only reason you can be exempted from the overtime rule so it will depend on the job description for the OP’s role. Your company may have decided this action is the best, most cost effective, or most legally sound option.

    As an HR person that gets these kind of complaints, I would recommend the OP step back and reflect on how the new law and their request effect the business. A commenter above is right, everyone in a job code has to be one way or the other, so in a sense you are asking them for something they can only do if they are willing to take on a sizable permanent human capital cost. Is that what you want to use your political capital on? Also, if you continue to work in engineering offices, you will most likely have to track your time on projects and accounts for billing regardless of how you are paid at some point in your career. Tracking for pay is actually easier.

    1. LBK*

      A commenter above is right, everyone in a job code has to be one way or the other

      Is that necessarily true, though? If the job otherwise meets every criterion for being exempt but there’s a range of salaries that crosses the new line, couldn’t they just make everyone under the line non-exempt and everyone over the line exempt?

        1. LBK*

          Although that being said, I do see the logic of keeping people in similar roles/in the same pay band as the same classification even if the law doesn’t require it. It reduces the temptation to distribute work based on your labor budget – you don’t want to end up always giving simpler work to your non-exempt employees to keep them under 40 hours while giving the stuff that might take more time to your exempt people (or worse, cutting your non-exempt people towards the end of every week and dumping all their unfinished work on the exempt ones). And if you consistently give annual raises, you don’t have to deal with an influx of people getting bumped up over the threshold every spring and having to be reclassified.

        2. Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys*

          A job will very rarely be exempt or nonexempt based on pay alone (though this change to the FLSA will probably create more jobs in this category). There are plenty of admin jobs that pay more than $47.5K a year. Think NY or LA pay levels; an Admin Asst role cannot be exempt just because the pay level is above the minimum in those locations. They also have to meet certain levels of decision making and autonomy. Also, just because the employee was exempt before, does not mean the position should have been exempt to start.

          Then the company has to weigh the difference in paying someone in the same role different from someone else. The OP is already paid more because of experience and time in position which is usually considered non-discriminative. If you start adding other layers (even assuming no adverse impact intended), the company starts to assume more risk for wage and hour or EEOC complaints.

          The company could decide to put the OP in a new job code with additional responsibilities (i.e., managing the others in his department) that could tip the status back to exempt, but the OP did not make any mention of performing additional tasks than the peers so I stayed on the line that everyone did the same job.

          1. LBK*

            The OP already does manage other people, it’s the first line of the letter:

            I am a low-level supervisor in a very large government organization (I have three direct reports).

            In high COL areas, sure, it’s wildly unlikely that someone whose duties would qualify them to be exempt would be making less than $47k, but in cheaper areas or industries that generally pay less, I don’t think it’s out of the question. When I was in retail, managers (whose duties met the exemption test) could start at around $50k, and that was in a high-cost city so the salaries were scaled up accordingly.

            As long as people are being paid fairly you shouldn’t have to be too concerned about EEOC violations; if you’re afraid that splitting people in the same role between exempt/non-exempt would provide de facto pay transparency that would expose potentially discriminatory discrepancies in pay, that’s a whole other problem.

            1. doreen*

              IME, most supervisors in government agencies will not qualify for the executive exemption, although they might be exempt for another reason. The manager who is in charge of the entire motor vehicle office will, and there might possibly be managers in charge of broad functions like licensing or road tests in a large motor vehicle office- but there will also be people who supervise three motor vehicle clerks or four road test examiners who aren’t responsible for anything other than supervising those people. More than likely, those coworkers with less than 9 years experience who earn less than the threshold are doing a similar job to the OP and have a similar number of direct reports. And in the large agencies I’ve worked for at least, it would be an nightmare to have people in the same title be exempt or not depending on their individual salary. For the payroll people and the managers. It’s 7 pm and Janie’s still here – do I have to talk to her about working unauthorized overtime, or is she exempt? Did Joe get a step last month- and if so, did it make him exempt? Those things aren’t an issue when the division is made by title- I know Janie’s and Joe’s titles but I don’t necessarily know their individual salaries.

