waiting to see if I’ll be laid off, moving for a significant other, and more

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

1. I may or may not get laid off in a month — what should I be doing now?

I recently learned that there are plans for a large layoff in my company coming up next month. My company tends to do these every two years, and so it is not a surprise, and is right on schedule.

I have no idea if my job is safe. The last time we went through this, I was in HR so had a relatively good idea of who was going to be affected. I moved into a new, HR-adjacent role, so am further removed from the business and therefore am not in the loop. My coworker has been doing some work with one of the groups that is probably targeted, so he has more info (like the dates, etc).

Rumors of this are rampant. If you go to sites like The Layoff, you’ll see people from different parts of the business discussing the rumors, but they don’t have much information either.

My question is: This is really stressing me out, knowing that there is something coming but not knowing who is going to be impacted, including myself. What can I do over the next month to not spend all my waking hours completely freaking out about if I’m going to lose my job, considering there is little or nothing I can actually do to impact the outcome?

Sometimes when you’re in a period of waiting like this, it’s easier to deal with if you just assume the worst will happen and start planning for it — and that way you can be pleasantly surprised if it doesn’t happen.

So if you do get laid off, what will you wish you had done with this time? Whatever those things are, do them now. At a minimum that probably means starting a job search (you can always curtail it you don’t get laid off — but if you do, you’ll be really glad you got a head start). But it might also mean gathering work samples that you might lose access to, paring your spending down and otherwise getting your finances in order, reaching out to people in your network who you haven’t talked with in a while, and anything else that will make life easier for you if you do lose your job.

2. How to approach the question of moving for a significant other

I’ve been at my organization for two years, am in my mid-20s, and have been with my boyfriend for three years. We have been doing long distance on and off almost since the start of our relationship, and it’s wearing us both out. We are both early in our careers and feel strongly that we want a good foundation of experience, and thus we figured we’d focus on finding jobs first and then work out how to be together. Unfortunately this has not worked out well.

My organization has an office in the city where my boyfriend lives. The culture of my organization is such that people are VERY lax about relocating for personal reasons. I know of many coworkers who have relocated to other offices around the country. One department has employees in five different states — places on the west coast, the east coast, and Florida. From a general, organization-wide/HR standpoint, I don’t think it would be an issue.

Right now, it makes more sense for me to consider a move than my boyfriend. He has been at his current job for only a year, and is not ready to move on yet. His work is based in his region, and there’s no transfer option for him. My role is definitely improved by in-person working/communication, but is entirely possible to conduct remotely. The office I would propose moving to is in my boyfriend’s city about two hours driving from where I currently live and work. It would be easy for me to travel back to my current office on occasion for meetings. The trickier thing is that my particular department is tiny; only myself, my boss, and rotating interns, so every person does count.

My boss is VERY flexible and supportive of work/life balance matters. He knows that my boyfriend and I are doing long distance, and has briefly met my boyfriend even. In short, we are on friendly terms and I would feel comfortable explaining this personal situation, and I think he would understand. I also know that I have proved myself to be a valuable employee thus far, and I believe (though of course don’t know for sure) that given the option he would rather keep me on remotely than hire someone new.

I essentially see three options for my boyfriend and myself: 1) I find a new job near him, 2) I pursue this office transfer and am able to do so, or 3) we break up. For a multitude of reasons I believe in our relationship, love him very much, and absolutely want to avoid number 3. Number 1 is theoretically plausible, but would be difficult, and I don’t know how long it might take for me to find a new job. For many of the reasons listed above I think number 2 is the best option. I love my job and don’t want to leave it yet. Is this in general a terrible, ill-advised idea? If not, how can I best broach the topic with my boss, and what are other things to consider along the way? And, is there any reason to feel this might be a more acceptable thing for a couple who is married or engaged? While we are very serious, that is not something that is on any near horizon for us right now.

Talk to your boss! You work at a company that’s very flexible about people relocating and working remotely, two hours away is pretty damn close as far as moving away goes, your company apparently has an office there, and your boss values your work. In the context that you’ve described, this is a reasonable thing to ask about.

It’s true that people sometimes take this kind of request more seriously when the person involved is married or engaged, but that is changing and this is a three-year relationship, not three months. Talk to your boss. Explain that you love your job and don’t want to leave it, but are talking seriously with your boyfriend about moving in with each other. Say that you know the company has generally been open to people doing their work remotely, and ask if it’s something he’d be willing to consider for you. Note that you’d only be two hours away and happy to drive back for meetings and so forth. He may or may not say yes, but he’s not likely to hold it against you for asking.

3. My boss emails me from Gmail but won’t let me reply there

I find myself having to deal with a weird quirk with my boss, and I want to get your take. He will, from time to time, email me from his Gmail and not his work email because he is emailing me a scanned document. Apparently, his work email does not allow him to send scans because our work-remotely software “is not compatible with Apple hardware.” I definitely use my Mac from home, and I have even sent scans from home through my work mail, so I have absolutely zero idea what he is talking about.

So he has this strict policy where, although he will email me from his Gmail, I am not to reply to that email. Each time he does this (twice so far), I have accidentally replied to his Gmail because I don’t think to check which email he is emailing me from. And both times, he has chastised me for replying to his Gmail.

I’ve been working here for only four months so I don’t feel entirely comfortable calling this out as an unreasonable request, especially since he is my boss. Any advice on how I should proceed? Am I being unreasonable in thinking this is a bizarre and unrealistic request that has solely to do with the fact that he is technology illiterate? Or should I say something?

No, this is indeed weird and it does sound like he’s technologically ill-equipped to deal with anything email-related.

Some email programs will let you save a particular email address with a name you assign to it — meaning that you could save his Gmail address as a contact with something like “Bob – home address” as the name, and then when he emails you from that account, you’d see that label on it. If yours does that, that’s the easy solution. There might be other technical workarounds too — like creating a rule that anything from that address goes into a “Bob’s Gmail” folder so you can immediately see what’s up. Or, of course, you could just know that whenever he sends you a scanned document, you’ll have to check.

It’s ridiculous that you should have to do that, of course. The other option is saying, “I want to make sure I’m not emailing your personal account, but I can’t easily see what address you’re emailing me from. Would it be a pain for you to mention when you’re emailing from Gmail, so that I don’t inadvertently send my reply there?” But if he’s unreasonable or the sort of person who blames you when he doesn’t understand something technical, you might be better off with one of the above solutions, especially since you’re new and probably don’t have a ton of trust built up yet.

4. Should my cover letter mention I’m a regular donor to the organization?

I am applying to work at a charitable nonprofit which I have been a fan of for many years. Is it weird to mention in my cover letter that I donate regularly to them? I want to express my enthusiasm for their work, and I’m not a huge donor in the grand scheme of things, but I don’t want to seem like I’m pressuring them by mentioning it.

Well, there’s the potential for them worrying that they’ll need to treat you extra delicately — which you don’t want, because that can mean things like interviewing you just to be polite when they know they won’t hire you (which is a waste of your time). So given that, I’d say “supporter” rather than “donor,” as in “I’ve been a supporter of your work for many years.” Of course, the flip side of that is that lots of people say they’re supporter of a cause when they’ve never done a single thing to help it — so if you have anything else you can mention to counteract that, that can be good (for example, talking to your congresspeople about their issue, using their resources, etc.)

But it’s also not a disaster if you go ahead and say you’re a regular donor. This won’t be huge either way in the scheme of things.

5. Working from home when you have pets

I’m just curious as how you work from home when you have cats?

I’ve been out of the office dealing with the flu and post-flu bronchitis and log into work remotely while healing at home. We have a rescue cat who sees me at home and wants to cuddle or lay/walk on the keyboard. I will give him 10-minute cuddles and attention, then put him back down on the floor. He does okay for an hour or so then jumps up on me or the keyboard again. He’s even tried to knock the laptop onto the floor.

I could shut myself in my bedroom but he’d just meow outside the door. How do you or others get work done from home when you have pets?

I think some animals are more assertive than others about demanding attention — but it also could be that your cat isn’t used to you being at home during the day and might chill out a bit if you did it all the time. Or not! He might keep it up. You could try a closed door and a white noise machine to mask any meows.

My cats are mostly quiet when I’m working. But definitely not always — last week I had to apologize to a candidate I was phone-interviewing for some loud meows I suspected she could hear through the phone, despite my closed door. And lately Olive is super pushy about wanting to be on my lap AT ALL TIMES when I’m in my office. (She is on my lap as I write this.) So I have no good solution to this. Anyone else?

{ 476 comments… read them below }

  1. Hills to Die on*

    Regarding cats, what about a nice heating pad on a low setting is snuggly basket or cardboard box right next to you? Throw in some catnip for a little extra incentive? Mine seemed happy when he was on the desktop in a special spot I made for him.

    Or, play before work and at lunch to wear the cat out a bit.

    1. Wintermute*

      a bowl, cats cannot resist a wooden or plastic bowl placed on your desktop (metal can be a bit cold for them to get comfy). It’s the perfect combination of a safe-feeling enclosed space, comfortable to lounge in and being close to you that they will happily hang out all day long in their little bowl.

      This just proves that cats are actually a liquid.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        This just proves that cats are actually a liquid.

        This made me snortle. Thank you :)

      2. Amber Rose*

        Actually, one of the winners of the Ig Nobel Prize last year was someone looking into whether cats are liquid or solid.

        The answer is very complicated.

      3. AnonEMoose*

        My husband theorizes that, when cats relax, they convert their bone structure to mercury. This explains both the apparent increase in weight and near-total conformity with whatever surface they’re lying on.

        1. Life is Good*

          They do get heavy! I always thought I was imagining that, but it is crazy how kitty can make herself extra heavy, especially when she does not want to be moved!

          1. AnonEMoose*

            I know, right?! One of our cats likes to curl up on my hip if I’m lying on my side, and I’ve had to make her move, because her apparently increasing weight can make my back start to hurt.

      4. TheAssistant*

        I second this! It works best if the bowl is slightly-too-small so they can really fill it. I recommended this to a friend’s mom who worked from home and had a small menagerie of animals with her, including a “be on you all the time” cat, and it worked wonders. Everybody felt involved in the workday.

    2. Windchime*

      I made a little kitty bed on my desk and that helped my cat somewhat. I let him jump up on my lap for a minute or two, and then I re-direct him towards the bed. It’s a small quilt topped by a piece of tissue paper, so it’s basically irresistible to him. If he wants to prowl around behind the monitors, I’m fine with that. But every time he wants to walk on the keyboard, I just re-direct him back to his little tissue-paper bed.

      1. sam*

        I did this too – my cat has a plush little perch on the shelf on my desk so that she can “keep me company” while I’m sitting there – It keeps her happy and not overly-attention-seeking while I’m doing work (real work or personal, “editing photos and paying bills” kind of work).

        Of course, the one thing I can’t seem to get her to cut out is her weird hatred of my speaking on the phone. As soon as I get on a call, she starts meowing at the top of her lungs. I have had to apologize on more than one occasion and explain that no, I am not actually murdering my cat while we are on this call.

          1. sam*

            it would be cute if she was just meowing. Sadie has perfected the art of sounding like I’m strangling her, even though she’s on the other side of the room.

          2. AKchic*

            Same. I’d want to video chat with the cat. And send pictures of my cats. And my doggo.

            I can’t work from home. The dog would lay on me the whole time, one cat would be on me the whole time and the other cat would glare half the time while sitting near me or on me the rest of the time. I’d never get work done but by the end of the day I’d be covered in so much fur that Chewbacca would definitely swipe right.

          3. azvlr*

            I was on a call with a colleague and started calling her dog’s name. He was reportedly very confused and we had a good chuckle at her poor dog’s expense.

          4. mooocow*

            Ha! Just recently when I was working from home and talking to my coworkers via vc, they heard the cat and made me pick her up and hold her into the camera. Poor cat was flabbergasted – she does not like to be picked up!

          5. Journalist*

            A few months ago, a spokesperson for a Very Serious Government Agency left me a voicemail asking me to call him back … and then spent a good 30 seconds baby-talking to his dog before realizing the line was still live. There was a much-chastened voicemail left about two minutes later …

        1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

          You cat doesn’t hate it when you’re on the phone. She’s joining the conversation. Or maybe scolding you for talking to thin air. I too have had to apologize for my cats.

          1. Rocketship*

            I have a coworker who essentially lives on a small farm. He was working from home one day when we were having a conference call with several of our customers, which led to the following exchange:

            *background disturbance*
            Customer: “What was that?”
            Coworker: “Oh, that’s my rooster. He’s… feeling frisky.”

      2. Xarcady*

        When I worked from home, I used an old bed pillow as a cat bed on my desk. Put it in the spot where the sun came in during the morning, and both cats would overcome their mutual loathing and curl up on it, even it that meant their fur was touching.

        Put an old pillow case on it, and it’s easy to keep clean.

    3. KR*

      Seconding this! Lillian likes to sit up on the table beside my computer. She is happy to be able to watch me work but there has to be room for her to sit near me or she will not stop bugging me, especially since I work from home from the kitchen when I do.

    4. AnnaleighUK*

      I have a cat bed in the alcove of my desk (it was meant to be a place for the printer but the printer is too big so it’s now a cat space) and Sherman knows to crawl in there if Mummy is using her laptop. Plush things in enclosed spaces seem to be the best idea for keeping marauding felines away from your workspace.

      I don’t work from home often but when I do it’s nice to have kitty company that is well out of my way. He will always sniff the big rolls of diagrams I bring home, though, and smear them. I’ve lost count of how many public buildings over the years have diagrams ‘owned’ by Sherman!

    5. Lars the Real Girl*

      My cat is the INSISTENT type, and really the only thing that works is that you just keep. pushing. him. away. Eventually they tire themselves out and stay away. A close comfy position where they can watch but be on the side is also helpful.

      1. Corky's wife Bonnie*

        Our late cat was like that with my husband too. All the tricks just wouldn’t work for her. With our other cat, he just positions his kitty bed in the sun on the floor right next to where he works and that keeps him happy….until about 2 hours before dinner time.

    6. Djuna*

      Yes, this works! I made my cat a bed made from a shallow cardboard box with a folded fleece blanket as a cushion, the box lives on my desk and he sleeps in it while I’m working. He’ll sometimes leave the box to sleep on the router, or to perch on my shoulder and hang out for a while.

      I’ve had the occasional issue with shoulder-cat nuzzling the mic from my headset when I’m on a conference call, but he’s easily distracted by chin scritches, and I’m on mute unless I’m talking anyway. I don’t need to use a headset with my laptop, but old gaming habits die hard.

      1. Jen*

        Similar to this, I set up a cardboard box with some crinkly paper near where I work, and it’s now my cat’s favorite spot even when I’m not working. I stop by there on my way to refill my water, etc, so she gets praise for sitting there.

        Time also probably helps. After a period when I couldn’t work from home as much, my cat went nuts the first time she set up the home work station again.

        1. Lora*

          Yes. Boxes. Although one of mine made an unholy racket with the box flaps, so I had to get a smaller box with the flaps cut off the top and the bottom thoroughly taped down (damn you, Immanuel).

          My problem is the dog barking while I’m on the phone – he HATES me being on the phone, although to be fair I think he knows I hate talking on the phone and senses my discomfort. And he is loud, and he can hear like friggin Professor Charles Xavier even if he is in the backyard with all windows shut.

          1. Anonymous Ann*

            My dog does this too! Glad it’s not just me…he gets anxious if I make a phone call, but if it actually rings he loses his mind! It’s so embarrassing when I forget to leave my phone on silent.

          2. Not Rebee*

            Dogs are perceptive. My mom works from home and our dog comes over to be petted every time she’s on the phone with someone she likes, as she can easily tell that mom is in a good mood and is likely to give her attention in that sort of mood. Too much unhappy phone noises, though, and she makes herself scarce.

    7. Newt*

      Yes, this.

      Make some sort of nest or other comfy space that is next to you for the cat to be in. They want to be near you and be affectionate with you, and don’t have the capacity to understand why you can’t do that, so actively inviting them into a space where they can have that, while designing the set-up so they won’t be a nuisance, will help.

      It also helps if you can occasionally give them a small amount of attention without stopping work. If they’re in their nest next to you, reach a hand down to give them a little pat or tickle behind the ears when you’re reading a document or otherwise don’t need both hands to do the work you’re doing. It only takes a few seconds but should help keep the cat more content.

      The other option is to give them a more tempting nest a distance from you – we have a little calor gas stove to heat whatever room we’re in, and if I set up a little mound of pillows and blankets safely near it, my cats will spend most of the day there.

      1. JaneB*

        My cat has a thermally reflective igloo bed on my desk, which has really helped – she’s not a keyboard stalker, but she sits on top of the mouse and pushes things off the desk (pencils, that sort of thing) and steals post-its when she wants attention.

        I also think it’s actually handy – cats remind you to take a break from the screen every hour or so, and a furry cuddle is a MUCH better break than popping onto facebook or having to listen to Fergus’ description of his team’s performance at SportBall last weekend at the office coffee machine!

      2. Turquoisecow*

        My husband works from home, and there’s a radiator with a cover on it in his office. Although it doesn’t entirely discourage the cats from bothering him, we put a fleece blanket on top of the radiator, and they both like to spend a good amount of time curled up there. Even in the summer, when the radiator isn’t on, there’s enough sun coming through the window that it’s a comfy place for cats. Occasionally, both hang out at the same time, and sleep there even when he’s not using the office.

        Also, he has a large camera bag that sits in the office, and the one cat likes the texture of that – think typical backpack type material – so he’ll sit there on occasion.

        1. Landshark*

          Yeah, my office at my house can get a bit chilly in the winter, so I keep an electric blanket, and when I don’t need it, I do something very similar with it on a chair that your husband does with the radiator. My cats flop down and snooze on the warm chair, I get kitty company without kitty annoyances, and work gets done.

      3. Christmas Carol*

        and don’t have the capacity to understand why you can’t do that

        Oh, no, they have the capacity to, and do, understand. They just don’t care.

      4. Ella Minnow Pea*

        Yes to the attention! I am the queen of foot-petting. Our big sweet Lab likes to lie in front of the heating vent by the desk in our home office and when I need both hands to type, I just rub my foot along his back. Works for us.

        As to how to keep him from going nuts and barking his head off when he sees one of the neighborhood cats in the yard, I haven’t figured that out yet…

    8. Sandra*

      Yeah, when my husband works from home I often come home to see a small pillow on the table next to his laptop. That’s his solution – the cat gets to hang out, and my husband gets to work.

    9. Berlina*

      I also have a sort of cat bed next to my chair (an empty shelf with a snuggly pillow in my book shelf), and after some minutes of cuddling on my lap I will gently push the cat there. =^,^=

      Fortunately we got both our cats when they were kittens, and they know that all tables are off-limits (when we are in our vision range, that is :P).

    10. Query Mouse*

      When I work from home, the cat has a cushion in a box on the desk that he sleeps in. If he stays there, he gets occasional pets and treats. If he wanders onto the desk and demands attention, he gets moved to the floor and ignored. It didn’t take him long to learn to stay in his spot. If he doesn’t want to be there, he goes through to the bedroom and entertains himself playing with his collection of hair ties.

      1. Maybe?*

        I have two dogs, and my biggest issue when I when from home is I keep taking pictures of how cute they are. I don’t see any viable solution to my problem.

        The sun does shine in my office, so they tend to lay there. If there’s a favorite place for your cat, maybe working near that would mean less interruptions.

    11. Arya Snark*

      I work from home all the time so my animals don’t find it very interesting any more but one of my cats will insist on being with me at times. He has a chair that I pull next to me so he has his own space. He’s my favorite coworker, by far, but he thinks he’s in charge of everyone even though I’m the manager. I’ve tried using the techniques Alison recommends, like in the letter that ran yesterday, but nothing seems to work – he still tries to boss me around, interrupts me a lot and generally insists that he gets his way all the time. I don’t have this issue with the other pets in the house. Any advice? He’s Siamese, if it matters – perhaps it’s a cultural thing?

      1. MechanicalPencil*

        I’ve found this with my two dogs. One of them is quite the lazy sort and will happily snuggle into her bed after she gets a pat or two. The other one gets indignant if there are not constant pats and snuggles and attention given. Even so far as to sit on top of my desk and stare at me. It’s adorable, but I must not show it. Differences in breeds (or cultures?) are a thing.

      2. Olivia*

        It sounds like you have a terrible boss and he isn’t going to change. Siamese cat culture is well known for bossiness and yelling.

          1. Arya Snark*

            The Siamese also has IBD (note the irony in irritable vowel’s post above) and he also regularly comes into my office to fart then runs away to escape his own funk!

