our remote staff want the same perks we have at the office, crappy LinkedIn tips, and more

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

1. Our remote staff want the same perks we give in-office staff

I work for a company that has both in-office employees and work-from-home employees. When we plan events in the office such as chair massages and catered lunches, we offer work-from-home employees the opportunity to work in the office and participate in whatever event we are having, though they rarely come in for them.

More often then not, I get a lot of emails from work-from-home staff complaining that we do lots of events for the office staff but we don’t have events that work-from-home staff can do remotely.

I feel that is part of working remotely. I personally can’t come into the office in a tank and knickers, yet they can answer calls in whatever they want to wear at home. That is part of working in the office. They are given the opportunity to come in and work in the office if they want to participate.

When asked, they suggest the company just offer them gift cards to restaurants when we cater lunch and gift cards to massage locations. Do I need to cater to them if they don’t come into the office?


As you point out, they get many benefits from working from home that in-office staff don’t get — but yes, sometimes there might be something going on at the office that they’ll miss out on if they don’t choose to come in for it. This is part of the deal with working from home versus in the office.

I’d say, “It’s true that we sometimes do events at the office, and if you’d like to participate in them, you’re welcome to work from the office during those days. But working from home full-time is a significant benefit that offers a lot of perks that our in-office staff don’t have access to, and our goal isn’t to try to make each set-up perfectly mirror the other.” I’d be tempted to add, “Should we talk about whether you’d prefer to work from the office rather than remotely?” but that would be snarky, so I would repress the urge.

2. Are these LinkedIn tips crap?

I’m an intern at a pretty prestigious laboratory this summer, and today we had a seminar titled “Winning at LinkedIn” where the presenter gave us tips on how to curate our personal brand and become a thought leader in our professions. That’s the exact wording he used. However, I’m not sure how much of his advice relates to what hiring managers actually look for — he highly recommended we use the endorsements feature, which I know you’ve spoken out against in the past. He also told us to post two blog posts each month, share an update on our or our colleagues’ careers each week, and to possibly post a video to make ourselves stand out. He said that all of this was necessary to differentiate ourselves from the other thousands of people in our professions. What do you think about all of this? It feels like a little too much to me, but I’m also just an intern.

Ignore everything he told you, because sadly this advice is so awful that it means none of what he told you can be trusted. Endorsements carry zero weight with hiring managers (you can endorse anyone for anything, whether you’ve ever worked with them or not; it’s a ridiculous feature), very few hiring managers will bother watching videos or reading a bunch of updates on your or your colleagues’ (?!) careers (and even if they did, that’s not what’s going to make you a strong candidate), and blogs rarely make compelling reading when you’re just doing them to be attractive to employers. Your presenter seems to have a profound misunderstanding of what makes a strong candidate.

You stand out by being a highly qualified candidate with a track record of accomplishment and writing a strong cover letter that doesn’t simply regurgitate your resume. No gimmicks involved.

Read an update to this letter here.

3. Should we tell a client their employee has applied for a job with us?

An employee of a client has inquired about a position that is open with us and has interviewed for it, but cannot commit until they resign from their current job. But they have requested that the current employer not be informed about their search and possible move for fear of being terminated immediately before they decide to move or stay or just retire.

Should we inform the client anyway? We want to preserve the privacy of this employee however, as a vendor of this client, do we owe a fiduciary obligation to break a privacy rule with this employee who might lose their job before they make a final decision?

No, you do not have a fiduciary obligation to violate this candidate’s privacy and inform your client, possibly putting the person’s job at risk. And under no circumstances should you put someone’s job at risk that way — that would be an unforgivable breach of trust.

If you decide that you don’t want to risk upsetting the client if they feel you hired away their employee, that’s your prerogative, but in that case, you should let the candidate know that you can’t proceed with them without their employer’s okay — and leave it up to them to decide if that’s something they want to pursue or not.

4. Can I ask interviewers if they value loyalty over competence?

I’m job searching right now, partially because my current employer seems to value loyalty to the point where people who are terribly incompetent in their positions are kept on and encouraged due to their (perceived) loyalty to the company, and I am Over It.

My thought is to ask the following: “As a manager, which do you value more: loyalty, or competence?” However, that doesn’t seem to quite get at the heart of what I want to know. Any thoughts on how to word this?

I wouldn’t ask that, because I don’t think you’re likely to get a truly honest answer — not because interviewers want to lie to you, but because people are really bad at self-assessing this kind of thing. Also, few managers are likely to come out and tell you they value loyalty over competence; you’re more likely to hear that both are important or some other kind of pablum that won’t help you avoid what you want to avoid.

Instead, the way to learn about this thing is do due diligence that I talk about here — especially, if possible, talking to people in your network or in your network’s network who know the inside scoop on the company and manager. That’s much more likely to get you the lowdown.

{ 505 comments… read them below }

  1. OrganizedHRChaos*

    OP#1 here. Thank you for posting my question. Since asking this question on Monday, I have replied to the remote employees who have emailed in something similar to what you stated but I really like the wording you provided and will now make that my standard reply.

    As I mentioned, remote workers are more than welcome to work from the office when we plan company events but they generally don’t and we already have a large sense of entitlement with our employees that it can be quite frustrating when people who already have the perks of working remotely whine about simple things like us catering lunch, chair massages or even today’s mini yoga sessions. Everything has pros and cons.

    1. Close Bracket*

      Are these remote employees, meaning the position was planned to be that way and there is no office space for them and never was, or are these regular employees who are taking advantage of the perk of being able to work from home? I think that is an important distinction. Perks are offered to employees as added incentive is beyond their salaries to build morale and aid in retention. If these are regular employees who are working from home, then they, like their colleagues who choose to work from the office, are picking and choosing from the perks available to them. If these are remote employees who it was never intended that they should work in the office, then I find your thinking to be a little bit small minded. They would have to interrupt their workday and take a very long lunch to come to a catered lunch on site which would then decrease the amount of work they can do and get paid for. That’s not a perk.
      If these are truly remote employees, I think you should re-frame how you think about them. Don’t think about them as people who choose not to come into the office. Think about them as people who is planned worksite from the corporate side was at home and think about how to give them perks that makes sense for them. Otherwise, you are sending a strong message about which employees you want to build morale with and who you want to retain, and you are saying that it is only the people who hold positions that were planned to be in the office. The rest of them should be grateful they get a paycheck and stop complaining (is the subtext).

      1. neverjaunty*

        “We aren’t buying you gift cards in lieu of events” does not have a subtext that the remote workers should be grateful for a paycheck.

        1. Anon for now*

          Also, if the catered lunches are being done in order to encourage attendance at a meeting or team building, then a restaurant gift card would not achieve the same goal. Also, the cost/person of catering given as a gift card would not go far.

          1. TootsNYC*

            also, some of these events are intended to create camaraderie and linkages between people in the office. That also is a goal that wouldn’t be met by a restaurant gift card.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        She’s saying (I think) that they could choose to work from the office that whole day if they wanted to (not that they’d have to take a very long lunch to attend).

        It’s true that there can be benefits in occasionally sending a lunch delivery to remote employees as a random sign of appreciation. But it sounds like they’re clamoring for massage gift cards and restaurant gift certificates, and that’s a different thing. It would also be different if these employees were making a one-time suggestion that the company might consider some of these perks for remote employees (like “hey, would you ever consider X because of Y?”) — but it sounds like they keep complaining about it over and over, which does come across as tone-deaf and entitled.

        1. WorldsWorstHRPerson*

          Regardless of whether or not someone chose to work remotely or was forced to work from home they still get the ultimate perk of saving both tome and money due to not having a regular commute.
          I see the on-site perks as making up for the 5-10 hours perk week of lost personal time and $100+ of gas/transit costs in this situation.

          1. Temperance*

            Yep. I pay ~$150/month for my transit pass. That’s $1,800/year. Not to mention the clothes I need to buy to be in the office that I would never own for personal use, the cost of buying lunch at work, etc.

            1. Ree*

              I did the math a couple years ago on what it cost me to work in my office that was about 25 minutes away – commuting costs(gas, vehicle maintenance etc.) work appropriate clothing, lunch out once a week, coffee two or three times a month and it came to just over $7,000 per year.
              So…I haven’t done the math on that again because I found that kind of depressing.

              1. voyager1*

                I believe it. I have been working from home one day a week, and it saves a lot in gas over time. My commute is 27 miles each way mostly interstate.

              2. Takver*

                Well…if it helps, those expenses aren’t “versus nothing” in the case that you work from home. If you work from home, instead of buying professional clothing, your everyday clothing will suffer more wear and tear, and you will have to replace it more often. If you don’t eat out, you will eat at home, which is cheaper but still part of the grocery bill. Working at home also means you have to keep up with wear and tear on whatever furniture you use while you’re working, whether that’s an office chair and desk, or a couch or bed. Yes, it’s still more expensive to go to work, but working from home wouldn’t suddenly free up $7000 in your budget.

          2. JamieS*

            The issue with that logic is if the WFH is a reward that’s earned the stuff the in office people get negate that. In that case OP is basically saying ‘you have to give up for that day something you earned (WFH) to get something everyone earned (massages and such) or keep what you earned but lose out on something you also earned but won’t get even though others do’.

            1. Candi*

              Except you get to WFH every day, and the massages/other perks are probably once or twice a year.

              1. JamieS*

                I’m thinking it probably happens monthly if not more often. If it only happens once or twice a year it’s doubtful it’d be a blip on OP’s radar. Also, if it is that infrequent I think they should just go ahead and give the gift certificates. No sense having employee unrest just based on principle if the solution isn’t really that outrageous.

                1. CmdrShepard4ever*

                  OP has stated that the perk/benefit is done on a monthly basis.

                  JaimeS to add onto what you said about earning the WFH perk in addition to giving up the perk for the day they might actually end up losing money that day. They can go to the office and get a free $7 sandwich but they have to spend $10/$15 to commute in, in the end they actually end up losing $3 to $8 on something that is supposed to be a perk. So while the monthly events are open to the WFH people, financially speaking it doesn’t really make sense to take advantage of it. So while the monthly lunches that are supposed to be for everyone are open to WFH staff, in practice it is not easy for them to take advantage.

                2. myswtghst*

                  I mean, it’s definitely worth taking that into consideration, but in my experience with these things, the cost per person for a catered lunch onsite or mini massage is pretty minimal, while the cost for a gift card to buy a massage or lunch would be in the $20-$50 range. If they have a large number of remote employees, that is potentially a huge cost to the company to give what would basically be an inflated perk to people already using a perk (WFH), which could cause a lot of unrest from the in-office workers who would much rather have a gift card for a real massage than a quickie chair massage in the office.

            2. Hannah*

              life is about choices if you really want the massage you go to work, if you dont you stay home. Its like you are invited to a party and they are serving dinner, if you come to the party you get dinner. You would never send an email to the host about deserving dinner because everyone who came got dinner, and you want her to send you a gift card to eat. Its a perk, not a necessity.

              1. JamieS*

                No, this would be like if you did excellent work so got a raise of $1000 and then your employer gives everyone who didn’t perform as well so didn’t get a raise $400 in free stuff and told you that you can have some free stuff but you have to give up a portion of your raise to get it. So in effect you’re not really getting a $1000 raise but $1000 minus the perks you don’t get because of the raise or minus the portion you gave up to get the free stuff.

                I don’t think OP needs to really change anything as long as the remote workers have ample notice to come in. That is unless it really is once a year or so and the gift certificates aren’t cost prohibitive (basically refusing just on principle) as I stated above. However if OP takes the approach of ‘others get this perk to make up for the WFH perk they don’t get’ that’s going to set OP up for engaging in a tit for tat with the remote employees which she doesn’t need.

              2. CmdrShepard4ever*

                I don’t feel like this is quite the same thing. In a dinner situation the host isn’t trying to reward the guest for something they are being nice and looking for company. While the company is hosting it is supposed to be more of a reward/perk/benefit for all the work both sets of employees do, OP has stated that the productivity level of both WFH and nonWFH employees is not in question.

        2. CmdrShepard4ever*

          Alison a bit of a side note, forgive me if I shouldn’t be asking this here, but do you think WFH employees tend to be under more scrutiny then in office employees to show that they are working? I know ultimately even if you are in the office if you don’t do any work it will show. But there are times where I am talking with my boss and/or coworkers on work related issues but then we will dive into a 10/15 min personal/non-work related conversation.

        3. CityMouse*

          This is how it works in my place of employment too. My boss holds a lunch every quarter. A lot of local work at home people come in. But quite a few live far away and can’t. I work at home sometimes myself, and it can be a huge benefit (I am currently dealing with a minor temporary illness, and were I not able to work at home part time, I’d almost certainly have to take sick leave because some days I’m a bit too dizzy to drive or take public transportation, but okay when sitting down at my desk).

      3. OrganizedHRChaos*

        OP#1 here. The remote workers started out in the office for many years. Once we opened remote availability, they qualified for the opportunity and went home. We have space (their old desks) available for anyone to come in for the day and work in the office. They already do this once a month when we have company-wide meetings.

        I am not trying to “punish” anyone. I simply wanted to know if I needed to cater to them in the sense where they choose not to come in for the event and work at the office but rather want us to compensate them for missing the event with gift cards and the like.

        1. Wednesday Mouse*

          If you want to keep your remote workers sweet, would it be possible to hold a catered lunch for the remote workers on one of the company-wide meeting days? A remote worker mixer, or a lunch & learn session, or something that is expressly organised for the remote workers?

          If nothing else, attendance numbers at such an event might give you an idea of the intent behind the remote workers complaints. If a good number of them show up, then clearly they are looking for the chance to network and talk to their coworkers on the company dime (so to speak). If however few show up, yet most still lobby for gift cards and the like, to me that’s a clear indication they just want the cash grab rather than the benefits such an event is supposed to provide to both employees and employer.

          I have a feeling that the latter situation is far more probable, but it’s worth thinking about none-the-less.

          1. Sam.*

            It doesn’t sound like this is about networking at all. They have the opportunity to work from the office (and therefore see colleagues) when these events happen, and they don’t take it. Instead, they’re asking for gift cards, which means they want the material benefit but they want it in their own time. Pretty clear cut, if you ask me.

            1. LaurenB*

              Exactly. A Starbucks gift card is a totally different thing than coffee and a slice of cake to celebrate someone’s retirement. It becomes far more transactional (and also much more expensive!).

              1. Justmetoday*

                Right, and what do they want? A $6 gift card for lunch and a $1.50 gift card since that is probably the cost per head for these things?

                1. CmdrShepard4ever*

                  When you divide it out on a individual event basis it seems silly, but if you calculate that the company does one event like that every quarter that is 4 events a year, $6*4=24, a $25 gift card to fast food place like jimmy johns/subway or fast casual like panera/corner bakery.

                  I get that the remote employees have the chance to come into the office for those events, but then that puts them in the position of saying okay do I want to spend $3/$10 on gas to drive in, $10/$20 to park, have to contend with a 15-60 min commute each way all for a $6 lunch and a 5 min chair massage?

                2. Justmetoday*

                  Well, I was being sarcastic and do know it adds up throughout the year but if you want the advantages of working in an office you also have to deal with the downsides as well.
                  Sure it would be great to do a catered lunch or chair massages the same day as the staff meetings and hopefully they do that sometimes, but it’s not always possible.
                  (replied to my own comment bc I couldn’t comment below)

                3. CmdrShepard4ever*

                  I get that WFH is a big perk it saves time, money, and it is convenient, but it almost seems like some people think if you work from home it is the holy grail. OP said that the company does call center work. I would venture to guess (I could be wrong) that call center WFH employees have a lot less freedom than other WFH people. I imagine call center people are probably taking call after call and need to be in front of a computer and can’t get up to start dinner, or throw in a load of laundry.

                  A lot of people mention being able to work in your underwear as such huge deal, maybe its just me but it does not seem like that big of a thing. I hardly walk around in my underwear at home. If I was WFH I would probably wear shorts and a t-shirt but that isn’t significantly more comfy than slacks and a button down.

                  OP said in comments further down that the company hosts monthly events for employees. One event per year can add up pretty quickly. It seems like all the events are focused only on in office staff. I agree OP does not need to make sure that the amount spent on “perks” for in office staff and WFH staff is an exact $1 to $1 match a way to give somewhat similar benefit to the WFH staff would be good.
                  I get that WFH people have the option to come into work and enjoy the perks but then if they end up having to spend $15 in commute costs to receive a $7 lunch perk, is the lunch still really a perk. It seems like a few extra gift cards to lunch places for WFH employees might be a good way to make them feel appreciated. If you want to really analyze it the gift cards for WFH employees would need to be added as taxable income, where as the free food for the in office employees does not.

                4. Fiennes*

                  CmdrShepard—yes, the remote employees will have to make that call: is undertaking the *exact same costs/difficulties* onsite workers deal with worth getting this perk onsite workers get to make up for dealing with those difficulties?

                  To me this is a no-brainer, like the workers angry they didn’t get travel benefits even when not traveling. I’m not someone very quick to throw around the term “entitled,” but this qualifies. These people have the Holy Grail of work-from-home and they’re mad because they don’t get the occasional sandwich? Yeesh.

                  The only way I’d see this being justified would be if this was some kind of health benefit—medical screenings, etc. If onsite employees got an office gym, I think it would be fair to look into, say, discounted memberships at commercial gyms for offsite workers. But restaurant gift cards? Give me a break.

              2. CmdrShepard4ever*

                If I were the OP I would be tempted for one event to send someone out to deliver each remote employee exactly one slice of cake and a small coffee when the event is being held.

                I think Alison’s idea in the comments about doing a catered lunch for remote employees every so often would be a nice idea but not in response to their request for food/massage gift cards.

                1. Starbuck*

                  But they already don’t come in for the other catered lunches, so why would OP offer them another, separate lunch? That seems silly and it doesn’t sound like that’s what these employees want, anyway.

                2. CmdrShepard4ever*

                  It wouldn’t be a catered lunch for them in the office, it would be a catered lunch delivered to them. Like a Panera lunch box pack or something similar.

            2. Flinty*

              Right. If they buy a new coffee machine for the office, should the remote employees get a gift card because they don’t benefit from it? By deciding to work from home, they have decided that they prefer the huge perk of remote work to the minor (in my opinion) perks of being in the office, such as free toilet paper and pens. If they want the event perks, they can travel to the office, just like the other employees do every day.

              1. CmdrShepard4ever*

                Wait your office gives you free toilet paper? Is it the nice softy two-ply, sandpaper two-ply, please don’t tell me it is one ply? Do they give you one roll per week to take home?

                One of my favorite perks in my office is the free electricity, I try to charge my phone, headphones, battery pack in the office as much as I can and try to avoid charging those items at home.

                1. Dracent*

                  I don’t know if you’re joking but those items consume very little electricity and the cost of charging them is neglible.

                2. CityMouse*

                  My office does not purchase furniture for you at home, but you do get it when you work in the office.

                  I have the most amazing office chair in the office. I would never shill out for it myself, but the office bought them in bulk for the offices. I have no problem with the expectation that I provide my own furniture at home (computers, monitors, printer, etc are all provided).

            3. Smithy*

              I would also add to this that while work lunches and chair massages in the office are definitely nice – they’re often not truly 100% available or desirable for all staff. On sandwich day – forget about allergies or dietary restrictions – some staff just won’t love sandwiches or a late meeting means the remaining options aren’t to their taste. Chair massages – again – based on work demands that days and personal preferences, again won’t be truly accessible or desirable for all. Doesn’t mean it’s wrong to offer or not a perk – but it’s not like the in-office staff are receiving gift certificate they can use at their leisure while work from home colleagues are left out.

                1. Lissa*

                  Yeah I think that’s the point! It would be weird and off for someone to say “Well, I don’t like tuna! Where’s my gift card!” “I can’t do massages for medical reasons – give me the financial equivalent.”

              1. Wendy Darling*

                Yeah if I’m an in-office employee who hates chair massages I don’t get a gift card in lieu of chair massage. Similarly my colleague with celiac doesn’t get compensated every time someone gets lunch in and doesn’t get a gluten-free option, or gets it from a place that uses the same equipment for the glutenous and gluten-free items.

                I just filed it all under “life ain’t fair” and moved along.

              2. chomps84*

                Exactly. This is my big problem with this. Getting a gift certificate to be used on your time is actually a much better benefit than getting a catered lunch or an in office massage.

              3. Sarah*

                Totally agree here — NO perk can ever satisfy 100% of workers! My mom, for example, inexplicably (to me!) hates massages. An old office I worked in had on-side Pilates a couple of times a week — I loved it, but obviously not everyone would want to change into workout clothes and do a class in a spare room in the office. Some people hate (or can’t eat) sweets, so morning doughnuts will not appeal to them. Some people love the flexibility and saved cost of working from home; others would feel isolated and unproductive — I’m in that latter category, I work from home sometimes, but would HATE to be a remote employee 100% of the time, and if I were forced into it, would likely end up paying to belong to a coworking space. I think the key is just to offer a variety of “perks” as a company. It sound like the WFH people are taking advantage of and enjoying the generous WFH policy, while folks who prefer (or must) work in the office get different perks. Which is exactly how it should be!

        2. Susan K*

          You are handling this perfectly. They have the opportunity to participate in these events if they want to, and based on their lack of participation, they are clearly aware that being allowed to work from home is a far bigger perk than a free lunch or chair massage. The current arrangement is already very generous because they can have the best of both worlds — they get to work from home on the days it’s convenient for them, and they get the opportunity to work onsite on days that onsite perks are offered. There is no reason to give them gift cards or anything else to make up for them choosing not to attend an event. They are being ridiculous.

          1. BRR*

            This sums it up perfectly. There seems to be a lot of people thinking the remote workers are getting the short end of the stick but this is the choice they made.