        3. Jessie*

          LBK – I agree, it makes a lot of practical sense to have people in similar jobs be similarly classified. Just noting that there appears to be some misunderstanding on what is legal vs what is practical!

          Not my circus – of course salary is not the only issue. There are functional tests for exemption from FLSA; salary is just one piece of it. But the idea that it legally *has* to be all the same for a job classification just isn’t true, *to the extent* that the classification is because of salary: i.e., it is non-exempt because the salary is lower, but functionally the job would otherwise be exempt. In that case, if others have the same job but a higher salary above the FLSA exemption floor, the company can in fact class employees differently. Might not want to for reasons LBK pointed out, but legally it can. As I noted, this is if the position is *functionally exempt but for the salary.*
          I’m curious, though, what you mean by “company has to weigh the difference in paying someone in the same role different from someone else” as being an EEOC concern, when we are talking about FLSA and the requirements for exemption vs non-exemption; it’s easy to point to a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for a different classification when a company is classifying people according to the requirements of FLSA. Declining to change anyone’s salary and simply adjusting classification pursuant to the new regulations does not appear risky to me, from an EEOC or wage-and-hour standpoint at any rate.
          (I agree with you that the position may never have been appropriately considered exempt in the first place – managing three reports under the OP is not the sole test for exemption!)

  55. princesspeach*

    We are encouraged to share to rooms at my job but we don’t have that much travel yearly that is overnight. Most of the time when I’m at the state office for training we stay at the state 4-H facilities and are roomed with 2 to 3 other people. We don’t even usually get a say in who we room with.
    My husband worked oilfield and emergency response for over 10 years, they were always required to share a hotel room. Plus in the oilfield there would be 10 to 13 guys living in a tiny house with 2 bunk rooms with bunk beds for 14 days at a time. Just imagine 5 to 7 guys in a tiny bunk room with 3 or 4 bunk beds all sleeping and story their belongs in there, with only 1 bathroom to share. In emergency response they were roomed together too.
    So I think that maybe it really varies by profession on if it’s typical or not to share a hotel room or other overnight arrangements.

  56. Cheesehead*

    #2: When I was new to a position that required travel, a much more experienced coworker told me to always expect to get my own room when I was traveling, even if she and I were traveling together and the big boss expected us to share because he wanted to save money. She told me something and I’ve never forgotten it: “I told him that I’m not a teenager and this isn’t a slumber party. I’m getting my own room.”

    I never had a problem getting my own room in that company. I owe her big time for teaching me that when I was young and didn’t know any better.

    #4: When my professional job suddenly required us to use the time clock, none of us were happy about it. We tried to fight it, but we were out of luck, because the company made time clock software and they thought they should use their own product. That was understandable, though a pain when nobody was used to tracking their time like that. However, the owner’s attitude and demeanor about us using the time clock was just….icky. At the meeting where he announced this, he stood up in front of all of us and announced (yelled) in a very adversarial way,”And I don’t care if you work 12 hours on Monday, if you come in on Tuesday and only work 7 hours, you’re getting docked for that hour on Tuesday!”

    We were salaried (all except the receptionist, I think), so I suspected even then that his statement was illegal. After reading AAM for a while, I now KNOW that was illegal. He was a peach, that one. ;) (This was after he also said that we don’t get overtime for working more than 40 hours. That would’ve actually been fine, but then he had to open his mouth about docking our pay and really put his foot in it. I think he was pissed that people were questioning the new time clock mandate and weren’t embracing it like a cuddly puppy, so he wanted to throw his weight around. But he really just ended up making himself look like a bully, and an ignorant bully at that.)

  57. Megan Schafer*

    All man…. I was rarin’ to go on #4 and you cut the wind outta my sails pretty quick there – but I’ve gotta say, good call.

    Re: work from home – I’m not sure that telling them that working from home would give you more time to do XYZ. Unless your commute is horrific, it sounds like you’d be planning to use “work” time to deal with stuff at home, and I can’t imagine that’d be appealing to them.

