open thread – July 27-28, 2018

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue.

{ 2,005 comments… read them below }

  1. WellRed*

    Employment news headlines of the week
    “WeWork will no longer reimburse for meals that contain meat” or
    “California DMV employee who napped at work every day for three hours cost taxpayers $40K”


      1. Triple Anon*

        That’s such a terrible policy. I’m a long-time vegetarian and I understand the reasons people don’t eat meat, but there are also lots of good reasons that people choose otherwise. There are also medical conditions that make it difficult or impossible to be vegetarian.

        Boundaries, please, companies! Stay out of people’s outside of work lives – beliefs, dietary choices, all of that. As long as people are doing their jobs, that’s none of your business.

        1. Boop*

          Not to mention there may not be many options for vegetarian meals when traveling – most of the time you’re eating fast food or whatever you can find in an unfamiliar venue.

          Also – vegetarians have to be very careful about making sure they get enough protein and other nutrition that they do not get from meat. If an employee isn’t knowledgeable about what constitutes a well-rounded vegetarian diet their health may be impacted. It’s not likely to be a problem on a short business trip, but one never knows!

          1. Triple Anon*

            Right. To be fair, it’s not that hard to get good nutrition without eating meat, and a lot of omnivores also miss out on key nutrients. In theory, we all eat a variety of foods, but not eating enough fruits and vegetables is a common choice (or result of people’s circumstances) in the US, and the results are not healthy. However, if you force any kind of restrictive diet on people, the results won’t be good. If people don’t want to be vegetarian, they won’t do their research on it, and they won’t be interested in all the things that tend to be acquired tastes, like tofu.

          2. Notveggie*

            Almost every ethnic food has vegitarian options including good old American pizza.
            It is not that difficult to get nutritious meals without meat just as meals with meat are not always nutritious.

            1. Bacon Pancakes*

              LOL I would just expense the cheese/veggie pizza and then pay cash on the side for some pepperoni! TAKE THAT CORPORATE SWINE!

            2. Sapphire*

              Japanese food has fish stock in most all of their dishes. It’s hard to eat vegan or true vegetarian there unless you seek it out.

          3. Tallulah in the Sky*

            First, I agree that it’s a terrible policy, employers should stay of out their employee’s peronal lives and lifestyle choices. This should be a simple rule.

            But I’m also tired of people spreading stereotypes and misinformation, so I’d like to quicly debunk some things that were said. Like Triple Anon said, it’s 1. not that hard to find nutritious vegetarian meals (indian and italian are always a win) and 2. just because you eat meat doesn’t mean you don’t have nutrient deficiencies.

            Proteins : there are animal proteins and plant-based proteins, and both are good for us, our bodies doesn’t care what kind you give them. Some plant-based proteins are : lentils, chickpeas and most variety of beans, corn, grean peas, quinoa, edamame, soy milk, oats, nuts, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc. There’s lots of choice and that’s why protein deficiency is super rare outside of developing countries.

            Missing nutrients : the most common example is B12, which is naturally found only in meat products. So yes, vegetarians should take B12 supplements. But so should many people who do eat meat. Studies have found that many more people were B12 deficient for an array of reasons. Also, there’s a thousand ways to follow a particular diet, and there are multiple ways to be unhealthy on any diet. Yes, vegetarians should watch their vitamin and nutrient intake, but so should everybody, no diet assures this a 100%.

            Lastly : eating a “less optimal” diet for a few days won’t alter your health (unless you have a medical condition). This is also why I won’t say anything on the people here who said “I’m eating junk food when out of state, no time to find better”. Nobody felt the need to say something to them. So please let’s continue and reserve the health scare for truly dangerous diets.

            1. Indie*

              I would happily eat Indian vegetarian cuisine for the rest of my life, if I lived in India. Where I live there is no preponderance of cool global options and the Indian restaurants you do come across cater to meat eaters. Italian is a no go thanks to gluten. Usually I’m at the mercy of Bleak Western chain restaurants and the veggie option is also the wheatiest option. The one gluten free option is a meat option; for example Starbucks chicken pesto is the only gluten free option they carry. Im going to prioritise my own food restrictions over someone elses.

            2. AnonAtAllTimes*

              Or just swing by a grocery store and pick up some low-fat cottage cheese or greek yogurt. Both are vegetarian, packed with protein, cheap, and easy to eat right out of the container you bought them in. I carry a plastic fork & spoon with me when I travel and do this regularly. You can pick up a piece of fruit or a small bag of baby carrots while you’re in the grocery store, too, to round out your meal. People who say they are forced to eat junk food while travelling are not using the heads. There are some pretty easy alternatives.

              1. Observer*

                For a LOT of people that’s not an option. Some can’t handle milk. For a lot of people, a yogurt (with or without a fruit) is not going to be a meal that’s going to let them work without being hungry. Etc. Yes, the yogurt may be healthier for most people who don’t have issues with this particular set of choices, but it doesn’t mean you won’t get hungry.

                It can also be surprisingly difficult to “just swing by” the grocery store and / or store food you bought in the morning in many situations when traveling for work.

                In short, just because it works for you does not mean it’s viable for everyone, or even most people.

      2. BeenThere*

        Interesting…. So I can’t eat tofu or any soy products due to a health issue. I guess I’d be SOL.

        1. pcake*

          Lots of vegetarians don’t eat soy products, and lots of vegetarian foods don’t include soy.

          Vegetarian food can include omelettes, anything eggs, baked potatoes, a glass of milk, anything with cheese but no meat. Quest bars and protein powder are vegetarian. Fries at most – but not all – restaurants are vegetarian. A bean and cheese burrito or guac and chips is vegetarian. Lots of dahls are vegetarian as are a variety of curries including veggie curry. Pasta with marinara, cheese or veggie pizza, mac and cheese and quesadillas are vegetarian as long as meat isn’t a topping/add-on. And that’s just for starters.

          1. Tallulah in the Sky*

            Thanks for mentioning this !

            @BeenThere : yep, this policy is really not well-thought. Everyone’s diet is a personnel choice, sometimes based on medical issues, so employers should stay out of it.

            1. Pommette!*

              I’m vegetarian, and have soy only a couple of times a year (commercial veggie burgers/tofu, if I’m a guest somewhere where that is what’s on the menu). It’s super easy to avoid soy if you regularly eat vegetarian and know what you are doing, and live in an area with a substantial vegetarian population.

              Of course, lots of people who will be asked to forgo meat under this policy are not going to be familiar with vegetarian foods, and/or are going to be travelling to areas where vegetarian offerings are few and far between.

              This policy is going to be hard on anyone with dietary restrictions. (“I already had to learn how to avoid gluten; now I have to learn how to avoid gluten and meat at the same time. Great.”). It’s going to be really (prohibitively?) hard on people who have multiple intolerance or allergies. Which is to say that I agree with you: this policy is super poorly thought out.

        2. CatMom*

          Nah, you’d be fine, assuming you don’t have other allergies – beans, legumes, peanut butter, eggs, dairy, and wheat-based fake meats (not everyone is into these, but they’re an option if available) are all common vegetarian forms of protein.

          1. Observer*

            That’s true IF you know what you are doing AND if you are in a situation with options.

    1. JokeyJules*

      my favorite part about the DMV employee was that they weren’t allowed to terminate her because they didn’t document it well enough.

      the WeWork thing, while I think it’s annoying, they’re allowed to do it. I wonder what the motives are. Whether it’s ethical or a way to save money…

      1. Mediamaven*

        Isn’t CA an at will state? I thought in most cases you could term for anything? So confusing.

          1. AnonAtAllTimes*

            DMV employees work for the state of California and are members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Once employees pass their probationary periods (the length of which varies based on job title/classification), it is difficult to fire people. Although it can be done. It does, however, require a bit of work & documentation by the supervisor. It’s a myth that you can’t fire a state employee, but it IS a lot harder to fire a state employee than it is to fire a private-sector employee.

            My guess is that the sleeping DMV employee’s supervisor will now start documenting her if she continues this practice and make a second attempt to can her ass. And if the employee keeps sleeping on the job, I hope that attempt is successful.

        1. Jadelyn*

          We are an at-will state, but the DMV is a government thing, and I believe they’re unionized. At the very least, they’re government/gov’t-adjacent and as I understand it that always comes with that sort of rigid process/slow to react to poor performance thing.

          1. GrilledCheese*

            In my state if a state worker invokes a medical issue related to the problem a whole diff process comes into play, i.e. a guy caught passed out at his desk with empty vodka bottle in the wastebasket managed to preserve his benefits and come back to work after getting addition treatment. Once he brought up addiction all disciplinary action was halted.

        2. mark132*

          At-will doesn’t prevent you from being sued or having an EEOC complaint filed or other things. So even with at-will, I think most employers want to make sure they have a defendable process. (And as others have mentioned this is a government job so there will be different requirements/laws)

      2. Alli525*

        The WeWork thing is entirely an ethical move. They related meat consumption to climate change and the treatment of animals. And I think there’s a distinction to be made here – they won’t serve meat in their cafeterias or reimburse meat on a restaurant bill, but it still sounds like employees are welcome to bring their own meat into the workplace (they’re not going to throw your ham sandwich in the trash).

        1. Chief of Staff*

          That’s their party line, but they also flew hundreds of employees to the UK for a mandatory “team building” music festival and their CEO flys around on his private jet. These things make me doubt their actually all that concerned with climate change.

          1. Clare*

            I’m willing to bet that the one and only reason behind this new policy is $$$$$$$. They’ve realized that they can save a lot because meat typically costs more. All their statement shows is that they have a talented PR team who found a good excuse to give for this change in policy.

            It really annoys me that they are taking part in pushing this false binary that meat=bad and vegetable=good, because it’s not that simple. Buying vegetables from some giant corporate farm is much less ethical than buying meat from a local small farm that can certify its animals are humanely treated. The important thing is the quality of the food and where it is coming from, not meat vs. no meat. But quality food (especially quality meat) costs more, sooo…yeah.

            1. ElspethGC*

              My family gets all our meat from a local butcher who only buys from local and ethical farms, most farms in the UK keep their livestock outside for most of the year so they’re all grass-fed, and it’s been driven about 50 miles maximum to reach us. Compare that to the fruit and vegetables that fill supermarkets that have been flown thousands of miles to reach us, usually non-Fairtrade so have potentially been farmed using slave labour or with underpaid and overworked workers, and are then wrapped in several layers of plastic. Unless you’re sourcing all your vegetarian food ethically, it’s potentially worse for the environment and the workers than locally-sourced meat.

          2. Anonymosity*


            Okay, climate change aside, I want a job where I get flown to the UK for a music festival. Sorry, Earth!

            1. BeenThere*

              Right?! Even though I can’t eat tofu and soy, I might figure out a way to make it work if they take me to the UK!

              1. Horsing Around*

                I have to ask, where do you live that coming to the UK is that big of a perk?

        2. Cynthia*

          Yep. I worked for a Seventh Day Adventist University Medical Center and they didn’t serve medicine anywhere on campus or in the hospital. They didn’t prevent us from bringing it and consuming it or being reimbursed for it while traveling, we couldn’t be reimbursed for it if we ordered it for official school functions like department meetings or committee meetings. Our students also couldn’t be reimbursed for ordering it for organization/club meetings.

          Didn’t bother me any.

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            Didn’t serve *medicine*????? Did you mean to say meat? I’ve never heard of SDA’s being vegetarians…

            1. Reba*

              The only SDA’s I know are vegetarians or pescatarians!

              Communities of SDAs with a high rate of practicing vegetarianism have been studied for longevity research.

            2. Agile Phalanges*

              (I grew up SDA.) It’s not a required tenet of the faith, but MOST (like 95%?) are vegetarian, because while Ellen G. White’s writings are NOT seen as equal to the Bible like some people claim when talking about how weird Adventists are :-) most DO believe she was inspired by God to write the things they did, and many choose to follow her health recommendations, or (just like the Bible, actually) the ones they can see themselves following, anyway. Most Adventists are vegetarian. However, EGW also recommends against spicy foods like mustard, or drinking (any beverage, even water!) during meals. Most people I know don’t actually follow those recommendations.

              Adventists are who brought you Corn Flakes (Kellogg was an Adventist) and those awesome fake meats in the frozen aisle (breakfast sausages, etc.). I grew up with an SDA and vegetarian mother and atheist and meat-eating father, so my mom almost always made two versions of the main entree (and side dishes were always vegetarian–no mashed potatoes made with chicken broth, for example), and I grew up eating all the “weird” fake meats you can only get from special Adventist stores. My mom lives in an Adventist college town, so I have her pick me up all the canned goods I need every so often, but can just get the frozen stuff at mainstream grocery stores now. But I’m vegetarian because it grosses me out to put meat in MY mouth, and won’t disparage anyone who does eat meat (and cook it for my meat-eating friends and relatives, etc.), and grew up with the option, so switching to only fake stuff instead of some real, some fake, was super easy for me. It’s a much bigger commitment for people who go vegetarian (or vegan) for ethical reasons even though they actually LIKE meat.

          2. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

            I can’t tell you how amused I am by the notion of a University Medical Center not serving medicine. Having had several bad reactions to medications in the past, maybe this is where I need to go!

          3. Engineer Girl*

            SDA won’t serve meat, not medicine.

            They do it because it is part of their core belief system so there is no hypocrisy there.

            Conversely, We Work is claiming carbon footprint while wasting thousands on travel. They are hypocrites.

        3. Engineer Girl*

          It’s not entirely ethical because it negatively effects some of its enployees. It’s also hypocritical. If they were truly concerned about the environment then they wouldn’t send their employees on travel at all. They would use virtual meetings etc.

          It’s also stupid. The whole point is to reduce the carbon footprint. So you know what you do when you want to do that? You make your requirement “we will make our carbon footprint x% less than last year.” Then you find many ways to get to that goal (not one).
          They could:
          – do less travel
          – buy employees mass transit passes
          – change thermostat settings
          – donate to organizations that help reduce footprint

          What We Work has done is confused the requirement (carbon footprint) with the implementation (meat eating). In engineering we call that a bad requirement. Doubly so since it could run afoul of ADA and other laws.

          Stupid stupid stupid

          1. pcake*


            “In 2011, methane from livestock accounted for 39 percent of all the greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, according to a report that United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization released Friday. That’s more than synthetic fertilizer or deforestation. Methane from livestock rose 11 percent between 2001 and 2011.

            The bulk of the emissions — 55 percent — came from beef cattle. Dairy cows, buffalo, sheep and goats accounted for the rest.”

            1. Horsing Around*

              This seems very much to be confusing carbon emissions with increasing atmospheric carbon. Not really the same thing. Every gram of carbon that comes out of a cow was carbon that started in the atmosphere. Unlike with deforestation and fossil fuel use cows have a net change to atmospheric carbon of precisely 0.
              The only way farming contributes is in changing of land use and their fuel consumption, the cows can go on farting all they want and make no difference whatsoever.

          2. neverjaunty*

            You know what else they could do? Ensure that all company meals are purchased from companies that ethically source their food and treat their workers decently.

            But I guess it’s not as hip to worry about the farm workers who pick and prepare the vegetables. Screw them, protecting cows is where it’s at!

            1. Traffic_Spiral*

              Yes, but that would cost the COMPANY money. This way only the employees suffer.

              1. Pommette!*

                Ding! Ding! Ding!

                This right here. They could have chosen to spend time and money making sure that all on-campus food is meatless, healthy, and ethically sourced + prepared. They didn’t.

    2. TeacherNerd*

      I’d rather bastardize the headlines: The DMV employee was a former WeWork employee whose lack of meat consumption is still causing exhaustion years later.

        1. smol cinnamon roll*

          Click here to find out how to restore your physical energy with just one simple step.

          The results will shock you!

    3. Persimmons*

      I’m closely following the “law to prevent tech companies from offering free lunch” thing.

      1. neverjaunty*

        I doubt that’s going anywhere. Even if the law made sense, the tech companies pretty much own the SF city government at this point.

        1. CAA*

          Mountain View already has this law. I don’t think it’s going to be that hard for SF to pass a similar ordinance under the current city council. There’s lots of backlash against tech.

        1. samiratou*

          Yes. SF wants to ban companies from offering lunch on site, to encourage people to go out and spend money in the city, instead.

          1. Chriama*

            Because the companies are somehow generating food out of thin air and not paying a caterer or contractor?

            1. CAA*

              This only affects cafeterias that are free to employees or heavily subsidized. The companies are paying contractors much, much less than their employees would spend in the neighborhood if they didn’t have free lunches on site.

              1. Lumen*

                It’s also related to the retail foot traffic generated when employees leave the work campus to get food.

                I do get some of the rationale: a lot of these companies get massive tax incentives, so they ‘give back’ less to the communities they occupy, and the 100% food subsidies given to employees (presumably) prevents ‘giving back’ via increased revenue for adjacent businesses in the area, which causes hiccups in the economy boost the cities were expecting when these companies landed there.

                But honestly, I think this would be “punishing” workers more than companies. Maybe these cities should just… make silicon valley tech companies pay their fair share of taxes?

                1. Clare*

                  I was also under the impression that many of the tech companies have massive campuses that are not exactly in the city center itself (hence the need to have private buses for their employees to get to work), so are there even many other food options nearby them that are accessible?

              2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

                I think it’s also a bit about sales tax. If the food is free there’s no sales tax generated. I don’t think they’d care as much if the company offered a cafeteria on site for employees to PAY for lunch, because then there would be sales tax revenue for the city.

