rejection email called me “shite,” my office is getting rid of assigned desks, and more

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

1. Rejection email called me “shite” and said I should work in fast food

I sent in a resume for a telesales position on and I received this email in response:

Thanks for your interest in the Telesales Agent position at ____. We have reviewed your application. Unfortunately, you look shite and we wouldn’t want to waste either of our time.

I am sorry for the disappointing news. I wish you every success in your career in milling Big Macs!!


What do I do?

Wow. This dude included his full name (I redacted it and the company name above); he’s remarkably confident that this won’t come back to harm him, I guess.

You certainly wouldn’t be in the wrong if you chose to track down his boss and forward the email along to her. Nor would you be in the wrong if you chose to share the email more broadly.

2. My office has constant free food, and I have an eating disorder

I started a new job in September, and I mostly love it. I enjoy the work I do and my coworkers (both in my immediate team and the office at large) are great. It’s a bit of a change of pace for me: I’m an animator, and used to working at tiny studios with mostly nonexistent in office amenities. I now work at a large tech/media company, which comes with a fully stocked kitchen with an endless supply of snacks. We also have a million different brand partnerships and our office manager brings in meals constantly (I literally just had a surprise breakfast crepe).

This is all intensely triggering for me: I’m in partial remission/recovery from a very severe eating disorder that involved a lot of binging and purging. When free food is offered, I have a very hard time saying no (I really didn’t want that crepe) and it spirals from there. This is really negatively affecting my mental health but I don’t want this to ruin my time here – I truly love this job.

Beyond freaking out about this to my therapist (which I already am), is there anything you might recommend doing?

You’re already doing the thing that’s going to be most effective here, which is working with your therapist to build strategies for handling it. That’s going to be the bulk of how you manage this, since you can’t really ask that your office get rid of the snacks.

However, you could certainly have a quiet word with the people who offer around food the most often (sounds like definitely your offer manager, but maybe others too). At a minimum, you could say something like, “Your food is always so delicious and it’s so nice of you to offer it. But could I ask you a favor? I know this might sound silly, but can you skip me when you’re offering it to people? I’m trying to make different food choices, and it’s hard to turn down treats when you offer them.” Hopefully this will be effective, but unfortunately some people will respond to this kind of thing by urging you to “indulge,” or “treat yourself,” or other unhelpful responses. If that happens, you could say something like, “This is actually for medical reasons. Thanks for helping me out.”

Still, though, people are weird about other people’s food choices, so again, working on strategies with your therapist is going to be the strongest plan here. Good luck!

3. I worry I’m asking my coworker too many questions

I work as, let’s say, a teapot tester working specifically in teapot handles. I’m one of two handle testers. I’ve only been doing this job for a year and a half, and right now I’m working on testing how the teapot handle interacts with the teapot lid. I often don’t know how to test some of the requirements. The other handle tester doesn’t always have the answer and she’s super busy on a different project.

So I have to keep reaching out to Fergus, who works in manufacturing the teapot lid. Maybe it’s a bit of imposter syndrome, but I hate having to ask Fergus questions! I feel like at some point he’s going to get fed up with me. I know that testing this stuff is important, and that Fergus is the right person to ask, but I’m worried I’m going to bug him to the point he stops helping because it’s not his job to help me. How do I make myself less annoying and/or tell myself I’m not being annoying?

Well, if this is part of the job and he’s the right person to ask, this is probably perfectly appropriate for you to be doing. Sometimes part of the job is asking someone else a lot of questions! That is often very, very normal.

But why not ask him directly? As in, “I feel like I’m bugging you with a lot of questions. Is it too much, and if so, is there a better way for me to get this information without taking up so much of your time?” (It’s important to include that last part because if Fergus happens to be a bit of a grouch, you don’t want him to just be able to say “yes, it’s too much” and then leave you with no way to get questions answered.) If he’s receptive to this conversation, you could also ask him, “Are the things I generally ask you things you’d expect me to need to come to you for, or would you expect to already know more of this?” If it’s the latter, that’s good information for you, and you could start thinking about how you might be able to shore up your knowledge. But there’s a good chance you’ll hear that this is all normal and expected.

4. My office is getting rid of assigned desks

I work as in-house counsel for a big corporation with locations in many major cities, and we are moving into a new headquarters in our city in a few months. Our current location is pretty terribly located and outdated so the move has been anticipated for quite some time now. The new location will have an open-office layout and only VPs and above will have offices of their own. This will be a major adjustment for a lot of the attorneys and other professionals who have had their own offices for years, but generally we’ve been team players and have gotten on board with the idea.

That was until we found out that not only will the office be open concept, but to “encourage collaboration and mobility” none of us will have assigned desks. We will be expected to keep our laptop and belongings in lockers and claim a new work space every morning. I’m pretty unhappy about this new development and it’s making me want a new job. It feels a bit demoralizing as a professional to have to start using lockers and claiming desks, it kind of stinks that we won’t be able to personalize our desks (because we won’t have our own desks), and I can’t help but be kinda grossed out that I will have to use shared phones and keyboards every day. Am I being a curmudgeon, or am I right to think this is a ridiculous idea and a step too far? Have you heard of this next-level open concept?

Yep, it’s called hot-desking. It’s not a terrible idea for jobs where people are out of the office the majority of the time, but for jobs where people are generally in the office, it makes very little sense and is pretty widely hated.

You are not being a curmudgeon.

5. Should I hold out hope for the job I really want, or accept an offer I have now?

I recently wrapped up a lengthy interview process for a dream role with my dream company. Unfortunately, they called back to say that while feedback was really strong and they would love to have me, they had to hold off on the role. They might have more headcount next year and want to keep in touch.

I would wait, but there are a few things that are weighing on me. First, it doesn’t seem like there’s any guarantee of an open position. Even if there was, the role is very competitive, so it would be silly to assume I would be a shoo-in. I’m also currently in a toxic work environment and the longer I stay, the more damaging it is to my personal growth.

However, if I move on now, it might be difficult to explain to my dream job and future employer if the dream job comes back early next year? It also feels unfair to other employers, knowing that anything else I go for isn’t my first choice. I do have several other offers right now. Do I wait or do I go?

It’s really common for companies to say things like this — genuinely believing that it could happen — and then it never comes to fruition for one reason or another. Sometimes it does end up happening, of course! But relying on the possibility that it might open back up and that you might get it is really risky, unless you’d be happy to stay where you are for now and restart your job search next year if you need to. Assume there’s a very good chance of that happening, and decide if you’re willing to take that risk. If next April this company tells you they’re jettisoning plans for the role, are you going to regret that you didn’t take one of these offers now?

And believe me, this company is not expecting you to sit around and wait for them! They’re assuming that you’ll continue to job search and that you might not be available next year at all. It probably hasn’t even crossed their minds that you’d put your search on hold for something so flimsy (and they’d probably strongly urge you not to, if they realized you were thinking about that).

It’s also not unfair to other employers to accept a job that isn’t your first choice. People get turned down for their first choices all the time, and take second choices or third choices, or 19th choices. There’s nothing wrong with that. It would be wrong, though, to accept a new job knowing that you’d gladly leave within a few months if this other job materializes. So if you do accept one of the other offers, you need to do it in good faith.

{ 585 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, it looks like that guy wants to go viral. I’m sure Buzzfeed would be happy to circulate his name and the name of his employer.

    What an absolute toolbox. I’m really sorry you had to receive/read this… although the perverse part of me would probably laugh in disbelief at how mindbogglingly stupid he is.

    1. NoMoreMrFixit*

      If I was in your place I would post that to Glassdoor as fast as I could type. Sending a copy to the HR director at that place would be a good idea too. So sorry you had such a rude response but look at the bright side – you just dodged a box full of bullets. If this is how this person treats applicants what is he like to work for?

      1. tink*

        I would send it to his boss with the HR director cc’d and then go from there with regard to submitting it to the media or anywhere else. After all, if those two take care of the issue and apologize on the jerk’s behalf, there’s not really a compelling reason to drag the company itself through the mud, and OP would be burning a potentially useful in the future bridge. But if they’re also jerks or don’t respond… open season.

        1. Mike C.*

          Why are we so interested in protecting a company that would allow letters like this to be sent to candidates?

          1. Graciosa*

            At this point, we don’t know if the company even knows about it, much less made a decision in favor of these letters. There are many instances of individuals deciding on their own to do something of which the company would never approve.

            If the response from HR and the individual’s manager is along the lines of “So what? Jerk wished you every success in your career,” then it’s reasonable to assume this is a company-level issue rather than the result of one rogue employee.

            Finding out how the company views this by drawing it to the attention of people who can make those decisions is a fair assessment.

              1. Anion*

                Exactly. I’m not a big fan of the public-shaming thing, especially without giving people a chance to explain or make it right first. It would be at least somewhat justified here, though, IF the company itself thinks this sort of email is okay to send to applicants.

                Hopefully the company will be horrified and fire this guy (which is deserved).

                1. Anon anon anon*

                  Eh. I wouldn’t be so lenient. The company is responsible for hiring this guy, supervising him, and choosing what he’s responsible for. There were probably warning signs.

                  Since the email was sent to someone outside the company, it’s a public communication. It’s fair for them to have to respond publicly.

          2. MissGirl*

            Because when something goes viral, it hurts more than the intended. It could come back and bite the LW in the butt or other innocent bystanders. She could get labeled as difficult or fame seeking. Not that she is, but when shite gets thrown, hard to control who gets hit. This guy deserves to get fired and the company should have the opportunity to make it right.

            1. Mike C.*

              Given that the vast, vast majority of companies out there don’t seem to have this issue, I would say that the company already had their chance to prevent this from happening and failed miserably.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                I’m guessing they don’t know. I can’t imagine any company tolerating this even if they agreed with the sentiment.

                I’d probably email someone (not through the same email the resume went to!) something like,
                “Hi, I sent a resume to your company for X, and I received this response from Fergus McButthead. I’m unsure if this is something you’re aware of, but I found it a little bit questionable and thought I’d let you know. Thank you, and have a great day.”

              2. Genny*

                I agree with Mike. The type of guy would send this letter is definitely the type of guy who display other troubling characteristics at work. I highly doubt the company is totally in the dark regarding this guy’s behavior.*

                *Willfully burying your head in the sand is not the same as being totally in the dark.

                1. Zombeyonce*

                  It could also be that the company knows he’s a problem but needs more concrete evidence to fire him, in which case sending them this letter could be the thing they’ve been waiting for. I think LW should send it to his superiors.

              3. Creag an Tuire*

                What? No, Mike, that’s horrible logic.

                “Given that the vast, vast majority of people out there don’t get robbed, I would say that the people who do already had their chance to prevent this from happening.” You see the problem?

                1. Frances K R*

                  No, no, it’s “Given that the vast, vast majority of people out there don’t help robbers, I would say that the people who do already had the chance to avoid doing so.”
                  The company isn’t the victim. The company is the one enabling the bad behaviour. (I mean, it’s possible that this the the shite-thrower’s very first email like that and he’s otherwise been perfectly polite and 100% professional, and the company had no idea he acted this way! But… bets?)

              4. Candi*

                There is many a story just on this site of glassbowls who are awful to their peers and juniors, but sweet as pie to clients and upper management. Reports of bad behavior are put down to jealousy and politics without hard data.

                This is hard data. Clean his clock, LW.

            2. Snark*

              I really doubt it bites LW in the butt. And honestly, if it blows back on the company….well, there’s natural consequences to the practice of hiring people who might do this.

              1. fposte*

                I doubt it bites the LW in the butt too, but given the possibility that this is somebody’s deliberate attempt to get the person named in the letter in trouble, I really wouldn’t want to unleash an internet mob on the wrong person, ruin their lives, and give the real miscreant great satisfaction. See what the company does first; you can always release it a couple days later.

                1. Snark*

                  That’s fair enough. I was thinking more in the sense of bad publicity and lost business, not the internet flashmob.

                2. fposte*

                  @Snark–I think it’s just too nuclear nowadays; it ends up all “sentence first, verdict afterwards” which is an unfortunately popular trend in some quarters.

                3. LBK*

                  Agreed, see if the company can address this first. Who knows, it could be someone who’s never acted like this before but is quitting soon and is going out in a blaze of douchy glory. Plus, if you alert the company and they don’t do anything, that makes the story even more outrageous and thus gives it even more fuel to go viral.

                4. Hmmmmm*

                  To me this reads like the kind of email a disgruntled coworker would send from someone else’s email account to get the email account owner in trouble. I had a former colleague get himself fired in a misguided but similar scheme.

                5. Anion*

                  God, yes! That didn’t even occur to me, but it is possible that somebody hacked Fergus’s email thinking it would be funny, not realizing the email would be sent out. It could even be, say, a disgruntled former employee hoping to get the company in trouble.

                6. Anon anon anon*

                  Yeah. It’s possible that the person whose name is on it isn’t the author. Sometimes people get hacked, pranked, etc.

              2. Jaguar*

                What about the other people who work at the company and might be decent people and will have their jobs threatened by sending the mob after the whole company?

                1. Mike C.*

                  That sort of reasoning means you should never ever say anything bad about a company that employees people period. That’s not a reasonable expectation in the slightest.

                2. Jaguar*

                  Taken to its utmost extreme, sure. Taken to its utmost extreme, you should never drive a car because you could wind up injuring someone with it. Ridiculous, but also not an argument that you should drive carelessly. Similarly, you should think carefully about invoking mob justice – an extremely dangerous and pretty disgusting thing to be engaged in – over what is, when you take a step back, a mean e-mail.

            3. Static*

              Yeah I def wouldn’t try make it go viral. This sounds like a disgruntled employee who’s put a disliked coworker’s name in the ‘from’ field.

            4. Horrified*

              Agree. I hate it when the first response is to “go public” with some outrage. This guy is a super tool, and if the letter is made public, it could be damaging to a company that may have unknowingly had a giant loser in their midst.

              I once was accidentally included in a reply-all that included some disparaging remarks about me. Rather than make a big public to-do, I simply sent a reply back to the sender containing a question mark. Full marks to him and his company–his boss called me immediately to apologize, which meant he had gone to his boss and fessed up. I appreciated their responsiveness and was ready to move on happy to know that some little ass learned a BIG life lesson that day about reply-all.

          3. Artemesia*

            My concern would be that the person who sent this used someone else’s name on it. Thus I would contact HR and the CEO’s office and send then copies noting that you suspect someone is trying to sabotage Fergus before going to the Media at least with the name on the thing. Might not the office bully have sent that to get the named person in trouble?

          4. ClownBaby*

            Why not give the company a chance to right the wrong before launching an army of internet vigilantes on it?

            It could be a disgruntled employee who either doesn’t care about his/her job anymore or who thinks he/she is impervious to any disciplinary action. Who knows? If the company ignores the email or brushes it off with some lame excuse, then go to Buzzfeed or Imgur, I don’t care, but why not at least see what they have to say?

            I have talked with people who legitimately don’t know certain phrases or words they use could be interpreted as offensive. Do I automatically shout “YOU FRIGGIN RACIST!” at their faces or do I say “Hey, Cindy-Lou, that’s some problematic language you are using there. You may want to exclude that phrase from your vocabulary and here is why…”

            If my dog poops in my neighbor’s yard…I’d rather my neighbor tell me so I can correct the problem…rather than start throwing poop at me and my dog.

      2. NorthernSoutherner*

        I think the guy was goofing around and accidentally hit ‘send’. It just sounds like a joke to me. I’ve done this type of thing myself — not with emails (at least, not for a very long time). But let’s say I have to write a memo and I’m not feeling it, I might start out with, ‘This memo is going to suck and I really don’t give a rat’s ass.’ Then I feel better, delete my sentence and go on.

        A possibility?

        1. sstabeler*

          um, why not simply not add the recipient’s name to the to: field until you are ready to send it? That way, it WON’T be send by accident.

    2. Bryce*

      Usually I’m a fan of giving people the benefit of the doubt and taking the high road, but it’s really difficult in a case like this. That’s the kind of letter we think to ourselves when blowing off steam, you’re not supposed to actually send it!

      1. Huntington*

        Oh I know how tempting it is to send curt emails (and can’t tell you how many times I’ve after-the-fact been so relieved when I forced myself to just be professional). But I mean, this guy is in the power position, it’s not like he’s wanting to his “reply” in a fit of unprofessional snark to the powers that be. This is pretty much self-sabotage. I assure you he is easily replaceable.

      2. Specialk9*

        Irish slang question: “milling Big Macs”, what does milling mean? (I’m SO hoping that he meant “grilling” but has shite spelling, shite attention to detail, and shite QA skills.)

        1. RadManCF*

          I couldn’t help but imagine somebody standing in front of a Bridgeport, reducing the Big Macs into uselessness and flinging the result across the room.

          1. Jennifer Thneed*

            I’m guessing a “Bridgeport” is a machine of some sort? Because it’s just a city name as far as I can tell.

            1. Free Meerkats*

              Bridgeport was an early innovator in the mid-size milling machine universe and has been genericized, like Kleenex and Xerox. They are excellent machines and it’s not unusual to see Bridgeport mills from 60 years ago still in constant use today.

        2. Djuna*

          “Milling” could mean making them, sure, but over here it’s more generally used as “milling into” as in “stuffing your face with”. Which is a whole other potential can of worms.

          1. RadManCF*

            Ah, I had not heard that idiom before. I initially thought it was a typo; the line “you look shite” appeared to me as bad grammar, and I assumed the use of the word milling was the result of an auto-correct. In any event, my initial comment was on an interpretation of the phrase that I assumed wasn’t intended by the writer of the rejection email.

    3. JamieS*

      Agreed. I’m not one for conspiracy theories and I know it was probably just a Dum-dum who thinks he’s untouchable but that letter is so ridiculous I couldn’t help but wonder if the person who’s name’s on it is actually the person who sent it or if it was some other disgruntled coworker trying to cause trouble.

      1. Fafaflunkie*

        That’s exactly what I was thinking when I read that post. Something tells me someone there is trying to sully the name of who’s actually on that signature, through having access to that email account. Fortunately, date and time stamps will help clear that person’s name in that case.

        If you have a way to forward that email to someone in authority at that company, do it. Let them know how unprofessional this person was in this email, and let them figure out what to do. As much as you as OP would love to name and shame all over the internet, I personally would take the high road. After all, you have a lot more to lose than to gain here by going that route.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Ooh yeah, maybe someone was rage quitting and the LW had the misfortune to be in their firing line.

        2. Mike C.*

          Why is it considered the high road not to do anything in response? At some point people have to be held accountable for their actions and holding people accountable isn’t immoral.

          1. Helpful*

            Because sometimes taking action can take down other people who were innocently associated with the bad actor, that’s why.

              1. A. Non*

                But many times management’s response can be nuke from orbit, catching innocent bystanders in the process.

                1. Snark*

                  I think that’s a distinct minority of cases. Most reasonably well-managed businesses aren’t going to nuke from orbit.

                2. Mike C.*

                  The possibility of gross mismanagement is not our responsibility. What if the manager starts yelling at people, or throwing chairs or keying cars in the parking lot? That behavior is on the manager, not anyone else.

              2. fposte*

                If it’s just the company rep that gets hit, sure. If it’s that the person who goes viral as writing this isn’t the one who wrote it, that’s not a management problem; that’s a problem for their daily life and partner and kids.

                1. Mike C.*

                  If this is such a big concern, then strike out the personal name. The company name needs to stay and there’s nothing wrong nor immoral about posting such a thing publicly. This isn’t doxxing and I’m certainly not advocating doxxing. No one is going to go to anyone’s home over this, or start harassing spouses or children or anything like that.

                  We’re all told “don’t email anything you wouldn’t want made public”, so what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

                2. fposte*

                  I think you can only do it if you take the personal name out. However, I think any time you include a personal name in a public shame campaign you’re effectively doxxing to some extent, because there are always people who will know or find out more personal details and feel justified in doing so.

                  I don’t think this is going to be a Boston Marathon/Charlottesville level of life-ruining and ineptly aimed vigilantism, but I think in general we can’t go for “name and shame” as a methodology without acknowledging the kind of people we’re mobilizing, and the tendency for bypassing deliberation to get to the punishment to result in making the world less fair, not more.

          2. Candi*

            Hey Mike, aren’t you forgetting one of Alison’s most common pieces of advice?

            When you need to communicate with someone about some BS they pulled, you start with the person if possible. Then you go to the manager. Then you go above them (usually HR).

            You can always escalate a situation. You can rarely dial it back.

            Also, remember that there are people who join this internet mobbing who just like to attack people. You do not want to put someone in their sights without trying everything else.

            Remember the store in Washington State that wouldn’t sell a wedding cake to a gay couple?

            It wasn’t a boycott or the state that shut them down. It was the constant harassment online, over the phone, and at their store, which was repeatedly vandalized. It destroyed their business.

            Look, some people need to face consequences for bad or poor choices or behavior. But the punishment should be proportional. Internet vigilantes and mob members often go way beyond proportional.

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

              I agree. I am not a fan of Internet vigilantes and naming and shaming unless you have tried to resolve the issue and gotten nowhere.

            2. TardyTardis*

              Of course, in the case of the store and the wedding cake, the store had made the home addresses of the people who wanted the cake public *before* it happened to them. So my sympathy for the store is limited. Plus, they made some money on GoFundMe from like-minded individuals and still haven’t paid the fine.

      2. INTP*

        I thought the same. The letter is very generic, not like one written in the moment by someone frustrated but like a form letter sent to everyone. You CAN post jobs for free on Indeed, as well, and no one is vetting who can post a job. I wouldn’t circulate the name unless I was positive it was real, personally.

