should I tell my boss her photo is terrible, my boss calls me a “baby,” and more

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

1. My boss is using a terrible photo — should I say something?

I work remotely as a part-time assistant for a former professor of mine from college. We’ve known each other for a few years now and have a very positive relationship. I am a younger man in my mid-20s and she is an older woman in her mid-40s. I say that because it’s important context for my question.

I recently noticed on her website that she updated her home photo to one that I think is very unflattering. The lighting and angle to me aren’t great and I think it’s not an accurate representation of what she actually looks like, and I’m afraid it may turn clients off.

Do I say something? If so, how can I without sounding like a jerk young guy suggesting my older female boss use a more flattering picture?

Nope. Say nothing.

Even with gender and age differences aside, it takes a very specific type of relationship to tell your boss that her photo sucks and she should use a different one. Throw in the gender difference and it’s just not a thing you’re well positioned to do. If you were in charge of marketing for her, then maybe — but otherwise let her decide this one on her own.

2. My boss calls me a “baby”

I just started my first full-time position after college and I’ve run into a problem with my supervisor. She is about six years older than me and keeps referring to me as a “baby.” We work in a corporate setting mainly but occasionally meet with clients and she has told multiple clients that I’m a baby as well. I’m still in training but eventually I will be meeting with these clients on my own and need them to respect my opinion (many of them are much older than I am).

I’m not sure why she feels the need to call me this. We aren’t terribly far apart in age in my opinion and, even though she’s been in the workforce longer, we have almost the same amount of experience in our current field. How can I ask her to stop without causing tension or offending her?

I’m sure she means this as “Jane is brand new to the world work — she’s still learning!” and doesn’t mean “Jane is a helpless infant” — and I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s especially focused on it because at only six years older than you, it wasn’t that long ago that she was in the same spot herself and she sounds quite conscious of that (or quite pleased with herself for no longer being there).

But regardless of her intent, it’s still really undermining to you. There’s an element of “look, how adorable!” and that’s incredibly unhelpful when you need people to take you seriously — let alone when it’s coming from your boss.

And yes, you can ask her to stop. I’d say it this way: “When you refer to me a baby, it makes it harder for people to take me seriously. I know you just mean that I’m new to the field, but can I ask you to stop calling me that?” If she’s resistant to that, try saying, “I know you don’t mean anything by it, but I think it’s undermining me with people who I’ll need to respect me — and it makes me pretty uncomfortable.”

3. Is it okay to use conference rooms for personal use?

Is it okay to use meeting conference rooms for personal use? I started learning a new language over the holidays using an app on my phone. Because of the app features — it speaks out a prompt and I respond — I’ve been booking empty conference rooms during my lunch hour to go through lessons and eat lunch. I work in an open bullpen, which doesn’t allow for audio privacy and can get loud even at lunchtime. I look for empty rooms before going to lunch, so I’m not reserving in advance, and try to leave early if I know there’s another meeting afterwards for any set-up prep. It’s a large building, and rooms are open to everyone. My worry is that if someone walks in on me accidentally, the visual from their perspective is a woman fiddling around on her phone while eating a salad. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m using these rooms as my private lunch suite. I just want somewhere that I can listen to the app and talk without interruption.

In a semi-related aside, we have a large copy room on our floor. For as long as I’ve been working here (5+ years), a group of men use it daily to play ping-pong. They close all the doors, set up screens to block off people trying to cut through the room and to corral loose balls, yell loudly and leave the room smelling of sweat. (The room has four entrances so it’s not inaccessible, but it can be annoying if you need something in their game area). In my mind, if they can take over a room like that to play ping-pong, then I can use a conference room to learn French. Thoughts?

This really comes down to your office culture and whether anyone else uses conference rooms for personal use — and in your case, it sounds like they definitely do. So as long as you have plentiful conference rooms and the one you’re using isn’t in high demand, I think you’re fine. (If people are walking in on you a lot, though, take that as a sign that the room might be more in need than you think, and it would be worth checking that with whoever manages the space.)

I wouldn’t be terribly worried that people will think you’re just looking for privacy while you eat and play on your phone — they’re at least as likely to assume that you’re eating while you take a work call. But if you’re in doubt, you can always check with your manager: “Hey, I’m using an empty conference room to eat lunch in because I’m learning French and using that time to practice without disturbing others. So far finding an empty conference room doesn’t seem to have caused any issues, but I wanted to mention it to you in case there’s something I’m not thinking of.”

4. Asking for time off to recover from jet lag after an international trip

I am traveling to India for a third time for my company. I will be gone two weeks this time. I will be crossing 10 time zones for my travel. The company provides me with 23 PTO days for the year. Having said that, I will be returning on a Sunday. Previously I was able to take Monday off without using PTO and was then able to work from home on Tuesday. This was not nearly enough time to get my body acclimated to the new time zone. Is it feasible to ask my employer for the entire week off without having to use my PTO days?

A week is a long time to ask for, especially if you didn’t negotiate it in advance when agreeing to do the travel. I think you could ask for two days, and possibly shortened hours for the remainder of the week, but I think asking for much more than that is going to raise eyebrows. I know this might sound unfair, especially since the standard advice for getting over jet lag is to assume it’ll take you one day for every time zone crossed (which would be 10 days in your case). That said, I’m interested to know what others who do a lot of international travel for work (especially across this many time zones) think.

5. I had five titles in one year at the same employer

I am updating my resume and I realize that I worked in five different titles last year. My employer was very gracious when I needed to make a career change and gave me lots of projects to explore new roles. Even before the career change, I was often taking short-term roles with increased responsibility. Does this look like I’ve been job-hopping even though I was with the same employer for almost nine years and I was hand-picked to fill most of these short-term assignments? I prefer to highlight those accomplishments since the permanent titles I held were not very prestigious. I’m trying to level up!

Nope, having lots of different assignments at the same employer doesn’t raise job hopping concerns the way it would if those were all at different organizations. This isn’t job hopping! It might be assignment hopping, but (a) that’s often at the behest of the employer and (b) it doesn’t raise the concerns about flightiness or inability to stay at a job that it would if those five titles were at five different companies. (And to be clear, if it were at five different companies but those assignments were designed from the start to be temporary/short-term, that would be fine too. Job hopping becomes a concern when you keep leaving organizations that intended for you to stay longer.)

And since we’re talking about five titles in a 12-month period, this is one of the rare occasions where it might make sense to skip all the titles and instead list your accomplishments during that period under one overall descriptive umbrellas (like Special Projects or whatever makes sense — just make sure your employer would consider it accurate).

{ 450 comments… read them below }

  1. please*

    Multiple days off for jet lag? No.

    Starting work a few hours later or a few hours earlier for several days as you adjust to time differences? Sure.

    1. Frequent flier*

      I basically agree with this, but I do think one, possibly two, days off for jet lag is reasonable; the first day is generally the least productive, and the standard advice tends to be not to make any important decisions within 48 hours after a long-haul flight. Jet lag is not merely about feeling “tired,” but also about impaired judgment and irritability. (I do at least 8 long-hauls a year, often more. I try to time my arrivals on a Friday or Saturday.)

      Also, OP did not clarify whether his employer is willing to send him business class (speaking generally, it should). If he’s going economy he has additional room to negotiate.

      1. EW*

        I think in this case since she’s traveling over her weekend it gives her additional room to negotiate. At least at my organization they don’t like us to travel on our weekends if we can avoid it since those are some of the only days we have home.

        I would not ask for a full week off, but two days off (we call these structured freedom days) and modified hours or telecommuting for the rest of that week. I’d frame it as wanting to get back up to full speed as quickly as possible.

        1. Nico m*

          LW worked at least two weekends on the trip. Therefore they are owed 4 extra days PTO. Which they can use some of for recovery.

          1. MK*

            She was in India for at least two weekends; I doubt she was working non-stop the whole time she was there. I get why time spent not working during bussiness travel feels like time worked-after all, you are there because of work- but it’s not considered overtime.

            1. Jenny*

              I think this depends on the employer/field. On trips for my old company, everyone always worked all weekend.

            2. Oryx*

              Depends entirely on the industry and reason for business travel. I’m going out of town next month for work and Saturday and Sunday are going to be the busiest days of the trip.

            3. Natalie*

              Overtime is a bit of a red herring since it’s fairly unlikely she’s non-exempt anyway. I’d say free weekends while traveling for work are sort of partially work time. On the one hand you’re not working, but on the other you’re not at home and can’t do whatever typical things you want or need to do on weekends, and you may not be anywhere that you can genuinely unwind and have a normal weekend. But half-rate comp time as others have suggested seems totally reasonable.

            4. HollyWeird*

              It also can depend on where you are going, many of our Indian clients do work Saturdays and if you are visiting them you would be expected to be available for meetings on that day.

            5. Dr Wizard, PhD*

              It is where I work (government in Europe) – if you have to be away for work on a non-work day, you’re entitled to a day in lieu.

          2. LKW*

            We don’t know the person worked. When I travel internationally, weekends are free time/travel time.

            1. lost academic*

              It’s work time if it’s travel on business. They owe you some compensation for that time. What that is at this company, I can’t say, but at my firm we’d either bill the time to the client or to overhead, and still allow for the flex time afterwards.

              1. LKW*

                My company has explicit rules for when travel is work time and when travel is not work time based on your home country and exemption status. Travel for me is not working time unless I am actually working. If I am sleeping it is not working time.

            2. MeanieNini*

              I travel to Florida in the winter for work every year. I frequently stay over a weekend and enjoy my time since there is plenty to do there that I don’t have access to where I live. That’s not work time. Sure, I am away from home for work … but I’m laying on the beach or going to Disney or doing something fun … which my company is happy that I get to do and encourages that on the weekend … so I would agree it completely depends on the circumstances and whether the person is expected to work and actually is working during that time.

            1. yasmara*

              Yep, I wish too. My husband has worked several jobs with significant international travel – not 50-weeks-per-year salesperson travel, but enough that he consistently gets into the 2nd tier of frequent traveler awards and one memorable year was up at the 2nd highest. He has never once gotten any official comp/PTO time for travel weekends, weekends in the foreign country, or jetlag recovery.

              There might be some informal flexibility, like when he wakes up super early with jet lag & starts work at 4am, he might come home early that day, but there have never ever been extra PTO days added. He’s traveled on American holidays & not gotten them back. Most of his international travel starts on a Saturday evening so he can arrive by Sunday and then be at his international office for Monday morning.

          3. NotAnotherManager!*

            This is entirely industry-dependent, and we don’t know LW’s industry or company. My industry/organization do not “make up” days that exempt staff work over 40 or outside of normal business hours. (This is disclosed explicitly at interviews, and the positions have a hazard pay component to them. Deadlines aren’t soft, and you do what you have to do to meet them.) You’d be looked at askance for asking for 4 extra days of PTO for work-related travel, and there would be concerns about one’s ability to perform the job.

            I currently have someone who is non-exempt (paid overtime) who keeps trying to broker compensatory time because work doesn’t fit neatly into a 40 hours week. We also pay for travel home, a significant number of catered meals for lunch and dinner, and offer flex time, when it possible without missing deadlines. It’s still not enough for this person, and it’s maddening because we were explicit in the interview that it involved a lot of overtime, about which they were enthusiastic at the time. I’m well aware of how wearing extended OT can be, but they’re trying to renegotiate the position a year in, which isn’t possible. I was elated when they tendered their resignation.

          4. Sam*

            If formal flex time isn’t really an option with LW’s employer, framing those days as an obligation may come across as out-of-touch and entitled. It sounds like their boss isn’t completely unreasonable, so I think it would make sense to go to the boss, explain that the previous arrangement meant returning to work before they were able to do their best work, and ask for something different. I just think there’s a huge difference between “1 day off and 1 work-remotely day” and “5 days off.” I imagine LW will have better odds of success if they propose something in the middle.

          5. Penny Lane*

            This board sometimes talks about the “unspoken differences” between the blue-collar world and the white-collar world. This comment seems like a blue-collar point of view — I don’t think of a white-collar person as thinking that because they were in a foreign country over the weekend, that they are therefore “owed” that as vacation time. In other words, the trip is the trip – whether you work on weekdays, weekends or both.

            1. George Glass*

              I don’t think it’s a white collar or blue collar thing–I think of it more of a “not wanting to be exploited” thing…

    2. Susan Calvin*

      Exactly, in my org there’s a fair bit of travel between mine and another location, 8 timezones away, and the expectation is definitely that you work immediately. From home, if your tasks allow it (but that’s pretty much always the case), and probably keeping odd hours for a few days, but taking a whole day off? Only if your return flight arrived at 4am or something atrocious like that.

      1. Birch*

        Yeah, this is unfortunately one of those situations where you have to suck it up or use your knowledge of your own body and mind to make it work for you. I travel fairly frequently and it’s not unheard of to have an 8 hour overnight flight and go straight to meetings from the airport or have to give a presentation first thing in the morning after the flight. If you can’t do this, it’s up to you to inform whoever is booking the flights and take whatever time off you need. It’s a situation where you need to take responsibility for your own well-being. You’re going to feel tired after travel, that’s just a fact, so figure out how to make yourself functional, but you can’t really ask for a vacation to recover from jet lag. If you absolutely need more time than a day, schedule it in, but you don’t need to tell people why.

        1. Jenny*

          Yeah, this really comes down to your company. If other people don’t get days off after they travel, you really can’t ask for it.

      2. K.*

        Yeah, I’ve taken plenty of overnight international flights and gone straight to work. If I can, I time my arrivals on a weekend (which usually worked out coming home – fly out Sunday night, go straight to the office Monday morning, come home Friday and have the rest of Friday and the weekend to recover), but if not you have to just push through.

      3. Samiratou*

        I went to India once for work. We got in at 2am in Chennai and met everyone in the office at 9. Yeah, I was pretty much junk that day, but we had limited time, so what are you gonna do? On my way home it was the longest Tuesday ever, but I’m pretty sure I was back at work Wednesday morning. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to ask for an extra day, let alone a week, for jet lag.

        But I was also an hourly employee at that point, and got paid overtime since travel time was 24 hours. That was a fun paycheck.

    3. Dahlia*

      No accommodations or changes in hours for my field. I think you have a good thing going already with a day off and a work from home day. More than anyone would get in my area.

    4. Snark*

      I think it might be reasonable to ask for a – one – day. Anything beyond that, especially an entire week, is excessive and will get eyebrows raised and “uh, no” uttered.

      For what it’s worth, last time I traveled to south Asia, the jet lag was suprisingly non-awful. But LW needs to power through.

      1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

        My boss took two days as ‘unofficial time off’ after returning to us from a ten-day trip to Korea, and that was understood as ‘no possible way she’d be recovered’ time. But this is government, and people have to do official duty travel a fair bit and there are very specific rules for it.

    5. Engineer Woman*

      OP’s employer is really generous already, giving a day off after the biz travel. I used to travel at least 2-3 times a year crossing 10+ time zones and initially asked if there were time-off allowances to fend off jet-lag: the answer was no. People at my company generally returned from their trips over the weekend (travel on a Friday) and took the weekend to recover, making their way into the office Monday as usual.

      Friends from other industries that also have frequent travel don’t get any extra accommodations either. The extra paid day off sounds great already.

    6. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      As a former commuter between the East Coast of the US and multiple cities in Europe, I have three thoughts:
      1. Do not ask for a week off. At all. A day off is reasonable and should be policy. Flexibility on hours in the office for several days is reasonable. A week is not. If I had asked for that long off from work after my longest trip (7 time zones), it would have crippled my career.
      2. As mentioned elsewhere, jet lag sucks but is not a disease. You will be functional, but not at normal times. If you are awake at odd hours, many companies will expect you to do some work (hopefully from home) during those hours. After my returns from Europe, I spent many a day in the office from 6:00am to 3:00pm.
      3. This is a separate issue from compensation days for working weekends in India or using them for travel. If you want four days off to cover lost personal time without using PTO, frame it that way. Do not conflate the jet lag issue and lost personal time.

      I cannot emphasize this enough: your current arrangement of one day off and one day working from home is a standard practice for many foreign travelers I know. Asking for a week is so far off the norm that it could be career-harming.

      1. Int Nonprofit Here*

        I’m just here to say that in the nonprofit space it’s either exactly the same or worse. Where I am now, first of all many people travel international, so there’s a norm of “many people do this all the time”. But also in the nonprofit space, with the reality of expenses – there’s another layer of “not everyone gets to take all the travel that would be ideal for their role” with how dollars are spent. So framing this as “due to international travel I need recovery” almost framed this as punishment. Which in my sector it is not perceived as.

        That being said, as jet lag is often more about a shift in when someone is productive – after a day off or work from home – I don’t think it’d be crazy to say “I’ll be in the office starting at 7am and leave early or show up at 10am and leave late for the rest of the week. While it still might read a bit too delicate – I think that’s really the only week long solution that would be remotely acceptable at my organization.

      2. AKchic*

        I don’t travel for business, but I can remember flying my son across country for custody changes. I called them my “marathon weekends”. I’d leave work as usual on Fridays at 5pm. I’d go home, grab my son’s suitcase, pack his carry-on (because that is always the last thing to be packed), make sure my carry-on is still packed from the night before, make sure everything is printed out, have my husband drop us off at the airport, fly across country (Alaska to New Jersey). Stay 12-24 hours depending on his age at the time, flights back and what I might actually need down there (a few times I actually brought suitcases of old stuff back with me from my former MIL’s house), then would fly back to Anchorage and be back at the office at my usual 8am on Monday morning.
        My son is older now and flies unaccompanied minor.

    7. Marley*

      Unless the writer gets a lot of free time on these trips, which I doubt, two comp days seems reasonable. Especially as she has missed weekends at home.

      1. Penny Lane*

        In every professional workplace that I’ve been a part of, the request to have 2 comp days because you spent the weekend in Paris or London or Shanghai because you had business there Thur/Fri and again Mon/Tue would have been met with raucous laughter!

    8. Plague of frogs*

      When I’ve flown to India, I didn’t take any time off when I got back. I started work many hours earlier than usual on my first day, and then gradually adjusted my work schedule as my sleep schedule got back to normal.

      Of course, I wasn’t particularly productive on my first day because I brought home some souvenir bacteria and was running to the bathroom every 20 minutes, but that worked itself out eventually. And on my next trip I knew about Imodium.