                1. LJay*

                  But presumably the employer is purchasing the food from somewhere.

                  If they are buying it already prepared they’re paying sales tax on it then.

                  If they’re buying raw ingredients which may not be taxable, they’re paying someone to prepare the food, which increases the amount of income tax paid.

                  A rule requiring them to source the food locally would make more sense and seem less like punishing the employees.

                2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

                  There’s no “reply” under LJay so I think there’s a limit on nested comments…
                  Income tax (employees paid to prepare the food) doesn’t go to local communities — it goes to the state and federal government. These are municipal laws meant to benefit the local community. Cities benefit most from sales tax. In Mountain View, which already has such a law in place, employers are allowed to pay for worker meals off-campus — so it’s not that employees can’t have a lunch at the expense of the company — just not have a free cafeteria.

              3. Zennish*

                This makes exactly as much sense as if they were forcing employees to park at public parking meters rather than use the company parking lot. Why are contracted caterers less worthy of support than (probably national chain) restaurants?

          2. Ursula*

            My local council tried to ban people from giving away food. There was some theorising that this was directly linked to the fact the local university had a hare krishna who turned up every lunch time and dished out free food to the students who wanted it so the students (of which I was one) didn’t buy food from the (many this was central London) restaurants and cafes around the University. There was also a chain cafe nearby that gave away its unsold food to the homeless after they were closed for the day and there may have been an element of social cleansing involved. It never managed it (under the proposed law it was illegal to buy a homeless person a cup of tea) because there was an outcry.

            1. Mike C.*

              These measures are done to basically make life worse for the homeless or chase them out of certain areas.

          3. Triple Anon*

            Wow. So, I see where that comes from. There is a perception that “the techies” are hurting local businesses with their onsite lunches. There’s a lot of outrage about “the techies,” much of it justified, but often fueled by such heated emotions that logic does not always win. In other words, I get where people are coming from, but WTF?

            People who work at tech companies tend to make good salaries. There’s a lot of potential for local businesses to benefit from that. Working with them instead of against them would be a good way to go.

        2. JustaTech*

          Mountain View is still mad about the Google cafeteria, so they’re making places like Facebook’s new buildings either charge for food or make employees go out to eat.

          Which I expect will last exactly as long as it takes for the lunch traffic to become horrifying. (Amazon doesn’t have cafes, so the entire neighborhood where their office is becomes overrun at lunch and none of the other people who work there can get anything to eat. Not that I’m bitter, honest.)

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        What’s the argument in favor of this law? That free lunches harms local restaurants?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yes, they assume that people would go to restaurant in droves, I guess.
          It kind of amuses me, I guess they have not heard of the idea of brown bagging? I bet they won’t get that much more business as people will bring their own or buy it somewhere else. I can almost picture someone passing around a list of businesses that were most vocal in favor of this law so people will know where to avoid.

          It will be very interesting to see how this plays out.

          1. Falcon*

            I wouldn’t necessarily assume that – I think at least 20-30% of my office goes out for lunch every day, and most of us go out at least once a week. Even considering that our building has a deli, that’s a lot of business for the restaurants around our office park. Plus, if you’re going out for lunch, maybe you get gas, or stop for some other errand, so it’s not just restaurants who benefit.

            1. YuliaC*

              Yep. I’m in NY in academia, and most people (about 95%) go and buy their lunches out every day. I am seen as a bit of a freak for always eating my homemade lunch.

          2. Susana*

            The reason companies (like Bloomberg – at least last time I was at their DC bureau) provide free food on site is that they want their employees working behind the computer pretty much nonstop. Not so much a perk as a way to make sure you aren’t distracted by things like daylight.

            1. you don't know me*

              This. My old job installed free fancy coffee machines on each floor because they figured each time a person stepped out to get coffee they were gone 20 minutes. Give them “free” coffee and get an extra 15 minutes of work however many times a day.

              1. Lumen*

                And this is why my office has a fridge full of free sodas and a large table piled with snacks every day, too.

          3. zora*

            Those tech employees don’t have time to make lunches, they are working 12 hour days and have insane commutes. Plus, they have a fair amount of disposable income with their salaries. I think most of them would eat out. I work in a building with a lot of smaller tech companies and 80-90% of people are buying lunches out every day.

            1. sleepwakehopeandthen*

              Eh, I mean I think you have time to make lunch if you are working a 12 hour day with a long commute if making lunch is one of your defaults. My husband makes his lunch every day even during tax season when he is working 16+ hour days–it saves him time because then he already has his lunch with him compared to going out and getting food at lunch time (obviously, he doesn’t have the free lunch provided option). Also, it doesn’t really take all that much time to make a sandwich and throw some fruit and string cheese in a bag.
              (But we are both cheap and saving up for a California house)

            2. Observer*

              That’s a poor assumption. They may not start brown bagging per se, but they are also not necessarily going to go out for lunch. They’ll find alternatives that work for them – and might lose the area even more money, it’s likely to involve mail order.

          4. Persimmons*

            That’s my take. I buy lunch at work because my company subsidizes the healthy line and the salad bar as part of the “wellness initiative” so the cost is competitive with grocery prices. If that went away, I’d just pack my own.

          5. Kat in VA*

            Egads, one of the questions I ask at large companies in large industrial complexes is if there’s a cafeteria onsite or if Foodsby or some other food delivery service is available. I am *highly* motivated by food (which they find amusing) and do not like to leave the office for lunch. Heck, I don’t even like taking an actual lunch break, to be honest. Being forced to go out and buy lunch or have the discipline to brown bag it? Nope.

          6. sleepwakehopeandthen*

            I have found all the articles I’ve read on this topic hilarious exactly because they all pass it off as if there are only two options for food: eat the cafeteria food or go out for lunch.

        2. SWOinRecovery*

          Taxes. The idea is that there is a tipping point where giveaways to employees = income that should be taxed. If your employees are eating 2+ meals a day, 5 days a week, some might consider that a substitution for taxable income. Whereas once a week meals or something else would be de minimus.

          1. Faith*

            Well, the new tax reform has significantly reduced the deductibility of meals provided by the employer t the employees. This includes subsidized cafeteria lunches. So, presumably, the government is already getting taxes on the cost of these meals. While the employees are not getting taxed on income, the companies are not getting a deduction on cost.

          2. Sam.*

            It’s an argument I kind of buy. I mean, if I had percentage of my meals per week covered and all of the sudden I had to start paying for them all myself, I’d want some sort of compensation to make up for that.

            1. Lumen*

              Same with the tax ‘reform’ changes to deductions for paid parking and transit. If my ability to park at my office downtown is taken away because it’s no longer deductible for my company, then that is about $2400/year (net) I’d like to see added to my paycheck, because that will be the increased cost for me.

          3. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

            Income tax though goes primarily to the federal and state governments. Very little income tax goes to cities. Cities in California more than any other state, benefit from sales tax.

            California has the highest sales tax rates in the nation. The minimum state sales tax in CA is 7.25% and of that 1.25% is mandated to go to cities. Then counties and cities are allowed to add even higher sales taxes on top of that — for instance, San Francisco county adds a bit and the city of San Francisco adds a bit more to make the total sales tax rate for zip code 94105 8.5%. If an employee is eating a free meal, there’s no “sale” so no tax generated, and if they’re getting 2+ meals a day free, they aren’t as likely to spend a lot of money on groceries etc. to generate sales taxes there either. The city probably doesn’t care WHERE that money comes from — a company cafeteria, the neighborhood grocery store, a neighborhood restaurant — they just want the sales within the city to generate money.

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      I’d be really pissed if my company decided to quit reimbursing meat-containing meals. I think WeWork should have the right to do it, but I think they should also suffer the consequences, which I hope includes a lot of good employees finding somewhere else to be.

      I’m senior enough that I can’t find another job on a moment’s notice like I could earlier in my career, but I think if my agency were to do this, I wouldn’t hesitate to bring it up when asked to stay late or do lunch meetings. “Since the company won’t be providing a meal, I’m going to have to leave at 7.” “Oh, you say we provide meals? Not ones that work with my very commonplace diet, so no, we don’t.”

      1. veggie*

        I’m a vegetarian who would love to work at WeWork because it makes work food that much easier.

        1. Andy*

          yes, I imagine that would be convenient for vegetarians. For the omnivorous among us it would be substantially less so.

          1. Sheesh*

            Is it really that outrageous to have to “suffer” through one meat-free meal which you paid zero dollars for? It’s really a tired idea that vegetarian food can’t be delicious, filling or energizing. Y’all realize that basically everything at Thanksgiving except the turkey and stuffing is generally vegetarian right?

            1. Perse's Mom*

              You realize sometimes people have dietary issues and it’s not just about whether it’s vegetarian or not, right? That people have food allergies or sensitivities, or simply do not like certain foods that might limit what they can eat?

              1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                Yes, of course, not everyone can have sandwiches (or, in this case, falafel or whatever). And one hopes that this workplace will accommodate those with a genuine need to eat meat.

                But, sheesh. There are literally millions of things people can eat without eating meat. This is not a major hardship.

                (That being said, I think it’s overstepping. I applaud the company living its values by not catering with meat, but IMO they should reimburse employees for whatever meals they choose.)

                1. Dragoning*

                  I think most vegetarians can chime in with how hard it is to find no-meat options in restaurants. This substantially limits options, and if the one or two things on the menu that are vegetarian are things you can’t eat…then what?

                2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                  I was a vegetarian for 13 years, two decades ago (when it was much harder to find vegetarian food in restaurants); I have a lot of experience with this.

                  You’re right that it can be hard to find veg food in certain restaurants, but not when you have a whole city’s worth of foods available to you. So Chili’s has literally no vegetarian items on their menu? Go to the Greek place instead, or the Ethiopian restaurant, or Chipotle, or etc.

                  And OF COURSE folks who can’t eat out with this parameter shouldn’t be held to it (and, as I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t think this is a good policy overall). I’m just pushing back against the panicked angst that this is an impossible burden across the board.

                3. Clare*

                  I wouldn’t care if the company is selecting meat-free options for company sponsored events or meetings that are being catered. But if I have to travel for work and am grabbing a late dinner at my hotel restaurant, I want to eat what is best for me, which sometimes is vegetarian and sometimes isn’t. So they will reimburse me if I get french fries and onion rings, but wouldn’t reimburse me for a healthy grilled chicken or fish option? I would be pretty pissed that my company thinks it is appropriate to monitor my eating habits that closely. It’s just creepy.

                4. Specialk9*

                  @Victoria – you went to Chipotle, but I assume you weren’t so absolutely greedy as to get guacamole, right???

                  Seriously, if your policy makes you seem like that avocado-denying accountant, you’re likely being a bit overboard.

                5. Whit in Ohio*

                  “So they will reimburse me if I get french fries and onion rings, but wouldn’t reimburse me for a healthy grilled chicken or fish option?”

                  The grilled fish would probably be OK, actually. WeWork’s policy seems to be piscatarian, not strictly vegetarian.

                6. Perse's Mom*

                  @Victoria – so the solution is instead to spend (waste) a bunch of time looking up restaurant options just to see what mightbe appetizing AND would be reimbursable, and then waste more time traveling to get there and actually get dinner. Repeat x however many days/meals during which you’re traveling?

            2. JHunz*

              What do you mean, one meal? If they’re not reimbursing meals containing meat, that means any business trip contains a choice between not eating, changing your diet for the entire duration of the trip, or paying for meals yourself that your employer should be footing the bill for since they’re the ones that sent you there. There is vegetarian food that is great, I am happy to have meatless meals sometimes, but if my employer attempted to tell me that I needed to go to a conference but that they wouldn’t pay for my food while I was there I would tell them where to shove their conference and probably resign.

              1. Kat in VA*

                I”m sure it’s been mentioned elsewhere but what if you’re entertaining clients? Most folks are used to caps on dollar amounts for meals, but I’m not sure clients would be entertained by someone telling them, “You can only order vegetarian dishes or my company won’t reimburse me.”

            3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              I agree. I’m not vegetarian, but I’m always baffled by people who find the idea of eating a single vegetarian meal difficult. (You see this w/r/t weddings — great offense taken when a vegetarian couple serves a vegetarian meal.)

              Like, if a meal weren’t announced as vegetarian would they even notice? Do these folks truly never have grilled cheese, fettucine alfredo, or a spinach omelette?

              I acknowledge that’s much more difficult to eat low-carb/Paleo/”clean” as a vegetarian without delving into ingredients that lots of meat eaters have an untested aversion to (lentils, tofu, etc.). I eat Paleo-esque, so I get it. But even with that restriction it’s not that complicated to eat veg for one meal a day.

              1. Rosemary7391*

                I don’t think I’ve ever just had one meal a day paid for by my employer. It’s always been a week. And I like most vegetarian food and eat it once or twice a week at home. But I find it much harder when I’m eating out – most places I eat out at only have one or two vegetarian options. Also, if you combine it with any other dietary restriction it’s going to become significantly harder.

              2. Ali G*

                It’s not one meal though. I have literally been in nowhere Mississippi working 12 hour days for a week (sometimes staying over the weekend for a second round) and the most convenient (or existing) options are Popeye’s or McDonald’s. I hate fast food, but if I am forced to eat it I am at least going to get something cooked rather than their sad, likely salmonella infested salad. And if I am working offsite, my employer should pay for it, full stop.

              3. Soooo hungry, soooo stymied*

                The event planner in my office once decided to do a vegetarian dinner without telling us in advance. I definitely noticed. On a buffet table with between a dozen and twenty different food stuffs, there was precisely one thing that I could eat: mini cupcakes. (I did try to find other foods that I could stomach as I was starving, but I was unsuccessful.) After an unusually long day working on the event that spurred this dinner, I was exhausted to begin with, and it was hard to maintain a smiling professional demeanor on the basis of six mini sugar highs for two hours.

                You may not be a vegetarian now, but if you were for 13 years, you probably are more okay with vegetarian foods than the average person. As a general rule, if the vast majority of people don’t do something, there’s probably a darn good reason for it.

                1. Anonymosity*

                  I think if I wanted to do a vegetarian meal for a meeting (to make it healthier, themed, etc.), I’d find someone in the company who was a veggie and ASK THEM TO HELP ME plan menus/find a caterer so people could eat!

                2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                  But that’s precisely my point.

                  In my experience, most folks are happy with vegetarian food if it’s not presented as Dreaded Vegetarian Food. Cheese ravioli are vegetarian. Tomato soup is vegetarian. Pancakes are vegetarian. You don’t have to get into the oh-so-shocking world of lentils to avoid meat.

                3. Guacamole Bob*

                  Either your event planner ordered a terrible array of food, or you have a very restrictive diet or are very picky. I’m really confused at what 12-20 items someone could pick where there wouldn’t be *something* that each person could eat. Sure, you could make everything with fake meat that seems weird to non-vegetarians (and even to me as a vegetarian – I’m not a fake meat fan), but a lot of dishes that a typical caterer would provide are things that are normally served as side dishes, or the kinds of pastas and salads that in other circumstances might have chicken on them.

                  I can totally understand that not everyone wants to eat vegetarian and that some people have dietary restrictions or medical conditions that would make a vegetarian diet really hard if not impossible to manage on an ongoing basis. But being totally unable to find anything to eat at a robust vegetarian meal strikes me as a very unusual experience.

                4. Forrest*

                  I am also interested in hearing about your diet where the only non-meat thing you can eat is cupcakes.

                5. Seltzer Fan*

                  I have to say I’m curious about what that array of food was like that with at least 12 options nothing other than cupcakes seemed palatable. Did your event planner go for some really unusual theme?

                  To echo others in this thread, I understand veg options not being everyone’s top choice—I’m an omnivore who has occasionally eaten Whole30/paleo which is really tough to do without meat! But so many run-of-the-mill side dishes are already meat-free (or even mains like cheese pizza or falafel!) that I’m surprised a large buffet didn’t have anything else you could stomach.

                6. Soooo hungry, soooo stymied*

                  Guacamole Bob and Seltzer Fan:
                  The organizer went with catering from a local restaurant that’s aimed at vegetarians. Said restaurant is highly regarded; the organizer didn’t just throw a bunch of salads at us. (The restaurant may have an entirely vegetarian menu, I don’t remember for sure.) Most items on the table featured meat substitutes. Of the minority that lacked fake meat, the flavors were dominated by foods commonly known to be disliked by large percentages of people. If I remember correctly, several had mushrooms, and something else had eggplant. (I tried a couple that looked like maybe I could eat around the mushrooms/eggplant – no dice.) I don’t eat everything out there, but I’m not a super picky eater like y’all are suggesting. Since both of you seem to either be vegetarian or have dabbled with vegetarianism, I’d reiterate my suggestion to Victoria Nonprofit – just because you find a vegetarian diet doable for yourself, doesn’t mean that it’s somehow non-problematic to dump it on the vast majority of people who do not follow that diet. One of the reasons that businesses don’t usually do this is that they are actively picking out foods that are amenable to the widest, most diverse group of people.

                  By the way Victoria Nonprofit, I’d point out that two-thirds of the foods you suggested are never going to be served at official work functions – soup is considered a starter, not a main meal, and pancakes aren’t even served at work breakfasts, which are usually dominated by pastries with perhaps some yogurt and granola thrown in. Even ravioli is an uncommon option for work meals, because it’s messy. That’s not to say that it’s impossible to do, just that ordering food for events is more complicated than you might expect.