            1. Ealasaid*

              I had a cat once, back when I worked from home full-time, who would wander around downstairs yeowling when he wanted his afternoon snack (he had lymphoma after years of IBD, so getting him to eat was a challenge). I always fed him upstairs in my office, but he knew the cans of food were downstairs with the clean cat bowls. He just was REALLY LOUD to make sure I heard him.
              He was all-black but I have always suspected some Siamese genes.
              To be slightly on topic: my cats generally aren’t super-aggressive about affection during the workday. I do have a cat bed in my office, though, so if they feel like hanging out with me, they can.

    12. blackcat*

      Yep, I make a nest for my cat right next to me when I work from home. It helps a lot.

      Except when I have a meeting online. He can clearly tell when I am talking to the computer, and he must get in the way of that. I have no solution, other than joking with my colleagues that they are making my cat jealous.

    13. Cat Lady*

      Agree to all of this! I work at home full-time with two cats. There are two cat beds in my home office, along with a blanket they like to sleep on. I also keep a small stash of toys to toss and distract them if they get too pushy during a phone call/meeting. And there’s a bird feeder in the window to distract them from me.

      Of course, I’ve been doing this for four years, so I’ve had time to work out this setup. :)

    14. Eye of Sauron*

      My home work setup is a couch, a long bench that my laptop and monitor sit on, keyboard on my lap and mouse on the couch next to me.

      When I work from home, I always have a cat next to me on the couch, sometimes 2 (one on either side of me). Yeah, not the most ergonomically correct work situation, but it works. They know that I’ll mush them next to me on the couch, so their option is to sleep there or they have to go.

      If I have a call that I don’t want the possibility of an interruption, I will toss them all out of the room and shut the door. They will sometimes put up a fuss but I don’t have loud meowers so it’s not too bad. The other thing I’ll do is lure them away from me with heat. I have a space heater in the room that I’ll turn on or I slip a heating pad (on a timer) under the blankets in bed, or turn on one of the several electric throw blankets (again timer) we have in the house. This one is considered the long game though, because I have do it early enough to get them to stay there.

    15. Dust Bunny*

      I used to work for a veterinarian and the resident cats LOVED me. When I was assigned to the lab, they wouldn’t leave me alone and were always getting in the way. So I set up a big, fluffy, cat bed on one end of the counter They *both* piled in and happily slept near, but not on, me all day long. Set up an area where they can be near you but that’s more comfortable than your lap and/or work.

    16. Esscee The Accountant*

      My Midnight was the perfect work from home cat companion… She never stepped on keyboards, had no interest in chasing anything on the screen, and loved to hang out just behind my laptop and screens. I have a handful of cute photos of her “supervising” me like this.

      After she died, I adopted Hank, and he’s /that/ cat. He loves to play with the mouse, eat the cords, clack on the keyboard, chase whatever is on screen (seriously, even I’m not that enthralled with Excel)… And then he tries to drink my tea. “Look, Mom, I’m a worker, too!” We settled this little problem by me relocating. I have a certain corner of a couch designated as “working from home”. The cord is tucked away, the laptop is in my lap and I lose the benefit of my second screen and mouse… but Hank stays curled up against my side, away from my tea, and seems content to watch me work. If I move back to the table or a desk, we’re back to overly-helpful-kitty-intern

    17. Tuxedo Cat*

      My pushiest cat has her spot on my desk where she will sleep and groom herself. That’s all she wants.

      Granted, she’s 17 so she isn’t terribly active.

    18. mia*

      #5 – I have 2 cats and work from home. One is on my lap as we speak.

      I also have a cat hammock that is chair height they love to sleep in, and I park it right next to my desk chair. I can reach over to pet them, but keep working.

      Even though I have a huge desk, I keep them off it. Every time they climb up, I pull them down. They get the idea and rarely do it now. Honestly, they are no trouble at all to have and are actually adorable little coworkers for me.


    19. kible*

      I have two different cat experiences…my mom’s cat I have to have locked away because he doesn’t get worn out from play and he also likes to be behind my laptop screen and snipe at my hands as I type.
      One of my own two cats has a SUPER loud purr and tends to think I’m talking to her when I’m on calls, so I’ve gotten comments of “what is that noise” or “is that a pigeon”. Luckily it was on internal calls so they understood, but I do need to shove her away when it’s with clients.

    20. CorporateQueer*

      A box is the best thing ever for cat-corralling. When I was working on my thesis, I just popped a box next to my monitor, and my obnoxious snugglebug of a cat hung out there.

    21. No one knows I’m a cat*

      This is a day late and probably no one will see it, but I’ll say it anyway.

      I teach online. I have a standing desk because otherwise my cat would get her face right up in the camera and everyone but me would think that was too much fun. With my setup she doesn’t mind sitting on the floor next to me instead. My first class, when I was teaching at my dining room table, she snuck off with something I planned to use, and she likes to show her face in online meetings when I’m sitting at the table or in a chair and she can climb in my lap instead of at the standing desk.

      1. No one knows I’m a cat*

        Oh, this is today’s. I’m a daily reader but a lurker, and missed yesterday’s posts. I forgot which I was catching up on.

    22. LBK*

      I have to ask, because I feel like a crazy outlier here – is there something wrong with the cat sitting on your lap while you work? I work from home at least once a week and it’s usually with my cat on my lap. Do most people just not find it comfortable to sit like that while you’re trying to use a computer?

        1. LBK*

          Makes sense – having had both cats and computers since I was little, I guess craning my arms awkwardly to reach the keyboard in order to accommodate a sleeping cat is just second nature to me at this point!

      1. blackcat*

        I am fine when my cat just sits on my lap. I am not fine when he insists on being pet or otherwise gets in the way of my arms, which can happen. If he’s near but not on my lap, he’s less likely to demand pets or other attention.

        1. LBK*

          Fortunately mine isn’t too demanding about petting but she will occasionally voice her displeasure if I have to take a call during what is obviously supposed to be silent kitty napping time.

      2. Kyrielle*

        If it’s our little 8-pound darling and I sit cross-legged, all is fine. (If my feet are on the floor, she sometimes slips.)

        If it’s the 15-pound probably-part-Maine-Coon guy, who is actually too large for my lap, one arm *must* be holding him at all times, or he starts to fall off.

        Guess what happens when either one starts to fall off?

        Yeah, I don’t need thigh piercings.

      1. JustAWarning*

        I love the nest area, that sounds so sweet.
        The catnip/vigorous play sounds like it could have some seriously dangerous potential. I am a cat lover myself, but my sister’s cousin (by marriage) lost a limb after she gave her cat some cat nip and then tried to play with it. He ended up biting her leg by mistake, and due to the inherently poisonous nature of cat saliva, it became gangrenous. This isn’t something people love to talk about, but it happens very frequently if you look out for it in the news, sadly to innocent children or even babies who are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
        I recommend soothing, rather than provoking cats and sadly, due to my experience, I just don’t feel safe with them in the house. Why risk something inherently dangerous?

        1. NVHGal*

          Much later to the party …

          JustAWarning – you are right, any time a person has a puncture wound from a cat bite they should get it checked out by a professional and get antibiotics – cat bites are easily infected, and people frequently misjudge the severity.

          Not all cats become more aggressive with nip or play. Catnip makes my cats really Zen, but the effect only lasts about 10 minutes, and then they are back for more love.

          #5 – Things I’ve done to make working from home easier with felines: wear them out with play (I follow the Jackson Galaxy hunt-catch-kill-eat-groom-sleep ritual with them), use the special-cat-bed-near-me trick (in my case it is an open dresser drawer – cozy! ) and repeated pushing away when they wake up from their naps. I also make time for playing and attention (love, snuggles) once an hour when I get up to get a drink etc, so they’ve learned that attention is given when I am not typing.

          Nothing can keep my cats from trying to take over the occasional conference calls, but everyone I work with is understanding of the pet and child interference.

    23. Sarah*

      It might also help to explore enrichment activities in general. Cats ask for attention when they’re bored as well, so it might help to keep them entertained (and it’s also helpful to keep them fit and engaged when you’re not home!) Things like puzzle feeders or exercise feeders, rotating DIY toys (my cat loves TP rolls), a cat tree, or even a cat wheel ($$$) would be helpful to keep them out of your hair. Side benefit is they also sleep more because they tire themselves out.

    24. LAI*

      Yep, one of my pups is pretty needy. When I work from home, I move his bed into the office right next to me. I’ll cuddle him for a minute, then put him in his bed and he typically will fall asleep and just stay there most of the day.

    25. Cat Lady*

      I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one with a work-from-home setup designed to accommodate my furry officemates! And also to know that my cats aren’t the only ones who consider a speakerphone conversation the perfect time to loudly serenade me with the songs of their people.

    26. Feline Fine*

      We set up our home office with a laptop docking station and two monitors. The cats never bother Hubby when he works from home (likely because he does it often). They do like to hang out with me when I’m at home. I have given over the 2nd monitor to them and I play “t.v. for cats” videos from YouTube for them. They will watch for a while and eventually they leave.

    27. Aerin*

      When I work on the couch, Clara jumps on my lap, the Chromebook goes down on top of Clara, and she goes to sleep. As long as she’s not overextending my knees, we can stay like that for ages.

      In the office, she generally settles down on the back of my chair, which is wide enough to support her fluffy butt and lets her look out the window. Generally as long as she’s in the same room with you, she’s pretty content. She’s also a very quiet cat; if she tries and fails to get our attention multiple times, she’ll just go flop herself in the hallway and sulk. Or go to her feeder and try to eat her feelings. Thankfully no yowling!

  2. RML*

    A good idea if you think you might be laid off is to make as many of your doctor’s appointments as you can – doc, dentist, eye, whatever. You may end up on a Cobra plan as part of a severance agreement, you could end up uninsured, or you could end up landing a new job with a different insurance company that doesn’t accept your doctors.

    1. Slammy*

      This is excellent advice. Definitely get all those appointments taken care of while you are still fully insured. Max out those benefits!

      Consider taking a few days off for “vacation” to exclusively get your job hunt going.

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        Also spend down any FSA account you have. The FSA will end when you leave your job, and new expenses won’t be covered. In the meantime you can spend it all, including money that hasn’t yet been deducted from you paycheck (you get the full annual amount on Jan 1). The nice thing with FSAs is that you don’t have to pay any back if you leave before the year ends.

    2. PayrollLady*

      Yes!! This is very good advice! Also, if you take regular prescription meds, try to get a 90 refill and fill it asap so you have some on hand in case you do have to deal with COBRA. Also, if you get 2 or more weeks advance notice and you live paycheck to paycheck, you can change your withholdings to exempt so you dont have income tax deducted. If you get a large lump sum severance or pto payout, this extra cash can help float you until you secure a new position. Keep in mind, you still owe the taxes, but you can just increase your withholding amount later in the year to offset.

      1. Natalie*

        You should be able to stop 401k deductions as well, and can restart them in a month if you aren’t laid off.

    3. Natalie*

      There is no separate COBRA plan – if you opt for continuing coverage through COBRA you will be on the exact same plan you were before being laid off. In fact, if your company has multiple plan options you can’t switch to a cheaper on. The only thing happening with COBRA is that the employee is paying the full premium rather than a small portion.

      That said, it’s still a good idea to get any expectable appointments taken care of. You have 60 days to opt for COBRA and then 45 days to pay, and once you do it’s retroactive to the end of your plan. So you can pay nothing for over 3 months and see if you actually need the coverage.

      If you have an FSA, your eligibility typically ends on the last day of employment even if your insurance lasts longer, so plan to spend that account down if you are laid off. You don’t have to make any remaining contributions so you can actually spend more than you contributed.

      1. Natalie*

        I should clarify, your last paycheck will have a normal FSA contribution, but you don’t have to make any additional ones.

      2. AnonFor This*

        The problem with this system is that during the period in which you can back out, your insurer can deny coverage. I was told that I could just submit the medical bills later to be reimbursed – but that meant that I had to pay them myself first in order to obtain the services. I had signed all the forms and submitted my payments for coverage, but they still did this to me.

        Go to the doctor now.

        1. Natalie*

          Of course, until you opt for the coverage, it’s not in effect. The delay period is helpful for any kind of *unexpected* issue that turns out to be critical or expensive.

          1. AnonFor This*

            I DID opt for the coverage and PAID for it, but the insurance company refused to pre-authorize anything on the grounds that I still had the legal right to change my mind. The issue was exacerbated by my (former) employer who only transmitted updates to the insurer once a month.

            The provider refused to proceed without either the insurance company authorization or actual payment from me in advance – so I didn’t get treatment.

            Theoretically, I could pay for it and submit the claim after the time expired and get reimbursed, but that’s not something everyone can always afford to do.

            The OP should avoid the issue and do everything she can now.

      3. sam*

        I think what RML means is that sometimes, as part of severance, a company will actually pay for several months of COBRA, which makes a big differences in terms of peoples’ ability to actually afford the coverage.

        When I got laid off from my job a few years ago, my employer paid for the first three months of coverage. It was over $700/month (and I have no spouse/dependents, so that was a lot of money for one person).

        If Obamacare had existed back then, I might have considered changing to a less expensive exchange plan (with different coverage/networks) because of the cost, rather than sticking it out at that price.

        1. Natalie*

          I wondered about that, but it doesn’t make sense in the context of “make all the medical appointments you can” – if your employer is going to pay for several months of COBRA, the coverage will be exactly the same so it makes no difference if you have appointments before or after the layoff.

          1. Anony*

            I think they were saying that not everyone goes on COBRA so it makes sense to make appointments early if COBRA will be too expensive.

          2. RML*

            Some people don’t know until they’re laid off what the company will give them. If you think you might get laid off, and you wait to make appointments because you *might* get a month of Cobra plan from your severance package, and then you don’t get it – where does that leave you? Why wouldn’t you make all of the medical appointments you can if you don’t know what your package will be, or if you get one at all?

        2. Where's the Le-Toose?*

          My sister just got laid off and she went through COBRA for dental and vision but went through the Exchange for her health plan. The Exchange was about $340 per month for her compared to $850 per month under COBRA.

        3. RML*

          Yes. My point was exactly that. There are a number of things that can disrupt your medical care when you’re laid off, and the smartest thing to do is take care of every possible appt before THE BIG UNKNOWN happens.

          You could end up on a Cobra (it might be 2 weeks long. It might be 6 months. Your employer may be different than my employer.) If you’re unemployed and your previous employer pays for a set amount of time for you to stay insured, great – but you should still get the appointments in because Cobras don’t last forever. My best friend has been out of work for 10 months and if not for being on her husband’s insurance, would’ve gone bankrupt by now for medical care. Her Cobra was for 1 month after layoff.

          You could end up with no insurance at all.

          You could end up landing a new job with totally different insurance and have to change doctors, interrupting your necessary medical care. (I don’t know this particular person, but I know myself – if I couldn’t see my primary care doc, my psychiatrist, or a specialist I see for a condition I have, I’d be out of medication. Some of my meds have to be month to month, I can’t get 90 day scripts. if I had to find a new doc immediately I’d be screwed, medically speaking, until I could get into a new doc and get my scripts going again.

          1. Natalie*

            Her Cobra was for 1 month after layoff.

            I’m assuming you mean that’s how much her employer was willing to pay for? COBRA continuation rights are a federal law, so everyone is entitled to the same coverage period (18 months), assuming they are willing and able to pay the premium.

            1. RML*

              Yes, of course I meant her Cobra was paid for for a month. I thought that was clear in the context of my comment, regarding how long the employer offers the Cobra (meaning, how long they pay for it) but I could’ve reworded it to be more explicit. I am not an insurance expert, i just work in an industry where people are laid off constantly so I know that many employers do not pay for them or pay for them for a very short period of time, and it can cost a fortune to pay for it yourself.

              Just asking – you seem to know a lot about Cobras and are really focusing in on that part of the response. I assume you also know that Cobras can cost the same as a mortgage right, or more than a mortgage if your family is on your insurance plan? I know many people who would not be able to afford a Cobra after their income or their severance payments stop. Your comments make it sound like it’s very easy to just obtain this if your company doesn’t pay for it, but if you don’t have income, it’s cost prohibitive for many, if not most people.

              When I was laid off, the Cobra was equal to my rent, and I didn’t have income coming in to pay either one of them. So knowing I was entitled to a Cobra by federal law, frankly, was meaningless.

              1. Natalie*

                Absolutely, it is going to vary a lot per person, plan, and age. That’s exactly why I mentioned it in the first place – that payment delay is a useful tactic if you are worried about being without insurance in the event of an accident or some other expensive surprise. I’m literally doing that right now since my current job’s insurance doesn’t kick in until February 1st – if I’m hit by the bus in the next week, I’ll go ahead and pay for the continuation coverage even though its expensive. If I don’t get hit by a bus, the premium isn’t worth the 2 prescriptions or whatever that it would cover. I’m sorry if it seemed like I was picking on you, it’s just a poorly understood program!

    4. Specialk9*

      Layoff checklist I keep in my wallet:
      *Stay calm, focus on these questions, it’ll help you not cry.
      *Will you be a reference for me?
      *Will you please do a LinkedIn recommendation to help with the job search?
      *Ask: now, or time to pack up & wrap up? (Some people get escorted out right then, others get a few days or weeks.)
      *Don’t sign docs until lawyer reviews
      *Daycare subsidy ends when?
      *Health insurance ends when? Can I have the HR contact name & number for COBRA and such?
      *Does co. offer outplacement help? Resume review, recruiter, etc.
      *File for unemployment
      *Put a sticky note on your mirror. “You’ll be ok. You’re awesome.”

      The things to do now:
      *Update LinkedIn.
      *Figure out any possible lateral transfers you can do internally. Set up coffee with those managers. Focus on the ones who seem to have safer funding.
      *Join a professional association (or two). Establish yourself as someone invested in and knowledgeable about this line of work. Add them to LinkedIn.
      *Network. Go to the meetings of your city’s professional associations or Meetup group. Talk to people, even if you’re shy (ask about them), and connect on LinkedIn.
      *Certifications – look for quick and easy certifications you can add. If you’ve been holding off because it’s a long form or application, just do it now. (More broadly, your company keeps laying people off – also look at the longer term impressive certs that are harder to get, eg PMP. Having a project management cert is helpful in many jobs.)
      *Look up unemployment – send yourself an email with the URL for applying, when it kicks in, how much you would get. Make it easy to apply.
      *Analyze your budget. Make a plan for what you can cut if laid off. Write it down. (Stress makes us all be stupid – expect your brain not to be working for a bit and give yourself easy checklists to follow.) If you get stuck, look at personal finance blogs like GetRichSlowly or BudgetsAreSexy.

      1. Specialk9*

        I was actually laid off last week. I was able to do a lateral transfer and got rehired, by sheer luck they had a long-open req. It’s incredibly fortunate, but there’s also emotional stuff I’m working through, as I’m learning a new field and feeling like my old job wasn’t valued.

      2. Lora*


        Also, a thing you may wish to consider long term is setting up a side gig if you can. It can help cushion the financial losses and even if it doesn’t pay the mortgage, it’s better than nothing. Depending on your income, the maximum unemployment benefit may not be enough and you may be able to make a little bit of cash here and there and still get your full unemployment benefit. Plus, you may meet new people and build your network with your side gig.

        I had a side gig cleaning stables once. Horse stables. A lot of executives’ wives and daughters have fancy horses, which they board at stables in the suburbs and only ride once or twice a week. I met some interesting people who knew about upcoming projects, so shoveling horse poop and doling out hay and filling water buckets for $8/hour paid off some nice dividends. Met some fun horses, too.

        The maximum unemployment benefit I can get still leaves me short quite a bit, and there’s a point where even a small amount of money helps.

        1. Natalie*

          And even if you make enough money to reduce your unemployment benefit payment, I don’t think any state reduces it on a 1 to 1 ratio. If you make $100 your unemployment benefit might only be reduced by $50 or $60.

          1. Mabel*

            And even if it does (as CA did in the early ’90s for me), you can get more benefit from working and earning the same money that you would have been receiving from unemployment. As mentioned above, you may be able to make useful contacts and/or learn new skills.

      3. Mabel*

        Thank you! I am scheduled to be laid off at the end of June. I have started job hunting, but these suggestions are really helpful.

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*


      When I got laid off a couple years ago, my team finished our work ahead of the transition schedule, so we were granted about a month of gardening leave so that the company wouldn’t be terminating us early but we didn’t have to bother coming in to work with nothing to do. I got every appointment I could think of taken care of then, because I still had my health insurance (on paper still employed) and all the free time I could want.

      (Bad side effect: went to a job interview right after a dentist appointment. Discovered the hard way that lipstick makes it much more obvious when half of your face is still numbed and immobile.)

    6. Elizabeth West*

      This. When I got fired, I had one month left of insurance coverage and I went to the dentist, the eye doctor, and applied for my PCP’s office low-income care program. It doesn’t count as healthcare to the IRS, but everything they can do in the office or the lab is covered, and I only have a $10 copay.