    9. Penny Lane*

      The advice about one day for every hour of jet lag is so obviously geared towards non-travelers, for whom flying from New York to Chicago is a Huge Big Deal. I get a day or two for flying around the world, but a *day* to recover from switching *one* time zone? Give me a break!

      1. Honeybee*

        I think the rule of thumb is for full circadian rhythm reset, but not the date at which you are fine enough to back to work. Generally I think it’s accepted that 1-2 days of rest is enough to be functional.

      2. JumpyJess*

        “Huge Big Deal.” Hahaha!!
        Yeah, for short distances, that advice of 1 time zone=1 day recovery is patently absurd. An hour difference is almost nothing in comparison to traveling to the opposite side of the globe.
        If I don’t get time off to adjust to US Daylight Savings Time, why should someone crossing a single time zone get a whole day off? It’s a minor inconvenience at most, like if you had a “somewhat” crap night of sleep… We all just suck it up and power through.
        However, for travelling employees with MUCH larger time differences, I do agree that AT MINIMUM a day off OR working from home (at times when you are most alert/functional) is a GREAT thing.
        But asking for much more than that seems to me… excessive and even possibly “whiny”, or at the very least maybe indicating to the higher-ups that you have a lower threshold for stress than your fellow travelling employees.
        So sorry, no actual offense meant to OP, because changing time zones absolutely does suck! But unfortunately I feel that’s just a likely possibility of how “management” might see it, esp. if it’s the company culture to travel without long-ish breaks to recuperate.

    10. sfigato*

      I used to work at an organization with incredibly generous vacation and time off policies with an office in asia. No one who traveled to our asia office got time off to adjust to a new schedule when they got back from their trips, beyond working from home for part of the week if their schedule allowed. This may have led to people falling asleep at work more than once.

    11. JS*

      I agree– either a changed work schedule time for the week, if possible, or two days off to deal with the jet lag. Because it’s for the company, I think it’s reasonable to ask for these two days off– but no more. I work in Japan and visit my home country (America) a few times a year, and I usually take two days away from work to recover. I’m usually a bit tired and off for the following week, but with the worst two days behind me it’s a very manageable kind of tired.

  2. Zungu*

    Huh, I guess a day or two off for jet lag would be reasonable. With my org there’s usually no break – you walk off the plane and go straight to work, which I don’t love, but no one’s questioned it so I figured it was more normal than I realized. Maybe not.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yeah; 1-2 days seems reasonable to me. A week sounds excessive, even though OP is basically inverting their day by 12 hours. My best advice would be:
      1. Use all the flight life-hacks possible to help mitigate the impact of the jetlag (there’s all sorts of advice about how to prep, how to use sunglasses to help reset your internal clock, being strategic about when you sleep on the plane, using melatonin to reset when you arrive, if possible),
      2. Be really aggressive about resetting your clock; and
      3. Negotiate starting late for the rest of the week (but still work the expected number of hours for the three days you are in-office).

      1. Whyblue*

        I agree. I regularly cross 9 timezones. If I return on a Saturday, I will work on Monday but possibly start a little later or cut my day to 6 hours. If I return on Sunday, I think it would be fair to take Monday and possibly Tuesday off, but no more than that. (And that’s with a generous employer. The one before that would not allow days off, only starting a bit later.)
        Also, it might make a difference whether you travel business or coach. In business you are supposed to be able to rest/sleep, which is no always feasible if squished into coach.)

      2. Knitting Cat Lady*

        I treat jet lag the same as I do switching back from a night shift.

        1. If tired on arrival: Short nap. 2 hours at most. Use an alarm clock.
        2. Stay up as long as it takes you feel really tired. If that is way too early make that stay up as long as possible.
        3. Set your alarm for the time you need to get up. Then go about your day as normal. Take a very short nap if needed/possible.
        Repeating step 2 and 3 has me back in sleep schedule matching the day/night cycle within three days at most.

        Then again, my circadian rhythm is strange and seems to follow a 28h loop if I don’t follow sleep hygiene…

        1. Maybe?*

          Sleep cycles tend to be 90 minutes, so a nap of that length would be ideal (if it takes a little while to fall asleep, then a 2 HR alarm might work so that you get 90 mins once asleep). Waking at the end of a sleep cycle is more refreshing than waking in the middle of one.

          For power naps (30 mins), if absolutely needed: drink a cup of coffee right before laying down. It takes that long for the caffeine to kick in, and that will coincide with the end of your nap. I used this when working night shift and my employer allowed staff to take a 30 min nap, workload permitting. I don’t think it’d be that beneficial to reset your clock, but could help get through a day.

          1. Birch*

            Yes! The coffee nap is the best! I used this for 14 hour days in college. Chug the coffee, nap immediately, wake refreshed.

      3. Travel hacker*

        What worked for me: Find out what time it is where you’re flying to and go to sleep when you’d go to sleep there. So if you’re leaving at 11am and it’s 11pm there, go to sleep immediately on the plane (melatonin, Dramamine, eye mask, headphones worked for me). Sleep as much as you can. Force yourself to if possible. Ignore all food, they can give it to you later. Ideally no booze, 1 glass okay. Coming back, you may be up for 28 hours to do the same thing. In both cases go to bed at a normal time when you’re there. It’s all worth it. I’m mostly fine the next day, a little tired in the afternoon. Day 2 is almost perfect. Day three I’m golden. Since you’re traveling on a weekend, that’s why it’d be okay for those two days rather than jet lag.

        1. Penny Lane*

          The standard advice I’ve always heard, and followed (I made about 25 long-haul trips in 2 years), is – the moment you get on the plane, you set your watch to the new time zone and you act as though you are in that time zone. For everything. Sleep, food, etc. The advice to refuse food on a plane makes no sense to me – eat when people in your new time zone would be eating so your hunger cues synch up.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            I think refusing the food in Travel hacker’s advice was in the context of their example–if, when you get on the plane, it’s 11pm at the location you’re traveling to. In that case, it’s a good idea to refuse all food because you wouldn’t not likely be eating at 11pm at home. You two are basically saying the same thing.

      4. JB (not in Houston)*

        One tip I always see people skip talking about is changing when you *eat*. This has helped me tremendously on my trips to and from Asia. Google it and find the research (there’s the original method and a shorter method, try and see which works for you). It won’t work for everyone and isn’t a magic bullet, but it really has helped me bounce back quickly.

      5. Wendy Darling*

        I traveled 8 time zones over for work a bunch of times and developed a jet lag prevention strategy that worked REALLY well for me:

        1. If at all humanly possible, arrange it so I will arrive at my final destination around dinnertime.
        2. Do not sleep a lot on the plane. Not hard since even if I sleep on planes it is crap sleep.
        3. When I arrive, eat dinner and white-knuckle through my horrifying exhaustion until a vaguely reasonable bedtime (8-9pm for me — earlier than normal but sane considering I’m exhausted).
        4. Sleep. Get up after ~12 hours at the most.
        5. Be at like 60% of normal capacity but awake the next day. Eat meals at normal times. DO NOT NAP. Sleep at a normal time.

        Usually by my second full day I’m almost entirely functional and 100% capable of working although I might be a little tired and maybe go home an hour early if I can swing it. I go to bed earlyish for a couple days if I can.

        My employer that had me travel was generous by work travel standards — they’d pay for me to arrive in a place Saturday evening and recover on Sunday so I could work on Monday, and on several occasions they gave me a day after I flew back the day before. But asking for a week off to recover from jetlag would NOT have been on.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      Yup. This is normal. But there are ways to mitigate.
      – try to flex the first day, since you are traveling on a weekend
      – try to come in late (or earlier) the second day
      – try to sit outside in the sun on your first day. That really helps the bio clock
      – use the next weekend to rest

    3. LKW*

      In my company, the expectation is that you travel home from India and then work from home for 1-2 days so that you push your schedule back to “normal” but you’re still working in your awake hours.

      When travelling internationally, I try to leave on Friday evening or Saturday morning so I have time to adjust (coming and going). When I was working in EU, I would get on a mid-week flight at 6pm US time, nap a little and go straight to work after landing at 8 am local time. It was tough, but completely possible.

    4. WAnon*

      Same here. Used to regularly take long hauls back/forth from Asia to US (so 12 hour time difference) and had to walk into work Monday like normal after landing Sunday. There was never an expectation that you got extra time even if the trip spanned weekends, but people were generally understanding if you hit a wall at 4PM. No working from home though.

  3. Green*

    #4, a week is a LOT of recovery time to ask off of work… even if you’re not at 100%, you probably still need to be able to get back to work in a day or so. I travel a decent amount for work (and vacation) all over the world. If I got back on a Sunday, I’d take off the Monday, and, if possible, maybe go in for a half day on Tuesday afternoon or work from home Tuesday … I *do* try to keep my schedule clear of appointments for about two days after an international trip and work from home if possible, so if I need a nap in the afternoon, I can take that and work a little later. (Bear in mind that I don’t really keep track of PTO except for actual vacation because I work when I need to and generally manage my own schedule.)

    1. EE*

      I travelled across 11 timezones on Saturday and I was almost back to normal by yesterday (Tuesday). I can’t imagine any manager approving a week, or even more than a full day, for jetlag recovery.

      1. EW*

        I agree a week off is excessive, but I’m on day five of coming back from six time zones and I’m still not recovered. I’m traveling again this week which doesn’t help, but my boss doesn’t have nearly the same expectations for work load the week after an international trip. A lot of us are also introverts and the trips are extra taxing in that sense. We are already strategically timing our first trip to China as a team to help mitigate the impact jet lag will have. I think this just really depends on your boss.

        1. TL -*

          Yeah, sorry for being repetitive, but the degree to which jet lag affects a person is highly individual. For me, I just have an urge to go to bed early for a day or two, and then I’m just a little bit less energetic than usual.

          But plenty of people are completely wiped for a day or two and then exhausted for another couple of days. So I don’t think “I recovered by X” is as helpful as talking about international travel norms is.

          1. Jessi*

            This! Plus it also matters which direction you are going it. I get the worst jetlag of my life when I fly NY to London. The flights are almost always overnight and the flights not long enough for me to sleep enough to offset it. Takes me about a week to get over it

            1. Frequent flier*

              As a pro tip, try the morning departure from NYC to LHR! I did it once, and had zero jet lag.

            2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

              Yup, those flights are awful for jet lag. I usually power through on day one in London, leave the office at 4:00pm, and take an Ambien at 9:00pm. That usually allows me to crash to sleep and reset.

            3. Elizabeth West*

              Yep. If I can sleep on the plane I’m fine, but if not, fuggeddaboudit. Coming back during the day is no biggie. I just do my best to stay awake (I get very bored on long flights even with entertainment options). I’m lucky; it usually only takes me a day to get back on track if I can go to bed earlier my first night home.

          2. Scarlettnz*

            I appear to be an oddity in that I don’t get jet lag at all. I immediately adjust to whatever timezone I’ve arrived in and off I go. Personally I think asking for a week off is excessive. As others have said, one day and then perhaps reduced hours for the rest of the week, or telecommuting seems more reasonable.

      2. MommyMD*

        No manager is even going to like the request of an entire paid week off for jet lag. One or two days, ok. Anything else is excessive. Yes you are tired. But it doesn’t mean you can’t function.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Being tired categorically does impair your ability to function. As a doctor, you must know that.

          1. TL -*

            Impairs but not prevents. Everyone has to work through tiredness – it’s a very normal part of life.

            If the OP was operating heavy machinery or expected to negotiate an important deal the week she came back, that level of impairment might be a huge concern. But for most jobs, it’s not as long as the tiredness is temporary.

            1. KellyK*

              Right, but there are different levels of tiredness. I don’t think anyone’s suggesting that the employee should get free time off until they’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed again, but there’s a point at which they become impaired enough by exhaustion that they shouldn’t be at work. (If they drive or bike to work, it probably comes *after* the point at which that’s really unsafe.)

          2. Legalchef*

            Except people everywhere manage to work and accomplish things while tired. It’s part of being an adult. I have a 7 month old. I’m perpetually tired, but yet still get things done.

            If the LW had to operate dangerous machinery or perform neurosurgery that would be one thing, but sitting at a desk doing average work tasks (answering emails, talking to colleagues, etc) is something most people are able to do on little sleep.

            1. finderskeepers*

              ” It’s part of being an adult. I have a 7 month old. I’m perpetually tired, but yet still get things done.” an unfortunate commentary on work-life balance in the US

              “sitting at a desk doing average work tasks (answering emails, talking to colleagues, etc) is something most people are able to do on little sleep.” I think u mean lots of caffiene

                1. the gold digger*

                  My first workday in Dubai, after crossing ten time zones and not being able to sleep because of the call to prayer, I think I had about seven cappuccinos. I think our vendor had a cappuccino machine in the office just for the international clients.

              1. Observer*

                Nope. Do you really think that SAHM’s don’t have to deal with this? Especially ones with another child at home but too young for school?

          3. BPT*

            This seems overly snarky. I doubt any doctor would tell you “absolutely no answering emails or participating in conference calls when you’re tired.” Yes it depends on the industry, but for most jobs it doesn’t mean you can’t do any work. You might be less productive that week, but most workplaces have less productive times (the week leading up to or after holidays, the week after you get back from the company’s annual conference, etc). Being less productive doesn’t mean there’s no value in working at all.

            1. finderskeepers*

              pre/post holiday is due to other people, sometimes the suppliers/customers, taking off vacation days . so office is emptier and less work to do

          4. Penny Lane*

            People get tired for all kinds of reasons – the neighbor was loud in the middle of the night, they received a worrisome phone call from a relative and didn’t sleep, whatever. You don’t get time off from work, or from life, because of it.

        2. Mike C.*

          Your industry in particular is incredibly extreme when it comes to ignoring the effects of sleep deprivation.

            1. Penny Lane*

              Do you mean the medical field? Residency was revamped years and years ago. It’s not like it used to be when a resident might go for 24 or even 36 hours straight.

              1. Meow meow*

                Actually, 24 hour shifts are still quite common depending on the field, and can stretch to 30 hours, what with completing paperwork and signing out if you don’t have a supportive program/colleagues.

              2. Observer*

                The current “recommended” is 16 hours of active duty per shift. And that’s only for first year residents. And, there is a push to lengthen it back again. The work-week recommendations are 80 hours per week as a routine with allowances to go up for special occasions.

              3. KellyK*

                Yes. I think 16-24 hour days and 80 hour weeks for people making life and death decisions is a dangerous setup.

    2. worktraveller*

      Agreed. I travel long-haul a lot for work and would typically ask for one day working from home (not off), if anything – I’m also a manager and would be very surprised if I was asked for a week, even though I’m typically very flexible with time off/ remote working. Having said that, if I had to make someone travel over the weekend I would usually offer a day in lieu to be taken when the employee chose…could be a way in?

      But yes – one day off. Maybe two, or a day after that working from home. But I think it’s somewhat of a fact of travelling with work. I fly red-eyes and then go straight into work from the airport multiple times a year – certainly not ideal, but when you sign up for a job with lots of international travel I do think there’s an extent to which you’re agreeing to cope with some of the inconveniences that come with that travel. Like if you do a job which alternates between night and day shifts, you don’t get time off to compensate for your messed-up sleep schedule…

    3. Like, Really Smart*

      Totally agree. I also find that being forced to go to the office and get back to my normal schedule helps me recover from jet lag much faster than if I take a week off — it’s much harder for me to get back to normal.

    4. Silberraben*

      I’m in Australia so the norms around leave are a little different here but we are still expect to come to work the day after returning from a trip (its considered perfectly fine to extend a trip a little to take a vacation on the away side though).

      I have a chronic pain condition so make sure I arrive the day before my meetings (eg Sunday for Monday meetings) so I can have a night to sleep off the flight (2-3 trips a year). My able-bodied boss usually flies in early in the morning and heads straight to meetings/work after freshening up (8-10 trips a year).

      Different things work for different people so it may take a few trips to work out what’s best for you.

      Good luck.

    5. Lady Jay*

      My body deals very poorly with jet lag, but even so, I’m foggiest the first day or two. My sleep rhythm isn’t fully back for a bit longer but the third day I feel like a normal person again.

      Also, ymmv, but if you’re in the US or UK, going east-to-west is generally assumed to be easier. Maybe it won’t be such a hassle?

      1. But you don't have an accent...*

        I will say that east to west is easiest for me; I went to India late in 2017 and I never adjusted to the time zone (I was there for 10 days). I came back and was back to work the very next day (came in on a Wednesday, back to work on Thursday) and was totally fine. That being said, my internal clock is pretty precise and doesn’t adjust quickly, so it may just be me.

    6. nonymous*

      Some of my colleagues and friends travel internationally for work, and it’s pretty common to take a day + (the remainder of any flights plus the next day). However, it would be reasonable to work from home or have an alternate (read: light) schedule the rest of the week.

      The best advice I can give is OP for work travel (both domestic and foreign) is to not use personal weekends for travel without arranging comp time. So if someone is flying over the weekend to be in place Monday morning, they should arrange for the preceding Friday off, and if their flight back has them returning on a Saturday ask for the following Monday off. If OP pads that return with a work-from-home day, they will have Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to recover by adjusting sleep schedules. They might be able to extend it with partial work-from-home the rest of the week.

      Note that if OP is in a job that doesn’t require frequent travel, the real issue may be that colleagues don’t want to plan around the disrupted availability. I had one admin suggest that I prepare and send my trip report from the airport so she could meet her own deadlines….. not considering that the report needed info accumulated on the route home, plus we were not approved to charge airport wifi (and I didn’t have a work cell at the time).

  4. TL -*

    I think that asking for flexibility or shifting of deadlines and priorities to relieve any pressure the week you come back is reasonable, plus maybe a day off and either a day or two from home or short days.
    I worked with lots of people who made big international trips (for work and leisure) and I think 1 day off and a few light days was the most anybody asked for.

    Jet lag does affect everyone differently (it’s really just a mild irritant for me) so if you’re particularly prone to bad jet lag, that might be a good argument for a bit extra time or half days while you recover.