                7. Forrest*

                  So it wasn’t so much as “couldn’t” but “wouldn’t.”

                  Which is the risk that is always run when companies put together these things. It’s not something that specific to vegetarian-only meals.

                  Sometimes you just need to suck it up and eat stuff that you think is gross or pick food out of something.

                8. Forrest*

                  Since you didn’t cite any health reasons and just said that they included a lot of food people dislike, then yes, you could have eaten it but wouldn’t want to.

                  If the worst you feel after eating something is “that’s gross and I don’t like it,” that’s not a couldn’t situation. A couldn’t situation is “this food will send me to the hospital.”

                9. Stop marginalizing people*

                  @Forrest, please stop lecturing sooo hungry about her dietary needs, which are none of your business. We are supposed to take posters at their word here, and sooo hungry says she could not eat any of the vegetarian offerings. She is under no obligation to account to you for her dietary choices.

                10. Forrest*

                  She said she couldn’t eat them because she didn’t like them. That’s extremely difficult from “dietary needs” and actually pretty insulting to people who do struggle with actual dietary issues.

                  Being picky and disliking eggplant is extremely different from being unable to eat food that could put you in the hospital or kill you. It sounds as if app hungry was stuck on an island with only mushrooms to eat, she’s dislike it but would eat them. If that weren’t the case, I’m sure she would have said that because she did try to justify why she “couldn’t” eat the food – she didn’t like it.

                  If someone with a severe peanut allergy was stuck on an island with just peanuts, they’d be screwed. That’s much different from finding a food group gross.

                  And yes, I did take her at her word – her word was she wouldn’t eat anything besides cupcakes because she didn’t like the food. Again, that’s something people risk with every catered work event. It’s not exclusive to vegetarian only events.

                  She’s well within her rights obviously to not want to eat something but let’s not get dramatic about something that could happen at any event regardless if it’s vegetarian only or not.

                11. Soooo hungry, soooo stymied*

                  Check my original wording: “there was precisely one thing that I could eat.” I’ve been quite consistent in saying that, so please don’t rewrite my words to say that “[my] word was [I] wouldn’t eat anything besides cupcakes because [I] didn’t like the food.” That is untrue. There was nothing that could enter my stomach and stay there.

                12. Forrest*

                  You said:

                  “Of the minority that lacked fake meat, the flavors were dominated by foods commonly known to be disliked by large percentages of people. If I remember correctly, several had mushrooms, and something else had eggplant. (I tried a couple that looked like maybe I could eat around the mushrooms/eggplant – no dice.) I don’t eat everything out there, but I’m not a super picky eater like y’all are suggesting.”

                  Notice you say two things that imply this is a “wouldn’t” isn’t of “couldn’t” – 1) you used to word “dislike” when it came to the food and 2) you’re not a super picky eater – meaning you were being picky about these foods.

                  Not liking food and finding it gross to eat is not at all the same as you physically can’t eat it.

                  And like I said, being picky about certain foods and feeling gross when you eat them can happen at any catered event. This isn’t something exclusive to vegetarian only events so I fail to see how it’s an argument against vegetarian only events.

                13. Indie*

                  So hungry, I am really shocked on your behalf that people have felt it’s ok to call another adult a ‘picky eater’. Imagine if someone said vegetarianism was a nitpicky non medical preference! I mean, if you are crashed atop a mountain and have to eat your dead friends; you might have to go ultra logical, non preference and risk vomiting for the sake of survival. But for a job? If there are cupcakes, you’re going to choose cupcakes over vomit.

              4. Tau*

                There’s a difference, to me, between catering the company dinner as vegetarian and saying you’ll only be reimbursing vegetarian meals. The latter is unlikely to be only a single meal.

                And, you know, I’m an omnivore who doesn’t actually eat meat all that much. When I go out to eat, I often end up with the veggie option simply because it sounds much more tasty. However, I have also been bouncing between borderline and severely anemic for the past three or so years, and meat remains pretty much the best way of getting iron in your diet. If my company told me I couldn’t eat meat whenever I was on a business trip, I’d be pretty unhappy.

                1. tangerineRose*

                  I’m a vegetarian, and I think this policy is an overreach If I worked for a company that decreed this, I’d wonder what they’d take away next. Plus, eating vegetarian on a business trip is harder (at least it has been for me) because there are usually fewer options – instead of eating at home or picking whatever restaurant, I might be eating at a conference dinner with 1 vegetarian option or trying to find something I like at a hotel restaurant.

              5. Observer*

                The “one meal” thing is a total red herring.

                If you are going to a conference, for instance, it’s generally NOT “one meal”. Also, it’s also not always that easy to get what you what makes sense for you at best, and it gets worse if you start adding limits. So, yes, if you are in an ares with lots of options nearby, it’s not that big of a deal. But, a lot of convention areas actually don’t have a lot of convenient options. Please don’t tell me that you think it’s reasonable to expect people who don’t eat that way to manage on yogurt, cheese, fruit and veggies for a couple of days or more. And if someone has any other dietary restrictions, that’s another level of difficulty.

                The combination of multiple meals and lack of reasonably accessible options means that this is going to be a burden for anyone with any food restrictions and probably for a lot of people without a lot of restrictions.

                A lot of WeWork locations are NOT near good food options (I just had occasion to look into this), and they are also going to ban these foods from their food kiosks. That’s highly likely to lose them business, too.

            4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              One meal certainly can be all these things and more. But, as an example, my work team is going on a week-long trip to our employer’s office in another state. Lunches will either be provided or I guess we could all carpool somewhere for lunch (we’ll be sharing a rental car), provided of course that there won’t be any work or work meetings scheduled over lunch for any of us (unlikely). I cannot begin to imagine the reaction if we were all told that none of our meals for the week of the trip would contain meat. I for one would be constantly hungry and eating all the junk food from the satellite office’s vending machine. One meal at an optional work event is okay, but a week of mandatory vegetarian food (at events like business trips, all-day training, all-day meetings) when you don’t have an option to go and buy your food anywhere else would make me pretty unhappy.

            5. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

              You realize that some people eat on company reimbursement for literally 1/2 if not more of their meals?

            6. a heather*

              A single vegetarian meal would have WAY too many carbs for my particular diet; I need high-protein, low carb meals. Protein in the vegetarian world comes with carbs. Carbs mean bloating and gas for me in particular, which would leave me feeling awful (not to mention the horrific-smelling gas that everyone else would have to endure.)

              How would you feel if someone asked you to eat just ONE meat-filled meal that you paid zero dollars for?

              1. Turner*

                Same. I was a vegetarian for years but I had to stop because of my health. Vegetarian food can be very healthy for some people, but it wasn’t healthy for me. Every person is different and they have different needs.

              2. AdAgencyChick*


                Powerlifter here. I do not turn up my nose at lentils and beans; however, to get the protein I need, I’d need to eat enough to murder a room with my farts.

                1. Specialk9*

                  “I do not turn up my nose at lentils and beans; however, to get the protein I need, I’d need to eat enough to murder a room with my farts.”


              3. many bells down*

                Also, celiac disease. A lot of popular vegetarian options are NOT safe for a celiac. Any pasta dish is right out unless the restaurant has GF pasta. Veggieburgers usually contain flour or gluten. Once, we ordered “mock duck” from a restaurant and realized too late that mock duck is literally just fried gluten.

                At home, I can cook these things with GF flours and pastas (I love a black bean burger), but eating out while on business travel is already a nightmare for my husband.

            7. Thegs*

              I eat sans-meat pretty often, but at the same time I think this decision is way overstepping boundaries. To me at least it has nothing to do with the vegetarianism aspect of it, I would be just as against it if they had instead said, “We will only comp Mediterranean food while the employees are on business travel.” Food is such a personal thing, your company shouldn’t be telling you what you should eat.

              1. Mad Baggins*

                This. It’s not about how morally superior the vegetarian diet is, it’s that the company is claiming sustainability in order to forcibly dictate what the employees eat. I’ve chosen a diet that is right for me, I shouldn’t have to jump through extra hoops so that my meal also pleases the CEO.

            8. Traffic_Spiral*

              Is it really that outrageous that I’m only going to shove one finger up your ass at mealtimes? I’m tired of people acting like one finger is some huge imposition.

              Let people eat what they like and don’t ruin everyone’s meals just because you want to eat veggie and so don’t see the problem in forcing it on anyone else. Other than all the legitimate dietary concerns people have, and the fact that good veggie food is often not readily available when traveling, it’s deeply intrusive and insulting to have your employer shoving his nose into what you have for dinner.

          2. you don't know me*

            I’m a meat eater but if my work offered me a free vegetarian lunch each day you can bet I would eat it!

            1. YuliaC*

              Ooh, same here. I am a meat eater because of convenience mostly. I would love to eat vegetarian all the time if someone took the trouble to prepare it for me for free! Assuming it was prepared well and was not just plain raw vegetables on a tray.

          3. Koala dreams*

            As an omnivore myself, I don’t understand this statement. Did you mix up the words? Omnivore generally means eating both vegetarian and meat-based food. If you mean that you only can eat meals with meat, you might want to say carnivore.

            1. Andy*

              I don’t believe I did? I meant to use omnivore. Carnivore isn’t ‘only meals WITH meat’, but rather only meals that are only meat. And vegetarian is only meals that are no meat, and omnivore is meals with yes some meat and yes some non-meats. So I, as an omnivore, would be looking to eat a spectrum of items that hopefully include meats. Not at all meals, I actually eat vegetarian meals quite frequently, but I’ve got some protein and iron issues that are handled very well by making sure I eat a minimum of some lean meats. My dr. explained it, but I’m sure my translation wouldn’t do his any justice.

      2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        I’m with you, this might actually be my hill to die on. As someone that travels ~50% I eat a lot of meals on the road.

        Either that or I’d get real creative in how I ask my meals to be rung up at restaurants.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Now I’m imagining going to like… Qdoba and ordering a burrito bowl but asking for a separate order with my chicken that I pay for separately.

          1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

            See and I was going to say… Yeah, I want to order the steak, but please ring it up as the same priced tofu surprise.

            It would probably result in higher tipping costs, but the right server would probably find a way to make this work.

        2. Ali G*

          I wonder what their reimbursement policy is. At OldJob we didn’t have to submit receipts for anything under $25. I got a lot of wine paid for by closing out before $25 ;p

      3. Susana*

        I’m loathe to micro-regulate companies regarding things like reimbursing meals. But then, it’s not much worse than WeWork micro-managing the personal health choices of its employees. You’re setting up a situation where people with one diet get reimbursed for a *business* expense, and others aren’t. It’s not like it’s an incentive – such as providing discounts to vegetarian meals in the office. Meals out while traveling is a business expense. And other than putting a dollar limit on it that’s equal for all employees, they should not be making these personal decisions for employees.

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          I’m from Germany, and traveling a lot on business (44 countries in the last 5 years, just had to list them all for a visa application).
          Here the official (tax) rules give a defined amount per day for meals, depending on the country I travel to, for the US it’s about 60$.
          Free meals are deducted (breakfast 20%, lunch / dinner 40%).
          No need for receipts. If I’m staying for a week in one place, I get stuff from the grocery store to make myself a sandwich for dinner the way I like it (no mayo) and save; some days I spoil myself, and pay the rest out of pocket.
          This system ensures my employer has no say in what I eat – but at our (subsidized) cafeteria there is always one vegetarian option out of the four hot meals on offer, plus a veggie buffet and a salad buffet. Last time I did a count I ended up with 3 veggie to 2 non-veggie lunches per week, on average.

          So where I (used to, I’m on long term loan to the US right now We Work’s scheme would not work.

      4. Triple Anon*

        I’m sure they’ll get sued by someone who has to eat meat for religious or medical reasons. Unless they are accommodating those things and it isn’t included in the news coverage.

    5. Kimberlee, Ranavain*

      I’m a meat eater, but I’m happy about WeWork’s move. According to them, it’s all about lowering the carbon footprint, and they have ways to get special permission if you’re one of the (extraordinarily rare) people who *need* to have meat in their diet. WeWork is a pretty big company, so I think it can make a difference, and it’s kind of a genius market differentiator for them.

      The last time I had a job that involved buying food for large groups of people, we defaulted to all-vegetarian too. A person in leadership was the one who actually made the decision (he just said to me “I’m thinking about making a rule that all food in the office has to be vegetarian. Using my power for good” and I just ran with it) and tbh it made life a lot easier for me! And very few complaints, so long as you have a reasonably robust menu. Easier to accommodate food allergies too, in a lot of cases.

      1. Kimberlee, Ranavain*

        I should adapt that last sentence from “food allergies” to “dietary requirements” generally, because it’s also hella easy to accommodate halal, kosher, and vegan options in a vegetarian context too.

        1. Observer*

          That’s actually not necessarily true. If you told me I couldn’t have meat or chicken while traveling, there would be a good chance that I couldn’t eat altogether. See, I am NOT going to eat “vegetarian” food from a restaurant that is not certified kosher. Unless you are going strictly vegan, it’s not going to be kosher. Even vegan places have their issues for someone who actually keeps kosher the whole way.

          In my experience, in many places there is more likely to be a place to get kosher prepared meat meals than dairy / vegetarian.

          And that doesn’t even start with the issues that come up if someone has an additional food restriction – and there is no reason to believe that people who eat kosher or Halal have fewer other food restrictions than the population at large.

          As for accommodating food allergies, vegetarian is in no way easier than meat. Keep in mind that the 7 (or eight) most common food allergens are all vegetarian. And 4 of them are vegan. And that doesn’t cover the myriad of other food sensitivities – some of which are well documented. Most of those are either vegetarian and often vegan.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I think ordering all-vegetarian for in-office meals is a great idea. I just balk at the refusal to allow people to expense any kind of meat in their meals while they’re on the road.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Oh wow that is a good point. What if they (ie the company) are treating the client to a meal? Are we now telling the client that they’re not allowed to order any meat? That should go over nicely.

        1. smoke tree*

          This is where I come down as well. The in-office meals are more of a perk, so as long as they take dietary restrictions into account, I think it’s fine that they set whatever limits they want. But the reason employers typically cover meals for business travel is so that employees don’t have to basically pay out of pocket for business expenses–it’s not for their benefit. In that case I think it’s overstepping to make employees conform to the business’s moral code during their free time.

          Not to mention that it feels like a real waste of time for whoever has to approve the expenses–do they have to try to decipher the restaurant’s order codes to see if any of them might conceivably contain meat? What if the receipt doesn’t specify–do they have to call up the restaurant to check in about their employee’s order a month before? If the receipt isn’t in English, do they need to hire a translator?

          1. Lissa*

            Oooh yeah. I was originally in favour of this being ok because i was thinking of company lunches etc. But business travel is iffy. I would personally be ok with it but I’m an adventurous eater. I do think getting mad about one meal not having meat is odd but when it’s a whole week it gets harder.

        2. Nesprin*

          Well said! We’ve all been to the convention center in outer nowheresburg where the only readily available food options are a chicken sandwich or a hamburger. My business sponsors me to travel to learn new things and be a better employee- not to navigate the local vegetarian friendly food offerings.

      3. Logan*

        It’s often better to approach these things with the ‘carrot’ mentality than with the ‘stick’. Offer tasty vegetarian meals and people will gladly eat a lot more of them. Refusing to pay for meals with meat, when travelling (especially given my experience with US restaurants, where vegetarian meals are much more difficult to find), would make me very grumpy.

      4. What's with today, today?*

        I have Crohn’s disease and veggies are a huge trigger. I’d be up a shit creek unless it was pasta (without red sauce). Literally.

        1. A tester, not a developer*

          Fellow Crohnie checking in! Sure Susan, I’ll eat that quinoa salad and ancient grains veggie wrap… I assume we’ll be holding the afternoon training session in the ladies’ room? :)

          1. esra*

            Haha right? My favourite is when people go: “But it’s healthy!!!” after you tell them you actually can’t eat nuts, seeds, chunky grains, super dark leafy greens (god I hope kale goes out of fashion soon)…

        2. Dust Bunny*

          I imagine this will be an issue for diabetics, too, since, yes, there are non-meat protein sources but they don’t always work as well with blood sugar as, say, just ordering chicken.

        3. Courageous cat*

          I don’t agree with their policy, but I hope everyone in this thread realizes that in almost all situations like these, people with medical issues will be exempted.

          1. Courageous cat*

            I now see everyone else’s posts about how you shouldn’t have to disclose it to eat normally etc etc, and like, I agree – but what if they only chose to just serve vegetarian food at company functions, which seems widely agreed as ok? You’d still have to disclose it. There are a lot of situations I can think of in which you’d have to disclose a health issue (not even specifics, necessarily, but just that one exists) to be accomodated.

            1. What's with today, today?*

              From experience, if it was one company meal, I’d skip it and eat something Crohn’s friendly before or after. If I was at, say, a conference with only veggie options, I would have food I could eat in my room. Either way, I’m footing the bill, which is okay for one meal or even a couple, but for all business travel is excessive.

            2. Soooo hungry, soooo stymied*

              I think it’s a horrible idea to serve vegetarian meals at company functions, and I’m not sure that I’m seeing a consensus to the contrary in the other comments. I think people are focused more on traveling as that seems more intrusive since some of the meals are on your own time. However, company functions that have meals attached normally are things like working lunches, dinners capping off special events or that someone orders in because something broke and everyone is staying late to fix it, breakfasts with visitors from other organizations who you’re going to be showing around all day… Company-offered meals are not a perk, they’re the way organizations get people to keep working beyond standard working hours. If a company doesn’t actually provide edible meals at these sorts of events, people will either leave or continue working in a bad mood while thinking about how hungry they are, how self-centered their bosses are, and how much they’re being taken advantage of. Either way, it’s to the detriment of the company.