      3. Kathleen Adams*

        I agree that someone is definitely trying to sabotage the company or the supposed signer. This is so flagrant that it absolutely has to be deliberately inflaming.

        So, OP, don’t let it get to you. It absolutely isn’t personal. You just happened to be the one or one of the ones who were in target range when this person decided to start throwing shite (:-) ) bombs. I would be shocked if you were the only one to get such a ridiculous email, unless the perpetrator was caught right after writing to you.

          1. Kathleen Adams*

            I think it’s the common spelling in…Ireland, maybe? Parts of the U.K., anyway. I like it very much myself, although I don’t think I have the panache to pull it off in speech.

      4. One of the Sarahs*

        In most companies, allowing someone else to use your email is against the company rules. If it’s the case of an admin staff sending it from a boss’ account (as standard), that should be easy to check by the IT department.

        If it’s a communal email, then that’s harder to prove, but also raises issues for the company’s security.

        In all cases, these are things the management should know about, so they can fix them.

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      I once applied for a ‘job’ writing for an online magazine which turned out to be unpaid. So I expressed disappointment at this.

      The response included the line: “Good luck getting anyone to publish your drivel.”

      I may have written back to tell them that my editors at the Guardian had found that very funny. (Which was true.)

      1. Fact & Fiction*

        I love your response! I’d respond similarly: “I’ll be sure to pass your own drivel along to my editors at Penguin so they can giggle with me.”

        As for OP #1, I agree with contacting HR at the company to pass that on so they know how this jerk is representing their company. If they aren’t appropriately horrified, then I would totally name and shame them online. And I’m normally not a fan of that. You totally did not deserve that, no matter your specific job qualifications: they owed you nothing but a professional response. So sorry you had to read that drivel!

    5. Djuna*

      Yup. I would dearly love to know what shower of eejits employs someone who would send such a terrible response to an applicant. That letter made me choke on my coffee this morning, and I’ll be spreading the feck out of it at work today.

      The job market over here in Ireland is terrible, and applying right left and centre for jobs is demoralizing enough without ever getting something like this. Frankly, even if it was an in-house prank gone wrong, that company has some house-cleaning to do – and you’d be doing them a favour to get it started. If you do contact them and they double down – if this is some sort of attempt at edginess – then they probably need to be educated by media attention.

      1. Specialk9*

        I’m sorry to hear that. You guys were burning up the globe for awhile. How is the real estate market, did it tank too?

        1. IrishAnon*

          Depends on your field and where you live. I live in Dublin and am in marketing and my partner is an engineer. We moved here because the job market is littered with positions for us. However I would imagine that for other industries and locations it might not be the case.

          Plus the cost of living in Dublin is just flat out balls, but we got lucky.

        2. Djuna*

          I’m in the west (Galway) and the property market is recovering, to the extent that rental properties are very hard to find and house prices are becoming super-silly again. Not quite as inflated as they were, but moving in that direction at a rapid clip.

          The economy is kind of picking up but the job market is still rough for a lot of people. I lucked out in getting hired back to the same company after layoffs a few years back, but the in-between stretch was no fun at all. Tech is booming, everything else is picking up more slowly.

    6. kfkfa*

      My thought was that maybe he wrote it as a joke & meant to forward it to a coworker or friend, but accidentally replied to the email instead. Like when you’re texting about someone and you accidentally text it TO them.

      1. One of the Sarahs*

        I still think OP should find the boss and send it on, though, because that’s a really stupid mistake to make.

    7. Dr Wizard, PhD*

      The Irish media – particularly online-only like and Waterford Whispers – would jump all over this.

    8. babblemouth*

      I’m not normally an advocate for public shaming, but I want to make an exception for this one. Drag him.

      1. Susanne*

        If you do decide to send it to Buzzfeed or the like, create a new email address without any identifying characteristics and send it from there and redact your real email address in the forwarded letter.

        1. music*

          Uh, if you do that no one’s going to run it. Journalists need to verify their sources. They don’t just take stuff from anonymous people and publish it.

            1. Jule*

              You only have to GLANCE at their news page to know this isn’t true. There’s a debate to be had about the weirdness of a brand that straddles lowbrow quizzes + serious investigative journalism, but it’s so oblivious to pretend that the latter doesn’t exist that it almost negates one’s participation in a conversation about the current state of journalism.

            2. Mike C.*

              Uh, over the past several years they’ve hired a number of very serious political journalists to perform actual journalism, paid for by cat videos.

              1. Iris Eyes*

                Right, but it isn’t what they are known for. They have plenty of highly opinionated barely researched articles as well.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  But that’s a different argument than your primary one, which is that they don’t adhere to journalistic standards. That’s just not true.

                  Whether they’re known for opinion pieces, quizzes, cat videos and other viral internet clickbait is an entirely separate issue.

                2. Kate 2*

                  Yep, and like a lot of sites/newspapers, including the New York Times, they like to present that crap as fact, which is not only dangerous to readers who believe it, it also undermines their own credibility and means when they do publish something important people are a lot less likely to believe them. Sort of like the boy who alternately cried “Wolf!” and “No wolf!” and eventually got eaten when a real wolf showed up.

                3. LBK*

                  Isn’t that, like, the whole concept of an op-ed, which has been a thing for almost a century according to Wiki?

            3. Dankar*

              There are plenty of other major sites now that use Buzzfeed’s investigative and political reporting as primary sources in their own stories. Their longform journalism and essays are some of the best I’ve read in the last year or so.

              I’m really tired of people dragging Buzzfeed because they’re not familiar with its stable of serious journalists.

              1. Snark*

                Yeah, I find it amazing how Buzzfeed and Teen Vogue are producing some of the best journalism and commentary these days.

                1. Specialk9*

                  It’s been such a weird time. Some tiny slices of life, like Teen Vogue as thought leader, has been exciting and cool.

                2. LBK*

                  FWIW, they’ve only been producing the print edition quarterly as it is, and the statement from Conde Nast said they would still produce occasional special print editions. More or less all of the work they’ve done that’s been getting buzz in the last year or so has been online.

    9. MCM*

      Makes you wonder how many ugly letters this individual has sent out and not been caught. Sounds like there is very little oversight in the organization. I had to look up “shite” to see what the word meant. So not called for.

      This one deserves to be posted on Instagram, etc.

    10. Meghan A Magee*

      Op #2 Here’s a potential script to use. “I don’t want to go into details but I have a medical condition that can be 100% controlled by diet. I don’t want to go on meds because I don’t have enough will power to pass on goodies! Can you please help me out by skipping me?”

      Most people would think IBS or diabetes, not eating disorder. No lying but enough information to put you in the “be kind and skip OP” camp.

    11. MCM*

      Reference OP#1 — was the rejection sent via e-mail or letter? if sent e-mail, send a reply back to sender, be sure to cc: human resources & the individual’s manager. You could always state “Due to the correspondence you sent me below; I wish to withdraw my application for said position. If it’s a written letter, scan it, give it a label with the individual’s name. That do the same “due to the attached correspondence you sent me, I wish to withdraw my application.”

      I would notify the employer & employee in a professional manner and see how it pans out. If no response, feel free to go wild on the web. Just be sure to remove anything off the letter that would identify you. You do not want anything preventing you from seeking employment there in the future, if this turns out to be a rare incident and they do apologize.

      Too bad you cannot send it to the individual’s own web presence, without identifying who you are. I wouldn’t be surprised that they have a template that they use to insult people.

      OP#1 — please let us know how you decide to address this & how it plays out. WE WANT TO KNOW!!!

  2. Drew*

    OP#4, I suspect what will happen is that the people who are hot-desking will try out different arrangements for a few weeks and then an informal “seating chart” will emerge where folks tend to sit in the same place each day unless there’s a work-related reason to change up (for instance, people working on the same project might shift to sit together).

    I absolutely agree that hot-desking when you don’t need to (A and B shifts, for example) really sucks. I suspect things will settle into a routine sooner rather than later, and at least you’ll have some stability even if you don’t actually “own” a desk.

      1. T3k*

        Hell, even in college I did that. That end aisle seat is mine!

        But yes, most people will usually gravitate towards an unspoken seating arrangement in a free for all situation. Ever notice in meetings that people will seat in the same general spot?

        1. Purple Jello*

          Hey! That’s the only spot I can hear well enough AND see the projection screen while wearing my computer glasses, which I need because I take myself notes of the meeting.

          1. MoinMoin*

            I’m with you there. I would leave my jacket on my aisle seat and get our of the row to let them in. If they actually said anything, I’d say I need to be able to stretch out due to an injury (not totally false) or have easy access to use the restroom.

          2. AMPG*

            The trick is to sit at the end of an aisle that has people already in it. Otherwise you end up in a tragedy of the commons situation where the first 35% of parishoners take the ends of the aisles and nobody else can sit down.
            (Since I don’t care about an aisle seat, I always sit in the middle just to make things easier for people like you.)

            1. Sandman*

              Yes, exactly! I’m the usher that has to help the latecomers (and visitors) find seats, and asking people to move in isn’t anyone’s favorite thing.

              1. Not a Morning Person*

                Ask people to step out so the late comers can sit in the middle. That’s the appropriate and polite way to do it, not asking people to move away from the aisle seat.

          3. Not a Morning Person*

            Step out, then allow them to pass into the middle. That’s appropriate. Late comers are not entitled to aisle seats. They and the ushers are the ones being rude.

        2. Specialk9*

          It’ll cause resentment and fury when those unspoken and unwritten rules are broken. Hot-desking is a great way to demoralize, infuriate, and drive off good staff who have options to leave, and cause bickering and feuds in those who are stuck there. Companies, hot desking is not worth the cost savings, and likely costs more in the long run.

          1. Mike C.*

            Seriously, what are they thinking? Does no one in business ever perform long term analysis anymore?

            1. Specialk9*

              Um, no? Not that I’ve observed at least. We’re all lurching from one quarterly results to another.

              1. Mike C.*

                Even where I work, where our product cycles are measured in decades, the quarterly report is paramount. >.<

              2. Manders*

                I was wondering the same thing! I know I’m a crank about open offices but I just don’t see how saving some money on rent is worth annoying your entire in-house counsel team to the point that they’re all considering leaving.

            2. k8*

              i feel like i have seen so many studies about why open offices suck and are bad for productivity, but apparently no one cares?? because they’re cheaper? i guess???

              1. Candi*

                They’re cheaper very short term. Long term, they cost in personnel and productivity. Even with white noise machines and the social ‘my spot’ contract, it’s very iffy.

                And if you get that one person in the office who has no problem steamrolling boundaries, all bets are off.

              2. Managing to get by*

                My company’s home office recently moved from an urban setting to a suburban campus, and redid the office layout to be even more open. Desks are assigned, but the workspaces are so small that people don’t have anywhere to put their purse and coat. There are lockers in the hallways for purses and coats. Not only is that just ridiculous, but the lockers are poorly constructed and pull open very easily – as I discovered one day when I was having trouble getting the lock to open even though I was putting in the correct combination. I gave it a frustrated tug and it popped open without releasing the lock. Nice security.

                Before the office move they had sample workstations in the old building so people could see the set up. I actually got spoken to because I commented that the work stations were smaller than what we had in the old building and that the desks didn’t have storage. My boss lectured me on being positive about the change and that, as a manager, it would be bad for my career to be known as a naysayer.

                I replied that I had said nothing negative, merely commented on facts – that the work stations are smaller without storage – and that if the facts are viewed as being negative that was not on me. I also stated that if I told my staff the workstations were the same size or bigger than current then I’d lose their trust because they could tour the sample set up and see the size for themselves. She wanted to argue further but had to admit that I made good points.

                Everyone hates the new set up, and managers who have a dozen-plus direct reports are sitting right in the middle of their teams with no privacy. There are a few “focus rooms” scattered between the offices, with glass walls and doors so if you need to have a difficult or confidential conversation you are completely on display to the masses. It is a ridiculous, dehumanizing set up and I hate it.

                I hope leadership doesn’t hear about “hot desking”. I’m sure they’ll try to do that and cut the number of workstations on the assumption a certain percentage of people are out of the office on any given day. Actually, we’ve already outgrown the workspace after only 6 months (they didn’t leave any room for growth even though we’ve been growing the last few years) so that is probably the next step.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          This usually just creates a race-to-the-bottom, with people coming in earlier and earlier and becoming increasingly more irritated/frustrated.

        4. Aerin*

          That’s how it worked for me in high school/college when there was no assigned seating. Things shift around for a couple of days, then everyone finds a spot they like and stays there.

          Maybe you could see about getting a headset that would go with the rest of your stuff? That would address the phone issue at least.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        It’s like all the work-at-homes circling the coffee shop to claim THEIR TABLE. Except the firm has managed to bring that magic vibe into the office.

        All day every day. (If someone goes to lunch, can I nab their spot? What if they go to the bathroom? To what extent do laundry room rules apply?)

      3. Zombeyonce*

        Especially when people want to avoid certain desks, like the one by the noisy guy who talks on speakerphone with the door open, or the desk next to the bathroom, or the desk by the conference room where people hover waiting to get in for the next meeting. Then you have people trying to not get those desks and they conflict with the people that sit at the same desk most days and now consider it “their” desk and get mad when they arrive and someone else is there. Hot-desking when it’s unnecessary is a recipe for conflict and resentment between employees.

    1. Gem*

      Yeah, we have hot desking and I dislike it. I work 8-4:30 and most of my coworkers are 9:30 starters so I can sit in the same place all the time but can’t leave anything on my desk overnight as the cleaners will move it to somewhere random (my water bottle once disappeared for a day or two before reappearing in work’s kitchen sink). I’m used to it but I don’t like it.

    2. Agent Diane*

      This is what we do. It takes me about five minutes in the morning (most of my kit is in my bag). So I’m also doing the morning “hi/hello/morning” stuff.

      Also, your company should definitely provide desk/phone wipes to deal with detritus. And ideally ‘zone’ the hot desks (so everyone on llama export goes to one area first, and everyone on alpaca import goes to another). That makes it easier to sit with who you need to sit with.

          1. Candi*

            Aaaaand this is why I have a no eating/no drinking rule when reading AAM. That made me crack up. (Silently -I’m at the library!)

    3. Blossom*

      Or a formal seating rotation. I’ve had this at my last two jobs, and honestly, I like it. At one job, we could book our desks for each day a couple of weeks in advance. At the next job, a weekly seating chart was drawn up for our team (other teams might handle it differently). At both workplaces, there were still designated areas for each team, but we also had the freedom to sit with other teams or to go to a quiet area. I really appreciate the flexibility, and don’t miss having a permanent desk.

      I do think this varies regionally, as Alison and US commenters speak of “cubicles” as being the norm. I have never seen one in the UK; even my father’s office 30 years ago was open plan. (We just have less space in this country!). Hot dealing therefore isn’t such a huge shift, though I’ve definitely heard more than a few grumbles about it and my evangelism is not representative!

      1. Star*

        I’ve never done hot-desking, though I can see the issue people have with it, though you do make it sound like it has some appeal! I’ve only ever worked in open plan offices though, and also don’t really understand the hatred for them, provided there’s enough meeting rooms and offices where anything confidential can be discussed (and I can understand, for example, lawyers needing private offices).

        I’m also in the UK though, so I assume it’s a regional/cultural thing. Cubes sound much worse, to me!

        1. WellRed*

          No cubes in the UK? With a cube, I have some privacy, don’t have to look at my coworkers all day, can hang a calendar and other things and am protected a bit from other people’s germs.

          1. SarahKay*

            I’m in the UK and in a more-or-less open-plan office. There are dividers between the desks, that are about 15 inches higher than the desk, so you have somewhere to pin stuff to, but you can still see your co-workers and chat to them easily.
            I like it, but then I’m used to it. Also, I used to work in a department store, where I’d often be doing paperwork at the till point in between customers, so it’s safe to say I’m used to noise and interruptions.
            That said, I loathe the idea of hot-desking for anyone who is in the office every day. (I get that for, say, a sales team where only two out of ten are ever in the office at one time then it makes sense). If it was introduced at work I would start job-searching.

        2. Purple Jello*

          >>provided there’s enough meeting rooms and offices where anything confidential can be discussed<<

          And there's the issue right there: not enough space for meetings, no quiet spaces, no space for confidential discussions.

          1. Star*

            Oh, I agree that the set-up the LW is describing does not sound workable, especially since she is in-house counsel and presumably has a lot of confidential stuff to work on. Open-plan offices and hot-desking can’t work in all situations, and this seems to be on of them.

            1. Manders*

              Yes, I’m baffled by the whole idea of a bunch of lawyers having to move their computers and papers daily while also doing their jobs in public. I also wonder what’s going to happen if, say, an employee comes into the in-house counsel’s room for a valid reason but then overhears something they’re not supposed to know. What a weird system!

          2. Lore*

            Yup. At my office, when they went to a more open plan (small cubicles, no hot-desking, but for a staff that often requires a) quiet concentration, b) working on large sets of proofs, and/or c) lengthy phone calls with high-profile outside collaborators), they built in phone rooms, small meeting rooms, etc. What they didn’t build in was any space in which to put new hires or anyone promoted to the level of seniority where they now merited an office. So over five years in the new layout, 85% of the common spaces have been nibbled away and are now private or shared offices. It’s totally maddening.

        3. Blue Anne*

          I dunno, I have my first cube now after moving to the USA from the UK. I like it much more than hotdesking.

          1. Else*

            I’ve always hated the idea of cubes vs offices, but hot desking or open desking sounds so much worse! What benefit do they think will actually arise from this???

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Open plan where you have your own desk is different from hot-desking, though. I have dealt with the former, but the latter would drive me insane. I wouldn’t mind if I were only in the office a couple of times a month but if I’m there every day, I want a damn desk. That’s just basic.

        Cubicles are awesome because you can put stuff on the walls. While it’s not exactly private, at least you can sort of shut people out mentally.

    4. DCGirl*

      I’m just impressed that you’re getting lockers. My employer went to hot desking this summer, and we don’t even have those. You pack everything into your laptop bag and haul it home with you every night. You’re not supposed to keep paper files because we are supposed to be a paperless office. Unfortunately, our suppliers are not paperless, and neither are the agencies we send proposals too. You don’t need pens and pencils, because those go with paper, don’t you know. When all the drawbacks of this extremely aggressive form of hot desking were pointed out to facilities, the director got extremely snippy. People have actually bought their own two drawer rolling file cabinets and hidden them under the desks. Their are two guys who leave their gym bags on a low open shelf in the kitchen because there’s no place at their desk.

      Apparently, our CEO (who doesn’t work in my building) is deeply enamored of an office that looks like pristine, with everything super modern and matching. The facilities director keeps pointing out that all the hot desks are adjustable height, like that makes up for it. We hate it, and morale has tanked. I will say that people have pretty much claimed regular spots.

      There aren’t even coat racks. Now that it’s turning cold, people are asking where they should hang their coats, because not all coats hang comfortably on the back of the chair. The CEO’s vision doesn’t extend to coat racks with a motley assortment of coats on it, so the directive is to leave them in your car in the garage that’s attached to the building, since it’s not that far to walk.

      What’s really depressing to me is that, because there’s a liberal remote work policy, there are VPs who have offices that are like untouched furniture showrooms because they show up once every two weeks, if that.

      So, yes, lockers — count yourselves lucky.

      1. Kathlynn*

        I’m guessing that they get the lockers for confidentiality reasons, since they are on site council. You don’t want to risk someone losing the laptop or it getting stolen or damaged between shifts.

        1. blackcat*

          In-house counsel really, really ought to have an office due to sensitive documents & phone calls.

          1. eplawyer*

            This is my point. Lawyers work with confidential documents. They need privacy and room to work. If you are grabbing a desk every morning — even with an informal seating chart – it is not conducive to lawyering.

            Someone heard this was the hot new trend or like the poster above has a boss with an pristine streak and didn’t stop to think how this would actually work.

            Personally, I would start looking for a new job if they care so little about confidentiality.

            1. Specialk9*

              I adore those photos of pristine offices, so pretty. But until machines go entirely cordless, or regular desks integrate true hidden channels for cords, those photos lie like crazy. It’s an unattainable ideal. I can’t imagine how infuriating it is, especially when you’re told just not to wear a coat in winter! Bring on the torches and pitchforks! (And Glassdoor)

              1. Not Yet Looking*

                I would, quite frankly, try to start a trend of leaving coats on the floor by the front door. I would of course also make sure my resume was up-to-date and start searching, because “Leave your coat in your car” is so far beyond an even remotely acceptable response, I wouldn’t have the ability to professionally react.

            2. The Cosmic Avenger*

              And if I were a client, I’d immediately be considering finding new counsel, because I’d have grave concerns about 1) confidentiality, and 2) overbilling if counsel couldn’t concentrate or billed for time organizing/moving their workspace.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Totally agreed. It’s insane to me that they’d want in-house counsel to work in a format that destroys confidentiality and risks waiving privilege.

            1. Specialk9*

              Not a lawyer – can you expand on waiving privilege by being in an open office? Does that mean if people can hear you, no client lawyer confidentiality?

              1. a lawyer*

                Yes – in most jurisdictions, a conversation between lawyer and client made where third parties could reasonably overhear would be considered no longer confidential. It gets a little sticky when the only people who can overhear are coworkers under the same contracts, but it’s still bad policy.

      2. SchoolStarts!*

        Oh, that’s just awful. For some, it’s not just coats but coats, scarves, hats, mitts and boots. But this whole doubling down on his vision is not tenable. I’m sorry for you.