  5. Bea*

    I’m on the side of 2 days off is the best choice because you don’t just need it off for the jet lag, it’s also important to have a resting period before jumping back into work. Your body is stressed while you’re traveling and you’re essentially working through your weekend even if the work is sitting on an airplane.

    If you need a week off, I get it but use your PTO, your company is generous to have the current set up.

  6. grasshopper*

    A week off for jetlag is way too much. Arriving on a Sunday, you should absolutely get the Monday off. Tuesday maybe (check emails from home?). Back at work on Wednesday for sure.

    The general guideline in my office is that if you work on the weekend (and travel for work is considered to be work), you can take a lieu day for the days you worked. So arriving home on a Sunday would mean that you would take a day and a half off.

    1. finderskeepers*

      This. At a very minimum, time traveling, including time to/from airport, count as “working”. So if work all week then travel saturday-sunday, thats two days off.

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        In the rare case there are any non-exempt people here that travel, for OT purposes, travel as a passenger in a car or plane is not “working” unless you are also working on documents or something. Being the driver of the car (or I guess the pilot of the plane lol) is working. So for OT purposes, watching movies on a long haul flight is not work.

        1. finderskeepers*

          It is “working” if its not part of your regular commute from your residence to your primary work-site

        2. Natalie*

          That’s actually incorrect. For a non-exempt employee, work travel associated with an overnight stay is considered paid time if it occurs during whatever your normal work hours are, including both the travel itself and any time waiting at an airport or train station. So if your normal hours are 9-5 and you have a 10 am-1 pm flight, the entire flight is work time regardless of what you are doing during it. Interestingly, this applies regardless of what day of the week you are traveling.

          Travel time that occurs outside of your normal work hours is not required to be paid unless you are actually working during the time. (Link in reply)

          1. Natalie*


            Travel that keeps an employee away from home overnight is travel away from home. Travel away from home is clearly work time when it cuts across the employee’s workday. The time is not only hours worked on regular working days during normal working hours but also during corresponding hours on nonworking days. As an enforcement policy the Division will not consider as work time that time spent in travel away from home outside of regular working hours as a passenger on an airplane, train, boat, bus, or automobile.

            bolding mine

        3. Hobgoblin*

          I’m non-exempt, travel for work, and am paid for travel time so that’s not an entirely accurate statement. And I work for the local government. We have a semi-regular trip that’s a 15 hour drive and it’s much cheaper for my employer to fly my coworker and I than it is to pay us to drive there plus the overnight stay on the way.

          That said, a week off for jet lag is excessive. I’m good in a day but I think 2 is reasonable.

      2. LawLady*

        I think this is a nice idea and if this job is usually a 5-day workweek (and compensated as such), that’s fair.

        But in lots of industries (mine for example), working weekends is common and expected when the work requires it. I once went through a busy period where I billed at least some hours every day for more than a month straight. Asking for make-up days would seem really out of touch.

  7. Susan K*

    #4 – I think a week of paid rest is a lot to ask, and you risk looking high-maintenance and unreadonable if you ask. I don’t travel internationally for work, but I do work a rotating shift schedule in which I change shifts every week (8 am – 8 pm one week, 8 pm – 8 am the next week), which is kind of like changing time zones. The shortest change on our regular schedule is 48 hours (e.g., work Saturday night until 8 am Sunday, then go back for day shift Tuesday morning at 8 am), and sometimes if I’m working overtime I have to change shifts on 24 hours’ rest. It sucks but it’s doable. Actually, I find that going to work is the best way to “reset” my internal clock; if I have a whole week off, I usually end up staying on the same schedule as before and have a hard time adjusting back to the opposite schedule.

      1. sometimeswhy*

        One’s mileage may vary. I worked rotating shiftwork for five years pretty smoothly and US->EU jetlag still hits me like a sack of hammers. Completely different set of physical reactions for me.

  8. Frequent flier*

    “If you need a week off, I get it but use your PTO, your company is generous to have the current set up.”

    Notwithstanding my post above, I disagree with this. If OP really “needs” a whole week off, he should talk to his manager about not travelling so frequently. He shouldn’t be taking PTO as a result of travel undertaken at the company’s behest.

    And to be clear, I mean “needs” literally. It would be very, very unusual to need a whole week to recover from jet lag *to the point you’re functional*, as opposed to the point where you have no residual effects from flying. Still, there’s always someone three standard deviations away from the mean; if OP really fits that description, so be it.

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s a reasonable conversation, but I would only have it if I were prepared for the possibility that this isn’t the job for me and my upward trajectory is limited. Maybe they’ll shrug and say “Okay, Skype is fine,” but there’s a reasonable chance that this is an important part of the job and that traveling less would be an issue. So if the OP would rather use PTO or come to work somewhat tired than move laterally or down, I’d suggest she assess her company culture carefully before making a “travel less” request.

  9. AcademiaNut*

    I fly long-haul international trips a few times a year for work, as well as personal trips, and many of my colleagues do more (my supervisor manages 1 international trip a month or more)

    Generally, one day recuperation at most is about what is expected, although it’s normal to be off a bit on hours for a few days depending on the jet-lag. I find that I can often do a full day’s work the first day back (after crashing hard the night before and sleeping twelve hours), but the second day I’ll come in late or go home early when the jetlag is kicking in.

    And honestly, a week off is often not the best way to handle jetlag. If you have an open schedule, it’s really easy to find yourself dead tired at 2pm and fall asleep, only to wake up in the evening completely unable to sleep. Keeping yourself occupied and active during the day, with at most a brief micro-nap, and going to bed at the usual time can be a much faster way to acclimatize.

    I find the day off useful not so much for the jetlag, but for getting back into the routine of home. I can unpack, do laundry, go grocery shopping, cook a bunch of vegetables, and other practical things that are hard to do if I get back on Sunday evening, and am back to work on Monday.

    I have found a routine that makes getting home easier. I leave the apartment clean, the fridge stocked with cold drinks, and a simple but healthy home cooked meal or two in the freezer. That way when I get home exhausted, I arrive at a pleasant apartment, where I can rehydrate, have a comforting meal, shower and pass out.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      I agree. My last job had me going to Europe 4 or 5 times a year. Typically I would fly back on Friday and have the weekend to recuperate and since you gain time on the way back, I was fine by Monday. Friday I would get home and crash, and my husband would have some kind of meal ready and I could crash early. Saturday I would do the laundry and grocery shop, and then I could have a nice lazy Sunday before returning to work on Monday.

      I think it’s reasonable to ask for Monday off, and maybe Tuesday, or work from home that day. Any more than that would be pushing it.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        For me, I unfortunately always end up losing time on the way back, unless I fly to Japan, and that’s only one hour difference. So if I’m on a trip for meetings that end on Friday, I tend to leave on Saturday and arrive home Sunday evening or very early Monday morning.

    2. Mad Baggins*

      Seconding this. Jet lag doesn’t mean you’re constantly sleeping, it just means you wake up earlier/later and get tired earlier/later. So you should still have several hours of functional time. Using those hours to catch up on buying groceries, doing laundry, etc. is great and helpful for the body.

      You can mitigate the effects of jet lag by
      – waking up with the sun/being in sunlight, being in the dark when it’s time to sleep
      – observing other good bedtime rituals and sleep aids like no phone/TV before bed, avoiding caffeine (or taking it in the “morning”), exercising/stretching, meditation, etc. even if/especially if you don’t normally do them
      – taking 20min catnaps as necessary (not sleeping 2-6PM and then struggling to fall asleep at night)
      – making sure you’re hydrated during and after the flight (I recommend sports drinks or saline solution. I was bedridden for 2 days with an awful headache after a 12 hour flight–saline solution worked like magic!)
      – being active/busy during the “day” when you’re awake (meeting friends or doing a craft or playing a game rather than trying to stay up till 8:30 by watching TV reruns on the couch)

      1. Birch*

        Yes, this. It also doesn’t work like 12 time zones equals exactly twice as lagged as 6 time zones, etc. It matters what time of day you travel and which direction you go in. I hardly suffer from jet lag at all because I try to get flights that arrive in the morning. Flying east, it feels like getting an early night’s sleep, and flying west it feels like an extra long day. It helps a lot if you eat at whatever the local meal times are and when in doubt, stay up rather than sleeping too much, because insomnia is much harder to deal with than being sleepy. It’s also a thing that most people just don’t have perfect sleep cycles at home anyway, so the jet lag, while it may be a big thing for some people, is not the one special thing that interrupts people’s sleep schedules dramatically.

    3. Amber O.*

      When I worked at a college and traveled overseas for 11 days to chaperone a student trip (and across a couple different time zones again while we traveled from city to city), we were expected to be back at work on Monday after a return flight that got us home at 2 AM Sunday morning. Not to mention we were only averaging about 5 hours of sleep per night during the trip, and I couldn’t sleep on the plane going to or from our destination. It was brutal, but I got my sleep schedule back on track within about by Sunday night and was back to work at 8 AM Monday. Physically I was back on track and sleeping fine but I will say that my mental energy was pretty low those first two days- I think that was just a side effect of the continued lack of sleep and trying to safely corral 50 college students across foreign countries. By Tuesday I was fine and 100% back to normal. The entire reason I bounced back so quick is because I forced myself back into a routine- got up at a reasonable time Sunday morning (even thought it meant only 6 hours of sleep), unpacked my bags, showered, did laundry, ran some errands, ate meals at my usual times, etc. Although it was hard to go back to work on Monday morning and I didn’t get much done aside from reading emails and organizing things I’d missed while out of the office, it got me back on track again.

      A day or so off would have been great, but more than that- let alone a whole week? That seems overkill.

      1. Mike C.*

        <blockquote.we were expected to be back at work on Monday after a return flight that got us home at 2 AM Sunday morning. </blockquote.

        You recognize that this is an unreasonable expectation, right?

        1. Amber O.*

          I had the option to take that Monday off unpaid (I was a part time hourly staff member and didn’t have PTO), but all of the other staff and faculty on the trip were going in and it didn’t make much sense to take the day off if I didn’t ABSOLUTELY need it. Plus I knew it would help me get back on a regular US schedule if I jumped back into the swing of things.
          To be fair, our flight landed at about 8 PM, but we all lived 3.5 hours from the airport and we lost an hour during the drive home since the airport and our city were in different time zones. Add in a stop for a quick meal since we’d been travelling for 13 hours, and it was right about 2 AM before we all made it to our respective houses. Now, none of us really got much work done (including my boss, who was also on the trip) and there wasn’t an expectation to come back and immediately dive in to major projects, but we were a small campus, it was the middle of the summer term, and none of us had checked our email during the 11 days we were gone. Everyone was in the same mindset that it was better to trudge into the office, check some emails, get organized, and acclimate back to our standard schedules that way.

    4. Sandman*

      I completely agree with this. Hanging out at home is a great way to stay jet-lagged much longer than is necessary; that routine is key for getting over jet (I’ve flown frequently to-from Japan; my husband just returned to the US from there yesterday evening and went in late today – but also acquired a cold and worked through a long weekend).

  10. MilkMoon (UK)*

    LW1: No, just no. There is no way this would end well for you. There are three other things to consider here:

    1. That *she* likes the picture, if she chose it? Perhaps my favourite pictures of myself are other people’s least favourite pictures of me, I wouldn’t know, because they (rightly so) don’t tell me – and I wouldn’t care anyway – only my opinion matters here.

    2. Are you working for a modelling agency? Why does the way someone looks matter?

    3. Perhaps she didn’t have a choice. Our work photos are indescribably awful, mine doesn’t look like me either! I don’t get a choice about it being linked to my staff profile, but it doesn’t really matter so I don’t worry about it.

    1. Willis*

      On your first option, I think that we view photos of ourselves differently than others do. When we did headshots at work, the ones a couple of my colleagues selected for themselves wouldn’t have been the ones I’d have picked, but they may well think the same about my choice. Maybe there’s something she likes about the picture, or maybe it was the best out of several not great options. Regardless, it’s her choice so just let it be.

      1. Jessi*

        part of it has to do with the fact that when we see ourselves in the mirror our faces are backwards (ie a reflection) but a picture is how other people see us. That’s why you sometimes think you look ‘odd’ in pictures its not a reflection

      2. MilkMoon (UK)*

        Yes exactly. It’s like the thing where we will never accurately see ourselves the way other people see us. That really blows my mind.

    2. Not My Monkeys*

      2. Are you working for a modelling agency? Why does the way someone looks matter?

      It matters to many people.

      1. MilkMoon (UK)*

        It does, but should it?

        Nice username btw, ‘Not my circus, not my monkeys’ helped keep me sane in my last few months at ToxicJob.

        1. Grits McGee*

          It probably shouldn’t, but we can process visual information at such a subconscious level that it probably does have an effect. The real question is how much it matters in this situation/industry. There are a lot of fields where having an “unflattering” picture wouldn’t matter, but if it’s an industry where a certain level of polish is the norm (hello, real estate head shots!) then it may be a bigger deal than most of us would think.

          1. Grits McGee*

            Although, let me clarify- this is all wool-gathering. OP definitely shouldn’t tell his boss that it’s a bad photo.

          2. Triplestep*

            I would say it matters in any industry for which “demonstrating self awareness” is important. So … all of them. ‘Course photographs don’t make sense for all industries, but I can’t be the only one who has looked at a linkedin photo and thought “Lacks self-awareness”

            1. Grits McGee*

              “Demonstrating self awareness” is a big leap though. There’s a world of difference between a photo that is unprofessional (ex- in a swimsuit at the beach) vs just unflattering. A professional head shot with full makeup may be more attractive, but it can come across as out of touch in an environment where there’s an expectation of casualness.

      2. Teacher*

        The photo quality does matter, I think. It sounds like part of the concern is not so much that boss looks ugly but that the photo itself is amateurish. One can look beautiful in a bad photo or ugly in a high quality photo, but the high quality, professional looking photo is the one that belongs on your company website because an amateurish one suggests a lack of attention to detail/quality.

        All that said, I think this is too fraught and LW should keep his mouth shut.

    3. Blank*

      She might also know it’s not a great photo, and wouldn’t welcome the reminder.

      Speaking as a female academic with a website hesdshot I detest, I would love to have a new one. But arranging a new photo is such a low priority compared to my other work, that while I’d like a better one, it’s just not happened.

      1. Triplestep*

        The LW is an assistant, though. He could include an offer to set up a sitting for a new photo as part of the conversation. You know … Don’t just point out the problem; help facilitate the solution.

          1. Ten*

            Yeah, I agree. It would be a different thing altogether if she were to complain about the photo unprompted–offering to set up a re-shoot would be helpful then, but not otherwise.

    4. Triplestep*

      I think it totally depends on the individuals and the relationship. I am a visual person who works in a design field. I often notice things in photos that other people do not; in fact, now that we walk around with cameras and post and/or view photos day in and day out, our tolerance for bad photos has really gone up. (Just ask any professional photographer.)

      The LW mentioned lighting and and angles, which is very different than saying “you look bad”. I think there’s a way to address this that makes it more about photo quality than about how the subject looks.

      1. misspiggy*

        Hmm, but it’s still a subordinate telling their boss they know more about something than the boss does – doable in some relationships, but still risky.

        1. fposte*

          And a junior man telling a senior woman that she could look better. In a perfect world, no overtones there, but we’re not in a perfect world.

          1. Triplestep*

            No, he’d be telling her *the photo” doesn’t look good! And it doesn’t even have to be framed as “doesn’t look good”. It could be about the lighting, composition, etc.

              1. Triplestep*

                Maybe it’s because I am both visual and literal, but I think there’s a huge difference between “photo is poorly lit” and “subject looks bad.”

                1. fposte*

                  That’s great if you’re the boss and your employee knows this about you, but it’s not common enough for the OP to rely on if he doesn’t work for you.

                2. Specialk9*

                  Triplestep, you just said about yourself that you’re literal and visual, so I’m inferring that you realize that you’re not in perfect step with the world. (Like me!) So when you put out your hypothesis (‘it’s ok for a junior man to tell his female boss it’s a bad picture if he focuses on lighting’) and everybody says whoa, dude, NOoOoO… then why are you still insisting on your version? Chalk this up to not understanding that particular rule personally, but an awful lot of people – especially female bosses – would react terribly to that. There are lots of good reasons and, frankly, it’s kinda baffling that we’re still having to go over them.

                  So let’s review the rules – don’t comment without explicit invitation on female coworkers’ looks. Not in person, not in photos, not their clothing, not their hair or makeup, not their weight or pregnancy. Nothing without direct invitation. (And no, subtle hinting is a bad idea – many little girls start playing with subtle wordplay in preschool – your version of subtle is NOT subtle to many women.) Just avoid it like the plague.

                3. fposte*

                  @Specialk9–Yes, I think this is one of these situations where what logically ought to be true isn’t the same thing as what’s likely to work out well for you. I understand Triplestep’s point about how this *should* be sayable; I’m just laying out the percentages on the likely bad outcome if somebody does.

                4. afiendishthingy*

                  I’m curious whether anyone saying “I think telling her could be totally fine!” is a nonman.

                5. Triplestep*

                  Why am I still insisting on my version? Because I’m female and 54 and I’d want my junior male staffer or colleague to tell me the lighting in my photo is terrible. As long as we had a good rapport, and as long as I knew he had an eye for these things, then yes … I’d want him to tell me. And both those things seem to be the case with this LW. I dunno … Maybe I know a lot of young men with aesthetic sensibilities. (I am in a design field.) But as I said at the start, it would depend on the individuals and the relationship.

                  If you scroll down to a post by “Positive Reframer” about Photo Feeler, it’s a good suggestion for a way the LW can frame the conversation about some changes he makes to his own profile picture.

              2. boo*

                Yes, and just to double down, I would hear “the *photo* doesn’t look good” as a condescending way of criticizing my appearance while pretending he’s not.

                Patronizing your older, female boss *and* telling her she could be prettier? Now *that’s* a bad look.

                1. Afiendishthingy*

                  And it’s a comment on her appearance either way. “This isn’t the best photo of you” = that’s not how I want to see you, i prefer how you look in xyz, etc

                  Maybe a year ago I just wanted to have a beer and a burger at a bar by myself, and obviously a male patron took that as a cue I wanted him to plausible-deniability hit on me. It came up that we work in the same industry and we ended up pulling up our LinkedIn accounts… and the first thing he said about mine was “that’s not a good picture/that doesn’t look like you”. It’s negging. It makes me feel stabby.