              In my industry, meals are often ordered in for us, and when organizers choose food that’s too specific to their own preferences, this is exactly what happens. We regularly work 12-18-hour days where breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided *because the organizations want us to keep working.* When I first started out, I stuck it out while watching the clock and thinking about how hungry I was. Now, if someone were to pull this nonsense on me, I’d chat for ten minutes or so of the “lunch” before heading to the door to find real food (probably with a colleague from another organization, and probably to discuss how selfish and shortsighted the organizers are for at least part of the meal). While I would take a look at the dinner to see if there was something edible, if I didn’t see anything that looked viable I’d just leave early and either hang with friends from another organization again or get to sleep at a reasonable hour.

              Companies don’t provide meals out of the goodness of their hearts; they do it to keep you working longer.

              1. Traffic_Spiral*

                Yeah, it’s mildly shitty, but it’s not nearly as bad as what they’re actually doing, though.

          2. Lissa*

            I had no idea you couldn’t be vegetarian if you had Crohn’s! Things I learn from AAM..

          3. Whit in Ohio*

            Except that people can get awfully judgey when they find out that you have diabetes. I would not want to admit that sort of dietary need to an employer that had just imposed vegetarianism on their employees. I’d expect discrimination.

            1. Courageous cat*

              You don’t have to tell your coworkers! Just your boss/the people reimbursing you. And information like that is always expected to be confidential, at least as far as I know.

              1. Whit in Ohio*

                And the first time you order the green salad with chicken strips, you’re co-workers will want to know why you’re special and get to order meat when they can’t. Or worse, your co-workers will upbraid you for your cruelty to the poor chickens, and you’ll have to explain your medical issues to get them off your back.

              2. D'Arcy*

                Given the boundary-violating sleaziness and self-righteous veneer of this company’s actions, I would fully expect them to *not* treat any health issue with confidentiality. I would fully expect to be attacked and berated by coworkers for not complying with their fad, with the active collusion of management.

              3. What's with today, today?*

                I’m not interested in telling my boss that eating vegetables causes me to have a period-like blood flow from my anus. Nope.

                1. Courageous cat*

                  Yeah, and I should hope that if the time ever comes that you do need accommodation for any reason, you don’t actually do that then either.

                2. Traffic_Spiral*

                  Courageous Cat: So long as the company isn’t being creepily intrusive or coercive about people’s private lives, it shouldn’t ever have to come up.

          4. Observer*

            “Almost”? So, firstly, you are putting a burden on people with diagnosed illnesses to discuss and disclose that which is really no one’s business. And another burden on people who now need to go and spend time and money to get “acceptable” documentation of their medical need. And what happens if you are not deemed eligible? Who decides if your medical issue is severe enough? I mean, does it REALLY matter if you get hives? That’s just a “lifestyle” / “comfort” issue. (Yes, I’ve had health issues referred to this way.) And what if you are like me and have odd food sensitivities that don’t have a formal diagnostic parameters? My doctor tells me to avoid foods that make me feel sick, but will these guys accept that?

            There are so many ways that this can go wrong, it’s not even funny. Requiring medical documentation for permission to do normal things is a really bad way to treat your staff.

      5. Jadelyn*

        I don’t care what the company wants to do environmentally – they can have all the great intentions in the world, but they DO NOT NEED to be involved in ANY WAY in my personal food choices. And that’s what they’re doing, make no mistake. If I’m traveling for work, I’m human, I have to eat at regular intervals. Those meals should be on the company dime, since I’m traveling on their behalf. So by refusing to reimburse non-vegetarian meals, the company is basically saying “you can either starve, pay for your own food despite being on the clock, or eat the meals we want you to eat.” They’re holding basic necessities of the job over people’s heads to force them to change their diet the way the company wants them to. That is a stunning overreach into employees’ personal lives, and is not remotely appropriate.

        1. All Hail Queen Sally*

          I am a diabetic that has to strictly control my carbs and balance them with protein. I have found that is not so easy with vegetarian meals. I used to eat a lot of vegetarian food, but I have to watch it now.

        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Yeah it’s the food policing angle that I don’t like. I’m more than happy to eat vegetarian (and was vegan for a while) but I just don’t like my employer being involved in my diet.

        3. Traffic_Spiral*

          Agreed – this is just way too much intrusion into an employee’s personal business.

      6. Cakezilla*

        I don’t *need* meat, but I’m allergic to enough of the common ingredients in vegetarian meals that depending on where I was, it would be really hard for me to find something (the avocado on everything trend right now has been a nightmare for me!) I get stressed just thinking about it because I have no idea where I would fall, not really needing meat but not having good alternatives a lot of the time.

      7. Chriama*

        I think it’s pretty inappropriate to dictate your employee’s food choices like that, especially since this seems to include reimbursement for work travel. Incentivizing is one thing, punishing is quite another.

      8. Indefinite Contract Attorney*

        I’m vegetarian and I had a hardcore wince at WeWork’s decision. Does it make my inner consumer protester happy, sure! But exactly because of the reactions above and the general omnivore knee-jerk reaction to being fed vegetarian food make it…less than a great option. (This isn’t a judgemental statement: many omnivores are rockin’ awesome about eating vegetarian food! But I’ve also had people refuse to come over to my house because I wasn’t going to provide meat. I never said they couldn’t bring their own, but their reactions aren’t terribly uncommon either. :( )
        I absolutely LOVE the idea of catering all in-house meals as vegetarian though. That rocks pretty hard. Especially because catering can always have select meals set aside for the people who need meat in their diet….y’know, like they’ve been doing for vegetarians/kosher/halal/GF folks for ages. I always found it extremely troubling AND frustrating when X amount of vegetarian meals were purchased because they knew of X number of vegetarians, but Y number of omnivores got to the table first and took the veggie options before the vegetarians could get to them.

      9. Artemesia*

        I have literally never seen a vegetarian meal that does not contain the only thing I am allergic to. And plenty of people have digestive issues that are very unhappy with vegetarian diets.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          Now I’m really curious, because I’ve been a vegetarian for years and can’t think of an ingredient that all my meals have had in common.

          (Totally agree with your larger point that this restriction causes problems and drastically limits options for a lot of people.)

          1. Ktelzbeth*

            Garlic and onions are in almost everything I make, but there are a few exceptions. Otherwise, I use a huge range of different things.

            In general, I agree about the limited options. I can tell you at length about how hard it is to go out to eat as a gluten-intolerant vegetarian.

            1. Observer*

              Yes, well garlic and onions are a surprisingly major issue for a lot of people. And that’s one pair that’s likely to show up in a a huge percentage of meals unless someone is really thinking about it.

            1. Tau*

              My aunt can’t eat fructose and oy vey, I do not envy her diet. And yeah, pretty sure going vegetarian would not be a good option for her.

          2. Banana Pancakes*

            I’m severely allergic to wheat, mushrooms, and sesame, and moderately lactose intolerant, which rules out a lot of veggie options.

            It sucks, because I love Indian, Greek, Japanese, etc. but they’re only really “safe” to eat if I make them myself. A lot of the time, it’s just easier and safer to get chicken.

            I’ve found Thai to be pretty allergy-friendly, though, and my favorite place will swap in tofu or eggplant in place of meat. :)

            /my $0.02-$0.04

      10. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        There are a lot of far more significant things they could do to lower their carbon footprint without barging into their employees’ personal dietary choices or health.

        This is very grandstand-y.

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          I’m having trouble figuring out the correlation between meat and carbon footprint. (If I’m honest I don’t really care) but it seems to me that unless you’re eating locally sourced farm to table produce only the difference is not going to be anything to write home about.

          Honestly it seems like one of those kooky ideas that makes someone feel like they are making a difference rather than actually doing something.

            1. Specialk9*

              It really is. Eating meat is a bummer, environmentally. Especially cows – their farts are like environmental killers.

              I am really really looking forward to vat meat. Unfortunately right now vat meat is made with fetal calf serum, ie a product made from fetal calves that are pulled from slaughtered cows and bled to death into tubes while alive. O_O

          1. buttercup*

            Eating beef specifically is one of the most carbon-intensive things you could do. Simply raising and feeding cows (think of the amount of grass and food you have to grow to feed said cows) is very water and energy-intensive, and that’s before you get around to butchering and processing the meat.

            1. Observer*

              There are still a lot of other things that could make at least as much of a difference without getting into people’s diets. Furthermore, while growing beef is more carbon intensive than growing most vegetables, none of these comparisons actually take into account things like transport.

              Also, they are going vegetarian, which generally includes chicken. While chicken farming has it’s issues, it’s rally hard to stretch the claim about carbon to chicken farming.

      11. Triple Anon*

        I think that just increasing the number of vegetarian options and decreasing the amount of meat at company events would be a good middle ground. Usually, the meat options out-number the vegetarian ones. Offer tasty things like grape leaves, falafel, fried tofu with dipping sauces – stuff that might win over the meat crowd and inspire them to add vegetarian meals to their omnivore diet. The way to make a difference is to be friendly, not to antagonize people.

      12. DArcy*

        Yes, it’s a wonderful market differentiator telling people that this is a company run by people who have no boundaries, are incredibly self-righteous, and shouldn’t ever be trusted.

        Next thing you know they’ll literally be firing employees for eating meat, and trying to soin that as an ethics rule.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      The WeWork thing bothers me a lot. There are all kinds of reasons why I think it’s a silly idea from a logistics and personal preference standpoint, but when people travel on company business, they deserve a little bit of convenience and leeway. We’re not talking about $60 steaks, we’re talking about a chicken Caesar salad. I think it’s a touch too paternalistic for my tastes.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes, if when the are catering or whatever they want to provide only vegetarian, fine. But, on the road, it can be hard to get healthy options (I like salads and chicken, for example) and this would be really limiting. If the only veggie option is a side salad and mushroom squash risotto, well, I hate both mushrooms and squash.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Exactly. My partner is a vegetarian, and I know how annoying it can be to find a place with good options. Every time we try a new restaurant in our own town, we have to look up menus to make sure he has some kind of choice. Granted, I can do that in a lot of cities, but if I’m traveling for work and it’s been a long day, it’s really inconvenient to go through all that rigamarole, especially if I simply do not want a veggie burger or a garden salad.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          And how will they even know what I’m eating on the road? Do I have to provide a detailed receipt?

          1. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

            I have to provide itemized receipts, so whoever is approving my expense report will see exactly what I ordered.

            1. Artemesia*

              We always had to provide detailed receipts so we could demonstrate we were not expensing alcohol. I had a food claim kicked back because I didn’t have a detailed receipt from McDonalds.

              1. Antilles*

                We always had to provide detailed receipts so we could demonstrate we were not expensing alcohol.
                This is a pretty common thing. It’s especially common if your line of business is such that your company then turns around and re-bills your meals to a client, because many companies/governments do not allow money to be spent on alcohol. So if you don’t provide a detailed receipt, the client has the right to disallow the entire meal expense.

          2. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Remember Guacamole Bob?

            Apparently itemized receipts are a thing for reimbursements.

        3. Dust Bunny*

          My mom is diabetic and salad with chicken is her go-to meal. She tries not to eat a lot of dairy because fat and cholesterol, and not all of us can eat soy. So . . . egg whites, I guess?

          1. WellRed*

            yes, this is my issue. Also, limited starches. I mean, I’ll eat the pasta if its my only option, but I can’t do that for several meals. Without protein to balance, it’s harder to manage my numbers.

      2. She's One Crazy Diamond*

        I agree. I fully support them only offering vegetarian meals when catering meetings, but my issue is with meal reimbursements when traveling.

      3. Jadelyn*

        Honestly, if I were forced to have only vegetarian food while traveling, I’d probably just subsist on potato chips and Coke – technically, that’s vegetarian, and you can find those things everywhere without having to hunt for salads or a veggie burger.

      4. motherofdragons*

        Paternalistic is exactly the word that came to mind when I first heard about this story. And even though fish is currently allowed, they’ll eventually “evaluate [their] consumption of seafood, eggs, dairy, and alcohol.” (Link for that quote is in my username)

          1. Dragoning*

            Not necessarily–gelatin, for instance, is a animal product, and some vegans won’t eat honey.

            1. smoke tree*

              And then they’ll require that employees stop wearing wool sweaters on company time.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Well sure. This is all about finding fake moral reasons to make people eat the way the big bosses eat, it’s not really about health or carbon footprint.

        1. Anonymosity*

          And then it will be “We follow a breatharian policy; no meals will be reimbursed.”

        2. Observer*

          Oh, gag. This is an attempt to develop “personal accountability”?!

          Their take on this is interesting. I don’t entirely agree, but I think that over all they have a valid point. And I have to give them credit for apparently being consistent.

      5. Guacamole Bob*

        I’ve been a vegetarian for over a decade, and I agree with this. Business travel often sucks, and part of that is how it throws off a person’s normal eating habits. As a vegetarian traveler I can pretty much always find something to eat, but I also eat too many bad veggie wraps from airport kiosks, more dairy and white-flour bread and pasta than usual and fewer actual veggies and whole grains, and I end up snacking on protein bars and junk food because the food options when traveling are usually kind of meh, especially if other people are picking the restaurants. I have no medical issues but on some trips my GI system ends up a bit off after a couple of days and I end up feeling kind of draggy because the available food is different from what I normally eat. I’d imagine that normally omnivorous people who eat vegetarian while travelling might experience something similar, but even more so.

        1. EddieSherbert*

          I agree; fairly often, traveling for work means eating worse than normal.
          When you add traveling as a vegetarian when you don’t want to be one… that’d be really hard.

          As a vegetarian, I tend to bring a large purse-full of snacks for myself (like dried fruits and protein bars) when I have to travel for work AND spend a decent amount of time finding a couple actually good restaurants near my hotel before I leave, just so I don’t have to eat “bad” vegetarian food the whole trip. It requires prep work. I’d be annoyed if I was forced to do that prep work versus choosing to.

        2. Quill*

          I’m a part-time vegetarian (two members of my household are vegetarian and as a rule I don’t complain about free food that someone else cooked,) and though I’ve decided not to go out of my way to completely exclude meat (especially because it’s so much harder when not cooking for yourself,) I’ve noticed that there aren’t a lot of vegetarian options at most restaurants – especially because their vegetarian options can often be their “diet” options.

          If you have cheese, egg, or grain sensitivities, this could become the impossible foodscape pretty fast.

        3. nd*

          I agree with you. I used to travel extensively. And I was vegetarian at the time. I subsisted primarily on junk foods. My health tanked during that time and I am finally getting it back, with a very veggie-heavy diet that includes small amounts of meat. I would be very, very unhappy if I had to return to that very unhealthy pattern of eating.

    7. Betsy Bobbins*

      I’m all for them not offering meat options at their office, after all you can bring your own lunch in, but reimbursement for meals is crossing a line. Someone who is traveling should be able to eat similar food to what they normally would at home, and for many that is not meat free. I eat mostly grain free so I would be one cantankerous bitch if I had to eat just fruits and veggies for a week straight while on the road with limited options.

      1. alice*

        I think they said they’d allow exceptions if you had a medical reason for eating meat. That’s probably covered.

        1. What's with today, today?*

          I’m pretty open about my Crohn’s disease, but it is a DISGUSTING disease. A lot of people aren’t open about it because of the gross symptoms. I’d be wary of making people disclose something like this. I can’t eat a lot of veggies because of the seeds and fiber.

          1. A tester, not a developer*

            I’m in the process of updating my ‘disability accomodation’ paperwork with my employer. My boss is great, but the disability services office has been giving me a hard time, so the next set of forms that do in are going to explain my Crohn’s symptoms in full and horrifying detail. I’m debating submitting glossy 8x10s of my last scope too… :)

            1. What's with today, today?*

              I went that route once (again, I’m pretty open). That said, my MIL asked me about it once (over lunch and before the marriage), and I told her to Google it. Too embarrassing.

        2. Quackeen*

          I don’t have a diagnosis to back it up, but I eat keto and that precludes most vegetarian options in restaurants, since they are largely grain or bean-based. I’d be pissed if my options for getting adequate protein were limited in this way.

        3. Jadelyn*

          Who cares? Why should I have to disclose personal medical information to my employer just to be able to eat ordinary food while traveling on company business?

          Or, for example, I know myself and my body well enough to know that I function best when I have animal proteins on a regular basis. Ideally meat, though eggs can work in a pinch (but I’m allergic to eggs, so while I can eat them I’m going to pay for it with severe stomach pain later). It’s not *medical* per se, in that it’s not linked to a disorder or disease, and I can survive without meat if I have to, it won’t kill me. But I have a harder time focusing, I feel slightly shaky and off-kilter, and the best thing to fix that is just to have some damn meat. I shouldn’t have to walk my boss through the non-medical dietary preferences I’ve developed via trial and error over the years in order to be able to have the very basic food that will allow me to operate in my best condition.

          1. Denise*

            I agree. We shouldn’t have to disclose. But if this were my company I’d fantasize about loading up on the most bothersome veggies and hanging out with the relevant decision makers, asking polite questions and tooting away until either the paint peeled off their walls or the policy went away. “I’m so taken with the new policy that I went vegetarian full time! I’ll eat like this all the time now!”