        1. RVA Cat*

          This. Plus I would imagine that hot-desking can turn the office into the high school cafeteria with all of the awkward/cruel that entails.

      3. Marillenbaum*

        If the directors really want to insist on the pristine appearance of no visible coats, they are perfectly welcome to have coat closets on every floor, staffed by nice young people who will hang them up and guard your belongings, and then return them to you at the end of the day. They are also welcome to keep the office heated enough that people aren’t wearing their coats to keep warm indoors.

      4. overly produced bears*

        Wow. That’s someone really dedicated to how things look in style/design magazines and has no idea how things really look once the cameras leave. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with that.

      5. Falling Diphthong*

        Our CEO is deeply enamored of an office that looks like pristine, with everything super modern and matching.

        Literally the first time I’ve heard someone offer up a reason for hot desking with employees who are usually in the office, beyond the vague “we’re a think fast, on your toes company, which is why when you turn around your chair is GONE.” As with the missing coat racks and file cabinets, it’s a weeping version of form over function.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          I’m just imagining how annoying it would be to have to readjust a whole workspace every morning when at a new desk. I’m pretty short, so I’d have to spend a decent amount of time adjusting my chair so my feet don’t dangle and I’m not leaned back too far (and so many chairs don’t make this easy) plus the height of the monitor and anything else I access. What a waste of time.

        2. Jenny*

          The other reason is when you have, say, 20 desks and 25 employees and no room to expand. If you hot-desk, you can probably just about get away with being short of space because there will always be a percentage of people out of the office (part-timers, leave, sickness absence, people at meetings elsewhere). We have to hot-desk to the point that we might be sitting somewhere different if we leave the office for 90 minutes.

      6. LCL*

        Leave your coat in the car?! That is controlling and sadistic. I went to war with a restaurant manager who told the employees that were doing prep in the back that we weren’t allowed to wear a jacket or sweater when working in the walk-in. Creep.

      7. Chameleon*

        there are VPs who have offices that are like untouched furniture showrooms because they show up once every two weeks, if that.

        I think you’ve found the perfect place to keep your coats.

      8. OP #4*

        Yeah I think you hit the nail on the head, it seems our C-suite is enamored by a pristine looking office with no paper and no sign of life. To them, their employees’ push back is simply “resistance to change.” And anyway, what do they care? They all get their own offices.

        1. Bacondoublecheezburger*

          And that’s why it would fail — the people who keep their offices are the ones who really don’t need them. People with offices are more likely to spend 60% or more of their day in meetings. Which means 80% of the entire office space ( individual offices plus conference rooms) are reserved for 20% of the employees – the executives.

          What makes sense is for the admin assistants to have their own desks, and all the executives hot desk it.

      9. babblemouth*

        I am so sorry. This really sucks. On top of the no-coats nonsense, the paperless office thing would drive me bonkers. I have a paper diary that I adore. I take notes in it in meetings as that allows me to close up my computer and pay more attention to the room. I remember things better when I have handwritten them too. I would be 50% less efficient if I couldn’t use pen and paper to draft up ideas and keep my thoughts organised.

      10. Candi*

        Leave it in your car!?! But-but what about people like me, who can’t drive and must use transit!?!


        (And we usually have heavier coats, cause bus stops are usually exposed in some fashion.)

    5. Squab*

      When I was a young woman I worked at a tech company that decided to switch to hot desks. I hated the idea. I torpedoed it by protesting that I *needed* a drawer to store all my *lady things.* The coworkers (all men, of course) were so squeamish about periods that they caved immediately. Thank goodness.

      I, too, figured it would calm down into a routine eventually. But sitting in a bull pen was bad enough already, along with the other painful, dogmatic BS the boss did. Tampons to the rescue.

      1. DCGirl*

        I had a major discussion with facilities about where to leave my purse during the day, because I’d prefer to lock it in a drawer. I’ve worked at two previous employers where wallets were stolen by someone who “tailgated” behind an employee through the security door and went looking for things to steal. The response was that 1) that could never happen here (LOL) and 2) I could always lock my purse in the trunk of my car (along with my coat, I guess) if I was that concerned about it.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Well, you can’t keep your car keys in your coat pocket (where mine usually are, if not in my purse) because it’s also in the trunk of your car.

            This seems to be delving deep down “have you looked at the pockets in a woman’s work-appropriate dress, vs a man’s suit?”

      2. Specialk9*

        Ok, that’s funny and well played… But I mean how ignorant of female biology are they that they think you need a whole permanent drawer for tampons and pads or cups, instead of pockets and purses? Lol. When dealing with hot desking, it’s war and so anything goes.

        1. the gold digger*

          1. Pockets – you’re funny. :)

          2. Permanent drawer – I don’t want to carry an entire pack of minipads in my purse all the time. I want to leave a supply at work so I don’t have to worry about replenishing my purse. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to propagate the idea that a drawer is necessary.

          But overall, yeah – it’s war. And there are no rules in war. (I mean, there technically are, but in this war, I would do whatever I needed to do to win.)

          1. Specialk9*

            Oh I agree, just saying that could be their argument. Clearly we all want to be able to leave stuff at work to reduce lugging: gym clothes, spare shoes, pens, tea, toiletries, blazer, water bottle, mug, etc. The fact that “girl stuff” made them cave when “teapot and gym shoes” wouldn’t is why I’m finding this so funny.

        2. CleverGirl*

          I keep mine in a drawer because I don’t want to rely on dragging stuff around in pockets and purses when I might forget to put any there and then find myself in an emergency with no supplies. It’s easier and safer to just keep a box of tampons in the back of a drawer and I know it’s always there if/when I need it. I don’t think I’m particularly ignorant of female biology.

          1. Specialk9*

            Yup sorry, I phrased it badly. I meant something more like “aah cooties” around menstruation rather than that the idea was silly.

            I’m a wholehearted enemy of hotdesking and also have a pack of feminine supplies, among LOTS of things I leave at work. Like I literally have a wicker basket of teas – 8 kinds – at my desk, as well as a teapot.

            1. the gold digger*

              I wasn’t going to mention the tea, the chocolate, or the peanut butter (three jars – is that wrong?) as Articles of War, but yeah! Those also go into my drawer!

              Thanks for explaining, Specialk9. Your comment makes more sense now.

        3. NaoNao*

          Yeah, agreed with those that are on the “I need a drawer” side. I have a little “go kit” that includes my stash of feminine products, plus some extras: an extra pair of underwear just in case, and some grooming stuff (body powder, wet wipes, etc). I really, really don’t want to have to carry that around, especially because I don’t drive by choice and I don’t *have* a car to keep it in!

    6. Traceytootoo*

      I really hope you’re right. I can’t think of anything more gross than having to use a different keyboard and phone everyday that is shared. I wonder what will happen the first time the majority of the staff call out sick with a stomach virus or the flu? On top of that, I think people need their own space to work, not a locker. I would feel like just another number and not a valued employee.

      1. SarahKay*

        I was wondering if the OP could go down the HSE route, myself. Unsanitary keyboards and phones for starters, but also what about ergonomics? Correct height desk, monitors, chair, do you need a footrest, all that sort of thing.

        My office chair is a little on the battered side, but you take it off me over my dead body. Yes, it’s got a few marks, and some wear on the arms, but it’s fully-functional and it is the *best* chair I’ve ever found for my back. As in, some years ago I was having a back-achey day (sciatica, not fun) and went to help a different department. Sat down in this chair and: Aahhhhh. Bliss. It just supported my back in exactly the right place. I asked if I could take it and let them have my other one, and got a slightly bemused “Yes, sure, if you want.” I literally wheeled it away with me there and then and it’s been with me through the last three desk moves. I can’t imagine being in a job where I’d have to fight to get a chair that fits me *every* *flipping* *day* because some nitwit thought hotdesking was a good idea.

      2. Political staffer*

        In many offices, shared keyboards are no longer as employees are provided with personal laptops.

        As for shared phones, I’d like to see a survey of how many people use office landlines (with the exception of call centers). My work phone is my personal phone (stipend from my employer to help with the bill— unlimited minutes are a necessity).

    7. Emmie*

      Hot desking is gross from a germ standpoint. It’s also unwise to have people handling confidential information in an open office…. like your in house counsel.

      1. Genny*

        I once had a job with two other people that required us to rotate our desks between locations. One person would sit with the executive office in one location and the other two would sit with the action officers in the other location. We rotated who sat where every day.

        When I first started, both of them warned me that I would get sick a lot because of this rotation. Sure enough, they were right. We all got sick a lot from it, but couldn’t take sick leave because that’s where all our PTO would go if we did. Sometimes we were able to telework, but mostly, we all just knew we’d be operating at 60-70% on a good day during the winter.

    8. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      When my old company went to this for the majority of employees, I was so thankful that being in payroll “required” an office. Most people quickly fell into claiming the same seats everyday. They still had the annoyance of having to pack up and put things in a locker, but it was rare that they didn’t sit in pretty much the same place everyday. And these were jobs that could never be done from home. I have no idea why they thought it was better to not have assigned seats.

    9. Bunjeesaysjump*

      I guess for the average company it stinks. But my company has a very strong team culture – and only the admins are assigned desks. Everyone else, including the president does not have an assigned seat. What used to be offices are all now meeting rooms – half of which cannot be reserved, so those are available for ad-hoc meetings, or personal phone calls, etc. Whenever you are going to a meeting, you are supposed to take your laptop, which leaves your desk open for whomever needs it. And usually the big managers will announce “anyone who wants to use this – I’ll be away for the next 2 hours in a meeting” when they leave. And yes, when you enter the floor there is a handgel dispenser, as well as tubes of wipes in each area. It’s not the worse office I’ve worked in (which would be the office with a million cubes that never got vacuumed and I found mouse droppings in the desk drawer)

    10. Luna*

      I can’t believe they are doing this for ATTORNEYS. The hot-desking aside, won’t forcing them to work in the open and on laptops only have the potential to cause major confidentiality issues?

    11. Artemesia*

      And then the new guy will come in early one morning and dominos will fall. How professionals can live like this, having to re-establish their space every dang morning, reset their chair, lug all of their work materials is beyond me. I was so lucky to have spent most of my career with a private office. Even my kids who make far more than I did at my peak have never had that pleasure.

    12. OP #4*

      I agree that this will likely happen – we always end up sitting in the same spots in our weekly meeting out of habit and I suspect it will be the same for our desks. Unfortunately since they are also implementing a “clear your desk every day” policy, we will still have to put our stuff in lockers every night and re-claim our desks in the morning. It all just seems like such a waste of time.

      1. Beth Anne*

        yeah I bet everyone will end up sitting in the same desks everyday. I agree it sounds like a waste of time and is dumb.

      2. Illukar*

        Just hope they give you enough desks. I know a place that designed their hot desks under the belief that only 85% of staff were ever in at the same time.

        Did not work out well.

        1. NeverThoughtI'dMissMyCube*

          In my company’s implementation, the ratio decided upon is 75%. So on any given day, there are only 3/4 the number of workspaces available for the number of people assigned to the “neighborhood”. Of these, 10% don’t have power, 70% don’t have monitors, and I believe something like 50% don’t have a wired network drop. For other groups that have already made the move into this very very very collaborative space, the convention is that if you get one of those blessed stations with power, a robust connection and a monitor — and if someone higher up the food chain shows up later and wants it, you pack your stuff and find someplace else to work. Management’s response to the people trying to demonstrate the failure of the math on display here? Work outside.
          But the real problem is that we’re resistant to change, doncha know.

    13. Turquoisecow*

      I thought that too. Especially if the same people are in the office every day, probably what they select on day one will be their default desk until/if someone comes in before them and steals it. That’s how classrooms worked – everyone sat in the same spots – and that’s generally how meetings work, even. People sit in the same spots every time even though no one told them to

    14. TrainerGirl*

      This type of hot-desking seems like an overreaction to the “open floor plan” space that other companies adopted earlier and that some are moving away from now. My last job was at a tech company that realized that things didn’t need to be quite so open, but at least everyone had an assigned space. A company I left 5 years ago is getting ready to do this in their new space, and it just sounds silly and unproductive.

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#3, is the organization implementing these changes across departments? Because it seems like a pretty inane set-up for everyone, but especially for attorneys. I’ve certainly seen legal folks work in open office set ups, but never in a hot desk setup. As much as I hate pulling this card, could y’all push back on at least having assigned/fixed desk spaces because of your job functions? Or could y’all coordinate and assign desk spaces internally without sharing that you did so with the powers that be?

    1. Attorney*

      For attorneys who can pretty easily get jobs with proper offices, I think that open-office plans (and especially hot-desk plans) definitely justify a job search, assuming you don’t otherwise love the position.

      1. Specialk9*

        Exactly. Lawyers have options to leave. This is the nonsense you pull on low paid workers without many options.

        1. Mabel*

          Not always, unfortunately. I work at a global company with (I assume) competitively paid professionals, and when we moved to a new building, they implemented hot-desking. I really didn’t like it at first, but after a while, people ended up sitting in the same spots every day, and some people even got their desks assigned to them if they could make a case for it based on their job functions. I usually find a seat at one of the tall tables (where you can alternate sitting and standing), and since I don’t come in every day, it doesn’t make sense for me to have an assigned desk. We all used to have little rolling file cabinets, but now that they’ve moved even more people into the building, many of us lost those (not enough room to park them around the floor), and now I have a small locker. I have adjusted to each change, and I really enjoy my colleagues and my work, so I’m OK with it now, but I sure hope I don’t lose the locker. I wouldn’t want to have to carry everything with me every time I come into the office.

      2. OP #4*

        Yep. All of the attorneys in my department have expressed discontent with the situation, some of them have had their own offices for decades already. I wouldn’t be surprised if we started dropping like flies.

        1. AsItIs*

          Well hot-desking does give everyone a feeling of impermanence. The higher-ups shouldn’t be surprised if (when) good employees follow through on that feeling.

        2. MissDissplaced*

          I recently left a job over open office (I was stuck out in the open) and rescinding of work at home policy.
          So yes, these things drive employees away.

    2. NW Mossy*

      My company recently remodeled to smaller, lower-height cubes and limited offices to the C-suite. Our legal department (where I used to work) has a number of attorneys who are very, very, very unhappy at the loss of offices, but when the CLO is on board (even though she now works in a different building than her boss), their complaints have fallen on largely deaf ears.

      What’s been interesting to watch about it, though, is to what extent those who don’t have experience working directly with attorneys every day don’t realize how much offices are a Big Deal in the field. I’m a career-long cube drone so the idea of having an office ever is like fantasy-land to me, and I’ll admit that there’s a part of me that doesn’t quite get an office (or lack thereof) being quit-worthy.

      1. Artemesia*

        I would bet that all their top producers will go and the clients will follow and they will be left with the lawyers who can’t get other jobs.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Offices are a HUGE deal for lawyers, for so many reasons:

        1. Confidentiality and working with sensitive materials;
        2. A lot of us prefer quiet-ish working areas with minimal distractions/noises, and we’re easy to irritate;
        3. That said, if we’re on a call, we’d like to put it on speaker so it’s easier to take notes;
        4. We deal with insane amounts of paper, even in “paperless” offices;
        5. Because of #3, we like having secure but easy-to-access places to store our stuff;
        6. A lot of us work on the “pile” system of organization, so clearing a desk nightly is a nightmare that costs us tons of non-billable time getting organized each day [this doesn’t apply to cubes, but to hot desks];
        7. There’s a lot of status wrapped up in having an office.

        Of that list, #7 is the least compelling, imo. Working in cubes is marginally better than open offices, although it would probably frustrate me (and I’ve worked in shared offices without complaints). But yeah—lawyers tend to be extremely attached to their work spaces.

        1. NW Mossy*

          My experience has been that most of our non-attorney employees who produce the core services my company sells would give the same list of needs/desires for their workspaces too, so it feels a bit tone-deaf to our analysts when the attorneys cite these as reasons for why the new workspace is substandard. It unfortunately is reinforcing the gulf between attorneys and analysts, because analysts have had to live with the reality of having insufficient professional value to successfully argue for a better workspace for a long time and the attorneys weren’t particularly sensitive about how they flexed the privileges of their position.

      3. Genny*

        I wonder if part of it is that it’s perceived to be a perk of being an attorney (or at least an attorney of a certain level). For instance, if four of the top five law firms give even their most junior attorneys offices, then the lone firm that doesn’t is going to look out of touch. All other things being equal, people will go where they have the most perks, so that lone firm is going to be less competitive simply because it doesn’t provide the same perk its competitors provide, regardless of the fact that it seems odd to make a decision to take a job on whether or not you have an office.

    3. Maddening*

      It seems like a push for self-attrition – I know I’d be looking for another job as this is a strong sign the company is in decline.

      I did hotdesking (or ‘hoteling’, as we called it) when I worked tech support. We literally did not need anything other than a computer to do our jobs, so anything else on our desk was personal and extraneous. It still sucked, because people like to feel at least a little at home when they work.

    4. OP #4*

      It’s being implemented across all departments. The attorneys have pushed back on having our own desks, we’ve expressed concerns with attorney-client privilege and the confidential nature of our jobs to which they’ve answered that there will be plenty of “privacy rooms” available to take calls in (but who wants to move all their stuff to a privacy room every time they need to make a call?). We’ve also expressed concerns about file storage, but they come back at us with the whole “paperless” spiel. They’ve had dozens of meetings to discuss and listen to our “feedback” but truthfully, they’re not listening to our concerns at all, they’re just telling us all the reasons we are wrong. I will also mention that this is nowhere near a start up type company, this is a very old company with lots of old school practices, so this drastic change is a really bold (and imo, asinine) experiment.

      1. Manders*

        This sounds exactly like a company I interviewed with during my last job search. They were moving across town to an expensive new office and switching to a hot desk setup because that’s what the new CEO wanted. It was an insurance company, so the whole setup sounded like a HIPAA nightmare to me.

        It sounds like your team totally agrees that this is a bad idea, and maybe you’ll all be able to work out some system within your room that will make life easier (like agreeing on an informal seating chart and then moving your lockers under the workstations so you functionally have a desk drawer). But I think you’re right that there’s about to be a lot of turnover in your department.

      2. Mabel*

        I really can’t stand it when we are asked for feedback but are then told why our concerns are wrong. Don’t f-ing ask for feedback if you don’t actually want it and aren’t going to listen seriously to it. So aaaaaggravating!

        1. OP #4*

          Exactly! It really makes things worse than if they would have just done what they wanted to begin with without asking.

  4. Bend & Snap*

    #1 please shake the shit out of this guy far and wide. His boss, HR, Twitter, Facebook, EVERYWHERE

      1. Iris Eyes*

        Bonus points for handing out fast food hats and telling people that they will need this for their next job/where they’re going.

  5. Anna Tolstoyevsky*

    OP#3, depending on company culture and multiple other factors, I think it might be appropriate to write to Fergus’ manager expressing your appreciation of how helpful he has been and how his help was instrumental in achieving The Strategic Goal of Handle – Lid Consistency.

    1. MK*

      Eh, I think this is something a client or a vendor could do, and perhaps another manager (someone who is on the same level with Fergus’ manager). If the OP is equal to Fergus, or junior to him (sounds like it to me), it would come off as very odd.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Depends… we have awards for values that are nominated by other staff… the entire IT dept once nominated a marketing person who had helped a lot. If that’s an option, could work… other option might be to bump into manager in kitchen and mention casually how awesome Fergus has been.

        1. MK*

          Maybe I am influenced by my field’s strict heirarchical nature. To be clear, I am talking about specifically writing to a person’s supervisor to tell them their report is doing a great job. More formal feedback (like the values system Akcipitrokulo describes) or much less formal comments, like bringing up how helpful and great at their job X is while chatting, are another matter.

        2. Karen K*

          It’s appropriate where I work. We have “Moments to Shine,” where any employee can express appreciation to any other employee. Sometimes you get points that you can use to buy stuff!

      2. OP3*

        Yeah I’m not sure how I’d feel bringing Fergus’ manager into this (even for a positive thing). I am very much his junior.

        I am already planning on sending him an email of gratitude when I finish up my current tests.

        1. Judy (since 2010)*

          Usually when I do this, I cc the person’s manager, so they don’t have to. When I receive emails like this, if my manager is not copied, I forward the email.

          1. sb*

            Yep, write the letter TO Fergus, but CC his manager. If the manager doesn’t need more nice things to include in Fergus’s next review, they can delete it with no reply required; if they want it they can save it.

        2. Mockingjay*

          Have your manager convey your appreciation to Fergus’s manager, in a roundabout manner. “Hey, boss, I want you and Fergus’s manager to know how helpful Fergus has been in explaining the teapot lid process to me. ” Hopefully boss will take it from there.

        3. Artemesia*

          I’d plot to informally comment on how helpful he is, in the break room to the boss or when chatting at the elevator.

      3. Bend & Snap*

        Depends on the culture. My company has a formal recognition program and you can nominate anyone, level doesn’t matter.

        I don’t think people should consider politics to the point that it holds them back for recognizing help and good work.

  6. Ramona Flowers*

    #2 Talking to your therapist is a great start. In particular, could you have a think together about coping strategies you could use in the moment, at work, when something food related triggers you?

    Some ideas you can of course take or leave. Write down some helpful words or sayings and keep them to hand. Write down a plan for what you’ll do to look after yourself in these situations. Keep items on or in your desk that you find comforting or distracting, which don’t have to do with food, eg hand cream, figurines, photos, squeezy stress balls, whatever works for you.