                  But if OP wants his boss to feel stabby whenever she thinks of him, he should definitely give her his unsolicited opinion on her photo.

            1. Specialk9*

              I can pretty much guarantee she doesn’t rely on you to comment on or ‘manage’ her appearance.

              1. afiendishthingy*

                yeah. She has a lot more expertise in her appearance than you do. If she wanted your opinion she’d ask.

              2. Triplestep*

                Actually, she often asks how her outfit or certain parts of it look (if it’s a new combination) but I get that that’s not the norm!

                1. afiendishthingy*

                  That’s fine. That’s your solicited opinion. But that doesn’t mean she wants you to subtly hint that she needs a better photo.

                2. Scarlet*

                  That’s literally the difference between solicited and unsolicited opinion. If someone asks for your opinion, by all means, give it. If they don’t, well, keep it to yourself. That goes double for anything involving physical appearance.

    5. Lora*

      Yeah, at LastJob my work photo was unrecognizable and somehow added 10 years to my face AND pimples that I swear weren’t there that morning. And it was taken by a professional photographer, who was also the CEO’s wife – so there was no way on earth it was getting re-done. I don’t think I’m astoundingly hideous in real life or anything, my face just does not translate well to 2D. Steve Buscemi is my spirit animal.

      Oddly enough, one of my reports who was a man in his mid-20s DID nicely say, “they didn’t put your picture up like everyone else! Aren’t you going to ask what happened to the photo shoot they had you do?” I said yes they did, it’s right there. He looked at me for a long moment and said, “it…uhh…doesn’t look like you…” Yes, I know. There was nothing to be done about it though.

      I did that Google Arts & Culture selfie-matching thing, and it came up Harriet Beecher Stowe’s portrait. The pic the CEO’s wife took was definitely not Harriet Beecher Stowe’s portrait in any way. Please, employers, unless you are in very specific industries, you do not need our pictures. I’m in biotech, and I would VASTLY prefer that you put up my poster presentations, images from publications I authored, even pictures of the systems I built for projects. I’d much rather a picture of a shiny steel reactor with my name on it.

    6. OP*

      LW1 here. I appreciate your comments and wanted to respond. It’s not a modelling agency, but I think that’s a limited way of looking at this. Personal branding and image matter (whether it should or shouldn’t is separate from the reality)-they can have a tangible impact on whether or not someone gets hired as a consultant (my professor’s line of work, so she does have a choice in what picture is used).

      1. Snark*

        All that may be true, but this is kind of like asking whether someone’s pregnant or dieting: hard nope, my man. There’s just absolute,y no way for you to say anything that isn’t so fraught as to be not worth it.

      2. peachie*

        I understand where you’re coming from, OP. But even if it does negatively impact her consulting work, that’s her problem to solve–not yours. Let this one go.

      3. Jesmlet*

        Obviously what you’ve said here is true. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t make it your place to say to her. I know you mean well and you want to help, but this is on her to decide.

      4. Academic Addie*

        Personal branding and imaging certainly do matter. But I don’t think it’s for you to manage that for her, unless you’ve been hired to do that. I tend to use images that de-emphasize my lips, since I have a fairly well-defined pout, even when I’m not doing anything to emphasize that. To me, it is important to start professional relationships without people seeing me as “sexy”, particularly since I am in a male-dominated field. People sometimes comment that my photos don’t highlight what they see as a nice feature of mine, but that is very intentional since I’ve had male colleagues comment on my “bl*w j*b lips” in photos. Appearance, women, and work is a hard topic and I would not push this if you aren’t really sure you have standing to do that.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I don’t think it’s for you to manage that for her, unless you’ve been hired to do that.

          This. Unless you have a close personal relationship that includes her asking you about the lighting in other photos as it affects your work, where it might land as purely professional, it’s going to feel like a) criticizing her appearance b) criticizing her management of her appearance. Which for women, especially those older than you, is a really fraught area you shouldn’t wade into.

      5. Jessie the First (or second)*

        The most you could say would be “the lighting on this picture isn’t great, maybe another one with proper lighting would be helpful.”

        That you think the photo is not flattering is irrelevant. Really. Personal branding does often matter – but she gets to decide how she looks and how she presents herself. Your opinion that she should do it differently (not just in real life, which I know you understand, but also in pictures) isn’t something you should share because it is not your call/not your business/not your circus/not your face/not your body/not your photograph. But if there is bad lighting that affects photo quality – THAT, I think, you could say. Photo quality. Not flattering/unflattering, not branding, just lighting.

        1. Specialk9*

          Don’t even say that. Do NOT mention her photo. Women are assessed by looks all the time. Be that vanishingly rare man who doesn’t even seem to notice anything but our brainwave emanations. We *notice* even if we never say a word or change expression a hair. We notice.

      6. Autumnheart*

        A 25-year-old part-time assistant, barely out of college and working remotely, has zero—less than zero—professional standing to make any comment EVER about a colleague’s appearance, much less TO HIS BOSS, and even less to dress it up in some meaningless career-center pablum about “image matters”. Dude, you are the professional newbie here. Do not, do NOT think you have something to teach your female mid-40s boss something she doesn’t already know about her appearance. Do not make the mistake of believing that your unsolicited advice about a woman’s looks is so valuable that it would be wrong of you to withhold it. For the love of God, read the news *at all*, and understand the #metoo movement, and get an idea how unbelievably saturated our culture is with men who undermine women professionally on a daily basis by linking a woman’s looks to her capability. And then there’s the part about you mansplaining the importance of professional presentation to someone who has been in the professional world since you were in diapers.

        Just wow. No. It is wildly inappropriate on multiple levels. It would instantly brand you as The Guy Who Told His Boss She Wasn’t Pretty Enough, and after as much national conversation we’ve had on these topics, people would honestly wonder how you could manage to be exposed to all of that information and still not get it. I personally wonder that, for that matter.

        Hurry up and catch the clue bus before it runs you over.

        1. No Longer Lurking*

          Wow, that was harsh enough for me to stop lurking and comment. He asked for advice because he was aware of the way this message could be perceived, especially due to his age and gender, but felt strongly that she was negatively impacting herself. Telling him to ‘catch the clue bus’ when he is new to the work world, especially fresh out of academia where they stress things like personal branding (ugh, video resumes), was unkind.

          LW, as you move further along in your career you will see the need to have a personal brand will vary by industry and level of success or even on your career goals. You’ll learn more as time goes on and can seek guidance for your chosen career path from those have been successful, but for now, her brand is hers to manage. Good luck!

          1. Specialk9*

            It’s harsh, but right on. It’s inexplicable when people sail right through 2017 without getting a clue. And fast getting infuriating.

            1. Robin Sparkles*

              Yup – this was well said because OP seems to be defending his position without understanding why his position is not a good way to proceed.

        2. afiendishthingy*

          I’m with you, Autumnheart. I’m in my mid-30s. I’ve supervised men about 10 years younger than me. Actually one has offered me and other women senior to him his unsolicited opinions on our appearances. Poor thing hallucinated the part where we asked. It’s a no. You have a right to HAVE an opinion, but that doesn’t mean I need to listen to or care about your opinion on things that are absolutely none of your business.

        3. OP*

          I can understand after reading Allison’s response and comments that it would be inappropriate, for multiple reasons, to say something. I appreciate the feedback from everyone and recognize this isn’t my place to say something.

          That being said, Autumnheart, I found your comment rude, dismissive, and counter-productive to a meaningful dialogue about this. Please consider what you’re saying and how you’re saying it in the future when engaging in conversations online.

          1. afiendishthingy*

            Please consider that most women have been dealing with sexism, harassment, men judging us on our appearances, etc, for our entire careers. When a man asks if he should critique his female superior’s appearance/photo and is told “absolutely not” by every woman who responds, but then still tries to explain why his opinion on his boss’s appearance is relevant, we do not owe you kindness. This is our lives and our oppression. Don’t tell us we’re not being nice enough about telling you you’re oppressive.

            1. EchoChamber*

              Actually I think Allison’s rules about commenting and attacking the OP mean that, while you may not owe him kindness, you certainly aren’t in the right here regardless of your personal feelings. I agree OP shouldn’t comment on his boss’s picture, but I think OP is dead on that the kind of tone you and Autumnheart are using here prevents reasonable dialogue and furthers us from our goal of gender equality in the workplace. And I say this as a professional working woman.

          2. Autumnheart*

            I’m a mid-40s professional woman, OP. I assure you I meant every word exactly as I said it.

            1. afiendishthingy*

              And it was right on point. OP, your boss was your professor just a few years ago. I’m assuming she has around 20 years of experience in her field. Your entirely subjective opinion of her photo is not based on an extensive knowledge of her client base. In your position, offering unsolicited critique of your boss’ work would read as insubordination even if we got rid of the gender piece.

          3. Tedious Cat*

            OP #1, you are very early in your career, and you asked your question here because you had some good instincts that suggested to you that your point of view is not the only point of view. Work on cultivating those instincts that allow you to see things from other points of view rather than throwing insults at someone who is trying to help you and phrasing such help strongly because, while you’re showing good instincts, you’re also showing a pretty strong tendency to ignore them because you believe your skills are superior to your mentor’s. Your photography skills might be superior to your mentor’s, I don’t know, but regardless, it is not your place to tell your mentor what to do with her headshot or anything else regarding her appearance. Autumnheart is trying to do you a favor that will pay dividends for you going forward if you take it to heart and your response here is really, really not reflecting well on you.

          4. ladydoc*

            OP, please consider what you’re saying and how you’re saying it in the future when engaging in conversations online.

            In the course of these comments, to my eyes you’ve progressed from a possibly clueless nice guy who was smart enough to ask before sticking his foot in his mouth to someone who knows EXACTLY why it’s a bad idea to proceed but might just do it anyway because you know better than your very senior boss and feel the need to explain it to her. And possibly everyone else around her.

            Please have enough insight to think long and hard about Autumnheart’s comments and try to understand her point of view.

        4. JennyFair*

          I most heartily agree with Autumnheart. While their response was somewhat strongly worded, it’s important for not-women to understand that women are inundated with crap like this all the time and, well, we’re fed up. Take the lesson, because it’s a good one.

          Also women. do. not. owe. anyone. pretty.

          1. Autumnheart*

            And not just the “unsolicited advice about appearance” part, but the corresponding explanation about image and presentation–as if the boss didn’t already know and needed to be told. It would be a completely terrible idea to comment on the boss’s appearance, but couching it in a Professionalism 101 lesson is like orders of magnitude worse even than that. O_O

            Like…if OP thinks *I* wasn’t very nice about it…give it a try. I’m sure I will see the fireball from here.

      7. Afiendishthingy*

        You asked. Alison said no. Everyone said no. Why are you trying to explain why maybe you should?

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Don’t Juice-Guy this. The little voice that said “Maybe I should run this by a third party before I say something to my boss?” was the correct little voice to listen to. Now it has lots of friends saying “terrible idea don’t do it” and you need to listen to them.

        2. neeko*

          I don’t think he is explaining why he should say something but perhaps his thought process to the particular “This isn’t a model agency” comment that was made. I agree that he shouldn’t say anything for a myriad of reasons but it’s disingenuous to pretend that appearance isn’t a factor at all in the workplace. I’m not saying that it should or shouldn’t but it is.

      8. Lora*

        Eeehhhh…When I was much younger, I was told by an older male colleague that I had indeed been hired, and given a good reference with other companies, because of my looks. And I know women who were hired “for decorative purposes alone” as some of my male colleagues confided over many drinks. So yeah, looks can get you a job.

        Is that the type of job you want to have, is the question. Maybe it is – I can think of three companies in my field that are notoriously sexist and prefer to hire conventionally attractive, youngish women. They have very few older women in their ranks at all, and only as support staff. These are not s*thole companies which have bad products or bad services and nobody would want to work there ever; they are major players with solid science and competent services. If I didn’t have much experience, or only had experience at crummy third-rate companies, perhaps it would be worth it to get my Botox on and aim for a position there. As it stands, nope, I wouldn’t put myself into a situation like that, fending off creeps all day.

        Your professor is aware of this dynamic. She may have deliberately chosen a picture that isn’t flattering – heaven knows I select pictures with my glasses on or in my lab PPE for work photos. It helps convey that I’m serious, and there are workplaces which appreciate that. Such as those with senior managers who are women, who had to fight their way tooth and nail and don’t have much patience for someone they’d perceive as too prissy to get her hands dirty.

    7. boo*

      1. Maybe she likes the picture

      Definitely- I have had people tell me “Oh you’re prettier than your photo!” and suggest I should use a different one, for professional purposes. Well, I don’t use a “pretty” photo for a reason, I use one that I think (rightly or wrongly) makes me look like the formidable professional that I am.*

      She may be making a similar calculation, so I would trust that she’s (a) seen the photo, (b) seen other photos in her life, (c) made a conscious decision to go with the one she has.

      *”formidable” is probably a stretch, but maybe in ten years. In twenty, I hope to be full-on terrifying.

      1. Specialk9*

        I chose my professional photo for the same reason. I have a huge, happy grin in many photos and in person. I have long hair loose around my shoulders. But not in my professional photo – I’m buttoned up, bunned, serious, not smiling. Because I’m a flippin professional, and that’s the image I want to portray.

        Is the photo the most *flattering* and does it stir the loins of all and sundry who view it? Well, I don’t really give a flying flip, and dear Lord I hope not! I’m a smart competent woman, and the only reason people need a photo is to recognize me in person.

  11. nnn*

    For #4, one thing you could work on in the longer term is nudging your employer’s policy about jet lag recovery times to something that better meets your (and your travelling colleagues’) needs. This will take more work, but it comes across as less high-maintenance than asking for a multi-day exception.

  12. YoungTeach*

    To LW#4:
    As someone who lives and works 14 time zones away from home and takes frequent trips home, that they’re giving you the (sort of) 2 days sounds incredible to me. Personal verses professional travel though it may be, I’m expected to work at normal hours the following workday without issue and it is more than possible. Sleep earlier than you normally would by about 1~2 hours and you’ll get through it quickly. I got through my recent 14 hour time difference jetlag in about a week from doing this, without it affecting my work quality.
    I hope you can work out a satisfactory amount of rest from your travels.

  13. MilkMoon (UK)*

    LW4: I feel your pain. I am a sleepy person and am categorically NOT one of those people who can”push through” when they’re tired. We’re going on Honeymoon to the other side of the world this year and it’s going to be TOUGH.

    Other commenters probably won’t like my suggestion but, call in sick if you need to? I’ll have two days between returning and when I’m scheduled to return to work, but I’m already prepped to call-in if I’m still not right. It would be even easier for you with the timings on this occasion – claim the ‘ol upset stomach from travelling – “haven’t left the bathroom all night boss!”. Going forward though, if long-haul travel is going to be a regular thing I’d definitely make some kind of arrangement around it if you can. If they won’t budge, then I guess you’ll just have to go in and sleep at your desk and see how they like that *shrug*

    1. TL -*

      Sleeping at your desk is a good way to get fired. I would not recommend that.

      I think calling in sick after being denied extra days is going to reflect badly on the OP, especially if they do it multiple trips in a row. It would be better to negotiate half-days or lighten the workload and nap in their car if that’s a possibility.

      1. MilkMoon (UK)*

        I was being a bit sarcastic – if she tries to negotiate a policy for the future and they deny her so she has no choice but to go in, then if she is useless and ends up sleeping at work it’s their own damn fault! I’m not saying they’ll see it that way, but it would be a natural consequence of their rigidity and not LW’s fault.

        In regard to calling in sick, it’s definitely an either-or situation – I’m not daft when it comes to playing for time off. Either she asks for time off and deals with what they say, or she decides now, in advance, to just call in sick on this occasion, and negotiate for a policy for future travel at a later date.

        1. TL -*

          It sounds like the international norms are 1-2 days off and maybe a lightened load/flex-time, so OP’s arrangement (1 day PTO and 1 day WFH) are pretty close to normal. I don’t think her company’s expectations are all that awful, really.
          It would be nice if she got Monday without using PTO, though.

          Also, for a vacation, what I’ve normally seen done is to use a vacation or WFH day (when it’s understood that you’ll mostly be responding to emails/catching up on admin stuff) to account for jet lag, or fly back home on a Friday or Saturday and let it be know you’ll still be a little out of it Monday.

          1. MilkMoon (UK)*

            Yeah, it’s the fact she has to use some of her personal holiday allowance that’s annoying me. I just feel it’s unfair on someone like OP (or would be on me) who can’t just bounce back – it’s not a trip she’s chosen to make, it’s a business trip.

            1. YoungTeach*

              To the contrary, one assumes she knew of and accepted the travel aspect of this job when she accepted the job offer and thus she chose to make all of the work trips, I think. No it isn’t a vacation but it’s still something she signed up for of her own free will.

            2. Lioness*

              She doesn’t have to use some of her personal allowance currently though. She gets Monday off without having to use PTO, and works remotely from home on Tuesday. She’s asking for the entire week off without using PTO which is excessive, but current arrangements is day off on Monday without using PTO and telecommute on Tuesday.

        2. Runner*

          I know you said you were being a bit sarcastic — but every white collar place I have worked has fired people caught sleeping on the job/at their computers. I think only one company made it a written policy in the employee handbook. But you had raised sleeping on the job again in your response and I just wanted to agree with other commenters that it generally is grounds for firing on the spot, there are people new to work who read these comments.

          1. Amber T*

            Unless you’re some of those “hip” companies getting those sleeping pods. Meaning your one of those companies that expect your employees to nevvvveerrrrr leeeeaaaaveeeee and basically live at work. #nothanks

          2. Delphine*

            Firing on the spot? That seems unreasonably harsh. How about a warning or asking if the person is okay…?

          3. Stranger than fiction*

            Oh boy, I’ve caught coworkers sleeping several times. Most that would happen is they’d be talked to, maybe sent home on PTO to get some sleep.

        3. MLB*

          Stating that it’s the company’s “own damn fault” if she falls asleep at her desk is ridiculous. It’s called being an adult and sucking it up sometimes. I’m sure she knew about the international travel when she took the job and none of this should be a surprise to her.