        4. Chriama*

          What if my medical reason is just “I feel happy and healthy when I eat this way.” It doesn’t sound like it’s any of their business. Plus, not everyone has a diagnosis. Quite frankly, most omnivores are going to gravitate towards grains rather than fruits/veggies and this is likely to harm their health until (unless!) they get educated and adapt to new alternatives.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            But the company’s health care costs will increase as half the people there run to get a doctor’s note so they can have meat in their paid for meals.
            Big Wig 1: “Gee, I can’t figure out why there is an uptick in doctor appointments for the employees….”
            Big Wig 2: “Yes, we will have to raise what they pay toward insurance to help us with this expense increase. I can’t figure it out for the life of me either.”

          2. bacon tastes good*

            Exactly, we do NOT HAVE TO DESIRE TO EAT MEET to you, We Work. Every employee who is ont a veggie-nut needs to say to the CEO, “we’ll stick a boot up your as s, it’s the American way” and sucker punch the guy. And then go out for a stake and beer.. this sounds ike one o those hipster caliornia nutso companies let them bring this crap to texas….

        5. Yorick*

          You shouldn’t need a medical reason to eat meat on a work trip.

          Imagine if they decided to only reimburse for meals that include meat, and you have to get a doctor’s note to have a vegetarian meal.

        6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Sadly I’m pretty sure that “I’m going to remain hungry no matter how much I eat, until I’ve had meat” is not a valid medical reason. Though I do know a doctor who can write a creative note….

        7. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Sadly I don’t think “there’s only so many sweet potato/kale/avocado concoctions I can eat in a week” is a medical condition. I have no idea what their work trips are actually like, but if I had to eat out every night in my own city and totally avoid meat it would rapidly become very tedious and difficult. It’s not so much about meat-based dishes, but the fact that this thing will have bacon in it and that thing is pretty much nothing but rice with a few token onions, etc. Basically all the things that make life difficult for vegetarians.

        8. Tau*

          Medical reason can also be a fuzzy thing. As mentioned upthread I have problems with anemia, due to a recurring underlying medical condition I’m unfortunately prone to which I’ll probably be battling for the next decade or two. Meat remains the best way of getting iron in your diet. Am I allowed to eat meat if I’m severely anemic? Mildly anemic? What if I’m not anemic right then but have reason to believe I will be in the near future? And do they get to say “nope, take iron pills instead” (which are horrible. seriously. my stomach lining cries at the thought.)

      2. LBG*

        I just don’t like most veg, (can’t eat some, allergies), don’t eat grains, and my diet is primarily meat/cheese based. Occasionally some green salad under that, which I generally ignore. At the office I’d pack my lunch (do it now anyway), and on the road I’d buy what I want and not seek reimbursement (or figure out if the restaurant would give me a receipt showing a veg option instead). Almost annoying enough of a policy to make me want to microwave fish in their office (j/k I don’t eat fish).

          1. Specialk9*

            “Sylvia, we noticed that every day you go up to the 6th floor east tower, but you work in the 1st floor east tower. From the video it looks like you go across campus and up 6 flights of stairs every day, just to open a can of tuna, use the microwave outside of the C-suite, then you throw away your food without eating. What’s going on?”

      3. Frea*

        I get debilitating migraines from a lot of things commonly found in vegetarian meals (whereas I know I’m usually safe with a burger), but it’s not technically an allergy. My doctor would give me a note, but a lot wouldn’t. It’s hard enough controlling what I eat on the road, let’s please not add this extra nightmare to it.

    8. Cousin Itt*

      FWIW I think WeWork just banned red meat, pork and poultry so meat eaters could still get reimbursed for meals with fish/seafood

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Still silly, in my opinion. Fish is another food that often isn’t on the menu, and when it is, I find it to be one of the iffiest options out there.

        I eat all manner of things and am perfectly happy enjoying a meatless meal. I just don’t like the idea that when I’m on the road, taking time away from my normal routine (and my vegetarian kitchen!), I should be limited by something that makes my life a little bit tougher. Yes, I am very aware that people who are vegetarian or vegan have to deal with this toughness on a daily basis, and I do wish it were different, but for now? Come on. Let me expense the roast beef sandwich.

      2. WellRed*

        True, but “just” red meat, pork and poultry is all but seafood, which plenty of people don’t care for. I am happy to eat black bean burgers or whatever, but vegetarian options are not always easy to find (looking at you, Minneapolis).

        1. Natalie*

          When were you last in Minneapolis if you had a hard time finding vegetarian food? This is the land of co-ops, decades before anyone had ever heard of Whole Foods.

          1. Jubilance*

            Just going to say the same thing. There are a ton of vegetarian & vegan restaurants here – there’s even a vegan butcher shop! Compared to other places I’ve lived this place is a dream for those who don’t eat meat.

              1. Yorick*

                The vegan butcher shop is like a performing arts thing. They wear aprons and stand in the back pretending like they’re butchers! It’s like a Portlandia sketch.

                I mean, I’m really happy that it exists so that vegetarian/vegans can get delicious fake meats, but still.

                1. Guitar Hero*

                  I guess that’s what I don’t get about this.

                  I’m still waiting for someone to fill me in on how large scale monocropping of things like soybeans for the industrial production of vegetarian/vegan frankenfoods is somehow an environmentally friendly choice. It’s probably better than factory farmed meat, but to pretend like it’s environmentally benign is ignorant.

                2. Mo*

                  Guitar Hero, are you serious? You know that ~90% of soybean production worldwide is fed to animals? And another ~50% of grains? So it’s mostly meat-eaters that are causing the “soybean monocrops”. And a lot of vegans/vegetarians don’t even eat soy. It’s sooooo much more environmentally friendly than eating meat. (And all this stuff is easily googleable…)

          2. WellRed*

            About 4 years ago, but was only there for two days and no easy time to research anything.

            1. OhNo*

              Well if you ever come back this way again, it looks like there’s plenty of people here in the comments who would have recommendations for you!

              1. WellRed*

                I may never do anything new without seeking the advice of the commentariat here ever again.

        2. Jadelyn*

          Seafood allergies are also pretty common, more so than allergies to other types of meats.

          1. Solidus Pilcrow*

            Yep, shellfish allergy checking in.

            Funny thing is, living in the upper Midwest it’s usually not that difficult of an allergy to accommodate/avoid.. until your new team comes to town and they all want to eat at seafood restaurants. Bah!

      3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I guess fish generally has a lower carbon footprint, but it’s still environmentally problematic. Will they only reimburse meals that contain fish that are not overfished, farmed in questionable conditions, etc?

        1. Specialk9*

          I find seafood to be so gross. Everything drains into the ocean. The oil spills on your driveway. The pesticides. The chemicals in all the toiletries and cleaning products. The medications, either pre or post human bodily processing. Poop and pee and decay of truly monumental proportions. Aaaaaaall in your swordfish filet and sea salt.

      4. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

        It’s okay to eat fish, ’cause they don’t have any feelings!

    9. Kittymommy*

      I don’t really care about the wework thing (I actually had never heard of them) I do find it interesting that 1. People with religious or dietary issue are being told to work with the companies global team to look at available options and 2. WeWork sponsored a Southern Smoke culinary festival last year in Texas.

    10. Just Another Analyst*

      I should be angry about the DMV napper wasting taxpayer dollars, but honestly I always feel so bad for the employees at the DMV whenever I’m there. It’s soul sucking just to be a visitor at the DMV, I can’t even imagine how terrible it must be to work there.

      Also, I’m extremely curious as to how she was able to get away with this for FOUR YEARS before anyone noticed. I have multiple people asking for my whereabouts if I’m away from my desk for more than 15 minutes, I can’t understand how regular 3-hour unexplained absences wouldn’t be noticed right away.

      1. Alex the Alchemist*

        Yeah, my mom used to work for the DMV many years ago and she says it’s the reason Les Miserables is her favorite musical… She sang “Look Down” to herself all day everyday to keep herself amused.

    11. Leela*

      I’m a former vegan who still would be if it weren’t for an incompatible health situation (autoimmune disorder + cancer mean I’m not pulling iron out of the plant food I eat, even if I eat more than enough of it, and low iron serious exacerbates the cancer).

      I wouldn’t enjoy this no-meat reimbursement policy at all. Veganism and vegetarianism are great but it’s not a given that it’s viable for every type of body or health situation. Also I don’t know the exact math on this but certain vegetarian foods can have a very high carbon footprint as well (though I’d be very surprised if they were approaching the levels of meat in the way we’re raising it now).

      I’d be a lot more open to it if they were truly morally opposed to the way animals are raised and went “we can’t in good conscience support this”. Still a risky move and likely to cost employees who wouldn’t want their bosses morals financially imposed on them, but this just reeks of doing something to show how outside the box they are (kinda like banning straws and replacing them with something that takes more plastic) but is more for show than for solving the problem IMO.

    12. Database Developer Dude*

      Regarding the WeWork thing, I wonder what the backlash would be if an employee said “I can no longer travel, because I have to have meat as part of my diet, and the company will no longer reimburse me for meals with meat in them”.

    13. A Vegetarian*

      I’m already vegetarian (so I totally want to attend this company’s work events!) so I’d obviously be fine with this, but I do feel like it would create a hardship for people trying to find vegetarian food while traveling to unfamiliar places. I’m used to scouring menus ahead of time, but most omnivores are not.

      Hope they never travel south, where (in my experience) your food comes topped with fried chicken and/or bacon whether you ordered it or not.

      1. Antilles*

        Hope they never travel south, where (in my experience) your food comes topped with fried chicken and/or bacon whether you ordered it or not.
        True, but in a lot of cases, it’s not specifically called out as such – the Southern Salad is identified on the menu (and in reality) as a salad topped with chicken bits and bacon, but the receipt simply lists it as “S. Salad”, so the accountant at WeWork authorizing your expense reports doesn’t know that unless they manually track down the menu.

    14. Bob Loblaw*

      I, for one, am NOT interested in scanning my employees’ expense report receipts for meals that may have contained meat. Thank god I don’t work for WeWork.

    15. Lucille2*

      I find it interesting that in order to reduce carbon footprint, WeWork will not reimburse meals containing meat for business travel. Perhaps the more effective approach to reducing the carbon footprint of their business is to implement policies that reduce the need for business travel (assuming majority of it is air travel). I believe I read a comment above where they sent their staff to a music festival in the UK, and somehow that is less of an environmental issue than requiring employees to eat vegetarian while traveling? I’m thinking the latter will cause employees to overcompensate before/after business trips or opt to pay for their own meals. So, I seriously doubt this will have any affect on the environment and is intended to start some kind of conversation.

  2. 123456789101112 do do do*

    Hi everyone, I seem to be amassing a bunch of keys at work. I also acquired a USB dongle for authentication, and of course I have an ID that I currently wear on a lanyard. Having to carry all that stuff around is LOUD. How do you deal with your collection of work keys?

    1. Dorothy Zbornak*

      Can you buy those rubber key caps to put on all the keys? It would help keep the tops from clinking together.

    2. Peter Herring*

      I don’t work in a super high security environment but I do carry a bunch of keys. I hang them up after I get everything unlocked and pick them up if I am headed somewhere I need them. I carry them on a caribenner at 2 o’clock.

    3. Antilles*

      Key covers!
      Basically, it’s a little piece of plastic that goes over the top part of the key – so it doesn’t affect the actual function of the key, but gives the top part a bit of a ‘buffer’ so it tends to make a lot less noise because the keys bounce against each other less.
      They’re available in all sorts of designs, but you can get some cheap ones from like Home Depot or Walmart or the like for a couple bucks for a pack of them. It also helps if you have a bunch of keys that look nearly identical, because you can just remember by the color/design.

      1. Anonymosity*

        I have one I use to identify my house key at night, when I forget to turn on the light outside. I can find it quickly by feel. Getting it into the keyhole is something else again. My door is configured strangely against the jamb and the key covers with lights don’t always fit.

    4. Safetykats*

      I keep my keys in my desk. For me, there doesn’t seem to be any particular reason to carry them around. Our admin also has a lot of keys – she keeps them in a locking key box that is attached to her desk, since there would be security concerns for some of the keys she owns if she just had them in a drawer.

    5. Try This Maybe?*

      You can get key cases that hold your keys in a sort of Swiss Army knife formation so they don’t jangle or damage your pockets/bag. Won’t solve all your problem but might help? Link in username

      1. DArcy*

        I absolutely love my KeySmart, which is the “Swiss Army” style key holder mentioned above. The KeySmart Pro they introduced last year also integrates a Tile tracker.

    6. Muriel Heslop*

      I have to wear my lanyard and keys at all times and I use key caps in different colors.

    7. DashDash*

      I use a key case – close to a leather wallet, but inside the fold are clips where you can attach keys. This is also a good idea if you have any high level security access via physical key – if they’re in the case, not only do they not jingle around, but no one can take a photo to make a copy of, say, the master key to all of your server rooms!

      1. Admin of Sys*

        Those are also very stylish! But they require pockets – I put all of my various yubikeys/actualkeys/usb etc on a caribeener and attach it and tuck it into a small bag I where pretty much everywhere.
        Someday I want to do the maker thing and put them all into a swiss army knife though.

        1. DashDash*

          Mine does have a clip so it doesn’t have to be in a pocket (which is great, since women’s clothing with useful pockets is the Moby Dick of fashion), buuuut that does at least require a belt loop.

    8. JeanB in NC*

      I carry one key on me that unlocks my file cabinet where all the rest of my keys are, in a little binder with labeled keys. I just have too many keys that look alike, and I can’t just lock my office door anymore because I’m in a shared office and have to keep payroll, etc. locked up.

      1. Anon for now*

        I have to carry about 30 keys with me at all times at work so I got a carabiner with a nylon strap so I can clip my keys to my belt loop and then the strap is long enough that I can slip them in my back pocket so they don’t jingle.

    9. AdminX2*

      Do you have to carry them? I have a clip for my ID, one ring of 3 keys to my drawer- which keeps all the other keys/dodads. They come out of my purse in the morning to unlock, and it goes back in when I leave.

    10. AnonyMouse*

      I only keep the ones that are essential for me to have on my person at all times on my lanyard (the key to our office suite and the key to my office). I also have keys for classroom spaces (I work in higher ed), but I keep them on a separate key ring hanging in my office.

    11. M. Albertine*

      I didn’t even know I needed the answer to this questions. Thank you for asking!

    12. LCL*

      All my work keys are on a key ring, the key ring is on a spring clip. I clip it to a belt loop..

  3. Emma*

    That article about not obsessing over emails/interactions when job-searching couldn’t have come at a better time! I had an interview a couple weeks ago & followed up yesterday. I’m trying very hard to remember that there is no secret code behind “decisions should be made by tomorrow”, or the fact that the response came exactly 20 minutes after my initial email, or that they haven’t asked for references, or or or or… Just trying to put it out of my mind & focus on work. Still gonna have a heart attack each time my phone buzzes today though! Also, thanks for all the tips on handling being gf in the office- bringing my own food & making suggestions when I can seem like the way to go!

    1. Xarcady*

      I have no advice to offer, but I’m in the same situation job-searching-wise.

      It’s challenging, especially because the job I really want is the one that I’m temping for right now. Not only do I get to obsess about emails, I also get to wonder, “Gee, Big Boss is headed to the conference room. Is she interviewing?” “Boss and Big Boss haven’t been seen in two hours. Is it a meeting or are they interviewing?”

      I have been trying really hard not to notice when certain key people are away from their desks and just focus on getting the work done, but it is not easy.

  4. JokeyJules*

    How can I get coworkers who are technically parallel to me in the hierarchy of our company to complete tasks I need them to do? My position is admin assistant, but I’ve been taking on more and more responsibilities as I transition into the role of national proposal and project coordinator. My email signature still says admin assistant and I’ve been having to follow up with people asking them to input data into our database (which they should have already been doing) so that I can continue working with those numbers for time sensitive spreadsheets. Overwhelmingly I’m told to go find the info myself on the network server, rather than them doing it. It’s frustrating because they say they’re too busy, but so am I. I literally don’t have time to do that for everyone. I think it’s because of the “admin assistant” title I still have, and they think I shouldn’t even be asking them to do it and do it for myself. How can I handle/get around this?

    1. Temperance*

      Why can’t you change your title?

      I would honestly think that you were an assistant trying to get me to do your work, especially if you have been a peer.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Yeah, if your job duties have changed, that needs to be communicated to them. A title change would indicate that. Or your boss/their boss needs to tell them.

      2. JokeyJules*

        I can’t change it yet because I’m still technically the admin assistant for my office. This transition is into a new role that hasn’t existed in the company yet, so we are still building it.
        The other thing is, the project managers are the only ones with permission in the database to enter in the info I need. When they ask me to just do it instead, I have to find the proposal document, make sure it’s the most recent version, and find the amount on a cost sheet that might be incorrect anyway. It truly is part of their job to enter that info in promptly, and I cannot fully complete that task for them.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Okay, this may be a stupid question, but have you explicitly told them “I actually don’t have the necessary permission to do that for you?”

          1. JokeyJules*

            I haven’t, but it’s not really the biggest issue. I just need the number for my spreadsheet, so i specify that it isn’t in the database.

            The response is always “It would be more efficient for you to find this on the network drive ;)”
            Yeah, more efficient for YOU

            1. Stormfeather*

              Honestly it sounds like you need to flat-out tell them “this is part of your job, and I do not have the time to do this for everyone, I really need this information,” and/or have a talk with your boss about it. More politely if necessary, but also without any padding like “it would be nice if you could…”

            2. Temperance*

              So that’s the issue, right? I think you need to make it clear that you can’t update the database.