          2. Scarlet*

            Exactly. I’ve been working from home for over 5 years and, not being in the office, I miss a number of events. Sometimes I manage to come (I attended last year’s Xmas party), but to me, the perk of working from home definitely outweighs attending the occasional birthday party/barbecue, etc. Every situation is a trade-off, and like someone already said, they are welcome to take part in any of the office events, so they actually do get the best of both worlds. Since they can’t be bothered to come to the office and enjoy those perks, they obviously don’t care that much. They’re being entitled and petty.

          3. Myrin*

            Yes, I’m a bit surprised that this seems to be so controversial. I’m not seeing much of a difference between this letter and the one about non-travelling employees being miffed that their coworkers who went on trips for the company got to extend those trips for a day for personal leasure; there, the comments were pretty unanimous in saying that the non-travellers were in the wrong.

          4. Specialk9*

            I’m about to switch to full time work from home. I’m so stoked!!! It’s SUCH a perk.

            The benefits I’m looking forward to in work from home – save that 1.5 hour/high stress daily commute, get to relax while working (huge for me due to chronic illness, which maaaay mean I can have enough spoons to start a gentle exercise program), wear comfy clothes, throw in a load of laundry, get dinner started, go work fun relaxing locations (with childcare of course) on occasion.

            It’s such a big perk. Huge.

            So for those employees to complain about not being given GIFT CARDS to compensate for in-office events they could attend but chose not to? SO MUCH CHUTZPAH and entitlement from a position of advantage.

            It’s like the crown prince seeing a beggar boy about to eat a sweet and stomping his foot until he gets that exact kind of sweet, even though he just ate a whole cake baked especially for him.

            1. Kyubey*

              “It’s like the crown prince seeing a beggar boy about to eat a sweet and stomping his foot until he gets that exact kind of sweet, even though he just ate a whole cake baked especially for him.”

              I love this analogy haha; when someone offers you a gift (or perk) you don’t say ‘no I don’t want it but I’ll take the money it cost instead.’

            2. Specialk9*

              Especially since most work food is pizza, or sandwiches and cookies. The big cost is then coming to you, the per person cost is low. So what, they want a $3 gift card to a caterer? With their entitlement, they will demand $15 for a full meal in a restaurant, and maybe throw in money for the partner/spouse to eat too.

            3. Jules the Third*

              I worked from home for a decade before having to go back to the office ‘most of the week’.

              The occasional cake n soda celebration does not make up for the commute. I can live with the clothes and transient work desk, I’m getting mostly used to the noise, and I am actually learning things by being just from being around, but the change from ‘1 minute walk down the hall’ to ’30 – 60 minutes of knuckle-breaking tension’ still sucks mightily.

              Just make sure you’re publicizing the events; if the wfh team wants to participate, they can dress up and get themselves to the office.

              1. Specialk9*

                “oddly Dickensian” may be the nicest compliment I’ve ever gotten. Garsh. (Twists toe on the ground)

            4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              I agree. It is an enormous perk that many of us would like to have. Where I work now, some teams do not get WFH at all (they used to, but then had a change of management and their new manager pulled it), others get it on a very rare occasion, it needs to be requested and approved, and a valid reason given for your WFH (again, for no reason other than the new upper management has a weird dislike of WFH). Full-time remote used to be a thing, that allowed valuable employees to remain on the team after they had to move to a different city/state for family reasons. Now, it is all but gone. It is a huge gift to OP1’s remote employees, that, as I see from her comments, they had requested and were approved for. To continue the analogy, it’s like the crown prince specifically requesting a cake, eating it, and then going, “WAIT, WHERE IS MY SWEET?”

          5. Misquoted*

            Agreed. Part of the point of these catered lunches and yoga classes (in addition to expressing appreciation) is to bring the employees together at the event/class. I work remotely in a different state, so I can’t choose to work in the office for a day, but I don’t expect equal treatment. A gift card for lunch offers me a paid lunch, but doesn’t offer me the other benefits of the catered lunch — time with my coworkers. That’s something I gave up having regularly when I took the remote job. (I travel to our offices a few times a year, and I get my networking/social time with my coworkers then.)

          6. neverjaunty*

            Exactly. This is not the same as remote workers who can’t (or aren’t permitted to) come in asking for an equivalent perk; they’re saying “how about you pay for me to get a similar event but on my own time and without my co-workers”?

          7. LCL*

            Yes, OP is doing this right. I am the first to say that managers need to do extra to advocate for their employees working other than the standard hours, or at remote locations. Sounds like OP is doing all they can. And OP realizes that some ‘grass is greener’ complaining is pretty standard for all humans. This is really typical of having remote/off hours workers that can choose that option; one of the reasons they choose that option is less interaction with the other workers. Which isn’t a bad thing, if they choose it. But they will complain about lost opportunities. As long as OP is making sure that training and corporate communication and all employee services are offered to the WFH people, she is doing the right thing.

          8. Media Monkey*

            totally this. i spend £500 a month just on travel, plus 3 hours a day of time (minimum – if everything is running correctly). working from home would be a significant effective pay rise for me and i can’t imagine bitching over not getting the free fruit we have in our office if i wasn’t there.

        3. MTinEurope*

          Oh OP 1, this is the story of my life…I can offer a different perspective as I work both remotely (with my team in another office), I sit in one of our other offices, and I often work from home. I have flag a few issues over the last few years.

          -I agree with the concept that there are different perks to the type of working but another thing to keep in mind is if the perks are meant as team builders then you may need different considerations (not saying it was the original intention, just giving addition insight). When team building or team interaction does not address different types of working, it can fester into resentment. Doing something when everyone is in for the monthly meeting could be one way to address this.

          -People could be just entitled but there can also be something deeper. Maybe they need more time to arrange themselves to go into work. Are the social activities planned far enough in advance?

          I think if the events are planned, advertised, and available at a different times (ie not always at 5 when people have to pick up kids or beat rush hour), then you have provided an inclusive approach.

          On a similar but slight different different note – Working remotely, when not in the same city but in different countries, and you need to engage in a meeting, using post it notes in the room or serving cake to the people in the room is not helpful. We had this issue and my advice to the facilitators was use different methods and have the cake after you turn off the skype video..lol. Simple yet people forget (again remote by design not by choice here).

          1. AK*

            +1000 to special consideration for team building specific events, the most frustrating thing when I was remote was hearing that the main office had been given a “Team Building Budget” so the team who was in the office and saw each other every day could go out occasionally and take half a workday (or more) for events while the remote team covered their workload.

            1. Goya de la Mancha*

              “could go out occasionally and take half a workday (or more) for events while the remote team covered their workload.”

              But the clear difference here is that the Remote workers by you were NOT allowed to participate. OP’s remote workers are welcomed (even sounds like they are encouraged) to participate. To me the are flat out saying “We don’t want to interact with you, we just want your money”. You can give all the excuses in the book as to why they might not be able to attend one event, but it sounds like there are enough of them that one should be more then able to attend quite a few of them per year.

            2. Specialk9*

              And yet most of them would switch with you in a red hot minute, because work from home is so much better* than commute + work from office. I get that it’s hard to see someone get a perk you don’t get, but when you’re sitting on a throne and envying the beggar boy, that’s a bad look.

              *Yes, yes, sandwiches, some people don’t have a good setup for WFH, etc – but I can tell you that the sheer volume of envy I get for my WFH status tells me this is a coveted perk.

          2. Tuxedo Cat*

            I think this is a really good point re. how far in advance.

            I wasn’t a remote worker at the time, but I was in a small office that had a habit of scheduling catered lunches with little lead time. The problem was that I had scheduled meetings that I just couldn’t cancel during those times (working across time zones = weird lunch times). It would’ve been nice to have a head’s up that was longer than a few days. I could’ve scheduled meetings on a different day.

        4. Marlene*

          They come in once a month for mandatory meetings? Is there a reason these special perks can’t be scheduled for those days?

          1. Myrin*

            I’d guess that a day that’s specifically for people to participate in “company-wide meetings” (plural!) doesn’t really lend itself well to also having massaging chairs and a yoga instructor come in.

          2. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Maybe because they already have the perk of working from home and it’s okay for the people who come in to the office every day to have some other perks?

            1. Decima Dewey*

              On my library system’s last All Staff Day, chair massages and other nice things were offered at breaks. But employees had to sign up in advance, and not everyone who tried to sign up got an appointment. Inevitable when arranging an all day meeting for several hundred staff members.

        5. AK*

          As someone who works from home regularly but has the option to go to the office the way your remote members do, I can’t even begin to understand where they’re coming from here. They’re invited to the events and have an open space for them in the office should they choose to go. If they don’t choose to go, they don’t get the perks, why are there any hard feelings?
          I expect the same (completely reasonable and normal) standard applies for regular office goers, if they’re on vacation or are able to work from home on massage day, they’re not going to get a gift card for missing out. How many complaints have you had from them?

          1. Myrin*

            Yeah, I’m honestly not getting the problem. It’s also weird to me that they’re framing it as “lots of events for the office staff” – it’s decidedly not only for the office staff! They are explicitly invited to attend, too! It’s “lots of events for the staff that is physically present in the office that day” – all they gotta do if those events are that important to them (which is very valid!) is to actually show up at the office.

          2. SaraV*

            The remote workers have, what most would consider, the daily perk of working from home. The in-office employees have the occasional perk of chair massages/catered lunch/etc. If the remote workers want to participate in the massages or lunches, they have to trade one perk (WFH) for another perk. They don’t get to have both.

            1. Flinty*

              Except they do get to have both! They just don’t get to have the office perks delivered to their door, to use at their own convenience.

            2. Jules the Third*

              Yeah, the phrase ‘have their cake and eat it too’ keeps popping into my mind. (don’t use it, tho, OP, it’s total snark…)

          3. Cait*

            Ditto. The remote employees are getting the best of both worlds – work remotely (and all the perks of that arrangement, speaking as someone who works 80% remotely, it’s awesome) AND they can come in for the in-office perks too if they want.

            An in-office treat is not equal to a gift card to use at your discretion whenever and for whomever. I’d be beyond annoyed at having to even respond to such a request.

          4. anon for this*

            Yeah, I don’t get this either. Even aside from whether you consider working remotely a perk in itself, they are choosing not to participate, so I don’t see what the issue is.

            Although I work remotely as well and have a very slight beef with one of our office perks. It’s common for the in-office staff to go on all-day trips in the summer, which they get paid days off for. I am technically able to join them, but it’s more of a hassle since it would take me a day on either end to travel there for the trip. It can be a little sad to be working alone while all of my coworkers are having fun, but the benefits of working remotely make up for it.

        6. RemoteWorkerBea*

          I worked remotely for an organization based several states away, so coming in on “perk days” wasn’t an option (and being left out wasn’t a gripe). However, my org did one thing that was appreciated – if there were big in office lunches, or catered lunch meetings, all remote staff would get $15 extra on their next paycheck to “cover” lunch. It was a nice gesture. Additionally, if there were other special in office events happening, we’d get sent in the mail whatever giveaways were given to in office staff – for example, they had a coffee tasting one morning, and all remote staff received coffee mugs in the mail…things like that. But beyond that, if they are invited (with enough notice to modify their schedules, of course) and choose not to come in, they don’t have any right to complain.

          1. Okie Dokie*

            Yes my husband is in the same situation. He does miss out on things like catered lunches but the company is considerate of big events. For a recent milestone they sent champagne splits to the remote employees so they could toast with the rest of the employees.

          2. AnotherGenXDevManager*

            We did that with our last release celebration – those in the main office went to lunch together, and the four developers in other offices got a gift card of equivalent value (to amazon – easier than trying to guess what restaurants we had that they also had/liked).

        7. pcake*

          I’m working in my living room in a nightgown right now, and it’s the best perk in the universe. I can’t imagine feeling I am owed the same perks as those who have to come to the office every day, and I wouldn’t trade places with them for all the massages and gift cards in the world.

        8. Database Developer Dude*

          OP#1, I’m going to go with Alison and everyone else here and say “Nope”. Your remote workers have the option to work from the office on days you have events. They can come in. Those that are complaining are whiners.

          1. Artemesia*

            If you have a serial whiner, it might be worth saying ‘you don’t seem happy with the remote set up, would you like to instead move your job to an on site desk and drop the work at home thing? I hate to see you unhappy with the job and we’d be happy to have you work from the office. Remote work is not something everyone finds they enjoy.’

        9. Aphrodite*


          Working from home is a SIGNIFICANT perk that I would take over a free lunch every day and a free massage twice a month. If I had that I’d never complain about what other in-office staff get. It’s a more than fair trade-off in my view. I like Alison’s answer but would add that her asking if they want to re-visit their WFH status is not snarky.

          Please do not consider giving them any extras. They already get the biggest benefit of all–and your generosity in allowing them to come in and get the in-office extra benefits is something I already think is beyond generous (and which, if I were in-office staff, might resent just a bit).

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        I have worked from home for years, and these people are weird to me. Working from home is a perk that by its nature has me not participating in other perks that take place not in my house. And OP even gives them the option of coming in only on perk days, which they aren’t taking.

      5. Songbird*

        Remote work is a perk, but it seems like a lot of people here are only considering the positive aspects without realizing there are significant drawbacks.

        It’s lonely. You’re disconnected from your colleagues so you don’t get to participate as much in company culture. It’s harder to make work friends. It’s a challenge to connect with your manager and you have to work harder to make a good impression otherwise you’re out of sight, out of mind.

        It gets expensive. Responsible remote employees don’t work from their couch or dining room table. They have a full office and all the costs that come with buying a desk, a chair, printer, monitor, telephony equipment, supplies, etc.

        It’s just generally really hard. There are a million tiny distractions that you have to combat – deliveries and dishes and laundry and that show you want to catch up on and people who want to to babysit because you’re “home all day”… And even just being home all day, sometimes for days at a time can make you feel like a hermit. You have to be extremely disciplined always – to be at your desk, to be dressed, to keep your work life balance in check.

        I have worked remotely for several years, and I wouldn’t change it because it is awesome in many ways. But the best companies I’ve worked for have gone the extra mile to consider the downsides of being remote and accommodated that. I’ve been allowed to buy my lunch on the company card when lunch is catered to the office folks. My current company gives me a stipend for office set up. There are also separate engagement events for remote folks to stay connected to the company culture.

        For the OP, maybe it is greedy for the remote folks to ask for those things. But if it’s in your power to kick them a lunch every now and then and look for ways to actively reach out and include them, it would be a kindness.

        1. neverjaunty*

          But they already can have that “kindness” by coming to the office on perk days.

        2. Bea*

          Your company sucks if they’re requiring you to buy your own supplies. Wtf.

          I would hate being remote and given the option I wouldn’t. So whereas I dig it that there are pros and cons, it works for you and pros win out. So the cons here are still moot and there is no reason to ask for gift cards in lieu of going into the office for a day to enjoy the catered lunch.

          1. Jules the Third*

            Yeah, my company paid for my chair and monitor, the biggest expenses. For a desk – Mr. Jules found a cubicle on craigslist for $40. They are great if you want to use part of a room (Mr. Jules and I shared a home office for a while) and ok desks (lots of storage, easily configurable, etc) if there’s just one, but we totally call my office the cube garden.

            You shouldn’t have to buy your own chair, tho – decent ones start at $300.

        3. Washi*

          But they’re not forced to work remotely! The OP stated elsewhere that there is a WAITING LIST to work from home, which suggests that the WFH employees could switch back to the office at any time. These employees chose this perk, plus they can go to the office to take advantage of the office perks. They’re basically asking to be paid to not attend office events.

          1. Observer*

            Even without the waiting list, this is a key issue- WFH is voluntary.

            Also, given what the OP describes, the company IS reaching out to the WFH folks and trying to keep them from being isolated. A gift card in leue of coming in for an event has the exact opposite effect.

          2. Kittymommy*

            Exactly. There’s a big difference between remote work being necessary due to a vast location difference and opting into something that has a waiting list. And yeah, the company should be paying for the equipment regardless of where it is.

            Personally, I would hate WFH, although a later start time would be nice. I’m just not disciplined enough for it.

          3. anon for this*

            Yeah, I think they’re just being silly in this case. They have the option to come in and they’re not taking it. It’s like saying you don’t feel like coming in for an office birthday celebration, so can they have a cake delivered to your house.

        4. Specialk9*

          Well yeah, you’re right about some of those downsides. Having an office setup stipend makes a lot of sense. Losing human contact and the social connections is a big issue. (Which is why I choose to go into the office 1 day a week… The way the complaining OP teleworkers could but choose not to.)

          But “I want to watch TV since I’m home” is really not part of the deal for Work From Home, so that shouldn’t be part of the distractions list. (That could get you fired.)

          Doing dishes and laundry and getting deliveries are all things that *everyone* has to do, but people who commute have to squeeze all that into a tiny time window, and we have all day. It’s kind of tone deaf to complain about this luxury of time to do everyday life errands.

          And people thinking you should babysit their kids while on the clock?! That’s a problem you need to address, period. It’s social, not work. If having difficult social conversations is too hard or stressful, them WFH may not be a good option for that person.

          (As an aside, my prior coworker DID babysit when “working” from home. She’d ignore urgent emails all day and then at 9 pm send a flood. Yeah we were all fooled. It made it much harder for those of us who were honorable and not cheating the company to get to work from home.)

          1. myswtghst*

            “But “I want to watch TV since I’m home” is really not part of the deal for Work From Home, so that shouldn’t be part of the distractions list.”

            Seriously. And if we’re being real, unless your IT has things locked down really tightly, those temptations can easily exist in the office too, as evidenced by several people I’ve worked with who used 1 of their 2-3 monitors to stream Netflix while working on the other(s).

        5. Observer*

          Assuming that the OP’s company didn’t cover those expenses, it’s worth noting that many employees have most of those things anyway. For me, the main thing I added to my setup at home (I don’t wfh anything close to full time) was a second monitor to mimic the set up I have at home.

        6. Nanani*

          If you find working from home lonely and difficult to focus, maybe it’s not the best set up for you?

        7. DCompliance*

          I don’t see how being allowed to by lunch on your company card is any different then the kindness the OP is offering- to come in the office and join the team for lunch or a massage.

        8. Amelia*

          I work very responsively and productively from home. And I do it from my couch with nothing but a laptop and cell phone.

      6. Marcy Marketer*

        Oh my goodness! I’m a remote employee and I would NEVER expect my company to send me a gift card for lunch! Do you know how much money I save on gas, coffee, breakfast/lunch just by not coming into the office every day? Not to mention not having to put on makeup every day, having a very paired down business wardrobe, etc.

        How is the company going to compensate on-site employees for the perks that *I* get? The way they do that is by providing catered lunch and breakfast sometimes, or by offering other on-site benefits.

        I’m sooo surprised that some people think it’s okay/not entitled to ask for gift cards to compensate for missing in-office food.

      7. LadyCop*

        I’m sorry…there is absolutely nothing “small minded” in this approach. It’s irrelevant whether they ‘have the choice’ to work at home! It’s a BIG perk! They don’t need “perks that make sense for them” they work from home…it’s a perk that trumps any catered lunch, massage, yoga session, or whatever the heck else! Seriously I don’t understand how you have such a distorted view.

        The nerve some people have with a case of the “gimmies” is disgusting…

    2. TheItalianOne*

      @OP#1: i agree with AAM on the advice. I wish here you could find work from home employers but its simply not in our culture and this means dealing with 1hr long commute in the summer heat even tho i am disabled. So yeah. Tell them they already got a huge huge perk that shitton people in the world would be thrilled to have. And, btw, also catering and massages are something employers don’t do here. So, if they are really that much interested, they could come in and be grateful for what they do have.

      1. Specialk9*

        You might consider asking for an ADA accommodation if your job would be readily done by telework.

    3. Wakeen Teaptots, LTD*

      We have a couple long time employees who work far from our office (they originally worked in our office, moved for personal reasons and continued to work for us). We can’t include them in everything but we try to be mindful of inclusion. One example would be sending a restaurant gift card, occasionally, in lieu of free office lunches they are missing.

      The key here is we are talking about people who live many hundreds of miles away.

      We also have multiple people who live closer who work either full or part time remote. They can come into the office and grab a plate any time we have events.

      1. Person of Interest*

        I used to work in the physical office, then moved a few hundred miles away and now I work remote full time, with very few opportunities to be in the office. I wish my office was a little more mindful of this – they have become very deliberate about employee recognition, with small things like celebrating birthdays with a card and cupcakes at a staff meeting (I get to see the cupcakes being passed around when I Skype in), yet somehow they can’t be bothered to put a birthday card in the mail to me? I in fact was promised a restaurant gift card when I missed a big team lunch (I didn’t request this, it was offered out of the blue) but it was never sent. I’m very much out of sight, out of mind in my situation, when it wouldn’t take much to make truly remote employees feel a little more included.

        1. Jules the Third*

          Yeah, a bday card if they do bday celebrations for everyone is a reasonable ask.

        2. Specialk9*

          Honestly, I do think you’re being entitled too. That’s the deal with work from home – you don’t get the social stuff.

          Getting to keep your job when you move far away is a really big deal, especially if you move somewhere with a low cost of living or not many jobs in your field. At my company, for the most part if you choose to move, it’s sayonara — though there are exceptions. But the drawback of keeping your job is that you lose some of the social connections and cameraderie.

          And getting and mailing you a card is a lot more work than just getting cake for all January birthdays, or having someone who likes to bake bring something in. I’ve literally never gotten a birthday card, working in many offices, and only once got a birthday cake. (And I was very touched! But never expected it again.)

          Not giving you an unsolicited, promised gift card though is crappy.