          Giving her a day off since she’s travelling on a weekend that she’d normally have off is reasonable. Being understanding that she may not be as sharp after she returns is reasonable. Asking for a full week off is not reasonable.

          1. Oranges*

            But did she know that the travel would impact her as much as it does? I haven’t traveled outside the US;I have no clue how it would impact me and if I needed a week to recover THAT would be the conversation I would need to have with my boss.

            “Hi boss, when I travel to India I get [insert issues here]. I’ve tried [insert what you’ve tried], but it doesn’t seem to work. I hate coming into work feeling sick and not being able to produce anything but it appears that’s what happens. I have several thoughts about how we can tackle this [insert ideas here].”

            Ideas I have gleaned from posts:
            Working from home.
            Lightened work load
            More days off (this seems to be a career limiting move)
            Orchestrating flight times
            Weird flex time for a week (eg working from 3am – noon)

      1. MilkMoon (UK)*

        LW has a legitimate concern based on how well they know themselves. Everyone else is basically saying (even in a nice way) to just ‘suck it up’, as it were, I’m just letting LW know they’re not alone and that if that’s something they’ve considered (calling in sick) not everyone would think they were doing a terrible thing.

        For me a job is just a job, ultimately I put myself first because no employer ever will (even a lovely one as I have now), and I’m not relying on some kind of industry reputation. There are variables.

        1. MK*

          But does she have a legitimate concern? Or any real concern at all, really? She doesn’t say it would take her a week to function, only that it would take her more time to get acclimated after jet lag. People are suggesting, reasonably in my opinion, that you can’t expect to be off work until the results of jetlag are 100% gone.

        2. Parse*

          If LW was travelling once, calling in sick might be feasible. I get terrible jetlag where I’m not just tired, but my whole body shuts down and I’m nauseous and/or in tears from the fatigue. This is what I would consider grounds to call in sick.

          But if travel is part of the job, LW needs to find tricks to push through, or talk to her boss to set expectations.

  14. doctor schmoctor*

    The baby thing is just offensive. I think you should be more firm than Alison’s suggested script. Because that still sounds like you’re saying it’s not that bad. But it IS bad. Tell your boss you know you’re inexperienced, but you’re an adult and deserve to be treated as one.

    Previous managers have treated me like a child and it held me back, so things like this seriously piss me off.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The goal is to get it to stop without impacting the relationship with her boss. It shouldn’t impact her relationship with her boss, and certainly she’s entitled to take the stance you suggest, but when there’s a way to achieve the same goal without being adversarial with the person who controls her work there, it makes sense to try the lighter-touch approach first.

      1. Steve*

        So many people want to get revenge or escalate things over solving a problem. If there is something you don’t like and you can stop it that seems like such a better option almost always. Just because some one does something wrong, making sure they pay a price isn’t always the best answer. And it certainly does not mean you condone the bad behavior.

        1. Mike C.*

          I don’t think it’s about “getting revenge” and I don’t see how being firm about how you wish others to treat you is “making someone pay a price”.

          1. Steve*

            I was referring to the idea of replying with, “i am an adult and deserve to be treated as one” as escalating things. I agree with my understanding of Alison on it being “adversarial”. Of course if you think that is the way to respond then you should respond that way.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Agreed that it’s super offensive—when I read it, I kind of wanted to kick OP’s manager in the shins.

      But I reluctantly agree with Alison’s approach. Because it’s OP’s boss, I think it’s better to start with a firm-and-friendly approach and escalate the level of firmness as needed. Ideally the boss will be embarrassed when this is drawn to her attention and will recalibrate. If she doesn’t, then she’s being a deliberate jerk (instead of an accidental jerk), and OP can deploy her anti-jerk-protocol accordingly.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        I wanted to kick her somewhere else. And then baby-talk to her “i so sowwy did i give you a booboo”, but that’s just what kind of mood I’m in today, so probably don’t do that.

        1. Specialk9*

          Ha! I hear you. I’m sure they OP also gets mad.

          But starting off firm but with softening language is, unfortunately, a skill that women in business need to learn. It stinks. But it is necessary.

    3. MommyMD*

      Never be pis sy with your manager as a first, or second response. Bring it up politely and the problem most likely is solved. Going from 0 to 50 is almost always a bad idea.

    4. doctor schmoctor*

      I’m not saying she should start a fight, but be firm. You can be firm without being adversarial.

      I just think Alison’s approach is a bit too soft. When you say “I think it undermines me…” it sounds like you’re not sure.

      1. TL -*

        I would argue that the impact of “I think” depends a lot on tone. It can sound like a suggestion or like someone is saying something important in a softened way, or very, very final.

        I know I’ve definitely used “I think this conversation is done” in a way that didn’t allow for argument very effectively.

        1. Oranges*

          It can also vary based upon location. If you didn’t soften the language it would be seen as needlessly aggressive where I live (hello, Minnesota). However I have heard of non-natives not understanding why they can’t communicate here (because we’re more like communal countries in the fact that there’s a ton of subtext).

          1. Natalie*

            Re: the subtext, I’ve heard this described as “high context” culture vs “low context” culture. And yes, for non-native Minnesotans, especially people that aren’t also Midwesterners, it can be confusing and aggravating because it is just so different.

            (also hi neighbor!)

    5. Parse*

      In my experience, people go with the “baby” thing because they’re rather insecure about their own age. It’s a little trickier when it’s your boss doing it, but I’d go with something like “I’ve noticed you referring to me as a baby. Does my performance suggest that I’m not working up to a standard in some way?”

      1. Triangle Pose*

        I wouldn’t do this. Even if there was some issue with performance the boss shouldn’t be referring to OP as a baby in front of stakeholders, she should address performance in the appropriate forum. OP does not and should not open up performance evaluation, she should just let the boss know to not call her baby.

    6. Observer*

      The short version of what Alison is saying is: Do you want to be right or do you want to be effective.

      I’d say that Alison’s script is not completely “right”, but it’s a whole lot more likely to be effective. And, it seems to me that the OP wants to be effective.

  15. Sarah*

    I’m a frequent long-haul Traveller. To ask for time off for Jetlag is a joke, especially if OP travels with any frequency and the days add up. An employer doesn’t pay a week off to acclimatize on the way to see a client and won’t offer it on the way back.

    I try to return just before the weekend to recuperate; if that’s not possible I’ve only taken the rest off the day off barring light emails. Many of my other colleagues go in straight to work from the flight after a multi-week 10+ hour time zone trip in business or economy.

    If I were OP, I would ask for my weekend compensated, but that’s about it.

    1. Paxton Sparrow*

      I agree. At my company asking for something like this would label you as high maintenance and they would give the travel opportunities to others.

    2. GMN*

      I completely agree.
      I have many colleagues who travel 7-12 hrs time difference regularly and none would ask for even one day paid time off. Flex time, OK as long as you answer the phone and necessary emails.

    3. Someone else*

      Yeah, bringing jetlag into the discussion in any way would be a non-starter at every company I’ve worked for (even if it is one’s actual concern). The only route to getting time off without PTO in this context, for me, would’ve been the “I worked Saturday and Sunday” approach, which would generally get me Monday and Tuesday comped. Although I saw some other posters noting that travel days aren’t considered work days in all industries, but in mine they are. Work is forcing me to be on that plane for 20 hours plus airport to-ing and fro-ing, they would consider those work days (while weekends in which I wasn’t doing work activity but were still in the traveled-to place would not be considered work days). So I think making the request for two comp days here is reasonable.

  16. Steve*

    A lot of Alysons advice is just to tell the person you don’t like what they are doing, then to ask them to stop. The question about being called “baby”, is an example.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Yes. And why do you think that is? Because people often write in without having used their words, as they aren’t sure how to, or if it’s okay.

    2. FD*

      That’s true! But the bigger question people often struggle with is how to do those things. People in general often struggle with how to have awkward or difficult conversations, and it’s harder in a situation like this that doesn’t come up often (and therefor isn’t something you practice much. Having someone provide you with a script you can use can be helpful (and frankly, I think is a lot of why people come here).

      1. Steve*

        I agree, i just like that i know the theory. I wont everr have the same situations as most letter writers, but i can apply the same principle to whatever situation i am dealing with.

        1. FD*

          /nod/ And even if a reader never has the exact problem the LWs do, a lot of times some pieces can be reused. For example, the script here could be adapted to ask your boss to do/not do a lot of different types of things.

        2. fposte*

          Yes, it is amazing how widely you can apply that. It’s like asking for what you want is this secret that somehow most of the world hasn’t discovered.

          1. Lore*

            Granted, I was younger when I read “Women Don’t Ask” and “Ask for It” but honest to god, it was a secret to me that you could ask for things like discounts at the dry cleaner or an extra bagel when you bought a dozen, let alone extra vacation time! There’s a lot of factors that go into it for me–gender, anxiety, a temperament that would rather not call attention to myself, being raised by extremely passive-aggressive people–but the idea that in 90 percent of cases, the worst consequence of asking for something is not getting it and being no worse off than you were before, rather than being actively penalized or punished for temerity, was a life-changing insight.

            1. Specialk9*

              I knew someone who was magic at just asking for things, after being incredibly nice (as he was to everyone). People just gave him all kinds of things, just for asking! It was his superpower.

              I actually have not tried this, with very few exceptions (in the personal finance realm and flight seatings) but maybe I should, more. I always assumed it was his special magic.

        3. Turtle Candle*

          Yes! “Ask them calmly and pleasantly to stop” works in soooo many situations. Another one that’s widely applicable is “if your boss is a loon, they’re probably not going to change, so stop trying to change them and get out.” Even if I never have a boss who is a loon in a certain specific way that someone is dealing with, knowing that is helpful in case I get a boss who is a different species of loon. (Yellow-billed, maybe.)

    3. Mookie*

      This is true, if the OPs haven’t indicated that they’ve tried doing so. The simplest solution should, barring certain conditions, be the first one you try. It’s human nature to try to complicate things, and it’s also human nature to avoid conflict; directly asking someone who is being rude to stop doing the rude thing is hard, because, y’know, they have a track record of behaving badly and it’s natural to fear that they will refuse, which will make things even more uncomfortable. It’s still great advice! And better than mine (which would be to say something inadvisable, like “nah, I think I’ve graduated to rebellious teenager. Now leave me alone!!! I wish I still lived with mom!”)

      1. Fact & Fiction*

        I know it’s annoying when people misspell names, but some people have learning disabilities or post from their phones where typos and autocorrect run amok. We’re supposed to be kind toward people who misspell things and I personally think that should extend to names, even our awesome blog host’s name. And trust me, it’s hard for an editor/writer like me not to cringe over things like that but I think kindness is the way to go in such situations, especially without an edit button.

        Just hoping we can avoid further piling on for the mistake.

  17. MommyMD*

    Two days off for jet lag is plenty. Asking for a week is pushing it. Yes, you may be tired, but we all work tired at times. It’s temporary.

    1. Nox*

      Except if work as a pilot, then you cannot work “tired” as it’s frowned upon by the FAA lol.

      Also the spyware redirects still occur on mobile after cache clearing.

      1. Natalie*

        You might want to report the spyware issue using the link above the comment box. I don’t think Alison reads all the comments super closely so this may or may not get to her.

  18. Engineer Girl*

    #1 – Two wrongs don’t make a right. Just because the guys play ping pong and stink up the room doesn’t mean it’s OK in the office culture. Maybe no one has caught them yet. So don’t use that as a standard to make your use of conference rooms OK.
    That said, what you are doing is fairly innocuous in most places so should be OK.

    1. sssssssssss*

      If a bunch of guys are using a room frequently for ping pong during lunch, everybody knows (eventually) – there’s no way you can mask the sound of the ball and the sounds of the guys saying “Whoa!” “Wow” and other cheers and jeers. If there’s a manager who doesn’t know, that manager is far enough away from the noise to be unaware.

      1. OhNo*

        … Or it’s a manager who knows the ringleader of the ping pong players is the CEO’s favorite cousin. There are other reasons why this activity might be allowed to continue while the LW’s might not be.

        That aside, in every office I’ve ever worked, this would be fine. Especially since the LW is being courteous about not booking a room, clearing out with plenty of time for the next meeting, and generally trying to minimize the impact.

        1. Anony*

          It is also possible that a group using a space during lunch could be looked at differently than an individual doing so. I would say if you are going so far as to officially book the room, you should double check that it is ok. If you are just going into an empty conference room during lunch, then it should be fine.

    2. Thlayli*

      I would be very surprised if they are doing that without permission. If they are, that’s a problem. But given that it’s gone on so long, it seems like they have at least unofficial permission.

    3. Specialk9*

      It’s not the question being asked, but as someone who has used several language apps, and often listens to audiobooks… The answer is a discreet Bluetooth earpiece. Even subtle headphones, though for some reason those seem much more visible.

    4. Observer*

      “Maybe no one has caught them” sounds rather hard to believe. Between the space they are taking up and the noise, it has to be “an open secret” at the most. And even that’s not likely.

  19. CiceroMT*

    On #4, as a frequent traveler, it never occurred to me to ask for time off to recover from jetlag! A lot of people travel where I work, and we’re pretty relaxed about it… it’s OK to leave a bit earlier if you’re crashing due to jetlag, but it’s very rare for people not to show up at all after a long trip. We do get to travel in business class, so I usually sleep a lot on the flight. And I have found it’s better to power through (with the aid coffee) to reset the body clock as quickly as possible. Napping during the day is the worst thing you can do as it delays the adjustment process.

    I live in south east Asia and work for a company headquartered on the US east coast, which means a 12 or 13 hour time difference depending on daylight savings time. I go to HQ five/six times a year, and I usually spend a week in the US, which is never enough to adjust to jetlag but spend normal working hours in the office. I am typing this at 2am EST because I am jetlagged, on the east coast, but need to be in the office by 8am. It’s part of the job. I knew this when I took the job, so I am certainly not complaining. The running joke in our office is that when you adjust to the time zone, it’s time to leave.

    For LW#4, if travel is in coach, and a rare occurrence, then perhaps you can ask for a day off. Two days is pushing it IMO, and a week is definitely way too much.

    1. I’m New Here*

      I disagree. Unpopular opinion, but I think it’s easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission. As long as the other indicators that Alison suggested are there (no one’s popping their head in to see if you’re about done, etc.), I say keep doing what you’re doing. I’d be afraid that some managers would say no just because there isn’t an official policy or just to be on the safe side. Like I said, I know some people will disagree, but personally I don’t see the harm in what you’re doing, as long as you’re being conscientious of business needs for that room.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I’m with you. I think the OP is being pretty conscientious. I also think this is the type of thing that if it’s a problem, it’s pretty easy to solve by simply asking the OP to stop, which she will. As long as she’s ready to get up and leave for business needs, I don’t think this is a huge issue. If anything, it might be a simple mis-step.

        I do think the OP should run it by her manager, just as a gut-check, because you never know and I wouldn’t want her to be caught off guard.

      2. Anony*

        I think if she doesn’t want to officially ask, she shouldn’t officially book the room. If the room is empty, go ahead and use it but don’t put something in the system that would block someone else from booking that room for business purposes. If she gets asked to move, she can move.

      3. Natalie*

        I don’t even think it’s an issue of forgiveness or permission – in my mind, booking the conference room means you “officially” need it and thus block others from using it during that time. That wouldn’t be acceptable for personal use in most offices I’ve worked in, whereas just popping in to an available conference room has always been fine provided you’re ready to vacate if anything comes up and someone needs it for work reasons. Even if the LW books it literally seconds before her lunch hour, someone else could have a work matter come up suddenly and need it.

        1. KellyK*

          Exactly! I think it would be really inconsiderate to book the room for your lunch break and block others from using it, but I don’t see any issue with using it when it’s available.

    2. Colette*

      In every place I’ve worked, this kind of thing is the norm. When you’re in a floor of cubicles, everyone uses conference rooms in an ad-hoc way when they need to do personal things.

      As long as the OP doesn’t have to frequently move because someone has booked the room, she’s probably fine.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Same. I used to do this at OldExjob; if nobody was in our one conference room, I’d take my lunch in there and write for an hour. If anyone needed the room, they could turf me out at any time. I never got any flak for it since they knew I’d move if necessary.

      2. teclatrans*

        Agreed on using the room, but I think booking it, while probably intended to be rule-following and courteous, is where OP might run into trouble.

        1. Turtle Candle*

          That’s the place where I’d worry, too. At my office, you can use an empty conference room for anything you want (private phone call, quiet place to read a book or have a snack, whatever) during breaks, assuming you don’t leave a mess and vacate if someone needs it for something business-y. Booking it on the other hand would look a little odd.

    3. LQ*

      I think this is a know your workplace thing. And that OP is not like booking for the next month and it’s usually free and they leave if there is a big meeting all come in to play on trying to not be disruptive which I think is key.

      I say this in part because I did a lot of blocking conference rooms last week (for work but work alone stuff that “could” have been done at my desk). But I have a great relationship with my boss, I knew the rooms weren’t booked for anything else, it’s sort of the quiet meeting season. I didn’t ask for permission, but if someone had come in and kicked me out I would have been out and that would have been fine. I’ve done it before for personal things over lunch too (not work webinars and such).

      If other people reserve conference rooms for personal things then you’re likely to be fine. I’d ask for forgiveness. But asking for permission would have been seen as weird.

      Know your audience, availability, etc. And clean up!

  20. Borne*

    Actually the science is in regarding ‘jet lag’. It is simply sleep deprivation:

    “If jet lag is primarily to blame, you should feel worse after traveling from LA -> London than from NYC -> London. Sleep deprivation theory predicts to opposite. We at DSN have tested this numerous times after stays of various durations and it turns out, amazingly, that it is easier to transition between LA and London than NYC and London. On the longer flight (LA -> London is over 10 hours) you can sleep 6-7 hours and accordingly don’t wake up in London feeling sleep deprived.”

    1. FFM*

      Eh. Not sure if I agree with that premise (and I’ve read a fair few articles about circadian rhythms and how the SCN which regulates it actually works). Im in Europe and I find travelling to East Coast US a lot easier jet-lag wise than West Coast.