    And try to be kind to yourself. It might help to acknowledge to yourself that it’s difficult for you. Eating problems can involve feelings of shame – speaking from experience anyway – and it can help to ask yourself what you would say to a friend.

    I find it hard to not eat food, and to eat it slowly – even when I think I’m eating slowly I find I’m not. Someone commenting on how fast I’ve eaten can send me into a spiral of self hatred. For me this stems from complex issues in my childhood. I’ve had to acknowledge that there are always going to be triggers around and focus on trying to cope with them. My particular challenge is sitting in meetings when there is food on the table.

    I wish you all the best with your recovery and your job!

    1. Annie Moose*

      Leapfrogging off your suggestion about writing down a plan, OP might find it helpful to visualize a situation where someone in the office is pushing food, and prep some responses to it. (e.g. “no thanks, I’ll have to pass this morning” or whatever would be appropriate to the situation) Especially if you’re going to pull out the “I’m trying to avoid food for medical reasons” thing–I find it really helpful for stuff like this to know ahead of time what my stock answer will be if someone asks about it, because it’s not my coworker’s business what my specific medical issue is, you know? A generic answer is fine, and if somebody gets nosy about it, it’s okay to be like “I’d rather not get into details”/”oh it’s nothing to worry about” + subject change.

      Perhaps you could also find it helpful to brainstorm ways to respond with your therapist, so you have someone to bounce ideas off of?

      1. Mabel*

        I have found if I say something like “not right now” instead of a hard “no,” people (who for some reason think it’s OK to push food on other people) tend to move on. Jeez, it’s ridiculous what we have to go through to mind our own food intake and keep others out of it.

    2. Rachel in Minneapolis*

      I had a boss who had a very strict diet they were following for medical reasons. This was at a high level university. She literally carried around a lunch bag with approved snacks and meals everywhere. When we would go into a meeting and there would be donuts on the table, she would reach into her bag and pull out whatever approved snack she had. At a fancy meal in the Campus Center with donors, she would pull out her Tupperware from her bag.

      Everyone got used to it within a week. It honestly work so well that a lot of us started bringing our own snacks just for health and fun

      1. Blue_eyes*

        OP could have a script to go along with this. Something like: “Thanks for offering, but for medical reasons, I need to stick to the food I bring from home.”

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This is pretty much what I did. I decided to take control of what I was eating in order to reclaim some of my health.
          I would tell people that I brought my own stuff. This worked well. I knew I was going to want to munch on something as a snack. So why not plan for that and bring something healthy to munch on. The idea is not to punish ourselves with deprivation but to anticipate the hungries and be prepared.
          Water was a big help also. I would make myself drink a mug of water before eating anything. Thirst often feels like hunger and it’s just thirst, that’s all.
          Here is something else I learned. Energy has to come from some where. If we are not well-rested then we are more inclined to graze and be unable to say no. Getting a full night’s sleep might help you in surprising ways, OP. On days where you find your NO running low check out how much sleep you have been getting and see if you notice a correlation.

          I know that each one of these things does not sound like a big deal or that helpful. But from my own experience I know I had to collect up a number of ideas and run them all in order to stay on track. Things did change for me. I found that the longer I ate better then the better I felt. It got easier to stay on track- so, OP, hang tough. In a while things might not look so hard and any lessening can feel like a relief.

    3. Lil Fidget*

      The only way I can deal with the glut of free food at my office is to avoid the kitchen. If I don’t see those donuts, it’s not hard to pass on them – but if my eyes land on them, yes I’m going to want one and then glut myself on the leftovers. So I might focus on the “passing around” element and ask if the snacks could be kept in the kitchen, which I would then avoid.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        I manage to avoid so much food by avoiding the kitchen. I work for a food retailer, so there’s always bagels or donuts or samples of something (and candy) in the kitchen. If I went in or near the kitchen, I’d eat a lot more.

        The main way I avoid this is by not drinking coffee. I bring my own beverage and only occasionally go into the kitchen to get a drink, so I don’t see the food or candy that’s spread out. It might be easier for OP to avoid reacting to the “oh there’s donuts in the kitchen!” than to someone literally walking around with donuts. If you can get people to not pass it around it will probably also save a lot of wasted time. Just put food in a designated location and tell people it’s there, rather than walking around to everyone.

  7. LizB*

    I really want to believe that the guy in #1 is the victim of some horrible prank where someone got into his email account and changed his template rejection email without him noticing, because nobody would be that much of a jackass on purpose, at work, right? (Sadly, I know the jackassery of people knows no bounds.)

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      Yes, my first thought was some kind of prank by someone – or maybe the disgruntled employee scenario mentioned above, maybe even someone who had a friend applying for that position…I can quite well believe that hiring manager doesn’t know that got sent out.

    2. nep*

      It really does look as if it’s got to be some kind of prank gone bad, or someone hacked an email to do this. Cannot fathom someone would press send on this. OP, we must have a follow-up.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I used to work for a guy that taught people how to trade forex. Basically, people paid him $500 a month for desk space, and he’d provide computer terminals, Bloomberg access, etc. I can absolutely see him doing something like this. He is the worst person I have ever encountered in any workplace. When he wasn’t doing cocaine in his office, he was screaming at the traders about technical analysis and unemployment rates. He also used to advertise on Craigslist for a hot girl to live in his apartment for free. I think the deal was that she could live there rent-free if he got to leer at her whenever he felt like it. He would definitely call a candidate shite.

    3. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      I even wondered if the guy that emailed knows the OP and did it as a joke. Possibly knew the OP from school or something and thought OP would immediately see the name and recognize it.

      But, I’m sure that’s wishful thinking on my part that no one would actually do this.

  8. Ramona Flowers*

    #4 These sorts of arrangements suck – and they waste time. It takes time to get set up at a different workstation every morning. It takes time to adjust things like monitor heights. You could make an argument about lost time.

    I once pushed back on a suggestion like this by saying I would need to go through the standard display screen assessment / desk assessment every time I moved work station as I have back problems. It wouldn’t work everywhere but I basically quoted their health and safety policies at them until they gave up in frustration…

    Hotdesking is really problematic from a health and safety standpoint and it’s bad for morale. And mobility, what the? Could you suggest sitting with another team one day a week instead?

    1. Junior Dev*

      Yeah, whoever came up with that policy has never experienced health problems due to poor ergonomics.

    2. Betty Cooper*

      The health and safety angle is a good one. If Archie needs a special chair to support his bad back, and Veronica needs a footstool if she’s going to be able to reach the keyboard without her feet dangling off the ground, and Jughead needs a speacial keyboard for his carpal tunnel, then everyone is going to have to be moving furniture around and readjusting their workstations every single morning. That’s a boatload of lost productivity.

      1. Gen*

        And speaking from experience there’s going to be a lot of petty fighting where people with minor seniority want the medical aids that belong to other people because they ‘look comfy’ or they’ve ‘earned the perk’ even though it’s not a PERK it’s MEDICALLY NECESSARY. And then you end up with furniture with names scrawled on the back in white out because you can’t put a chair in a locker.

        Hot desk environments rarely have enough space for all the staff, or you’ll get one or two people who like to spread out, or eight people who HAVE to have one of the four window seats. A stressful job becomes harder.

        Their sleek new office will soon look like a cheap call centre, all the staff used to being better treated will leave and new applicants will bolt if they see it. It’s bad enough working in that environment when it is a call centre, it’s intensely demoralising and very messy. No one takes care of anything, even if they do fall into an informal layout just one untidy/unclean person will be enough to drive everyone else to distraction.

        1. Sarah*

          Yeah, I worked at a call center last winter while between full-time jobs and we hot-desked but… it was a call center, so that was fine-ish? We all had our usual desks. That said, it was a pretty germy environment (sharing phone headsets, for example!), and I got sick more often and more severely than I typically do in winter.

          1. Artemesia*

            When I have worked in shared stations — not on my job, but in a photo lab for a hobby etc — I always wipe down the keyboard, mouse, desk, EVERYTHING with chlorox wipes (or hand sanitizer if I don’t have those with) before working. It dramatically cuts colds and such. My software developer son taught me that and he claims it cut his colds by two thirds to be obsessive about not touching his face, washing his hands after public transport, and sanitizing computer gear.

            Hot desking still sucks especially for professionals for whom it also a huge status signifier.

        2. Elfie*

          Oh my god, my husband encountered the seniority thing when he got a special phone (he’s hard of hearing), and a chair with arms (should be mandatory, but he has mobility issues too…) – he went off sick for a few weeks, and when he came back, both were gone (he KNEW it was his supervisor, because he’s the only one in the office of 6 who was petty enough to do this, but couldn’t prove it…). Like, who thinks reasonable accommodations are a perk or a priviledge?!

        3. AKchic*

          I had a similar problem when my last job bought a new building and moved our admin staff to the new corporate office.
          My boss kept trying to get the administration to look more corporate. In his mind, that meant “look uniform and sleek”. To him, that meant matching desks, chairs, office accessories, etc. Regardless of our sizes, health accommodations, medical NEEDS, and personal tastes – we all had to be uniform. The chair I had that helped my back (since my spine is complete garbage)? It was given to someone at a prison program because it didn’t fit in with his new aesthetic. Never mind that it was a $700 chair that I managed to get off of the VP because she needed something to accommodate her bigger size. The CEO? Her chair to accommodate her short frame was tossed out and she was given the same styled 2-hour chair I was (she was out on medical leave and when she got back – hoo boy, did the fecal matter really hit the oscillating blades).
          I never did get my chair back. I did, however, end up having the three bad discs in my lower back rupture twice before I was allowed to get a different chair (from leftovers we already had). I think it was only the CEO’s intervention that got that much of a concession.
          I was so glad when he left. The non-profit mental health mentality of “give second chances” and avoidance of firing people really kills companies.

        1. Betty Cooper*

          I mean, my name’s Betty. I’m practically contractually obligated to be an Archie Comics fan.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        As I type this, my feet are on a box. (I work from home.) Take THAT, Mr. “our office should look pristine and high tech.”

    3. Newt*


      My employer does have everyone on laptop and all desks set up *so they can be* hotdesked. But that’s because the set-up is designed to allow us to work from home if, say, we have a parcel coming, or to allow us to easily travel to other office locations to meet other departments. We take our laptops home with us, but we all still have our assigned desk where we keep all our notes and stationery and calculators and photos of our cats etc.

      Full hotdesking for all was tried by my last employer at their city office, and it was a nightmare. Senior executives who weren’t willing to shove the normal staff out of their desks ended up trying to do work in the canteen and break rooms which disrupted people trying to get a break away from the grind, and senior executives who were willing to demand a desk on arrival ended up resented by staff who’d inevitably just have set up and then have to vacate a space and get relegated to whatever sofa or coffee table they could find. To say nothing of the problems it caused anyone who needed a special support chair for back issues, or foot rests, or special set-ups for their physical needs.

      I’d encourage you to push back as a group if you can on the hot-desking, specifically raise issues regarding any special equipment needs, desk assessment protocols and productivity lost due to extended set-up and take-downs each day etc rather than raising more personal issues iro photos on your desk and such.

      1. Annie Moose*

        My current employer sounds a bit like yours. We all have assigned desks in an open office plan, but it’s very easy to swap desks and we have several empty desks scattered about; as long as nobody messed with my stuff, I wouldn’t mind at all if someone borrowed my desk for a day when I wasn’t in the office.

        Your last employer’s plan sounds awful, though! Why didn’t they have enough desks for everybody??

        1. Natalie*

          My last office was like that, and one of the big pluses we took advantage of was how easy it was to rearrange things when people left or were promoted or positions were added. But that meant switching around anywhere from 6 months to 3 years later, not every day!

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      We just went to hotdesking and, coincidentally, the H&S lady at work quit. Maybe she was planning to go for a while, but timing seems suspicious.

      We have desks set around at different heights, but the chairs are all up for grabs and I just gave up and use a bouncy ball instead of tracking down, and then adjusting, the right damn chair. Feels better on my bad back anyway. That doesnt mean I am any more likely to be ergonomically correct now, with monitor settings and the like all over the place. And then yesterday I made the mistake of shaking out the keyboard I was using because the space bar was stuck and… yeah. Not doing that again.

      The party line is that we went to this to save money and not have to move offices and since no one is in Fridays anyway this made sense. Right now we are in the six month office redecoration phase, but the fully built-out trial area with all the nice furniture and meeting areas and noise deadening soft features are really nice and people have taken to them well. I dont know, its sort of working but we had the same arguments about “well I get in later…” and “where do I put my gym stuff” and a kitchen area that looks absolutely disgusting by the end of the day.

      BTW I am currently off work today with a stomach bug.

      1. Artemesia*

        FWIW norovirus is not killed by hand sanitizer, people are contagious for two weeks after they are ‘well’ and so unless they are scrupulous about thorough hand washing hot desking is a great way to spread it around the office.

  9. cornflower blue*

    Does hotdesking ever happen in engineering/development, or is this mostly a customer service thing? I’m imagining a department of Teapot Specialists having to lug all their patent-pending prototypes back and forth from car to desk every single day.

    1. CoffeeLover*

      I’ve actually never heard of this in an office where people are expected to be there every day. It’s really common in consulting where most employees work at the client site most days. I never minded it because it made sense. Why reserve desks for people that are never there. Even then though, the support staff (ie admins) had set desks. We were also really used to moving so no one held on to a lot of stuff. I pretty much just had a laptop.

      1. SchoolStarts!*

        “Why reserve desks for people that are never there. ” Exactly. And yet, sometimes, it’s “their” space and get really bent out of shape when you want to claim their large, roomy space for someone who will really use it. The anger I got was wildly disproportionate to the amount of time he was ever there for desk space he didn’t need.

      2. Natalie*

        When I was a college student I worked the overnight shift processing checks. Although it wasn’t called that, we had a hotdesk office because the check batches were assigned to a specific desks but staffing levels fluctuated throughout the week based on volume. Even there, the handful of full-time employees had assigned starting desks.

        15 years later as a professional who isn’t even super enamored with open offices, this would have me job searching yesterday.

      3. Anon today...and tomorrow*

        I just took a part time temp job at a company in my town. They do the hotdesking thing with lockers for belongings. I HATE IT. This company is trying so hard to be “fun” and “exciting” and three weeks in I find it to be neither of those things. It’s more in the realm of loud, overly bright and disorganized. My position requires data entry so I can sit anywhere. There’s usually three part time temps at the same time working on the data entry and there’s one desk that is set in a quiet, darker area of the company. There’s no assigned seating so there’s a lot of fighting over this desk. I’ve given up and let the others duke it out while I resign myself to the migraine brought on by the open concept / too bright lights at a desk that belongs to no one and is used by everyone. LW…I actually bring sanitizing wipes and wipe down the desk before I start work. It grosses me out too.

        1. Specialk9*

          Yeah, it’s not a coincidence that every awful crammed-together open nightmares office space has bright pops of color like orange! lime green! turquoise! and spiffy decals or random sheets or colored plastic. “Oh heyyy this is all for you guys, to be more fun, and ooh look it just so happens to save boat loads of money for us, what a coincidence!”

        2. tigerStripes*

          I found that wearing a hat with a somewhat wide brim helped me avoid headaches because it shielded my eyes from the light.

      4. Bend & Snap*

        We have mandatory hoteling for people who are in the office less than 3 days a week.

        But this setup strikes me as really odd for attorneys, who presumably are handling private information.

        1. Natalie*

          That seems reasonable to me, since it is a big waste of space and resources to keep desks for people who are in the office 40% of the week or less.

          1. Specialk9*

            Yeah, totally reasonable when people aren’t 100% at an office. Pretty awful when everyone is there every day.

    2. Huntington*

      I’m really trying to wrap my head around including positions like counsel in a hot-desking arrangement. It’s like finance. By its (often sensitive) legal nature, it would seem to require at least an assigned computer if not a cubicle or office.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        Are they trying to encourage more people to work from home? I don’t understand the motivation :/.

        1. Clewgarnet*

          They decided to save money by getting a building with enough desk space for approx 2/3 the number of people we have. So, yes, we’re encouraged to work from home because otherwise there aren’t enough desks.

        2. OP #4*

          Our offices don’t encourage working from home at all, so it’s definitely not that. And we were told there would be enough desks for all of us so i don’t think it’s a cost-saving measure. We really are all at a loss, the real problem is the people making these decisions are all going to have their own offices, so they’re more focused on being cool and edgy and making the office look like a futuristic lab than they are on actually improving functionality.

          1. Specialk9*

            Executives are so motivated by ego and comparisons to peers. It’s a big revelation that has helped me understand a lot of weird corporate decisions.

    3. misspiggy*

      It happens in all fields in my experience, and is an indicator that senior management are, or used to be, idiots.

      1. Specialk9*

        Ha perfect! “It happens in all fields in my experience, and is an indicator that senior management are, or used to be, idiots.”

        It also makes people feel like they are being treated like identical objects. It’s one thing to know that spreadsheets see employees as interchangeable widgets, but to have spreadsheets decide on the daily lives of widgets – er people – is pretty demoralizing. Spreadsheets value people based on very broad parameters (level 4 vs level 5), so there is no “Janet, a level 4 who does the work of 3 people, is the social glue for the whole office, and has loyal customers”. This in turn makes people want to go where they’re valued, BY people, AS people.

    4. Thlayli*

      Depends on the type of engineering. I’d imagine anyone who develops physical prototypes would not be expected to carry them in and out of their car and stores them at home on weekends. So if hotdesking were used in that circumstance some onsite storage would be needed.
      However if your prototype is software and you work on computers all day then hotdesking could work.

    5. Some sort of management consultant*

      I’m a management consultant (heh) and it makes a lot of sense for us to have hot-desking.
      We’re in the office maybe 50% of the time on average, and it varies a lot between people and projects. If everyone had a desk or an office, we’d need a HUUUGE office and then we couldn’t stay in the location we have now.

      So I totally understand why we have it. People who are always in the office? Not so much.

    6. Lora*

      Yes. They have you leave your actual stuff on the shop floor, where other people can mess with it, “borrow” parts off it, get water and saline all over your documents and drawings, and where ultimately some low level technician will throw it out because someone from Finance thought “everything should be clean for the board of directors tour”.

      I lasted two years in that environment. Now if I walk into a job and see hot desking of any type I just tell them I’ll be mainly working from home / remotely in this job if they want me. Like so:

      Me: looking at this project you’ve described, it’s obvious that for XYZ I’d have to be in the office to do part ABC, but for parts DEFGH I would really need to just, you know, get my head down and have some peace and quiet with zero interruptions. Is there a possibility for the role to be done remotely and I’d just check in once a week or so for DEFGH? In previous jobs where I’ve done DEFGH I actually find it’s more useful to find a quiet place to sit that’s not even at my desk. I hide in the lab or a break room or something because the open office is just too loud with constant interruptions.
      Potential employer: now that you mention it, that’s definitely a possibility. Let me think about it, but I think you’re right, we have similar roles where people aren’t on site very often and it seems to work out.

      I get it that they save money on facilities this way, but then just go whole hog and have everyone work from home. Have seen several places do exactly that: they have labs and machine shops and manufacturing areas, and some conference rooms but no desk areas at all. You want to eat and be on your computer, go to the cafeteria. One of the most successful business incubators in my area provides lab space, conference rooms and a couple of cafeterias. If you need a business address that isn’t your house, they rent out mailboxes. Desk space isn’t considered efficient use of a small company’s money.

      1. Colette*

        That’s fine, if they’re ok with only hiring people who have an appropriate setup to work from home, and who are ok with paying for their work space and infrastructure (internet/phone). But it rules out a lot of people.

        1. Lora*

          They pay for it. They expect you’re going to be out in “the field” (clean room, actual oil field etc) sooner or later anyway, so they give you the setup no matter how you end up working.

        2. Ell the Bell*

          My office provides the at home set up (computer, monitors, prints, etc) and pays for a work phone and percentage of internet.

    7. Antilles*

      I think it probably depends in what people keep in their office. In my industry (civil engineering), every single engineer has a personal library of reference materials (correlations, structural codes, regulatory statutes, etc) plus a bunch of hard-copy project files required for liability reasons. So even the most junior engineers in cubicles or ‘open office plans’ get their own designated work space, because it’s simply not feasible to have people move every day.
      But if your work doesn’t have any need for ‘personal’ work-related items like that and/or is almost exclusively computerized, I can see where it might be possible to do hotdesking.

  10. SignalLost*

    #4 – if the idea makes you want to get a new job, either push back as hard as you can or get a new job. I’m not being flippant, because I assume you know yourself well enough to know whether such an environment fills you with joy at the prospect or not. Personally, I hate open offices with the power of a thousand fiery suns; they are miserable as all hell, counter productive, and if you have any condition at all that makes you intolerant of LOTS of other-people time (anything from introversion to misophonia to a belief that fish should not be microwaved) you will be miserable. Add to that the hot-desking, and … yeah. One of the minimal benefits of actually having an assigned desk even in an open-office setup is the ability to look at your own pictures and store your own snacks.

    I have been looking for an article I know has been shared on this site before and I can’t find it. Anyone have a link to that article about the design firm that went avant-garde open office and hot-desk? There was that woman who was an early pilot of the hot-desking component who hauled all her stuff around in a little red wagon while she looked for a desk. I recall that the company also deliberately did not provide enough desk space because everyone would be working from coffee shops or whatnot, and that didn’t happen. It got pretty cutthroat.