          1. Adaline B.*

            Completely agree. At OldJob working from home was Not A Thing but they made an exception for a top performer whose spouse got transferred out of state. It was a big, big deal.

          2. Person of Interest*

            Hey, when the company decides to do niceties like bday cards or lunches they are meant to be for employee recognition/morale, not rewards for working in the office space. Yes, working remotely is a perk in some ways, but I think a smart org doesn’t assume that remote privileges can substitute for all other employee recognition.

    4. Bookworm*

      Lordy. I’ve been someone who has been working remotely for several years (virtual office, physical office decided to go virtual, etc.) and I am totally on your side on this. There are already so many perks for telecommuting: no dress code, flexibility (for example, I can run downstairs and toss my laundry into the machines), no commute, etc. To want *additional* perks is absolutely entitlement talking and leads me to better understand why companies want to eliminate the telecommute option.

      I think you’re approaching this well: that they are welcome to come to the office if they want to (for work and/or to enjoy the perks) but to ask you to separately plan for them is gross. I suppose if it’s something like an invitation to happy hour or something so remote workers feel like they belong is an option (which could be for everyone) but a separate yoga session? Uh.

      Good luck!

    5. Phoenix Programmer*

      The fact that so many WFH employees are complaining makes me wonder if you don’t have a greater culture issue where WFH employees are seen as lazy/not team players/entitled/not really equal to other employees. If one or two WFH were complaining that screams individual issue but your letter makes it sound more wide spread.

      If I were you I would dig into how WFH employees are doing in general. Do they get promoted as often? Are they included in relevant meetings? Does the remote communication tools work effectively or is it just a conference line with one mic in the center of a crowded table?

      Complaining about lunch and massages could be an indicator that they are not feeling engaged or appreciated overall.

      1. Temperance*

        They are being entitled here, though. They already have a huge perk – WFH full time! – and are being unreasonable and greedy here.

        1. Phoenix Programmer*

          Usually when an entire group is asking for something chalking it up to “entitled” is wrong headed.

          And the OP mentions below that the employees have to come in each month for all staff meetings. Why not have lunch coincide with one of these days so they don’t have to miss out or make a special trip? It’s not that hard to rearrange a couple events to fall on these days a year and accommodate the WFH employees?

          Plus OP says they don’t come in for these despite being invited – why is that? Everyone is assuming it’s because they are whiny … Really? 25 peie are all being equally I reasonable about these perks? Unlikely. More likely there is a reason they feel unwelcome when they do attend. Maybe other employees make snarky comments about coming in for parties only or other such divisive comments. It’s worth considering and looking into vs completely dismissing.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Yeah, I think this is a really good take — even if they ARE being entitled jerks, I don’t think it hurts to take a look at your structure/dynamic between office staff and WFH staff and ask if there might be something to improve on there.

          2. KitKat*

            I don’t think all 25 are asking for this, or that’s not my impression anyway. I do think it could be worth checking into whether there are snarky comments, but I also think that it could be a couple ringleaders stirring up a few others who wouldn’t have otherwise said anything, but now feel like maybe they are being cheated. And there could be some ask vs. guess stuff going on, where some people felt like it wouldn’t at least hurt to ask, and they are lumped in with a few entitled folks.

            1. Tax Nerd*

              I agree with KitKat’s theory that there are likely a few ringleaders stirring things up. If you have 1-3 very vocal complainers, and a bunch of echoers, or a the vocal complainers tell you that they’ve done an informal survey of all WFH people, your problem is really just a couple people. If you can nip it in the bud with them, things might quiet down. (Or they might double-down on pot-stirring.)

          3. Artemesia*

            Maybe no one works from home on Thursdays and the events are scheduled for Thursdays? Obviously that wouldn’t work for someone worked from home in the next state e.g. perhaps an employee whose spouse moved and you allowed to continue WFH, but for the others it might solve the problem of isolation and feeling they aren’t getting sufficient cup cakes.

          4. TootsNYC*

            I agree, when a group speaks, you should pay attention and investigate more.

            You might find a problem you can address.

            (You might also find that the problem is, you have a culture of entitlement among some people.)

          5. Starbuck*

            Or maybe they live in an area with really bad traffic and just can’t be bothered to make the commute in to the office for the day. And let’s be clear – that’s not something they’re sacrificing or missing out on, that’s still a perk, to get to decide whether or not they’re coming in.

        2. Ciara Amberlie*

          Maybe. Something is clearly going on if a large group of employees are feeling left out and are asking to be included more. It may well be that they’re all entitled and greedy (especially if they work together closely and there’s an echo chamber of complaining amongst the group). But if the complaints are coming from a lot of different people, who don’t regularly interact, then it would seem that something else is driving it.

          The company culture may treat employees who WFH as less important, lazy, and less viable for promotion. If this is the case, the fact that they’re getting a huge perk doesn’t make the bad treatment OK.

      2. HarperC*

        That’s a good point. Always worth doing a little self-assessment just to make sure there isn’t something else going on.

        1. Specialk9*

          Agree, if enough people are having the same weird thought, there may be a hidden problem, or they’re talking and someone is infecting the others into thinking X is standard when it’s not. My guess is they’re chatting with each other and getting sucked into complaining… But not a bad idea to check.

      3. OrganizedHRChaos*

        I did think about this but I also how big the waiting list is for staff to work from home. Also, most of the remote staff have been here a long time and chat among themselves to set what they can get. I have had chat logs sent to me when one of them gets upset with the others. It’s like high school sometimes.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Wait… there is a WAITING LIST of people who want to work from home and can’t? Is it because only a certain % of employees can or some other reason?

          Cause seriously, I’d be really tempted to say “Well, if you want these perks, we can transition you back into the office and give that WFH spot to someone on the waiting list.” You don’t get to have it both ways.

          1. Kittymommy*

            Lol, I’m sure some of those on the waiting list would be happy to give them the occasional catered lunch and massage.

          2. OrganizedHRChaos*

            The waiting list is only due to the fact that we are in the process of upgrading our IT equipment to handle more work from home staff. This is not about being jealous I don’t think. We’re have also had remotes come back to the office because they were lonely and missed the people part of the office.

        2. Phoenix Programmer*

          Hearing that this entire demographic that comprises 1/5 of your company are considered problem employees is a serious issue.

          1. Specialk9*

            What? OP said it’s the same 3-4 people complaining every month. Where are you getting this idea?

          2. Specialk9*

            Also, where did you get this idea that OP considers them problem employees? The only one who said the word “problem” was Alison, in the post you responded to, but you acted like Alison was the OP, which is weird because Alison writes the blog and her comments are always highlighted.

            But even then she – Alison, who writes this blog and is not OP – said “culture problem” which is very different from “this entire demographic that comprises 1/5 of your company are considered problem employees”. That’s so wildly offbase from what is being said by either OP our Alison.

            I’ve read and reread every comment by OrganizedHRChaos (OP, who is not Alison), and that is also nothing like what they said.

            Why are you so harsh when they are not being anything but gracious?

      4. Goya de la Mancha*

        “Do they get promoted as often? ”

        Do they want to be? I mean who doesn’t want a better job title/more pay. But getting promoted can also mean that their new position needs to be more butt-in-seat, in which they would loose all the WFH benefits that they seem to care deeply enough to not participate in the “fun” days at the office….*shrug*.

        1. Phoenix Programmer*

          We are talking about 1/5 of the companies workforce here. Going *shrugs* they don’t want to come in or be proud.oted without due diligence is irresponsible. Dig into the whys. The more OP comments the clearer it becomes there are other underlying issues at play worth investigating.

      5. Yorick*

        I would agree if they were just saying they feel left out, but they want gift cards! Even to a spa! That’s just unreasonable.

      6. neverjaunty*

        That’s a good point, but I suspect it is more likely “we don’t want to be around our co-workers.” As someone else commented, WFH is an attractive choice to people who don’t care to socialize or don’t want to do work with others around. And that’s fine! Right up until it turns into wanting the benefits of a company team event while rejecting the actual team.

        If my office has a happy hour and I don’t want to go, it would be ridiculous for me to ask “could you just buy me a bottle of wine instead”?

      7. boo bot*

        I think this is a really good point. Their complaint is kind of odd, and if they’re unanimous about it, something odd might be going on.

        The fact that there’s a waiting list at this company actually makes me wonder if there could be some hostile dynamics under the surface. You’ve got something valuable (WFH status) and more people who want it than can have it, and it’s not completely unusual for people who work from home to be seen as lazy, as not doing as much work as others, etc. – it’s kind of a perfect recipe for resentment on both sides to fester (non-WFH people resent WFH people for getting special treatment, WFH people resent non-WFH people for resenting them, circle of life continues).

        I don’t know – the OP’s setup sounds so manifestly reasonable that it seems like it must be something!

    6. WFH*

      Trying to imagine the implementation of some of our onsite perks for remote employees, with hilarious results.

      “You had a petting zoo for take your kids to work day, and I missed it!”

      “No problem, sending farm animals to your house, STAT!”

    7. Blue*

      OP, how widespread are the complaints? Is it one or two really vocal individuals, or is it most of the remote staff? The former wouldn’t be surprising, but if there’s something more systemic here, you might want to look into where that’s coming from.

      1. OrganizedHRChaos*

        Generally 3-4 of the same people email in every month but sometimes an extra few say something. When asked for solutions though, it is always wanting gift cards or the like.

        1. Specialk9*

          You’re flipping kidding me.

          This is harassment. (Not the legal, hostile workplace kind, but the colloquial kind.) They have gotten an answer they don’t want, and are complaining MONTHLY to try to wear you down.

          This is a bigger problem. I’d pull in management and ask them how to handle the harassment.

        2. CmdrShepard4ever*

          Do they email every month because you host special events/perks every month for in office employees, or are they just complaining every month even when no event is scheduled?

          While individually each event might not cost that much on a per person basis, if you add it up times 12 in can end up being worth a decent amount of money. I get that the work from home benefit far outweighs the monthly lunch or massage (both in time and money) and personally I would prefer to work from home over the lunch.

          But maybe they feel that everyone resents that they get to work from home and they company gave them this one perk (granted it is a big one) and now has pretty much forgotten about them.

          I know you said that the WFH employees are allowed to come into the office to participate in the perk if they want to, but that might be asking them to come into the office and spend $20 in commuting costs to be able to receive a $10 perk. Is there a way to meet them in the middle, for example lets say that every year you spend $100 on food for in office employees could you give the WFH employees a $30/50 gift card to a sandwich shop.

          I am currently in a slightly similar situation. My job currently has amazing benefits, but one thing we don’t have is pre-tax (commuter or flexible spending account) deduction. We have multiple offices from what I understand our two biggest offices (one of them is the main HQ) are driving offices and I think they both have free parking. My office you almost have to take public transit in (about $100 monthly), otherwise it is about $250-300 a month to park near our office. It feels that because the two “main” offices don’t really see a need for commuter benefit it hasn’t been implemented. It makes us feel ignored and like our needs don’t matter.

          1. TheHamsterGirl*

            The non WFH staff have to pay the cost of commuting every day so the argument that the commuting cost outweighs the benefit of the lunch or massage is not valid.
            If commuting costs are $20/day per your example and WFH staff come in 2x a month (once for the meeting and once for a perk) that’s $480/year.
            In-office staff would be paying up to $10,400/year for commuting daily at that rate.

            For slightly more grounded numbers:
            In my city parking can be about $10/day, or a round trip commute on transit would be $6.50 so commuting to the office twice a month would range between approximately $78-$150/year.
            My monthly transit pass on the other hand comes to $1764/year.

            And that’s just the $$ value of commuting and doesn’t take all the other expenses of working in an office into account, and if you work from home most of the time (at least where I live) there’s a tax deduction on your rent/mortgage payments because part of your home is your workspace.

            There’s a significant savings by working from home… so they’re being pretty entitled by asking for a gift card, they could come into the office for those perks and still come out way on top financially speaking (and possibly build a better relationship with coworkers along the way).

            1. CmdrShepard4ever*

              I don’t what you mean. Yes WFH staff save a lot of money on not having to commute in. You are right the non WFH are already paying that cost it doesn’t matter if lunch is provided or not. So for the non-WFH they don’t have to do anything extra that they normally wouldn’t do. But for the WFH is they want to take advantage of the $7 free lunch that the company is offering they have to spend $7 to $20 to commute into the office. Plus the have to spend up to two hours in the car traveling that they normally don’t do. So WFH staff save money on lunch (a +7 benefit) but might end up spending more money to commute (a -$10 cost) that they normally would not have to spend. So to take advantage of this “perk” for the WFH people actually costs them money.

              What I am trying to say is that the perk of free monthly lunches is supposed to be for everyone, and indeed it is open to everyone, but in practice it really only makes sense for the in office staff to take advantage of it. All the in office staff have to do is leave their desk and grab a sandwich. If the WFH staff want to take advantage they have to spend time commuting in, and spend money that they normally wouldn’t on gas, parking, or public transit that in all likelihood costs more than that the free meal is worth.

              As for the tax deduction I think someone else also mentioned it but if you have the option to go into an office and work I don’t think you can deduct a home office expense, because you are choosing to stay home for your personal benefit not the companies.

              1. Temperance*

                Then the WFH staff don’t get the perk of free monthly lunch. In your scenario, the commuters are getting even more extra perks than the people in the office. It’s considered a hardship for them to spend some time driving to the office and maybe paying for parking, so they should get gift cards? Uh, no.

                1. Mad Baggins*

                  Yeah, I don’t see the point in translating an occasional catered lunch into cash when there are so many other non-monetary variables at play.
                  You can put a number to the commuter pass/parking, but what about the pain and suffering of dealing with traffic/having to stand on the train for 30 min. How much is that worth? If Jimothy is an avid postcast-listener and barely notices the commute, is his commute worth less than Pamantha’s, who gets stressed easily?

                  I don’t think we can distill every perk to its monetary value and reimburse employees who don’t take advantage of it.

    8. 653-CXK*

      I was a remote employee (only two days per week for personal reasons) but other people were allowed to work at home five days a week – they were required* to come in for all-staff and team meetings and reserve spaces at hoteling desks.

      I would follow Alison’s script – if they want to come in and participate, all they need to do is find an empty desk and work there for the day, otherwise they will have to miss that opportunity, and nothing else will be offered**.

      *The company attempted to have work-from-home employees call in, but it was a spectacular failure because (a) everyone tried to call in at the same time, rendering the call-in function unusable, and (b) there were people who did not understand the concept of using basic phone functions, such as muting. Hence management forced everyone to come in to the meetings, and the unintended consequence was the second after the email of the all-staff meeting hit our desks, not less than ten seconds afterwards the hoteling spaces were fully reserved.

      ** You should also tell them that work from home is a privilege and a trade-off; you gain the benefit of not gassing up your car, not plying yourself on public transportation, not dressing up, and not having to wait in long lines for lunch, etc. but the tradeoff is that you no longer have the perks you get at the office (free coffee, gym, on-site dry cleaning, parties, etc.).

    9. Nita*

      They’re being pretty ridiculous. Sure they miss some perks of being in the office, but they’re able to come in if they choose – doesn’t sound like they live far away, and they’re able to make whatever arrangements are needed to come to meetings. And they’re definitely not getting the short end of the stick. They probably have plenty of perks their in-office coworker don’t get, like not dealing with hours of traffic or train delays, being able to run errands and make appointments during business hours, and not have to pack lunch.

      I work in an office with the option to work remotely when needed, and was long-term remote (except for meetings) when one of my kids was a baby. Was I sad if I missed a beloved office tradition because I was not there? Sure. But I recognized it’s part of the trade-off. And some of our office mini-parties are specifically to thank those who are in office – on really bad weather days, the skeleton crew that straggles in gets pizza from the place next door. I’m missing these more and more lately (thank you, school closures!) but it would be silly to expect a personal pizza delivery because “I wish I could be in office but I’m not.”

    10. Myrin*

      By the way, OP, thanks so much for being active in the comments – and from early on, at that! – and explaining and giving additional info! It’s always awesome to be able to directly and promptly engage with letter writers!

      1. OrganizedHRChaos*

        Thank you. Reading the comments has kind of been a roller coaster of thoughts and emotions for me today. I don’t want to be defensive or anything like, I am trying to engage but not cause a divisive environment. I have no issues at all with remote workers, I was just struggling with the topic. I also had no intention to disrespect either side of the work in the office vs work from home coin.

        Thanks again

        1. Specialk9*

          You’ve had a couple of people being really unreasonable in their takes of what you wrote. Some of them do that in many letters, so it’s not just you. I think you sound like a thoughtful, careful person who’s trying hard to be fair even though those 3-4 people are very difficult.

    11. ResuMAYDAY*

      If remote employees want to have an in-office work culture, they’ll have to find some other place for their pets during work hours and get harassed to buy Janice’s daughter’s girl scout cookies. They’d be smart to not bring this up ever again. (I’ve worked from home exclusively since 2001.)

    12. machiamellie*

      I work 80% remote – I go into the office 1 day/week. People who want remote events are hilariously entitled.

      I mean, yes it can get lonely being all by myself sometimes, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. Not wearing pants, bingeing The Handmaid’s Tale while I work, taking the pup for walk on my lunch break, the list goes on and on.

      My office does birthday/anniversary celebrating potlucks every month. I missed my own anniversary potluck because it fell on a day I didn’t want to go in. Is that on them, or me? It’s on me. So be it.

    13. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      I haven’t read all the replies to your comment, so my apologies if this is already covered, but I do want to differ from Alison’s advice slightly. I feel like the point of some of these lunches/massage chairs/etc is to build camaraderie with staff, so I understand the sentiment that you need to be there to do that, but as a remote employee (and I work several states away from our corporate offices), I think it would be nice if *sometimes* you planned these events in a way that included your remote employees. For example, if you do a catered lunch, even if you cannot provide that same lunch for the remote employees, having a zoom, or skype set up so that people can chat and socialize even if they are not there would be a way to get them involved. At my company, most of our people are remote, only a few actually work out of the office, so the norm is to do video conferencing and include little “coffee parties” or other things throughout the year that we can all join in on even if we’re not in the building together.

      Again, that doesn’t mean you have to stop doing things for your in-building staff, but it would be nice if some of the time you found ways to incorporate your remote people, so they could find a way to participate.

      1. Perse's Mom*

        I can’t speak to the massage chairs at OP’s office, but my employer offers that too and it’s absolutely NOT a camaraderie thing. It’s a relaxation and de-stressing thing. One employee at a time. They even paper over the little window on the door so the employee doesn’t have to be worried about anyone glancing in when they walk by.

      2. Starbuck*

        These people are asking for gift cards, not extra opportunities to socialize. I don’t think it’s that they want to be involved with the team, it’s that they want the extra free stuff too. Which is hilarious/ridiculous, because they’re getting the huge financial benefits of working from home every single day. It seems possible that they have become used to this benefit and maybe aren’t realizing how good they have it, and how much it does cost everyone who has to go in to an office every day. A catered lunch is a pittance in comparison.

        1. Mad Baggins*

          I agree, I think if the employees were asking for more opportunities to socialize it would make total sense to accommodate them. But no, they want the free stuff.

    14. Erin*

      WFH people get a time benefit they have about an hour extra in their day because they’re not commuting. They can also take a couple minute break every hour to let their dogs out to switch laundry over or whatever. A lot of WFH can schedule their work around doctors appointments or the repair guy coming over without using pto.

  2. Artemesia*

    ‘curate your personal brand’ — gag.

    I’d love to hear if anyone in the history of job searching has ever been singled out because they posted a video on linked in or linked to one in an application. Watching this kind of crap in real time is something no hiring manager wants to do. There are occasions when a demonstration might be requested — but that would be for finalists, not as a screening device.

    1. pllnslct*

      The next time I hear “personal brand”, I’m going to imagine Mary Katherine Gallagher aka SuperStar.

    2. Woodswoman*

      Exactly. The advice that interns are getting about how to use LinkedIn is crappy.

      LinkedIn can be a valuable tool. Working in nonprofits, it’s been helpful for connecting my organizations to influential people in my field. They read my periodic updates about our projects, pay attention to my connections, and notice which thought leaders have given me recommendations. It’s helped me open doors and furthered both my personal career and the organizations I’ve worked with. When I was job-hunting, people could see my connections as respected professionals and also ask them about my work. That’s what LinkedIn is good for.

      But posting random videos and writing about fluff? That would just make you look bad.

      1. Woodswoman*

        Ha, I see I used the term “thought leader” without even noticing it in the original post where the meaning seems different than how I used it. Must’ve been subliminal. That’s what I get for posting late at night.

      2. Alli525*

        I think OP2 might be conflating “tips for being LinkedIn-famous” with “tips for being a good job candidate,” and that speaker was extremely confused about his audience. There are a lot of people who ARE well-suited to be content providers and inspirational thought leaders, etc., but those people are established in their careers, not interns just trying to learn the ropes. Also, LinkedIn-famous is a dubious honor, but I guess some people do care about that.

        1. Cobalt*

          I’m pretty sure I work at this lab since we have this seminar periodically (unless it is more widespread, *shudder*). I’ve never attended, but when it has been hosted it has been lab-wide and not targeted at interns. In that sense, I do think it makes more sense to encourage national leaders in science to grow their brand and become “thought leaders” but it doesn’t negate Alison’s advice about endorsements and such being worthless to me as a hiring manager.

        2. Hannah*

          I immediately thought the same! I think the tips the speaker’s tips actually make sense– if your goal is to become a thought leader/content producer/entrepreneur. But landing a full-time job is a completely different goal, and these tips wouldn’t help with that. I don’t think the speaker was wrong, I think there was just some misunderstanding about why they were speaking there in the first place.