      I suspect this has a lot to do with managing to find good times for flights, experience in terms of managing jet lag and each individual.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      Thanks for posting the link, but I did just want to point out that it’s not really science. It’s a company with ‘science’ its name talking about personal experience. It also assumes everyone can sleep on a plane. Also, the time of your flight is likely to have some effect.

      So I for one am not hereby convinced that jetlag isn’t caused by circadian desynchrony.

      1. Drew*

        “It also assumes that everyone can sleep on a plane.”

        Preach it. If I have a window seat, *maybe* I can manage as much as two hours at a stretch. If I’m in any other seat, I’m going to be dozing at best and it’s not going to be any sort of quality sleep; I’m almost better off forcing myself to stay awake until the regular sleep time at my destination.

        1. Health Insurance Nerd*

          Yep, this is me. I can usually doze off, but then wake up 30 minutes later feeling even worse as I sit there in silent seething resentment of my husband sound asleep next to me.

      2. neverjaunty*

        Thank you. Sometimes I think I spend half my time on FB telling excitable friends “heyyyy, did you actually read that link you posted?”

    3. Engineer Girl*

      I don’t believe it.
      I know that when I went from San Fransico to Nairobi I was exhausted and sleep deprived. I went asleep almost immediately at 10 pm. And I was wide awake at 3 am. If it was true sleep deprivation I would have slept through.

    4. Mookie*

      Well, no, because some of the associated behaviors are not consistent with sleep deprivation at all, like delayed, disrupted, or shortened sleep patterns, where external cues for sleep are not in sync with internal cues.

      1. Mookie*

        That being said, travel patterns closely associated with jet lag can certainly also deprive a person of sleep, however!

    5. fposte*

      Agreeing with Ramona Flowers–that’s a blog post of opinion, not science. It could be true, but that’s not a research study and there’s been no review of its findings.

    6. Rusty Shackelford*

      If this were true, it would explain why I don’t really suffer from jet lag – I take Xanax and sleep pretty much the entire trip.

    7. SarahKay*

      Hmmm. My anecdata contradicts DSN’s anecdata. London to Minneapolis I’m a little tired on the first evening (because 10pm there is 4am to me) and then I’m fine. Minneapolis to London leaves me groggy for about 48 hours. I can sleep for my country, so it’s not lack of sleep that does for me.

    8. DMLT*

      That’s NOT science. Not by a long shot. Show me multiple studies of decent power in peer reviewed journals to support this and maybe I’ll go for it.
      And stop falling for anything with “science” in the name as truth. Be discerning!

  21. FFM*

    Sorry #4 but as everyone else has said, asking for a week off is not going to fly in any office I’ve ever been in. Practical things to do:
    – ask about flying in Business for long-haul flights. You get a better approximation of sleep
    – ask about working from home or flexible hours when you first get back
    – ask about policies regarding work travel on weekends. My current company compensates you with an extra PTO day for every weekend day that you are on business travel, so it sounds to me like that is something that might help with your issue (so for instance if you get back on a Sunday, you could take Monday and Tuesday off to recover)

  22. Ragazzoverde*

    Op2 this is such a pet peeve of mine, I hate when people in their mid 20s refer to anyone younger than them as “babies” or make a big fuss of them meeting normal work milestones in a very condescending way. I’ve seen it happen with people who are literally 2-3 years older and have been at the company for 6 months longer.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Reminds me that I’ve heard the phrase ‘baby lawyers’ a few times, eg on Corporette, and I think it sucks.

      1. C.*

        My first thought was “baby lawyers” as well, which definitely is big firm lingo. I didn’t mind when partners I worked with used it for me but they 1) did so sparingly and with good humor and 2) NEVER in front of clients, which is just so mind-boggling that OP’s boss would do that.

        1. neverjaunty*

          I cannot IMAGINE ever doing that in front of clients. I mean, wtf. Besides being massively disrespectful to a colleague, you’re telling the client “one of the lawyers on your case is inexperienced and new”. Why would you do that?!

          It is not uncommon for people to refer to themselves with “baby lawyers”, in the sense of “when I was a baby lawyer, I remember doing X….” but not to other attorneys. And the parlance for an inexperienced lawyer on the adverse side is “puppy lawyer”, which as you can imagine is not flattering.

          1. AKchic*

            I see the phrase “puppy lawyer” and all I see is a lawyer for a puppy, arguing the puppy’s defense, that the poor, innocent pupper could *not* have gotten into the trash can and chewed up mahm’s favorite shoe while she was in the bathroom. Why? Well look at that innocent puddin’ face. This pupper is too cute to have done something so naughty. This pupper is too cute to be guilty, your honor.

              1. AKchic*

                I really wish I could share photos. I have a great one of a dog with a pouting guilty face with “exploded” toilet paper.

                “Your Honor, my client maintains his innocence and would like to countersue. How dare mahm bring exploding toilet paper into the house and endanger innocent puppers!”

            1. tangerineRose*

              I was picturing a puppy dressed up in a suit, in a courtroom, giving a very sad look at the judge because the puppy is hoping to be able to approach the bench.

      2. eplawyer*

        I hate that so much. They do it even to judges here. The newest judge is referred to as the baby judge. Just drop it folks. Whoever it is put in a lot of time and hard word to become a judge. Infantilizing them ingores all of that. Newest judge is a perfect fine descriptor.

      3. LQ*

        We have lawyers around here who use that. I (am not a lawyer, we are not big law) pointed out the problems of it to one of the more senior people, especially since it was used a bit more frequently about the female lawyers than the male lawyers, there may have been mitigating factors for that, but it felt substantive to me. She has stopped using it and has managed to nearly quelch it entirely. I think it is so much easier to point this out from the side so if you see people using it, point it out, you can ask for things like this to stop.

    2. doctor schmoctor*

      Luckily nobody has called me a baby, but people do treat me like a child sometimes. I assume it’s because I’m physically small. I am excluded from important project meetings, because “don’t worry, we’ll handle it”. Then I have to sit there and wait for the big kids to come back and tell me what they decided. The worst thing is: they’re all younger than me!

      1. eplawyer*

        You need to assert yourself. If it is a meeting for a project you are working on, you need to be there. Tell them you will be there. If they insist you don’t need to be there, loop in your manager. If it’s your manager who doing the excluding then its time to go to HR. Being excluded from important meetings has real effects on YOUR career. Take control and don’t let the big kids decide YOUR future for you.

        1. doctor schmoctor*

          It was my manager. And I talked to him about this many times. Nothing happened. I went as far up the chain of command as possible. They all basically tell me I’m imagining things.

          I’ve tried looking for other work. I just dont have enough experience because I never get the opportunity to actually do anything useful.

  23. Ramona Flowers*

    #1 Please don’t say anything.

    A couple of years ago, I proudly showed someone the newly minted ID card for my postgrad and they informed me that it was not a great photo. I’d felt okay with it until then, and nothing good came of them telling me.

    Here’s the thing: it felt like an opinion on my face, not on a photo of my face. She hasn’t asked for your opinion on her photo. Or her face. And just as you wouldn’t walk up to someone in person and tell them they don’t look great, don’t do it with a photo unless you have a compelling reason (eg you’re being forced to answer on pain of death).

    I’m sure some people will comment saying they’d like to know. I would have said that, too, until it actually happened and I learned how it felt.

    1. Mookie*

      I’m sorry to hear that, Ramona Flowers. I’ve had similar experiences. For a certain period of my life, people regularly assured me that at any time I wanted to I could update the photograph attached to an identification card I frequently used. I did not want to because I did not care, and took a little bit of private joy in flaunting my face, real and photographed, at them at every opportunity. Similarly, when I needed a new photograph for my driver’s license recently, I got an earful about looking dramatically different than my old picture. This did not help ingratiate the person to me, despite their intentions.

      Don’t offer unsolicited advice about this. It’s different from pointing out, in the moment, to someone who know well a booger or an unbuttoned button or a piece of green stuck in their mouth. She elected to use the photograph. Respect it and move on to more important projects.

    2. oldbiddy*

      Amen. I have an old photo on my Costco card. I don’t think it’s horrible but it looks different from most pictures. My ex and various costco checkers have made snarky comments on it. The comments just make me like it more, especially in this day of heavily curated selfies.
      I was having a bad hair day, and had just gotten over having the chickenpox, so to me it’s just a snapshot in time from 18 years ago.

    3. Snark*

      This is one of those deals where the answer is always no. Same with “Should I ask my coworker who hasn’t announced she’s pregnant when she’s due?” Hard nah, my dude.

    4. Justme, The OG*

      Yup. A former supervisor of mine used a really awful 1970s photo of themselves on official presentations and documentation. I never said anything, it was of no concern to me.

  24. On Fire*

    #1 brought back memories. Years ago, I was at a new job and had a photo taken the first day. It was … not my best look. In a weird chain of communications, my aunt’s friend had some small connection to my job, and after I met her, she told my aunt that she was startled to meet me, because “she’s really pretty, and her picture made her look homely.” My aunt mentioned it to Mom; Mom told me – and I promptly got a new, and more flattering, photo done. (I was a reporter – and believe me, looks mattered.) In OP1’s shoes, though, I wouldn’t say anything. If you happen to see a really attractive (professional) pic of your boss, it *might* be possible to say something like, “I really like this pic; I hope you’ll consider it for next time you change your pic on the website.” But given the gender differences, I’m not too sure of even that.

    #5 – I had a similar situation. On my resume, it says something like:
    Chocolate Teapots
    Started as teapot painter; worked up to head teapot designer
    Bullet points describing main responsibilities

    1. fposte*

      Yes, I had a similar thought that it might be okay to recommend an alternative existing photograph, if you have the right relationship and you would have seen that photo in the course of your work rather than hunting it down.

      1. Deus Cee*

        +1 Or not even recommend an alternative, just to say that you personally like an alternative. Recommending might come across as condescending, but again depends on the relationship.

        1. fposte*

          Yes, I really was meaning more like express a liking, and perhaps even suggesting it as a secondary rather than a substitution.

  25. lurker bee*

    #4, I’m from Hawaii and recognize my location makes me more used to longhaul travel as a necessary part of life, with the minimum being 3 zones to the U.S. West Coast, 5-6 zones to Asia, and about 12 hours to Europe. I’ve traveled to all three parts of the world regularly for work in both coach and business class. I will usually get a comp day upon my return because my trips usually straddle the weekend. Anything longer and I need to use PTO. That said, first day back is usually briefer for anything farther away than the West Coast, in part because I luckily am able to do certain types of work inflight. Others have posted some good strategies for coping with the impact of crossing multiple zones. As for fare class, business is a LOT less hard on a person’s body, and I’ve willingly spent miles I’ve earned on vacation travel to upgrade a work ticket; not sure if this is something you are willing or able to do.

  26. MCM*

    My boss goes to Russia every two years and returns to the office the next day. I wish she stayed home. 2 days. She’s difficult as it is, it makes her 3 times worse. We work at an university, the immediate return isn’t expected.

  27. Coffee Cup*

    I accidentally posted this to yesterday’s last post:

    OP#3 seems to think that people would disapprove of her use of the conference rooms because she is a woman looking at her phone eating a salad, which she contrasts to the men who play table tennis. I personally don’t really understand how this is a gendered issue…

    1. TL -*

      I didn’t read it as implying the genders made any difference, only that they were there for identifiers: they are a group of men, she is a solitary woman.

    2. Antilles*

      I didn’t see it as any sort of a gender issue. The purpose of including that anecdote is right in the letter:
      In my mind, if they can take over a room like that to play ping-pong, then I can use a conference room to learn French. Thoughts?
      Essentially, it’s just mentioned as an example of how the company culture has previously handled people using ‘group’ rooms like the copy room.

      1. sssssssssss*

        Personally, if I were a manager, I would have no issue with her booking a room or using an empty conference room that way and it sounds like she’s being responsible about it (checking if it’s booked, leaving early).

        Personally, since some people need to work thru lunch and might need the copy room, commandeering the copy room for ping pong I have bigger issues with!

    3. eplawyer*

      It could develop into a gender issue though. The men are not told to knock off the ping pong that actually interferes with work whereas the woman is told she can’t use the conference room to study.

      As a manager, I would be fine with the use of the conference room this way. Shows initiative in learning a new language. Maybe the skill will be helpful in the job, or just learning for learning’s sake shows a willingness to learn new things.

      1. Coffee Cup*

        But no one told her she couldn’t use the conference room, just like no one told the guys not to play ping pong in the copy room. I don’t know, she seems to think her being a woman will make a difference about how this is perceived, and I just don’t see how? I guess I am reading it wrong.

    4. MLB*

      I didn’t take it as a gender issue but more of a “they use the copy room so I should be able to use a conference room” thing. At my last company conference rooms were very difficult to book so this wouldn’t have worked. But it sounds like it’s not a big thing as long as she isn’t booking the rooms far in advance, which would prevent someone else from sing it for a meeting.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yep. OP, it sounds like you’re practicing good room booking etiquette by remaining aware of any upcoming meetings in the room and choosing rooms that are already empty rather than co-opting them ahead of time.

        If you want to check, that’s great, but I think you’re okay.

  28. Akcipitrokulo*

    At ours, people do 8-hour differences frequently. General expectation is to travel back on Fri/early Sat and be back to usual Mon, but they would probably be open to adjusting hours for a couple of days if ness.

  29. Ellen*

    The jet lag issue is fascinating to me. I used to work a job that would regularly, even frequently, schedule me for shifts starting at anything from 4am to 4pm. I was considered a problem employer because I told them that I had near constant jet lag, and asked to be scheduled in such a way that I was *always* not working during some 6 to 8 hour period. Not only did they refuse, they felt that they were being generous if I worked until 2 am on Monday and wasn’t scheduled in until 4 am on Tuesday. This is one of those occasions when my world isn’t the same as the one most of you occupy. (In the end, I had to quit and take a much lower paying job for my health- I have diabetes, and part of my self care is “enough sleep”.

    1. whingedrinking*

      The 2 AM to 4 AM thing – I hope I’m reading that wrong somehow, and that means there were 22 hours between shifts, not 2? Where I live there have to be at least 8 eights between shifts by law.

      1. Antilles*

        Yes, I think it’s meant that the shift ended Monday morning at 2 am, then she had the rest of Monday off, starting the next shift 26 hours later at 4 am Tuesday.

    2. Antilles*

      Swapping around your start time like that is exactly like giving you jet lag constantly, because your body never gets on a set sleep schedule. Good employers don’t do that – even if they need to have employees work nights or oddball hours*, they’ll make it consistent for as long as they can.
      However, for shift work, inconsistent scheduling is unfortunately the norm when you’re first starting at a new place because desirable shifts are locked down by people with more seniority so the new guy ends up with a mishmash of crummy shifts that nobody else wants. Especially true in stuff like restaurants and retail.
      *For my money, the most miserable shift is something like 3 pm to 11 pm where you’re at work for the typical family/friends time in the evenings…but the schedule is not completely flipped, so you don’t even have the ‘night work’ benefit of being able to run errands during the day or meet for lunches or whatever.

      1. usrep*

        Yep, I worked at one retail job for five years and I worked all over the place, anywhere from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Sometimes you’d get that dreaded “clopen” shift – work until 11:30 p.m. the night before, be at work at 8:30 a.m. the next day.

        1. Allison*

          Worse if you worked at a place like Starbucks that opens before most people leave for work. A “clopen” there gets you home by 10, and up at 4 or 5AM. Or as my ex called it, “stupid o’clock.”

        2. nonymous*

          I moonlighted in retail while working a graveyard schedule for my primary job. I’d be at the store during the evening rush (until ~9P), then 10P-8:30a at the lab, and back to retail to open the store. fun times.

      2. Natalie*

        Ugh, yes, I did a 6:30 to 2 am+ job once and it was miserable. Any sort of appointment I had during business hours was functionally in the middle of the night or first thing after I would normally be waking up.

        That kind of schedule is pretty much why industry people (restaurant and bar) are only friends with each other.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        This is why I can’t take shift work anymore. I also can’t sleep during the day. I just cannot. And second shift (3-11) is absolutely the worst, since you don’t really have time to do anything after waking up before you go to work. It’s stressful as hell. I hated being on that shift–at the time, I actually would have preferred nights.

    3. LeeGull*

      Yes!! I will never understand employers who dig their heels in like this. My dad worked for years at a company that had rotating day shifts and lots of overtime – so he would spend two weeks working from 4 pm – 12 am or overtime til 4 am, have a weekend, then work two weeks on 8 am – 4 pm or overtime starting at 4 am. He learned to sleep anywhere and any time he could, but it was a struggle to have any kind of consistent commitments like hobbies, civic committees, etc, thanks to that crazy schedule. It really was like 30 years of jet lag!

  30. Maze*

    I do inter-continental travel for work 2-3 times a year, in an industry where some of my colleagues do the 12-hr timezone switch literally 4+ times a year. One day off to recover would be reasonable (usually the rest of the day you get back, unless you get back pretty late — in which case you can take the next day — or can take the weekend to recover), but we work very flexible jobs, so a few days of coming in late / leaving early / working from home due to jetlag would also be very normal.

  31. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

    Presumably you are pretty jetlagged when arriving at your destination as well? I’m guessing you don’t get a week off before client meetings then?

    Like everyone else says, a week is just not… realistic. And also consider the signal it sends to your employer: essentially your’re saying you cannot function for days after a long-haul flight. And yet they’re sending you abroad for important client meetings, when you’ve just established you aren’t functional due to jetlag.

    (I realize that one is often more tired when going home. I’m talking more about the signaling value of what the LW is saying.)

  32. FD*

    OP #4-

    It honestly isn’t clear to me from your letter–did you know this role was going to have a lot of international travel going into it? Is this the norm for your role?

    If this is the norm for your role, and it takes you this long to get back to ‘normal’ after a trip, I think you should really consider whether this sort of role is right for you. From things other people are saying, it sounds like some people can adjust from jet lag easily, while others struggle. There’s no shame in realizing something just isn’t for you. If that’s the case, you may want to start looking for jobs that don’t require international travel.

    If this wasn’t advertised with the job and isn’t normal for the job, and if the travel has all been close together, I think there may be more room to negotiate. Something like, “As you know, [boss], I’ve been happy to step in and help with the India rollout, which has required a lot of unexpected international travel. Now that we’re coming to an end, though, I’d like to see if we could arrange some extra time off to adjust from all the time zone jumping I’ve been doing.” I’m still not sure a week is realistic, but more than a couple of days might be reasonable if it was something where you stepped up and did things that wouldn’t be normal for your job.