              The other issue is that, on the org chart, PMs outrank admin assistants.

            3. Rusty Shackelford*

              The response is always “It would be more efficient for you to find this on the network drive ;)”

              “Sorry, that’s not an option! ;) Can I count on getting this info by EOB tomorrow? Thanks!”

            4. Specialk9*

              “Hi PM’s boss, I needed this number from someone on your team, in order to meet X deadline for Y important reason. PM can’t get it to me, who else should I get this data from on a weekly basis? Thank you.”

        2. Courageous cat*

          So just to further clarify – you’re saying you, as an admin assistant, are technically parallel to the project managers in your company? That seems like an unusual structure which might play into this.

          1. JokeyJules*

            It goes CEO-> Executive vice presidents -> Senior vice presidents -> National Dept Managers AND regional directors -> regional dept managers -> Everyone else (tech staff, PM’s, and all admin)

        3. Epocene*

          I’m seeing other replies focusing on the job title, but the thing is even if they DO outrank you they still are required to do certain tasks. When I was an admin I had to lean on my boss to communicate to others that I was not paid to do tasks they didn’t want to do. Sometimes we called my job the “receptacle of small favors”.

          Frankly this behavior pisses me off. Even if you COULD look up the info, which you apparently can’t, they should still be doing this without complaint. Talk to your supervisor before you put your foot down, because sometimes these things can be politically thorny. But once you have the go ahead, just be clear that they are required to input the data themselves and just hold the line.

          I felt my blood pressure rise just reading your post. So sorry you’re dealing with this.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      In my experience, no matter what your title is, people who balk at doing that kind of thing are balking because it hasn’t been made a priority for them. Do their bosses know they’re supposed to be doing it? Does your boss know you don’t have time to do it for them? I’d worry less about them understanding your role, and more about them understanding their roles. Because even if you’re the very lowest person on the org chart, if it’s their responsibility, it’s their responsibility.

      1. JokeyJules*

        That might be it. This company has a great culture, but part of it is that everyone is and always should be suuuuuuper busy. Everyone overbooks themselves intentionally

      2. Saffie Girl*

        I agree – I have a title of Project Manager and the amount of pushback I get on items that are clearly the persons responsibility is astounding. I have gotten very good at (diplomatically) pushing back. Ask your supervisor how much leeway you have in managing the other staff for the project. In my organization, I have found that no one else will manage this stuff for me.

        1. JokeyJules*

          My response is usually
          “Whenever you get a chance before Wednesday (or whatever day is before my due date but no less than 3 business days), that would be great. Thanks!”

    3. Thlayli*

      It’s probably not because of your title. This happens to everyone. I’ve had plenty of admin assistants tell me they’re too busy to do something, and plenty of people at all levels in the hierarchy do the same.

      The way to get around it is to 1 talk to your own boss – clarify if necessary and make absolutely certain this is the other persons job not yours, 2 make sure your boss knows you don’t have time to do this and makes sure she will back you up when you refuse, 3 address it with the person in the monent (a polite version of “i don’t have time to do your job”, 4 if they still refuse ask your boss to take it up with their boss.

      Basically you have to follow the organisation spine – if they won’t listen to you you go up a level to your boss, who might talk to them direct or she might talk to their boss.

      Make it clear that it’s not just one person once in a while this is a systemic problem and you don’t have time to chase people or to do it yourself.

      1. Thlayli*

        If your boss doesn’t back you up or just tells you to do it, and ignores your statement that you don’t have time, then you have a bad boss and need to consider whether you’re willing to work with that boss.

        1. JokeyJules*

          I agree, I just don’t want it to seem like i’m running to my boss complaining about them. I’m worried it might even encourage the idea that i’m below them.

          But at the same time, it needs to get done and it’s their responsibility, and that’s that.

          1. Seriously?*

            If they are too busy to do it (or say that they are) then you need to loop in their manager to figure out exactly what priority their manager gives this task. It is possible that they actually should be prioritizing other work.

    4. epi*

      I have done this in a few roles. Currently my struggle is to get research faculty to return program evaluation data on their projects, as a grad RA (but one with an unusual level of responsibility– I’ve been with this project four years and and run the process in question.)

      It’s common in project work to have a project level title describing your role that isn’t what you’re called according to HR. If you can’t get your formal title changed yet, add something like “Coordinator, Head Dyeing Project”– whatever will get it across without sounding too much like you are using a real title from your organization. In some places you could just go ahead with this, others you may want to clear it with your boss.

      If you can’t change your title yet, you need to look at the wording of your request. Use stronger words like that you are coordinating or managing the project, never say you are helping, supporting, etc. Don’t offer support for related tasks in the message where you tell people what they need to do. Overall, phrase it more like a notification and less like a request.

      Name drop and cite relevant policy, maybe a proposal or protocol in your case. Work in a mention of what you will do with the information so they understand they are the bottleneck here. And if you really need to, get permission to cc your boss or have some of the reminders come from them. This sucks long term but it can get you through a wait for a title change.

      Finally some of this is just part of soliciting information from people that you need more than they do. It’s an eternal struggle in evaluation. It can help to redesign forms, look at your needs and make sure you are requesting the minimum information possible, and show people how it is being used (especially if you are saving them work by using the data for more than one thing). But to some extent it just comes with the territory.

    5. Elemeno P.*

      Can you CC an important-sounding person to make them more likely to act? This very much depends on your relationship with the people in question, but it works well for me. I have a low-ish title (Sr Coordinator) and need to do work with high-level people (Directors to VPs). If they don’t respond to me, I CC someone important-sounding on my team and they’ll usually respond.

      You do have to read the situation to make this work. It needs to be relevant to the important-sounding person, and if that person is your mutual manager then you’ll come across as kind of a jerk. This specifically works for me because the people on my team need the information I’m trying to get for them, and they know that they’re just being copied so I can get someone to comply. All situations are different!

    6. M. Albertine*

      I find that communicating deadlines ahead of time helps me get the information and helps other people prioritize their work. “I need _____ from you by xx/xx in order to complete reporting for the Teapot Regulatory Authority by their deadline” or “Please have your timesheets completed by xx/xx for monthly grant reimbursement”. That way it’s not YOU who is asking for the information, you’re borrowing the authority of the people you are accountable to for your reports.

    7. Ron McDon*

      I work as an admin assistant in a school, and have a similar problem; teachers are supposed to upload their own year group information/documents to our website, but they feel it should be the admins role to do this (and a surprisingly high number of them are not very confident using tech).

      I found that they would ask me to do it (and many other things that they think should be my job/they don’t have time to do) because it had not occurred to them that they were not the only person asking me to do it.

      Once I pointed out that there is never going to be a time that I have the capacity to input this info for 7 year groups, it was like a lightbulb moment, and they realised ‘oh, everyone’s asking her to do it, that’s not on’.

      Is it possible that a similarly worded ‘I don’t have the capacity to input this information for x many managers’ would make it clear that you’re not just being difficult, and it is unreasonable?

    8. ronda*

      Is it an option to send out the report with a list of the areas that did not provide the info by the dead line? (instead of the info put in “data not submitted” for example)

      Do that, and if people actually care about this report, they will get held to meeting the deadline in the future.

      as always, this depends on what is doable at your company.

  5. Lorelei*

    So, earlier this week, I had a coworker pass out. I’m sitting at my desk, and the phone line starts going nuts. My own coworker, Emily, gets huffy and says she doesn’t know why she keeps calling here. Then gets up and starts propping open doors. Since we get deliveries/repairs/etc through the front doors, this doesn’t raise any flags for me. However, I look questioningly at Lane and she mouths “Kirk’s wife”. This doesn’t clarify anything for me as Kirk works here. And Emily is……unpleasant.

    Anyway, I keep on working. A little while later a group of (what turned out to be) paramedics walk in. Again, not so surprising as we routinely have our first aid kits tests, smoke alarms checked, etc. And the direction they were headed was the coworker who is in charge of all that. They walk back out. THEN, they come in with a stretcher. At this point, I’m alarmed. Nobody has mentioned anything about anyone needing an ambulance.

    That’s when I see Kirk, unconscious, go by my desk. He was so pale. And covered in sweat. (Personally, I’d have liked a warning as the LAST time I saw an unconscious man on a stretcher was the night my dad died.)

    Luckily for Kirk, Luke was talking to him when it all went down. So he contacted Kirk’s wife told her what was going on and got a list of medications. She was over an hour away so he offered to send an Uber to get her. She declined for various reasons. Luke told his boss and grandboss and offered to go with Kirk. They both said no since his wife was on her way. (This I found out later.)

    No email was sent. Most of the staff didn’t even know. I mean, I only knew because the stretcher went right by me. Nobody heard anything until Luke sent an email late in the day with an update form Kirk’s wife. Which, honestly, thank God for Luke.

    Turns out, this was Kirk’s first time in a hospital. We sent a 60 year old man to the hospital. Alone. Where he had to wait a few hours for his wife to show up. And management didn’t even think to send an email. I feel so sick and nauseated about all of this. This just isn’t how you treat people.

    1. anon for this*

      To be honest, I’d rather go by myself to the hospital than have a coworker come. It’d make it way, way worse for me to have a coworker go with me and wait with me. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

        1. Specialk9*

          Agreed too. Medical privacy is important.

          But also, it sounds like Lorelei had a flashback of their father dying, which is hugely upsetting. I understand feeling upset about a sick co-worker, and then extra extra upset by the parallel to something traumatic. Sounds like a lot to process.

          So I hope for Kirk to get better, the company to be more careful of private info, and for Loralei to get some extra TLC today.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Same. If there were a coworker who was close enough to me to accompany me to the hospital, that would be okay. But if there isn’t, I don’t want some random person tagging along to witness my medical drama. And a lot of people would consider a “Kirk went to the hospital” email to be gossipy.

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          Yeah, the email would be crossing the line. At most what you do is pull a group of key people in (usually managers) explain at a high level what has happened (no details) and then the managers can either inform people as needed or respond to questions.

          I’d be pissed if I were Kirk and a company wide email went out.

          As for a coworker accompanying an injured/sick person. I don’t think I’d opt for a solo trip if I were Kirk.

      2. Nita*

        Yeah, I’d be mortified if a coworker was sent to the hospital with me! If they just notified my family (none of whom can get here in under an hour) I’d think they did the exact right thing. It’s not like a coworker has any authorization to make medical decisions for me, or any knowledge of my medical history! The only thing they might do is make sure I don’t get shuttled into a corner and forgotten in the ER, but still, just too much awkwardness.

        1. Observer*

          That ONE thing could literally make a difference between surviving and not. And the chances that it would have that effect are all too high.

      3. soon 2be former fed*

        Don’t know if you have ever been admitted via emergency . If you cannot speak, it is best to have someone who can navigate questions on your behalf. Depending on the seriousness of the reason for going to the ER (not just a regular hospital admission). going alone could be very unwise.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Sure, but I don’t want that to be my coworker. I’d rather they called my spouse. And we know Kirk’s wife was available via phone.

          1. Kuododi*

            Actually, I went through a period of about six months some time ago where DH and I were having to do the commuter marriage. He had to go ahead and start his new job and I stayed behind to get the house on the market. All that to say….DH was about three states away in case of a work emergency. I sat down with a good friend and asked if this person would be willing to be me “in case of emergency person.”. We discussed all the extra implications of that request, they thought about it and we’re willing to follow through on their part. We signed all the appropriate documents with HR etc, I got my friend a detailed list of meds, allergies, general medical summary and the like. Fortunately, it was never necessary to ring the bell and for my friend to have to actually step up and call 911 on my behalf.

          2. Observer*

            It doesn’t help. The hospital staff will absolutely NOT call the wife.

            In most cases if someone is not there, G-d help you because no one else will. I’m not kidding.

        2. designbot*

          Yeah, I’ve been admitted via the ER a couple of times. The first time I was unconscious, and they cut my clothes off. Nope, I’ll do without a coworker being around for that, thanks. They wouldn’t be able to answer the pertinent questions anyway—doctors, medical history, insurance, my wishes—so what could would that do?

        3. anon for this*

          A coworker will not know anything about my medical conditions or health. The best thing they could do is call my emergency contact we all have to list in our employee profiles. There’s really no need for a coworker to go with me. If I couldn’t speak, the only questions they might be able to answer is what happened at work, but nothing else. They don’t have power to make medical decisions or give info they don’t know to the hospital, and it’s none of their business anyway.

        4. Seriously?*

          I think it depends on what state he was in. If I am able to talk, I don’t want my coworker with me in the hospital. If I am completely unconscious, then it would be better if they were there to tell the doctor what happened.

        5. Just Another Analyst*

          I’d be mortified about putting a coworker in the position to navigate questions on my behalf! That is such a huge responsibility, not to mention it crosses a personal/professional boundary that I would be extremely uncomfortable with. Obviously if someone witnesses the incident then they should explain to the paramedics what happened, but a coworker’s obligations should end there. Let the hospital get in touch with emergency contacts, that’s what they are there for.

            1. Opting for the Sidelines*

              Who then pass on that info to the hospital. There is a chain of care.

        6. Plague of frogs*

          No decent medical person will be sharing any sort of medical information with some random person who came with you to the hospital, or asking that person anything.

          I visited a friend in the hospital and she died while I was there. (No, I was not standing on the oxygen tube, if that’s where your mind just went). The nurses shooed me out of the room, then came out and asked me if I was family. When I said no, there was a long awkward pause where I realized that she had died but they couldn’t tell me. Then they bought me some tea and gave me a hug.

      4. Is pumpkin a vegetable?*

        I passed out at work a few years ago, and went to the hospital by myself. I would have felt super awkward with one of my co-workers in the ambulance with me, even though we are all actually quite close.

      5. Artemesia*

        I feel the same way. If it were a close friend, I’d go along, but otherwise I’d respect their privacy.

      6. Kathy*

        My mother had a massive heart attack at work in 2010. She yelled out call an ambulance and then her heart stopped and she fell over. Her coworkers called 911 and then started CPR. The ambulance came and continued to shock her before loading her into an ambulance. A rep from HR who worked in the same part of the building mom did came with her to the hospital. She called my step dad and myself when she was on the way so we knew what had happened.
        We were grateful for her help and for her being there. She was able to relay info to the resuscitation team and the EMTs while we were on route.
        Mom survived, but the skin of her teeth, but was never able to return to work again as her body had so much damage from the heart attack. She had another massive heart attack in 2015 and passed in 2016 from heart failure.
        I’m beyond grateful for all of her coworkers that sprung into action and helped her, I think without them we would have lost her. They were nominated and won awards with the Red Cross for their bravery and help with Mom.

        Sometimes having a coworker go with you can be the best thing in a bad situation.

      7. Observer*

        I hear how you feel, but it was utterly irresponsible for the company to do this. People who show up at the hospital unaccompanied have MAJORLY poorer outcomes, as in are more likely to die, longer times to triage etc.

    2. 123456789101112 do do do*

      That’s really hard. Maybe they felt like it would be a violation of his privacy to share a medical issue with everybody? One of the bosses should have gone, or let Luke go.

    3. Forking Great Username*

      OMG how awful. Maybe send him a card or something so he knows that someone at works actually gives a crap?

    4. Dorothy Zbornak*

      I think it would have been good to send someone with Kirk, but were you expecting an office-wide email about the incident after it happened? An update email saying “Kirk is doing well” makes sense to me (so the people who hadn’t heard about it might need to ask others about what happened), but not an email saying “this thing happened.” At least, we’ve never received anything like that in other offices.

      1. Dorothy Zbornak*

        I should say, it would have been good to send someone with Kirk if they thought he might want that.

          1. DArcy*

            No, sending someone with him would have been a terrible idea. Fortunately, the paramedics would have shut that down *hard* if you tried.

            “No, you cannot come in the ambulance unless you are a family member or a conscious patient requests you. No, we will not tell you which hospital we are going to unless you are a family member or designated medical decision maker. No, you may not follow the ambulance.”

            1. Hobbert*

              I’m an EMT and we routinely allow a friend/coworker to come along if they seem like a reasonable person. We’ll have them ride up front and we’ll direct them to the registration desk while we transfer the patient in the ER room but it’s not unusual at all. I actually make a point of letting friends/coworkers on scene know what ER we’re going to so they can update family, drop off the patient’s stuff, or what have you. And we certainly can’t tell them not to follow us. If I’m about to run lights and siren to the hospital, I’ll tell them to obey all traffic laws and expect to not keep up with me, but that’s it. I’ve worked in EMS for 20 years and it would be unusual to refuse to tell people what hospital I’m going to or demand that they not follow me.

              1. DArcy*

                We were explicitly trained that unless we had a conscious patient consenting, no one but family or designated health care proxy should be informed of destination much less allowed to ride with us. Letting any random coworker or bystander have that information constitutes a HIPAA violation on our part since it is letting an unauthorized party in on healthcare information that they have no right to.

        1. Bagpuss*

          it sounds as though they spoke to his wife, presumably she could have said if she thought they should send someone with him. Possibly, they even had that conversation with her.

      2. Dorothy Zbornak*

        Although now that I think about it, maybe no email at all and leave it to people to ask their manager “hey, is Kirk doing okay?”

    5. Temperance*

      I actually think it’s a good thing that they didn’t send an email to the entire company? I would have been mortified if everyone knew I got sick like that, TBH.