        3. OP 2*

          Hi there! No, this was a seminar about how to establish our LinkedIn presence, and was set up specially for the summer interns. Most of us are in our last two years of undergrad or summer before grad school. The speaker was a social media specialist for the lab, so I think that his goals with LinkedIn are very different from ours as future scientists! None of us are even remotely close to being established in our careers, so while I could see his advice being helpful down the road, I think it was very ill-suited for where we are in life right now.

      1. MK*

        In this context I think it’s just a fancy way to refer to your professional reputation. Also inaccurate, a personal brand is a different thing altogether.

          1. MK*

            In my opinion, a personal brand is applicable when your personality/lifestyle/philosophy is actually part of your value for an employer. I am a lawyer; I am getting paid to use my legal knowledge. My personality matters only in the context of how well I can work with others and my lifestyle is irrelevant as long as it does not cause embarassment to my organization. But, say, an actor is in a different situation, because the value they bring to a film (and even more so, to an advertising campaign or similar work) is a lot more dependent to how they come across in general.

            1. Flinty*

              Yeah, like Tim Burton’s personal brand is creepy noir. I think you have a personal brand when your job involves having a “persona.”

      2. Tuxedo Cat*

        What I’ve seen in academia is that some people have pushing for online presence and talking about what the individual wants to be seen as. It’s not even just LinkedIn but also websites.

        The problem is that most people have the same generic things in my field. They want to be student-centered educators, advocates, mentors. They prize diversity and include in their teaching and research. Most of these sites are kind of generic but sometimes, the academic is seeking speaking engagements.

        What bothers me is that with some folks, I know that couldn’t be further from the truth. I don’t know how effective these things are. A former boss said that he’ll look people and look at their sites if he’s reviewing grants or something from them. I don’t know if it has any impact- I can’t help but think it might.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Someone, somewhere, posted a video of themselves in a chicken suit, or in character as a banana, and so hit the particular humor tastes of one hiring executive that it worked.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        Only ten months later they got fired for coming to work in the chicken or banana suit.

    4. The Other Katie*

      I was slightly surprised at the terrible advice that they should be trying to be “thought leaders”, since it sounds like they’re fresh out of undergrad! How about starting with a job?

      1. eplawyer*

        Yes, this advice is “you know more than people who have been working this field, act like it.” That is totally what hiring managers are looking for, someone fresh out of school who already thinks they are an expert.

      2. Autumnheart*

        How can anyone be a thought leader when they’re brand-new to the working world and their field, anyway? You need experience and industry knowledge before you can make any useful contributions to said industry.

    5. Jules the Third*

      So I’m gonna push back on this some:

      My employer really really really values knowledge sharing, from formal education to informal water cooler talk. Over the last four years, they have begun a lot of policies focused on encouraging knowledge sharing. There’s cynical thoughts about *why* they want their older employees to share with younger ones, and ambivalent evidence about the accuracy of those cynical thoughts but:

      Linked-in blog articles about your field are included in some metrics that can affect your reviews and career opportunities. They are seen as enhancing the company brand, and, to borrow the terminology, that enhances your brand within the company. Within my company, a fortune 100 tech firm, regular Linked-in blogs would give you an edge over someone with the same qualifications. It might even give you an advantage over someone with slightly more experience in the specific job role but no knowledge sharing items on the resume. The managers wouldn’t watch / read more than one or two, but their existence would be a relevant data point.

      My ‘personal brand’ is based on ‘translator’ – I know tech enough to understand programmers and engineers; I know business enough to understand sales or strategy, and I can help an engineer understand a sales issue and vice versa. This is baked into my resume and current job role, so I don’t feel a strong need to go outside to demonstrate it, but I understand why someone else see Linked-In blogs as an opportunity that they don’t have inside their current role.

      It’s like running a project for a volunteer gig if you want to get / maintain a Project Management certification – going outside your job to demonstrate something that your job doesn’t include. If I want to switch career focus to PM, I’d need to do that to get a foot in the door.

      This *may* be specific to knowledge companies.

      1. Jules the Third*

        ps: Linked in is not the only option; individuals are allowed to develop Lunch’n’Learn or single ‘courses’ for internal education packages; we are allowed to document / count individual tutoring sessions – they’re really flexible about the format for knowledge sharing, which is one reason I’m seeing it as really valued.

    6. TootsNYC*

      My husband shares articles on his LinkedIn and gets excited when they get re-shared. He counts it as some sort of “win.”

      This is one of the hard parts of being married.

  3. Someone else*

    In this context, since the remote employees seem to all be local and therefore could come in to participate if they wanted, I think Alison’s response makes sense and is reasonable. However, if the situation were one of a distributed company, where a substantial number of employees are remote, and nowhere near the office, I’d suggest avoiding too heavily leaning in the direction of these types of “events” where the remote employees will never be able to participate, because at a certain point it starts to feel really uneven. I’m speaking particularly about cases where those who do work in the office are the minority. I understand why in the context described in the letter being remote is considered a “perk”, but if it’s the primary way the company does business, having frequent free lunches or massages or whatever else only in the office starts to make the in-office folk feel cliquey.

    1. OrganizedHRChaos*

      We have around 100 employees in the office and about 25 remote employees. By remotely, I mean all remote workers live within an hour drive and they all started out by working within the office. I could understand their frustrations if they were not offered the opportunity to come into the office to enjoy the events.

      1. Good, Cheap, or Soon. Pick Two.*

        Maybe it’s because I’ve been on both sides of this divide but I think there’s a little more going on here. Yes, it is unreasonable for them to ask for gift cards each time you arrange for office perks. It’s perfectly fine to gently tell them this. That being said, I think you may want to take a small step back and consider how you view your remote coworkers. I say this because the way you describe them is pretty… ouch. Working from home doesn’t mean your coworkers aren’t busting their asses. When I work remote, I actually work harder because it’s extra pressure to produce. Coworkers and bosses don’t see you putting in the man-hours, so you’re definitely pushing yourself. So, I can imagine being pretty put out when someone tells me I’m entitled, whining, and uses dismissive language about saying I can answer calls in a tank and knickers.

        Are any of your remotes disabled? Parents of children under the age of five? Unable to drive or living in a one car household? Yes, they started off in an office setting. They have made the change to being remote workers. That means they have a different structure to their lives and there may be reasons they can’t make it into the office for those perks. So, if any of the perks are arranged as a celebration for the end of a big project that those remotes did work on? Maybe break out the gift cards.

        1. OrganizedHRChaos*

          I greatly apologize if I used the wrong wording in referring to the remote workers. Two of them are my very best friends so I honestly hold no ill will towards any of them. As I mentioned above in a comment. They are already required to work one day a month in the office when we hold company-wide meetings so unless they are keeping it from me (HR dept of one basically) they have no reason to not come in on an event day. Since I work for a call center, they cant have children in the home during work hours unless they are being tended to by someone else. I am more than willing to spring for any accommodations in regards to being able to do their jobs, just as I would for anyone in the office, but this is not a situation where their job is being hindered. They can work from the office that day as well. Occasionally we do send them gift cards for meals when we hold big events but not every time. If we hold a “luau day” in the office and cater lunch, I am not going to send them all gift cards because it is a participation situation. Be in the office to enjoy the fun and eat lunch. Sit at home in your jammies busting your “ass” so to speak and don’t come in to enjoy them. The choice is theirs.

          1. Susan K*

            Occasionally we do send them gift cards for meals when we hold big events but not every time.

            Aha! I think that’s the problem — you do it sometimes, so now they expect it every time. I hate to say it (because it would be unfair to the people who are actually grateful for these occasional gift cards), but it might be better to stop giving the gift cards altogether.

            1. TootsNYC*

              especially if they’re local!!

              It maybe makes sense to do something like that for remote workers who can’t commute in (can’t come to the Chicago-based Christmas party from Seattle? Here’s a gift card to celebrate).
              But even that, I think is a little weird. It’s like getting cash for missing out.
              I think that, personally, I’d rather have a Skype call from the party from all the people I normally interact with, saying, “Wish you were here, have a wonderful Christmas!” I wouldn’t see that as “excluding,” I’d see that as them saying, “She’s one of us, she should be here, this is the only way we can include her.”

            2. tangerineRose*

              I don’t get it though. I’ve worked from home for a long time, and the rare occasions when I got a gift card from work as a replacement for a team meal, I appreciated it. The rest of the time, yeah sometimes I missed out on stuff, but it was worth it for me to work from home.

          2. KatT*

            The choice is theirs exactly. If a non work from home employee decided not to partake of a catered lunch or was ill/on holiday that day but demanded a gift card they wouldn’t get one either

          3. Pollygrammer*

            What if you didn’t change the on-site perks you’re offering, but you sent a tailored invitation specifically to the remote workers if otherwise there’s just an email blast or something like that?

            “As always, we love it when our teleworking colleagues are able to join us, and it’s a great time to get some face-to-face time with coworkers” or something like that, making sure to give them plenty of notice.

            Hammer home the This Is What’s Happening, You Are Invited.

          4. neverjaunty*

            Hold up a second, OP – you’re in HR and best friends with two of the employees? And it’s a family-owned company?

            I wonder if you don’t have a bigger problem here, which is that the relationships between people (including you as HR) are inflaming things.

            1. Jules the Third*

              Yeah – I think this is related to Alison’s comment about a larger culture issue.

              Any chance the complainers are coming to you because of that ‘best friends’ness? Are you hearing it most from people you are friendly with? If yes, you should cultivate some distance.

              1. OrganizedHRChaos*

                I don’t think this is the issue in the sense that I am a huge stickler for keeping work work and personal personal. I don’t share my relationships on social media and don’t discuss them in office. Playing favorites disgusts me because I love policies and creating fair environments.

                Yes, it’s a family owned company of around 130 employees. I have been here over 13 years and in HR full time for 4 years due to growth.

                The complainers are generally a small set of people who have been here a long time. I used to think they didn’t like that we hire 20-30 people a year for the call center snd it may have taken some business from them, but we didn’t hire last year and they still complained so I don’t know if it is that any more.

                We celebrate anniversaries in a big way here, awards for all milestones of 5, 10 and 15 years are $1,000, $3,000 and $5,000 respectively. The company is fair and generous. They like fofour the staff to feel appreciated yet they understand boundaries for the most part.

                I am at a loss.

                1. Adaline B.*

                  Yea I thought the employees were being unreasonable just reading your original question. But now with all the extra detail you’ve provided, I think they’re being down right entitled.

                  I’m starting to wonder if Allison’s last line
                  “I’d be tempted to add, “Should we talk about whether you’d prefer to work from the office rather than remotely?” but that would be snarky, so I would repress the urge.” would actually be the wake up call they need to see this as a huge benefit and that they’ve been given every opportunity to participate and have chosen not to. She’s right and it’s probably better to repress that, but it would get more and more tempting every month.

                2. boo bot*

                  The fact that they have all been there a long time and seem not to like it when others were hired makes me wonder if the c0mplainers feel that they, the long-time people, should get definitively more recognition/rewards than the newer people, hence the gift cards. This seems like some kind of entrenched dynamic.

                3. CmdrShepard4ever*

                  When you say that new people take business away from them are they paid on a per call basis? Are they contractors or actual employees of the company?

                4. OrganizedHRChaos*

                  The call center staff are base plus commission. They get a base salary every month but then they have a tiered commission structure. All inbound calls and leads generated by our advertising. We are an online travel agency.

        2. Sal*

          Whatttt? Unless I am missing something big, OP never implied that the remote workers weren’t busting their asses…only that they could work in pajamas, which is completely true.

          1. Emily K*

            Yeah, I work remotely and this didn’t raise my hackles. OP is right, there are perks to working remotely. I’m in shorts and a crop tank top right now, barefoot, with a dog in my lap. And I intend to stay that way all day, with the possible exception of throwing on a full-length t-shirt if I get invited to a video conference last-minute, and I’ll have to move the dog when I get up for lunch.

            My office has a lot of social events and I’m welcome to attend them but rarely do. That’s fine – honestly they pay me enough that a free lunch and a couple of free drinks aren’t really worth the trade-off of putting on nicer clothes and spending 90 minutes round-trip commuting.

            OP never suggested that remote workers weren’t working hard, just that they’re getting perks by working at home just like the office employees are getting perks by working in the office. They’re just different perks. Perks DNE not working hard.

        3. Observer*

          I’m sorry, the fact that you bring up the issue of childcare as a reason why some of the workers can’t come in directly contradicts the notion that remote workers work just as hard as in office staff. If you have a kid under 5 at home, you HAVE to have childcare or you CANNOT be working at full capacity. So, that should be an issue for the days when there are events.

          And the fact that they are complaining EVERY month? That’s not about not getting recognition for major projects.

          1. Good, Cheap, or Soon. Pick Two.*

            If you notice, I asked if some of the perks were for projects completed. Beyond that, some childcare does require the parents be onsite. When I worked remote after giving birth to my son, I had a nanny. However, this nanny was less expensive because she wasn’t expected to furnish her own car, cash, and didn’t have to carry certain forms of insurance due to the fact that there was a parent in the home. This meant I had a babysitting service I used for days that I would be away from the home. This isn’t uncommon for people in my area.

            My point was not that these people deserved the perks they were demanding. It was that the language used to describe the OPs coworkers is harsh. It’s also pretty common and indicative of an issue that is a growing trend. The Harvard Business Review actually covered a study pointing out the fact that remote workers felt shunned and devalued by their office counterparts. Other professional journals that have looked at WFH set-ups have found that it’s a double edged sword; it erodes the boundaries of when someone is working vs when they are at home and it is viewed as a permanent perk. Why I pointed it out is that I found myself falling into the habit when I started managing remote workers… even though I hated running into when I was one.

          2. Just Employed Here*

            I didn’t understand the connection between childcare are not being able to come into the office at short notice as the employee working from home while taking care of a child.

            I understood it as, for example, the employee having to bring or pick up their child on a schedule that doesn’t allow for the “extra” trip to the office without special arrangements.

        4. Specialk9*

          @Good Cheap or Soon
          “I say this because the way you describe them is pretty… ouch. Working from home doesn’t mean your coworkers aren’t busting their asses.”
          Hunh? Are you talking about someone other than OrganizedHRChaos?

          Because otherwise it’s weird – OrganizedHRChaos has been scrupulously respectful about people who, in MY opinion, are being entitled obnoxious brats.

      2. Someone else*

        The scenario I was describing is the opposite numbers of what you’ve described, so it probably doesn’t apply to your specific situation. I was just throwing it out here (hopefully) for the benefit of others in general, and mainly getting at the notion that if these are meant to be team building or morale building, if it were a situation where remote employees CAN’T participate (which it sounds like doesn’t apply to you) then it’s worth reconsidering the office-centric approach to said team and/or morale building.

    2. Kate the Magic Dragon*

      We are a company of 1200 and 40% remote. Remotes get money for desk setups roughly equivalent to the cost of office desk, and there are 2 parties a year where we reimburse them for dinner out. They do not get lunch, or the small events that happen in offices. Our biggest perk is the workweeks and everyone gets those.

  4. Retired accountant*

    #1 – I found out early in my career that groups of people will always be divisive. This office vs. that one, day shift vs. night shift, etc. We had one office location that due to its size and local fire codes was required to have an external water source, so there was a large pond on the grounds. This caused much distress to people at the other offices (but THEY get a pond!). Another office had two local holidays the other offices didn’t get, and on those two days people from the other offices would spend all day calling the closed office, dramatically hang up the phone and sigh “Oh, I forgot THEY get Columbus Day off”. Every year. You can take reasonable action to make everyone feel included, but accept that, like the poor, these people will always be with us. (And, as Bruce says, someday we’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny.)

    1. pllnslct*

      I worked for a company that had its main office in Denver & a smaller office in Boulder. The Boulder property manager was very laid back & those folks could bring in dogs into the office. Some of the Denver folks complained that the Boulder folks shouldn’t be able to do that since Denver couldn’t. Honestly, how petty!

      1. Bea*

        This is such childish behavior. I didn’t ever have issues with “Suzie has ice cream, why can’t I?,” kind of crud even in my youth. Maybe I’ll thank my parents for doing whatever it was not to raise a self centered whiner. Unless the office is giving uneven bonuses or crazy pay differences, I can’t believe the crying for gift certificates and puppies. And I like dogs more than humans.

    2. Old Cynic*

      I have a supplier whose headquarters is in Canada. I hear gripes from their local (to me) employees that the home office gets all Canadian and US holidays, but employees in the states only get US holidays off. And it’s even frustrating to me when I call customer service to find they’re closed on what is for me a typical workday!

      1. Chinook*

        Ironically, that is because all US holidays (except Thanksgiving) are usually the same date as US ones, so if the American employees wanted things to be the same for the Canadians, they either have to ask for the Canadians to break their own employment law or ask their American supervisors to also give them the Canadian holidays off.

        Having worked the reverse at a few companies with US head offices with Canadian remote offices, it is also a pain for us because the American accountants always want their year end books closed within the first week of January, which means you have disgruntled Canadians missing out on the biggest family holiday week of the year because we have 3 stats/office closed dates the last week of December and the only people who usually work that last week are either hiding from family or highly resentful in a way that no amount of stat. holiday pay will compensate.

    3. TootsNYC*

      local fire codes was required to have an external water source, so there was a large pond on the grounds. This caused much distress to people at the other offices (but THEY get a pond!).

      This reminds me of the “why isn’t there a Straight Pride Parade?”
      To which the answer is, “Be glad you don’t need one!”

    4. Ali G*

      This reminds me of when I worked for an organization that had staff in Canada and the US (I am in the US). Canada has So. Many.Holidays. Even Province has a Holiday. There is Canada Day. Family Day. These are all in addition to the normal Memorial Days, Thanksgiving, etc.
      It was so unbalanced that HR ended up taking 2 personal days from the Canadians (so they got 3 per year and we got 5).
      But the best was the day were on an all-staff conference call and one of the Canadians was complaining how “all the Americans always take off the Friday after *their* Thanksgiving.” Their statement was met with a barrage of voices all saying “IT’S A FEDERAL HOLIDAY!!!!”

      1. Chinook*

        In their defense, you did take away two of their personal days because of their stat. holidays. And is 10 statutory holidays really considered a lot? because that is all there is (though which 10 does vary from province to province and we don’t complain because BC has one earlier than Alberta’s or that the one in Ontario is in August).

        1. EM*

          Wow. FWIW, to a non-American, this whole thing reads as bizarre. My company is multinational, so *everyobe* gets four weeks annual leave, 10 days suck leave and whatever public holidays are required by their location. We adopted the Australian holiday standard for everyone, rather than trying to reduce the days taken by Australians to match what seems a very small amount in the US. Taking holiday days of Canadians seem bizarre to me .

            1. monsters of men*

              Love “suck leave.” Would love to take a day off when I think I’m not producing my best work.

      2. Trisha*

        Canada has 11 Statutory Holidays – I believe the US has the same. They just happen to be different days. We don’t have “memorial day” or “presidents day”. We have Victoria Day and Family Day (Provincial) and Boxing Day. We have Canada Day – you guys have the 4th of July – what’s the difference?

      3. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse*

        The Friday after Thanksgiving isn’t a US federal holiday–not at all.

  5. Chocolate Teapot*

    2. “…curate our personal brand and become a thought leader in our professions.”


    No. No idea what you are talking about.

    My main interest in Linkedin is finding out if people I used to work with are still in the same jobs or have moved to work for other companies.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Also, no one should be a “thought leader” when they’re still entry-level. Not that you can’t have good thoughts while you’re new in your profession, or even maybe write an interesting blog if it comes from a place of real contemplation, but 99.9% of the time people who are new in a role trying to “lead” with their expert thoughts come off as naive and pompous.

      1. RoadsGirl*

        Call me old-fashioned, but sometimes I think there are just too many leaders in some workplaces. Sure, I think any worker worth their salt will eventually start beating out a great path of their own accord and “lead” but is there anything wrong with just wanting to be a good worker who can follow instructions and get things done?

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Hear, hear!

          A leader without followers is a conductor waving a baton at an imaginary orchestra.

          1. Turkletina*

            I read this as “waving a banana at an imaginary orchestra”, which provided me with a hilarious mental image.

        2. Tuxedo Cat*

          I’m with you. I’ve also had so many bad experiences with people who claim to be thought leaders. Basically, people with little experience in the area who wanted everyone to bask in their “wisdom” and do quality work while the thought leader got the accolades.

      2. pleaset*

        no one should be a “thought leader” when they’re still entry-level. ”

        Perhaps leader is the wrong word, but in library school we were encouraged to participate actively in our profession, via blogging and sharing what we learned if possible.

        Certainly at the graduate school level, even if someone is new to the field of librarianship, everyone should be producing at least some new knowledge about the field. That’s thought leadership.

        1. Colette*

          How can you effectively produce new knowledge about a field you’ve never worked in? That doesn’t usually work well in fields that involve peopl instead of data.

          1. Lora*

            It doesn’t work so great in fields with data either…without a lot of experience, it isn’t trivial to sort out good data from BS, and even editors of Cell / Nature / Science fail at it, sometimes spectacularly.

          2. pleaset*

            “How can you effectively produce new knowledge about a field you’ve never worked in? That doesn’t usually work well in fields that involve peopl instead of data.”

            Internships and research with people. Both of which we do in library school. The “work” is the scholarship.

            There are things happening in the world today that did not happen five years ago. And stories that no one has captured because the world is constantly changing.

            As examples, my fellow students did good research and writing about how groups like immigrants and teens seek information. This is basically “fieldwork” by people new to the field. I did original research on the extent to which nonprofit organizations use open source licensing to share information. This was new , and it was published in a professional journal (not peer-reviewed).

            Sure, some newbie cannot produce knowledge equivalent to research and writing by experienced scholars, but they can and do observe the world around them, in directed ways, and capture and share what they see.