    Also, OP, if you do want to push back, there are a LOOOOOOT of articles online about why open offices and/or hot-desking are terrible. You might want to see if you can get traction against the idea with those studies and articles. It looks like law is getting open offices late, and a lot of industries are leaving that sort of layout, so there’s definitely studies that the two ideas don’t do what they’re supposed to do, and in fact do a lot of harm – lost productivity, employee stress, increased sick time taken, weird hierarchies and territorial politics, a total inability to focus on complex tasks. Essentially, they’re more expensive than traditional offices when you factor in all the lost time. I don’t think adding hot-desking to that potent mix is going to make things any better, for some reason.

      1. Kalamet*

        I’ve never read this story before, but wow what a trip. And after all that, the guy still can’t admit it was all a bad idea. :P

    1. Jennifer*

      I tried to link it but I think it ends up in moderation when you do. Do a search on “Chiat Day Lost In Space” at

    2. Not Australian*

      Hotdesking often occurs when management downsize their office space and literally can’t fit everybody in; then they arrange for some people to ‘work from home’ and turn the rest into a free-for-all. It’s presented as progressive, whereas it’s usually penny-pinching and disruptive. Some people respond well, but others find it incredibly stressful – and yes, there are serious health implications in some cases. (I could get anecdotal, but I won’t.) Nobody but a bean-counter would ever imagine it was a good thing – and you can bet the bean-counters get their own desks and offices, probably in a different building.

      1. Jeanne*

        And, like any garbage idea, you lose your best workers who can get jobs elsewhere (where they aren’t treated like cattle) and are left with the workers who have no better options. So you save money for a short amount of time and then lose money in productivity and in intellectual capital. I know why I would hate it. But after so many companies have ditched the layout for not working, why do companies continue to try it like it’s innovative?

        1. Janelle*

          I wouldn’t just want to quit, I’d run out the door screaming like I was on fire. This has to be one of the dumbest ideas ever.

      2. Beancounter Eric*

        I’m a bean-counter, and I know better than to think open offices are a good thing. Hate open offices for so many reasons.

        I can see hot-desking in a consulting/audit environment when people spend much of their time at client sites. I understand the allure of open offices – flexibility in work-space arrangement, “better” space utilization, etc. And as stated very well by others here, all of those “benefits” are outweighed by lost productivity, increased stress and absenteeism, and greater turnover.

        And this bean-counter has spent much of the past 17 years in cubicles, with all the noise and interruptions.

      3. Mike C.*

        What angers me so much about this sort of thing is the direct dishonesty of such a tactic. Admit that trying to cut costs is a priority (your employees likely have great ideas about this!). Admit that you don’t have enough space or equipment. And when the plan fails, admit that you scerwed up.

        Employees aren’t stupid.

        1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

          This is not a new tactic. In the late 1980’s, my firm went from offices to cubicles because they wanted to “promote interaction”. They then prevented interaction by laying off 25% of the staff. Which we knew was coming, since 25% of the staff HAD NO CLIENT WORK.

          1. Been There, Done That*

            The “promote interaction” gambit always gets a bleary eye from me. In my experiences with the notorious open office plans, the main interaction I’ve seen promoted is increased personal chitchatting by the social butterflies.

      4. OP #4*

        That’s the thing, this is the total opposite of a situation where management is downsizing office space. We are moving into a huge 5 story custom built “state-of-the-art” facility with 3 times more space than we currently have. They’ve invested millions into this facility. There will be wellness spaces and coffee bars and dry cleaning, etc. I really have no idea what is going through the heads of the higher-ups with this hotdesking policy. They say they want to foster collaboration, they want different departments to have the option to work together for a day (and let’s be real, we’re talking about a media/entertainment company full of creatives that DON’T want an attorney sitting next to them for the day). It seems like an awful lot of trouble to be going through just to get us to collaborate, especially considering that we have like, 17,000 ways of communicating with each other nowadays.

        1. SignalLost*

          And these setups don’t promote collaboration! Having a team you, you know, collaborate with does that! Seriously, look for the studies about why this is bad.

    3. overly produced bears*

      “I recall that the company also deliberately did not provide enough desk space because everyone would be working from coffee shops or whatnot,”

      Tangent, but this always bugs me. Coffee shops aren’t work places! You can’t just sit down there for eight hours and use their tables and outlets.

      1. Nanani*

        Right?! Even if you are buying coffee throughout the day, you are hogging space that is not meant to have just 1 customer (probably taking up 2+ spaces with a computer and whatnot) all day.

        1. SignalLost*

          Starbucks uses uncomfortable chairs for a reason. Red Robin sets the music volume too high for a reason. They want to turn ’em and burn ’em.

        2. bridget*

          And if it’s not a one-off situation, it gets expensive. I personally don’t feel comfortable staying at a coffee shop without ordering something at least every 60-90 minutes. Even if I get plain coffee or tea, that’s $15+ day, and then you need to tip well if you aren’t leaving all day. Why am I paying out of my pocket to cover a company’s expense of a place to work?

        3. Artemesia*

          Last time I walked into a Starbucks in Chicago to get coffee with a friend, one woman was at table that would seat 8 with her stuff spread out working; there was no room for us in the entire place. We left and got coffee elsewhere.

      2. Natalie*

        I mean, that’s really up to the coffee shop owner, isn’t it? I was a regular at a shop for years where the owner liked her daytime campers because otherwise the shop would have been completely dead. But they were true regulars, who bought things, cleaned up after themselves, and even sometimes helped her fix something or whatever.

        1. Artemesia*

          A colleague and I did most of our planning for writing a book at a coffee shop, but it was a big one that liked campers off hours. We would arrive and get breakfast, then get a second drink mid morning and then get lunch and then get a drink mid afternoon. The place was dead in the middle of the day but had a breakfast and lunch rush and so we made sure we bought food during those windows. But they had the space for this too. Some coffee shops like having people off hours to make the place look busy.

    4. Specialk9*

      Perhaps print out 1000 copies of a study on how much people hate hot-desking, and shove them under the door of all of the executives.

  11. tink*

    OP 5’s question is really relevant for me, since I got offered a job Friday… and then got contacted yesterday about an interview for a position I’ve been really interested in but had put to the back of my mind since it’d been awhile since I’d applied. It’s not exactly the same, but I spent yesterday weighing “you have an offer, it’d be kinda rude to accept and then bail” against “this is a position that rarely comes up doing something you really want to do.” My mom suggested taking the interview anyways, but I’d feel like a jerk accepting this position, doing the onboarding, and then maybe only working there for a month if I got the offer. Then again, the interview might not go anywhere, and all I’d be out is time.

    1. SignalLost*

      I was in a position once where I had a pretty good offer for Job A, but I knew Job B was coming open sometime. I’d temped for Company B the previous year and was told their expansion plans. When I got the offer for A, I called my contact at B and put a gun to his head, basically. He moved his whole hiring timetable around and got me an interview for a position that wasn’t formally open the following week. I also had a conversation where he said the odds I was going to get the job were like 70-30, so on that basis I declined Job A, but it was a little dicey for a while. Basically, if you have any sort of leverage for your job B, you might want to try to use it, especially since people back out of job offers all the time. If you don’t have pretty good leverage though, I don’t know what to tell you.

      1. Frustrated Optimist*

        So I take it you did get the job at Company B? And, if so, did the job live up to your expectations?

        1. SignalLost*

          It was the best job I’ve ever had. I lost it in the recession (the whole insistent shrank dramatically) but I had a great boss, a great working environment, I was doing the thing I think I’m best at, working on something I love beyond words. AND it was well paid!

      2. Jennifer Thneed*

        I did that with the company I’m currently at. I was in the running for a full-time permanent job I could do fine, in a place I felt “okay” about, in an industry I don’t love, with a looong commute. And then I heard from a place that I liked aside from location, and as I learned more I really wanted it. It was equally far, but more transit-friendly, and in an industry I like a lot better.

        So I leveraged that “I already had a 2nd interview” into them really pushing up their interview schedule, and we liked each other and they WANTED me to WFH most of the time because they’re young and have no desks to spare.

        Sadly, it’s contract-to-hire, and I’m sick of the hustle and want to be hired somewhere, so it really was a hard choice to make. I went with the more risky option. I felt vindicated when I wrote to withdraw my candidacy at the first place and NEVER heard back from them. My six months are up in mid-January, and I hope hope hope. They’re about to expand to another building and I’ll have a desk of my own and they certainly have unlimited work for me to do. Fingers crossed.

    2. JenM*

      Go for the interview. As you say there’s no guarantee anything will come of it but at least you’ll know. If you are offered the job you can make a decision then.

    3. Shadow*

      Here’s the test. If you’d regret not going on that interview and finding out if it’s as great a job match as you imagined then go. Yeah I get that it’s kinda shitty to the first job but at the same time a reasonable person will eventually understand if you explain why it’s so good a move for you. Sucks for them and they might not hire you back but you’ve got to do what’s best for you, your finances, your well being, and your family.

    4. overly produced bears*

      I did this once, but with the major caveat that Job B was an internal transfer I’d been trying to get for a while, so when I got told that Job B was 95% actually gonna get posted (and that I knew I had a very very very good shot of getting it), I turned down Job A’s offer. Job A’s offer had also had some red flags, though. If Job A’s offer had been really awesome (and if they hadn’t negotiated me down on the asking salary, and if it had shown that it was using 2010’s technology and not 1995 technology and had no intention to upgrade, while still expecting me to do things that could only really be done on later software, etc etc etc), I wouldn’t have dropped the known offer for what-could-be.

      I’m still in Job B, btw.

    5. Infinity Anon*

      When would the interview be? The ideal scenario is that you wait to accept the job until after that interview.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        This is my situation: I am 95% sure I’m about to get an offer from a company I just interviewed at yesterday (not a hunch, my contact there let me know informally an offer is pending). I have an interview scheduled with Company B next Friday and since Company B is my first choice, I’m basically going to have to ask Company A to hang tight while I keep the interview. I know Company A is really looking to hire ASAP so I hope it’s not a deal-breaker for them to wait 2 weeks. Company B has already told me that if I get an offer from Company A, they will expedite things so that’s promising.

        In the meantime I could negotiate with Company A but that seems shady unless/until I’m ready to accept the offer. I already know I will if Company B doesn’t work out, barring any shenanigans from A like low-balling the salary or title-demotion or something, but I don’t want to go through the motions and then renege.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          Oh never mind, now I’m in the same boat as #5. Company A needs an answer by tomorrow, and Company B tried but cannot move up the interview. Company B did say they would love to be in touch for future openings (it’s a growing team, so there are likely to be more positions) if I decide to take A.

          I guess the smart play is to accept A’s offer and see after a year if I want to look around again and B has opportunities.

  12. Is It Performance Art*

    #4 If I were to make a list of jobs where hotdesking is a terrible idea, in house counsel would be in the top 10. If you’re going to be hotdesking with everyone else, I’d point out that you’re going to be handling documents and having phone conversations that should not be overheard, especially by people who aren’t in the legal department. It’s likely that whoever made this decision didn’t think through all the arguments against hotdesking, so I’d go through those arguments with them politely and stress the very bad things that could happen.
    And this is absolutely ridiculous. I worked at a place where the health and safety person had to fight for their own office because management didn’t think it was necessary.

    1. Jeanne*

      Just what I was thinking. How can an attorney not have a private space? Most of what they do cannot be shared with everyone who works there. Aren’t there rules about information not being privileged anymore if multiple people not involved in the decision hear all the details? You need a new job because these people have no brains.

    2. Not Australian*

      My Other Half worked (briefly) in a hotdesking environment. Management had insisted that nobody should have dedicated printers, they should all be communal, and were utterly *flummoxed* when reminded that building plans needed to be produced at AO size and the printer required is the size of a small car… (Talk about ‘losing sight of the objective’!)

      1. Lora*

        Have seen this happen. Have also seen meeting minutes and handouts and things intended to be legal documents for clients to sign, printed accidentally on the big plotters. Since the ink and maintenance for those things is no joke, and what would otherwise be a single 8.5×11″ color page will use up all the ink in the plotter (they are supposed to be printing thin lines only so the ink cartridges relative to the printer size are quite small), IT usually figures out in a month or two that they need to restrict access to that particular printer.

        1. SchoolStarts!*

          An engineer I once worked with did that once – a whole customer invoice on the plotter, 3′ x 4′. Ours was a B&W plotter. I thought it was pretty funny. Thankfully, this didn’t happen often.

    3. Lowercase Holly*

      I wondered this too. I haven’t worked in a law office in awhile but do they no longer tons of paper files?? How are they going to track their stuff moving from desk to desk every day. There better be some amazing file clerks there.

  13. Crystal*

    Funny, I found out just last week that one of my best friends’ has the Hot Desk thing at her office. They sign up for their desks on an app. I couldn’t wrap my head around it, I have so many hard copy files in my office.

    1. Jeanne*

      Even if I had my own file cabinet, it would have taken me an hour each night to get everything put away and same thing to get set up in the morning with my work and reference materials. I’m not sure what sort of job these people have that all they have is a computer and a coffee cup. I’m sure they exist but I’m not familiar.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        A paperless one. Often stems from the misguided belief that this is greener. Because powering computers and search engines and cloud storage is done, like, by magic, not in server rooms, and it’s totally greener than loading something on a screen once, printing it once and reusing that. Oh wait…

        Like you, I have actual stuff I need around me.

        1. Observer*

          It’s generally still greener. For one thing, printers are still the biggest energy users that a person will use – even a newer, somewhat efficient printer will use more electricity in a day than the combination of computer monitor and scanner (assuming a scanner), if it’s used for more than a few pages. (At least the newer printers go to sleep when not in use and only sip power.) Also, the additional costs of the extra compute and storage needed for these documents is far less than the power needed to print documents. Lastly, in many cases, the printed document is already on the servers anyway, for a number of reasons, and also printed many times, while a electronic copy does not use more resources when it’s viewed by any number of people.

          So, yes, over all reduction of paper IS greener in most cases.

      2. Red Reader*

        I could do it. (I wouldn’t want to, because I like to decorate my workspace with tchotchkes, but I could.) I currently work from home and due to HIPAA and security/privacy concerns am not allowed to print out any of the patient materials I work with. But I also don’t need to, as long as I have a dock with sufficient monitor space (I have a 24” and a 27” monitor on my work computer at home) to click into that lets me open all my electronic records, tools and references. (I occasionally work on just my laptop screen when I’m mobile, but that gets annoying after a while.)

        I think the only work-related paper anywhere in my office is a folder of handouts from past training materials, and these days they send those out as PDFs and I take them to the trainings on my tablet.

        1. Artemesia*

          Have you noticed that one of the elements of the new tax bill is that home offices are no longer deductible. My daughter works entirely from home (as do all her colleagues) except when she is working at the client sites, so her home office is her only office and is dedicated space. Sounds like your case too.

          1. Red Reader*

            I don’t actually deduct it anyway — my home office was originally my house’s second living room, so it’s very large and a combination work-office, home-office, craft-storage, book storage, you name it :) since it’s a multipurpose room, too fiddly to try to wrangle the deduction math.

      3. Annie Moose*

        I’m a web developer. If you’re handing me a piece of paper, someone somewhere has done something terribly wrong. The only paper I have around me is a notepad for drawing up layouts and writing out my thought process (it helps me think).

        At a previous project at the same company, I did have to sign a physical timesheet at the end of every month, but that was because the client in question insisted on it. Aside from that, what would I need paper for?

      4. Specialk9*

        Mine is pretty confined to my computer, so that morning setup would be quick. But my office has lots of stuff in it anyway!

    2. Kix*

      I had a job years ago where we had to share a desk (yes!) because the expectation was that we were out in the field visiting our public health clients and the shared desk was only to do charting at the end of the day. Of course, it was great fun if we all came back at the same time. :(

      Rather than hot desk, I’d ask to work remotely. I prefer it, anyway.

  14. Klaxons*

    #4 “Hotdesking” sounds basically like my job. You’ve been downgraded to retail, my dude. If it makes you feel any better, upper-upper management types really like to intro stuff that they think will increase productivity, efficiency, and “engagement,” and it will show wishy-washy results which will please or displease them, and after a few months or a year they’ll take it back and introduce an initiative from six years ago under a new name. So, this is BS, but it’s temporary, and everybody else in the office probably think it’s BS too. You’re being paid to be there, and yeah, it’s irritating, but if it wasn’t irritating they wouldn’t need to pay you. Right? Those Lysol wipes that come in the plastic canisters are excellent for keyboards, phones, and computer mouses.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      “but if it wasn’t irritating they wouldn’t need to pay you”

      Nope. Work doesn’t have to be irritating. The fact that it’s work doesn’t justify it being irritating or mean you should put up and shut up.

      I love my job. And I have my own desk that nobody else is allowed to use to hotdesk. They still need to pay me to show up and use it.

    2. Oryx*

      I don’t understand the “if it wasn’t irritation they wouldn’t need to pay you” bit.

      I like my job. I actually like going to my job (where I have my own desk and everything!). I like my coworkers, I like what I do. I like the company and what it stands for. I like the outside people I get to work with.

      I don’t find my job irritating.

      They still have to pay me for it.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Thirded. I like what I do and find it interesting, I really like my coworkers, to the point that I could chat with them all day if I had the time, but I would not be doing this if they didn’t pay me. I’d be traveling or volunteering or binge-watching something.

      I know it was probably hyperbole, but we shouldn’t accept the assumption that work has to be bothersome or irritating, or people will settle for things that they shouldn’t.

    4. K.*

      Yeah, I actually told off a friend of mine who responded to a story about how I was being actively mistreated with “That’s why they call it ‘work.'” I said that just because I was being paid doesn’t mean I needed to tolerate that kind of treatment, and got him to admit that he’d never put up with it AND that he wouldn’t treat his employees the way I was being treated. (He’s a good guy but all but two years of his career – he’s 50 – has been in a family business, which he now runs, so he’s kind of clueless about what it’s like to work for other people.)

    5. SignalLost*

      Even aside from everything else wrong with this (and thank you for validating my theory that “my dude” is a grammatical marker meaning “everything past this point will be clueless and non-empathetic at best”) how often do you think companies do the level of renovation required to get rid of open offices? It’s NOT annually!

      1. Footiepjs*

        (and thank you for validating my theory that “my dude” is a grammatical marker meaning “everything past this point will be clueless and non-empathetic at best”)

        I wish you could see how hard my eyes are rolling. That’s like saying anyone with vocal fry never says anything meaningful.

    6. Maya Elena*

      What you say is true. According to “The Dilvert Principle”, this was called “hotelling” in the 1990s. These things go in cycles, like fashion.

      Also, I bet if you paid people a portion of the huge savings from hot-desking, they’d mind it less.

      1. Specialk9*

        Actually, that’s true. I hate hot desking with a fiery passion, but if I got a portion of the savings? That might work!

  15. kas*

    #1. Is this real?! I would laugh if I (or anyone I knew) received this. I’m thinking they didn’t mean to hit send but I would let the company know.

    #4. I would not be ok with this. I would not want to have to walk around and find a desk every morning. I’m assuming eventually everyone will sit in the same spot so you’ll technically have unofficial assigned seating. Also, I just find this gross. I don’t want to share a keyboard, mouse etc. with anyone. Some of my coworkers keep their workspace messy with crumbs wedged in the keyboard etc. and I would cringe if I had to work at a desk that someone left like that. I would voice my opinion/thoughts to a manager. If anyone has special desk accommodations this may not work. Good luck.

  16. Jessica*

    I am so sorry for you, #4, and situations like yours absolutely continue to amaze me. You probably make some crazy multiple of my salary, yet you’re being treated like the most oppressed class of call-center drone. I’m sure the open-office thing, while dreadful on so many levels, is saving them a heap of money. But adding the hot-decking is not cheaper–in fact, the lockers that you’ll all need to have will just take up more space than if you had permanent desks–and is just a way to make everything worse for no reason.
    Do they really not understand the fiery, blazing, molten hatred that people feel for this practice? And that it’s bad enough to make valuable, expensive, painful-to-replace talent quit over? I like the idea of banding together with coworkers now and pushing back hard on this. This is a big hit to your collective quality of work life, and will make it harder to recruit good people. While one might be reluctant to leave an otherwise good job, knowing this fact about a company would easily be enough for me to walk right on past the very idea of applying there.

    1. Blossom*

      It’s cheaper if you’d otherwise need to find a bigger office for your growing company. Hot desking organisations will typically have something like 7 desks for every 10 people, based on how often their workforce is out of the office, on leave or working from home. It’s allowed my last two organisations to stay in a central location that they couldn’t otherwise afford (and was easy to commute to).

      And honestly, not everyone hates it. I like it.

      I think a lot depends on how it is implemented, though. A free-for-all sounds bad.

      1. Hachey*

        I’m glad to see someone else likes it! I work for a charity with several main offices where most frontline staff are out and about 3/5 days a week, so having a bunch of empty desks doesn’t make sense. I’m office based but I work from all of our offices and hot-desking has made building internal relationships MILES easier.

        We’re well set up for it, so there are different stations depending on the type of work you need to do. Want a comfy sofa? Check. Want a regular desk? Check. Want two ear-chairs to have confidential conversation? Check. Want a quiet library? No problem. We can also work from cafes close to meetings we’ve had, or from home, or whatever. It’s great.

        Hot desking actually can be really effective and flexible if done right so I hope not everyone’s blood runs cold at the notion, it doesn’t have to!

        1. Lora*

          I think it really, really depends on the type of work.