      If we’re going to be stuck for a while with employer-attached insurance, I wish like hell there were no network requirements. People should be able to see whatever doctors they want. Switching back and forth is such a f*cking nightmare.

    7. zora*

      This was what I came down to say. Get all your appointments in now!! It will be so much easier if you don’t have to worry about them for a while.

      1. zora*

        Oh and if you have any prescriptions, ask your doctor if they will extend your refills, give you a couple of extra months, etc.

  3. seejay*

    LW #5: My cats sleep on my desk or my lap while I’m working and I don’t really let it bother me. Occasionally they’ll make noise and one of them likes to announce, loudly, when she’s pooped in the litter box, which is really kind of hard to explain when I’m on the phone and she’s yelling from the other end of the room. I just shrug my shoulders, let them yell, pet them when they’re near me and enjoy it.

    One of the perks of working from home is cats as far as I’m concerned. If I could do it more often, I would.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Ah, so your cat likes to inform you verbally. Mine sometimes resorts to physical delivery of information, which can be a threat to the integrity of my leg. He’s a very friendly cat, but will occasionally accidentally-on-purpose mistake me for a scratching post.

      1. hunter*

        We have some “celebratory lap” cats. We always say they’re running around because they feel lighter than air.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yes, my cat is one of the main perks of working from home for me too! I don’t do it too often. I used to avoid it because I didn’t have a good space to work. I’m wondering if that is their issue in #5. Like, are they sitting on the couch with their laptop in their lap? Because in that scenario, my cat does try to lay on my laptop. But now I’ve got a long desk set up upstairs that I can use and when my cat wants attention she just gets in my lap and is not in the way at all since I’m doing my work on the desk above her.

      But my cat is getting old and can’t jump very high anymore, so maybe I’m just underestimating how much cats will get on your desk.

      1. Collarbone High*

        I also love having my cats as co-workers, although I often tell them I’ll call HR if they don’t start respecting boundaries.

        If I absolutely need them to leave me alone for a while, I have two evil tricks:

        1) Grab one cat and clip a couple of her claws; she will flee and tell the other one I’m not to be trusted, and they take a sulky nap.
        2) Slip outside and ring the doorbell, which buys me at least three hours of them hiding inside the box spring in the guest room.

        1. LizB*

          I love your cat-banishing tricks! Mine is just to open a window (assuming the weather is OK), because then my cat will be spend 50% of the day crouched on the windowsill glaring at the birds outside. (The other 50% will be spent napping, as per usual.)

        2. Lora*

          This is GENIUS. I’m going to try the claw-clipping later this week. The worst offender does not wish to be petted, but yowls at me if I’m not looking directly at her fluffy butt. When I turn to look at her, she politely presents me with her behind to gaze upon. She has a mortal terror of The Clippers, which I hope she will convey to the lap cats.

  4. TL -*

    OP2 – it does make a lot of sense for you move right now (it’s close, feasible in your company structure, and doable in your job) and I absolutely think you should ask!

    But I want to push back against the thought that it’s not reasonable for your boyfriend to sacrifice in his career for y’all’s relationship. If it’s reasonable for you to sacrifice – even just a tiny bit by becoming remote instead of face to face – it’s absolutely reasonable for him to make a sacrifice as well, which could include moving on from a company before he’s ready, or making a firm plan to be looking in your area for a job in 6-12 months. Y’all are serious and have been together for three years; it’s a reasonable conversation to have and a reasonable concession for him to make, either now or sometime in the future.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      True, but I also wouldn’t see it as just his career and OP’s career because if they’re living together they’re both going to be living off both their jobs – and either person making a sacrifice can affect both of them.

      1. TL -*

        But right now they’re living separately and supporting themselves; they’re not a family depending on her or his larger income – if the OP sees breaking up as a viable option, I doubt she’s dependent on his income.
        It makes sense for the OP to move, but so often the default relationship mode is the woman makes the career sacrifice while the man just “can’t” and that’s about as far as the analysis goes.

        1. Lynca*

          Except the OP clearly points out he doesn’t have the potential mobility that she does. There may not be jobs in her region that won’t hinder his career growth. That was the case for my spouse and I during our relationship. It was very much a huge part of the struggle with our long distance relationship because you don’t want just one of you to succeed career-wise since you want a future together.

          I don’t see this as a case where the woman is just defaulted into this situation or that he hasn’t considered making sacrifices for her. This isn’t the only type of sacrifice in a relationship and it doesn’t have to both be a career sacrifice.

          1. grace*

            +1. Sacrifices can be a lot of different things; I think it’s worth it to take her at her word that it’s possible for her to move and not for him.

            1. Chinook*

              As someone who is a trailing spouse, I knew when I married DH that I would have to choose between him and my own career. His sacrifice is that he has turned down some posting opportunities that would not be good for me when given an option (i.e. too far from regular medical care) as well as knowing that he is responsible for me financially (so no deciding to change career tracks and leave us with no income). At the moment, I have the freedom to find a job I like vs. Anything that pays because he has the steady job.

        2. Ani are you okay*

          I’d like to push back on the idea that every woman who writes in about moving to be with a male partner must be challenged by the commenters to justify her decision. This LW has given a pretty clear explanation of why it makes more sense for her to move at this time. If I were considering writing in about a similar dilemma, I’d be less inclined to do so if I thought I was going to have to read through comments that assume I am making my decisions because of the patriarchy rather than a rational adult making choices based on my life circumstances. Trust women.

          1. neverjaunty*

            It really is possible both to trust women and to say hey, it sounds like you are only considering X but not Y here. Because, you know, if we just trust that people know exactly what they’re doing and never make mistakes, we would see a lot fewer letters.

            1. Stardust*

              It does sound like she has/they have considered Y (aka boyfriend moves), though: “Right now, it makes more sense for me to consider a move than my boyfriend. He has been at his current job for only a year, and is not ready to move on yet. His work is based in his region, and there’s no transfer option for him.” whereas her job sounds like it was practically made for internally moving around a lot.

          2. Helpful*

            Yeah, I knew OP’s position would be challenged in the comments. Read it as if it were two men; would you still have the same opinion?

              1. Helpful*

                I understand that. I made my comment to disarm the “women are always the ones sacrificing” argument.

                1. CmdrShepard4ever*

                  Thank you I thought I was going crazy, I reread the letter several times and didn’t see a mention of OP’s gender but I was starting to think I just kept missing it since everyone else was saying OP is a she.

                2. Myrin*

                  @Cmdr, I did refer to OP as “she” myself, probably for the same reason as many others, which is that we generally call OPs “she” on this site; however, when someone claims with such certainty that “it’s not two men”, I feel it’s warranted to point out when an OP’s gender hasn’t actually been mentioned.

        3. CmdrShepard4ever*

          I just reread the post and I did not see a mention of OP’s gender. The OP mentions a boyfriend but that doesn’t automatically make OP a women.

    2. JamieS*

      I agree with the general sentiment of both partners being willing to sacrifice in general but as far as determining who’d be the better partner to move I think there’s something to be said for objectively looking at what both would need to sacrifice and determining which is the better option since I don’t think it’s reasonable to expected one partner to make a large sacrifice when the other partner would only need to make a relatively small sacrifice. From the sounds of it OP would be in a much better position to move.

      1. Myrin*

        That’s very well said, I agree completely.

        Just as a random example, something like “this job is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I’ll literally never get again and leaving it would mean having to leave my whole career in this sector behind” is objectively less of a sacrifice than “I’ll be able to do my exact same job at the same company but at location A instead of location B”.

        Of course there still are situations where it’s reasonable or preferable to leave the once-in-a-lifetime job, though, and there shouldn’t be any default assumptions from the get-go because of things like gender or age or the job’s prestige or similar, but that doesn’t mean that all sacrifices are automatically equal just by virtue of being a sacrifice.

        (And sometimes there isn’t even a sacrifice at all! My good friend’s then-boyfriend-now-fiancé technically sacrificed his very short commute by moving into her house with her but he’s always been very mobile and likes our area anyway so he really doesn’t mind the extra half hour it now takes him to get to work.)

      2. MLB*

        I see it more as “if the situation were reversed, would he be willing to relocate if his company allowed it”.

        1. JamieS*

          Maybe, maybe not. That’s speculation about someone we don’t know based on circumstances that don’t exist.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yes, I agree. My dad kept trying to have this conversation with me when I was looking for a job in my boyfriend’s city which was a bit more difficult to find work in than two larger cities nearby. I felt like he was basically saying my boyfriend didn’t love me enough, which was not helpful. I couldn’t find the words to explain it then, but it always made more sense for me to be the flexible one because honestly I was more employable. I was graduating from a masters program in a good/practical field and had always been a good student. My now-husband was a drama major who had a less-than-stellar GPA. He is a really good worker but doesn’t look great on paper, so his best jobs have come from people who have known him forever and know he will be great. If I had asked him to move he would have had a much harder time getting hired!

        All that to say, yeah it’s bad that often the expectations are that the woman will always move for the man’s career. But that means nothing with regards to individual relationships where the people know their situation and we can trust them to know for themselves what makes the most sense! It certainly sounds like OP is in the better position to be able to relocate, and it sounds like she actively wants to and is not being pressured to. If this is what she wants, then to me it sounds like there is no reason at all not to at least bring it up with her boss.

        1. neverjaunty*

          The OP’s situation definitely sounds like she has much more flexibility. But I get why your dad was concerned – people in love aren’t always coldly rational, and people tend to rationalize unfair situations when it means preserving a relationship. (Hence much of Captain Awkward.)

      4. artgirl*

        This is totally true and valid. It’s frustrating, though, to know that “equal likelihood of needing to sacrifice” is the best women tend to be able to hope for whereas men wanting to never have to sacrifice can still make that happen.

      5. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

        Exactly. I am always the one to do the relocation, not because I am a woman, but because it is way easier for me to find jobs in my field at the same salary. Double bonus is that my field values experience in a variety of organizations because you bring new ideas and methods so multiple moves are seen as a positive.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I work in a field where long-distance relationships are so common that “where does your spouse live” is a normal questions, so I see this play out a lot.

      There’s the short and long-term conversations. It sounds like they’re having the short-term one: the boyfriend has started a new job, that’s not very portable, while the LW has the ability to move. So that may sort things out for the next couple of years.

      The long term conversation is important too. What do you each see as your long-term career plans and how geographical limited are they? If one of you loses your job, can you find a new one in the same area? Is one of you willing to follow the other for a future job change? How do you see yourselves balancing family responsibilities (kids, parents, etc)? If one of you needs to change careers, what are the options for retraining/switching?

      And there are internal considerations, too. How much are you willing to personally give up to support your partner’s career? It’s “our” career only as long as the relationship lasts, and re-integrating a relationship that has been long-distance for an extended period can be difficult. At the same time, you do have to come to a compromised if you want to live in the same place.

      1. Reba*

        Agreed on the long-term conversation, too.

        OP2, it sounds like you are in a great position to try moving in with your partner, because it’s not terribly far from your job and you have this stable employment where you’re doing well, such that if things don’t work out with the bf you’ll be fine in the supporting-yourself department. It’s an achievement for you that your boss values your work, and it’s very lucky that you have the other office to try to move to. I say give it a shot! But do think about and talk about your long term goals for the relationship and for your career, and your boyfriend’s, and how they can fit together.

        You are in a much better position than I was when I did a similar move–it was much farther and to an expensive region, I had no job lined up… but we were at a point of “move or break up.” I took the risk. I made a lot of plans about what I would do if we broke up, since I really couldn’t make rent alone. What made the move make sense was that Partner had a five-ish year plan that involved being in that state, grad school, etc. I made my plan to go to grad school after that. We have been together 12 years (now married) and have more or less continued taking turns favoring each others’ plans as it makes sense to do so.

      2. Eye of Sauron*

        I can’t stress enough how much I agree with your advice here.

        My husband and I had all of these conversations when we found our relationship getting serious. I had been a transient to that point for my career and his profession is one of the most rooted and non-flexible jobs that exist in modern times. So, polar opposites :)

        I knew that I would not be staying in the city where we were living at the time, so we had to have some very serious discussions about how we saw our futures together and what that meant to us professionally.

        It turned out he left his job (I can’t stress how big of a deal this was) to relocate with me for my job. Now that he has reestablished his profession at our new location, I am in the position to have had to tell my employer that I can’t relocate (this could have ended my upward career trajectory). So we’ve both taken big risks for each other’s careers. With a little luck and a lot of hard work we’ve been successful (Knock on wood) but it could have gone disastrously wrong in so many different ways.

        The thing that I believe has been the biggest factor in our success is being open and honest with each other.

      3. Wren*

        Yes, this is very good advice. You must think of both now and later. And much, much later. This is a time for full honesty on all subjects, no shelving of doubts, or hiding details that you think might not go down well for the other person. You will both have to compromise, but one of you WILL be sacrificing more than the other. Understand this, and have a plan for dealing with it.

        In my relationship, I was the one who sacrificed more. I did so willing with eyes fully open, because it made the most sense financially, logistically, and rationally. However, none of that prepared me for the emotions involved in doing so. I ended up feeling disenfranchised and resentful, not hugely so, but the feelings were there and needed to be addressed. I felt like he “owed” me for my sacrifice, which was ridiculous because it was a choice that *I* had made, but that didn’t stop the feeling from being there. So my advice is to be prepared for some negative feelings amongst the positives of “yay we get to be together!” You may not feel anything of the kind. But I think you should at least consider the possibility that you will.

    4. MommyMD*

      It’s easier for her to move now and stay with the same company. Also they are not engaged and marriage is not on the horizon according to LW. His job may take priority for him at this point in time.

      1. Kikishua*

        Also, I would maybe try a dry run? Ask your boss (sounds like a reasonable place to work, so a good “middle” option?) if you can work remotely for a month, to explore what that would feel/look like. Which also tests the whole “living together” thing as well – which could be useful.

        1. Loose Seal*

          I would do this, if it were me. Moving in together can be stressful in itself and having to add that to starting in a new office would make me really anxious. If OP thinks she might feel the same way, remote work for a month or so, reporting to your current boss might ease some of that.

          Plus, you can use that month to come back to your place on weekends to pack up and sell/donate your stuff. (If I read you as saying that it’s only a couple hours trip by car. If you mean a two-hour plane trip, coming back and forth to leisurely pack might be prohibitive.)

          1. Hey Nonnie*

            For some reason I read the letter as her planning to move to BF’s city, not straight into BF’s apartment. After being long-distance for such a long time, it might make more sense for her to ease into the transition. So you’re in a place where you’d get to see each other multiple times a week, but you still have your own space to retreat to as necessary. Especially since an apartment that’s been fine for one person might be too small for two.

    5. Elemeno P.*

      I’m mostly confused about why either person has to leave when they live and work two hours away from each other. Is there no housing somewhere an hour away from each city?

      My fiance and I were long distance for the first year (we met when he was on vacation in my city), and I ended up moving to his city…but we also lived across the country, so a halfway commute was not feasible. There were a lot of reasons I moved, but he actually tried to get a job closer to me first. That was the big indicator to me to start thinking about his city: if he was willing to try, then I could be, too.

      1. Anononon*

        A two hour round trip commute is pretty significant. Also, if both people are doing it, depending on schedules, realistically during the week, they may see each other as often as they do now. Also, it seems adding the stress of that commute to a new co-habiting relationship is a bad idea.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        That’s what I was wondering. In my area, a lot of people commute an hour, and living halfway in between would be completely doable. But maybe there isn’t a good place to live, or commuting is problematic.

      3. Ani are you okay*

        Also, the two hours thing is probably not during rush hour. That one hour halfway point might be more like 90 minutes or more each way at rush hour. Not to mention it might take them from city to rural or suburban which they may not want.

      4. MK*

        It’s worth thinking about, but it’s not impossible that there actually is no housing available in the middle of the distance; the mid-way point might be at the top of a mountain, the middle of a desert, open farmland, national park, etc. Or it might be a small town or a suburb and the OP and her partner don’t want to move there.

      5. Bea*

        I can commute for hours and think nothing of it. However it’s not something everyone can physically and emotionally deal with. A commute is expensive and exhausting.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          I agree it is not for everyone. I have an hour commute on the train but I live and work far enough down the line that when I get on it is very very rare that I don’t get a seat. I am able to get on sit down and watch a tv show/movie on my phone and it really goes by quickly. If I had to stand the whole way it might be a different story. For me personally a 1 hr bus/train commute is the equivalent of a 30 minute driving commute since I am able to do other things. I don’t think could do a 1 hr commute if I had to drive everyday.

      6. Jaybeetee*

        There isn’t always a good halfway point available. When I found myself mega-commuting 90 minutes + for a job a few years ago, one option I looked at was “moving halfway”. The job was located in a podunk town in the middle of nowhere that’s infamously awful to live in. I was (and still am!) living in a fairly large city. It turned out, “halfway” for most part was tiny little towns and villages with nearly no rental options.

      7. BPT*

        The one thing I’d say to that is I’d rather live in a city, any city, than in a suburb at this point in my life, which a halfway point would probably be. And if you’re moving in with someone, it’s best to have avenues to add things to your life other than your partner, like gyms, social clubs, places of worship, meetup groups, places that are walkable, etc. Not that these can’t exist in the suburbs or small towns, but they’re much more likely to exist in the city. I’d hate for both partners to move somewhere they don’t like living and then become completely dependent on each other for socialization, rather than living in an environment they both like and can get things out of.

        1. Specialk9*

          I have all of those things in easy walking distance from my suburb home. I think you’re over generalizing ‘any city’ and suburbs.

      8. Elemeno P.*

        Re: all replies to this, those are valid points! I’ve always had a 30-45 minute commute, so 1 hour doesn’t seem too terrible if it’s that or entirely dropping a career. This was also pretty common when I lived in Southern California: there were lots of couples with one person working in LA and one person working in Orange County that lived in one of the in-between towns as compromise.

    6. MillenialAnalyst*

      I think we need to be careful validating this young woman’s 3 year long relationship…remember the key is this was long distance so they probably spent max, 150ish days together over that span? I’m 26, and have seen a few girls around my age do this to be with their boyfriends from college only to see the relationship fall apart once they’re together for more than a month at a time. 2 of those girls quit shortly after and 1 was let go bc it’s easy for remote workers to be considered “others” after they’ve been removed for a while. It’s almost always more preferable for in office workers if most of the team is there, so you are legitimately sacrificing some job security with this move even if allowed under the best circumstances.

      1. Specialk9*

        I don’t think it’s our place to “validate” the relationship. OP is asking for career advice. (Though I do think it’s valid to check in with a ‘hey sometimes women are expected to take a career hit that men don’t, just checking you’ve thought of that and these are still the best options’.)

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          I agree 100% it is not our job or place to validate their relationship, and it is important to bring up the issue that more often than not it defaults to women sacrificing their careers for the man we don’t actually know if OP is a women. I have reread the letter twice now in case I completely missed where OP stated their gender but I did not see anything. It seems like a lot of people are assuming OP is a women because they have a boyfriend. While statistically speaking it is a safe assumption to make I don’t know that it is one we should be making.

          1. Specialk9*

            It’s a default on this page to assume OPs and managers are female. Some people are getting confused by that assumption, and by heteronormativity, and thinking the OP definitely is female. It’s not stated though.

            (I’m also guessing female though bc statistically more be likely + a guy likely wouldn’t feel like he had to justify so hard went he was considering moving for a partner. But it’s freely acknowledged speculation.)

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        Well the letter writer didn’t tell us how often they saw each other so I don’t see how making assumptions is helpful.

      3. tigerlily*

        Nope. The OP says they are in a loving a committed relationship, and on this site we take OPs at their word.

        1. MillenialAnalyst*

          Assumptions based on data is what people do everyday. It’s the reason we bring an umbrella with us to work when there’s a 70% chance to rain. In a long distance relationship with 2 full time workers, my guess of 150ish days is the equivalent of seeing a person once a week for 3 years. I challenge anyone to dispute my estimate with a more substantiated data point. There is no such thing as every and always, and those that focus on one-offs only underline their lack of understanding of big data in general.

          1. Delphine*

            No one asked us to make assumptions about the OP’s relationship. Frankly, that falls under the category of “none of our business” in ways that rainy days don’t.

            1. MillenialAnalyst*

              The point was there are very few instances when people make assumptions after they are specifically told to assume. The weather analogy works bc the weatherman doesn’t tell anyone to assume anything, he gives the odds and our remarkable brains do all the assuming we need, most of it subconsciously. And on a more basic level, I’m pretty sure the “none of our business” reasoning gets thrown out when you write in to a fairly popular advice site.