            Our professors encouraged us to do this in graduate school. It’s fundamental.

          3. Pescadero*

            As someone who works with researchers (students and faculty) at a major research university… the answer is “research”.

            It’s not at all unusual for students, sometimes even undergraduate students, to be working on novel research and producing new knowledge about fields they have never had a job in.

            There was even a local high school student that presented his research into ligands to bind (and thus remove) lead from drinking water at the American Chemical Society regional meeting.

        2. Tuxedo Cat*

          This might be a field difference, but in the fields I’m experienced with (STEM and social sciences), producing new knowledge isn’t thought leadership. That’s just doing research.

          A thought leader from my experiences is someone who has sway and can shift the field’s priorities or change the culture or do something. If I were a thought leader and I said, “We should really focus on striped teapots from now on”, other researchers would focus on striped teapots. There’s an assumption that there is some rationale for the opinions based on ample experience- that isn’t necessarily true from what I’ve seen but that’s the assumption. Tuxedo Cat and Tuxedo Cat’s former boss might have the same exact opinion and beliefs, articulated in the same exact way, but Tuxedo Cat’s former boss is the thought leader. He has the influence to do so.

        3. TootsNYC*

          I suppose that if you do this right, the way to become a “thought leader” is to spend your first several years learning, so you have some experience and facts and knowledge of the issues for those thoughts to spring from.

          So reading articles about your field would be part of that; reposting them on LinkedIn shows that you are learning about and thinking about your field, and it makes you look more invested and more thoughtful.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        This. It’s like the student who wanted a job being paid to come up with great ideas for companies–those jobs exist, but usually as a subset of other jobs that have qualifications beyond “has ideas,” and the jobs go to people who spent a decade or two becoming the go-to idea person. It’s not a role where you look at fresh college grads–or people halfway through college–and say “The summer intern should be an established thought leader in our field.”

      4. Allison*

        Right, exactly. No one cares about your big ideas when you’re young, unless you’ve somehow proven that you can put them into action and actually accomplish something. Even then, hiring managers looking for entry level folks don’t really want someone coming in fresh out of college and telling people how things should be done, that’d be annoying and obnoxious, they want someone who’s gonna do things the way the company wants them done.

      5. Anon for now*

        Yep. The fact that the presenter used those words show that he knows nothing about how to effectively use linked-in. I work in a laboratory. Seeing a linked-in profile like described would be an active turn off because it would suggest that we would be hiring someone who knows very little but thinks they know a lot. That is the worst type to try to train.

    2. RoadsGirl*

      I’m a millennial and I do hear nonsense like this. My career is fairly straight forward. I teach elementary school and while that does have a lot of room for creativity and stuff, I don’t even know what my “brand” is and what a “thought leader” would even mean.

      I’m not a fan of buzzwords. I recall this video skit recently where a business presentation was given with all sorts of buzz words and enthusiasm. I had a friend who was REALLY good with those terms translate it, and it led to the skit being even all the more hysterical, but really, it was delightful satire on all these crazy words and terms of fluff.

      1. pleaset*

        For you, thought leadership could be your sharing (such as on a blog) how you adapt or develop curriculums, advice you give parents for what they should or shouldn’t do with their kid over the summer, or things you wish you’d known when starting out.

        Now, is that a good use of time in terms of helping getting hired in your field? I don’t know. But there is a lot more learning and knowledge in the world, not just among “experts.”

        1. TootsNYC*

          Or, on your blog you share what you learned as a rookie or a midshipman (to mix metaphors) from other, more knowledgeable sources.

          It might be more about “providing a place to do your thinking and learning ‘out loud,'” and maybe “demonstrating that you’re learning and what.”

      1. Mookie*

        The only I can think of are the self-appointed English-speaking ones in the ‘skeptic’ community.

  6. NeverNicky*

    OP1 – I am the only employee who works from home full time for my (small) organisation and I’m the one furthest away (3.5 hours). I am in the office for a block of 3 days in the month on a set schedule. Yes, working from home has many benefits but so does working in an office.
    As a growing organisation going through change, we recently had a series of lunchtime briefings with pizza on days I wasn’t due to be in. It wasn’t worth me travelling for those so I Skyped in and my colleagues ordered me my own pizza to be delivered. The cost was minimal to the organisation but the impact on my morale was huge.

    1. OrganizedHRChaos*

      As I mentioned in a comment above, we have around 100 employees in the office and about 25 remote employees. By remotely, I mean all remote workers live within an hour drive and they all started out by working within the office. I could understand their frustrations if they were not offered the opportunity to come into the office to enjoy the events. If it were a matter of ordering a pizza for each remote worker, we could probably handle that on occasion but we often have monthly food trucks or restaurant catering and its just not feasible to ask the food truck to drive around town to deliver a meal or be expected to “door dash” a meal every time we have an event, especially as we have been dealing with this dog and pony show for almost 20 years of being in business. I simply feel that as they are given the opportunity to come in and work in the office and enjoy the events, by not doing that, when should not complain. I may be wrong in my way of thinking but the in-office staff does not get the opportunity to work in their bathrobe, get to enjoy their dog lay at their feet under the desk or any of the other things remote staff enjoys.

      1. Kiwi*

        I agree with you, but I also wonder if you might get a good effect from doing something just for the remote workers a couple of times a year, not on the same day as the in-office events, but separate. For example, getting food delivered to them. That’d make them feel appreciated, which is likely what they’re missing out on.

        1. RoadsGirl*

          I think there’s a difference between the occasional gesture of coworker comradery with remote workers and those same coworkers demanding every little thing.

          A couple jobs ago, while no one worked from home, we had a total of three offices far enough apart it was difficult to see each other, despite there maybe being thirty of us all told. Those occasional get-togethers were so much fun!

          If you work remotely and you feel like you’re missing out, head on in now and then! It’s a good boost!

        2. OrganizedHRChaos*

          I would love to be able to do something “special” for them if they choose not to work in the office on an event day but coming up with something they would participate in or enjoy other than cash or gift cards is a challenge. When I have asked for suggestions from them, all we get are gift cards. I would rather give them gas money if it were an issue than generic gift cards or having to figure out which restaurant each one will eat ay so not to waste them. We are a family owned company and the owners are very active in the day to day runnings and activity. If they decide to bring in donuts one morning, does that mean I need to door dash each employee a donut? Do you see the dilemma? I encourage all of my employees to enjoy events the company offers and to be honest, some of the remote workers won’t even bother to come in for a company picnic or the end of year dinner party at a hotel. I am not going to ever expect 100% participation from my staff but I also don’t want to hear them complain when we hold a contest, host a catered lunch, launch a wellness week (like this week) where we bring in chair massages, yoga instructors, and the like and they are given the opportunity to work in the office at any time of the year to enjoy any in-office event. I don’t think I am being unfair in this thought process.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            It sounds like the remote employees could participate if they chose to, but they don’t want to. And I strongly suspect that if you offered the in office employees a choice between a catered lunch and cash, many of them would pick cash, too, so it’s not just about being remote.

            Maybe, once or twice a year make the company event a gift card, to *everyone*, with something fairly generic like a Starbucks card. And occasionally have the catered lunch on the day the remote workers come in for a meeting, when they are there anyways. Other than that, make sure you give reasonable notice for the events, so they can plan for it if they want to come in. But I don’t think you need to compensate them for their choice to work from home and only come in to the office (or interact with their coworkers) when absolutely necessary, any more than you need to give your in-office employees permission to work in their pyjamas.

          2. Marlene*

            They’re probably feeling less valued because they DO come to the office, every month. And at home working, they are employees just as much as those who are in the office. I strongly suggest you hold at least some of the special employee events on the day a month they’re in the office.

            1. Colette*

              If they’re in the office for company-wide meetings, that wouldn’t be a good day for things like chair massages because everyone is in a meeting and would not be able to participate.

              1. Goya de la Mancha*

                This, and I assume that a company-wide meeting also means catered meals already.

          3. Temperance*

            Do NOT give them gas money. Invite them to join in and come to the office if they would like.

            I would be resentful as hell if I found out that my org was giving remote employees, who already have a huge perk and basically get more $$ than me because they don’t have to commute every day, gas money to come in for fun things.

          4. Artemesia*

            “You seem really unhappy working remote. We have a lot of people on the waiting list; would you be happier rotating back into the office? Working at home can be isolating and it is not something everyone is up for. We’d be happy to welcome you back to the office.”

            1. Specialk9*

              Exactly this. You guys are ruining it for us who are incredibly grateful to get to work from home. I don’t think they deserve it if they’re harassing poor OP every single month trying to shake them down for even MORE money, on top of saved gas, car wear/tear, tolls, wardrobe, and stress.

          5. Okie Dokie*

            Maybe it’s time to address this with their supervisors that the constant emails are distracting and unproductive. It’s time to shut it down. Make it a part of their WFH agreement that they understand they will miss out on in office perks but are welcome to attend.

          6. Not a Morning Person*

            I would be so tired of hearing this. I would probably send an email that expresses “We have had this discussion before. I am sorry you feel left out. However, you have the opportunity to join everyone here in the office at any time. If you choose not to come in, then you’ve chosen to miss any of the activities that may be going on in the office that day. You are always welcome to join us here in the office, but if you choose not to, then I do not expect to hear another complaint about your choice.” And then just continue to reply with the exact same message every time. Save them so you can then follow up when you get the same complaint again from the same person. It may also be something you can include in your work from home policy, that people are always welcome to come in for office events, but that no arrangements will be made for those events to be replicated for people who choose the option to work from home.
            Good luck!

        3. RobM*

          I honestly feel that the OP#1 has covered this.
          In my job, I can choose whether or not to work from home. If I choose to work from home on the days there’s a special event in the office then it’s my choice to miss that event; I could have chosen to come in.

          This seems to be the position at OP’s company. The people who work from home could choose to come in to work on “all the pizzas” day or whatever if that’s important to them, and bask in all that lovely appreciation.

          If, however, these were posts that were designed from the get go for remote working and no office presence, e.g. if they were geographically isolated and the expectation was 100% that they would be based at home, I would argue very strongly that OP’s company _should_ be working on ways to be inclusive with the perks for these people as that’s an entirely different situation… but that’s simply not the case here.

      2. BRR*

        The remote employees are being unreasonable (and I work from home a good amount of the time). They get to choose between working remotely or lunch/massage/etc and they are choosing to work remotely. Some people are simply always going to find something to complain about.

        1. Pollygrammer*

          And if you start giving gift cards, you’re opening up a complicated kettle of fish to everyone.

          Will an on-site person complain that they’d prefer a gift card? Can the person who was out sick ask for one?

          1. BRR*

            That’s definitely a possibility. I would prefer a gift card over an office lunch or office massage. I would also understand if I was an office employee and remote workers got gift cards. But I think the LW probably wants less headaches haha

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          This strikes me a bit like the “If my former employer is giving retroactive raises, can I get one?” or “If our office in a city 5000 miles away does summer hours, shouldn’t our office do that or raises?” reasoning. Where someone somewhere says “We totally deserve croissants, and it’s unfair some other group gets them” and it becomes A Thing in the subgroup about how they are being done wrong, even though it’s not at all logical and people outside scratch their heads at why these people don’t buy their own croissants.

          1. Lily Rowan*

            Yeah, it occurred to me this winter to ask someone in our small satellite office what they did when we (HQ) had a snow day, and of course the answer was, they just work like normal! On the other hand, they don’t have to shovel. And because they are good colleagues and nice people, no one (as far as I know) was complaining about it or looking for extra perks.

            1. Specialk9*

              Ha your HQ actually takes snow days? Mine was like, yeah, 6′ of snow? Come in, we made a narrow path of safety, once you actually enter our parking lot. Don’t want to die getting here? Use your vacation.

      3. Thlayli*

        I’ve never heard of in-office massage or yoga sessions, and I’ve only ever had catered lunch as part of a big meeting that was expected to continue through lunch.

        What is the purpose of all these events? If they are arranged eg to celebrate a big win, I can see why the remote workers feel slighted. I used to work in a different country to the rest of my team, and often worked from home. on occasion there would be a dinner out to celebrate a big win or successful project completion for a team I was involved in. My job involved a lot of travel to the main office and these events were always organised on days when the whole team (including me) could attend. I would have been pretty taken aback if a project or bid I had worked hard on was successful and the rest of the team got treated to a big meal to celebrate and I got … nothing.

        On the other hand, if these perks are not related to celebrating work achievements, your attitude makes a little more sense.

        How they are announced is probably one factor to consider. “As a thank you for all your hard work over the last few weeks, we have masseuses coming onsite tomorrow!” That would be bad wording as it would imply that only the hard work of the office based staff is appreciated. Also most people can’t rearrangge their schedule on one days notice so most home workers couldn’t come in on one days notice.

        When informing work from homers about perks make sure you give them enough notice that they could realistically atrend.

        Without knowing the purpose of the perk, I can’t offer any more thoughts on how to word them.

        1. OrganizedHRChaos*

          We have been doing monthly events for many years. Some are holiday focused like decorating cubes in July 4th colors or Halloween contests, others are just treated days. We announce the next months’ events ahead of time so people can prepare. Sometimes its just a catered lunch, other times like this week we held a company-wide wellness week. We just completed open enrollment for benefits at the beginning of June and we wanted to allow staff to relax and renew. I personally didn’t participate in the yoga but did with the chair massage. People can participate at will. If we were to hold a big “congratulations on a job well done” type of event, it would most likely be the same as a regular event but we do send the remotes a gift card for a meal out. The thing I asked about is that even though people know every month there will be something and they can come in and work in the office, they choose not to yet want us to send them a monetary gift even though they chose not to enjoy the event.

          1. acmx*

            Theyre just trying to get money for themselves. They can’t be bothered to come in and partake with their coworkers so these perks aren’t that important.

            If you did an off site meal near them, do you think they would go? I don’t lol

          2. Thlayli*

            Ah, in that case I think they are being unreasonable. They have plenty of advance notice and can come in to work to access the event any time they like. They’re being silly.

          3. Ginger ale for all*

            Perhaps sending gift cards for employees regardless of whether or not they are in-house or remote might break up some of the belly aching? For instance, how about gift cards for their 5th anniversary with the company or excelling on a difficult task? This would be in addition to all the other perks you give because quite frankly, I would love to work at a company like yours where you could be work at home or in office with the way you have described it.

            1. Flinty*

              Yeah, if you have a culture of these little appreciation perks, it would be good if at least a few of them didn’t rely on being physically in the office.

              But it does sound like that’s already the case – the OP has stated in other comments that they do occasionally send gift cards, etc. The point of these events is not to provide additional compensation – if that were the case, the company could just add an extra ~$20 to everyone’s paycheck each month. The point is to build morale/rapport/networking, and sending a gift card in the mail does not have an equal impact.

            2. Specialk9*

              No, any giving in to these unreasonable people will reinforce that unrelenting griping is an effective strategy. Never give up! Never surrender!

          4. Marcy Marketer*

            I would just tack onto those emails a note: “Remote workers are welcomed to participate! Desks are available and no notice is required to spend time on-site to enjoy wellness week.”

      4. Sarah*

        If your employees are within a hour hour and a half drive it is on them to come in to the office for these perks. Sending employees that work less than an hour away food and gift cards shouldn’t happen, they are choosing not to attend. Them not coming into the office for these events is the equivalent of an office employee staying home on pizza day, you don’t get the pizza because your not there. It’s different when you have to catch a plane to come in to work verses getting dressed and fighting traffic for the day. I’ve been working at home for 2 years now and this is crazy, your workers are being petty put your foot down the perks are for who is in the office period. If they keep it up tell them you are considering making those days mandatory in office days, or that maybe working from home isnt working out for this employee. Working at home is a perk in itself, and these employees have the opportunity they just don’t want to take it.

  7. RoadsGirl*

    #4. I found myself with fluffy musings on the balance of competency and loyalty. It was a feel-good, circular thought process with little substance.

    Can I go ahead and be a decent worker who promises not summon interdimensional demons on my organization?

    1. Good, Cheap, or Soon. Pick Two.*

      I just had visions of James Comey. You got demons? Can you show me how?

  8. Blossom*

    #2 – did the speaker actually say that these tips would help influence hiring managers during an application process? If not, then I think the OP and Alison’s response miss the mark. From reading the letter, all we know is that the speaker said the tips would help you *differentiate yourself* among other professionals in your field. And, followed well, they will. Posting good quality content, engaging well with others and – yes – even gathering endorsements (not to mention recommendations) can certainly help you build a positive reputation in your field and learn more about the bigger picture, which could pay off in all sorts of indirect ways.

    Different fields clearly have different norms, besides which you obviously don’t want to try to position yourself as a great thought leader when you’re just starting out, so it’s true that some of that advice may not be immediately applicable. Like, don’t post a video tomorrow for the sake of it.

    Alternatively, you may not feel any need or desire whatsoever to “build a brand”, and that’s fine too. I’m sure your next hiring manager is not going to be searching for the next big thought leader above all else.

    1. akiwiinlondon*

      I came to comment to this also.

      I think the ‘building your brand’ is before you are job hunting, it helps grow your professional network so you may be more likely to hear about a role and possibly have a contact reach out to you.

      It also works vice-versa, as a manager I encourage my team to network and think about ‘building a brand’ as if they enjoy working for our company and aren’t looking to leave they might be the ones sharing the role with their network.
      The specifics of LinkedIn, I’m not sure how valuable it would be (also dependant on the industry) but I wouldn’t rule out ‘building brand you’ entirely (although I am not a fan of the phrasing, I work in advertising/media it’s pretty common). As Blossom said, you can’t really position yourself as a ‘thought leader’ when your just starting out.

      I agree once the application has reached my inbox as a hiring manager, I’ll look at the job history and I might look at ‘Recommendations’. LinkedIn rarely gives me more insight than a CV I have on hand, but sometimes will have information presented in a different way. I also have a curiosity on shared connections but that wouldn’t impact my decisions as people gather all sorts of connections.

      If you want a hiring manager to know your achievements, don’t write a blog, make sure you highlight this in the experience with that role. But if you want to grow your LinkedIn network it could be beneficial (but again I think this would be highly dependant on your industry how much people actually engage with LinkedIn content).

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      Every intern’s immediate goal is a full time job. Even if it’s not explicitly said, interns are going to view the information in the context of helping them find a full time job. And they’d be wasting their time “building their brand” through blog posts and endorsements when the best way for an intern to “build their brand” is to make high quality and impactful work contributions and be generally helpful to their colleagues.

      And honestly, I think time spent reading old columns here would be more beneficial to an intern than curating their LinkedIn profile when it comes to finding a full time job.

      1. Anon for now*

        This exactly, especially in a lab. The way to get hired or get into grad school is to do very well at your project and get an outstanding letter of recommendation from the PI or other collaborators. Make an impression in person as someone who learns quickly, is organized and effective, asks thoughtful questions and knows what they are talking about. Avoid looking like you are only trying to make connections or that you think you know more than you actually do.

    3. Mike C.*

      This “tips” still won’t help anyone professionally.

      They’re complete bullsh!t and we should call it out when we see it.

  9. Blossom*

    #4 – maybe you could ask something along the lines of “what makes an employee really valued here at ABC Corp?”. Then hear whether you get woolly words about being a team player through thick and thin, and “good old Doris over there has been with us for 35 years and has never changed” – or whether they talk about being razor sharp at the task in hand, effecting change, high accuracy, winning awards or whatever it is that makes someone competent in your field.

    You could also try asking how they deal with low performers? It’s a bit on the nose, but their reaction may be revealing.

    (I’m now terrified of the hard-as-nails company I’ve just invented in considering this response, btw!)

    1. Just Jess*

      Yes; OP #4 has a great question that they just need the right wording for. A few suggestions:

      a) What is your team’s average tenure/how long do people usually stay with your team (in plain speak)?
      b) How long have your top performers been working here?
      c) When you are looking to promote from within, what do you value?

      Not perfect suggestions, but I think we can get there with a little massaging and possibly asking a series of questions.

      1. OP Numbah 4*

        See, if you asked my current CEO these questions, she would sing the praises of the department manager described in my comment below.

        They’re still great questions, and I shall add them to my list! I’m just not sure if they’ll really get at what I’m trying to look for.

    2. OP Numbah 4*

      This is great, thank you! I think this gets at what I’m trying to find out without coming right out and saying, “Do you refuse to get rid of people who are completely unable to perform the basic duties of their positions just because they’re loyal to you?”

      Full disclosure: at my current company there is a department manager who is obviously, startlingly incompetent. Her manager literally had to work all weekend to complete an assignment for her because she couldn’t figure it out and refused to work extra hours to get things sorted. She left for another job, couldn’t handle actually being expected to know what she’s doing, and came back to this company. The CEO *loves* her because she is “so loyal to our company!” This is the type of situation I’m looking to avoid going forward.

      If your eyeballs literally rolled out of your head and across the room, I apologize.

      1. Flinty*

        I think the suggestions above are great, and I think you could also ask about what the performance review process looks like, plus Alison’s “how do you measure success in this position?” I think companies that value performance will have an answer to that question, and companies that don’t will stumble.

      2. the search for understanding*

        If you’re applying for a job working for an elected official, expect that loyalty will be valued over competence; though not true in every case, it’s a general guideline that works more often than not.