          I have office hours when I am available for non-urgent questions. I can deal with urgent questions via IM, email or phone. I have scheduled meetings. The rest of the time I need to get my head down and work, typically on building things, performing fairly persnickety calculations, and regulatory things that absolutely cannot be messed up. An interruption in person that I can’t ignore derails my focus for a solid 20 minutes post-interruption. And in open offices with hot-desking that means I have maybe at best two productive hours per day. No more. At home, with closed doors and no interruptions beyond a cat in my lap, I can get about 4x as much work done in a single day. Interruptions are just horrible for what I do. And a lot of jobs are like that. Managers wouldn’t dream of shutting down an entire manufacturing line several times daily just so Fergus and Wakeen can chat more easily across the assembly line.

          Plus, in my field, most of my collaborators aren’t in the same country, never mind the same room. Half the time not in the same company. We use email and IM and SharePoint and the occasional conference call and it’s fine.

        2. KellyK*

          It sounds like it really works for the situation you’re in, where people work at multiple offices or spend a lot of time at other sites. There would be no point in having an assigned desk for you at three different offices, or four desks for four people who are never all there at the same time.

          It also sounds like they actually have enough desks for everyone who needs them on a given day, which seems to be a huge factor in whether hot-desking is workable or a nightmare. In the places where it works badly, the logic probably goes, “These 10 people are all only in the office 2 day a week, so they can share 4 desks,” without considering whether they’re actually working elsewhere on the *same* days. If you actually look at how many people you have in the office on a given day, then add in a few extra desks just in case, that’s much more reasonable.

          It also sounds like you have enough private spaces that people can claim those as they need, which makes a big difference too.

      2. Infinity Anon*

        It also depends on what type of work is being done. I really don’t see how lawyers could work effectively with hotdesking. They usually need a lot of privacy for confidential materials.

        1. Infinity Anon*

          They also tend to work a ton of hours, which is much more comfortable to do with your own space and not having to waste time every morning and evening setting things up and then putting them away in a locker.

      3. SignalLost*

        It’s not cheaper when you factor in lost productivity. It sounds like your case is exceptional and I’m happy it works, but employees that go open office see more sick days used, among other markers of lost productivity.

    2. Robin Sparkles*

      We have “hot desks” at our alternate sites that we work in -maybe not exactly what you refer to since it isn’t our main office space. I work in healthcare and have a desk in my main office that is in a central city location but have to commute to the hospital for meetings a few times a week. In that sense, a hot desk makes sense- we refer to it as a “swing” space. This only works because all of us have a main desk space somewhere else. Some people’s main space may be their home if they prefer it.

    3. Jennifer*

      I guess it’s a cost saving measure to get people to quit as well? Or they don’t care about “good people?”

    4. Mike C.*

      Do they really not understand the fiery, blazing, molten hatred that people feel for this practice?

      That would require them to care.

    5. Bow Ties Are Cool*

      “you’re being treated like the most oppressed class of call-center drone”

      The only person I know who works in a call center has his very own cubicle.

      1. NaoNao*

        Well, okay. But I’ve worked in several, and most people have what could only be technically called a cubicle. It’s a chest or eyelevel partition that’s part of a larger table. Call centers are notorious for having very cavalier attitudes towards finding, pleasing or retaining their employees and that’s what I think this poster was getting at.

  17. upinalather*

    #4 – I just left ToxicJob at a commercial real estate company. They wanted to move to an open space plan, and have built out such a plan in another branch. We were already in desks with only 3.5′-high dividers on two or three sides. My duties were very exacting–writing, editing and design (marketing)–and I sat in a sea of loud brokers who were constantly on the phone on earpieces, so they paced around my desk. I was MISERABLE.
    If a company cares more about saving money than what actually helps their employees get work done, that is not the company at which I need to work. Never again.

    1. Princess Cimorene*

      The only time these set ups make sense to me are in roles where everyone sharing the open floor plan are ACTUALLY collaborating regularly OR for like co-working spaces, which are generally pretty quiet, for freelancers and small businesses/remote workers (I use some of these)

      Otherwise I just really dont get how this makes sense to the higher ups…

    2. Lil Fidget*

      In my experience, these seating plans pit employees against each other. Now somebody’s else’s Loud Phone Voice, or Daily Apple Habit or whatever affects me personally and my ability to get my work done. From management’s POV I find it hard to believe that they don’t see a loss of productivity as energy that might have previously gone into the work now goes into hating the people on your own team. Also, hard to understand why we channel the rage against each other, rather than our Comfortable Window Office overlords – but, ’twas ever thus.

  18. Caledonia*

    1 – the best thing this could be is that guy has left the job and this is “funny” and an ill advised blaze of glory. Please report it and update us.

    1. voyager1*

      That is what I thought too. Someone on their last day just ripping up on their way out. Talk about burning bridges.

  19. Princess Cimorene*

    #5 – Take it or Leave it?

    I generally agree with the advice here, to keep your job search moving if you really can’t stay in Toxic Job and take a good role that suits you because there is no guarantee at Dream Job. I also agree you should operate in Good Faith and plan to stay in New Job for a while. But then I also feel a dilemma, where I’ve seen it said that sometimes you have to do what works best for you as a business decision just like a business would do what’s best for it and let you go if they needed to. So if Dream Job opens back up in April and wants you and you get an offer and you started New Job in December, should you leave New Job for Dream Job? It wouldn’t be in Good Faith, no. But would it be the best business and life decision for you? If you pass up Dream Job then, would you get that opportunity again? Sometimes I think we should be allowed to do things like this, if we dont make it a habit. Sometimes decisions like this can change the trajectory of your career and your life. You don’t want to be a job hopper or burn bridges, but (and I guess this question is more for Alison?) is it ever okay to say THIS TIME I HAVE TO TAKE DREAM JOB EVEN THOUGH I JUST STARTED NEW JOB?? 4 months wouldn’t even be long enough to need to even put New Job on a resume. But if getting out of Toxic Job NOW is imperative, so taking New Job is the answer, is it okay to then leave for Dream Job just this one time if the offer is too good to pass on??

    1. Mary*

      I think it is OK. You have to be careful with regard to your own long-term future and whether you’re burning bridges that you might need in the future, but I would counsel anyone against making decisions *for the good of their employer* that are to their own detriment. Employers don’t need that kind of loyalty.

      But equally, it’s not necessarily the case that if Dream Job comes up in April, you will move. It might turn out that there is really great stuff about New Job: the team and atmosphere is really great, the opportunities are way better than what you expected, it’s just a nice place where you feel good about staying for a couple of years. And Dream Employer probably isn’t going anywhere – if they are a decent employer, they will understand that you aren’t necessarily going to stay available for them for six months, and not being available next April doesn’t preclude moving to them at another point in the next few years.

      If Dream Job comes up in April, and it really is as Dream as you think, you can make the decision then. But don’t cut your options now.

    2. Anon Accountant*

      I agree. Disclaimer: I live in a small town so when there’s a job open at 1 of several companies nearby people leave even if they’ve just started a new job.

      Sure you may burn a bridge and need to determine if it’s worth it. I always think if they wanted to let you go tomorrow they would. Always consider if it’s worth it first. Good luck!

    3. Anon Accountant*

      In summary I think it’s okay. If you are sure then go for it. Just ensure you do your due dilligence first and make sure it’s a good fit.

      If so go for it!

  20. Anon this time round*

    OP #2 this is totally stopgap, but as someone with similar semi-resolved issues, I find setting ironclad boundaries around tricky situations can be helpful.

    For example: I Don’t Eat Unplanned Food. I find deciding things like that in advance, so I’m not making the decision in the moment, is really helpful to keep on track.

    May not be of help. Take it if it is, leave it if it’s not. Safe journey.

    1. Sled dog mama*

      I work in a medical clinic and when I first started I made myself an ironclad rule that I do not eat anything made by a patient. This means that coworkers don’t bother offering me 90% of the food that comes in, and often forget to offer the 10% that is store bought.
      I know it’s hard resisting food that looks good (the 50 pounds I have put on in 7 years speak to my inability to resist a lot of things).
      OP I hope you and your therapist can find a solution that works for you.

      1. JD*

        Um they don’t have an obligation to remember your wacky “ill take it if it was made in a factory” mentality.

  21. Ian Mac Eochagáin*

    No 1: I laughed when I saw this headline and knew it had to have happened in Ireland. The case itself isn’t funny, of course, and no one should be rejected for a job like that. It’s interesting how the word shite in Ireland is not as strong as shit, though, and I think that’s part of this very ill-advised ‘humour’.

    1. Scarlet*

      Not necessarily in Ireland though, I’ve heard a lot of English people use the word “shite”. And even though it’s less strong than “shit”, telling someone they “look shite” is definitely insulting.

      1. Media Monkey*

        “Shite” is most common in Ireland and Scotland, and well understood but less used in England and Wales. However i would say that the meaning is exactly the same as “shit”. Source: am Scottish and live in England.

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          I think it’s more used in the north of England than the south, but I still have heard it used everywhere I’ve lived in England, and pretty much everyone of working age would know what it means, as it’s on enough TV and in other media.

          I know some people see it as ‘softer’ than ‘shit’, but it’s still an insult and I would say almost always understood as a synonym for shit.

            1. Ian Mac Eochagáin*

              I agree that it’s just as insulting. However, evidence of it being softer (or ‘more acceptable’ if you like) is that it’s used on TV, as someone above said, and is less likely to be censored. I also think it’s used in different ways to ‘shit’ in Ireland. For example, I’d say someone was ‘talking shite’ to indicate ‘general rubbish’ and ‘talking shit’ to indicate ‘malicious falsehoods’.

    2. LQ*

      How is it funny? I mean this is the very definition of punching down. An employer physically insulting the appearance in whatever “gentle” manner shite can be interpreted is not funny. It’s mean and even if the writer laughed afterward it’s still not funny. It’s mean, insulting, and deeply…deeply unprofessional. This isn’t someone they have an ongoing relationship with. This isn’t someone in power. This isn’t even funny in any way. It doesn’t follow the rule of 3. It doesn’t set up a world with consistent rules and then do something unexpected. It is just an insult. It’s like a 3 year old running up to someone and shouting, “You are a poopy head!” and running away laugh shrieking. The thing that makes you laugh is that the person doing it is 3 and finds themselves amusing. The “joke” isn’t funny. They haven’t learned humor. And neither has this person.

      1. fposte*

        It doesn’t have to follow any particular rule to be funny. I, for instance, laughed in horror at the gross inappropriateness and at anticipation of the comments to come. It doesn’t mean we think it was a good thing.

        BTW, I doubt this is a comment on appearance–it’s just a locution that means “It looks from your appplication.”

  22. HA2*

    OP#5 –

    I suggest taking the job offer. You described your current place as toxic – and it seems the *worst* possible outcome is that you stay in a toxic workplace indefinitely, eternally 2-3 months away from a “dream job” that might never come.

    If you take the best of the job offers you have now, the worst possibility is that in a few months you’ll have to make a tough call between passing on a great job offer or being a job-hopper. Which is a situation you’ll evaluate when/if it comes to pass. And hey, if the new job materializes in a year or two rather than in a month… then downside goes away and you can just move on.

    Also, one more thing to think about – part of the reason the choice is difficult right now is because your current job situation is toxic. You feel like you don’t have the luxury of passing up on a good option to wait for a great one because your current one is so bad. So get out of that position. Get a job that you’d consider okay to good, and then when you look to move on from it, you’ll job-hunt and negotiate from a position of strength – knowing you can always safely walk away. You don’t have that right now, and it’s causing you this dilemma. So get the stability first, and then next career move you can be more risky.

    1. Thlayli*

      Seconded. Even if the dream job materialises it will probably be mid-late 2018 before you get an offer. And most likely you won’t get it at all (“we might have headcount to do it next year” is really really vague).
      Take the ok job now and worry about the rest if and when the dream job comes up again.

  23. Coffee Cup*

    “only VPs and higher up will have offices” = We know everyone hates open spaces and we certainly wouldn’t work in one, but we will make you!

    My boss is a firm and sincere believer in open space arrangements. I don’t agree, but I respect him very much because when he converted our space, he didn’t exclude himself or any department heads – they all sit in the open space as well, practicing what they preach. I don’t think anything less is acceptable.

    1. Amelia*

      I agree–even though I think open plan arrangements don’t work in most cases, at least your boss wasn’t a hypocrite. I’d respect that at least, even if I questioned his judgment.

    2. Lil Fidget*

      I think this is what really tanked my respect at my job. The cube farm is only for the lower-downs – the higher ups have comfortable window offices, and then they don’t take any criticism of the system. Uh, you’re not the ones living in the system, guys, so you need to respect our feedback! You deliberately left yourself out of the system because you know it sucks!

  24. Em Too*

    We have hotdesking. Management is pretty open that it’s a cost-saving thing.

    More working from home might be a possibility if you’d want that – if you’re not sitting near your team, what’s the advantage of coming in? Especially if you’re finding there aren’t enough ‘proper’ desks/need privacy/need to spread out your stuff.

  25. Been There, Done That*

    OP#1–This is something to start a blog with. F’rinstance, first a post about the ignominy of being rejected by someone without the capability of spelling “sh-t,” followed by an opinion piece about the obvious quality of Co. X’s hiring standards. Next, a quote from McDonald’s HR Dept. on the subject of “milling Big Macs” along with a link to their corporate office. I’d make hay with this one.

    1. Cat H (UK)*

      They spelled that correctly, it’s a slightly different word with a less harsh meaning than shit!

      1. Myrin*

        It’s also pronunced differently, isn’t it? I know an Irish guy who uses it semi-regularly and he says it just like it’s spelt, rhyming with “height”.

      2. Iris Eyes*

        No, it means exactly the same thing. There are many many terms for excitement but in the end they all mean the same thing.

        1. fposte*

          They mean the same thing, but the level of vulgarity isn’t dependent entirely on meaning. In the U.S., “shit” and “crap” and “poo” are varying levels of vulgarity for the same thing.

    2. Princess Cimorene*

      This letter comes from Ireland, as evidenced by where the .ei in the URL of the job portal they used, and “shite” with the e is part of the common vernacular there.

  26. MsSolo*

    We’ve swapped to hot desking and it’s just so…inefficient. Having to set up and break down your desk each day eats into your time and coughs and colds are spreading so much quicker around the office. There’s a whole bunch of propaganda about collaborative working, but really it’s about providing fewer desks. If you can push people into working from home more often you save money not just in renting a smaller office but also in terms of electricity bills, tea and coffee supplies, and furniture. We’re also in a temporary office without enough meeting rooms, so there’s a lot of people (including hr) holding confidential conversations elbow to elbow with everyone else, but that at least isn’t likely to be permanent.

    1. Myrin*

      I’m finding the bit about “collaboration” so interesting because it doesn’t really make sense to me. I’d think that whether or not I collaborate with someone depends on my and their work, not on where I sit – there is a certain kind of work, certain kinds of projects, etc. which lend themselves very well to collaboration (or are even necessarily done by several people who need to work closely together!) but I’d think that if my work is something that only I do or which doesn’t need any input from people other than my boss or similar, I wouldn’t suddenly feel the need to collaborate just because I’m physically closer to my coworkers.

      Not to mention that I’d imagine that in the majority of jobs, one wouldn’t need to collaborate with any random coworker Percigus. So in this hotdesking scenario, the people who do wish to collaborate will probably choose to sit close to specific people anyway, and always the same specific people, so you might just as well have regular seating from the get-go.

      1. Mike C.*

        Yeah, it’s complete garbage. Either they’re lying to you or they’re too dumb to see the lack of value.

      2. SignalLost*

        Yeah, the org I worked at that went open office did it because we had a space that hadn’t been renoed since the 80s – there were still ashtrays on the walls by the elevators! – and it had been set up racetrack-style with offices along the outer wall and cubes inside. They claimed it was to increase light, because the offices blocked light, but you get no significant benefit from natural light if you’re more than four feet from a window anyway and climate-control turned into a beast, with people moving away from windows in the summer, but they really should have thought about our jobs. I was a web dev there; I didn’t need to collaborate with the event planners I worked with. I did need space to concentrate on code.

      3. MsSolo*

        It really makes me wonder what the atmosphere was like in the other national offices. There’s a real sense that a lot of people think it has helped, and all I can think is that our colleagues never made eye contact with each other before they were forced to. Maybe we’re just a chatty office, but putting us in closer proximity and mixing us up is leading to less collaboration and more distraction. If I need to get a report from one of the other teams, making it a shorter walk to go ask A is a small convenience, but that’s about it.

        The most frustrating thing is we’re a charity. If they just said it was a cost cutting measure, people would grumble but, generally, be happy that money is being spent more effectively. Instead we’re told to drink the kool aid and accept it’s a solution to a problem nobody had.

    2. Em Too*

      I can live with hot-desks, but the lack of meeting space is awful. HR discussions in the break-out spaces…

      1. MsSolo*

        Breakout spaces? Lookshury! HR get the stationary cupboard with the plywood walls and they’re bluddy grateful for it! :P
        (there are a lot of issues with the temporary office space, but we did desperately need a refit, if just to remove the suspicious stain from the floor, so we’re living with it. If only we didn’t have to hotdesk when we go back, too…)

    3. Artemesia*

      They could just have everyone work from home. That is what my daughter’s employer does. They provide the technology but there is no office; everyone works from home except when dealing with clients which is done in their space.

  27. Nico M*

    #1. I can just see this story on about page 9 of a multimillion circulation British tabloid. And/or getting plenty of clicks on that paper’s website. It would be a kindness to point this out.

    #3. Decent people are pleased to pass on their experience and knowledge.

    #5. Take the job. And bollocks to good faith, take the Great Job when it comes up.

  28. Foreign Octopus*

    Hotdesking seems like a massive waste of time. Why would you want your people to spend time setting up and clearing away their desks at the beginning and end of each day? Unless they expect people to come in early and leave late to do it.

    Just give them a damn desk already.

    1. Karma*

      It literally takes me 1 extra minute to swing by my locker (which is right next to the elevator lobby), grab my bag with my SurfacePro and other work stuff in it (notepad, pens, list of passwords I probably shouldn’t have written down but can’t remember otherwise), choose a desk and plug in my SurfacePro. If the technology has been set up in a way that it’s easy to connect then there’s no time required to plug in chargers, set up screen preferences, etc. It took me way longer to get signed in and ready to work back when we had assigned desks and old clunky PCs.

      1. SignalLost*

        That assumes in-house counsel has exactly the same space and components-of-work requirements as you do. This seems unlikely.

  29. Nea*

    Alison, FYI, I Was redirected to other sites 3 times while reading this post on my iPad. One of the redirects was attempting to get me to download software.

    1. Livinia*

      Ditto. The pop up blocker is no longer working. If I turn on the stuff that stops it, I can’t read comments.

      It’s only this site. No other ones,

      I’ve several times come close to stop reading AAM because of it.

  30. Clewgarnet*

    OP4 – My employer did the same about six months ago. The only good thing was that, because there aren’t actually enough desks for everybody to be in the office, we’re allowed to work from home a lot.

    Although we’re strongly discouraged from having ‘regular’ desks, people do tend to sit in the same space, so you may well find that you do end up having something that’s essentially your own desk, especially if nobody’s telecommuting.

    Carting everything from locker to desk every day is an absolute pain in the arse, but we have a rigidly enforced clean desk policy (security reasons) that means we don’t have any choice. You may find that your office isn’t quite so draconian so you are able to leave a few bits and bobs on ‘your’ desk.

    You do get used to it after a while, but I’ve found it very difficult to be as productive when there’s no permanence to my work environment, and it’s one of the factors that’s encouraging me to jobhunt.

    1. Mike C.*

      You have to imagine that not having a sense of permanence or settlement in a job mentally makes it very easy to look for work elsewhere.

      After all, there’s not really much difference between packing up for the day, and packing up for the last day.

  31. Corvid*

    Hot-desking is a thing for consultants. My brother never had a desk of his own, but he’s out meeting clients 95% of the time anyway. He doesn’t mind.

    That being said, I don’t think I could work without some space of my own. Maybe it’s because I’m introverted and literally need my ‘comfort zone’, but the thought of not having a set place to go to is very off-putting to me.

  32. Estraven*

    Gosh, everyone’s so down on hot desking. We’ve had it for a couple of years now, and it’s fine. I’m not sure I buy the productivity argument – if you know how you want your screen and your chair set up, it takes about 30 seconds to do. Where I work, colleagues with particular issues (back problems etc) have a designated chair, with a sign on it asking that it not be adjusted. We have areas for particular teams, but our Facilities managers were very clear that this isn’t ‘territory to be defended’ and there are benefits to occasionally sitting with colleagues elsewhere.
    I infinitely prefer this system to the previous one, where every time we had an office move, there would be one person who would whinge until they got the window seat, and another who didn’t want to sit next to whoever, and on and on….hotdesking solves the whole tangled problem.

    1. Blossom*

      Yeah I agree. Think of all the letters Alison gets about “my desk neighbour watches loud YouTube videos all day and has awful personal hygiene”… Here is your chance to escape!

      1. Lil Fidget*

        I do see the logic of that. Also, our office (cube farm hell) is now VEEERY petty about who gets an office, who has a window, who has a big office, etc. It’s created a LOT of bitter feelings since we’re all fighting like rats on a sinking ship. I might actually have better morale if I felt I had a fair shot at a window view sometime. As it is I know I will never get one – our HR director doesn’t know what my department does, and she jealously guards her role as “assigner of all cubes.”

        1. Estraven*

          One of the side benefits of Hot Desking is that our Directors have to come and sit with us peasants from time to time (usually because their offices have been booked for a meeting).