      1. Anonym*

        I would feel my privacy had been seriously violated if my colleagues were informed of anything medical without my permission. You do NOT have a right to know. Your being concerned is in no way comparable to his right to privacy.

      2. anon for this*

        Yeah, wanting an email makes it about his coworkers at that point, not about Kirk.

        I really don’t think the company did anything wrong in this situation. They’re respecting Kirk’s privacy during a hard time.

    6. Construction Safety*

      That’s pretty cold all the way around.

      The reality is that a lot of folks don’t know what to do in an emergency.

      1. soon 2be former fed*

        THIS. There should be an official policy created and disseminated that spells out exactly what is to happen in case of an emergency transport to the hospital.

    7. Waiting for the Sun*

      Best wishes to Kirk! Puzzled about Emily ‘s role, though. Was she opening doors to let the paramedics in in but didn’t bother to mention why, ie, that a coworker had a medical emergency?

      1. HashtagUsername*

        I’m also confused about Emily’s role in this. Was she opening the doors for the paramedics but was annoyed about having to do it? Was she not supposed to tell people that the paramedics were on their way?

      2. DArcy*

        That is exactly what she SHOULD do. Open the doors for the medics and actively minimize the number of people who are tempted to get in the way by playing looky-loo.

    8. Cousin Itt*

      They should have let Luke go with him, but I don’t think it’s that weird that an email wasn’t sent/you weren’t informed. Some people won’t want their medical problems broadcast to the whole company.

      A similar thing happened at my work and the only way we found out was through gossip/witnessing it/the person speaking about it afterwards.

      1. Observer*

        I agree – they should have let Luke go. But not sending the email was a reasonable thing to do.

    9. EditorInChief*

      As long as the EMS/hospital had contact with the ill employee’s wife to ask questions about his medications, health conditions, and keep her updated, there was no reason for another employee to have to go. What would that employee have done there? And as for an email that’s an invasion of Kirk’s privacy (not necessarily in a legal sense) to broadcast to the office that he had a medical episode.

      1. Susan Sto Helit*

        Agreed. And, while I get that it may have been upsetting to see a colleague go past on a stretcher, it’s not about you at that point – it’s about your sick colleague. The company wants to a) get him to hospital safely and b) protect his privacy as far as possible, and everything else comes second to that.

        1. Admin of Sys*

          Yes, this! I’ve been in offices where folks got pulled out by emt, and information was passed word of mouth, but an email would have been in the weird hipaa ‘maybe not okay to share’ space.
          And if this ever happened to me, I really wouldn’t have wanted a boss or coworker to come with me to the hospital. They don’t have any ability to make decisions for / with me, and I generally don’t want them to know what’s going on with my health, unless I choose to inform them. And for that matter, once I get to the hospital, the staff isn’t allowed to tell them anything anyway, because of privacy laws.
          The fact that they offered an uber ride for the wide is exemplary and all the other actions seem correct imo.

          1. Seriously?*

            HIPPA doesn’t apply in this case. But I agree that I would not want an email sent out to my coworkers telling them that I passed out.

        2. Courageous cat*

          Agreed 100%. I think it’s also strange to feel entitled to a warning about it, even though I understand the reasoning.

          1. Plague of frogs*

            Yeah. All I could picture was the EMTs ringing a bell like lepers used to do.

        3. DataGirl*

          Just need to speak up and let you know you have the best name ever. Wish I could add a photo I have a tattoo of Susan.

      2. soon 2be former fed*

        An email presents the facts and cuts down on gossip (Kirk had a drug overdose!). Emergency medical transport if not an everyday event, I would hope.

        An ER is a horrible place when you are on that gurney, EMS people are doing a job. The reason is not only to keep the company informed of what’s going on (his illness could have been workplace related), but is also just a human courtesy. I would want a non-medical person with me.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          The company isn’t likely to know if it was a drug overdose, stroke, dehydration, exhaustion, etc. So it would just be inviting Kirk’s coworkers who didn’t know about the gurney to join the speculation.

          1. Just Jess*

            Soon 2be FF is saying the gossip would be that Kirk had a drug overdose if the company doesn’t say anything, rather than the company would send “OD” out as a reason via email. I mean, wow…

            But I still disagree, an email should not be sent. Perhaps, send an email without identifying the employee and say “Emergency personnel were onsite today in order to treat and take an employee to the hospital. This is believed to be an isolated incident. There are no known hazardous situations in the office that would affect other employees.”

        2. Seriously?*

          His coworkers do not have a right to his medical information so sending someone to “keep the company informed” is way out of line. It is not a curtesy, it is an invasion of privacy. And if people jump to assuming he had an overdose, the company has larger problems that need to be rooted out.

          I have been taken to the hospital from work before. I would not want a coworker or supervisor to be there.

        3. anon for this*

          I honestly think it’s more of a problem if Kirk’s coworkers immediately jump to drug overdose and not, say, a heart attack or a stroke or heat exhaustion or something more medically common.

      3. Middle School Teacher*

        Personally I would be mortified if an email was sent out about me. Depending on the coworker, I would fine with that.

      4. blackcat*

        Not a typical story, but here’s one reason: I went to the hospital with a friend who had gotten a concussion. She wasn’t lucid. At one point, a resident came in and started to perform a pelvic exam without explaining why or even attempting to get consent. I asked VERY LOUDLY what purpose a pelvic exam served in treating a head injury. Resident mumbled, and two nurses appeared and shoed her out. I was horrified. After that experience, I want someone with me in an ER, even if its a bit awkward.

        1. Observer*

          This is actually a lot more typical than you think – not necessarily the pelvic exam per se, but just inappropriate / mistaken things.

      5. LCL*

        No no no. If an employee falls out at work someone from work goes with them. Their manager, or someone else instead if they request it. I’ve taken someone to the ER. Your role is to reassure them if they want it, and be an information source for the hospital, and for the employee’s family. Not medical information, but things like when they were brought in, where they are now, where their things are, etc.

        1. DArcy*

          The company can send a supervisor or manager along to start handling worker’s comp paperwork and such — this is one of my responsibilities if one of our bike officers is injured on duty — but they are officially there for the company, not the patient, and they have zero access to patient information.

    10. Caratys*

      I’m sorry that you had to witness that, it sounds very unpleasant. However, I don’t think your management did anything wrong in not sharing this with the wider staff – it’s Kirk’s medical situation, that’s his private business.

      I hope Kirk is recovering well.

      1. DaniCalifornia*

        I agree with this. And Kirk may not have had the wherewithal to determine if he’d be find going alone or needed a coworker. When you are dealing with an emergency situation there is not time to sit down and send a company wide email.

        I thought it a little odd that the poster was concerned about the company’s actions seeming cold when her own statement about how she’d like a warning before seeing someone on a stretcher came off as cold as well.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I agree. The EMTs need to get Kirk out the door, into the ambulance and to the hospital. They don’t have time to warn people, or even think about warning people, that a stretcher is coming through. And if they do need to warn people, it’s so people will clear the path to the door not because someone might possibly get upset about seeing a stretcher.

          I also don’t see anything particularly outrageous about someone not going to the hospital with him. I mean, sure, they could have let someone go and that person could stay out in the waiting room, but it’s not as if they will be able to help with family history, medications Kirk is taking, etc. All they can do is wait there in case there’s any word before his wife gets there. And I doubt that if there was any word, the doctors wouldn’t talk to a coworker about it.

    11. Rhiiiiiiannnnnnnon*

      I don’t know… It sounds like they handled it appropriately to me. If I fainted in the office, I wouldn’t want everyone knowing about it right away, or coming over to ask how I was etc. I’d just like to be quietly removed without sharing any details to anyone. And I 100% wouldn’t want any co-workers to come with me in the ambulance.

      1. soon 2be former fed*

        I would want someone to come with me. These events don’t happen a lot and people will talk, you can’t stop that.

      2. Perse's Mom*

        Yes! I only work closely with a few people in my office. If an office-wide email went out announcing I’d been rushed to the hospital, I’d be furious! Anyone affected by my absence should be notified so they can make sure my work is covered, but that’s it. I don’t need or want people I’ve seen once in the hallway in passing emailing me or approaching me later when I’ve recovered to ask how I am.

      3. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

        I have fainted at the office (twice, actually) although I never had to go to the hospital. I am very glad that we did not send any communication to the office at large, because it would have turned the whole thing into a larger issue than it needed to be. Someone called HR to let them know so that they could document the event, and my sister works downstairs from me, so someone called her (and she was appropriately nonchalant, considering my years-long history of syncope). It’s not really anyone else’s business that the paramedics needed to check me out on either occasion.

        I think anyone in the vicinity can be told “we have paramedics coming due to a medical emergency” but overall broadcast of a personal medical situation is not appropriate, IMO. The people who need to know will know.

    12. Kittymommy*

      Yeah, I wouldn’t want anyone to go with me, most certainly a co-worker. And I think that the company not sending an email is likely them trying to respectful of his privacy. I mean it would have been nice if they had informed people who literally saw him get rolled by them what was happening (I even can agree that they should have) unless the other staff were right there when it happened, it’s really none of their business.

    13. Lorelei*

      In the past when people have had medical emergencies, there’s been a quick “So and so went to the hospital we’ll update when he have more news.” And someone has ALWAYS gone with them. That’s how it’s handled here. So the fact that it wasn’t with him is unnerving. Especially since he’s considered annoying by most of the office.

      1. Thursday Next*

        That adds a wrinkle, if it seems as though the reason he was left unaccompanied was that he’s not well-liked. I’d default to sending someone, particularly if the coworker had lost consciousness. That person could leave once the emergency contact showed up.

        (Maybe Kirk has been working too hard, at so many different jobs? Or maybe he’s still looking for the Easter eggs in the town square? Luke always comes through for him—don’t let your head be turned by Christopher!)

      2. Just Jess*

        *Record scratch*
        What? This is a whole different story if there was a protocol breach and office politics.
        …Wait, what?!
        Also, what’s going on that there are often employee medical emergencies onsite? I know that may not be as uncommon as it sounds, but now I’m curious about that as well.

        1. Lorelei*

          I was trying to make it as succinct as possible because it was already quite long. And in an effort to make it as short as possible I cut out stuff that I thought was common knowledge…………….because it’s common knowledge to *me*. (Funny how multitasking doesn’t always work in your favor.)

          In the past, it’s just been trips to urgent care. Somebody broke a hand. Someone else ripped their leg up. Well. Someone did have a heart attack – but that was before my time. So I only how that was handled because that came up when there was conversations about this. (It was handled totally differently.)

          And even medical emergencies that have happened offsite. There’s been a quick “so and so went into the hospital/ICU/etc. We’ll let everyone know when they’ve gone home/there’s an update.” It’s never been a drawn out email full of detail.

          1. Stardust*

            I figured something like this but i honestly still don’t see the purpose of such an email, like, why does everyone need to be informed of this happening? i think it’s reasonable to verbally inform people who saw the original incident or were involved in any way but what is such an email to someone who either didn’t know anything happened at all or who isn’t close to the injured party? [and i’d assume that if someone IS close to the injured party they’ll hear about it and try to find out more anyway]

            1. Observer*

              I hear that. But it IS disturbing that it was handled so differently for this one person who is not well liked.

          2. Caratys*

            What’s the point of this email? Why do you need to know? I’d be furious if my employer circulated that information without my consent! Nowhere I’ve ever worked would consider that an appropriate thing to do!

            1. smoke tree*

              I work in a small office in a small town and it’s definitely the norm to share this kind of personal information, to the point that you have to specify if you don’t want the information disseminated and a sympathy card sent. This applies to accidents, illness, illness in the family, you name it.

    14. Safetykats*

      Our company has a policy that a manager accompanies any employee who needs medical attention until a family member can be present, or until the person is admitted to the hospital. I’m honestly not sure what we do in the case where it would take days for a family member to show up – and I guess I should find out!

      While it’s normal for a manager to eventually and discretely communicate some information to people who work directly with the affected employee, it would be a violation of their medical privacy to send out an email or otherwise generally announce that they had been transported. So I would never expect that, and in fact would be really concerned if it did happen.

      1. Kimberlee, Ranavain*

        I don’t see how it could possibly be a violation of medical privacy to email that someone had been transported to the hospital? I mean, people could see paramedics come in, and take away Kirk. You don’t need to know or share anything about the specific medical situation of the employee to say “hey, we know this thing happened, wanted to let you know that we’re taking care of it and we’re all wishing Kirk the best”

        1. Just Jess*

          This is a weird argument though. You either saw the employee receiving medical treatment or you did not. If you did see the employee being transported to the hospital, then you don’t need a notification since you saw the treatment occurring. If you did not see the employee being transported, then the employer shouldn’t be identifying who it was. People are always going to talk and want more information than is ethical to provide. Let people work through it in their own ways.

      2. Friday*

        Second this. At places I’ve worked if someone has a medical emergency, the managers calmly touch base in person (never email) with everyone who may have seen or heard, sharing minimal details but stressing the important “so-and-so is going to be OK/getting good care/with family and loved ones” etc. depending on what they know and what’s OK to share.

    15. Not Just An Admin*

      I can understand someone going with him, but maybe Kirk said he didn’t want anyone to go.

      I also TOTALLY understand not sending the email until after the fact. First, if it was sent out while EMS was there, and a crowd gathered, that would have made their work harder. Second, it could have caused a lot of panic, because so little would be known at that time. Better to send once there’s knowledge of Kirk’s actual condition.

      Some of what the medical professionals have to do can seem cruel, but there are reasons for a lot of it.

      I hope Kirk’s doing ok now!

    16. Kimberlee, Ranavain*

      I’m baffled at how many people on this thread are like “it’s none of anyone’s business!” If a person collapses and goes to the hospital in my workplace, I want it acknowledged! It would be SO WEIRD for it to just happen and the company says nothing. It doesn’t take much! An email that says: “Hello, as some of you may already know, Kirk went to the hospital an hour ago. We’re not quite sure what happened, but we’re ensuring he’s safe and we’ll let you know once we get a thumbs-up that everything is fine.”

      (I had a coworker collapse at work once, and it was a very weird thing, and the company handled it well, by calling an ambulance and sending a co-worker, who he was good friends with, with him. I don’t think it was egregious to not send anyone, since they were able to consult with his wife and it’s fine if she said “he’ll be OK, I’ll meet up with him later, you don’t need to send someone with him” but in a vacuum, if they hadn’t been able to get ahold of his wife, they definitely should have sent someone.)

      IDK, maybe I just tend to like my coworkers more than y’all, but I can’t imagine not caring when a coworker goes to the hospital from the office. Was there an accident? Is something unsafe? Will this person be OK? Even just a minor update via email from the office is better than radio silence. It’s not weird to care whether or not your coworker is alive or not!

      1. soon 2be former fed*

        THIS…the commentariat here can be a bit isolationist sometimes. There may be coworkers who actually care about Kirk.

        1. Kittymommy*

          I don’t think that believing my company should respect privacy and not send it an email means I don’t care about my co-workers it that I assume they don’t care about me. That’s a pretty big leap. (And honestly kind of insulting.)

          1. Admin of Sys*

            Agreed! If I was Kirk, I’d want my company to wait for my direction in what to share and with whom. I certainly wouldn’t want a company-wide announcement that I was carried out by emt but that I was now recovering. At most, a private word with the folks that witnessed it might be appropriate, and passing a ‘kirk is getting better, sign a get well card for him’ around.

          2. Specialk9*

            I think we actually think that Kirk’s medical privacy is worthy of respect, and think that is more important than people who just want to know. It’s a heck of a lot more traumatic for Kirk than for curious co-workers.

            It’s like that visual of a bullseye, for people with serious medical problems where one is not allowed to “dump in” to the patient, only “dump out”. So Kirk and his rights and needs gets taken care of before anybody else. Then his family. Then his friends. Then his co-workers. Etc.

            Expecting a breach of Kirk’s medical privacy (inner ring) to reassure someone on the far outer ring isn’t how it should go.

            1. Specialk9*

              Ring Theory:
              Draw a circle. This is the center ring. In it, put the name of the person at the center of the current trauma. For Katie’s aneurysm, that’s Katie. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In that ring put the name of the person next closest to the trauma. In the case of Katie’s aneurysm, that was Katie’s husband, Pat. Repeat the process as many times as you need to. In each larger ring put the next closest people. Parents and children before more distant relatives. Intimate friends in smaller rings, less intimate friends in larger ones. When you are done you have a Kvetching Order. One of Susan’s patients found it useful to tape it to her refrigerator.

              Here are the rules. The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, “Life is unfair” and “Why me?” That’s the one payoff for being in the center ring.

              Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.

              When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you’re going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn’t, don’t say it. Don’t, for example, give advice. People who are suffering from trauma don’t need advice. They need comfort and support. So say, “I’m sorry” or “This must really be hard for you” or “Can I bring you a pot roast?” Don’t say, “You should hear what happened to me” or “Here’s what I would do if I were you.” And don’t say, “This is really bringing me down.”

              If you want to scream or cry or complain, if you want to tell someone how shocked you are or how icky you feel, or whine about how it reminds you of all the terrible things that have happened to you lately, that’s fine. It’s a perfectly normal response. Just do it to someone in a bigger ring.

              Comfort IN, dump OUT.

        2. Anonym*

          And they can wait until Kirk decides he wants to share something with them. If they care about him, they should care about his privacy and his wishes.