      3. Moth*

        OP – I don’t have any great solutions for you on how to get at these types of answers in an interview, but you have my empathy! The company I’m at also values loyalty to a fault and will promote and endorse middle managers who are just awful at their jobs, so long as the middle manager expresses and displays outright loyalty. And when competent people are pushed out, their former employees are pressed to state who their loyalty lies with, their old manager or their new one. And I don’t mean in a way where they beat around the bush with it, they’ll simply state directly things like, “I’m concerned that you’re still loyal to [competent manager] and not to me.” It can be borderline creepy and is frustrating because some employees express loyalty by being a good employee and making decisions that will best serve the company. Others express loyalty by declaring their unending fealty to managers, even if it means overlooking sketchy things. And they’re rewarded… So I get your desire to get away from that! I will say that when I’ve looked at my own company on Glassdoor, there are hints of that problem in employee reviews. You might not be able to get an answer from the hiring manager, but if there’s a trend towards hinting to that in reviews, it’s probably worth taking notice of. Good luck!

      4. Specialk9*

        Wait, she’s so loyal that she left, and left you in the lurch? I mean, even in the 50s, when loyalty went two ways with pension, nobody would consider you loyal for leaving and coming back only after failing. You must just want to scream at this nonsense.

      5. tangerineRose*

        Wow! I don’t think a person who incompetently puts in their time at the company is being loyal. I know a lot of people who have worked at the same company for over a decade who are hard workers, very smart, very competent – those are the kind of people I’d call “loyal”.

  10. Beth Jacobs*

    If someone asked me without any context whether my organisation values loyalty over competence, I would presume they are loyal and incompetent :D I would go more along the lines of: how is feedback given and how is success measured in the role – this should give you some idea whether the manager knows what they’re doing.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Yes, my first thought would be that they felt that their loyalty to their employer had not been reciprocated, and at best that they had been disciplined or fired for something they felt their employer ought to have let go becuase they were a loyal employee!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      There was a literary agency who on their website emphasized that they valued loyalty above all else. Also, they were only interested in established authors looking to ditch their current agencies.

      That wasn’t a good look, but OP’s question takes it too far the other way.:It’s like you’re trying to trap them in a logic puzzle where if you are competent at your job, then you don’t need to be a pleasant coworker and team player because you have basic competence. It would come across as far too adversarial–a red flag about how difficult you will be to work with, rather than how frustrated you are at being given Greta’s work while she paints on an easel in her cube.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*


        It’s remarkably like those companies that demand you give them weeks or months of notice, but also demand that new hires be available immediately. Or the ones that rely heavily on references, but refuse to give them. (I had one that refused to even confirm whether you’d worked there or not, which makes all their ex-employees look like liars!)

    3. Emilitron*

      Yes, this! If I were asked this question and trying to tell the person what they wanted to hear, I’d assume they wanted to hear how well-loved and appreciated our staff is, and how they’d be treated really well if they worked here, and I would make a mental flag that maybe they didn’t rank their own competence very highly.

    4. Yorick*

      Or I’d think they were one of those people who think they’re way better than they really are, who believe that they get passed up for promotions and stuff because other people are yes men.

    5. Specialk9*

      Fascinating. I thought it was a “holy smokes guys HERE’S my baggage, you’re going to deal with it a LOT over the coming years!!” kind of question, but you’re right it also brings up the question of whether the questioner considers themself to be illoyal or incompetent.

    6. Empty Sky*

      It would put me on guard, because it’s a quiz question (i.e., it’s clear that there is a specific ‘right’ answer). I would likely assume that the person was working with one or more incompetent but loyal employees who they felt were valued unfairly highly, and wanted to know if the same thing would happen here.

      I think there are ways to ask the question without the ‘badmouthing current/former employee’ overtones that are carried by this framing. Blossom’s suggestion above is a good example, and you could tailor it a bit more if you like (“Thinking about employees who have been with your organization a long time, what is it you value most about them?”) That one would not set off any red flags for for me and I’d probably give you an honest answer, and you could draw some conclusions from the qualities that I chose to highlight or not highlight.

  11. LDN Layabout*

    #1 – Is there space to accommodate them in the office to work as well as enjoy the perks if they decide to partake?

    Because if there is, then they /do/ have the same perks you have at the office, they’re just deciding other perks are more worthwhile to them e.g. not coming into the office.

    (This is different once the remote workers are further afield/in a different office, but in this case? No)

    1. Beth Jacobs*

      Based on the comments by OP, the employees have desks and can come in when they want to. It’s a bit like declining an invitation to come to a party, but asking the host to send the wine, food and gift bag to your home – after all, why shouldn’t you get whatever the party attendees are having?

      The employees are simply being ridiculous.

  12. SomeoneElse*

    OP1, I have no real opinion on whether your remote workers should/should not get the same rewards etc. but, as someone who works from home (I’m self employed), this cynical trope of remote workers being in their jammies/bathrobes/tank and knickers really, really irritates me.
    It’s incredibly dismissive and it gives the impression that you think people working from home aren’t really working. Just because you’re couching it in little tear-downs about their clothing, instead of straight out saying what you really mean, doesn’t mean it isn’t coming across loud and clear.
    No wonder your remote employees don’t feel like part of the team.

    1. BRR*

      I read it very differently. I read it that the LW is identifying the perks of working from home. I work from home a lot and cherish that I don’t have style my hair or shave and can wear comfortable clothes. There are pluses and minuses to working from home or the office. I also don’t think the remote workers are asking for these things to be part of the team.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, that’s how I read both of those points as well, especially with OP’s additional information in the comments.

      2. Scarlet*

        Yeah, if they wanted to “be part of the team”, the most efficient way to do it would be to come and join their colleagues during these events (which they don’t). Demanding gift cards would completely defeat the purpose.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          This. It’s not like they are 500 miles away from everyone else, and so can’t physically participate and are looking for ways to remotely participate and build more bonds with the in-house staff–a gift certificate to a restaurant doesn’t do that.

          And agree with most sub-commenters here that being able to work barefoot in comfy clothing is an advantage of remote work. So is being able to walk my dogs midday. Or that no one can see you’re clipping your nails while on the conference call. It’s not dismissive to note that these things are true.

      3. Sarah*

        I read it as a perk too, and everyone thinks that so the OP is far from alone. As a work from home employee of a large corporation I have worked in yoga pants or jammie pants every day I have been at home for the past 3 years, and I am completely positive that at least 250 others do as well (we have a online community the company created) and discuss the best yoga and jammie pants to be productive. I get up get showered and put on either clean Yoga pants or clean jammies and either a tank top or long sleeve no yank shirts from duluth (the most awesome WAH clothing line). And just for the record I’m a great employee in yoga pants or Jammies.

    2. Scarlet*

      I work from home and I work in my pajamas a lot. I don’t work any less because I’m not wearing proper clothes. “Working in your jammies” is commonly used by freelancers and people who WFH because a lot of us do it. It has nothing to do with our productivity and there’s nothing “cynical” about it.

      Those workers can choose to come to the office on event days and participate with the rest of the team. They choose not to, so they don’t get to complain.

    3. Just Employed Here*

      Another data point: I usually work in an office, but very occasionally take a day to work from home (agreed in advance with my boss and my team).

      Being able to work in sweatpants is absolutely one of the advantages with taking a day to do this, along with skipping the commute and being able to focus on a specific set of tasks, whereas the colleagues at the office take care of those tasks that require physical presence, such as welcoming customers and anything that arrives by post (we’re a small organization).

      There’s nothing cynical about it, and it has nothing to do with productivity. It’s just a perk that can be used occasionally, as long as others are covering the office that day.

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I would judge someone who dressed up to work from home. Like, isn’t being comfortable one of the big benefits of working from home?

      1. Tableau Wizard*

        I actually found that on the days that I work from home, I’m much more productive and “serious” about my work when I’m more properly dressed than when I’m in my jammies. It just helps separate the “Work” part of my day from the “Home” part of my day. YMMV

        1. Emily K*

          The sweet spot I found is asking myself, “Would I wear this to run into a grocery store?” That’s a high enough bar that I feel like I’ve started my day and made the mental transition. It’s several notches below what I would wear to the office, though.

      2. Tuxedo Cat*

        I hope you’re joking. Some people find it useful to dress up and work from home. It changes the mindset that you’re at work.

        1. Turkletina*

          I think there’s a difference between “dressing up” and “dressing”. I WFH, and I almost always “dress” — I put on a business-casual-type shirt, nice jeans, and usually light makeup. I don’t “dress up”, and I would look askance at someone working from home wearing a suit.

          Of course, everyone’s definition of “dressing (up)” is different.

          1. Tuxedo Cat*

            I was using dress up to mean wearing an outfit that would be deemed appropriate for the office if they were to go in. My wardrobe is pretty consistent, but I know some WFH people whose working hour clothes are much nicer than their non-working hour clothes.

            I imagine there might be some people who do a full suit to work from home. Some people consider that I wear a full face of makeup often to be dressing up. If it works for them, I think it’s fine. People have clothes preferences for whatever reasons.

      3. Hannah*

        According to my husband it is the main and for him only benefit to Working from home. My husband works from home, we were at an away wedding in the spring and he was getting dressed in his favorite suit and we noticed that his jacket was a little lighter than the pants. We couldn’t figure out why until his co-worker & real life BFF (who also works from home 1 block over) laughed and called it “Work from Home Business Attire”. When you only get dressed up from the waist up for your skype calls. They both have the suit jacket and white button up short sleeve shirt buttoned so they can slide it over their head and pull the jacket on for any video call and can easily return to boxers and a t-shirt when it’s over.

        1. Erin*

          It reminds me of a theory my friend in highschool had about news anchors not wearing pants underneath the desk.

    5. Phoenix Programmer*

      Yeah I found all the talk of entitlement about an entire group of employees to indicate their is division between the two groups that needs digging into.

    6. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

      Exactly. When I stay at my BF’s house who works from home I only see him at lunch time and at the end of his workday. Otherwise he’s working at his desk. Any time he takes away from his work has to be made up later. He gets up, dresses, has breakfast and starts his workday. He doesn’t take personal calls and turns people away at the door who show up assuming that because he’s at home that means he’s available for fun times.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          My thoughts, exactly. I turned people away during WFH days and eventually just ignored the doorbell and persistent knocking. It took a while and I caught some flak, but they stopped the drive-bys.

    7. Forking Great Username*

      How is it implying they’re not working to say that they have the perk of being able to work in their underwear, pajamas, sweats, etc. That’s a factual statement that has zero to do with how much work they’re getting done.

      1. Quickbeam*

        My company is considering elimination of WFH after data collection showed far less productivity. This was not helped by Facebook postings of people sunning and doing yard work with “WFH rocks!” captions. We do have remote employees in other states who would not be affected by this.

        1. Nanani*

          That’s “Assholes ruining the thing for everyone” not “Working from home isn’t really work”

      2. Tuxedo Cat*

        Maybe I’m an outlier but people (random people, not the people I work for) have used it as a reason that I a. don’t take my work seriously and/or b. goof off at home. Some people think that the act of putting on at least business casual clothes is symbolic of being a “real” worker.

        It is definitely a perk and a money saver that I can wear pjs or be nude or whatever. I don’t get as offended by these comments, but people use the fact I can choose how I dress as a data point that WFH isn’t actually work.

        1. Scarlet*

          I think it’s indicative of a kind of narrow-mindedness, tbh. It’s like believing more butt-in-seat time = more productivity. It’s all about the *appearance* of working, it has nothing to do with actual productivity.

          1. Tuxedo Cat*

            Yeah, I think people have these ideas in their heads that don’t translate to reality. I remember working in grad school with STEM students and some people thought I wasn’t a *serious* STEM person because I dared to wear a dress.

    8. OrganizedHRChaos*

      I meant no disrespect. There are days that I wish I could go into the office in jammies or something equally as comfy. The quality of work output from my remote staff has never been in question. They have to meet the same goals in-office staff do to be able to remain working from home.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        OP forgive me if I am wrong but it seems like you might resent the employees that work from home a little bit? You stated that the company is trying to expand it’s work from home capability does that mean to allow all the call center people to work from home or to just increase the number from 25 people? Another question are the monthly events meant more as a general morale booster for all employees or is it meant specifically to make up for the other employees not being able to work from home?

        If it is meant to make up for others not working from home than I agree with you. But if it is meant to be a general morale booster then I think some more accommodations for the WFH employees can be made. While you make the event open to everyone the small benefit that non WFH employees get to enjoy by just going about their normal day, WFH employees have to actually change their whole routine and spend money to come in to work. So they might spend $10-$20 to come in to work when the value of a free meal might only be $7, in that regards they are kind of losing money.

        1. Specialk9*

          Where are you getting this from?! OP has been extremely respectful of people who are harassing them every month. I would be trying to get their managers involved to start getting them reined in or admonished, but OP is even-handedly trying to figure out how to make these brats happy. I really don’t get where you’re coming from here.

        2. tangerineRose*

          I’d be resenting people who were bugging me every month about a perk they could have if they were willing to drive to work for it.

          It sounds like only a small percentage of the WFH people are doing this though.

    9. Temperance*

      But …. they do get to work in their pajamas, or sweats, or underwear if they want to? That’s a huge perk. They don’t have to waste tons of money on work clothing, and can actually be comfortable.

      If it was socially acceptable, I’d be in a pair of pajama shorties right now.

      1. JamieS*

        I don’t think it’s really that big of a perk unless OP’s office has a strict/conservative dress code. If it’s more of a jeans and nice shirt/blouse (OT: what’s the difference between the two??) culture then I don’t see having the opportunity to not get dressed and wear PJs all day as being a big deal since plenty of people change out of their PJs even if they’re staying home all day.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Not having to commute to work is another huge perk. Also being able to play whatever music you want in the background without bugging your co-workers.

    10. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I did not read it like that at all. I read it as not having to adhere to a dress code being one of the perks of working from home, in addition to saving time/gas/car wear and tear on commute and so on. I did not see OP implying we cannot do work in a tank top and shorts.

    11. Starbuck*

      This is silly. In my office, people occasionally work from home (it’s available as needed, no one does it regularly though) and we all make jokes about this as a perk – getting to work in sweatpants, etc. There’s no implication that anyone’s slacking because of the wardrobe choice!

  13. Carlie*

    OP@#1/ OrganizedHRChaos: It might be a useful exercise to do a rough calculation of the financial benefits from working at home – based on your own office information, figure the average annual gas/parking/other transportation cost for your employees, average cost of a year’s work wardrobe (all seasons), daily prep/commute time per year times their salary per hour (or a fraction thereof since it’s their “free time”). Then just make sure you stay close to that amount per employee when you look at what you spend on in-office events.

    This will give you two things – an ironclad answer to the remote workers’ requests for parity (“Actually, the in-office events are to make up for the benefits you get that they don’t, not something extra for them”), and it eases your conscience in wondering if you really are treating them both fairly. If you find you do greatly overspend on the office events compared to the at-home workers then you can either dial down the office events or throw a gift card or two to the remote workers to match. It sounds like remote workers are a big part of your workforce, so any inequity (real or perceived) can have a huge impact on office morale and dynamics, so it would be a good idea to keep tabs on who gets what.

    1. Marlene*

      But then you have to calculate the home office expenses those employees incur. By IRS methods, you calculate the square footage of the office relative to the size of the home. Let’s say it’s 8% (as it is for my work-at-home husband.) That means 8% of mortgage, utilities, and the recent roof repair benefit his company. We also spend more on utilities because somebody is in the house all day rather than everyone being at school or work.

      1. Carlie*

        Sure, that can go into it too, as can food eaten out vs at home (there are always days you forget your lunch) etc. It’s just a suggestion to quantify and try for equality so you don’t get one side pointing and saying “chair massages!” while the other points and says “bathrobes!”

      2. TheSockMonkey*

        If the remote employees have the option to work in the office, you can’t use a home office for tax purposes. Basically if you are working from home for your convenience and not the company’s, you can’t deduct anything. That’s what my tax guy told me.

      3. Specialk9*

        That’s just silly. The company is not taking advantage of people for letting them work from home. This thread is getting ridiculous.

    2. Emily K*

      I understand the impulse to make spreadsheets more than most, and I’m on OP’s side here, but honestly I would find it patronizing to be presented with an equation like that. I smacks of “I spent a lot of time doing meaningless math to shut down discussion of your grievances.” It’s trying to take something that is inherently subjective and about how people feel, and pretend it’s a cut-and-dry situation with an objective mathematical answer.

      Because everyone’s situations are so different, you have to make a number of unfounded assumptions (how nice are the clothes they wear? how many different outfits would they keep on hand? would they ride transit or commute? would they pay to park at the office or park a few blocks away in a free lot and walk over? would they hire a dog walker or crate their dog or send their dog to doggy daycare if they had to be out all day?), which means the numbers you come up with based on those assumptions aren’t going to reflect any actual person’s reality.

      There’s also a big difference between “money employee saves thanks to flexible company policies” and “money company spends on employees.”

      When someone comes to you and has a grievance about how you’re making them feel, math is rarely the answer. You can certainly address the potential cost to the company, the value of perks remote workers enjoy, but they shouldn’t provide an “ironclad” case for telling someone they have no standing to feel wronged because numbers.

      1. BPT*

        I disagree. The things the remote employees are complaining about is not getting gift cards, i.e. money. They’re not saying, “hey, we feel left out of the office.” This isn’t about how the company is making them feel. They literally just want more money. They have the option of coming in and being with other employees. Employees who work in the office have to drive into the office to take advantage of these perks. So should every employee.

        I think it would be very beneficial to say “on average, work from home employees are saving X amount on transportation and work clothing every month compared to in-office employees. You are already getting a financial benefit to working from home. If you would like to trade that to work in office and get these perks in office (which you are already able to do anyway), be my guest.”

        1. Emily K*

          I didn’t get “they literally just want money” from what OP wrote:

          “[the remote employees are] complaining that we do lots of events for the office staff but we don’t have events that work-from-home staff can do remotely.”

          When asked what the company should do, they suggested not cash gift cards, but gift cards that would allow them to do the same thing the office employees are doing – a lunch gift card or a massage gift card.

          And even if they had suggested cash gift cards, that still doesn’t mean that this issue isn’t about how they feel. The perks and benefits a company gives are specifically to make employees feel valued by the company – there is a recognized inherent relationship between how the company awards p’s & b’s and how employees feel they are being treated by the company.

          1. BPT*

            I didn’t say they asked for cash gift cards, but they are asking for basically cash to do these activities themselves, rather than joining in the office to do them. They literally have the SAME access to these activities that the other employees do. Other employees have to go into the office to access these perks. They don’t have the option of a gift card to go get food or massages outside of work. There’s no reason why the remote employees should get an EXTRA perk – i.e. not only getting to work from home, but being able to do these activities on their own time whenever they want.

            To me, it seems like the people who have to work in the office, who are on a waiting list to be able to work remotely, have much more of a right to complain. (Not that they should anyway). Some people are always going to feel slighted by their workplace; that doesn’t mean they are right. They are literally being given perks they choose not to partake in. That is the problem here.

            1. BPT*

              In addition, I don’t see anything wrong with giving different perks to people who choose different working situations. There is always a trade off. Maybe the company is ok with a small percentage of workers being remote, but doesn’t want to become a completely remote company, so they offer perks to those who choose to come into the office to work to make it a more inviting place and ensure that they still have a vibrant office. Maybe they offer transportation benefits to those who choose to come into the office to make up for the cost of travel. That doesn’t mean that they need to give gas money to remote employees as well. As long as all employees have the option to work from the office, I think that’s more than fair.

      2. Tuxedo Cat*

        I think you’d quickly get into really petty measures fast too. And I think some of these things someone could argue are a choice, which is dangerous territory IMO.

      3. Yorick*

        The suggestion wasn’t to show this to the complaining remote employees, but rather to use that amount as how much to spend for perks for in-office employees.

  14. KM*

    Re #2, I’m in academia (I’m assuming you may be too if you’re in a lab) and find that I and others use researchgate a lot more than linkedin, in part because of linkedin’s archaic process for adding pubs. I expend minimal effort on LinkedIn ( just a very basic profile)

    1. TL -*

      Also, if you’re in a lab the most helpful thing will be your PI’s connections/name and a good recommendation.
      LinkedIn or a personal brand won’t help nearly as much, unless your personal brand is “the one who is really brilliant at immunology” or “she has magic RNA hands.”

    2. oldbiddy*

      I’m in academics too, although I used to be in industry. I use both researchgate, Google Scholar and LinkedIn – the latter is a good way of keeping track of all the non-academics contact info.

  15. AHH*

    OP2: LinkedIn has lots of useful features and this guy pushed the least useful of all of them. For example, the recommendations feature is far better than the endorsements. LI gives you the ability to upload work samples, which can be helpful to potential employers. As for the blogging feature, I occasionally use it to re-post blogs or share info that may be useful to my followers, since I am a freelancer/marketing consultant. Sounds like this guy was definitely NOT an expert!

  16. Carlie*

    Another way to look at it is that in-office employees who miss work that day don’t get a make-up perk, right? If they are on vacation or out sick on big lunch day, they don’t get their own big lunch when they get back. It’s “be here this day and get a perk”, not “be an in-office employee and get a perk”.

  17. Pollygrammer*

    #3–I’m confused about “cannot commit until they resign from their current job.” They can’t accept a new offer until they’re actually out at the old place?

    On another note, I’d be wary of an applicant who has mentioned that retirement is on the table.

    1. Persimmons*

      Retirement is not necessarily a red flag to me. There are multiple fields in which someone who started young could put in 15-20 years and “retire” by their early forties, then move into another field. Teachers, law enforcement, military, postal workers…

    2. Judy (since 2010)*

      In several of the large companies I’ve worked at, if you were over 55 and wanted to leave, it made sense to “retire”, because there was a difference in benefits between “retiring” and “retiring after separation”. Basically, the formula worked out to be that at 55 retiring while working at the company was the same as getting the pension benefits at 60 if you retired after quitting at 55. If you knew you were going to wait until 65 to get your benefits, it was even, but the early retirement discount rate was significantly higher for those who quit rather than retiring while working there. (Also if they were planning on a lump sum rather than the monthly payout, interest rates matter. A lot.)