          2. tigerlily*

            All that is great. But the OP isn’t asking you or anyone here to validate her relationship. She gets to do that all on her own. And you making an assumption based off very little knowledge isn’t helpful to her actual question.

          3. Triumphant Fox*

            But you’re making assumptions and bringing in data about something we’re not really here to discuss – the “validity” of their relationship. You have assumed that by determining the amount of physical time they spend together you somehow have insight into their commitment level.

            I also very much challenge your estimate. They may switch off weekends, spending Friday-Sunday together (it’s only 2 hours apart), which is substantially higher than your 150 days over the course of 3 years. Plus holidays and PTO may bring that number even higher. Let’s say 10 vacation days each and 5 holidays shared to be conservative – that would be at least 45 days/3 years spent together and more if they each took different vacation just to be in the same city. You also haven’t taken into account quality of time spent together. Weekends spent focusing on one another combined with phone conversations could be much more “valid” then spending every night together watching netflix and going to bed.

            You’re also the one who brought in your two friends as data points, so I don’t understand where you are bringing in “big data.” You’ve just made some estimates based on assumptions, which would be fine if it was your business but it very much is not.

            1. MillenialAnalyst*

              My goodness, the validation I’m alluding to is Allison’s when she mentions the spiel about some would only make this exception for married couples but you guys have been together for 3 years so that makes it serious. I’m saying that was a leap, to use time as the qualifier for a serious relationship. And my anecdote underscores something that big data supports…that a long distance relationship in your 20s is not likely to last. There is no way to refute this, and please keep in mind, “not likely” means less than 50% chance in its broadest definition.

              1. MillenialAnalyst*

                Oh, and I can guarantee you they did not see each other every single weekend for 3 years. Big data supports this as well

                1. Frank Doyle*

                  Ooh, a guarantee! Impressive. Maybe before you go guaranteeing things all over the place as if you know everything, you should run your username through a spell-check.

                2. Former Employee*

                  What does “big data” have to do with this particular relationship?

                  I’m sure that “big data” would make it seem as if a relationship with someone in the military was essentially doomed based on how infrequently they see each other.

    7. Helpful*

      I suggest reviewing OPs letter thru a career lens, rather than a gendered one. Whose career has the highest trajectory? Earning potential? Most geographical/market limitation? The person with the most potential may need to pull rank.

      For example, if OP has an MBA and is in marketing and boyfriend is in customer service, her job may have the upward mobility that warrants her staying and him moving when it’s feasible. And vice versa.

      1. Lora*

        Yes! Look at potential along with how things are right now.

        Also, be warned, OP: if you are a woman, your boyfriend (who I’m sure is great and wonderful and not at all sexist) may suddenly find within himself a lot of feelings if you pull rank, which you will have to work through and can be quite the unpleasant surprise.

        I am an Old, so this is perhaps because of my age, but the men who have been in my life had a very real problem with both me pulling rank for my career and with me making more money than they did in general. They did not appear to be boorish troglodytes, they appeared to be generally enlightened and feminist men on the surface, but as soon as I said that I was absolutely not leaving my career-opportunity-rich region just because their job moved to East Nowhere, Midwest, it was a big deal and I must not really luuuurve them. It became much more readily apparent when I (and they) were in the prime earning years, because when you’re young you still imagine a future you who is going to be rolling in cash someday; when it became apparent that they were not going to achieve that goal, but I was doing just fine thanks, it was a big deal. When I suggested that since I made enough money, maybe they could drop back to working part time and spend the rest of the day as a house-spouse and I could come home to a hot meal instead of dirty laundry and vacuuming for a change? That was UNTHINKABLE.

        1. LouiseM*

          I wouldn’t be happy if my partner suggested that because I made less money than they did, my job was less important and I should stop working full time to clean the house and cook for them. Gender aside, a lot of people would be rightfully insulted by that. In any case, I don’t think it’s helpful to the OP to fearmonger about what may happen to her relationship in 10 years. If it makes sense for her to move now, she shouldn’t avoid doing it because of speculation that her partner might turn out to be sexist.

      2. Triumphant Fox*

        Yes! This is what we do. The reality is that my job pays significantly and always will. It’s a significant change from a few years ago, when my husband and I were both planning on being an academia, but at this point we are not willing to move to the middle of nowhere, or move every year, just so he can get something. That was a hard decision and different from what we expected, but it turns out that he’s thrilled to take a back seat – he was feeling pressured to provide for us and I hadn’t even realized it. If he gets a dream job, we’ll probably move because my field is pretty mobile, but I’m not OK with hopscotching across the country to accommodate a series of lectureships that may or may not lead anywhere.

        We’ve also done a ton of long distance and have put a moratorium on that.

      3. Wren*

        That is essentially how my husband and I sorted it out. He has the better degree, more lucrative field, and greater options. He has a much higher drive to succeed professionally than I do as well. So we based our lives around his career instead of mine. It hasn’t come without problems, I won’t pretend it’s been all sunshine and unicorn giggles, but we have a strong relationship and I would rather be here with him than perusing a career in my (sadly not well paid) field elsewhere without him. It’s the nature of the beast in this highly mobile world we live in.

    8. The Vulture*

      Yeah, I agree here, I just think she should gut-check this. I’m not saying it doesn’t, or can’t, make sense for them, to make their own personal decision, for her to move. I was just struck that the options are either 1. she moves 2. she moves or 3. they break up. Did the conversation ever include what he could sacrifice, what he was willing to do, or was it just all the reasons it didn’t make sense for him to be the one to sacrifice?

      Nothing about this list of options indicates that he is willing to do anything like the amount of work or sacrifice for the relationship that the OP is. I’m sure you’re going to do what makes sense to you, and honestly I think this is a perfectly reasonable ask to make at your job, but…just…remember that breaking up was a more viable option than him considering moving for you.

      1. Bird*

        The OP said in her letter that her boyfriend’s work is region-based and does not have the relocation possibility that hers does. Based on those things, and the fact that he has only been at his job for a short time, it probably does make sense for him to stay with his current employer.

        Meanwhile, her employer has an office in the city in which her boyfriend lives. Thus, it appears easy for her to move locations without sacrificing her job. I’m not sure why there’s so much questioning of their relationship dynamics and her ability to decide what she wants to do.

        When my fiancee and I (we are both women, not that it matters) started talking about our career goals, I was always very clear that I would be the one to relocate when she got a job. She’s in a very specialized field, so opportunities are few, but salaries are also generally quite good. I’m also in a specialized field, in which I am getting a PhD. However, I have a lot more flexibility based on my job experiences and based on the fact that I have decided to leverage my PhD in a nontraditional fashion (i.e., not the expected academic track). We probably have similar earning potentials, but I decided that I was willing to “sacrifice” more in order to support her staying in her field. I’m unclear why this is a bad decision for anyone to make if everyone involved in the relationship has talked about it.

        1. Eye of Sauron*

          I’m with you, this decision is a no-brainer to me. The OP is clearly the one to relocate out of the two of them. I’m really not understanding those that think she’s unfairly sacrificing in the situation.

          First off there doesn’t seem to be an indication that there will be any sacrificing going on from a job perspective, and I didn’t get any indication that this was some type of ultimatum situation that the OP is presented with.

      2. PennyLane*

        I can’t figure out where to reply but here goes. OP2, I was in your exact situation. Same age, same stage of career, 3-year relationship, long-distance, worked for a company with an office in a city close to my bf, lots of people transferred to other offices around the country for various reasons, I was an important part of a small team but not irreplaceable, had an understanding manager (and was eventually the only person on the team who officed out of my office). My boss even suggested that he would be open to me transferring to be close to my bf.

        I think you’re considering all the right things. And you lose nothing by asking. I do really encourage conversations with your bf about your future as a couple, your careers, and what you anticipate life together will be like (because weekends together are very different from seeing each other after a long workday).

        I wish I could say “and we got married!” but we didn’t. These questions led to our break-up (when I offered ti transfer three hours away from my city and he choked at the idea of transferring 45 mins away from his, I saw the writing on the wall). But either way, you’ll get an outcome. Best of luck!

      3. tigerlily*

        You don’t know him moving wasn’t something they considered. It’s just something which in the context of both their professional lives doesn’t make sense. Which OP clearly lays out reasons for. Honestly, the push back of this woman’s decision bothers me. She’s laid out completely rational and reasonable explanations of why it makes way more sense for her to move than for her boyfriend to move. She’s not asking for relationship advice, so why are you giving it?

  5. Wherehouse Politics*

    I’ve had demanding cats while I’ve done various types of work from home –from creative (painting….and having to wash oil paint off of them, animation) to data entry and scanning/retouch for myself, clients and employers. I’ve even commuted with a feisty kitten to my past small company office. (They were fond of cats and many rescues roamed the hallways. My little one was such a mischievous troublemaker she risked a beatdown by her older catmates at home, hence the daily Bring Your Furbean to Work Day. As much as she was an imp to her siblings at home, she just flopped blissfully asleep in my lap as I worked. ) If you can coexist with sharing a lap that’s great. A heated pad or blanket may attract them away from you to a cozy spot. If she’s a seat stealer when you leave your desk, keep a pair, just give in and swap. Cycle out some favorite toys like a track ball disk, boxes with holes cut out, fresh catnip toys, etc. Try wearing kitty out with a laser toy for a few minutes.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      We are going to need more information on the commuting. Are we talking a kitty carrier or a lead or did she just follow you around like Bob the street cat?

    2. ohroie*

      I can definitely endorse the two-chair swap. I had a seat strealer and kept a second chair next to my desk. It dreams and recriminations for removal from the one chair were just too much to handle while trying to accomplish anything.

      1. MechanicalPencil*

        I’ll settle for dogs. Although of my two, I’m not sure which is the more ideal to take to an office, the perpetual napper who occasionally can be awakened for snacks or the overly friendly extrovert.

        1. Lora*

          Depends on size, but I favor the speed bump. My Newf was great for office work. The Pyr who puts a Size 12 paw in my face or lap whenever he wants something, not so much.

      2. zora*

        YES PLEASE. There are sometimes dogs in our office, but kitty cuddle time at work would make me the happiest person in the universe.

    3. Arya Snark*

      The trackball is a great idea but mine always seems to want to play with it when I am on a conference call or in a Skype meeting.

  6. It's-a-me*

    The technologically deficient boss could and probably should always email the documents to himself from his Gmail account, and then forward to our letter writer. This could be framed as ‘so that you know the email hasn’t been lost in the ether, and so that you will have convenient access to the documents yourself when working in the office.

    1. Marzipan*

      I’d consider asking Bob to cc his own work address when he sends things from his Gmail. It’s a simple thing to do that should be within his technological capabilities, and could be framed at least partly as giving him continuity of access to his own work materials, like you said. Plus it’s one fewer step.

      1. SN*

        OP here -this is a great suggestion. If I accidentally reply to his Gmail again, I am definitely going to ask him to do this. He is sort of stubborn but this is too sensible not to suggest!

    2. LBG*

      The boss is also setting himself up to have all his personal emails being discoverable should the company find themselves in litigation.

      1. SenatorMeathooks*

        Sending stuff from his personal work email but not wanting a reply back to that personal email account seems to me like he wants to keep stuff as untraceable as possible. If he works for government agency all records including work emails are subject to FOIA.

        1. MommyMD*

          I also was thinking wants to keep things on the down low. It sounds shady to me and his reasoning makes little sense. Litigation comes to mind.

            1. Observer*


              Especially since he is sending stuff to the OP’s work email, and wants responses to his email.

        2. Ani are you okay*

          Maybe. But it also might be that he won’t see the reply in a timely fashion if it comes to his personal email. I’ve had people send work emails to my personal email during the work day and then, surprise, I miss that meeting because I don’t check my personal email all that often during work. If he just logs in to his gmail briefly to send the scanned document, he might not check it again for a long time.

    3. Pete Sturman*

      I’ve worked for bosses of all different technological capabilities, and would suggest that it’s really not that big a deal to check what email address you’re replying to. I’ve had bosses ask me to do all sorts of quirky things because it helps them get their job done in a way that works for them. I suppose it depends on your role, but as an administrative assistant (for lawyers), I see my job as to do whatever is needed to make my boss’s day easier (within reason). I don’t think this is a ridiculous request on the boss’s part. Just make a habit of checking the “To” field whenever certain kinds of emails (with scans, as the OP notes) are involved.

      1. Triumphant Fox*

        I think Allison’s advice above makes sense – but I would name him Bob – DO NOT REPLY. The all caps would hopefully signal to you that it should go back to a different email.

        Also, Bob really should just cc his work email – then you can reply to only that email and the thread will be maintained.

    4. rubyrose*

      This is fishy, fishy, fishy. OP, check your company IT policy about sending and receiving emails from personal accounts. I know you are not doing anything wrong, but I bet money your manager is and you want to make sure you are not being implicated in anything.

      1. please*

        “I bet money your manager is”

        You’re that sure? Why would he be asking her to reply to his work email, which creates a record on both her and his work accounts, if he’s hiding something?

        1. Someone else*

          He doesn’t have to be “hiding something” for him to be “doing something wrong” per the IT policy. The desire to not have the reply go back is minimizing the use of the personal, which is sort of like trying to stay more compliant, but boss seems to already be noncompliant. It’s unclear if IT knew about his workaround for the scanned documents if they’d be cool with what boss is doing to begin with, or if they’d put the kibosh on that right away. It sounds like the guy is not computer literate and his “compatibility” comment is likely to be a cover for his not knowing how to do it correctly. But it’s also possible he can’t do what he wanted with the work email because he’s intentionally prohibited from doing so. OP is in a bad position to push back, and probably doesn’t want to go around the boss to IT, but the right thing to do is probably involving IT.

      2. tigerlily*

        Yeah, I feel it’s far more likely he doesn’t check his personal email all that much during the work day and if replies are going there he’s not getting them in a timely manner.

  7. Ramona Flowers*

    #5 Thanks for asking my favourite ever question I’ve seen on here.

    I used to freelance from home full-time – and now I work from home here and there. In my previous career as a journalist I interviewed (as in for a magazine or newspaper, not for a job) a Canadian politician while holding a bag of poop (the litter tray job was designated urgent and my kneecap was under threat!) and an editor from the OED while dangling a catnip toy. (I recorded my interviews. Never learned shorthand, so can’t speak to the ease of doing that while entertaining a feline…)

    The closed-door/ignore route isn’t something I would personally be happy doing, but if you do want/need to consider it you could look into getting a Feliway plugin as some cats find them helpful.

    I have a desk at home with a shelf on top (an Ikea one) and my cat is sometimes happy to lie on that. I also have a spare chair somewhere nearby for when mine is stolen, and there’s also a scratching post in the office/spare room and some toys I can throw. I also keep a laser pointer to hand – using that to tire kitty out can help a bit.

    A trick that has sometimes worked for me: get out papers, pretend to read them, wait until a cat triumphantly lies on them, then get out my actual work. I would maybe stop breaking off work to give him your full attention, but rather always carry on working – so maybe do have him on your lap, but don’t completely focus on him with cuddles etc.

    I don’t know why anyone thinks cats are aloof and don’t want attention!

    1. sap*

      Second “don’t break off work to give him attention.” Cats aren’t as “trainable” in the sense that dogs are trainable, but cats learn too and if your cat is learning that if he sits on your keyboard you will pet him for 10 minutes, he will keep sitting on your keyboard because he wants you to pet him for 10 minutes.

      I also recommend being more assertive about keeping him off your space when you’re working. Don’t, like, hurt him, but my cats hate to be picked up and they have learned that if they sit on my keyboard, I will pick them up and take them off of it and will not care that they are visibly upset by being picked up. You don’t have to ask your cat nicely to leave your personal space. Remove him from your personal space. He might sulk when you first start doing it but he’ll get over it and still be very affectionate in ways that don’t involve your keyboard.

      1. OP#5*

        OP#5 here. Yes, I think you and Ramona Flowers are on to something. I did wonder if I was encouraging him each time I “rewarded” him with cuddles. I probably shouldn’t work from the same chair/location that I normally pet and cuddle him either. I think next time I’ll set up on the kitchen table to work. (I was feeling so sick that sitting somewhere comfortable was a priority)

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          If you think working from home is something you would do even slightly regularly, I cannot recommend highly enough setting up some sort of actual workspace. It made a huge difference for me. I used to just work sitting on the floor at my coffee table, but we set up a big gaming space for my husband upstairs on a long desk with 3 monitors, so now if I have to work from home I use half that desk and steal one of his monitors and I used to borrow his mouse until I finally bought one of my own. Working from home is so much better now. It used to be something I avoided but now I try to take more advantage of our flex policy that lets us work from home on Fridays during slower periods.

        2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Something I’ve encouraged my cat to do is sit next to me rather than on me. Now, she’ll wedge herself in between my hip and the arm and purr happily, while I’m busy with whatever I’m doing. (I don’t WFH, so it’s mostly MMOs.)

      2. anonagain*

        I’ve actually set aside time (when I’m not working, obviously!) to do clicker training with my cat. I’ve taught her to touch the end of a chopstick with her nose.

        If she is getting too interested in my computer, I take a chopstick and just lead her off of my desk . I try to interrupt her before she actually starts walking on it or pawing it. If I get up from my desk, I have her come with me. (I don’t usually need the target stick for this. She just comes along.)

        If I am on a really critical call, I lead her out to the living room ahead of time and give her some treats there. I don’t do this much, because she’s pretty good.

        Training is slow and she’s no labrador. I still use a lot of the other strategies everyone else is discussing. I mention it mostly because training is quite fun if you’re a certain kind of cat person.

      3. AMPG*

        I “trained” my late cat in a similar fashion to leave me alone in the morning before my alarm went off. She used to sit by my head and poke my shoulder when the sun came up, which was super cute when I was awake but not so much when I was asleep. So I started moving her off the bed if she did it before my alarm went off, but if she waited for the alarm, she would get pets and cuddles. It worked really well.

    2. Ashloo*

      I work nights at home on a laptop with three cats and a dog (who don’t currently occupy the same space because unfortunate personality conflicts). My velcro cat has definitely learned to take it down a notch through repeated, intentional ignoring by me. She used to yell at me from the floor, but now she usually just stares at me and purrs loudly. Or lays about my chair legs dramatically. She also likes to lay on my lap under my desk, which doesn’t interfere with my work at all. If a cat jumps onto the desk or touches my computer, they go on the floor. If someone is crying, I either try to ignore it so they aren’t rewarded or fix actual problems (if the dog is telling me she has to go outside, she really has to go!).

      I wouldn’t say it’s peaceful to work around animals, but you can enforce boundaries and still enjoy their company without being completely derailed from work (often).

  8. Lynn*

    #5: My cats are a perk of working at home. One is too big to sit in my lap while I type (unless my arms or desk dramatically change sizes), so he gets held and cuddled for only minute before I make him move. Both have their favorite spots near the computer, where it gets extra warm. I enjoy head boops, getting licked, and having one sit in my lap and try typing now and then.

    But neither were like that when I started. It took a few months of repeatedly telling them no, moving them to acceptable spots, and ignoring them before we developed our work at home routine. Be consistent, be firm, and give them positive attention when they’re where you want, doing what you want.

  9. Ramona Flowers*

    #4 I actually wouldn’t mention being a donor in your cover letter. (And I’m guessing you aren’t in the UK, but here supporter means donor.) It would be better to focus on why you think their work is important. What impact are they making? What do they do really well, or that nobody else does? Why are you interested in them and how can you demonstrate that you’ve had this interest for some time? Are there particular campaigns or initiatives that are worth mentioning for example?

    It’s not that they aren’t grateful for donations – it’s that this isn’t grounds to hire someone so it’s a bit irrelevant to mention. This has come up on here before and there was resounding agreement from posters who worked for non-profits that this isn’t the way to go.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think the thinking isn’t that it’s grounds to hire you, but that it’s a way to demonstrate your commitment to their mission. But agreed that it’s not an ideal way to go.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Which makes total sense, but in reality it’s highly likely that people will either disregard the information or be actively put off by it.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Eh, I don’t know — I’ve gotten cover letters with that kind of mention, and I do take it as evidence that the person has a history of supporting the organization’s mission. But it also makes me slightly uncomfortable because of the worry about whether they’ll be bitter if they’re rejected (which is probably an overblown worry), and ultimately I’m generally looking for skills over passion for the mission anyway. There are better things to put in a cover letter.

    2. IvyGirl*

      Development staffer here in the US at a university.

      Mentioning that you’re a donor might actually get your application skipped. Focus on how you support the cause/organization ideologically/volunteer.

      1. IvyGirl*

        Because no one wants the perception that you “bought” your job by being a (big) donor. Not good “optics” to use a terrible term.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yup, this. It creates all sorts of weirdness feelings during hiring (are we hiring based on qualifications or on a person “buying” the position?). It also led to folks being referred to volunteer work, instead.