    2. Thlayli*

      This. I’ve never worked in a hotdesking only environment but I have often hotdesked in siste offices and worked from home. I used to bring my laptop around the world with me and only used paper rarely. I think I would have managed fine in a hotdesking only environment.
      I also love open offices Though so apparently I’m unusual among the commentariat on this site.

      1. Attorney*

        LW is an attorney. Attorneys have piles of paper everywhere. At one law firm I worked at, a partner had a stack of papers taller than me (and no, I’m not short).

        1. Thlayli*

          Oh I wasn’t suggesting that it was a good idea for LWs situation, just agreeing with the comment above that hotdesking can work in some situations, and could even be beneficial. There’s a lot of comments basically saying hotdesking is always a bad idea, and that’s not true. Like many things, it depends on circumstances.
          Law is still a paper-heavy profession so I can’t imagine it working for lawyers at this moment in time.

        2. Estraven*

          I guess it depends on the environment you are in. My employer has a large Legal Team and an even larger Investigations Team, but they don’t have a lot of paperwork because everything is scanned into a central data management system. So ‘I need a desk for all the paper’ wouldn’t fly.

    3. Undine*

      In my case, I would need chair, multiple monitors (one of which can rotate vertically, which means software set up as well as hardware set up), ergonomic keyboard and mouse, docking station, headset for online meetings. Not mention my own earphones for noise. Just typing that sounds exhausting.

      Does everyone have the same docking station at your company? We have a mixed PC and Mac environment and my laptop is so ancient that I think newer PCs elsewhere in the company have a newer docking station. And some people just need lighter PCs because they travel for work, like professional services.

      Also I am sensitive to environment — I would notice if I was in a lighter or darker part of our office, nearer to the kitchen, nearer to sales.

      And the day things go wrong and the washer explodes and you have to mop the floor would be the day you have to come in late and sit next to the horrible coworker and his youtube videos.

      1. Blossom*

        At my workplace, you’d probably be eligible for a permanent desk. People with particular ergonomic/health needs do have them.
        Not sure exactly what a docking station is, but we’re set up so that anyone can sit anywhere. Oh, there are a small number of Macs used by a certain team; I think they’re reserved for specific work/workers who use whatever software it is.

        1. Oryx*

          We have docking stations at my job, too. They are just a place we can plug our lap top into so it feeds into the multiple desktop screens on our desks. It powers the laptops, too.

          Like Undine, we are a mixed computer office. Some of us have PCs, some of us have Macs. There is also a rotating system of new laptops and they all require their own docking station configuration so you can’t just sit at someone else’s desk and dock your laptop unless you know they have the same model as you.

      2. Clewgarnet*

        My office uses USB docks that work for all computers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t provide power to your laptop, so you have to lug the power supply around with you. (I managed to acquire a second power supply, so at least I have one for at home and one in the office.)

        We mostly use our own keyboards and mice, because the company-provided ones are horrible. The keyboards are weirdly tiny which, because I touch-type, means I keep hitting the wrong keys. The mice are huge and I get shooting pain up my forearm if I use one for more than half a day. So those are more things to keep in your locker.

        All desks have a single 24″ monitor (which can be rotated) which is at completely the wrong height to be used with your laptop screen. So add in a laptop riser to be kept in your locker.

        Headset lives in my laptop bag, because I use that when working from home and haven’t been able to acquire a second one.

        I need a footrest but can’t face the hassle of having to set it up every day, so I just put up with the back pain.

    4. Katniss*

      Different people like different things. Me, I’d refuse even a dream job purely on the basis of hotdesking.

    5. Guacamole Bob*

      A question for those who like hot desking, or at least don’t hate it: do your offices have decent kitchen setups? My work would be functional with a hot desk setup, as long as I could configure two monitors. But I would be miserable, and it’s because 90% of what I have in my desk that I use regularly is food-related. I’m in local government so no water cooler provided on my floor, no company-provided coffee, etc. I’ve got a large water bottle to bring water from the fountain of the ice machine downstairs, a couple of mugs, an electric kettle, several kinds of tea, oatmeal for breakfasts, a set of silverware, and some dish soap and a sponge because the only sinks for three floors are in the bathroom. Lots of people have their own electric kettles, a few have coffeemakers or French presses, and several have mini fridges because the communal ones are kind of gross. One coworker has a toaster at her desk.

      If my office had hot desking, I’d spend half my day wandering the building trying to make myself some tea.

      1. Blossom*

        Wow, I’m guessing this is a regional difference, because I’ve never heard of people having kitchen gadgets at their desk! I’m in the UK where open plan has been the norm since long before I entered the workplace, so I guess that pretty much rules out keeping a toaster at your desk…plus, I think it would be considered a health and safety issue.

        Everywhere I’ve worked has had a kitchen or kitchens, some better than others but all adequate for making drinks, heating up food, pouring out cereal. There’s fridge and cupboard space for people’s own food (though not loads), and enough crockery and cutlery to go round. The general rule of thumb is if you bring in your own mug, it’s fair game if you keep it in the kitchen cupboard, otherwise keep it in your locker or on your desk-of-the-week if you don’t want others to use it. I just use the plain mugs provided.

        1. Lil Fidget*

          This is often a government thing here. The government has weird rules about supplying employees with any free perks (like …. coffee!) at the taxpayer’s expense. It’s madness if you ask me.

      2. Blossom*

        Oh and I do get up for regular tea breaks… But we’re encouraged to take regular short screen breaks, anyway. The kitchen is only 30 seconds away.

    6. Observer*

      For some people it takes 30 seconds, for others not, especially if the person set things up substantially differently that you.

      1. Estraven*

        It really doesn’t take that long to move the screen and set up the chair the way you like it. Our office has standard docking stations and moveable screens so you can place them the way they suit you. Seating-wise, I have lower back pain so I need a bit of support, but it literally takes me seconds to set up a chair…lower the chair, raise the arm rests, fix it so I don’t keep falling backwards, raise the lumbar support and click into place. A couple of colleagues have particular keyboards/mice but they just plug them into the docking station and away they go.

        1. Estraven*

          I should also say that our employer is very happy to provide standing/adjustable desks etc for those that want them.

        2. Observer*

          That’s true for you. The reality is that it is NOT always the case for everyone. Especially since it’s not always just a matter of moving over a monitor a few inches or other really easy things to do.

          It’s nice that your employer has things set up reasonably well for the way you work, and this works well for you. But, it just is not the case for everyone.

  33. Akcipitrokulo*

    Op3… xouple of things occur…

    It is a Good Thing for testers to have good relations with the producers of what they test. Talk to Fergus… and if he’s OK with answering questions, this is a positive relationship. And he probably is. It makes his life a lot easier if he doesn’t have to deal with bugs-that-aren’t when a quick chat would clear it up.

    Also – your job is to make him look good :)

  34. Hornswoggler*

    OP 3: Maybe this is a chance for your organisation to get a bit more, er, organised on knowledge transfer.

    Do they have manuals or detailed instructions? Do they have a way of capturing learning that people gather through experience (e.g.: ‘the best way to test larger teapot handles is in a padded room with a security guard on hand’)? Do they have a wiki where people can post experiences and tips and which people can search for advice? If not, then maybe you can suggest it, or even start it, using the advice you’ve managed to get from your colleagues so far.

    1. OP3*

      They have manuals, but in most cases it’s not specific enough. Problem is that creating more detailed manuals would take a lot of time (this is a very complicated teapot) and thus a lot of money. It’s hard to convince higher-ups to invest those hours when people could just ask each other and use less time & money.

      We have a wiki/log that tells people how things were previously tested, but sometimes the previous tester didn’t include a whole lot of detail/explanation or the handle design has changed so much that the old testing method wouldn’t work anymore.

      1. Cookie D'oh*

        It sounds like you could be in my company! I’m Fergus in this situation and I get a lot of questions from testers. I do my best to provide detailed information and background when answering questions. I also try to provide links to documents.

        I appreciate that you are trying to follow the correct process to ensure the testing is done properly. It’s not your fault that you didn’t receive the appropriate training or that there are not enough existing resources.

        If possible, maybe you can start documenting what you are learning to pass along to others.

      2. Someone else*

        In my company I’m also often a Fergus, and I think for me being on the other side, they key part of the advice was the bit where you ask if the question you’re asking is something you’re supposed to know yourself by now vs something it’s logical you’d need to go to Fergus for. Absolutely, if your concern is “Am I annoying”, if I were your Fergus, that would be my threshold. If in one day you ask me 12 questions, but 10 of them are things you’re supposed to know, I’d be annoyed. If 2 of them are things you’re supposed to know and the rest are not things someone in your position is expected to know, I would not be annoyed. So knowing what is or isn’t something you should not need help with goes a long way here. It’s less about the frequency of questions. Obviously, your actual Fergus may be different, but I hope that helps a bit.

  35. Nona*

    #1: Please don’t post that letter online until HR does a thorough investigation. It’s possible that a cruel employee signed someone else’s name to get that person in trouble. Otherwise, I think most people would just sign the company name.

    1. Lissa*

      Yeah I was a bit baffled by the comment above that compared not trying to make this go viral with “doing nothing.”

  36. Sheree*

    #2 what does it mean to be ‘triggered’ by food?

    My understanding of triggers is something causes distress when exposed to, but surely you wouldn’t be able to cut food out of your life the way people try to avoid upsetting topics (whether online or in real life)? So for instance avoiding talking about eating disorders or mental health? Is it only when offered food or food itself that’s an issue?

    (Being from a background where having enough to eat can be a struggle, I may have trouble understanding people being upset over having food available (as opposed to not having it) so this is a genuine question, not meaning to diminish the problem in any way.)

    1. Star*

      F.E.A.S.T (an international organisation of and for caregivers of eating disorder patients) describes eating disorder triggers (as opposed to, say, PTSD triggers) as things that are upsetting and lead to eating disorder behaviours – specific foods, situations, and interactions that can lead to further disordered eating. Others with more knowledge and experience would definitely be able to go into more details, I imagine.

    2. Scarlet*
      I don’t think it’s about the presence of food itself, but more about the context. For instance, a lot of blogs ban discussions of weight/calorie counts/size because it tends to be triggering for anorexia sufferers.
      (Just as an aside, when you says “Being from a background where having enough to eat can be a struggle, I may have trouble understanding people being upset over having food available (as opposed to not having it)”, you do sound like you’re minimizing the struggle of ED sufferers, even though I’m sure you don’t mean it).

      1. Sheree*

        I’m not sure why that would sound minimising, I’m trying to explain thy I don’t understand a certain mindset and I’ve indicated that. There’s no need to read subtext into everything.

        1. Genevieve*

          Just FYI, there are people with eating disorders who come from backgrounds where they and others around them struggle to have enough to eat.

    3. Oryx*

      Those of us with a history of disordered eating can be triggered by food in a way that causes us to relapse on our recovery process and exhibit some of our disordered eating behaviors. It could be certain foods or drinks, it could be certain environments or situations, etc.

      Fr instance: for many, many years I could not cereal in my house. (Mostly the sugary stuff. Lucky Charms was a big one). What’s the big deal, right? It’s just Lucky Charms. Except I could literally eat an entire family size box of Lucky Charms cereal in a single sitting. Get one of those giant salad bowls, dump the box in, add some milk and have at it. And once I ate an entire box of Lucky Charms, I’d just keep right on eating whatever else I could find. So, for me, that was a trigger food. I’m still working through most of this and these days something like Lucky Charms is too sweet for me but I still have to pay extra careful attention to my food signals if I do eat it.

    4. KellyK*

      In addition to what others have said, I think part of the confusion may be that a trigger, whether it’s PTSD, anxiety, eating disorder, or something else, is more than just distressing or upsetting. It’s something that triggers (or could trigger) some form of adverse mental health event—a panic attack, a flashback, self-harm, a binge, etc. It’s more severe and more specific than just an upsetting topic of conversation.

      And, it totally makes sense that it would be hard to wrap your head around if you’ve never had an eating disorder and have dealt with food insecurity instead. One metaphor that might help is imagining that you’re allergic to some common, easily hidden ingredient, and you don’t necessarily know which of the foods that coworkers are passing around contain that ingredient until you have a reaction. Sometimes you might even react just by being in the same room with the food, like an airborne allergen. It’s not *quite* the same thing, because an allergic reaction is totally physiological, and there are things you can do to mitigate a mental health trigger. But, it might make it easier to see how an environment where food is constantly on offer can feel threatening if you picture that food as having the potential to make you really sick.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Yep, and triggers can also be physiological — “trigger” also applies to, for example, asthma sufferers, where certain conditions set off an asthma attack.

      2. Iris Eyes*

        I think you got at part of the issue. There is a slang meaning of trigger that can be anything that is arousing in a negative sense or set off. It is the largely the same meaning but more trivial.
        “Ugh, I’m so triggered right now that guy totally cut me off.”
        When your mom comes into your room and sees that it still isn’t clean she is “triggered”
        Internet trolls try to trigger other readers.

        I suspect that Sheree might be more exposed to this usage.

        One of the biggest struggles for people who experience disordered eating is that eating is a necessary part of life. Food is a weird area that we all bring some sort of baggage into. Look at all the comments on this blog about food behaviors, coworkers “stealing” all of the company provided food. People being upset enough to quit because their food issue isn’t being taken care of. Bosses who steal their worker’s food. People pushing people to eat food that they medically can’t eat. As you, Sheree know, food is a big deal. If you have been in a place where food wasn’t available then you probably know just how threatening and disturbing it can be. For some people an overabundance of food is just as threatening as an environment where food is scarce.

        I found the book Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson to be really helpful in seeing an eating disorder from the inside.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          To be fair, internet trolls also try to actually trigger people – cf. sending epileptics flashing gifs designed to trigger a seizure.

      3. Emi.*

        Yeah, a lot of people use “trigger” to mean “something that makes me really upset” even when they don’t have any kind of mental health issue, which is obnoxious because it minimizes the medical/psychological meaning. It’s like saying you’re “allergic” to foods you don’t like, or that make you gassy, and then other people start doubting actual allergies.

        1. fposte*

          But “trigger” is a legitimate verb in those cases too–it’s one of those situations where there are overlapping circles in the Venn diagram between the medical and nonspecialist uses. I agree it doesn’t help clarify, but I don’t think it’s wrong of people to do it, either.

    5. nonegiven*

      A person in recovery for binging, being offered their trigger type foods so often or an anorexic being pressured to sign up to the office biggest loser contest, would be like a recovering alcoholic having to work in a bar where they were offered a drink several times a day.

  37. Trout 'Waver*

    OP#5, Since I’ve been a manager, twice we’ve had a candidate in mind but had the job pulled at the last minute. Each time we’ve reached out to them and told them the situation and sincerely asked if we could keep their information on file and that we’d contact them if we got the position authorized. In neither situation did we actually get to hire someone.

    YMMV, but I wouldn’t count on the other job coming through.

    1. Antilles*

      Honestly, I’d even go a step further than that and flat out assume it’s NOT coming through.
      The company doesn’t know if they’ll even hire anybody. They don’t know how many people they’d hire if they do get approved for extra headcount. They don’t know what positions will be available, so it’s possible that the new roles might not actually be the same as the ‘dream role’ that OP applied for this time.

    2. Artemesia*

      So this. The company contact might be sincere, but the fact is, your life is not uppermost in their mind and if the thing goes away, they won’t give you another thought or get back and let you know. And often those ‘jobs we hope open up’ never do, or by the time they do someone else is on their screen and you are forgotten. I know someone who did get followed up and a job in a situation like this, but many more for whom vague talk about future jobs evaporated. I would assume this job will never be and if it does open up, chances are it will be far enough out that it won’t cause too many problems with leaving current job.

  38. School flashbacks*

    LW 4

    I can’t really offer any helpful advice, except I’d be pushing back if I could, with all those who don’t like the plan. Good luck.

    As someone with health / mobility issues, that include my arms, this would be pure hell. It was hell when in secondary school, and even though once a day is not as much torture as lugging stuff between classes, its still torture.

    Also what happens if someone ‘higher’ wants the spot you’re in, do you have to move?

    I had that at school. My maths class was up 3 flights of stairs so I used an empty classroom, and just self taught from my maths book, but a few times other kids (both years older and always in groups) chucked me out of it. The school never co-ordinated when rooms would be in use for disabled vs free for older kids group projects. After my parents raising a stink a few times the school ‘finally’ moved me into the ground floor maths class. I don’t recall finding the work too easy, but it was a less advanced class, which was why I wasn’t just placed in it to begin with. Given that I’d still not got the pain meds right at that point, a more ‘basic’ maths class, was actually better for me than self teaching or being at the ‘right’ level, since pain would often fog my brain.

    If hot-desking ever became a thing at my job, even though I could get a pass due to disability, I’d still be job searching. Colleagues not always being able to sit near me would obviously have knock on effects for me, if I had to do anything face to face with them.

    1. Blossom*

      Not wanting to argue with your points, but in response to your question “What if someone higher up wants your seat, do you have to move?”, I can offer the example of one hot-desking organisation I worked at which had a policy that managers had lowest priority, because they were more likely to be in meetings and less likely to be sitting down doing detailed desk work for long periods. Just an example of how thoughtful implementation and consultation can make a big difference. Hot-desking there wasn’t universally loved, but it wasn’t a cut-throat free-for-all either.

    2. Karma*

      At my org if you need a desk or a set of desks for a specific reason (e.g. I need an adjustable desk and I need to sit near my team) you can ask others to move. That sounds includes asking people in senior roles to move and unless they have a justification they have to do it. It sounds like it would be difficult to ask someone senior to move but it was really emphasised when we moved to this new building and I’ve never had anyone argue about it. Obviously some of that goes to my workplace culture though and it wouldn’t work for everyone.

  39. Roseberriesmaybe*

    LW #1: I’m devo that the first certainly Irish email on here makes us look bad :/ That email is so far from professional, it’s a disgrace

  40. Imaginary Number*

    OP 1, any chance there’s someone at that company you know? Like an old high school nemesis or someone you had a falling out with? That’s how it reads. It feels personal.

    1. stefanielaine*

      I had EXACTLY this thought – it’s absolutely not excusable under any circumstances, but I suspect this person personally knows and dislikes OP.

  41. Kalamet*

    #3 As someone who gets a lot of questions from newer hires, I’d much prefer someone who asks when they aren’t sure rather than bulling ahead and doing it wrong. It would only be annoying if they asked the same question over and over, but it doesn’t sound like you are doing that.

    If it makes you feel better, though, use Alison’s scripts with Fergus!

  42. I Herd the Cats*

    “not only will the office be open concept, but to “encourage collaboration and mobility” none of us will have assigned desks.”

    Collaboration: organize your coworkers into pushing back against hot-desking, which doesn’t sound like it makes sense for you and your firm.

    Mobility: if collaboration fails, move to a company that respects its regular in-office employees enough to give them assigned workspaces.

  43. Murphy*

    #1 reads like a form letter, despite the horrible language. I’m wondering how many other people received the same message.

      1. Allison*

        I’m almost wondering if the person who sent it didn’t write it. It could be that some ash-hole with access to the application tracking system (ATS) uploaded this template as the “default” knowing a recruiter (or all the recruiters, or some of them) would send it out not even noticing. Recruiters are not detail oriented, and often do their admin work on auto-pilot with tunnel vision (if they can be bothered to do it at all, don’t get me started on recruiters who shirk that stuff because they’re “sooooo busy” and they feel their time is too valuable or some shirt). I’m not saying I’d ever do this, but if someone’s annoyed with one of the recruiters, this could have been their way of getting rid of them.

    1. LQ*

      If this is a form letter calling the person who applied shite and telling them to …milling Big Macs? Go work at McDonalds forever? This is the most deeply inappropriate form letter ever and they should DEFINITELY be super fired. Fired, and then sent this letter every day in perpetuity.

      1. Brandy*

        If a company feels like its ok to talk to applicants like this, A) how can they be during an interview and B) they should be called out horrifically, name and shame. This is exceptionally rude. No reason to talk to people like this.

      2. Murphy*

        Oh absolutely. It’s beyond unprofessional, I also think it probably went to more people than just the OP.

  44. Karma*

    OP #4 my entire org moved to a new building a few years ago and that included a change to an open, activity based workplace where we have lockers and we choose where we sit each day based on the work we are going to be doing. At first I was resistant too but I actually really like it.
    You’ll find that if you usually do the same tasks every day and need to sit near the same people you’ll end up sitting at the same desk every day anyway, and that’s not frowned upon where I work. It’s really nice to be able to go and sit elsewhere if you need some quiet time for something or if you need to work closely with someone you can go and sit with them.
    I did miss being able to personalise my space but we are allowed to personalise the outside of our lockers, our laptops (we were all issued one that we take to our chosen desk each day) and any other personal equipment/resources we have. I’ve also changed my desktop background to a photo of my cats and others have turned their desktop background to a slideshow of photos. There’s lots of opportunities to make the space ‘yours’ even if you’re not sitting at the same desk every day.
    Oh and our employer provides wipes so if you’re sitting at a different desk you can quickly wipe everything down because people are a bit gross sometimes.

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I was going to share the same observation, Karma. My company’s main and regional offices have an open, no assigned workspace concept, with a few exceptions. Legal and Accounting need to have access to locked file cabinets and doors, VPs and C-suite can have assigned offices if they want, and so on.

      In the past 8 years, I’ve noticed that people stake out certain spaces in the building, and work groups tend to fall into certain desk arrangements. Heck, go to a multi-day workshop or conference – people tend to sit in the same place each day. I think Karma’s right that people who need to work together camp out in certain spaces because it’s just easier.