  18. Underemployed*

    Please don’t ever out someone’s job search, especially if they ask to be confidential! They could lose their job and health insurance or get pushed out by making them miserable.
    I’ve been carefully job searching for two years now. My boss isn’t the type to take it well and has straight out said he’s a “dick” to those who leave, especially for more money. Unfortunately he knows EVERYONE in the region involved in our industry and our clients are everywhere due to the nature of the job. It’s been hard to keep it a secret.
    To top it off I probably wouldn’t even be able to get COBRA coverage if I was fired or quit due to the size of the company. Insurance through the marketplace is $700/month for a similar plan. I don’t have much in savings due to the low pay.
    It’s a really hard position to be in. Like she said above, tell the candidate if you feel you can’t hire them, but don’t tattle.

    1. Half-Caf Latte*

      Yeah. I felt like the “fiduciary duty” to the client thing took customer satisfaction to an extreme.

      If I were an employee of the company and found out that my employer outed a candidate to their employer for that reason, I’d play my cards VERY close to the chest whenever my next job search was, because this would tell me that my employer cares more about a company’s interests than the individual’s, and I’d be worried my position would be at risk.

      1. Clare*

        Agree, this is a very extreme view. People move jobs all the time, the company will be fine, there is absolutely no obligation to share confidential information.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Yeah—framing this as a fiduciary duty is really odd and seems like the wrong frame. It’s one thing if there’s a non-compete in place (still no fiduciary duty, though), but that can be resolved without “outing” the client’s employee’s job search.

      3. Hamburke*

        It could be poor wording but I assume it’s a non-compete or antipoaching clause in their contract. I have a non-compete agreement with my employer – I can’t leave for one of our clients (although I know someone did before I got there – there was a whole to do with a buyout) and their contracts have a clause about hiring us.

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          I get highly offended when I hear the term “poaching”. It implies that there’s something wrong with the free labor market. It also insinuates that a company taking advantage of the free labor market is doing something wrong. Please check = 13th Amendment to the Constitution, also check anti-trust laws, collusion and the like – which are anti-free labor. is doing something wrong.

          The best way to prevent your employees from being lured into better situations elsewhere (note I did not use the “p” word) is to treat them with a due amount of respect – financially, and professionally – and this situation might not happen to you.

          Finally – “gee whiz, if we DIDN’T put in anti-(that “p” word) procedures and back-room deals, do you know what that does to labor costs?”

          Yup. It makes them fair.

    2. EB*

      Yep– my advice to #3 was going to be “DO NOT DO THAT, Alison is 100% right”

      My sister applied for a job back in the spring, interviewed, was offered the position in May and ultimately turned it down because she got *really* bad vibes from the woman who would be her manager. Well that was a good instinct, this woman had a coworker that had a connection to my sister’s boss at her company (so random, the companies are an hour away from each other and aren’t exactly in matching industries). What did she do? Reach out through that connection to get a reference from my sister’s boss despite her explicitly stating she did not want him contacted.

      I mentioned May because my sister thought nothing was amiss until about a week ago when her office busybody– and the person she’s closest to there, informs her that her boss knew about her job search because he was contacted by the company. Her boss didn’t even say anything to her after it happened!!

      Now she gets to go to work every day knowing that her boss knows she’s actively job searching. Luckily it doesn’t appear that he’s doing anything particularly nasty about it, but were she to change her mind and stay her boss will surely assume she’s just on a long, slow job search and hamper any ability to advance.

    3. Lauren19*

      #3 — to the hiring org: CHECK YOUR CLIENT CONTRACT!! This is common in my field and many contracts are written that don’t allow the two parties to recruit from each other. Even if there’s no language prohibiting this, you NEED to have a plan to talk to your client about this — they just lost a strong employee.

      1. Clare*

        Under no circumstances should LW speak with the client company. If the contract disallows this the employee should be told he can no longer be considered for the new job. No need to tell the client anything.

        1. Anon for now*

          Yep. The easy solution is to simply say that you cannot keep their candidacy secret from their employer if they wish to proceed and ask if they would like to withdraw their application.

        2. Lauren19*

          If the contract allows and the employee is hired at the new company, the manager at the new company needs to acknowledge it with their client. I should have clarified that this conversation should happen AFTER the employee resigns, but nonetheless it needs to happen.

      2. Someone else*

        It sounds like the employee applied though, not was specified recruited away from the client. Every situation I’ve been in that prohibits poaching would absolutely allow an employee of a client to apply on their own and be hired.

      3. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Corporate staffing here, and I don’t think you’re considering the difference between ‘recruit’ and ‘sort through job applications.’ The OP isn’t recruiting from a client: s/he did not directly contact the employee about a role, and did not actively encourage the employee to leave their employer.

        It’s true that some organizations have ‘no direct sourcing’ clauses, or maybe casual agreements not to recruit from each other. If an employee applies, however, it’s not a breach of an agreement. Make sense?

    4. SavannahMiranda*

      I hate to be That Jerk, but hiring employees away from clients without notice or negotiation can be a breach of contract. Presuming there is actually a written client/vendor contractual relationship here. And depending on the provisions in the contract with the client, it can be a big one.

      No they don’t have a fiduciary duty to notify the client, but they well may have a real and present contractual obligation to do so.

      This is small part of what HR departments and in-house legal departments exist for. To keep the employer out of hot water for hiring people they’re under contractual obligations either not to hire, or to negotiate the hiring of. And how outside law firms get to make money – cleaning it up after the fact. Yeah, don’t do that. It costs more.

      Typically the contractual obligation cuts the other direction – clients are more often contractually prohibited from poaching employees from their vendors (think big company that wants to hire people away from the scrappy, go-to IT vendor and then terminate the vendor relationship). But it can go the other direction as well. Never assume it does not. Assume it does until proven otherwise.

      OP’s company needs to locate the contract with this client and read through it paragraph by paragraph, along with all amendments, and discuss with legal and HR if necessary.

      If there are no provisions in the client contract about this, then full steam ahead (under review of legal and HR). If there are provisions about this (and really they should have pulled the contract and read it weeks ago, when they first realized this was where the candidate is currently employed), then they have to figure out where to go from there.

    5. Lora*

      Also, OP, consider that it may be possible for you to help the employee out of their noncompete or whatever it is that would get them fired: the company I work for now hired me out of a contracting agreement. I had been consulting with NewEmployer through Technical Support Co for several months when NewEmployer decided they would like me to do this for them full time. However, I was supposed to stay with Technical Support Co for a full year, and there were some other weird contract complications. NewEmployer’s HR called TSC to ask what it would cost to hire one of their people (they had several people from TSC on site) and after about a month of back and forth, they worked it out by NewEmployer paying a finder’s fee to TSC to release me from my contract. But, they did this after they were sure they wanted to offer the job.

  19. Falling Diphthong*

    #2 I’m pretty sure this arose from something like this:

    Older person: Networking is very important! Ask around, a lot of us got jobs through our network. It’s critical.
    Young person: I’m 19, and know other 19 year olds. None of them are hiring. How do I get a network?
    Older person: *Well… I have a network, which… hmm, there’s being born to parents with a network, but I maybe shouldn’t say that one out loud… And working for a long time…. hmm*
    Young person, into silence: Could we have a seminar on this or something? Everyone keeps telling us how important it is to build our network; no one tells us how to do it.
    Older person: Good idea! We’ll set something up. I’ll tell someone in HR.
    Someone in HR: Huh. I don’t know… your network just IS. I guess I’ll look on Linked In for tips, and make a slide show…

    It’s like advising young people “You should get a mentor!” like those are usually sold next to the eggplants at Whole Foods.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      Young person: How do I find a mentor?
      Older person: Use your network.
      Young person: How do I build a network?
      Older person: Ask your mentor.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      Ooh, ooh! I am now picturing mentors being sold next to the eggplants at Whole Foods. They look like fancier, more upscale Magic 8-Balls, except instead of “Reply hazy” and “Signs point to yes,” they say “90% of jobs are never advertised!” and “Send the hiring manager cookies.”

    3. Nita*

      Funny, but also sad and true. This is how being born poor and not having a “parent network” can follow one around for years. I guess if college is on the table, that’s one way to start building a network… obviously other 19-year-olds are not hiring, but once they get hired they may be able to at least alert one to openings in their company. And with time, once everyone builds up some experience, the college network can become a professional network.

      1. A Nickname for AAM*

        I have actually met a lot of kids who were born poor who had really great networks, but they tended to network to entry-level jobs in construction, maintenance, public sector, or service sector, especially in towns near things like airports. Some of those jobs pay better than you’d think, no degree needed, and even the guy who drives the lavatory waste truck gets to fly free on employee passes.

        But if you are trying to class jump, yeah, your buddy whose dad is a ramp worker for Major Airline and whose brother is an electrician’s assistant can’t hook you up with Fortune 500 internships.

    4. Catalin*

      Does no one else here wonder if the guest speaker was an employee of some kind of LinkedIn? This advice sounds strongly marketer-as-advisor to me.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        To me it sounds like someone who poked around LinkedIn, maybe read an article (that was maybe generated by LinkedIn), and said they were an expert.

    5. only acting normal*

      Ha! I challenged a senior person at a team meeting who was expounding about the importance of using networks while simultaneously poo-pooing our new internal social-network-forum software (which was proven immensely useful in expanding *my* network, because *my* job does not include a remit and budget to travel all over the country “networking” at all our sites).
      He did *not* like being challenged, but reeled his neck in ever so slightly. :-D

  20. Red Reader*

    On top of all the other points (and remote worker here, 100% of the last four years) – Aren’t gift cards considered taxable compensation too, if they are paid for by the company? My whole team is remote, and our manager sent everyone a $10 pizza gift card one day, and I guess HR busted her chops for it and told her for tax reasons she could only send gift cards if they were coming out of her pocket.

    1. Specialk9*

      What? That’s ridic. I also seem to remember comments on a prior letter that that would be far worse to do. The letter about a manager paying part of a salary out of pocket?

  21. hbc*

    OP1: They’re being so ridiculous (especially given the extra information you provided) that I think you need to assume something else is behind this and/or really put it back into their court. I would schedule a one-on-one meeting with each complainer and have it in-person on the day of the company-wide meeting. Tell them that the purpose of those events is both to team-build *and* to reward employees. Benefits X, Y, and Z are absolutely meant to be straight-up rewards and benefits, but this is one that has other purposes.

    Then tell them that, from your view, they are actively choosing one benefit (working from home) over this other benefit. Ask if there’s something about your view that’s incomplete—a big impediment to coming in, something that makes working out of the office difficult for them, whatever. Make them name it. Ask for suggestions for how to fix this (if not obvious, like docking stations for their laptops or something).

    Unless they somehow convince you that gift cards are warranted, I would also say that you are no longer open to hearing the requests for them. The request has been noted and rejected for not having the team-building aspect, but you are definitely open to hearing new ideas if they have them.

  22. only acting normal*

    You said “I get a lot of emails from work-from-home staff complaining that we do lots of events for the office staff but we don’t have events that work-from-home staff can do remotely.”

    Could you be more inventive in the ‘events’ you do? Things that don’t rely on people’s physical presence to be included?
    E.g. We have quizzes which people can participate in wherever they are.

  23. Detective Amy Santiago*

    If I had to choose between catered lunches/yoga/chair massages and working from home, I would 1000% choose working from home. And if I had to work in an office and didn’t have the option of working from home, I’d be pretty salty about the people who are able to work from home also benefiting from the things that were being done to try and make being in the office a bit more tolerable.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Bottom line – if the remote workers want the same perks as the people working in the office, they can work in the office.

    2. Adaline B.*

      +10000000. I do *NOT* understand all the comments on how the remote workers are being treated unfairly, etc.

      I have a 1 hr commute each way and I work from home 1 day a week. There are several times I’ve missed events because of working from home and I do not feel slighted At All. I understand that I have access to a perk many of my coworkers do not. I can’t even dream of asking for a gift card (!) to make up for missing an event I knew about well in advance.

      Nope Nope Nope.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        In my opinion remote workers asking for a gift card because they didn’t get to attend the office catered lunch or chair massage seems almost entitled.

        1. Adaline B.*

          Yup yup yup. And not even because they didn’t get to attend..they *chose* not to attend!!!

          I am utterly flabbergasted at all the comments about how the remote workers might have a point. >.>

          1. Someone else*

            Working from home one day a week is completely different from being a 100% remote worker nowhere near the office. You seem to be coming at it from a “this is special to begin with” perspective, but when it’s not, when it’s just normal, that’s when it can get frustrating. It sounds like OP’s remote workers are really nearby and all used to be in-office, so not exactly the case with them, but conceptually the idea of frequent employee appreciation stuff ALWAYS being in the office and only in the office, if you have a significant proportion of permanently remote employees, that’s not inclusive. “But you have other perks we don’t” doesn’t really cover that situation. So I think, in the specific scenario the OP describes, she’s not wrong. But what I (and it looks like some others) are suggesting is that not all situations involving remote employees feeling excluded by this sort of thing are equal. It depends on context, and there is a context where this set up would be a morale killer for the remote folks.

            1. Adaline B.*

              The only context I’m addressing is the context from the letter.

              IF the employees in the letter were far out or not allowed to attend, my opinion would be completely different. I agree if this setup was in a different scenario it would be a morale killer. I’m not factoring a different scenario into my opinion because it’s pointless for this conversation.

              They’re all local and have the opportunity and space in the office to attend and are choosing to stay home and STILL want a gift card, that’s where I’m drawing the line of unreasonable.

              And FWIW I work from home 1 day a week now but I was a ft remote in a past job.

    3. McWhadden*

      You would really begrudge people getting something that doesn’t impact you at all?

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        It does impact me though. I pay $75/month for a parking pass. So, yeah, it’s nice to sometimes have the company spend $5 on pizza for my lunch. You’re already saving $75/month by not having to pay to park at work and then you’re going to get a gift certificate for pizza on top of it? That devalues my contributions.

      2. Roscoe*

        Yeah, a lot of these people seem really petty. Its like if you are already getting catered lunch in the office, how is giving someone a $10 Gift Card to Chili’s affecting you at all? Its like you want them to NOT have things just because.

        1. Starbuck*

          It’s be worried, as a manager, of setting the precedent of granting such unreasonable requests. These employees already have the option of taking the best of both worlds – working from home every day it’s convenient for them, plus invitations to come in to the office on days where there’s free food etc – and they are asking for more swag on top of this? What are they going to demand next? I think they might have gotten used to their situation and lost sight of how good they have it.

  24. Roscoe*

    #1 In theory, I agree that you don’t HAVE to offer them the same perks. However, I do think it is a nice gesture to throw them a bone now and then. For example, I’m an employee in a very small satellite office for my company. Every week they get a catered lunch in the main office. However, for everyone in satellite offices, they pay for the employees lunch. We just buy what we want (up to a certain amount) and submit a reimbursement claim. I think something like that could be a nice compromise. It doesn’t mean that if you have in office massages that they can go get a massage, but it does let them enjoy SOME of the perks you are giving others. While I understand that you give them the option to come in for the other stuff, for various reasons, it may not always be feasible if they have made their routine working from home.

    #3 I’m not sure why you think you have a responsibility. Hell, depending on the persons role, the former company may not even know the employee is working for you. However, you doing this would make you an awful company to work for.

    1. Adaline B.*

      The problem is the WFH employees already have a “leg up” in the perk department the in office employees don’t have: they get to *WORK FROM HOME* which to be fair is a pretty big bone, especially considering there’s a waiting list to work from home as the OP said in the comments. The lunches you’re talking about include employees who still all come into *an* office, just not the main one.

      On top of that, they aren’t being excluded from the events, they all live within reasonable distance and have plenty of time and space to come into the office to get the party perks and they are *choosing not to*.

      In this case I 1000% think the employees complaining wanting gift cards are being unreasonable.

    2. Temperance*

      Seriously, though, the WFH employees have the best perk of all. They don’t have to commute, or dress for work every day. They save thousands of dollars and hours each year over comparable employees.

      I would be salty as hell if I found out that in addition to full-time WFH privileges, my colleagues were getting special treatment like gift cards, etc. They’re invited to come to the office those days, that’s enough.

  25. Trout 'Waver*

    Alison, Thanks for introducing me to the word pablum. I looked it up quick, and it looks like a fun and useful word.

  26. Lora*

    OP2: Here is what you do.

    LinkedIn is not Facebook, no matter how much people occasionally treat it like Facebook. Ignore everything this idiot has said to you, because clearly he does not know.

    You mentioned Pretty Prestigious Lab. There are therefore collaborations with other labs and industry, visiting professors and lecturers, and things of that nature. You should go to as many dinners / lunches with visiting professors, help with the AV equipment for their lectures if possible, and jump on as many collaboration projects as you can. In this way you will meet more people who have connections to job openings, and you can later approach them with specific requests: “Dear Other Famous PI, I’m not sure if you remember me from your visit to Ivy League, but I am in Famous PI’s lab and I enjoyed your lecture on Llamas In The 18th Century Camellia sinensis Environment – it was inspiring, and I noticed that there is an opening in your department for an Antique Llama Tea Ceremony technician. I am interested in the position and I was wondering if etc etc…”

    Meet as many of these people as you can, and turn the charm up to 11 so they remember you. That’s what you can get out of being an intern in a Pretty Prestigious Lab.

  27. Zuisho*

    #2 The advise Alison gives is 100% correct regarding hiring managers. However, it’s not quite correct if you are looking to get noticed by recruiters because you think that will be the best method of getting a new job in your field. LinkedIn uses algorithms that will push your profile ahead of others the more activity — and the more certain type of activity — you have. So, doing those things could be useful if you want recruiters to find you.

  28. Bones*

    OP1- What if these special events were geared around team building between in-and-out-of-office workers? That could kill two birds with one stone…

  29. Someone Else Needs The Wood*

    I’m tired of hearing that WFH has soooooo many perks other employees are not getting. As a former WFH employee, the working expectations were always different-we’d have to work early or late depending on projects to cover for people who were able to come and go at regularly scheduled times. In inclement weather, the WFH employees were always expected to be on the front lines for calls and escalated situations. WFH employees also had to cover for in office employees when they had their team building meetings, massages and extra long lunches. Being able to work from home and not have to commute is nice but maybe take a step back and ask yourself if the WFH employees are being asked to do more on days when in office workers are already doing less.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Pros of WFH = no commute, saving money, comfy clothes, flexible hours
      Cons of WFH = covering when people can’t get to the office, working weird hours

      Pros of Office Work = can leave work at the office
      Cons of Office Work = have to be physically presentable, cost of commute

      I’m sure I’m just scratching the surface. It’s up to you to decide which pros and cons are important to you and you don’t get to benefit from the pros of both if you’re not dealing with the cons of both.

      1. BPT*

        I know very few people who work in office who also leave their work at the office when they leave. Most workers I know are constantly checking email in the evening, dealing with things that come up, etc. So it’s no different than remote workers.

    2. Temperance*

      I waste 2 hours+/day commuting. That’s 40 hours/month, assuming that SEPTA is on time (it’s not). So even if WFH has some drawbacks like no snow days, I highly doubt that it even comes close to those hours.

    3. Scarlet*

      No situation is perfect. I still wouldn’t trade my WFH perks for the anything.
      But that’s not what the letter is about. It’s about WFH employees who have every opportunity to come to the office and enjoy the same perks as the other employees, choose not to do so, but want an additional perk (non-WFH employees don’t seem to get restaurant vouchers so they can go out and have dinner with their SO – I’m sure a lot of them would prefer having a company-funded evening at the restaurant with someone of their choosing rather than a meal with the coworkers they already see 8+ hours a day).

      Like someone said upthread, it would be like demanding a voucher because you were on holidays when the office lunch took place.

    4. anon for this*

      I don’t even think it’s particularly relevant to this question anyway. It really doesn’t sound like the remote workers are being disrespected or left out (I say this as a remote worker myself). They all live close by and get plenty of notice so they could pretty easily come to the perks. Their demand to have their own, personally delivered perks of their choice strikes me as really petty, particularly if they are complaining about this every month.

  30. My Opinion*

    OP 2, I am fairly new AAM and being in a supervisory position, but even before I had this title I have debated on deleting my LinkedIn for the endorsement feature alone. I feel the site has little value anymore. People I haven’t seen since high school are reaching out and endorsing me on here. They know NOTHING about the kind of worker I am or what skills I possess. If you find articles interesting and with value, I see no problem in sharing them. I would not share just to meet a quota.

    1. BRR*

      I don’t remember how, but I turned off people being able to endorse me. I think I did not add any skills. Similar to your situation, people were endorsing me who knew nothing about my work.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Also cannot remember how, but I deleted a bunch of endorsements from my profile. I was getting endorsements from people I did not know, for skills I did not have. Only reason I can think of why they did it was with the expectation of me endorsing them right back, also for something random; which I did not do. I was honestly relieved to read it in AAM’s answer that no one looks at those.

    2. A Nickname for AAM*

      I know several different people who had competitions to get endorsed for the most absurd thing possible given their area of expertise. Think an English professor getting endorsed for “advanced astrophysics” and “marine plumbing” and “exotic animal handling.”

      So I think endorsements mean very little.

  31. Workfromhome*

    #1 Given the very specific circumstances where all employees live an hour away or less ,choose to WFH, and have a space available to them anytime I agree its unreasonable to expect special accommodation every time you hold an event.