        2. ohroie*

          I work for a not for profit where one of the guys in fundraising in the son of a major donor. Gossip is that he’s not very good at his job and only got it because of his family connections. I don’t know him or his work, but I do know his manager and she’s not the type to keep him around if he wasn’t performing, so I doubt the gossip has any basis. But when has that stopped gossip?

      2. NJ Anon*

        I would not mention it. I worked at a non profit where they hired a donor who was eventually fired. It was not a good thing. We lost a donor. He never donated again. After that, we shied away from hiring donors.

        1. Fundraiser*

          Our CEO won’t hire anyone who couldn’t be fired – relative of major donor, etc. It’s just not worth it and there are usually equivalent candidates (or better qualified!) who don’t come with implied strings attached.

          I think it’s a great approach.

    3. Sherm*

      I work at a nonprofit organization that certainly likes donations, and I tend to agree that it’s a bit irrelevant. It’s like applying to McDonald’s and telling them you like Big Macs. But they aren’t hiring a Big Mac eater –they want someone who deals with people well and finishes their orders quickly. If the nonprofit is at least fairly functional, they are looking for the best person for the position. It’s best to demonstrate that you are on the same page as them when it comes to their expectations.

      1. please*

        I find it quite strange the idea that a potential employee liking the production/company/service is irrelevant. To me that’s a great thing – that sort of person is likely to have enthusiasm for the job.

        Now, there is certainly potential for making the interviewer/hiring manager feel uncomfortable if the OP says s/he is a donor. But liking the service/product/org is not relevant? No, it is at worst neutral and in most contexts a good thing.

        1. neverjaunty*

          It depends entirely on the context. “I enjoy Lannister Burgers so I want to work at McLannister’s” is very different than “as a longtime customer of McLannister’s, I’ve always been impressed by the efficient and quick service and would like to bring my skills to your team” sort of thing. You don’t want to give the impression that they should hire you so you can get paid to be around your favorite thing all day.

          And in the case of a donor, they don’t know if there is an implied quid pro quo.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Ha, my enthusiasm for Alamo Drafthouse does not extend to washing dishes in their kitchen. Someone suggested I work there and I said, No, it’s my happy fun place. If I worked there, I’d get sick of it and it would no longer please me.

    4. Fundraiser*

      Different offices/issues have different perspectives on this – our large healthcare foundation regularly hired people who were annual donors.

      A major donor is a different situation for all the reasons people below are mentioning.

      I would phrase it like this: “llama herding (issue that the org works on) is one of my own philanthropic priorities, because xyz.” Identifying yourself explicitly as a donor to the org comes off as a little diva-like though.

      Our CEO appreciated bringing people on board who were already committed enough to our mission to contribute financially, because he didn’t think it was appropriate for staff to ask the public to invest in something they had not invested in themselves.

      Totally depends on the culture of the org, though.

      1. It's all Fun and Dev*

        I think that’s the best way to phrase it – enough to show that this is a real passion for OP, but doesn’t imply they expect special treatment. I’m also of the belief that employees should be invested enough in the mission to personally contribute before asking others to do so, but I also know I’d hesitate to hire a major donor. Being employed by an organization changes your relationship with the work that they do, and I’d worry that a personality conflict with the boss or a coworker might lessen their love for us. In many ways, a job is a job is a job – even if it’s working for a cause that is incredibly important to you, it’s easy to get turned off when normal workplace annoyances come into play.

        I think passion for the mission is important when applying to work in a nonprofit, but learning they contribute annually would elicit a reaction more like “huh, that’s neat” rather than “this definitely moves them to the top of the pile”.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The difference between small donors and major donors is a good one! I’d assumed we were talking small donors for some reason, but it’s definitely true that a major donor is a totally different, and much more awkward, thing.

        1. Smithy*

          I think it also requires an understanding of what a major donor is per the organization’s size and primary source of donations. I used to fundraiser for forgein local nonprofit where most of our gifts were European and US governments and foundations – so a gift of $1k USD would have been far more “major” than someone who’s given $1,000 to Harvard University.

        2. OP #4*

          OP here—thank you for your reply! You’re correct that I personally am not a major donor. I donate roughly $2K a year to them, which is a whole lot for my budget but not for theirs. I was only thinking of mentioning it to show that I’m truly invested in their mission. But I absolutely take your and the commentariat’s point that it might be misconstrued, and I’ll be leaving it out.

      3. another nonprof dev person*

        I like that wording a lot. If someone mentioned in a cover letter that they were a donor or supporter, I’d immediately be looking them up in our database, looking over their history with us and any notes we had on them. Basically it would make me pay more attention to you, but that might not be a good thing, because now I’m thinking about you as a donor and not just as a job candidate.

    5. Smithy*

      Nonprofit development person here – and I think it would be fine to mention it briefly as a way of showing commitment to the mission.

      In terms of the idea of “buying” and interview – I really would only see this coming up of the OP has been donating at least 10k a year. If the amounts donated are less than that, I just struggle to see this as much of an issue. Also, I’ve worked at nonprofits where it’s hoped that staff would contribute to the organization – at least at a certain level of seniority.

      Unless this organization is much smaller, I find it hard to see a larger nonprofit feeling any weird power dynamic. My greater hesitancy would be around how many times you donated – if you happened to donate to say Planned Parenthood once during one of their Hamilton ticket raffles – I don’t think I’d mention that. But if you’ve donated a handful of times over the years – I would only see that had a positive. I might use the language “contributor” or “supporter” rather than donor – but I wouldn’t feel weird about it.

  10. Karyn*

    Hello, OP 1! I recently went through this situation (in the last year), and I can tell you that Alison is spot on. Our company was not, shall we say, subtle, about the fact that they were going to lay people off. They THOUGHT they were being covert, but when you see HR going in and out of partners’ offices, and partners going into and out of each other’s offices, it’s not hard to figure out.

    I expected I was going to be one of the ones laid off – because two of the three attorneys I worked for had departed, and the other one, although he desperately wanted to keep me, didn’t have a big enough practice to do so (and he feels guilty to this day because of it). So, when I saw what was going on, I started sending out resumes – including to temp agencies. As it turned out, there was a temp position available, but it was only for a 9-month assignment, so the recruiter told me to let her know if I did get laid off and she’d let me know if the position was still available. Two days later, the layoff came. I was anything but surprised, and the partner in charge of the layoffs and HR director were really surprised when I told them that everyone knew this was coming. I took my box of belongings, went home, cried for a while (I really did love that job), and ate my weight in Oreos.

    The next day, I emailed that recruiter, and sure enough, the position was still available. I was unemployed for less than a day, because I’d prepared for the layoff as if it was a done deal. If they’d kept me, I would have been in no worse a position, of course, but the way it worked out, I was prepared and had already gotten feelers out. It’s also easier to dust yourself off if you’re already in the mindset of job hunting – otherwise you’ll continue eating your weight in Oreos for a couple weeks before wanting to start picking up the pieces.

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you aren’t laid off, of course, but I definitely think you should prepare for the worst – and negotiate good severance if that happens!

    1. Steve*

      I wasn’t laid off myself in this incident, but I was a survivor of a layoff that had been in the rumor mill for a month or so. Not one but two of the impacted employees were on the phone on their way out the door, accepting new positions they had already lined up.

      (On the other hand, apparently some of the survivors were not as proactive and/or plugged in to the rumor mill. But I guess they didn’t like the way the layoff was handled. And apparently it took about a month at that time in that industry to find a new job. Because one month later, another four people quit.)

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        I once worked in a place – not laying off, but refusing to promote from within.

        It was commonplace in the 1980s for people who worked in computer operations or operations support roles, to aspire to enter programming or the technical realm of the industry. One guy – a night shift operations guy – had applied to enter programmer training at the company – and was refused, although he had passed all aptitude tests. So, he found a programmer trainee position at another, rapidly expanding firm, and quit.

        He gave his notice, his boss picked his nose and said “don’t let the door hit you haw haw haw”.

        Three weeks later he wasn’t laughing so hard. The entire group he worked in, en masse, resigned. They were going to the same place – same trainee slots – out of seven, only two accepted counter-offers to enter the internal trainee program, the other five jumped. That gave them exactly three days to hire new people, and only a week and a half to train them.

        They had to demote some people and give them raises (yeah that sounds weird) to backfill.

    2. einahpets*

      Yeah, I’m going through this now. Our company actually announced the layoffs were coming in our group over a month ago… and the month has been miserable.

      I’ve only been at this company for 6 months, and my previous job ran out of funding to keep me after 10 months. When I heard there were layoffs coming, I gave myself a week to just be upset about the fact that I’d have to go through the whole job hunt yet again, and then I updated my resume and started applying / interviewing / reaching out to recruiters I had politely declined on LinkedIn. If nothing else, this year has given me a lot of interviewing practice!

      Things I’d suggest to NOT do when you think layoffs are coming: Giving up or spreading vitriol about the situation. I’ve seen both here: I’m on a project team where one team member is suddenly very difficult to reach (working from home but not responsive to calls/emails, not updating documents as agreed to during project meetings). HR has had a ton of missteps in terms of tone about the layoffs (“we have a little gathering planned to show our gratitude for the people affected, it is going to be so fun”), so I almost understand the gossip/sniping side of things, but if you do end up on the list, what are people going to remember after you’ve left? My ethos is that I want people to remember me for the good I did right up to the end because this industry is small enough that you might end up working with them again.

      1. No Green No Haze*

        HR has had a ton of missteps in terms of tone about the layoffs (“we have a little gathering planned to show our gratitude for the people affected, it is going to be so fun”)

        Dear God.

  11. Engineer Girl*

    #5 – I would sit in a big arm chair with my work laptop. There was enough room for my guy to lie between me and the arm of the chair. I would occasionally stroke him and scratch under his chin. That used to be enough. Usually. I would push him back in his niche if he tried to get on the keyboard. If he got too insistent we was pushed to the floor.
    He was smart enough to get the boundaries.

    1. Red Reader*

      When I first started working from home I got a puppy. She was potty training, so she stayed in my lap most of the time for supervision.

      Three years later, she’s 45 pounds of lap dog and instead of a regular desk chair I have a big armchair that she claims half of any time I’m working. (And my bigger older dog claims it when I’m not working.)

  12. Porygon-Z*

    #5: I work from home in the same room as my dog and guinea pigs. My dog is needy sometimes, but I ignore her while I’m working and she gets the message and goes to her bed. She does always decide to get her squeaky toys when I’m on the phone with my boss, though. When that happens I try to just go to another room.

    1. Kelly S.*

      I work from home with a lap dog. She is usually on her pillow or in the beanbag chair but if she’s whining to get on my lap or dropping toys at my feet when I really need to concentrate, I go grab her bath towel and she leaves me alone for quite a while. =)

  13. Candi*

    #5 -Frequent commentator overcaffienatedandqueer once mentioned that her wife used a sling to hold a foster cat against her chest so she could get some work done.

    With my cats, I firmly tell them “No” and move them to the side or floor when they try to get in the way of the keyboard. They don’t get attention/rewarded for that. It took them awhile, but I haven’t had them on the keyboard or in between me and the keyboard for some years now. I’d recommend it for the knocking the keyboard around, as well.

    Now if I could get the tortie to quit smacking me the face with her tail when she stands beside me mrrowling for attention.

    #3 -your boss is odd.

    #1 -Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. It’ll probably fall somewhere in the middle.

  14. Wonder Woman*

    A while back, I had a very snuggly, very pestersome kitty who loved to knock stuff off my desk for funsies while I worked. During the winter, I could stuff him between my shirt and my fleece, and he’d purr contentedly there for hours. When summer came along, I created a “Naughty Kitty Containment System” consisting of a suitably-sized box from Amazon. It worked like a charm!

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      I had a (large, and fluffy) can who really liked to hang out on my desk. And sprawl elegantly. But he also loooved him a box. So I set up one corner of my desk for the cat. I put a shoebox lid down, and that’s where the cat always lay. It might have been a bootbox lid, actually. But the point is that the box contained him and he didn’t bug the rest of my desk anymore.

  15. Magenta Sky*

    #2: While your boss is a little weird, there is a very, very easy solution. Unfortunately, it’s on his end. Gmail will let you set a different Reply To address under Settings.

  16. Alldogsarepupppies*

    Now seems a good time to ask what I’ve been wondering for a while (since I’m a newish reader and don’t always read the open threads) – Alison which of your cats match which name

    When my cat comes to me with a toy for play time, and I’m not on the phone or working on something urgent I’ll take a minute or two with the toys and then toss it across the room. She likes fetch, but for gets about it half way through. I also use lunch break as exclusive cuddle and or co-nap time, and that seems to keep her happy. But personally, it charms me when I hear someone’s pet (and then shushing them) when on a business call.

      1. It's all Fun and Dev*

        Your big orange cat looks exactly like my big orange cat! The shelter paperwork classified him as “extra large” :)

      2. Elemeno P.*

        Oh my gosh, those are adorable kitties! I particularly like the Photoshop of their heads on the painting; my fiance and I did that for this year’s Christmas card and I’m pretty sure everyone will stop pressuring us to have kids now.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Nope, they just look alike! (But after I adopted them, I saw on their paperwork that they both arrived at the shelter on the same day, which was three months before I showed up and adopted them. So I think of them as having a weird connection from that.)

          1. Havarti*

            Siblings by circumstance instead of blood. Lucy has such a cute face, I can’t stand it! My favs are her on the S-shaped scratcher and the upside-down one.

            1. Myrin*

              I christened that s-shaped scratcher “Thing” when we first saw a picture of it (because the photo’s title was “Lucy on thing” and I found that hilarious) but I couldn’t make it to last week’s weekend open thread where it was featured in the pic once again and thus missed my chance to yell “IT’S THE RETURN OF THING!!”. Still sad.

      3. Greengirl*

        I can see why your cats really like your bathroom. Those counters around the tub are perfect for lounging!

      4. lcsa99*

        I actually have a question about Olive that I have been dying to ask. I am working my way through your archives and found the video of her playing fetch! One of our cats used to do that as a kitten too, but now that he’s almost three, he trying to pretend he is too dignified to bring stuff back to us. Does Olive still fetch?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          No, she doesn’t anymore! Very occasionally she’ll do it once or twice, but nothing like how she did it as a kitten. It is very disappointing. For a while, Eve would fetch one particular type of toy mouse, but that seems to be stopping too.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I’ve been meaning to chime in on all the weekend chat posts that Allison’s cats are all so pretty. Thanks for sharing, Allison!

  17. OP#5*

    OP#5 here. Thank you all for the suggestions and stories. I think the heating pad idea is something I should try for sure. He definitely needs more cuddles in the Winter so he must be cold. He’s curled up on the ottoman between my knees and lower legs right now.

    I think it would probably help set boundaries if I worked from the kitchen table instead of my favorite overstuffed chair and ottoman.

    One thing that worked while I was home sick was building him a “fort”. I draped a blanket off one side of the ottoman and he crawled into the tent/fort and slept there for awhile.

    1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

      To address the unasked question, also, it depends if it’s the occasional meow, or if it’s that insistent escalating meow, meow, Meow, MEow, MEOW, MEEEOOOWWW that they do to demand attention before immediately deciding that they didn’t want you anyway and walking off when you finally open the door. The first would be adorable over a phone call/conference call. The second…not so much.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        A trick I’ve learned with my LOUD meower at the bedroom door in the middle of the night… Apparently cats are wary of fans. So I lean a box fan up against the INSIDE (my side) of the door and it makes noise/blows under the door a bit. It helped a lot! For maximum effectiveness. I combine it with:
        *ignore, ignore, ignore the noise. Only open the door when (if) they’ve stopped for while.
        *puzzle feeders (he loves the scoopy one. I’ll add a link next).
        *fed right before I go to bed (in your case, it’d be right before work). At the least, he’s distracted for 15 minutes with wet food :) even if he doesn’t eat the dry right away.

    2. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      Hi OP#5 – my husband works from home with my 19-year-old deaf cat. She is an attention demander and partially due to her deafness is just beyond loud in her screams. I think all of these ideas are great, but for issues like conference calls where you really need to be able to concentrate and not have cat shrieks audible from your end, you could put your cat (+water/litterbox) and a pet heating pad (we have 2 and they are invaluable) in your bedroom, close the door, and go work at the far end of the living room or some other place for your call, that really helps. Loud meowing right outside your door is hard to ignore, but it’s less noticeable if you are far from the meowed-at door. My cat has her own room with a puddy warmer, litterbox and water and so I don’t feel bad having her hang out in there for an hour or two while he’s on a call. She hates being away from the people so he resorts to this rarely but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

    3. Mme Marie*

      My lovely annoying cat gets in my space quite often when I’m working from home.
      When re-locating him to my lap doesn’t work, I try:
      – in summer – opening the door to the screened in porch, he likes to watch the birds & squirrels outside
      – in winter – turning on the gas fireplace, he blissfully conks out in front of it
      – picking up the squirt bottle, which has been used in the past to discourage him from scratching the couch (the threat of it in my hand is enough to make him run for it)

  18. Relly*

    #5: Okay, if I was being phone interviewed and I heard the interviewer’s cat meowing in the background, that would be adorable. No more interview nerves, now I just have to worry about answering questions instead of cooing at someone else’s pet!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I do think there’s something humanizing about it! You wouldn’t want it on some calls (or a radio interview — something that also happened to me once; fortunately it wasn’t live), but in that particular context I don’t think it’s hugely problematic.

      1. Al Lo*

        I mean, it’s humanizing there, too! (There’s a reason the BBC correspondent with the intruding children is one of the best news clips of the year…)

        1. Natalie*

          Bradley Whitford (Get Out, West Wing, etc) was on Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me recently and his teenage daughter interrupted him. I thought it was hilarious.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Especially since, if you were like me, when he told us his daughter was demanding his attention you assumed she was a toddler…

      2. Stormy*

        I once heard a local business owner being interviewed on a local radio station. She apologized twice for having a bird. It sounded like someone was being murdered in the background.

        1. Ashie*

          Yeah, my parrot likes to scream HELLO!!! when I’m on the phone. It makes business calls from home very awkward.

    2. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      Haha, it depends on how your cat meows. My very old deaf cat sounds like a child is being eviscerated with a fork somewhere nearby, it is a very disturbing sound and even I have trouble concentrating until I can make whatever is wrong with her world right.

    3. Susan*

      I work from home 4 to 5 days a week, with a very friendly young cat. I do a lot of work through Google hangouts, but usually keep the camera off – except when the cat gets on my lap. Then I can’t resist turning the camera on, and doing what I call my “best James Bond villain”.

      More directly related, not only has she meowed in the background of calls, but she once wrapped her entire mouth around my headset mic. She was purring at the time, so the person on the other end of the call got blasted for a few seconds. Luckily it was someone who had a sense of humor =)

    4. saminrva*

      I was doing interviews with students who’d applied to my alma mater via Skype the other day and my cat came up on the table and walked right in front of the camera and my interviewee loved it! We both laughed and she seemed less nervous after it. So I agree there are times that this is not so bad!

      I don’t work from home too often, but when I do, I’ll try to schedule phone calls around the times I know my cat will be sleeping (he’s on a very regular schedule, as I suspect most cats are). That makes me sound like a slave to my cat, but it’s been the easiest solution I’ve found.

  19. nonegiven*

    My son has had to introduce his cat to a video conference a couple of times. Usually she lays in the window and watches the birds outside.

  20. Marvel*

    #5 – As someone with four cats, all of whom are VERY people-oriented and can get VERY demanding… I’m going to have to advocate for standing up to your cat! Cats are perfectly capable of understanding “no means no” if there are consequences for ignoring the no. If you’re busy and you truly cannot pay attention right then, do not indulge him–tell him no clearly and firmly, put him on the floor, and get a squirt bottle if he continues acting obnoxious (or figure out a separate room you can place him in for time out–one of my cats occasionally will be shut in the bathroom for half an hour because he refuses to stay off the television stand when we’re watching something, even if we try to play with him or offer him a lap! Because part of our attention is still focused on the TV and not him and that is The Worst Thing Ever). And then give him some play time later, when you’re available, so he learns that there are okay times to bother you and not-okay times and adjusts accordingly.

    Offering him a perch of his own that IS okay is also a good suggestion (and then applying the hard “no” if he tries to stray back onto your keyboard from it).

    I know it can be tempting to think “oh no, poor baby!” and indulge the crap out of them… I do it all the time. But it’s worth remembering that actually, cats are great big drama queens; he’ll be fine if you can’t pay attention to him for a while, even if he acts like he is Literally Dying. Cats are pretty unambiguous about when they don’t want to socialize with each other, and I’ve found that they can respond to those signals from humans too if you are willing to teach them what the signals are.