  58. Jane D'oh!*

    #1, I’d go to the boss with something like this: “Mr Shushy McQuietpants, since the no-talk mornings has gone into effect, we’ve noticed a few things falling a little behind/ending up less than ideal due to the lack of collaboration. It’s obviously working for you, so would it be okay to switch it to “don’t bother the boss” mornings?”

  59. JM in England*

    Re #5

    What I’d give for a job in my field that requires little interaction! Like the OP, I too am introverted and have some social anxiety issues. If I’m allowed to simply go off and get on with my workload, without time being taken up by idle small talk, then I’m happy and productive.

    Did come close to my ideal situation when I worked shifts for the best part of 10 years. Was especially productive when I was doing night or weekend shifts, since there were relatively few distractions. Sadly, had to come off shiftworking and transfer to normal day hours when it became evident that switching between night and day working was taking its toll on my health………..

  60. INFJ*

    #5 Alison’s assessment is spot-on. In the interview for my current job, I was asked by multiple people if I were an introvert or extrovert. Turns out, people in my department are quite independent, and my role is rather isolated, so they were actually worried that I may not like the lack of interaction. Being someone who likes to work independently actually worked in my favor! It was the first job interview I had in which honestly saying “introvert” was the right answer!

    1. JM in England*

      INFJ, this certainly makes a contrast with many interviews that I’ve had. Especially so with the ones that include personality tests which, IME, I believe are there to weed out everyone who isn’t extroverted, regardless of whether their skills and/or experience are a good fit…………

  61. cobweb collector*

    LW #4 – start packing lunch and eat at your desk. Rack up the overtime. I know a lot of engineers and I don’t know any who work less than 40 hours a week. They want to track your hours – fine. Show them how many you actually work and start getting overtime.

  62. One of the Sarahs*

    #2 As someone who snores due to a congenital condition, it’s not just the other person who suffers from being made to share a room. I sleep terribly if I’m worried about snoring and keeping others awake (nose strips fall off, sprays give me sore throats the next day) because of course I feel terrible about disturbing their sleep. Not to mention the issues of can’t read if my reading light disturbs them, bathroom sharing issues, problems with who sets their alarm when, and of course, no downtime to recharge.

    As someone says upthread, if you can’t afford to have 2 rooms for 2 people, there’s probably something wrong with your business model, because this something so basic (and in the UK, where I’m guessing you are, there are tons of options, even when doing business in rural areas)

  63. SystemsLady*

    OP #4: Hopefully a good faith comment on the blue collar thing is OK! I wanted to provide some engineering context, along with some advice for the OP.

    The short version of this: You really, really need to talk to your manager about expectations on hours and the new time card dynamic.

    I bet your comment came from a combination of these two things:
    1) That engineering is traditionally a salaried exempt job, for all those positives and negatives
    2) Witnessing blue collar workers being mistrusted and aggressively monitored, possibly even by the person you report to, to make sure they’re actually working the hours they put in. (Related to the loss of the art of management in the white collar side of blue collar industries over the past 10-20 years, if you ask me, but that’s another topic)

    I get the feeling all you have been told is “you must use a time card”. If so, I highly suggest you talk to your manager. As Alison suggested, it’s an opportunity to push back on the change, but you could also clarify what they’re expecting of you if the change has to hold.

    In fact, it’s something you should do anyway. I work with some hourly non-exempt engineers who definitely do not have carte blanche to work overtime – it would be to your benefit to know what the rules and limits are there.

    I’m salaried, but report my hours for billing purposes. It really helped me to know my boss was OK with things like occasional 10-15 minute breaks and 37-39.5 hour workweeks.

    Not to mention, simply being reminded you are trusted helps. I hope you can get at least that, OP.

    (As for administrative employees, have you considered that they may ultimately bill to another department that uses a different, online timecard system, or that a system they use for their work is also capable of punching in their hours? I’m also going to advise that thinking of administrative positions, even in the same department, as “below” your position can get confusing in a way you’d be better off avoiding. Particularly if you ever have to report to a project manager fresh out of college – just so they can keep the schedule up to date, not because they have a lot of say over how long something should take you.)