    What I don’t like is the general pile on that comes on remote employees who generally not in that same situation. The idea that working from home is such a great privilege that remote employees should be grateful isn’t right and I see more than a few comments that reflect that.
    There are many benefits to a company from having remote employees. They sometimes save considerable $ from not having to provide facilities and equipment. I have found often times WFH employees time is not considered “yeah lets have a 4 hour conference call at 3 pm because hey they are just sitting home in their PJs anyways” In my old job they would often have “working lunches” meetings that would last a couple hours where they would bring in lunch yet remote employees were expected to “find their own lunch” just because they worked at home. They ordered pizza in for the whole office but if we asked if we could order a pizza and expense it guess what the answer was?
    Working from home is not always a “perk” If you have an in office “yoga” class for an hour during work can remote employees take an hour off work with pay to do yoga in their living room or go for a walk or are they expected to work?

    What I’m saying is there are a lot of work from home situations that are not as specific as the OP situation. No one should be entitled to unreasonable perks but working from home alone doesn’t make every request to be treated a little more equally or feel like you aren’t left out just because you don’t/cant come to the office doesn’t make you unreasonable.

    1. Adaline B.*

      Working from home is a *fantastic* privilege and I absolutely think people should be grateful if they get that perk and others don’t.

      I have a 1hr commute each way and I’m able to work from home 1 day a week. Just that 1 day saves me >100 hours a year in commuting time and over 4500 miles. From just one day!!! There is a weekly yoga here that happens to be on my work from home day and I miss it every week. But I have reclaimed 2 hours and better productivity because I can’t easily be bothered.

      I would so much prefer to “find my own lunch” and attend hours long meetings at home than eat pizza at work.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      But you are also saving considerable money by not having to pay for gas/transit/’work’ clothes/etc.

    3. oldbiddy*

      I do think the optics for remote employees are important. We’re on a collaboration with a few other universities and appx 60% of the employeers are at University A, 15-20% at my university, and the remainder divided between 3 other schools. Every time we have a monthly videoconference, University A buys lunch for their people. Meanwhile all of us at university B are sitting in a conference room watching them eat. Every single time at least one of our grad students comments longingly on the free food.
      It’d be nice if they ordered a few pizzas for us once in a while – we could order our own, but they haven’t given us budget for that.

    4. Bea*

      I agree that there needs to be balance. I’m sorry you’ve had instances where you aren’t treated as well as on site employees.

      There are pros and cons of both options. Do remote workers ever deal with the Fergi that refuse to wear headphones and leave their stinky ass rotting food in the shared fridge? Does Sue from Grooming stop by and waste an hour yelling about her cat puking on her rugs! Then you ignore her but every day. Cats puking and rotting food and OH GOD FERGUS JUST STOP STARING AT ME!!!

    5. Temperance*

      I don’t really think it’s reasonable to expect that you could order a pizza for a lunch meeting that you weren’t required to attend in person.

      1. Workfromhome*

        So if you are required to sit a table in an office with 10 other people and watch the screen and listen on the phone to the other callers you deserve to be fed but if you sit at a table alone watch the screen and listen on the phone to the other callers you don’t deserve to be fed? In both cases you need to sit and do the same thing during lunch time the only difference is where you sit.

        1. BPT*

          The solution to that would be to use the money you saved in commuting to order yourself a pizza. Then each employee would be getting the same monetary benefit. People are acting like in-office employees don’t have to expend any extra effort to obtain these perks. They do – they literally have to go get them. They aren’t having them delivered to their home. The difference in where you sit is a big one in the money and time you can save commuting.

        2. Temperance*

          Pretty much, yes. Why should you get an entire pizza for yourself when everyone else gets 2 slices? You would be getting 4 or 5x the benefit.

        3. Humble Schoolmarm*

          I think, while it is annoying to miss out on a perk, this solution means that the work from home crew gets a lot more than the folks at the office. If I’m at the office, my free lunch will be one, maybe two slices (if Fergus didn’t make off with the left-overs five minutes after the pizzas arrived) of tepid pizza probably from the cheapest and closest place, which is probably not the tastiest, eaten on a piece of bathroom paper towel with a glass of water because the person who did the ordering hates aspartame and forgot there were diabetics in the office. By expensing the pizza, the work from home crew gets their own pie, their own choice of toppings and beverage and probably costs the company a lot more per person than I will at the office. Maybe I’m cynical and there are places in the wold getting individual, wood fired, fresh pizza, but I can’t think of a way to make this up where the benefits aren’t way bigger for those who work from home. I doubt most of these in-office perks cost more that $5 per person, and you can’t do much with that on a gift card if you want the perk to be strictly equal.

      2. Ali G*

        Agreed. People that WFH find a way to feed themselves every other day, so why because the people in the office got pizza should they have to all of a sudden pay for delivery too? The difference is the people in the office physically can’t go get lunch because they are at *a working lunch.* The person that WFH can go to their kitchen and feed themselves like they do everyday.

    6. Tuxedo Cat*

      This is how I feel. Some of the perks are really contextual, perhaps down to the individual. Like the clothes one people keep bring up? Some people are in constant virtual meetings. They have to dress in decent clothes pretty much if not daily, because they’re seen a lot. I’m sure there are others.

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      They used to work in the office. They requested to be full-time remote, which was approved. They are now full-time remote, per their request. If they think that the downsides of their situation outweigh the benefits, they know what to do! I admit I’m biased, I’d trade a slice of cold greasy pizza for remote status any day.

  32. Meg*


    You shouldn’t tell their current employer, but you should make sure they don’t have an agreement where they can’t work for a vendor or client for a certain time frame. As a contractor, if my client was hiring and I wanted to apply, I couldn’t just quit and apply directly because the client has an agreement with the firm against poaching. If they want to buy out my contract early to convert me to an employee, that’s one thing, or waiting until I’m in a time frame where they don’t have to buy out my contract, but in either situation, what’s expressly not allowed is me quitting the firm in order to work with the client directly.

    You should make sure such an agreement doesn’t exist with the client before their employee quits, but do not tell their employer.

    1. Nita*

      This. It’s not uncommon for contracts to have these clauses – but in that case, the potential new employer just plain shouldn’t proceed with hiring the person until they’ve quit (or whatever terms the contract has have been fulfilled).

      If they’ve already decided to hire them and it’s not violating any agreements, it’s not cool to first interview this person, and then tell the client and throw them under the bus. It takes two parties for someone to get a new job.

  33. Trouble Making HR*

    #2 – An important thing to keep in mind with the endorsements on LI – they are part of the algorithm for showing up in search results. I generally think they are complete fluff and utterly useless; however, if you are currently in a job search, they may bump the chances of you showing up on the first page of search results versus being buried much lower. The same thing for your activity on LI. If you are regularly commenting on or liking posts by other people and posting articles you find interesting and start following “influencers” and doing the same to their posts (only when it is really true), you will gain more followers yourself and your network will superficially grow. This will, again, get you higher in search results or make it more likely for a hiring manager or recruiter to see you on LinkedIn and reach out about an open position.

    I did a heavy eye roll as I wrote all of that because I think it is nonsense but it has become a part of the hiring dance whether we like it or not.

  34. Mimmy*

    Ugh LinkedIn!! I have a profile but hardly EVER use the site, even though I do accept (very carefully!) connection requests. I used to be very active on the site, particularly with Groups. I keep thinking about going back to being active, but the site has changed so much over the years, I can’t even wrap my head around it.

    Not sure I understand the dislike towards endorsements. Yes, I have had people endorse me randomly even though they’ve never worked with me, but I think it carries some weight when someone has a lot of endorsements for certain skills. I’d be open to hearing more about why people find the feature to be less than useful.

    1. Jules the Third*

      It’s the fact that anyone can endorse anyone else for any skill. That just begs for falsification and endorsement swapping.

    2. Naomi*

      I realized that endorsements meant nothing when I started getting them from well-meaning relatives. I’m sure Aunt Jane genuinely believes I’m brilliant at the things she endorsed me for, but she doesn’t have any firsthand knowledge of it; she just thinks that of course I must be good at what I do. Correlation between being good at Thing and having lots of endorsements for Thing is dubious at best.

    3. IANAL (despite my degree)*

      I graduated from law school and decided I never want to see the inside of a court room or deal with lawyers at all. I work in a non-practicing capacity where I’m still able to apply the skills I learned in law school, despite not having any interaction with the legal field.

      My top three endorsements on LinkedIn are: Litigation, Civil Litigation, and Appeals.

      I’ve also been endorsed for: Commercial Litigation, Corporate Law, Administrative Law, International Law, “Legal Issues” (whatever that means), and others. To be clear, these are all pending endorsements I haven’t approved, so I think they’re only visible to me. I just keep them around for a laugh. I have accepted endorsements for legal research and writing, but these are mostly from people who have NO professional experience with my legal research or writing. But if I chose to turn on the endorsements feature fully or not have to vet every endorsement, I’d look like a very skilled litigator, which I am not at all!

      1. Mimmy*

        Ooh good point!

        Side note: I can relate to having a degree in something and deciding not to actually be the Thing I got the degree in.

    4. Yorick*

      I think my dad endorsed me for like Structural Equation Modeling. My dad doesn’t know whether I’m good at that. He doesn’t even know what it is. That’s why endorsements are dumb.

    5. Jennifer Thneed*

      Well, Alison, who is a hiring manager and acts as a consultant to other hiring managers, tells us that hiring managers don’t bother with them. That would be the reason for the dislike.

  35. Observer*

    #3 – What kind of business are you in? I ask, because the idea that you have any fiduciary responsibility to a client, beyond providing excellent work of course, is kind of odd. Taking it the point that you would seriously consider breaching a reasonable trust and potentially harming someone so seriously really raises my eyebrows. So, I’m wondering if your line of work has some different norms around fiduciary responsibility towards clients.

    1. Ann Perkins*

      I was confused by this choice of wording as well. They also describe themselves as a “vendor” which doesn’t jive with being a trustee, asset manager, financial advisor, etc. It seems to get used a lot these days instead of just saying an ethical responsibility. Fiduciary has a much more specific meaning that doesn’t seem to apply here, but maybe there’s something about #3’s industry we don’t know.

  36. Bea*

    I feel like #1 is not US so it doesn’t necessarily apply, I’m not familiar with tax laws elsewhere, naturally. But giftcards aren’t acceptable alternatives, unless it’s one that’s very specific and has no cash value. It’s considered compensation and I get stressed out thinking of all the companies who could get in trouble during an audit for sending them out without all the applicable taxes involved.

    1. OrganizedHRChaos*

      We are in the US and do add gift cards for any employee to their taxable income.

  37. August*

    I’m really surprised at the amount of pushback I see on #1! The company’s approach to WFH (i.e. you’re welcome to come in if you want to participate in that day’s event) is one of most reasonable policies I’ve seen. I work from home occasionally, and I consider it a huge perk– I don’t have to spend money on gas, don’t have to spend an hour commuting, no time spent putting on makeup/doing my hair/picking out clothing, etc. I’ve had the option to come in for employee appreciation events, and, unless I’m feeling especially deprived of human interaction, I usually don’t consider the free lunch worth coming in.

    Honestly, if you started giving out gift cards to your WFH employees, I’d be more worried about the blowback from your in-office employees. Working from home and getting free gift cards to use at their leisure? I’d be bitter.

    1. Adaline B.*

      Exactly. Start appeasing one group and it makes the other unhappy. Then you have to appease the other group which turns around and makes the first unhappy. Then you’re dealing with a mouse you gave a cookie and just won’t leave!

    2. Jules the Third*

      This is what I’m seeing most people endorse, for employees who are local and can come in.

      The pushback seems mostly to be coming from people who are remote and are giving examples of inexpensive ways that their home offices have made them feel included. I don’t think those are relevant to OP1, but may help other managers reading here.

  38. CAA*

    #2 — Interns were not the right audience for this seminar, but it might have been useful for a mid-career professional who’s an expert in the field and wants to increase her name recognition in order to launch her consulting practice, get speaking engagements, or be appointed to high profile industry groups. If this presenter was brought in specifically to talk to interns, then either he missed the mark or your boss chose the wrong speaker; but if it was a lab-wide event and interns were just invited to attend along with everyone else, then some people there might have benefited even if you didn’t.

    I don’t think this is necessarily the case for you, but one thing that some interns have difficulty with when transitioning to work is that they’re exposed to a lot of material that, were they still in school, would be considered “above grade level” and kept away until they were ready, but now they suddenly have to decide for themselves how to filter all this information. It’s embarrassing to think about how long I’d been working with interns before I figured out that this was a real struggle for some of them and actually thought to explain in words that not everything they hear will be immediately useful, and not every meeting they attend requires their active participation. Sometimes you just need to listen and mentally file it away in case it will be useful in the future.

    1. Jules the Third*


      Thanks for the insight on interns, too. I’m interacting with some for the first time this summer.

    2. OP 2*

      This was a seminar specifically meant for interns, the majority of whom are in their last two years of undergrad or first year of grad school.

  39. jobby*

    Re: LinkedIn endorsements, I once heard something interesting. It’s not that the endorsements themselves are persuasive. It’s that the LinkedIn algorithm weights them and then potentially elevates you in search results as a result. No idea if this is true, but it is plausible.

  40. ArtK*

    LW#2 In my opinion, anyone who uses “brand” and “thought leader” is immediately suspect for being full of… stuff. Buzzwords immediately raise my hackles.

  41. ArtK*

    LW #3: Have someone check the contract with your client. There may be a “no poaching” clause that could apply here. In any case, it would be something to bring up with the candidate, not with the client.

  42. Marthooh*

    OP#1: If your work-from-home staff is complaining that you don’t have events that they can do remotely, then maybe that’s what you should offer them. Say, a team-building Skype meeting with online games involved and food delivered? But you can certainly point out that gift cards to restaurants and massage places are _not_ events.

  43. Persephoneunderground*

    On #4- I’ve wondered more in general about how much you can “counter-interview” a potential employer without coming across as overstepping. I think it would be great to ask your interviewer a few “can you tell me about a time when…” questions to get at company culture or try to suss out landmines you’ve run into at other places, but I’m afraid they’d be offended at something that direct. I mean, behavioral interviewing is good because it’s based on specifics not generalities, and that seems to apply almost more to how a company operates vs. how they’d like to think they operate than it does to that problem with candidates. Sometimes the other kinds of vetting just don’t give you the specific answers you need, like the OP who is trying to suss out a very narrow issue.

    In a situation like the OP’s I’d be tempted to ask something like “can you tell me about a time when there was a conflict between an employee of long tenure and a newer one, and how management handled it?” It’s not too directly trying to dig up a specific problem, but could tell you a lot about management’s approach in general and touches on the concern you have. (Obviously they couldn’t disclose specific names/ departments, but neither do candidates when they answer these questions in interviews.)

    But again, would an employer take that as trying to be clever or violating the interview norm that the employer is mostly in control? What do you think?

    (Haven’t read the other comments yet, so apologies if this repeats something already said.)

  44. Ali G*

    I’ve read all the comments and your comments so far (as of time of this post) and I honestly think you are spot on, as is Alison’s advice.
    The one thing I would look into is topic brought up by another comment – has there been instances of the WFH people showing up for these events only to be met with snark from the office employees? I can see that being a not fun place to be – on the one hand, the WFH people want to participate in these activities, but when they do, they are perceived as “lesser” and greeted with comments about how they only come to the office for “fun stuff,” etc. If I was in that position I would feel like I couldn’t participate in the office events because I am unwanted there. And then I could see that manifesting in the behavior you are seeing when these folks don’t come to the office but want a similar perk.
    Just something to look into before completely dismissing those requests. Because if the office people are not treating the WFH people that’s a bigger problem than simple entitlement.

    1. OrganizedHRChaos*

      There is been no snarky comments brought to my attention and weirdly, people get along well here. Most have been here a decade or more and know everything about families, vacations and much more. I genuinely think its just that they feel left out if they don’t come in and participate as offered.

  45. AnonyMouse*

    LW #2: Honestly all I use LinkedIn for is housing a more extensive version of my resume. So anytime I apply for a job, I tailor my resume to that position and include a note at the bottom that my complete work history can be found on LinkedIn. I remember getting really bad advice about LinkedIn from an older coworker when I was fresh out of college… this person subscribed very much to the “Facebook is for friends, LinkedIn is for business. You should never mix personal with professional” mindset to give you an idea of what kind of person we’re dealing with. This woman actually believed that you MUST add anyone who asks to connect with you on LinkedIn (regardless of if you know them or not) because if someone has three connection requests get rejected, they have to take a class on LinkedIn to be able to use it again. I remember having so many follow up questions for this person, because they wholeheartedly believed this to be true and constantly would bring it up anytime LinkedIn or social media came up.

  46. Caaan Do!*

    Ugh, LinkedIn “tips”. At OldJob I was made to attend a webinar given by a guy who GUARANTEED to get YOUR PROFILE to the TOP of all the searches ( he talked like that the whole time). He spent the first 40 minutes of a 45 minute session proclaiming over and over again in various different wordings that he was about to show us all a VERY POWERFUL method of shooting your profile right to the top, that he was going to reveal the secret behind this mind-blowing method any moment now, like the world’s most poorly paced magic act.

    The whole time people in the chat, who I’m 99% sure were mostly stooges, were typing things like “Oh man, this is gonna be great!” and “Woo! Loving your energy Gandalf!” In the last 5 minutes the grand reveal was……..replacing your profile name with a bunch of keywords to fool the algorithms somehow into making you show up first in searches, saving it and then changing it back to your own name. He then spent 10 minutes shilling his book that had several other VERY POWERFUL secrets to successfully putting yourself out there in the job market.

    Woo indeed.

  47. Sue Wilson*

    #1: It depends on the point of these perks. If the point is the the company morale goes up, then everyone including remote workers need to be included. If the point is that the office feels more pleasant, then remote workers need to suck it up. Figure out which is which, make sure that the perk is framed correctly, and act accordingly.

    Ex: You have a bad weather lunch at the office. That’s thanks for people traveling to the office, and so it simply doesn’t make any sense for WFH folks to get anything.

    Ex: You are catering lunch for a meeting you know will interrupt lunch. That’s still true for those WFH folks who have to be at the meeting, so yeah, buy their lunch.

    This makes it much harder to argue if everyone knows what the company is trying to aim for with perks.

    1. Roscoe*

      I think that is a great point. If you are providing lunch for a lunch meeting that the WFH people have to be at, it is fair to provide them lunch as well

  48. Michaela Westen*

    OP#2: It’s amazing how much garbage advice is out there, isn’t it?
    I started a blog about allergies in 2008 because I think my experiences can help other patients and help get the medical establishment going on accepting new (< 20 years old) information.
    When I was job hunting I listed the blog at the bottom of my resume and two of the interviewers mentioned they liked it. One is my current boss. :)
    So IME a blog that's done for the right reasons can impress employers.
    At one point in my search a temp agent advised me to leave it off because some employers might disagree with the opinions expressed in my blog. I decided to leave it on because I wasn't keen on working for such employers, but I moved it from the top to the bottom. :)

  49. It's Pronounced Bruce*

    2. I’m an intern at a pretty prestigious laboratory this summer, and today we had a seminar titled “Winning at LinkedIn” where the presenter gave us tips on how to curate our personal brand and become a thought leader in our professions.

    God this reminds me of the bit Griffin McElroy did on My Brother, My Brother, And Me a few years ago when he had to go to SXSWi. He goes on sarcastically about how glad he is to be rubbing elbows with all the thought thinkers, thinking their thoughts and making thought ideas.

  50. Narise*

    OP 3 we had the opposite problem where clients took our people. Our leadership had to have conversation with the clients to stop taking our people. Now in all of our client contracts clients must discuss with leadership prior to approaching employees and vice versa. We have still lost employees to clients and hired clients employees as well. You may want to add this to your contracts going forward.

    1. Narise*

      We have still lost employees to clients and hired clients employees as well. Should have added that now everything is up front and not a surprise so it doesn’t cause issues.

  51. Miles*

    A well written set of endorsements can be very helpful actually. Not for the receiver but rather for the fact that you have positive things to say about your peers, and this has 2 major benefits: 1, it speaks to your character and 2, it creates an impression on the person being reviewed.

    The first is beneficial because it puts your name in front of recruiters frequently, and not just any recruiters but those who take their job seriously to consider whether the person they are reviewing is a good fit or just happens to have keywords in their profile. It also demonstrates you going out of your way to potentially help someone out.

    The second is beneficial because the person might remember you if something comes across their desk.

    Of course both of these reasons can backfire as well, if done with selfish intent or just badly executed.

  52. Donna Roberts*

    LW4: Is this potential job at the WH? Because if it is, I’ve heard taking a position there is a real career killer.

  53. Liina*

    Linkedin is slowly replacing the resume in The IT sector where I come from (Europe). So even if the seminars advice on other peoles updates was weird then Linkedin with all of the contents, even endorsments, are very valuable to us. The IT community in software development is getting more and more intertwined and endorsments actually do tell inhousr recruiters something, because it is very likely that some endorsments are frim people currently working at that company. It is like mini references in a situatiin where actual referring gives the inhouse referrer a considerable bonus upon signing. So again. The minireferral has value.

  54. TeapotChris*

    As to #1, I’ve led two departments at my current company and handled it differently for both depending on the circumstances:

    1) In department 1, team members could generally choose when to work from home (up t0 40% of their time). In this department, I planned lunches or other freebie reward type things for days everyone was required to be in the office for company wide meetings or training or whatnot.
    2) In department 2, we had a few roles that were specifically remote (as in across the country). The department was almost 100% project driven with big, scary, hard and fast deadlines. So, when we had celebratory lunches, we had them catered in the office and allowed the remote workers to video in to chat and they could expense their lunch that day. More often, however, we got everyone a token of appreciation – candies, t shirts, memorial plaques, other silly things – and we sent them to the remote teams as well.

    I think it’s pretty easy to be inclusive in the office.

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