    1. Marvel*

      (Just to clarify, I wouldn’t put a cat in “time out” who would be likely to get stressed or upset by it–if they’re crying or scratching at the door, that’s not a good way to go. Sora’s just a giant baby who gets worked up by all the people being in the same room paying attention to something; if you put him in the bathroom he immediately curls up on the laundry and goes to sleep. ??? What are cats even.)

    2. EddieSherbert*

      My cat usually gets time-outs when I tell him “no” and his response is to go rile the dog up. 0-O.

      But, similar to Marvel, he is comfortable with it and has a cat tree in timeout room and will just go watch the birds.

    3. Koko*

      Yeah, I have a little chihuahua terrier mix who is obsessed with me. She will sit and stare at me while making these little unvocalized grunts, like little impatient puffs of air. She’ll run up and put her paws on my thigh and then when I try to pet her she’ll dart away and grab a toy and drop it at my feet. She will keep doing this every time I try to focus on work. She jumps up every time I stand up and runs ahead of me to the door trying to get me to take her out.

      I spend a lot of time sternly saying, “No.” “Stop it.” “Enough.” And she will run off to pout in her dog bed and yes, it’s heartbreaking, but it also means she will leave me alone for an hour, so I let her go pout in her dog bed We go for a walk in the morning, a walk at lunchtime, and after I finish for the day we go for another walk and play ball for 20 or 30 minutes, and then she can snuggle into my lap on the couch all evening while I’m watching TV, reading, and practicing Spanish. She still loves me and has a good life even though I have to be “mean” to her (it’s not really mean, just assertive) when I’m working.

  21. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    #1, if your company does massive layoffs every two years, I’d consider keeping up that job search even if it turns out that your job is safe this time. Two years is not very long… going through this stress biannually doesn’t sound at all pleasant.

    1. Knitting Cat Lady*

      Yeah. At my company you’re just about considered competent enough to be up to speed after two years.

      Knowledge retention must be terrible.

    2. Boy oh boy*

      The big accounting and consultancy firms have (irregular) layoffs of the junior staff (ie, graduates). Usually they’ve over-recruited and now have too many junior-level staff, or they’ve lost a huge client, or something. It happened Texas recently when one of them lost a large oil client. If you didn’t do better than average in your last performance review, you were out.

      It’s not so bad for the organisation as they’re losing junior people without too much knowledge. When Big 4 need more juniors, accounting graduates will bite their hands off for the opportunity so they’re completely replaceable. Needless to say it’s extremely unpleasant for the sacked employees.

      1. Naptime Enthusiast*

        Eh, my company apparently had a reputation in the 80s as a “revolving door”, with new grads being hired and laid off frequently. It hurt recruiting and retention in the 90s and early 2000s, and now there is a distinct experience gap in the 15-25 year range. It may not be as bad for accounting, but for any technology based business it could lead to long-term issues as far as competency and proficiency.

    3. SaraV*

      I was wondering the same thing. In what field would layoffs every two years be normal/expected? You see increase/decrease in retail (holiday) and construction/other outdoor jobs (spring/summer), but I don’t think I could work somewhere that my job was possibly on the line every two years. That appears to me like bad management at the top.

      1. Natalie*

        Advertising has routine layoffs, usually related to client shifts. If you hired a team of 30 to service a specific account, you don’t really have anything to do with them if that client leaves.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Wrote something similar below. Engineering consulting is project-based, so staff can depend on win/loss of projects, and project wins and losses can be very cyclical.

      2. a different Vicki*

        I worked for a publishing company that would apparently randomly decide it was a good time to lay off about 10% of the staff. I was hired on as “permanent” (after previously temping there for several months) a few months before one of those cycles, and lost my job the next time it came around. All told, I had that job for 3 1/2 years.

        I wasn’t expecting the layoffs, at all. One thing I’m still pleased I thought of: the way HSA money worked at the time was that the company put in so much per paycheck, but the entire amount was available to the employee immediately, so long as you were still employed. I was laid off in the first half of January, and officially there through the following day, which was payday. So I went to the optician that had my prescription on file, and got a pair of prescription sunglasses, which cost rather more than I was going to have taken out of the next day’s paycheck, rather than losing that money. (If I’ve been laid off with no notice, when I’m doing my job well, I’m worrying about my budget, not the ex-employer’s.)

        I don’t know if they’ve changed how HSAs work, but if not and if you’ve been contributing to one, that’s another thing to think about: are there any relevant expenses that you can spend the money on quickly? Prescription glasses, getting your teeth cleaned, copays for a check-up or prescription drugs?

        1. Natalie*

          I think you might be thinking of an FSA rather than an HSA – what you’re describing is the rules for an FSA, and HSA accounts are portable so you wouldn’t have had to spend it down by your last day of work. But yes, FSAs are still required to work that way as part of the tax code.

      3. JustaTech*

        For about 5 years my company had layoffs about once a year. They’d over-hired, the market wasn’t what they’d expected and, yes, bad management.

        In other parts of bio-pharma, you can see layoff cycles in generally stable companies that reflect failure of a clinical trial. Drug X didn’t work? Make room for drug Y. I know people who cycled through the same company two or three times.

    4. Don't Blame Me*

      I was thinking the same thing. I’m the type of person who would find it very stressful to have to wonder if I was going to lose my job every other year.

    5. STG*

      I was coming to post the same thing. Having to worry about my job every couple years like clockwork would give me a lot of anxiety the rest of the time. I’d be stressing about any error (no matter how tiny) far more than necessary.

  22. narwhale of a tale*

    Piggybacking off OP1: it appears I’ll be receiving a job offer from A Dream Company that, unfortunately, goes through routine restructuring/lay-offs every 2 years. I’m also a finalist for a position at a Nationals Sports Team with a surprisingly wonderful and stable work environment. Needless to say, I’m torn about what role to take! Is there a way I can ask my recruiter about Job 1 would fare in a layoff? Any tips on what to ask/look for to help make the decision?

    1. LDN Layabout*

      I’d think about asking yourself a question first: Is a company where there’s restructuring/lay-offs every 2 years /really/ your dream company? Even if your job is safe, would you be comfortable with frequent role/co-worker changes? Even if you’re told your position is ‘safe’ would you feel that way? I can readily admit I’d still probably have anxiety about my position that would affect my general well-being, but some people thrive in those circumstances.

  23. Foreign Octopus*

    #5 I work from home with a very attention needy cat and she’s happy just to curl up on my lap and fall asleep while I’m working. Sometimes she’ll walk across my keyboard while I’m teaching but my students all know her now and greet her like they greet me while I move her out of the way.

    I suppose it just depends on how active your cat is as my is a lazy little thing and moves only for food and belly rubs.

  24. Clewgarnet*

    #5 When I first started working from home, my cat had to be THERE! RIGHT THERE! ALL THE TIME! After a few weeks, she got used to me being home during the day and chilled out. Now, she spends half the day sleeping in another room, and the other half sleeping on a shelf behind my shoulder. Every hour or so, she’ll tap me on the shoulder, I’ll give her a minute of fuss, and then we’ll both get back to what we’re doing.

    I found a vigorous game of laser tag during my lunch break was a good way of wearing her out when I first started wfh. I also moved one of her cat trees into my study to give her a definite place that it was okay for her to sit. (Being a cat, she promptly moved onto the bookshelves, but your cat may be more amenable.)

  25. MommyMD*

    I’ve never heard of a stable company having massive lay offs every two years. I would not like to fear for my position every other year. I say get a new job.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      It can be a thing in a cyclical industry. My current employer doesn’t really expand and contract, but my first employer was like that. In consulting engineering for major capital projects, you can win some projects, hire people to complete them, and then have to lay those folks off when the original projects are closing out and you don’t have a backlog of new projects to keep them busy.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        (Also meant to add that that company with all the layoffs was very stable, from a company perspective. They’re currently #11 of Top 500 Engineering Firms. I worked there 15 yrs ago, and I think their stock prices went up every year after I left but 1.)

    2. Ree*

      We have a very large communications company headquartered in my city and they do semi-consistent layoffs. They also do mass hiring in between the layoffs, it’s well know that to apply to work for them, is to expect to be laid off at some point.
      At the company my husband works for, I can think of atleast five former communication company employees, now employed with my husband, all of whom were laid off at different times over the last 5-15 years.
      I’m not sure why they think this is the best way to do business, it definitely doesn’t give them a good reputation in the city we live in.

    3. RVA Cat*

      There’s two scenarios here:
      1) They get up to Headcount A, layoff to reduce to Headcount B, hire back up to Headcount A again, wash rinse repeat.
      2) They lay off every 2 years due to budget woes and headcount continues to shrink.

      Scenario 2 is death by a thousand cuts. Better to leave on your own or be laid off when they still have severance than still be there when they go out of business.

    4. JustaTech*

      I’ve seen it in biotech in big, otherwise stable companies. Drug X fails its clinical trial, lay off the drug X team to make room for a new project way up the pipeline. Often they’re the same people, or the people from the last cycle of layoffs. It’s frustrating, but at least everyone knows it happens so it’s not held against you.

      1. einahpets*

        I’m in this industry and in an area of the country where there are a lot of small companies get started and then run out of funding and have to restructure, be acquired by big pharma, or fold after a few years. I didn’t realize it would be quite so unstable for me this first year (2 layoffs), but I’ve maybe been a touch unlucky.

    5. Bea*

      Boeing does layoffs all the time.

      That aside, I sure could never deal with a company that had massive cuts all the time. I have had enough stress seeing small companies who struggle not to lay anyone off to the point owners do not take any salary after awhile.

  26. Deirdre*

    OP #1, along with the good advice already, I would add to the list the following: get copies of your performance evaluations, copies of your job description(s), update your LinkedIn profile, update your resume and draft cover letters, put together a list of references who can speak to your different strengths, check job openings and also identify different companies you would like to consider, and consider connecting with recruiters.

    Good luck!

    1. finderskeepers*

      What does a job candidate do with previous performance reviews? I’ve never had a recruiter or hiring manager ask for them.

      1. Ten*

        It’s helpful to know what your boss has said about you, especially if you have trouble identifying your strengths/weaknesses, which EVERY interviewer asks about.

      2. It's all Fun and Dev*

        I used mine when interviewing for my current job. I attached it to the follow up email to the hiring manager (M) after my final interview – since I was leaving my first job in the industry and he couldn’t speak to my then-current manager (H), I offered it as a way for M to see H’s assessment of me. Obviously I only sent it because it was very good and had enough detailed comments to actually help M get a sense of me as an employee – I don’t think it would have helped if it was just a form with numerical grades or something.

        I probably won’t use it this time, because H is now a reference for me, and I don’t think my current workplace offers highly detailed annual evaluations like my last workplace did.

      3. Deirdre*

        I encourage employees to keep copies for their own personal use. They are helpful in articulating what people accomplished and did well. If done well, they also help employees identify areas of growth.

        I wouldn’t necessarily share them but a personnel file is much easier to get while still an employee.

  27. adam807*

    #3: I’m not sure a technological solution will really help your boss given his confusion, but if he’s using Apple’s default Mail app, tell him to go to the View menu and select “Reply-To Address Field.” Once that’s checked, he’ll be able to type in his work address whenever he sends a message he wants you to reply to differently and you won’t have to think about it. HE could also set up a Gmail filter than any messages received from your work domain get forwarded, but that’s probably way too much too ask!

    #5: I wish my cat would snuggle when I work from home! That would make the day so much more pleasant! :) I guess the grass is always greener. Or fuzzier.

    1. Koko*

      Whenever I want to share something from Gmail with work, I email it to my own work address first and then forward it from my work email to my coworkers, precisely to avoid my Gmail address getting the replies. It’s not even technologically complicated to do that way!

  28. EvilQueenRegina*

    The best was that story in an open thread a couple of years back about someone whose cat wandered over just as her boss had asked “What do you think of this new training?” and the cat wandered to the keyboard, managed to send the word “poop” and then cut off the conversation! I think the boss took it quite well and said that he agreed with the cat.

  29. Stormy*

    #5 I have a Telecommuting Toy for each cat. They are much-loved catnip-stuffed plush animals that only come out on days I work from home. The novelty of having limited access to them makes the cats go nuts for them and (mostly) leave me alone.

  30. MLB*

    For #2 – it does sound like it could work out for you to relocate your job to be closer to your BF, but make sure he’s not the only reason you’re moving. Do you like the city he’s in? What happens if you find living together to be disastrous and you end up splitting up anyway – then what are your options? If the situation were reversed, would he be willing to do the same? Yes you’ve been together for 3 years but you say it’s mostly long distance – that’s different from being together in the same place for 3 years. And you’re young and you say you have no immediate plans to be together forever. I’m not saying it can’t work out, but make sure you’re being realistic, and it’s not all about being close to your BF.

    For #5 – we got a kitten last summer and I work from home 2 days a week. She would always try to climb on my lap and I would just put her on the floor each time. She eventually learned that when I’m in my office, it’s not cuddle time (she still cuddles with me when I’m on the couch watching tv). I get that people love their pets, but it is possible to train them to some extent and not let them do whatever they want. Would you let your child sit on your lap and play with the keyboard while you’re trying to work?

  31. Natalie*

    #2 when I was in a serious (many years, cohabiting, had moved states together) relationship I used partner a lot because to me it conveyed a bit more seriousness than “boyfriend”. That’s pretty normal in my area though, YMMV. (Also you don’t need to change how you refer to him in your head or personal life, just in one conversation about getting a transfer.)

  32. Murphy*

    Can I apply this cat advice to my 9 month old human? :)

    (I don’t work at home regularly, but those snow days recently were tough!)

    1. AnotherAlison*

      It never gets better! My family thinks me sitting at my computer = come sit at the other desk and talk to me. That goes for my husband, 20 year old son, and 13 year old. The dogs mostly just want to be let in and out, although one will come lay her head in my lap.

      1. DMLT*

        My kids are teens/young adults, too. Same problem. When we recently moved, one of my requirements was an office. With a door. That locks.
        Also, I misread your post initially and thought it was your KIDS who want to put their heads in your lap. Which is kinda sweet (I miss those days!) but also kinda weird to picture a 20 year old wanting to lay their head in your lap while you work!

    2. Erin*

      Ha, yes, I recently had to work from home with my one-year-old there. It actually went better than I thought. We could probably get into a massive tangent talking about working from home with kids, though.

      OP, you said he’d be good for an hour or so after you give him some attention – I think this isn’t too bad, really. It was the same when I was dealing with my kid.

      I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this, other than to work with what you have and do the best you can. I’m confident you can still get a lot of work done. I think it would probably make more sense to deal with him when you need to rather than shutting him in a room and hearing him meow. I suppose you could also try getting him a super comfy cat bed and try to set him up there with some water, toys, etc. nearby so your lap isn’t as tempting.

    3. neverjaunty*

      I had to buy a special hat to wear to signal “I am working, don’t interrupt me to ask where the gizmo went or to tell me a cat story” because the adults I live with cannot remember that I said “don’t interrupt me” ten minutes ago. Some people really need a visual cue.

  33. Random thought*

    I love #5- unfortunately no advice as this is literally why I don’t work from home, but I sympathize with you, LW!

  34. Zahra*

    LW #1: Just got laid off last week. My job involves creating reports for “internal clients”. Everyone was in a holding pattern, not knowing the budgets, workforce, etc. that each team would have, so no one was asking me for data. I started to look for a new job and hit a snag: a lot of postings ask that the candidate knows how to program in Python, which I don’t. However, my boss was very supportive about training in new skills. Since we had lost our data scientists that used Python, we were already learning it. I just went ahead and did more of that.

    Now we’ve got the bare legal minimum severance package (12 weeks, with the same benefits as when we were employed, but I don’t think it’s “not so bad” when it’s the legal minimum the company could get away with) so I have the time to be picky about jobs. And I can devote more time to learning Python.

    tl;dr version: apart from all that Alison mentioned, you should look into developing new skills if it makes sense for you. Even better if your employer has a formal policy about training and learning new skills.

  35. Ree*

    # 5 – not owned by a cat but a dog, an English Bull Terrier(commonly know as a bull terrier, like the Target dog) but if you know that breed, you know they are allllll about their humans, haha!
    In our office, we have a bed for her, toys that are only “office toys” and generally she’s really good and quiet about 95% of the time. She’s not very different than a human in that by Friday around noon, as I like to say. “The wheels are coming off” which means she is tired of being in the office and “working” she’d rather play and jump and make noise. She’ll come put her front paws in my lap and “help” me work, she’ll bounce around the room, if you kick her out of the office she’ll come back demanding snacks and playtime – basically every human waiting for the Friday bell to ring!
    So Monday through Friday at noon-ish she’s GREAT. And then she’s a pest.
    A few times the wheels have come off Thursday afternoon and it’s like, same girl, same.
    I honestly hate the idea of having to work in a traditional office again and not have her be my office cubemate, she’s great company and it’s nice having a few consistent breaks during the day for sort walks, playing with a stuffed animal or giving a belly rub or ten.

    1. Tuckerman*

      I used to work one day a week from home and my pit bull was the exact same way. Well-behaved 95% of the time but a nut the other 5%! Instead of taking an hour break for lunch, I often did 15 minutes mid morning and mid afternoon, and then a half hour at lunch. That way I could wear him out throughout the day. I also worked from the porch with him for some extra fresh air. When all else failed, he went into a crate in the bedroom.

    2. Arya Snark*

      My dog is mostly fine until it’s time for our mid-day outing. Deliveries always seem to come (and they come often thanks to my Amazon Prime habit) when I’m on a call and sets him off into a barking/growling frenzy.

  36. Mrs. Psmith*

    I am loving all of these posts describing work-from-home cat nests (and dogs!). Alison, maybe you can run a post with reader submitted photos of all these adorable set-ups, because I’m dying to see what other people have done.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        Oh boy, I’m going to blow up your inbox. I have my cat and dog, AND a litter of foster puppies right now. It’s madness.

  37. bopper*

    re: google mail
    Ask your boss to cc: his work mail when he emails you from gmail and then you can just reply all

  38. Bow Ties Are Cool*

    I just let my cats stay in my lap. Of course, I have one who likes to climb me and assume the role of scarf, so if we ever go to teleconferencing I’m going to have some ‘splaining to do…

  39. KimD*

    #5 I have the same issue as OP when I work from home. I have found that putting a towel or cat bed down adjacent to the computer works wonders. Both my adult rescue and my 6mo kitten respond well to having a spot made for them and use it. As long as your work area has a spot for a cat bed or folded towel (mine love folded towels) you can try that!

  40. Adlib*

    I was on a call once and my cat decided to jump on my back, claws out. I tried not to yell into the phone, but I did a little bit. My coworker was pretty understanding.

    Otherwise, they sleep all day. Around 2 PM or so, one of them (we have 2) will come in and want to lay on my lap which is fine. Sometimes they do it almost at the same time, and one loses out because I only have one lap. Then around 3-4 PM, they get obnoxious because they know it’s almost food time. Now that we have two desks in our work from home space, one of them spends the day in the chair not being used.

    Anyway, all these other posts are great suggestions! I hope your kitty gets used to the setup and hopefully can be a little more peaceful when you’re at home.

    1. Adlib*

      Oh, they love to lie on our clothes! If you have a soft fleece jacket or some dirty laundry, that can be a good way to get them to lie down. They love stuff that smells like us whether it’s on the floor or the bed, they seem to always make that their sleeping spot.

  41. Old Jules*

    #5 The same deal as kids. If they can’t behave while I work from home, I need to think of alternative solution so there are minimal interruptions. Mostly because I am hyper conscious of people thinking that employees working from home aren’t producing as much productivity. Hence the insistence of employees needing to be on site.

  42. Kelly L.*

    Oh, man, I have a Bob too. No great advice, just…grrr.

    Bob: *emails from hotmail*

  43. Teapot librarian*

    #1 — this isn’t what you asked, but if your company has lay-offs every two years like clockwork, you’re going to have at least a month of anxiety every two years that you stay there. I’d think about if that’s how you want to spend your professional life, and try to look for a new job, whatever the outcome of this year’s layoffs.

    1. Natalie*

      And if you do stay there, or if this is common in your industry, assume it will happen and plan/save for it to whatever extent you can.

    2. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      Yeah, that’s my thought. I don’t want to deal with that sort of thing. If the company can’t manage its workforce adequately, that’s not my problem. I’d much prefer to find a new job that doesn’t do layoffs like clockwork.

  44. Lucy*

    Re: having pets while you WFH… one thing I have set up is like some commenters mentioned, have their favorite bed in the office, in a spot they will like. My dog loves to look out the window, so I set her up a small bed on a chair next to the window. I also schedule her a dog walker (I use Wag) during the middle of the day on those days so that she gets out a little bit and I don’t have to worry about it.