      Recently, I was in a regional office, set up my gear in a free space, and was teased because I took ‘John’s space.’ Nothing bad-natured, and John found another desk.

      1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

        During the winter I would sometimes take the commuter bus from my town into the city. It was always nerve wracking for me because I never knew if I was taking a regular’s seat. It was casual and unspoken and no one would make you move but I was afraid of getting stink eye because I was in ‘John’s space’.

        1. Allison*

          Please don’t worry about that, seating on public transit is first come first served, and unless someone is disabled they don’t get to claim a seat. The idea of an able-bodied person having a seat that’s “theirs” and none else can have it is very unreasonable, and probably very rare.

        2. SheLooksFamiliar*

          SWHFTM, one of the Executive Admins with time on her hands – and a chip on her shoulder – is the self-appointed Monitor Of Everything. I’ve seen her give the ol’ stink eye to people sitting in ‘John’s space’, and sigh loudly every time she walked by – even though no one else made a stink about it. Territorial thinking and all that, it’s real.

    2. Estraven*

      Yeah, I nagged our Facilities team to provide hand gel at the end of every bank of desks, for those who are particularly germ-phobic.

  45. Marthooh*

    #1: Send the letter to Name Redacted’s boss along with an application for Name Redacted’s job.


    OP 1: Maybe reply to that person first questioning his response. Whether she/he answers or not, maybe forward their email to their HR or higher ups?

  47. Memboard*

    OP1 if this is part of a chain (McDonald’s?) I would go to the head office with this.

    Imagine the rest of the management culture. Bullet dodged

    1. (Different) Rebecca*

      I think the implication was that the OP was cut out for ‘nothing more than’ serving at McDonald’s.

  48. BadPlanning*

    I work in a job with a high learning curve. There’s no magic manual. So I don’t mind questions. I get irritated when I get asked the same question (especially with no acknowledgement that you’ve asked before). Or when there’s a serious lack of trying. I mean, don’t spend hours and hours when I could get you over a bump.

    On the other hand, it’s very rewarding when you’ve been helping someone and they are clearly picking up the info and their questions are building on the previous knowledge/questions.

    Since you’re feeling paranoid about it, I’d question you questions are probably not that annoying.

    Does your job have any reward programs that your coworker can be nominated for? Otherwise a good word to their manager about how great they are at training and their unending patience and attention usually goes a long way.

    1. always in email jail*

      I second the last part of your advice, giving a heartfelt thank you to Fergus or to his boss to acknowledge the time and patience he’s using to help you can go a long way, even if it’s part of his job.

      I also agree with Alison that it may be useful to ask him if there’s anywhere else you can get this info. Maybe there is and it would help you both out! Or maybe it will point out the fact that there’s not, and Fergus may choose to develop some sort of training product to keep this from happening in the future.

    2. Lil Fidget*

      It’s hard to know with questions when you’re new! This is an art over a science for me. When somebody is new I expect a certain level of questions but, since they’re not on my team and I’m not being paid to assist them, I kind of have a limit of how many interruptions are reasonable before I start getting irked – even knowing that it’s not their fault, and they’re new so they don’t know anything yet. It’s not their FAULT but it’s their PROBLEM if they’re coming to me more than a few times a day, especially with things that are actually kind of trivial or could be found out another way. And that’s hard to judge when you’re new :(

  49. Landshark*

    OP4, the locker thing sounds abhorrent, but if it gives you any comfort, I work in higher ed. My students have no assigned seats, but I’d say a good 90% claim the seat they chose on the first day as theirs and don’t like not sitting there. It doesn’t help with the inability to leave things on the desk or the lockers, but you will probably end up falling into that preferred-desk rhythm and not having to share “your spot” very often. Hopefully they’ll drop this practice altogether though…

  50. Lisa Thaviu*

    LW #4 – an open office is a really, really bad idea for an attorney for a number of reasons, which should be pointed out to your bosses. First, attorneys typically need to concentrate on the task at hand. Being unable to concentrate could cause real problems. Second, there is no reason to switch desks every day or even to do away with individual offices in the case of attorneys. Other staffers can’t “collaborate” on a task that requires you to give legal advice; they can assist, but they cannot be engaged in “practicing law.” Third, and perhaps most importantly, your employers could be potentially waiving attorney-client privilege by having all legal work take place in the middle of an open office. This might not seem significant now, but if there is litigation, your employer might regret failing to make an exception to the “open office” rule for attorneys.

  51. bohtie*

    #1 I just want to throw a little bit out there that you may want to steel yourself for a response, should you choose to contact his boss, that might not be what you expect. My ex was in a job field with high pressure and high turnover (not call center or telesales, mind you) and rejection letters like this were extremely common. He once got one that said, literally, “Who the fuck do you think you are?” From the owner of the company. That same guy later offered him a job. So like, depending on the culture of the environment, you definitely dodged a bullet, but you may not get the “take that guy out in a blaze of glory” feeling we’re all craving – there’s a possibility, however small, that whoever’s in charge actually approves of this kind of thing.

    1. fposte*

      Agreed–or that they’ll shrug because their churn rate means he’s been gone for days, or they won’t read past the subject line (I was thinking about how to phrase the subject for maximum attraction and sanity simultaneously).

    2. Artemesia*

      Which is the clue to spread it far and wide on the internet leaving company name in (and perhaps omitting the individual name unless you are sure he sent it).

    3. Interviewer*

      Having sent countless numbers of rejection letters, it never occurred to me this is actually real. Like other commenters, I thought it was a plot to get the sender in trouble at work, or someone knew & hated the OP, or someone sabotaged the ATS auto-replies – but bohtie has a great point, that this could be for real. However slight the chance, thought, I would still go through the exercise of making sure someone at a top level in that company knows you got that email. I feel like most employers would be horrified, but maybe I’m putting too much faith in them.

      Also, we’d love an update.

  52. La Revancha*

    #2 – OP! I feel your pain. While I don’t have an eating disorder, I am very picky about my physique (I track my macros, work out a lot, and stick to a meal plan and allow 2ish “cheats” per week). Our office constantly has snacks and goodies delivered to us – bundt cakes, cookies, brownies, chocolate, breakfast tacos, you name it! I found it extremely hard to say no to this at first but with time I learned that I have to pick and choose what I will let myself eat. With time I was able to learn to control myself – and I believe this could be the same for you! For me, I don’t want ONE cookie, I want 4! so it’s either 1) have none or 2) have 4. I always feel better choosing the first option :)

    1. caryatis*

      I also have a “no free office food, ever” policy which I find easier than picking and choosing and constantly being tempted to eat too much sugar. Bring your own meals and snacks and just stick to that. No one needs dessert, let alone every day!

      1. La Revancha*

        Totally agree! I bring breakfast, 2 snacks, and lunch everyday to work and try to eat something every couple of hours.

    2. Delphine*

      If it was as easy as a choice–or even training yourself to make that choice over a short period of time–it wouldn’t really be a disorder.

  53. always in email jail*

    Man, I’m technically “a millenial” (on the older end of that scale) but I start to worry that I’m super old school. If my office decided to try something like hotdesking, or even suddenly moving to an open floor plan, I would immediately start looking for another job. I just cannot work in an open office environment because
    1. I legitimately have ADD (I don’t take medication anymore, though) and really need to be in control of my environment to focus
    2. I’m a manager, and I’m not sure how you have sensitive conversations with employees when you have to book a conference room to do so? That makes those conversations a “big deal” and makes you less likely to have them regularly
    3. I just want to be able to shut my door sometimes (like when I’m puking in my trashcan from morning sickness)

    Sigh. I feel ill-prepared for the future of offices.

    1. Scandinavian Vacationer*

      I second #2 on this list. It was exhausting as a manager without a private office. I actually had an employee blow up on me when I took her to a private conference room for a “difficult conversation.” Anyone with direct reports should have a private space.

  54. Robot Fencer*

    OP #1: I agree that this email should be forwarded to management for them to take care of, but I disagree strongly that it should be shared “more broadly” with identifying information, because I don’t believe in public shaming. You could ruin this guy’s life over what could have been a single transgression, one awful mistake that he should pay for, but not for the rest of his life. You could also end up ruining SOMEONE ELSE’S life if, as some suggested above, the email writer signed someone else’s name.

    1. NaoNao*

      But this isn’t a “mistake”. A mistake is not seeing your blind spot in traffic and causing an accident. It’s not holding a coffee cup right and burning someone when it spills. It’s leaving off important information in a report because you’re rushing.
      It’s not drafting and then sending a mean, curse word including email to a job applicant.

      I can almost 100% guarantee that whoever this is did not commit this act in a vacuum of never doing anything like this again or before. While I don’t believe someone’s “life should be destroyed” by an act of *bad judgement and deliberate cruelty* which this is, I believe that there needs to be consequences for actions.

      When I struggled and nearly failed out of my first semester of my four year school, that had far reaching consequences—academic probation, a lower GPA even though I got literally all A’s after that, ineligble for scholarships, etc. I was angry and hurt. But I learned my lesson—foolish mistakes and bad judgement can and DO haunt you for *years*.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. This isn’t a ‘mistake’, it is a vicious act. IF you know this guy actually sent it then who care if it follows him around. And definitely it should be attached to the company name.

      2. Robot Fencer*

        If you end up going viral on the Internet, it doesn’t just follow you for years, it follows you FOREVER. All anyone who googled this guy forevermore would know about him is that he’s the “shite rejection letter” guy. Sure, tell his boss, get him in trouble and maybe fired. He has that coming. But don’t brand him with the scarlet letter of public shaming. I think that’s cruel. Theres a reason we no longer use the stocks.

    2. Someone else*

      There isn’t evidence here that this is a mistake. A mistake would be if the employee meant to email another person on the hiring committee about the LW and in that message called him shite. Ie, a rude internal email accdientally sent external, that’s a mistake. Directly addressing the LW in this fashion is being an asshole, not a mistake.
      If someone else signed the person’s name, that is a good reason not to try to make the thing go viral, but if they didn’t, writing this off as a mistake is excessively forgiving in my opinion.

  55. always in email jail*

    OP #1: I would certainly try to dig up contact info for someone at the company, from an official source (not indeed), and share that message with them. You may find it was even a fake posting! (I’m thinking to the recent episode of Nathan for You where he posted a fake job with Shell, wore a Shell fleece to the interview with the guy, etc. and was able to pose as the company throughout the whole process without getting caught).

  56. Hot-desking is terrible*

    LW #4, my office is doing this as well, and it’s a big reason I’m looking for a new job. I’m a project manager at a major corporation. I’ve also brought this up to HR as a potential ADA issue. I have a repetitive stress injury I manage with an ergonomic keyboard, mouse, and footrest – all items I would either have to carry with me back and forth to work every day, or give up using.

  57. BethRA*

    LW 2 – would it be helpful, or possible, to have your workspace moved as far kitchen/food cache as the office space allows? Or, if your office is large enough, to have an email distribution list for food announcements that you (and others) could opt out of?

  58. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    No.4 You could have an informal meeting before the move and have everyone agree on some basic rules. The people who need light get to sit near the windows. The number crunchers are grouped together. People who need silence get the back row furthest from the action. People who get easily distracted get a little flag to put on their desk that means do no disturb etc.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      If you add rules like that into the mix, some people are going to be domineering, others reserved, and yet others will try to police the whole thing. It’ll just build resentment.

  59. Deloris Van Cartier*

    OP2: I remember that anxiety when food would come into the workplace when I was first in recovery as it felt like a trigger that would cause enough anxiety that could screw me up for the whole day. A few things that I did to help work through it were practicing saying no to people who were “safe”. I would do this with friends or family who I knew wouldn’t push back which gave me some confidence. I also would just go over a few phrases in my head so they felt normal to say when I got anxious and felt under pressure. The last thing I would do was being pretty on top of meal planning where I always made sure I had a breakfast and lunch and snacks that I felt comfortable with as I felt like I could say no if I had a yogurt for breakfast because I had a reason to say no. I know it can be hard to advocate for yourself in this way but I guarantee most times most people are no phased by a no as they’re just wanting you to feel included. It sounds like you’re doing some great work so keep it up!

  60. Maya Elena*

    For LW4: if everyone mostly works remotely, it is fair that desks are not assigned. I worked at a place that wasted tons of money on space that was mostly empty because people camr in only a few times a month…. And it was depressing to come into an empty office.
    But if that is not the case, I’d look for a different job, and let them know why I left in the exit interview.

  61. MommyMD*

    That is a horrible rejection letter. I would forward it to the top tier. I would not post it on social media. It is shockingly rude and condescending.

    It makes the recent rejection letter look like the best letter ever.

  62. Another Lawyer*

    #2 – I can’t imagine having to clean up my desk and pack away my stuff every night. I would go bananas!

  63. MommyMD*

    It may be hard but just say no thanks to the food or something like “my metabolism doesn’t do well with starch and sugar, but thanks”. The snacks are not going to stop and if you make an issue of it, people are going to have a negative view of you. It may not be right but it’s the way it is.

    1. EBStarr*

      The only people who are going to have a negative view of someone who politely asks not to be included in offers of shared food are not very nice people, in my opinion. Realistically, anyone whose opinion is worth worrying about won’t judge her for food choices that are none of their business.

      1. fposte*

        I’m thinking MommyMD might mean “making an issue” as in “trying to get the snacks stopped,” as opposed to just not taking any.

        1. EBStarr*

          I hope that’s what she meant (I didn’t see anything in the letter that suggested the OP was thinking about that — maybe I missed something? — but that would indeed be a terrible idea). But I don’t think “Just say no thanks to the food” is a particularly helpful strategy for someone with an eating disorder–Alison suggested a great way for the OP to try to proactively avoid situations where her recovery is at risk, and I wouldn’t want to see the OP shamed for taking care of herself.

  64. MommyMD*

    Please don’t base important life decisions on a job that may never materialize. If there is a future posting deal with it then. The statement they gave you is very vague and contains no promises or anything remotely concrete. Good luck.

  65. Snark*

    Real talk: Open offices are shite. Hot desking is even more shite. Cubicles with walls of less than six feet? Shite. Every time I hear some addled corporate drone prattle on about “mobility and collaboration,” it occurs to me how easy it is to care about stuff like when you have an office with windows to wander back to after making everybody else’s work life suck twice as hard. If you actually think hot-desking is going to make people organically leverage their core competencies to think outside the box and disrupt the paradigm, you have too much time on your hands and need more actual work to busy yourself with.

    1. Allison*

      One of the departments on my floor ditched cubicles for a more open plan with little dividers between the workspaces. I’m really worried they’re gonna do the same thing in my department, if they do I’ll be very upset.

    2. Aurion*


      Unless each desk is (1) extremely adjustable, and I mean extremely because most desks are too high for me, and (2) equipped with fancy monitor arms to minutely adjust the height of monitors, hot desking will cause me back, hip, and shoulder issues in under two days. I use a keyboard tray at every desk I type at for longer than ten minutes. That three and a half inches between desk surface and my keyboard is not negotiable.

      Each worker has their preferred setup for whatever reason and will spend time every day to get their workstation set up to optimize their workflow (if it’s even possible. With me, it would not be). How is this bouncing around between desks supposed to supercharge the creative process? Ugh, the very idea is pissing me off.

  66. TJ*

    #5 – I don’t necessarily agree that it would be acting in bad faith to take an offer now and then leave for DreamJob in the future. Alison has said before that interviews are never a guarantee; if they say they are in a freeze, HR director quit, etc. but will call you – she always says to consider it gone and move on. I feel like this would be the same. They said they will follow up in the new year but who knows? Put it out of your mind and continue the search.

    I would take an offer now IF there is one that also fits what you are looking for and then let it be a happy surprise if DJ calls you down the road. I feel like then you can always tell your current job that this was from months ago and they reached back out to you, this is such a great opportunity and thank CJ profusely for what they’ve done for you (sincerely). Maybe I’m thinking of it too simplistically.

    The only way I think it would be bad faith is if OP put in a half effort for the next few months hoping DJ would reach back out and then they leave. But people leave jobs all the time – businesses know this.

  67. BadMoviesLover*

    Open offices are the new fad, and just like Agile, most suits seem to think it’s a one size fits all silver bullet to their problems. It’s just the same old Hammervision.

  68. Nita*

    OP #1: I don’t know, maybe it’s just my sense of humor, but that email is so rude it’s funny and impossible to take seriously. I hope it’s not actually upsetting you. Like, would you take criticism personally if it came from someone in suit, tie, and full clown make-up? So, if you want to bring this person’s lack of professionalism up with their boss before someone does take the company viral, do it by all means – but don’t lose any sleep over it! Also, you’ve probably dodged a bullet by not even landing an interview at this place, and good luck with your job search.

  69. CatCat*

    #4 just makes no sense to me. I don’t know how you are expected to have confidential conversations on the phone or secure confidential documents. It certainly seems like a huge waste of lawyer time.

    But, aside from that, I would just hate it personally. I like having an office. It’s dealbreaker territory for me. I’m at a level in my career where I don’t have to put up with crap like that and I’d be looking for a new job.

  70. DMC*

    Regarding OP1, it’s so outrageous, a part of me wonders if this email was sent by a teenager or someone who got access to the person’s work laptop or cell phone with email. I realize that’s a small possibility, but the email is just so absurd.

  71. Q*

    LW#4 I feel your pain. My office is in the midst of redoing office floors similar to what you described. Our desk is basically a long slab of wood that seats six people within a foot of each other. There are lockers where we can store personal items, but at the end of the day we have to clear all items from the desk/slab. It reminds me of a high school computer classroom. It’s still under construction but I plan on leaving if I get assigned the new area. It’s hilarious how they tried to market it to us as a cool new area with “updated vending machines” and an “open floor plan to promote discussion”. Ugh, I can’t believe this makes a cubicle look good.

  72. QA Mini*

    #2- I can’t help but wonder if this is a case where you are in a company with a culture that just isn’t a good fit for you. In tech companies culture is make or break and (for better or worse) food is often a big part of this culture. Just like other tech company things (ex. bring your dog to work or open access to beer all day long) this means it’s not an industry that fits everyone. People who can’t be around dogs or alcohol for medical reasons also might not be a fit for this environment. If it’s impacting your wellbeing so much you may consider finding another place to work. I know that’s not easy but I don’t see you having much luck at completely opting out of something that is a huge part of the culture of an entire industry. I’d say it might be worth giving it a try but don’t be afraid to just move on since this place sounds like a poor fit for you. best of luck!

  73. Noah*

    #4 – Find a new job. Your employer is mandating that you commit violations of the rules of professional conduct all day long. Don’t work there.

    1. Anon anon anon*

      Yeah. At some point, someone will write an exposé about lawyers and medical professionals in open floor plans. Best to avoid that mess before it happens.

  74. Jo*

    A client at my old agency had hot desking at their headquarters. It’s a massive company and it all seemed like a bit of a mess when we visited. Even worse, they would all bring their laptops into meeting and spend them typing away, probably out of habit. I swear they only listened to a fraction of what was said. Companies need to wise up to how terrible this is.

  75. Oilpress*

    #4 – My favourite part of this scenario is that senior management keeps their same desks/offices. Of course they do. Way to drive a wedge between your work force and yourselves!

  76. NorthernSoutherner*

    My first reaction about the rejection email: the guy was goofing around and accidentally hit ‘send’. It just sounds like a joke to me. I’ve done this type of thing myself — not with emails, gawd no! But let’s say I have to write a memo and I’m not feeling it, I might start out with, ‘This memo is going to suck and I really don’t give a rat’s ass.’ Then I feel better, delete my sentence and go on.

    1. Anon anon anon*

      I did it with a cover letter once. One good reason to always submit those documents in PDF, not something where you can view the history!

  77. Anon anon anon*

    Hotdesking. I’ve heard of it when it’s a small company with a big budget. The kind of place where you’re free to set your own hours and the shared furnishings are really nice. I think some companies that do it might be trying to imitate well funded startups that have been featured in magazines for their office designs.

    I think it would have some obvious drawbacks and would create tension between employees. It’s reminiscent of a high school cafeteria sort of setting. It would make it really obvious what the cliques are and how popular everyone is. There would be disagreements about things that would otherwise not be issues (“You stole my desk while I was in a meeting”, “I need the desk by the window more than you do”, “You sneezed on that phone and didn’t sanitize it afterwards”). Some people would save seats for other people. Or promise to and then not. Etc. And there would be a rift between people who could get there early and people who couldn’t because of other commitments (like driving kids to school).

    It’s funny how Collaboration has become a buzzword for cutting costs while presenting it as something different.

  78. Disorganized Office Hater*

    Letter writer number 4 (I think) you and I work for the same company, I’m certain of it. I think you’ve probably seen the blowback on our internal site about this ridiculous idea. No solutions, but you have my sympathies. I work from home all the time, so this doesn’t impact me, but it is still the worst idea to ever come out of our organization (ugh, I think this is part of the effort to make it onto the best places to work list – how about you reduce some of the leadership turmoil, constant reorgs and all the layoffs).

  79. The Supreme Troll*

    For OP#1, your response can be along the lines of “Your Welcome! And now you can go and fawk thyself…while simultaneously shoving the Big Macs that I milled up your rotund arse!”

    Oh God…that would be an awesome reply. I think that they have already destroyed the bridge for you (unfortunately, if this response came from the higher-ups). So, personally if I was in that situation, and I was getting that vibe, yes, I could probably be crazy enough to send a response like that.

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