    1. KellyK*

      This is a really good point. A job with this much travel may not be a good fit for you (or might require burning PTO to make it work, if you want to stick around). And if it’s something that *wasn’t* normal and expected for your job, there’s definitely more leeway to make a case for some extra time off or work from home.

  33. Jess*

    My experience of international travel is that if you do it on the weekend, those become working days that you should be able to swap for days off during the week, and the expectation when crossing so many time zones has been that you do that right away to recover. But a whole week is not something I’ve ever heard of, or would ask for.

  34. Kat A.*

    For #4: Years ago, my spouse and I lived and traveled internationally while working for different entities (one military and one civilian), and it was expected that you be ready to go ASAP. We got a day to acclimate on our first trip 8,000 miles away. Otherwise, we were told by colleagues to take Tylenol PM an hour before we needed to go to bed in our new time zone.

    A week? That’d be considered outrageous and would really hurt one’s standing with the employer.

    OP, do you have a health issue or so much trouble acclimating that you think you need more time?

    I don’t know your personal situation, but I can tell you from my own experience and from the kudos of advice my spouse and I received from people who had been doing our jobs for 15-20 years:

    1. Moderate your caffeine intake to be something you only drink in the morning wherever you are. If you need more caffeine later on during the day, choose a lower-caffeinated beverage, like tea, instead of coffee.

    2. Find a time to gently exercise every day and do it at the same period of time, if you can, like every morning after getting up or every evening before a shower and bed. Then do it at those times in your current time zone, if your schedule allows.

    3. Try a sleep aid, like melatonin. But try it at home first so you know how you react to it, how quickly you get tired, and how much works for you (though other factors can contribute to that).

    If you need to ask for a day off and then maybe a second day with shorter hours, I think that’s fine. But any more than that, and your employer will likely be concerned whether or not you can do the job.

  35. Hornswoggler*

    I use this method for avoiding jetlag. It worked going from the UK to Australia and back.

    You need a couple of sleeping pills – I asked my doctor for these and he gave me Loprozolam, which is also known as Somnovit. Cut each pill into four. With this type of pill, a whole one will give you 8 hours’ kip, a half four hours, and a quarter 2 hours.

    Plan out your journey so that it is divided into short ‘days: 4 hours’ activity and 2 hours’ sleep. You need to take a quarter of a pill about 20 minutes half an hour before you need to sleep.

    During the activity hours, you have a meal, drink a decent amount, and have a little exercise – walk up and down the plane, do a few (not too extravagant) stretches. Obviously you can work/read/watch TV/chat to your fellow passengers, gaze out of the window, etc.

    Time it so that you have a clear 45-60 minutes awake before landing, so that you aren’t sleepy on arrival.

    I don’t do intercontinental travel often but this has worked every time. My colleagues and friends at the other end of the trip have always been amazed that I needed only a very little acclimatisation.

    1. Yada yada yada*

      Just as an FYI for anyone trying this, not all pills can be cut (or crushed). Many have time release coatings and you don’t want to mess with that. If there’s a score line on the pill, that’s generally a sign it can be cut, but I would always check with the pharmacist. Especially with something like a sleeping pill, you don’t want the medication released into your bloodstream faster than indented. I’m not familiar with the specific medication you mentioned so I can’t speak to that example

      1. Hornswoggler*

        Thanks for that – it’s a very good point, which is why I specified the type I use. I know that’s safe – I’ve used it many times over several decades, as has my partner. Best to ask the doctor you get them from, of course.

  36. The Other Katie*

    OP#4: I would not ever expect to take a full week to recover from jetlag and be back to full functionality – a day or two is enough time really. Your best bet is to avoid jetlag in the first place. I travel a lot for research, and here’s how I (mostly) avoid it:
    0) If you can, get a business-class flight there and back so that you can sleep on the plane. This is not always possible, but you can justify it because you need to be working immediately on both legs.
    1) Whatever time the plane touches down, that’s your time zone now, both out and back. Is it meal time there? Eat, even if you’re not hungry. Bedtime? Sleep, even if you have to knock yourself out with sleeping pills or benadryl or something. Morning? Line up your caffeine, because you’re going to need it. The sooner you get with the program, the easier it will be. Only nap if you normally would, and then sparingly.
    1a) Keep doing this. You may have to set timers to eat on a schedule, because it will take a day or two for your body to catch up.
    2) Most supplements and things are useless, but melatonin does help. Take it half an hour before you intend to go to bed.
    3) Drink and party with caution and try not to stay up too late. The less you mess with your body the better.
    4) Keep your schedule deliberately light for a few days going back. Avoid deadlines and any time-sensitive work if you can.
    Most of all, don’t be afraid of the jetlag. To be honest, past a day or two it’s really not that bad.

  37. Daria Morgendorffer*

    I have worked in International Development and now work in an adjacent field. I have averaged long haul (13-20 hour flights) every 1-2 months in a previous position. My rule of thumb is that if you are paying for business class then I will go to work straight off the plane but if you stick me in economy I get time to recover. The other thing to factor in is that your life at home doesn’t stop because you are on a work trip. Bills still need to be paid, Pets taken to the vet, repairs organised, etc etc. A day or two to recover from jet lag and get your life back in order is reasonable. Having said that if work is insisting you go in the next day, organise your flight to arrive as early as possible on the morning of the day before. Being able to have a short nap and then a full night’s sleep (with Chemical assistance) makes a lot of difference.

  38. Anna*

    When my husband was traveling for work, with two different companies, he got between a late start morning to a full day off. Late starts were when he traveled within North America, and the full day off would be when he was traveling in Europe. Length of time away had no effect on his recovery time off. So when he was 12 times zones away for 3 months he still only got 1 day after the all day travel day to recover. (He now works a no travel job.)
    My father also traveled quite a bit. His job was flexible with him being in or out of the office, but it meant that although he worked from home for a few days, he was always working with no recover time. And his traveling had him all over the globe.

  39. Gatorade*

    Sorry OP4, but I think even raising this with your boss would cost you some social standing/goodwill in the workplace. Be very careful: you’re basically informing your manager that when you arrive at your destination you don’t trust yourself to be able to operate effectively, even if you feel tired. If you’re looking to be opted out of international trips then that might be a good way to go (if you are okay absorbing the consequences on your chances of progression, the way you’re perceived, whether you get desirable assignments), but if you want to keep these trips or they’re a crucial part of your job I wouldn’t raise it. Imagine the next round of layoffs, are they going to keep someone who gets on with it or someone who feels they can’t handle being tired or can’t operate properly unless they’re 100% rested?

  40. John Rohan*

    In the military, we would fly to the other side of the world for a deployment, and expected to hit the ground running. You sleep on the long flight over – that’s your adjustment, so you are not tired no matter what time of day it is over there.

    1. TL -*

      Jet lag has more to do with your body’s natural sense of timing and rhythm, so getting enough sleep on the way over isn’t going to do a lot to reset your internal clock to local time – you might not be tired when you land but you’re still at risk for feeling like 1 pm is 3 am and thus being dead tired even if you’re well-rested.

      And the military has a very different function and purpose from the civilian world, so comparing the two rarely makes sense for any sort of practical outcome.

  41. always in email jail*

    I agree with those who suggested framing it as flexing from weekend travel rather than from jet lag. If you’re traveling on the weekend I think you deserve a day or two off that doesn’t come from PTO, regardless of the time zone difference.

  42. Jilly*

    #4 – I work in international development and 1 week off for jetlag would be considered unacceptable. 1 day off as comp time, 1 day working from home, and some slightly odd hours for a day or two after that is the maximum acceptable. Of course in this scenario there is much discussion of the jetlag with colleagues for several days: “How are you feeling?” “Were you able to sleep through the night?” “Back to normal yet?”. Think of it this way – how much time off did you get after you arrived in India before you had to start working?

    1. waffles*


      I work in humanitarian response, and so fly internationally to time zones that are regularly 5-10 hours differences from my own many times a year. For us, it would be really out of sync with the work culture to ask for 5 days off to recuperate from jetlag. It’s an accepted cost of the work. Is there a reason you think you’ll need 5 days? I would also say that if your job requires this type of travel regularly, and you do tend to need this length of time to recover, you may not have the right fit.

    2. RG*

      Agreed. I used to have a job where I was traveling to Asia/Africa for 2+ weeks at a time and I would get one comp day for the Monday of my return (we always traveled on a weekend). I sometimes got a little grace for fading early and leaving the office around 5-6pm for the first few days, but that was it. Asking for more comp time for the weekends spent traveling would have been considered really inappropriate. Now I work at a place with a more generous comp time policy, but asking for a week would still be really out of line.

  43. Jill*

    I’ve never heard of needing a day for each timezone to recover. That’s absurdly long. The last time I traveled internationally, I went six time zones. How can anyone need almost a week to recover from that? I took the day off after returning and then was back at work the following with no problems. I realize everyone is different, but there’s now way you should need 10 days, or even a week, to readjust after a trip.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I would definitely need almost a week to recover from traveling six time zones. I go from New England to the West coast–three zones–and it wrecks me for at least a week. I could totally see myself needing 10 days after traveling over 10 zones. Like you said, we’re all different.

      1. HannaSpanna*

        I agree with Dawn. It seems that often the lucky people who can manage jet lag well do not believe others when they say how badly jetlag affects them. We are all different.
        However, people who can’t manage jet lag probably should avoid jobs with international travel etc. No judgment, as I am not sure if the OP knew the travel aspect or how jetlag affected them when they got the job/promotion etc. But now they do, I think they may need to think if this is the right role for them (as many commenters have said, the expectation is you are able to work despite the jetlag.)

    2. Stacie*

      I’ve never heard of that either. I’ve taken international flights across 12 time zones for trips that were way under 12 days. Besides from maybe waking up earlier than normal, I feel like I can get it a bit normalized after my first day. I’m about to go to Bangkok and will be returning on a Sunday night and still working (from home) the next day.

  44. Adlib*

    I don’t get any extra paid days of recovery after travel. I recently traveled to Australia from the Eastern time zone in the US – a difference of 14 hours. I took one day of PTO off to recover after I arrived home on a Saturday night. It still didn’t feel like enough, but I could function at work the rest of the week. I’d say a week off without using PTO is probably too much to ask. If you get any days off without using PTO, consider it good fortune.

  45. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #4

    I don’t do any international travel for my job, so I don’t know what my employer would expect in that regard. If it happened, though, my job allows me to work from home so my guess is I’d take the following day off, work from home a day or two and then get back to work. Or take the one day off and then work odd hours for a few days. As awesome as my boss is and as good as my company is, I highly doubt they would allow me a week off without using my PTO. Now if I scheduled a week of PTO upon return from a business trip, that’s totally different; that’s a scheduled vacation.

    All that to say, I think it’s too much to ask for a week off afterwards without using PTO. I agree with what everyone else is saying, that you should stick to the one day, maybe two, and then work from home or do odd hours.

    (I don’t think I’d be able to handle business travel that crosses more than three time zones, so kudos to OP for being able to do that and be reasonably functioning. I go from New England to Vegas or California and I’m wrecked for days!)

  46. Hiring Mgr*

    Not much more to add on #4, agree that it would be odd to take more than a day or two. One question I had though was on Alison’s repsonse..I’ve never heard the thing about one day off per time zone. I know everyone responds to travel/jet lag differently, but is it really common practice to take days off after say an LA to Boston flight?

    1. Deanne*

      No, it’s not common practice, as the replies here show. But as Alison said, it’s pretty standard advice: “It is generally accepted the body will take one day per time zone crossed to fully recover and adjust to the changes.” (from the website of the American Sleep Association).

      That doesn’t even mean that you need that much time off work though – you can still be adjusting and be capable of working.

    2. Sweater Weather*

      My employers have never considered jet lag from domestic travel. If I took a red eye flight or worked long days during the trip, then I would be able to use comp time or work from home for one day, but otherwise I’d be expected to be back in the office.

      With a 3 hour time difference, it’s actually not too difficult to avoid jet lag if you can manage to get to bed early and wake up early on your trip. I know easier said then done, but keeping a schedule as close to your regular times as you possibly can (without getting in the way of business), can really help!

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’ve never heard it either, but I’m going to start using it when I visit the inlaws. “Sorry, I’m jet-lagged. I’ll need a couple of days to recover.” (As I take to my bed, iPad in hand.)

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      To clarify that, I didn’t mean you’re supposed to take one day off from work per time zone. I meant the standard advice is that it will take you that long to fully recover.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Sure, but is there anything *to* that standard advice? Or is it just one of those things people assume must be true because everyone says it is?

          1. HannahS*

            But that said, it obviously doesn’t mean that most people are totally non-functional until they’re fully recovered.

  47. Coalea*

    OP #2, you have my sympathies! I used to have a colleague who was 5 or 6 years older and who was constantly making comments drawing attention to my relative inexperience (“When you’ve been in this business as long as I have …” was one of her greatest hits). This was particularly infuriating since although she had more experience in the teapot industry in general, I had more experience in the particular spout design that our company specialized in. She and I had a lot of other issues and ultimately our boss sat us down, we explained our respective points of view, and we were able to work together successfully … until she took another position within the company, transferred with no notice or handover, and basically burned all her bridges with our entire department. But that’s another story for another day!

  48. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

    OP #1: Thank you for asking for advice before you said anything about the picture because there is no way that conversation would have ended well! I kind of understand the urge, but your working relationship with her is WAY more important than someone from the outside judging her picture. Her appearance in a photo online is really insignificant in the grand scheme of her work. You gotta let this one go.

  49. SarahKay*

    OP#3 I’d definitely recommend speaking to your manger. Not only can she give you advice on whether it’s acceptable, but also if she thinks its fine then she’s in a position to give you some air cover if someone decides to complain about you doing it.

  50. Allison*

    1) Definitely don’t say anything. I often look bad in pictures, I look okay with selfies because I can take forever getting it just right without feeling bad about wasting someone’s time, and I typically look good in photos taken by professionals that can really take the time to get a good shot (not that I can afford a session like this, and I don’t need one for my line of work). But when I’m being hurried through a visiting photographer’s setup and they only have time for a few shots, we both try our best but end up having to pick the least awful one. I would hate it if anyone at work, especially someone much younger than me who reports to me, told me the picture was awful.

    And yes, coming from a man, it would sound especially bad. I got plenty of that “you should change ___, it would be so much more ~flattering~ on you” garbage in college, and it was always annoying.

    2) Yuck. Definitely tell her you don’t like it and ask her to stop. She can say you’re new, she can say you’re still learning how things work, but calling you a “baby” is weird and gross.

    4) A week is excessive. I know I took that long to fully readjust when I first went overseas, I felt okay during the day but would wake up at weird times in the middle of the night. but most people deal with that sleep weirdness that while working normal or almost normal hours, and they drink extra caffeine or just suck it up when they’re drowsy. One day off, and/or a day working from home so you can sleep in, catch up on laundry, go grocery shopping and maybe take a mid-afternoon nap is really all you need.

    5) If anything, the increasing responsibilities is a good thing! Employers often look for that, as long as you’re progressing along a path and not constantly doing completely different jobs in completely different departments, with no clear direction. It sounds like you are moving in a direction though, which is good.

  51. Nep*

    #2 – as she says, it’s all down to corporate culture, but in my office it’s perfectly fine to use an empty conference room for lunch, phone calls, etc., but it would be frowned upon to book it for personal use more than once a quarter or so. It sounds like you’re booking the conference room daily. If you’re feeling any doubt, I’d check in with your manager or (if applicable) the person who generally controls that conference room calendar.

  52. rosiebyanyothername*

    I work in the travel industry, and nearly all business trips are international at my company. Taking more than 1 day of PTO after the trip would raise eyebrows. Most usually do a work-from-home day if they return on a Sunday/work night.

  53. Positive Reframer*

    OP#1 If you can and you decide you want to make it not about your particular opinion or her particular opinion. I have used the website PhotoFeeler to evaluate how my business and social photos are coming across. They also have some really great articles that 1. encourage you that it isn’t about you its about things like lighting and angles, pose, expression etc. and 2. help you experiment and improve.

    Maybe you can try it out for yourself and then share it with your boss not in a “hey this could help you” but more “isn’t this neat?” and then maybe if she cares about it she will try it out for herself.

    1. Triplestep*

      This is is such a good idea! I have never used the website as you describe, but I have used tips from PhotoFeeler for my LinkedIn profile picture, and when I’ve taken profile photos for others. This is a great way to accomplish what I’ve been advocating: make it about the photo quality, and not the photo subject.

      1. Specialk9*

        Really don’t. It’s still stepping into a beehive. Please don’t think women haven’t seen men thinking they’re being oh-so-subtle when criticizing our appearance. That’s usually something we recognize from a mile off by the time we get out of middle school or high school.

      2. Specialk9*

        Still no. Very much no. I know you want this to be ok, but it’s not ok at all.

        People of any gender, but especially men, don’t offer unsolicited comments on a woman’s appearance. This goes doubly when she holds influence over your future career trajectory. The odds of her being pissed and thinking you’re a pig are much higher and of stronger magnitude than any positive outcome you’ve imagined (being right, being admired for being right).

        1. Specialk9*

          Oops sorry, didn’t mean to double comment. My earlier one didn’t load an hour+ later when I first opened this.

        2. Positive Reframer*

          The point is to move it solidly away from a comment on her or her photo. When I find something cool that I feel has been personally helpful I generally want to share it with others (sometimes disregarding their interest in the subject I’m working on that). The bosses photo doesn’t need to come into it at all. Also I’m 100% NOT advocating uploading the bosses photo and seeing what results it gets as “evidence” that they should change their photo (just in case someone was thinking about it *shudder*.)

    2. The Other Katie*

      No, please don’t. Chances are good that the OP’s boss already knows her picture is terrible and either doesn’t care or can’t change it. Backhanded manipulation like this is transparent and doesn’t make it any better.