    1. KR*

      This! My dog is so happy if I take his bed and move it to where I am so he can sit with me. Same with clearing a spot on the table for my cat to loaf. Otherwise she’s all over me and attacking my pens.

  45. Ashie*

    #5, the animal shelter I used to work at not only had a couple of cats who lived in the offices permanently, it
    was very common to stick an animal that needed extra attention in someone’s office. So I was constantly surrounded by pets. I found that setting a cat bed next to my keyboard kept the pets out of the way, and keeping chairs covered with a towel helped keep them relatively fur-free for visitors.

  46. EmilyG*

    A while back, I was visiting my retired dad and he needed to go to Staples for a legal-size letter tray. We spent a while with a staff member helping us get a legal-size one down from a high shelf, and me wondering what this was for, before he mentioned that his cat had outgrown letter-size.

    My first-round Skype interview for my current job was interrupted by my cat. I knew if I locked her in the bedroom, she’d protest audibly, and she was totally asleep, so I just left her on the sofa as I started the video call. Of course she then woke up and I was trying to answer interview questions while pushing her nose away off camera. Then she jumped over my arm and stuck her face in the camera. Apparently the interview panel had me on a 60″ TV so here was this Godzilla-size cat. But Alison was right, I was able to send a wry apology in my thank-you note and it was humanizing and not a problem. When she passed away recently, they all remembered her.

  47. stitchinthyme*

    LW2: I know this wasn’t your question, but before you move to be with your boyfriend, make damn sure you like the place he lives. Many years ago, I also moved about two hours away to be with a boyfriend, because after doing the long-distance thing for a year, he said he couldn’t deal with it anymore and we either needed to be closer together or end things. (For background: I was still in college — undergrad — when we started dating, and he was in grad school. Since I didn’t have a car, it was mostly him driving up to see me, so it was understandable that he was getting tired of doing that all the time.) The ultimatum was given when I graduated college; since he still had a year or two of grad school left, he couldn’t feasibly move, while I didn’t have any constraints, so it just made sense that I would be the one to move. So I did…and I absolutely hated it there. I ended up resenting him for making me move there (even though I knew it had ultimately been my own choice), and as soon as our apartment lease was up a year later, I broke up with him and moved back to my home area.

    1. Bea*

      This is the exact opposite of my experience. I lived in a cruddy little place for over a year before we moved again. It meant a crappy commute for work among other things. I never resented it though.

      However my choice was 100% my own and my automatic response was to uproot as soon as he got a job in Cruddy Little Hole.

      Any time another person demands something of you, it can breed resentment and explode in your face. I caution anyone in a relationship from doing big life changing moves solely because the other person told you “do this or we’re over.”

  48. Landshark*

    OP5, I’ve had good luck making a “cat spot” near my workspace for my cats to sit and sleep on that is more attractive than my computer (mine is a cat bed by a sunny window), but it’s definitely not 100% effective. Otherwise, it’s all about reinforcing when kitty is good and calm and discouraging their mischief, but cats are cats, so it will definitely have some growing pains, haha.

  49. Camellia*

    #2 You are only two hours away. Before trying to move there, see if your boss will let you switch up your work locations, like this:

    Work there for two or three days a week, then at your current location the other days. So drive to your boyfriend’s city on Friday night or Saturday morning, work there Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, then drive home Wednesday night (or, heck, Thursday morning if you are a morning person), and work at your current office on Thursday and Friday. We have several people at my office that do this pattern.

    Or work at New City for one week then back to Original City for one week.

    Or do the swap per month.

    Whatever might give you a good feel for the new city, the telecommute, and living with your SO for significant lengths of time.

  50. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I am curious now about whether any readers who aren’t cat people and have always thought of them as aloof (as seems to be a common belief among people who haven’t spent time around cats) are surprised/intrigued by these discussions of aggressively affectionate cats?

    1. Camellia*

      I am a cat person, so, not surprised. I do wonder why my other comment is in moderation; I keep re-reading it and can’t for the life of me figure out what would trigger the “trap”.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Oddly, one of the reasons I’m not a cat person is because I know that cats demand affection on their schedule and can get kind of pushy when they want it. I’ve cat-sat before. I spent one memorable week getting awakened every morning at 5am by claws pulling my hair out of its ponytail.

      I have a whiny, needy dog. I love my dog. LOVE HIM. Around most people, he is a sweet, calm, chill buddy who just wants rubs. Around us? He’s a whiny baby who demands his “stuff” (treats, toys, food) on the regular but will only snuggle when he wants to. So I kinda get it.

    3. Porygon-Z*

      I’m mostly surprised there’s so many aggressively affectionate cats. I knew some existed but the number represented here surprises me. I never had a cat and got scratched a lot by them as a kid because I don’t speak cat body language well, so I’m still sort of afraid of them despite also liking them. My experience with many cats is that they’re unpredictable and apt to scratch or bite. I love nice cats because they help me work to conquer my fear. I need to find more of them that are like the AAM commentariat’s cats, apparently!

      1. Landshark*

        One of my cats gets so adamant about cuddling that she’s learned to maneuver idle arms with her head and paws so that she ends up between your arm and your torso in a little half hug. It’s adorably forceful…

        Anyway, I think some of it also comes down to cats in private. If you haven’t had a cat, chances are the cats you met, even the ones that didn’t scratch you, were putting on their aloof, ‘other human’ face. Even the one who will force cuddles is far less aggressivemy friendly with strangers and friends; she just sits by a leg and offers her head for pets. Her brother is outright anxious around people and may swat if he feels threatened. But home alone? She forces hugs and he meows in your face and drops toys at your feet. Cats seem to be more conscious of an audience than dogs are… (Though that is one thing that does endear me to dogs)

    4. bluelyon*

      I am surprised … but my impression of cats leans more towards them being unfriendly versus aloof.
      However, I cannot stand cats so maybe they know that the way dogs do and just have no use for me, leading to the unfriendliness I’ve always noted.

      1. Myrin*

        That’s so interesting! If I may, what’s “unfriendly” regarding an animal? Do you mean like attacking you? (I’m wondering because I know of many different animals whose “yay, play!” actions look like “wow, piss off!” on the surface, so I’m wondering if that’s what you mean?)

        1. fposte*

          I’m a cat lover now, but I was really spooked as a little kid by a cat with the common overstimulated-by-petting response of getting bitey. I think that’s on the extreme end but it’s pretty uncommon for people uncomfortable with cats to find it hard to guess what they’ll do and why, which is nerve-racking. That’s why I love animal behavior science–it puts an understandable framework on actions that don’t immediately make sense to our species.

        2. bluelyon*

          It’s more of the – look at group of humans in a room, immediately react poorly to them being there (which to be fair – visiting someone’s house I’m invading the cat’s space), scratching, nipping, or spraying at the humans. Not attacking just making clear that you’re unwelcome in what they view as their territory. That seems different to me than looking around deciding that no one is worth your attention and leaving, which is how I read aloof in animals.

          Perhaps I only ever knew cats who had owners with larger scale problems in cat ownership as a child and teen which cemented my experiences as universally bad.

          Being nervous about the large two legged creature coming into your space is legit – no question about it. On the one hand I get observing and seeing if someone is safe – dogs and other animals do it too – on the other hand, I’ll stick with the animal that doesn’t make me guess whether it’s going to cuddle or scratch because I get enough of that from humans.

          This is suddenly a novel! It’s one of those things that is hard to explain so hopefully the thoughts came through clear -if not I can try to clarify.

          1. Myrin*

            Oh no, I understood what you meant perfectly! Thanks so much for taking the time to explain!
            I really like cats, always have even though I was already 22 when we got our first (and so far only, although neighbour!cat basically lives with us most of the time), but I seem to also always have known comparatively calm and predictable specimens compared to what you describe – I can totally understand you’d be wary of suddenly getting sprayed randomly!

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        A lot of cats are afraid of (or at least nervous/shy around) people they don’t know, which might be what’s reading as unfriendly to you. I think, too, that sometimes if someone is more used to dogs, they will interpret cats’ behavior through the lens they’d use for a dog. So when a cat isn’t immediately affectionate/hanging around you, it’ll read as “unfriendly” — because you’re using Dog Language to read them. But in Cat Language, that just means they don’t know you yet and are waiting to see if you’re safe.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          I’m definitely a cat person but I love friendly, sweet, non-threatening dogs that belong to other humans. Cats get a reputation for being unfriendly but I’ve known plenty of dogs who have no eyes for any other humans but their own. They will follow around their human and come when he or she calls but completely ignores other humans. So dogs have that trait too, just maybe not as commonly as cats do?

          1. fposte*

            I think there’s a bit of “how dog people view cats” and “how cat people view dogs” that can oversimplify on both sides.

    5. Us, Too*

      My husband is a cat person so the cats were part of the marital bargain. I don’t hate cats, but I’m allergic to them and indifferent to their presumed charms. My own observations about cats are that most cats are of the “pay attention to me when I want it” camp. The only difference is how often and under what circumstances the cat wants attention. Also, most cats seems to demand attention at inopportune times like when you are trying to read or watch something (tv, newspaper). And if you offer attention at a time they don’t want it, they’re generally going to be irritable off about it, as opposed to most dogs who are good with attention any time they can get it. I think the reason I am not a cat person is that I don’t like the “on my terms” aspect of cats’ demands for attention. (I get enough of that with the humans in my life.)

      1. Stormy*

        That is exactly why I like cats! Dogs are eager and tryhard, like the sitcom geek who frantically raises his hand for every question in class.

    6. Natalie*

      I grew up with a series of cats, but they all happened to be the aloof type. So my now-husband’s cat was a bit of a surprise, as she likes to headbutt as well as obnoxiously push her neck into one’s hand if she feels you aren’t petting her correctly or with enough force.

    7. Havarti*

      We were always dog people. My parents hated cats because they jump on everything, are aloof, and glare at you with their evil eyes. Not to mention where they grew up, cats weren’t considered pets. They were for pest control. My mom would tell me stories about stray cats fighting at night on the roof of her childhood home and her father having to scare them away.

      Last year an apparent stray cat decided he now lived under our rosebush so I started feeding him and he would try to enter our house. My family was all “You can feed him but we are not letting this cat into our house. We don’t like cats.” Our neighbor didn’t like him either so I said we would make him an indoor cat before winter because I was worried they’d call the county to come get him. Once I told my family the cat was in danger, suddenly they were on board with bringing him inside. He’s so easy-going and sweet, my family has been converted. They marvel at how affectionate he is. He loves being around people, getting petted and brushed and laying in laps. We love our new baby boy very much. :)

    8. Chylleh*

      This is so funny. Last night I was sitting on a giant bean bag chair, and my partner piled into it next to me, and then our cat smooshed herself into him on his other side. Prior to adopting her, he wasn’t much of a cat person but our cat adores him, and he adores her.

      He said, “If you had told me our cat would do this before we got her, I never would have believed it. She’s curled into me with her paws on my hand. That’s more like a dog.” I had to tell him, “You just haven’t had enough cats in your life.”

    9. Triangle Pose*

      I have spent time around cats and still think of them as aloof, especially when compared to dogs. Overall, affectionate dogs are just way more affectionate than even the most agressively affectionate of cats.

    10. Fuzzy pickles*

      My grandma and her cat stayed with us for two years when I was a tween. He was quiet and very aloof. I wasn’t impressed but neither did I really dislike him. He loved our dog… taught him to purr. :D

      So when I married into cats, imagine my surprise at the loud, tripping, needy beasties that must consume things they shouldn’t and throw it up. And scratch not the cat scratcher only when I haven’t bent to their will fast enough.

      My cats are total butt holes. I’m a dog person. But, I still love those cats… because, well, pets, you know?

    11. krysb*

      I have three dogs, but I am a total cat person. I am not, however, a litterbox person, so I don’t have a cat.

      1. Stormy*

        I have taught cats to use a toilet. It’s doable on your own, but pet stores also sell training kits. You just need a spare bathroom so you can leave the seat up all the time.

        Caveat: not recommended for elderly cats, cats with poor vision, or cats with mobility problems.

    12. Someone else*

      I am very not a cat person and my cat-owning friends have always told me their cats are drawn to me because the cats can tell I don’t want them to come near me. Because of this I don’t think of cats so much aloof as jerks who like to mess with people. Since this sounds like a lot of cats are super affectionate anyway, it makes me wonder if on some of these occasions it were actually my friends who were the jerks messing with me, not their cats.

    13. Pebbles*

      I have had two types of cats: the first (Peanut) was the very affectionate kind who when I went to meet her crawled into my dad’s lap, curled up, and immediately started purring/sleeping. She would crawl under my bed covers at night and sleep in the crook of my arm purring. If any visitors came over for more than 10 minutes she’d crawl into their lap and start purring.

      The second (Hazel) is the mostly standoffish kind until she wants attention and hates anyone not deemed “her people”. When my husband and I went to meet her, she wouldn’t come out of the carrier until she ran under the bed. We adopted her anyway and now she sleeps on my feet at night. My older brother took care of her for two weeks for me, living at my place during that time because it was easier, and it took until the 2nd week before she’d be in the same room as him. She still hates my younger brother and won’t go near him. She will scratch and bite almost anyone, but seems to love my husband the most and won’t hurt him.

    14. oranges & lemons*

      I am a cat person and have owned cats, and I’m a little surprised by how many readers have affectionate cats! Maybe I’m biased by the fact that my cats weren’t particularly friendly. They were both very contrary in the sense that they seemed to be able to tell when I was busy and always needed attention at that moment, but weren’t interested in hanging out otherwise.

    15. GirlwithaPearl*

      As a cat-hater (i mean that literally), I skip over all cat content on AAM (and elsewhere, which means a significant chunk of the internet is off limits to me)!

      Even responding to this grossed me out.

  51. Umvue*

    Re: OP#1, Allison, it seems to me that this letter is a good example of a downside of periodic layoffs — the best thing for this employee to do, IMO, is start a job-search. If she’s someone the company wants to retain, that’s probably a bad outcome for them, and the more desirable she is as an employee, the better her odds are of getting a better offer somewhere else. So it seems like establishing a pattern of doing this is a great way to chase all your good employees away and be stuck with the mediocre ones. Do you have a sense of whether this tradeoff is worth it in general for companies? If it depends on other factors (and I’m sure it does), what does it depend on, and how?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I agree with you. I’ve never worked closely with any company that operates that way so I can’t speak to how they look at it, but I’ve worked with organizations that have had to do occasional layoffs and there’s always been an understanding that even with a single layoff, one of the biggest risks is that it will make it hard to retain your best employees, who will understandably be spooked and think about leaving too.

      Some employers, though, do consider anyone below a certain level expendable, no matter how strong they are, and so if their layoffs generally only touch those levels, that might be why it feels workable to them.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        You’ve seen me talk about “Harum Scarum” layoffs – done to scare the hell out of those left behind.

        And – AAM has seen the light here – a layoff has an aftermath – there’s usually what is called the “aftershock” — “OK, I’ve survived this round. I may not survive the next, no matter how good I am. I’m outa here.”

        One of the joke moves, behind any layoff – is the managers call the survivors together for a “there, there, it’s all over, the blue meanies have gone, there is not another shoe to drop, you can all relax now.”

        Do they expect anyone with half a brain to BELIEVE that?

    2. stitchinthyme*

      Having worked for several companies that had periodic layoffs, I can say that it sucks. A lot. The last one of those I worked at (a well-known ISP originally, which made a couple of spectacularly bad mergers and acquisitions and is now owned by another company and limping along as a web portal) got so desperate to avoid leaks about upcoming layoffs, and therefore losing good people they weren’t necessarily planning to let go, that they had a layoff where all the decisions about whom to cut were made at the VP level or above — in other words, the people who decided who got laid off had zero clue what any of the affected employees actually did. End result: some critical people had to be hired back on or brought in as contractors. After that, people started jumping ship left and right — including me.

      It’s totally disheartening to go to work every day and wonder if you’re the one who’s gonna get the axe this time. Even though it never actually happened to me, it’s almost as hard to be one of the ones who didn’t get laid off, because of survivor guilt, and wondering when (not if) the time will come when you won’t dodge the bullet. I hope never to work for a company like that again.

    3. JM in England*

      I have noticed that, at least in my industry anyway, it always tends to be the biggest companies that have periodic mass layoffs. When I temped at one such company, one of my then-coworkers had been there over 25 years. During that time, he had to reapply for is own job no fewer than 5 times!

    4. Lora*

      It is indeed a great way to do exactly that. Then they have another takeover / merger to supposedly offset the effects, but they have to have layoffs to afford the new people, who they lay off in stages after they feel they’ve extracted whatever intellectual property they can. Lather, rinse, repeat.

      Just ask Pfizer, Merck and GSK…although the Pfizer layoffs affected everyone up to and including the CEOs, so don’t ask me how they reckon it’s feasible. It’s mostly not. They retain people now by means of golden handcuffs: they pay well above average for the industry, so leaving means leaving a fat compensation package you’re unlikely to do better than anywhere else. However, there’s really an upper limit to most people’s tolerance for stress and most eventually reckon that there’s no paycheck worth your mental health, so you make your money and get out.

      The trade off is, those companies also have deep pockets for things like professional development and travel policies and capital expenditures: you’ll go from the very fanciest lab with all the new toys and traveling business class overseas to conferences, to “you’re allowed one domestic conference per year, flying coach, staying at the Holiday Inn,” and all your lab equipment comes from eBay and is held together with duck tape and prayer. And that wears on you too.

      I know a lot of people who have gotten out of the industry altogether, honestly.

  52. Mb13*

    When my cats see me working they decide it’s time to leave little cat butt print on all my papers. Putting a shoe box at the edge of the desk really helped me (especially if it’s under a desk light). My cats would just sleep in the box and not bother me as I work, and I get to see them making little cute sleepy faces.

  53. Bea*

    I worked with two office cats for two years, they were both half wild and made their own rules. Thankfully I only had two instances that I was ambushed and had to apologise for squealing while on the phone with someone.

    It will depend on the cat but I would try ignoring her to give the impression that it’s not playtime when you’re indeed not able to hold or cuddle her.

    I was lucky, I can cradle a cat and work. One would often just sleep on the back of my chair most if the day.

  54. heatherskib*

    We have compromised positions… If she can’t lay on my keyboard, shell snuggle up in baby rocking position on my arm with my arm supported by the chair’s arm rest. I’ve gotten very good at one handed typing. If I definitely need both hands, say writing a term paper., she will rest her front paws on my leg and crouch on the seat next to me.

  55. Greengirl*

    Cat question! Jackson Galaxy once dealt with this on an episode. There was a very energetic cat who was disruptive to his owner who was on the phone from home for work. They gave the man a cat toy (feather on a wand stick) that he would use to play with the cat during phone calls. So it would tucker the cat out, keep the cat from meowing during calls, and was something he could do while still working.

    For dealing with keyboard issues, I second creating an attractive space for the cat. We have a second chair in my husband’s office for the cat that we put near a window for him so he stops stealing my husband’s chair.

  56. starsaphire*

    I’ve finally figured out what it is exactly that I love so much about this blog.

    We have five questions up here, and 80% of the answers are “how to make the kitty happy.”

    I seem to have found my spiritual home on the Internet. <3

  57. Alanna*

    Cats – roll with it! In my house I have 2 cats and a dog, and half a dozen each rats and guinea pigs who live in my office (they’re not really visible on calls). One cat is sometimes very insistent on being part of calls, the other is a rare sight. I try to shut my door before important calls and that’s usually enough for the talkative cat, but if I forget or she pops in, sometimes i’ll just joke “oh, Zoe wants to give an update” or pick her up and say “Zoe says hi!” and put her down and shoo her away. This totally depends on your job, but people know I work from home (our whole company does), they know people have pets, and it’s better to acknowledge it than to just pretend that meowing isn’t happening.

    They all have places in the house to hang out, and a bed in my office by the window and heater, but Zoe just likes to talk to people.

  58. Higher Ed Database Dork*

    Re: #5, when I worked from home, I would sit on the couch (may not be feasible for you depending on your comfort and the couch) but that worked nicely to allow my cat to sit right next to me. Basically what everyone else has been saying – create a little nest next to you (I used a blanket), and they will typically snuggle in the nest. My cat is an insistent lap cat, so she would still sort of lay halfway on me, but at least she wasn’t on the keyboard.

    If anyone has dogs – my one piece of advice is make sure they go out to the bathroom before a call. My dogs always seemed to pick the exact moment I got on a phone conference to start wailing and pawing me about going out.

  59. stitchinthyme*

    I don’t get to work from home, but my husband does, and when the cats got annoying he put a cat tree next to his desk. Now they can sit near him while he works and look out the window.