  64. Theo*

    This might not be the right place for this, but I’m trying to figure out how to best approach this question with my company regarding the overtime law. Currently, I’ve been in my job as a contractor for a few years and make in the mid-30s and am salaried at a 40-hour work week. I don’t work a whole lot of overtime, but most weeks I’ll have maybe 41-42 hours.

    As of right now, when asked, it sounds like my company’s solution to this is just going to be “never stay late.” I know that technically they only bill the client for 40 hours/week for my position and so are not budgeted for overtime pay for me, but I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea that their whole compliance with the new law is entirely dependent on me never having something come up towards the end of the day that needs to be taken care of right away, or me never being caught in a late meeting, or a whole host of other things that might come up beyond my control that I’d have to do as part of my job.

    So I guess I’m just wondering if this is a legally viable solution, to just tell me never to work over 40 and make no contingency for it if I do. If that’s within their rights to make that their policy, then that’s fine, but if not, I’m just not entirely sure I’m comfortable feeling like the one responsible for any questionable legality if I need to stay a little late to finish something for the client.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes, they can tell you not to stay late. However, if you do stay late, they must pay you for that time (including any overtime). But they can discipline (or even fire) you for working overtime without authorization.

      1. Theo*

        Okay. I guess I was just kind of worried, because I’ve been in the same position for a few years now and of the ten people under the contract who work in this position, I’m the only one who works for this specific company, so I know that all of their companies are handling this differently than mine. And I don’t totally love the idea of being the one admin who has to refuse to handle last-minute high priority things for their branch, especially considering that the people I work directly for have no idea what the parameters of my job are in regards to things like hours/salary/etc.

        (I’m also the only person who works for my company who makes less than the 47k, so they actually had no idea that the overtime law was even a thing until I asked about it.)

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          And I don’t totally love the idea of being the one admin who has to refuse to handle last-minute high priority things for their branch, especially considering that the people I work directly for have no idea what the parameters of my job are in regards to things like hours/salary/etc.

          “I’m sorry, I can’t do that. I’ve been instructed that I’m not allowed to work overtime.” Anyone who has issues with that should be invited to discuss it with the decision-makers.

    2. Moonsaults*

      This is how countless shift jobs work, you are told to never go overtime and they’re not shy about disciplining someone who does. This is why so many people in retail are antsy at the end of the day to shut down shop and leave, not just because they’re tired and sick of being around the public. If they don’t clock out “on the dot” they get in deep doodoo.

  65. kittycritter*

    The only time I’ve ever had to punch an actual time clock was when I worked my very first job ever (retail). And even now as a salaried exempt employee (over the threshhold), I still have to track my hours in Peoplesoft in order to bill my time to the correct projects. The only thing I can suggest here is to talk to your management and make a good case why you believe your job should remain exempt.

  66. Minerva*

    I confess I haven’t read all the other 500 comments. But this is for the person who asked about the telework, and maybe it will be helpful (or not). Just wanted to say that I was in a similar position three years ago. I had been working with my employer for 15 years, and was a valued employee. I had been granted one day of telework 3 years earlier due to some logistical life circumstances, and it was working really well. I also knew, from experience, that 95% of my job could be conducted remotely (I had to take a month to work from home due to some health reasons). However, after careful evaluation, I proposed to my employer the possibility of kind of flipping the work schedule a bit, and making my position primarily telework, with perhaps one week per month on site, and the rest remote. This seemed more effective to me than my previous situation. My request was declined, and I was a little upset and temporarily annoyed (because their reasons were not what I felt were justified – had nothing to do with *me* but rather the eternal fear of “but everyone else will want to do it!”). Within six months, I had gotten another job. They actually tried to retain me with an offer of more money, however, they would NOT give in to the telework request. So I left, and, frankly, have not looked back. For what it’s worth, the new position is much closer to my home, and I work five days/week with no issues.

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