    3. Juniper*

      Maybe if at some point she happens to show a picture of herself to you that you think would be more suitable (slim chance, I know, but possible), you could say, “Wow, that’s a great photo! That would be a great photo for your website!” and possibly add the reason why (not a negative reason about her current photo, but a positive one about the new photo).

  54. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    #3: I think Alison should have taken a stronger position on this one. The other example given is use of a copy room (not a conference room) for personal activities, and the OP even says it can be “annoying” if you need something in the copy room. Perhaps co-workers also find it annoying when an employee feels that he/she is entitled to use a conference room for a lunch break every day. I have worked in many corporate offices, and none would have approved of an employee using a conference room *on a regular basis* to eat lunch and conduct personal activities . In many offices, conference rooms are in high demand, and should be available for business as a priority, on short or no notice.

    If, in this workplace, conference rooms are routinely used by individual employees as private rooms for lunch breaks, then there is evidence that it is acceptable behavior. But the OP didn’t say that was occurring, and only provided the ping-pong example. In fact, I inferred that OP is the only one doing this, and that is why it is questionable. OP should definitely discuss this with a manager, and get approval before continuing to use conference rooms in this way. Eventually, other employees will notice (if they haven’t already!), and may find it unfair or inappropriate. So OP should be prepared by having the conversation with the manager first.

    1. Specialk9*

      I can’t imagine this being an issue anywhere I’ve worked, but it’s worth noting that different workplaces have different rules. Never hurts to run it by a manager.

  55. neverjaunty*

    OP #2, if it’s a comfort, your boss is making herself look very weird to others. It wouldn’t be appropriate for a much older colleague to refer to you as a ‘baby’, but I assure you, your clients are wondering why this person who is barely older than you is calling you that. To them.

  56. Stacie*

    I’ve spent nearly 4 years now at my job being the “baby” in age, not in experience. My coworkers and bosses have always been 7-25 years older than me. We’ve always gotten along fine, socialized and from where I sit we mostly can interact without there being some huge obvious generational gap. Inevitably age comes up now and then and they love to freak out about how young I am. It does make me feel insecure when they do this because I’ve shown myself to be a capable coworker who’s been promoted a lot here, it’s just unusual to be where I am in my career at my age I guess.

    Long story short, I hope I remember this when I pass that almighty 30 threshold in a couple years and don’t do this to my future 20-something coworkers.

    1. Phoenix Programmer*

      Even at 30 I am called a baby. The next youngest coworker at my level is 45 though so I think that is why.

    2. SoCalHR*

      Being (or simply looking) young is definitely a double edged sword. I like the fact that I am (although less-so now)/look young, but the down side of that is people underestimate my level of expertise in any given area. It also ends up with people making comments to me like #2… my boss (who I get a long great with) wanted to start calling me ‘kiddo’ and I shut that down REEEEAAAALLLLL fast. 1) its a hot button word for me that’s been used in a patronizing way in the past 2) I am in my mid thirties, I am not a ‘kiddo’ 3) its not professional even if I was Dougie Houser MD.

    3. Juniper*

      I’ll be 30 next month and at a sort of informational-interview-turned-actual-interview the person who was offering me a contract kept saying things like “you’re young” and when I got the offer it was less than my starting salary at my first job out of college. The basic attitude was that I was so young, I had to work really hard to impress them and even if I did, they weren’t sure they would have anything longer term to offer me because they didn’t know what their funding situation would be like, and I was supposed to accept this because I was so young and inexperienced. I turned down their offer. Still hunting for full-time, permanent employment but am working on a contract now where I am respected (actually, my supervisor has referred to me as a “ninja” and her “hero”) and paid at a rate commensurate with my education and experience.

      1. Specialk9*

        Wow. Some people apply negging rules to the workforce, and presumably it sometimes works. Good for you for refusing.

  57. NatKat*

    #5: I have the same exact thing happening now. I am looking for a new job and have been with my current company 6 years. During that time, I have had 4 different assignments, with two of those being in the same area but at different levels and with a break in between for a different assignment. (whew!) It was all at the behest of senior management and my supervisor giving me an opportunity to explore my interests. I put it on resume as one company, and the jobs/accomplishments listed under:

    Teapots Inc. 2011-present

    Teapot Designer
    -achievement 1…

    Teapot Archivist
    -achievement 1…

    Teapot Builder
    -achievement 1…

  58. KellyK*

    For # 4, there’s tired and then there’s *tired.* I wonder if the comments telling the LW to basically “suck it up” are picturing “drink more coffee, hide how grouchy you are, and go to bed early” tired, rather than “fall asleep at the wheel” tired. I think a free day off and a work-from-home day is pretty reasonable and that if you need a whole week, you should take PTO, but I also want to acknowledge that if your ability to function is totally shot *by a work trip* there shouldn’t be an automatic expectation that you’ll drag yourself in no matter what. If you’re at the level of exhaustion where you can’t function and you’re a danger to yourself and others if you try, there’s got to be a way to deal with that that isn’t “yeah, whatever, everybody works tired.”

    I don’t think you should call in sick if you don’t get as much time as you want, but if your reaction to jet lag is well outside the norm, it would be reasonable to discuss in advance whether sick time could be used if you need an extra day, and ask how your boss would like to handle that. That is, would they rather plan for you to be back Tuesday but not schedule anything critical, so you can call out if needed, or should you plan for Tuesday off? Can that be sick time if it’s needed, or should it be vacation (assuming you have two different pots–this matters less if it’s all PTO)?

    If you’re exhausted enough that you really can’t function at work, then I think it’s not much different from work travel making you sick. If you caught the flu from your seatmate on the plane, you could take sick time. If you had a chronic painful condition, like arthritis or fibromyalgia, that was exacerbated by the long flight, it would be reasonable to take a sick day to recover from a flare-up.

    The reason I suggest bringing it up in advance is that it’s going to look flaky and suspicious if you ask for more PTO, get it denied, and then call in sick, and it’s going to look entitled if you ask for a whole week without using your normal PTO. But if you acknowledge that you have a lot of trouble recovering from jet lag and you want to plan for that in advance rather than leaving anyone in the lurch, it will look a lot better. If you really do need a whole week, you will probably need to use PTO.

    1. tigerlily*

      Honestly, I don’t think many employers would find it tenable for an employee to need this kind of sick time every time they fly, especially if a major function of the job is international travel.

      And I think there’s a big difference between jet lag and catching the flu from your seatmate. One is something you know will happen, the other is pure chance. If I choose to work in an animal clinic, there’s a big difference between having a major allergic reaction every time I have to deal with cats, and having to take some sick time because I got bit by a dog.

      1. KellyK*

        You’re right, they may very well not. It probably depends on how crucial international travel is to the position, how much travel there is, and what’s going on at the office when they get back. But the only way to find out what’s workable is to ask (hopefully not asking for way too much and looking out of touch) and then from there, figure out whether this is a job you can handle or if you need to make a change.

        And you’re right that catching the flu while traveling is more chancy than jet lag. (I wouldn’t say it’s pure chance, because airplanes are germ factories and exhaustion does a number on your immune system, but it’s not a guarantee.) Having a chronic condition that’s aggravated by long flights is probably a better example.

        You’re right that working in an animal clinic with major allergies to cats isn’t tenable. But it’s hard to tell from the letter whether that’s really the situation. If international travel is rarer, it could be more like having a major allergic reaction to, say, lemurs. If your animal clinic sees dogs and cats 99% of the time, and a lemur once or twice a year, then being allergic to them isn’t going to disqualify you from working there.

    1. KellyK*

      You’re always the baby to your parents and older relatives, especially if you’re the youngest sibling. You can be 95 in the nursing home, and if they’re 120 in the next room over, you will still be the baby. (Doesn’t mean it’s not annoying though.)

  59. Phoenix Programmer*

    #5 a rare time I disagree with Alison and it’s actually because of her own site!

    A few years ago on here their was a discussion about how to show promotions on a resume and a not insubstantial number of manager commentors talked about “internal job hopping” and their negative perceptions of it. They described these employees as unreliable, flighty, unable to handle not being the new super star employee etc.

    It really stuck with me, because like you I had had 5 different supervisors and titles in one year. I rewrote my resume because of this and instead of showing all my titles “research analyst, operation analyst inbound collections, op analyst outbound collections, recovery analyst, reporting analyst” I described all of it under 1 title “operations analyst” which I had held the longest and best described my experience. Like Alison recommended I put all accomplishments under one title. My resume performed much better after this!

    1. LW5*

      Hey, I love this idea and I’ll definitely use it! I’m also hoping that I’ve settled into one job that I can show a longer stay in.

    2. teclatrans*

      Yes, I was also surprised by Alison’ s reply because of past posts. 5 positions could read as “nobody wanted her so she got passed around,” or “couldn’t settle on what she wanted to do.” Also, 5 separate subheads is going to eat up a lot of space on the resume.

      I get the impression that OP5 had very different sorts of positions, and it would make using only the last title tricky if accomplishments were a mismatch to that title. In that case, I would actually omit mention of any of the positions that are irrelevant to the current job search, then have one bullet point which described my rise through somewhat-related positions, especially if they represent increased responsibility or a recognition of great skill/accomplishment and something of a promotion.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think it depends on whether they’re very different positions or just a variety of assignments, especially at the behest of the employer; I think the latter is the case for the OP but I could be wrong about that.

      But that’s also where I was going with the part where I said “list your accomplishments during that period under one overall descriptive umbrella (like Special Projects or whatever makes sense).”

      1. LW5*

        I think it makes sense to list them as ‘special assignments’ with a quick note about accomplishments! I bounced around because I didn’t know what I wanted to do and my employer gave me a bunch of different assignments to explore where I might be best able to succeed.

  60. LanguageLearner*

    To the OP with the language learning app – if it’s Duolingo you’re using, you also have the option to temporarily disable the speech and sound aspects of the app so that you don’t get those exercises while you’re at work, and then maybe save the listening ones for when you’re at home. It would be a pain to do, but it’s good to know you have the option in case you can’t get a conference room/don’t want to have to use one, and you could still get the benefits of building your vocab and practicing reading. I use Duolingo all the time at work this way!

  61. Mikasa Ackerman*

    #3) I was interning, and they did not have much work for me a lot of the time. I asked for permission to study my Japanese during slow time, and they said, “of course!” Well, anyways, I would write all the new letters and words I was learning down in a nice notebook. This way, it didn’t look like I was doing nothing on my phone. Plus, it helped with my retention, and I always have my notebook to refer to if I want to keep studying. It helped me to look productive and feel productive.

    1. Specialk9*

      Yeah, I did something similar in a job that had a lot of downtime but also was visible. I also have wrote poems I wanted to memorize.

  62. Dolorous Bread*

    OP #2 — I used to get this a lot. “Oh, you’re a baby!” It’s obnoxious and born out of the offender’s insecurities.
    I always managed to shut it down with a joke or two, something like:
    “Oh wow you’re a baby!”
    “Does that mean you’ll pay my rent?” “My taxes say otherwise” etc etc. Just something that would illustrate while I may have been born later than the person speaking to me, I still had the same adult level of responsibility in life.

  63. Stormy*

    Combining the bad employee photo issue with the issue about being called a baby…some companies really need to develop a procedure for time-related photo reshoots. I’ve worked in industries in which people start right out of HS and stay until they retire. Your employee ID should not look like a prop from a weird “Back to the Future” spin-off! I think reshoots every 5 or 10 years is reasonable.

  64. Juniper*

    #2 So obnoxious! This sounds like your boss is threatened by you and is trying to undermine you, whether consciously or not (probably not, since presumably she hired you and has an interest in). Alison’s advice is good- once you bring it to her attention, if she’s a decent human being she will probably be embarrassed that she’s doing it and self-reflect about that a bit on her own. Unfortunately, women tend to be more territorial about their work, and seem especially threatened by other women (I am saying this as a woman who has been on both the receiving and giving end of this, unfortunately), whereas men seem more willing to help other men up in the workplace. One of many factors contributing to gender inequality at work.

    #3 This reminds me of a previous letter about reading on your lunch break. It’s unfortunate that less common, more productive, more introverted activities (such as reading, studying a language, knitting) are generally viewed as weird, unprofessional, and oddly actually seem to draw hatred out of proportion with the situation, while more common and more extroverted activities (like chatting with colleagues about non-work topics, playing ping pong, checking social media) tend to be viewed as more acceptable.

    #4 I’m usually all for more time off, but in this case, a week off doesn’t even make sense. What if you just missed an entire night of sleep (for example, pulling an all-nighter at the office)? That would mess up your sleep schedule too, but you wouldn’t ask for an entire week off as a result. I think asking for a week off after your trip would seriously undermine your credibility- how could the company expect you to function on any other long-distance trips, since you apparently need a week off to recover from the jet-lag? I mean, how could you have functioned in India? I would follow the other suggestions and work the weekends-missed angle (e.g., worked a Saturday and Sunday so request two days off to compensate) and/or flexible hours for the week to help you get back on schedule.

    1. Louise*

      Wow, those are some hefty accusations to lay on the feet of all women. I’m sorry that you’ve had less-than-ideal working experiences with other women, but I don’t think gendering the issue is helpful or particularly accurate. As a (relatively) young woman, I’ve experienced more support from my women colleagues than anyone else (and have been severely undermined by a male boss, but anecdotes are not data so that’s probably neither here nor there).

      I think it’s true that some people are more or less territorial about their work, and that’s a good thing to keep in mind during any conversations about undermining, etc, but I don’t think it has nearly the gender correlation that you’re saying it does. (And as someone who tries really hard to support and advocate for my female colleagues, I actually find it pretty offensive.)

      1. Juniper*

        Sorry, I didn’t mean to be offensive. That was influenced by Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, which cites some studies about this. I don’t have it on hand to name the specific studies, but I believe it’s in the chapter on mentors. I’m not sure it is sufficient evidence to prove the point, but it seemed to gel with my own experience; at least some food for thought. You can take it with a grain of salt.

  65. Anonchivist*

    #2 She’s self-conscious and terrified of approaching 30 because she struggles with the contradictory pressures of femininity, adulthood, and social idealization of youth.

    Not that that’s an excuse, but it’s helpful to get where it’s coming from.

    1. tigerlily*

      Or she could be none of those things at all and thinks she’s just teasing OP in a friendly way. Plenty of people think they’re being fun and friendly and later come to realize what they’re doing is offensive to the recipient. No need to assume the woman is terrified of aging.

      It could be helpful for OP to get where the behavior is coming from, but it’s not a great idea to just make a wild assumption and stick with it.

      1. Anonchivist*

        I’m actually speaking to a large variety of documented sets of fears of behaviors which impact adult women living in this toxic sexist youth-obsessed culture of ours, but ok.

        1. Louise*

          Yes… but I think that assuming LW’s boss is acting out of jealousy or spite or self consciousness is also kind of not great and a little sexist? I think they’re valid points to raise when contextualizing the conversation, but to posit those ideas as facts about a person we’ve never met whose intentions we can’t fully know is not the most helpful, I don’t think.

  66. MeowThai*

    #4, you may want to find out the company’s policy for comp days or try and work some out with your manager. In my field, it’s ok to take a comp day whenever you’re traveling/working on a weekend because it’s considered outside of normal work hours and you’re on company’s time and dollar. But asking for a week to recover from jet lag without dipping into your PTO is ludicrous to me.

  67. Noah*

    I don’t get the relevance of the ping pong story. Obviously you’re allowed to play ping pong in the copy room because there’s a ping pong table there. That doesn’t translate into eating lunch and studying a language in the conference room. Most companies either allow these things or they don’t. Ask.

  68. Noah*

    #4 is incredibly lucky. I’ve never worked any job that gives you time off because the demands of the job are exhausting. Then again, I work in the legal field. Maybe this is normal in other fields.

  69. Insert name here*

    Minor point on the last answer: WRONG about short term temp assignments being OK. In fact, even if you have legitimate an explainable reasons to take these positions they’re a wonderful way to completely destroy your career, as well as your social standing in a community. Employers and anyone else sees temping as “this person keeps losing jobs“. If your mental health, character, or parental fitness or ever called into question, the temping is going to bite you in the ass in a big way. Speaking from experience if you ever become the victim of a violent crime, and you’re a temp, nobody’s going to give a shit because your employment status renders you and your life 100% worthless . Stay away from temp firms before they destroy you, that is what they’re designed to do.

    1. Juniper*

      Wow! Thanks for the insight on this. I am unemployed right now (got my master’s degree in October) and have been holding out for the right position. I’ve considered doing temp work (or even just getting a job at the local hardware store which had a Help Wanted sign) in the meantime but have gotten some independent contractor/freelance consulting work that’s pretty good recently so haven’t gone that route. I guess I will stick to focusing on the job applications, taking out money from my Roth IRA as needed, and not waste my time temping.

      1. Insert name here*

        Omg that’s what they love! Someone with a great education and experience… to take and run into the ground so that you’re hungry, smart, desperate and broken. I had a future once too. RUN.
        Google “precariat” for more.
        And congrats on getting your masters. Demand more. It’s too late for me but I can warn others.

    2. fposte*

      I think this is an overstated an individual opinion and not a general truth. Most people temp without sliding into a black hole of perdition or losing their children in a custody battle.

      1. Dee C.*

        Yeah this . . . is a strange take. I temped right out of college, and one of those temp positions turned into a very decent job I held for three years. It was a great fit for someone with little work experience and few local connections who needed to make money right away. Most employers (and others) are familiar with the concept of a temp agency!

  70. Annie*

    LW4 – I travel often for fun and for work. I would recommend getting on the local schedule as soon as possible (while on the airplane) and then getting on your home time zone (while on the airplane) on the way back. Push through, drink tons of coffee if you’re struggling to stay awake, and then go to sleep at the appropriate hour when you get home. Drink coffee or tea the rest of the day as well, just make it through your 8 hour workday. I find I’m ok on day 2.

  71. JM60*

    I’ve never heard of the rule of thumb “it’ll take you one day for every time zone crossed” to get over jetlag. That seems very excessive to me. Maybe I don’t get jetlag as much as most other people, but when I regularly flew from pacific time to eastern time and vice versa in college, it took me nowhere near 48 hours to get over jetlag, if I had jetlag at all. Even when crossing oceans, it has never taken me more than 24 hours to get over jetlag.

    I think asking for a day or two of would be reasonable, but not much more than that.

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