  60. Romu*

    OP #5, I work from home often and have a cuddlebug cat who wants to be as close to your face as possible at all time. When I first started working from home a few days a week he’d be really insistent on trying to be on my chest so he could stare into my face but I’d pick him up and pop him on the floor whenever he tried to sit on me and after a while he did get the point and started sleeping nearby instead of trying to be on me or the computer. He still tries sometimes but it’s pretty rare. Even stubborn cats will learn if you repeat the process enough.

    The other issue you might run into is if you have a talkative cat. My cat thinks when I answer the phone or skype call that is his invitation to talk to me or the new voice coming from the computer (he meowed at my boss once and she thought I had a mysterious baby who was crying that I had told no one about for a second before I explained it was just the cat). One solution is that most the time if I expect a call I’ll put him in another room and hope he doesn’t bang on the door and yowl but if I know it’s a really important call I’ll put him in his cat carrier and put that in the living room while I take the call in the farthest room I can find. It helps if you leave the cat carrier out all the time so they think of it more as a bed/thing they just go in sometimes rather than the scary box that takes them to the vet. He just lays in it with out much fuss until he’s let out.

  61. Tobias Funke*

    OP5, I was on a video conference call the other day and one of my colleagues had her large dog just appear in the frame. It was excellent and we all appreciated it. She apologized but we all assured her he was a welcome addition!

    1. Landshark*

      I once had a Skype call with a professor and a classmate for my Master’s (I take courses online) and forgot to secure the cats. Halfway through, I got hijacked by a cat leaping onto my keyboard and popping into frame. It went about the same way once I got her to stop taking up most of the frame.

  62. Angela Z*

    My cat wouldn’t leave me alone while I was job searching, so I finally pulled up ‘videos for cats’ on Youtube, played it on my tablet, and set it up on the floor. She watched it for 30 minutes!

  63. Kris*

    Recipe to work with cats

    1 empty cardboard box
    1 blanket
    1 plastic bottle

    1 – Warm up water and pour on the bottle
    2 – Put the bottle inside the box
    3 – Cover with the blanket
    4 – Place it at your feet or on your desk – Look for a place where it gets warm during the day


  64. Catleesii*

    #5 – I keep a pet bed by my desk so Lancelot can be near me, but not on me. If he jumps up, I just set him back down on his bed. I also play with him a bit in the morning before I get “settled”, so to speak. He’s more likely to chill when I give him a bit of attention first. The other two never bother me, so I think it just depends on the animal and whether you regularly give them attention when you’re in the office/desk/on the computer.

  65. MindoverMoneyChick*

    #1 – This may sound like strange advice but if you have debt like credit cards where you are paying more than the minimum, stop doing that now while you wait to see about the layoff. Just pay the minimum and save the rest in an emergency fund. Normally I never tell people to pay the minimum, but this is the one time where it makes sense. You want to be able to pay all your bills and not miss any payments during the time you are unemployed (if that happens). I’ve had clients who knew a layoff was coming use this successfully in the past.

    The reason for this is credit card and credit score companies don’t give you credit for paying ahead now, if you miss payments later. So this will help preserve your credit score. Now if you have a healthy emergency fund (say 6 months) you can ignore this advice. And if you only spend what you can pay in full every month also ignore this. It’s only for on-going debt payments

  66. The Other Dawn*


    I struggle with this, too, as I have 11 cats. Thankfully most of them no longer bother me when I’m on the computer, but the kittens (actually, teenagers at this point) love to sit right in front of the monitor and chase the cursor. They are highly interested in it, even when it’s not moving. I haven’t yet solved this one, but luckily I’m not my desk all that often anymore. Usually I just put them down or force them into my lap, which makes them want to jump down, but they still will jump up at some point.

  67. Skeptic-analyst*

    #5 I work full time from home with four cats and a foster kitten. The kitten can get pretty vocal but I’ve had success with putting him in a pet playpen and covering it with a blanket. I also will put them in the bathroom if they are getting too noisy.

    I also have a cat who would not leave me alone when working at home until he got his own place to sit on my desk. Then he slept quietly for the most part!

  68. JackieVanDel*

    #3 — Your boss is being obnoxious. Beyond that, there’s this:

    I’m not sure how sensitive the documents are that he is sending through Gmail, but your boss should be aware that there are serious security issues to be aware of when using personal email accounts to send work documents, even if they are just to himself or to other employees. Personal email addresses are far more likely to suffer from data breaches because of the amount of e-commerce conducted using those addresses. Should his personal email be compromised, the entire company could be in trouble. Last summer an insurance company had to notify 18,000 of their customers that there had been a security breach when a contractor’s email address was later involved in a case of identity theft. That contractor had emailed himself a work document that included customer data: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/31/new-anthem-data-breach-by-contractor-affects-more-than-18000-enrollees.html

    Unfortunately this info is probably worthless to you because you probably don’t have the type of relationship with your boss where you could tell him any of the above.

  69. CarrieT*

    #3 — It is not a bizarre and unreasonable request that he does not want you to email his personal gmail account for work-related items. That is a very reasonable request, as in many companies (or government) it’s not okay to conduct work via your personal email. You need to figure out how to accommodate your boss on that one, and it shouldn’t be that hard – just know that you need to double-check the source of scans. The real issue in this question is that your boss does not know how to scan things to his work email, or that scanning to a work email is not permitted by your organization. See if you can help fix that problem.

    1. CarrieT*

      Figure out a way to solve the problem that provides excellent customer service to your boss rather than making things harder for him.

    2. Observer*

      Actually, it’s not all that reasonable. After all, if there is a problem with personal emails why is he sending form his personal email?

      Having said that, I do think that the OP just needs to deal with it. And Allison’s advice is spot on.

  70. Wendy Darling*

    My dog is normally very quiet, but literally every time I am on the phone he decides it’s time to go to the middle of the room, roll around on his back, and make crazy noises. ROWR OWR OWR ROWR. This made for some interesting conference calls until I got a headset that was better about not picking up background noise.

    At first when I started working from home my dog was like, “Oh, you’re here! To play with me! All day!” I just put his bed near where I work and ignored him with a vengeance. After a few days he realized that it is NOT party time if I am at my desk, and now he mostly sleeps in his bed.

    Unless I am on a conference call, in which case he commences rolling.

  71. Blue Clear Sky*

    I have shelties which are known for being vocal dogs. I told my team if they heard the dog bark, it meant we had to fix the bug we were looking at. It actually worked – we were debating this one issue when my dog chimed in and everyone said “Well I guess the dog wants us to fix it, so we have to!” For my cat, he will run across the screen at least once per meeting if the web cam is on – I like to mess with people when they ask “Was that your cat?” I always say “What? I don’t have a cat, what are you talking about?” Then he does it again and they’re like “I KNOW I SAW A CAT THAT TIME!” Makes meetings more fun. :)

  72. Caryn Z.*

    RE: cat, someone may have already said this, but put a box or banker’s box lid on or near your desk. The kitty may sit in it instead of bugging you. Maybe LOL. As unpredictable as they can be, they do love boxes!

  73. Jen*

    I could have written letter 5. One of my two cats is very aggressively affectionate and social, and gets distressed if we’re home and not paying attention to him when he wants attention (just like the LW’s cat; meowing at closed doors, jumping on laps, climbing on keyboards). We’ve yet to find a solution, but I’ll give the “nest” solution a shot next time one of us is working from home.

  74. Kelly*

    LW3: If you have actually figured out a solution to the work email/ scanned documents/ Apple issue, could you email your whole team (including your boss) with instructions on how to fix the issue? Maybe frame it as “I don’t know if other people have experienced issues with this or figured out a work around, but I recently learned that doing XYZ will allow you to send scans on a Mac platform via our work email.” A little knowledge sharing with your coworkers is never a bad idea. Perhaps older versions of the software (before you joined the company) didn’t integrate well with Apple products, and your boss really doesn’t realize that newer versions have resolved the issue or that an alternative solution exists. And, maybe along the way, you are giving the rest of your coworkers a useful tip.

  75. Yes-No-Yes-No*

    If the gmail boss is working for a government agency, wouldn’t that be illegal? Aren’t all government agency emails supposed to be on that agency’s account?

  76. hayling*

    The work samples suggestion is SPOT ON. I was given a month’s notice when I was laid off, and I saved EVERYTHING.

    Make copies of anything you’ve worked on that you’d either want to include as part of a job application, or use at your next job. Documentation, writing samples, flowcharts, finished products, etc. Heck, I even took screenshots of some of the workflows I set up in the software I use.

    It’s all come in handy! At oldjob I wrote tons of documentation (for myself and my team), and I’m so glad I saved it because a lot of it’s been helpful at currentjob. A flowchart I created was useful to present in currentjob’s interview challenge, and I actually just referenced it the other day during a meeting. All those screenshots were great when I started newjob and had to reorg and optimize the software.

  77. Kelsi*

    To #4: Depending on the size of the organization and where they get their funding, you might not have to say anything beyond that you’ve been a supporter for many years. I work at a midsize nonprofit that gets more funding from grants/government than donations (though still plenty of donations), so YMMV, but if we had a job applicant mention they’d supported us for many years a) I’m sure one of us would pull them up in the donor/prospective donor database to see if we knew any more info about them already, and b) if they were a regular donor over a long period, even of a relatively small amount, it’s likely our main development person would know their name already.

    Then again, if it’s an org with a very large donor base, or an org large enough that hiring managers can’t just stroll across the office and casually check in with the Development dept. folks about whether they know somebody, it may not work out.

  78. kethryvis*

    Re: cats and working from home

    I think it depends on your workplace… my workplace is pretty flexible, and my cat is kind of a known quantity at this point. When I have meetings, he thinks I’m talking to him and he just shows up. As long as it doesn’t interfere with the meeting, it seems to be fine. I do get comments and compliments (because he IS a handsome boy), and sometimes questions of where he is if he’s not around :)

    When i DO need to get work done, i try to keep a toy or two handy that can distract him if he’s being naughty. i also have a couple of automated toys that i can turn on and leave on for him for a bit that will wear him out, and i try to save those for those times. Like other commenters, i also put a comfy towel on part of my desk so he has a place to lay and be near me which is what he wants 90% of the time. (my other problem is: i’m a hockey fan and i have a stack of signed pucks on my desk. My cat also LOVES pucks. So he’ll go over to my stack, start rubbing on it, and knock them all over. Now he has his OWN puck that i distract him with when he starts wanting to slobber on the nice pucks)

  79. JM in England*

    Re #1

    A bit late to the party here, so apologies to anyone who’s already posted something similar to this.

    About half of my working life to date has been spent on contract jobs, either fixed-term or with potential for extension. As a result, I have developed a mindset of always assuming worst-case scenario until I was told otherwise and starting my job search early, typically about mid way through the contract.

    At one such contract job, there was a possibility of extension but the company remained very cagey and vague about whether said extension would happen. Therefore, I assumed worst-case as described above. I was offered another job about two months before this contract was due to end and on the day I handed in my notice, got a letter from the company stating that the contract would be extended.

    Oh the irony!

    However, this was a bullet dodged because about six months after I left this job, there were mass layoffs at the site I worked on and the contractors would, of course, have been the first to go!

  80. Not So NewReader*

    For OP 3. Having worked with technology challenged people, I have seen some strange stuff. “Let’s do something in 27 steps because I don’t understand the 3 step process that exists to do the same thing.”

    And your setting here sounds like more of this.

    Instead of trying to remember to check his email address, why not just make it your habit to hit the forward button instead of the reply button?
    I would consider this a good temporary solution. (And I have used it for problems like this. That way I knew I had the correct address.)
    I would also look at the situation as here is a person who is too embarrassed to admit that he does not understand how to do this scan/email thing on his work account.
    Do you have a tech department who could remote in and help him with the process somehow? If yes, in the future you could suggest this idea to him. Perhaps there is something actually amiss there and he does need to bump it up a level to tech involvement.
    My other suggestion is to keep scanning documents yourself and just wait for him to ask how you are able to do that. You are saying you are fairly new to the job. Once you have been there a bit longer he might actually break down and ask you to help.

    Two stories:
    I have a GREAT boss. When I first started working there she had a computer problem. Let’s call it problem X. She fretted and worried. I said, “I’ll call tech.” No, she was going to work it out herself. Weeks turned into months. Finally I said, “Do you want me to help you with that?” NO. I asked once a week for five weeks. On the sixth week, out-of- the-blue she exclaimed, “NSNR, get over here and fix X!” (That sounds awful but you had to hear her tone of voice. I was giggling.)
    I fixed it and my boss wanted to get me a steak dinner. We autopsied the problem and we agreed not to wait so long to ask for help. (I was waiting too long, sometimes, myself.)
    The story landed very well and now we lean on each other to work through tech problems.
    This is an example of just patiently waiting for the boss to agree to accept an offer of help.

    My second story is about an actual tech problem. I had to scan an inventory to my computer and send it to the tech department in order to get a new printer. Wrinkle: My printer would not scan to the computer. Tech remoted in and they could not fix it. It was HARD to explain to them that I could not scan the inventory BECAUSE I needed the new printer. They kept saying, “We cannot send a new printer until you scan the inventory and send it to us.”
    I tried faxing it. They could not find their fax machine. I faxed it 4 times. As the saying goes, the fifth time was a charm. You may not be looking at a problem with the boss, he may have tried to get help and hit a brick wall like I did.

    Finally, I am not seeing anything fishy here. I don’t see how he could be doing some skulduggery. He is directing you to use his company email. Probably emails are archived? So he makes sure that your answer is legitimately archived and you are using company email so you don’t get into trouble for using private emails. Meanwhile, he is the one bearing the risk of using his personal email. I think anyone pouring over the archive would see that he routinely scanned to his personal email and from there forward all replies were in the company system. To me, this would indicate a problem with scanning to company email. Especially if all other emails with NO scans came from his company email.
    Hit forward instead of reply.
    And say things like, “I’d be happy to help you with that at some point. I bet it’s a pain to have to keep opening your personal email to send a scan.”

  81. Granny K*

    Regarding being laid off (if you’ve read this far), this is from someone who’s been laid off more than once. Start a list of what to do At Work if you get laid off (turn in your badge, company credit cards, pack personal electronic items, make note of 401k account.) Check your bank account and figure out how many months you can not have a job..this may be a good time to take some time off and go visit relatives, etc. before starting your search. Dust off your resume. Drop hints to your friends VERBALLY (not on social media) that you may be looking for a job soon and see if their company is hiring. Clean out your closet and see what fits, what doesn’t (interview outfits, etc.). Remember to breathe. Get some referrals from this job. Update your employer history list (address, phone, time you worked there, salary) in case future jobs require a background check. Update your LinkedIn page.

  82. KarenHammond*

    Well, it’s not strictly the same as the OP’s letter, but I recently changed from a graveyard shift (11:30p to 8am) to an evening shift (3:30p to midnight). For the first week or two, my cats were pretty weirded out by my being home in the middle of the night. They’ve always been mid-night pests, so they’re not allowed to sleep with me, but even so, me being home those early days began the Siamese Cat Midnight Choir™.

    Even though it disturbed my sleep, I just ignored them and when I had to, I put in ear plugs. Once the realized I wasn’t going to respond, even to the Feline Hallelujah Chorus, they gave up and now they only get loud if I sleep past 9am and delay their breakfast.

    The OP should designate a room for work for herself–if her cat sleeps with her, I recommend it NOT be the bedroom. Close the door and work. if she has to, ear plugs when the yowling is particularly obnoxious. Once kitty is finally convinced that you go into that room and transporter yourself outside the house and thus no longer hear her, she’ll stop and go back to her normal daytime routine.

    You DO have to be ruthless and you have to be more determined than your cat.

    Best of luck!!

  83. Beth*

    #5: As a grad student in the humanities, I spent a huge chunk of my ‘work’ time at home (reading, writing, etc.). I also have a very clingy cat, who likes to follow me around and yells for attention when bored. I’ve found that the more it becomes normal for me to be home, the more chill he can be about it; for example, he’ll now sleep next to me, instead of on top of my work. Now that he’s used to my schedule, he doesn’t make nearly as big a fuss about me being home anymore, unless I’ve been gone a lot more than usual lately.

    Also, making sure he gets enough playtime can make a big difference! When he gets really obnoxious, if I can, I take a 15 minute break and spend some time with him and a toy; that usually buys me a couple hours of quiet work time while he naps. If it’s an option for you, setting up a birdfeeder in the backyard can also provide a great cat distraction, as birds and squirrels and other things more interesting than you/your work start visiting.

  84. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #1 – “always look out for #1” = you. If you suspect layoffs are coming, or you’re told they may be – START LOOKING. NOW.

    And if something comes up – give serious thought to taking it. This is a generalization but it’s usually far better to transition from one job to another, and continue working and getting a check, than waiting for the ax to fall, getting a “package” of a couple months pay, and then having to look for a job without having a job.

    Don’t worry about the company you’re leaving. Don’t worry about the people and the work you’re leaving behind. If you have a solid offer – give the standard two week notice (unless the “package” is exorbitant)…. one of three things is gonna happen –

    1) They’ll counteroffer – perhaps promise you that you WON’T be on the layoff list. If they put it in writing, then you might want to consider staying.

    2) They’ll accept your resignation and thank you for it – no unemployment to be paid out.

    3) They’ll be upset. They often are, especially if you’re needed to train your replacements. Too bad.

    A rule I have often followed in my career = “Rats that abandon a sinking ship will likely survive, and live on. Those that choose to stay aboard will sink, and possibly drown.”

  85. BrightLights*

    #5 – It is very normal in my division of a large international company for cats to join meetings, to the extent that I have been in meetings where the presenter paused to say “Oh, and you haven’t seen my calico before, here she is” and I know many of my coworkers’ cats by their name. I have no suggestions other than to try confining your cat to your lap, or putting a heating pad in a box on your desk.

  86. OP 2*

    OP 2 here – thanks for all the thoughts! I am indeed a woman, so those who made assumptions did so correctly. It must come through in the tone. As it turns out, in the (exactly) 1 month since I sent this in my boyfriend and I broke up over the course of the relocating conversations. So unfortunately I have no news about how any of this advice worked out. But it was still helpful – for example I had sort of toyed with the “middle ground” idea suggested by a few and because I hadn’t personally known anyone who did that I didn’t give it much consideration, but it was interesting to hear it suggested and should this ever come up again (here’s hoping not!) it would definitely be something I’d consider.

    To chime in on the gender roles comments – in my experience it seems that the hard opposite to (sexist-ly) assuming women SHOULD be the ones to sacrifice/move/make plans/whatever around their SO is over-cautioning women to absolutely not do anything drastic/life-changing for a relationship. I find this wildly frustrating. If a relationship is important to me it’s a factor in life decisions I make, the end. As a general rule, if the comments/advice aren’t something that holds for all possible gender combinations in a relationship then maybe don’t make that comment (surrounding major decisions/not making sacrifices, at least). Not scolding anyone in particular, just adding my two cents :)

    And last but definitely not least, reading through the cat related comments was the best. When I was growing up my dad worked from home and we had cats but they were pretty paws-off with him, so I don’t have any suggestions that haven’t already been made, but I echo most of them as good advice for general cat interaction. Our family cats now love the cat videos/cat YouTube – so cute.

    Thanks all!

    1. Myrin*

      Oh my, I’m sorry to hear about your breakup, OP, but it’s so nice of you to chime in anyway! All the best for your future!

  87. Remote Worker and Dog Lover*

    For question #5, I’ve been working from home for about 3 years. A few months after starting the job, I got a dog. My dog is really energetic. I figured out a good routine for her during the day that allows me to work mostly uninterrupted. It does involve play time during work hours, but my work allows me to work a pretty flexible schedule. So, taking 10-15 minutes at random intervals throughout the day is not a problem. It also helps me take breaks that I would normally have if I were in a physical office space with in-person coworkers. We also do midday walks, and I always try to give her a puzzle toy or a kong toy in the morning at breakfast.

  88. Jenny*

    OP#3 – Ugh, your boss is being really, really ridiculous. Does he do the same to anyone else, someone who’s more senior or has been there longer and would be in a better position to address it with him?

  89. Relator*

    Re #2

    Glad you provided an update. When I initially read your question, I wanted to share my advice before I even saw your update post:

    OP, we are both similar age and I had a similar situation. My boyfriend at the time was about 2 hours from me and we commuted back and forth each week for more than a year. Winter time was the worst with the snowfall and freezing temps. We both had older cars and had to travel through an hour in this dim forest-like road. After a year, we were both exhausted and it made sense for me to move job-wise, however, I told him I was not going to quit my job and relocate until we were at least engaged. He ended up proposing and I found a new job in a new city.

    Word of advice, never move for a “boyfriend.” Relocating for someone, especially when you have a good, professional, stable job is tricky but it’s also a good test of your relationship to see how much you guys really want to be with each other.

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