        3. Perse's Mom*

          Okay, but are those people who actually know him and are close to him? Or the much more common but vague ‘he seemed nice, I hope he’s okay’ sort of way? Because the former probably has other ways to contact him and/or his wife to express their concerns/support, and the latter… don’t have any right to any info about his condition.

        4. Seriously?*

          A medical emergency can be intensely personal. I don’t necessarily want my coworkers to know about my medical history or list of medications. I have been taken to the hospital from work before and did not want my coworkers there. I was embarrassed, exhausted and confused. I did not want them to see me like that.

        5. DArcy*

          I’m not being “isolationist”, I’m being a trained healthcare professional. You *do not* spread information about a medical emergency outside of the absolute minimum people who NEED to know about it, and you absolutely *do not* send a coworker for “emotional support”.

          (Fortunately, your “emotional support” coworker will not be permitted access to the patient at any point, unless the patient is conscious and consents to their presence. We work hard to limit the harm you people can do with your well meaning but utterly unprofessional ideas!)

      2. Lily Rowan*

        I think it depends on how big the office is. Is an “all-staff” email going to 25 people who presumably know Kirk at least somewhat, or is it 300 people who may have no clue that anything happened at all.

        1. Queen of the File*

          I agree here. We have ambulance calls 1-2 times a month because very large office. Most people only personally know maybe 5% of the staff of the company so rather than setting nerves at ease it would really stress everyone out if they got an email after every medical emergency.

      3. McWhadden*

        Most people in the office didn’t know. So an email would be informing them for the first time, which is just wrong.

        And I do sympathize. I have a co-worker who has been very very sick (it was visually clear the few times she was in and was out a lot) and I was worried about her but no one was saying anything. But you know what? My worries aren’t the point. It’s what she’s comfortable sharing. Caring about them doesn’t mean you or I are entitled to know their business.

      4. DaniCalifornia*

        Well from Lorelei’s comments it seems she and her coworkers find him annoying. I hope that didn’t influence anyone not going with him.

        1. Lorelei*

          For the record – I actually don’t find him annoying. From my previous comment, that’s the consensus among most of the office.

      5. Caratys*

        Meanwhile, I’m baffled by how many people think sharing personal medical information with people who have no need to know it is acceptable! And equating respecting someone’s privacy with not caring about them! It’s really weird and seems like people are just being nosy and rude to me. I care about my coworkers, which is WHY I want to respect their privacy. To me, sharing that into isn’t caring, it’s gossip.

      6. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

        It would *not* be normal for a company to send out company-wide email about an employee’s onsite or offsite medical emergency. Doesn’t matter where the emergency occurred. A sophisticated employer would not do this. Employers should respect personal privacy, especially with respect to medical issues. It would be inappropriate for an employer to email all employees about someone’s medical issue in this circumstance. It has nothing to do with the level of concern or care of the co-workers and company, and everything to do with privacy and discretion. Sheesh.

      7. dawbs*

        But stuff is complicated.

        I was taken by safety officers (we had our own ems) to the hospital from work bbecause of complicationsiwas miscarrying (bury the lede here, it was fine; shes 7 now).
        Because of distance, family to help took the an hour.

        There were worried Co workers- and even more who were blissfully unaware i was even off sick. All of them (except my boss) were unaware i was pregnant.

        I’m not isolationist, but, really, there was no news to share (I spent 12 hours in the er), and what there was wasn’t shareable.

        This is no win, I know, but I’d err on the side of letting people control their own medical information.

    17. OtterB*

      It was a different situation, but my husband had a serious fall at work last year. Two of his coworkers went with him in the ambulance and stayed at the ER until I got there, and we were both grateful.

      We spent more than our share of time in hospitals last year, and I’m in favor of someone going with you. Maybe you don’t need any help and it’s just waiting around – but sometimes you need someone to run interference for you when you don’t feel well enough to do it for yourself.

    18. anon24*

      EMT here. I don’t necessarily think they did anything wrong. Not telling anyone in the moment except those who needed to know kept a crowd from forming, which never helps us do our jobs. The fact that they called his wife for a med list is amazing and super helpful. Offering the Uber for her was very sweet too.
      As for not sending a co-worker, that could go either way. Most places don’t send a co-worker along (I don’t remember if I’ve ever had a co-worker ride along in the ambulance but I’ve only picked up one unconscious person from a job). Kirk was unconscious so maybe they could have given more info but a co-worker legally can’t make any medical decisions anyway and there’s probably not any information they can give the hospital that they can’t give EMS on scene. As an EMT if I have family contact information I will pass that along to the hospital along with a “oh the family is in there way but it might be a bit”.
      A company sending an email is a grey area because Kirk might be extremely embarrassed and not want that information well known. The update coming straight from Kirk’s wife only says what Kirk and his wife are ok with being public.

    19. LilySparrow*

      Okay, I know this was upsetting, and I’m very sorry for your own loss, but I think maybe your raw feelings about losing your dad may be distorting your perspective on the situation. Somebody else was having a medical emergency, and you think they should have checked in with you before bringing the stretcher through, to make sure you were emotionally okay with seeing it? That is…a lack of proportion.

      I think you are centering yourself and your desire to satisfy your curiosity in a situation where you are actually, rightfully, on the outer margin.

      Kirk looked unconscious to you when he went by, but that doesn’t mean he was totally uncommunicative from the moment Luke decided to call the paramedics to the moment he went out the door.

      Kirk could have said he didn’t want Luke to come. (If Luke’s the type to go around making a story out of this, I can see why he would.)

      Kirk’s wife may have said she didn’t want anyone from work tagging along, and if Kirk was unresponsive, she is the one who gets to make that decision.

      Or maybe Kirk reacted to someone else’s situation in the past by expressing that he’d hate having a co-worker all up in his business like that, and one of the higher-ups remembered hearing it.

      I’ve had to be transported by ambulance before, and that’s bad enough. Having a co-worker *in the ambulance* would be a nightmare.

      Depending on the medical situation, the paramedics may have to get your clothes off. You might throw up or soil yourself. You might be intubated. You might start babbling out of your head. All of those things can happen even with events that turn out to be not life-threatening. You’re completely devoid of privacy or dignity.

      There are very, very few people I’d be willing to see me in that condition. No coworker I’ve ever had would qualify.

      You actually should *not* be privy to every detail of how it all went down, because his private medical information is none of your business. And if Luke is telling people about Kirk’s medical history, or his medication, then Luke is a gossip and a jerk.

      If the company deviated from its usual practice in dealing with this situation, the most likely explanation is that Kirk or his wife requested some privacy, and the management respected their wishes.

      You should, too.

      1. Kimberlee, Ranavain*

        I just don’t understand the conflation between an email with “Here’s a list of all of Kirk’s medical conditions, and all medication he’s taking” and one that says “we had a scary medical event happen at the office, and we wanted to let everyone know that it’s being handled, word is that Kirk is doing OK, and we all wish him the best.”

        1. Queen of the File*

          I think it partly depends on what we’re picturing in terms of our own offices (how big they are, how well we know each other, how likely it is that everyone saw the ambulance, etc.)

          In Kirk’s place I would really not want to return to work and have all my coworkers asking me what happened (or even acknowledging it! I passed out at work once and it was SO embarrassing). I think a brief in-person update is more appropriate if any coworkers who knew about the incident are concerned (“Kirk is going to be ok”), rather than an email.

        2. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

          It’s not about you and what you want. It’s about respecting Kirk’s privacy, which is more important than keeping you informed of his medical situation.

        3. LilySparrow*

          I’m not referring to the email. I’m referring to Luke giving a play-by-play to the OP, including the fact that they found & provided his list of medications, and that they discovered enough about his medical history to know whether or not he’d been in the hospital before for a similar condition.

          Obviously anyone who was assisting in the moment was privy to this for good reason. But why tell OP?

          Way, way too much information.

          If Luke and OP were personal friends of Kirk and cared deeply about his wellbeing, they’d be doing things like seeing if they can help by organizing meals for his wife, or asking if he wants visitors.

          Not gossiping about his medical history.

      2. Observer*

        Here’s the thing about having someone with you. That CAN absolutely be embarrassing as all get out, but it can also be the difference in saving your life. I’m not kidding. And, even when not THAT bad, it can mean that you don’t get “forgotten” about, or having some idiot give you the wrong medication, do an inappropriate of (for you) dangerous procedure, etc.

    20. McWhadden*

      If most of the staff didn’t know it was the right thing to do to not inform them. Why inform them of a medical situation? And they can’t say they’ll let everyone know when they have been told he’s OK. They don’t know that he ever will be.

      They should have given some info to people who witnessed it, though.

      Although I agree with others that I would hate having a co-worker with me at the hospital, I also think they should have allowed Luke to go. Since my later embarrassment over it would be trumped by any help he could give in the moment. But since Luke is sharing all of this information with people he may not be the most discrete person to go, anyway.

      1. Lorelei*

        Luke actually didn’t share this information with everyone. It was pieced together from different conversations of people who witnessed different parts of it.

    21. KR*

      I’ve passed out twice at work. No one went with me and I liked it that way. And I didn’t want anyone getting info on what happened unless they needed to know because it’s my personal medical data. I think it was upsetting for you to see your coworker in that condition but it was most likely more upsetting for Kirk and his wife. Wish him well, maybe send a card, and other than that nothing more to be done.

    22. Thlayli*

      I don’t think they should have sent round an email as ta nobody’s business. But absolutely someone should have gone with him and waited till the wife got there.

    23. LGC*

      I hope Kirk is okay! That’s really worrisome and I hope he’s recovering well.

      Anyway. So, I work for a vocational rehab center. (Think of Goodwill and you get a vague idea.) My site has roughly 100 employees (75 clients, 25 direct hires) plus staff plus a high school vocational program. Our employees have varying disabilities and challenges, both physical and mental.

      That is a VERY long way of saying that we’ve had quite a few ambulance calls in my time here.

      Basically, what we’ve done in those instances is try to respect the ill employee’s privacy by not making any huge announcements about it. We often do send a counselor or senior manager to the hospital if needed or requested. We won’t announce that – for example – Kirk was taken to the hospital at lunch to all team members, but we’ll let their direct supervisor (And their managers/counselors) know.

      I’ll also note – we’re unusual because we provide counseling services! For a direct hire or a staff member, we might not send anyone with them (of course, we’ll alert family because Percival doesn’t work here).

      And in my experience, it’s usually pretty mortifying for the ill team member to be sick enough to require emergency assistance. So it’s almost kinder to not say, “Hey, Kirk is in the hospital” to everyone because that might end up with an overwhelming response. I wouldn’t go to any lengths to hide it, but I wouldn’t make an announcement unless it was an extremely visible incident.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think the company could ask the person if they want someone with them but in this setting the wife said no which is a clear answer. Many companies have an in case of emergency contact. That contact person can be the one to answer the question if the person cannot speak for themselves.
        My family and I were out one night and saw a bicycle accident. The person hit his head HARD and was very definitely rattled. He said would accept a ride to the hospital, so we took him. We made sure that the staff had his name. (he was conscious but still pretty rattled). They took him to an exam room. We called his family. (No cells back then.)We waited in the waiting area just looking for a frantic face who might be their family member. We told the family member which room he was in.
        Since we were not in the room with him we did not have any access to any medical information. Once we located the family member and they indicated more family was coming, and we left. So there are ways of staying out of the stream of medical info. I have heard of examples where an employee followed the ambulance in their own car so as not to bother the emergency people. People can be available but politely remain off to one side.

        I don’t see the need for any email, though. People who work closest to the person can be told that “Jane is gone for the rest of the day.” I had a subordinate who needed to run home for a short bit because of a health problem, she said she would be back in a short bit. Her friend thought I had fired this person because I would not give details. I simply said, “It’s not my story to tell, she will tell you when she gets back if she wants.” I got glared at until the employee returned. Eh. What are you going to do. I assume that the employee who went home explained it to the glaring friend because I got a whole change in attitude. Glaring friend calmed right down, later she told me she thought I was a good boss. We never had a problem after that.
        A person can be helpful and still allow room for privacy. I suspect, OP, that a few people helped on this one and they were very effective so no other help was needed. I get that you are concerned because the employee is not that well liked, perhaps he actually preferred that things be handled this way. If it were me I would be wondering would I be treated in a similar manner? In some places I have worked I have had a friend who was close enough that we could exchange our wishes for what we wanted if we got sick. Perhaps you have a good friend at work who would speak up for you, and you would speak up for her if the need arose. The conversation usually started because of something like this. “Hey, Friend, if I get sick like that would you make sure that X is called and that the EMTs know Y about me?” This worked for us.

        1. LGC*

          I think that it’s Emily that’s the person that’s not liked, and the bosses didn’t go because they knew the next of kin was on their way, it seems. (The wife declined the Uber.) Unless I misread Lorelei.

          At any rate, I…totally agree with you, except for one small thing. With the example you gave about your report and her friend, I’d have said that the report had to leave but would be returning. Although the friend has more significant issues if her first response was “oh my God, Not So NewReader fired my friend Fergusina!”

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Am chuckling. I told her that her friend would be back. She was not sure if she could believe me or not. So I landed on, “you will see for yourself in short bit”. Sure enough, friend came back. I felt bad that she was upset but it felt good to know that she would be relieved in a hour or so.

    24. Triple Anon*

      I had a heart issue at work once. Probably atrial fibrillation. Anyway, it was weird at the time. I felt too light-headed to do much about it, and too embarrassed to tell anyone. I didn’t want all the attention – the “Omg are you ok??” people and the “You’re fine, stop complaining,” people. So I just waited it out and pretended to be working. At the end of the day, I felt slightly better so I went home. I only found out what it probably was when I told a doctor about it later. I think atrial fibrillation is pretty harmless, so it wasn’t a big deal. But if an ambulance had to come for me at work, I’d rather that it was pretty discreet and I wouldn’t want anyone to go to the hospital with me unless we were friends outside of work.

    25. soupmonger*

      For goodness sake, your management don’t have to tell their entire workplace that someone is being taken to hospital! There is such a thing as discretion. And many people would actively not enjoy a co-worker being dispatched to the hospital with them. It sounds as if your employer handled this fine – they called the ambulance, informed his wife, offered an Uber for her and got him to hospital. I honestly don’t know why you wrote in with this.

    26. Lorelei*

      A few quick things and then I’m done:

      My office just isn’t that big. Around 50 people. We all know each other. So having someone suddenly disappear, followed by radio silence is weird. Especially when it’s never been handled like that in the past. And there’s never been an email listing all the conditions – just that “Max is in the hospital. We hear he’s doing well and will let everyone know when he plans on being back. Meanwhile, Jackson will be stepping up to the role for anything urgent.” (I would never expect nor want to know the most intimate details of what happened. I just wanted to know that he was okay.)

      We don’t have individual teams. We’re all interconnected with one person doing one thing. If one person is suddenly gone ( and there’s practically no cross training so there’s no backup), and nobody knows, that can cause projects to pile up. Which, yes, is its own problem.

      I forget that my office is set up different. It’s not the stereotypical office where we all just sit in our cubes. There’s constant activity up and done the alleyways. As well as carts and handtrucks stacked high with equipment. When I said a warning about the paramedics, I didn’t mean for me and my feelings. (My God, I might be a little self absorbed but I’m not an ogre.) I meant because there could have been a serious problem if someone had decided that second to round the corner with a cart piled high and not known that paramedics were there and needed space to work. I would have used said warning to excuse myself.

      Kirk’s wife didn’t decided for anyone not to go, that was management. We can debate rather someone should have met the ambulance at the ER or not. Personally, when it’s happened with my mom I was glad someone was there to pass information along to me so I could step in without bothering the doctor. I realize not everyone will feel this way and that’s completely fine. But as his wife was over two hours away, as well as not in the office at the time, and he was unconscious if the doctors had any questions about what happened before he passed out nobody could answer them. I still feel as if someone should have gone for a stopgap measure. But, that’s me and my preference.

      1. frockbot*

        For what it’s worth, I agree with you from both sides. I would want a brief note acknowledging the potentially scary medical incident; AND if I was the one involved in the incident, I would prefer for folks to know about it before I came back so that I wouldn’t have to explain it to them. Everybody’s mileage obviously varies on this, but you’re not alone in being surprised that a coworker was wheeled out on a stretcher and nothing was said about it! (Which is to say, I would also be surprised, and concerned.)

      2. Specialk9*

        I don’t think you’re an ogre for connecting one person on a stretcher with a traumatic event in your life!

        I do think it’s impacting your emotions — the way you’re writing is the way I do when my stomach is churning with a big emotion. And the really big feelings inside are often tied to our personal traumas or issues. Which is SO NORMAL.

        It really is upsetting to see someone you know, pale and sweaty and unconscious on a stretcher! It’s ok if that felt like getting kicked in the stomach, given your personal trauma, and it’s ok to wish for a warning. (That’s literally what trigger warnings are about, giving us that split second to pull up the armor.)

        You are processing all that, and at the same time you’re also asking if your work is a jerk for not doing a specific action. Which is what people focused on. Instead we’re saying that actually the usual way is pretty awful, they should cut that shit out.

        But the “I’m processing something a bit hard that reminds me viscerally of something awful from my life” is totally normal, and I’m sorry you’re having to go through that. It sounds like it really sucks.

        I hope you get the chance to have a good cry, eat some chocolate, crank up the AC and wrap yourself in a fuzzy blanket, and snuggle with a person/pet/stuffed animal. Hugs across the internet.

      3. LGC*

        Okay, so – yeah, this drew a lot of responses. For what it’s worth (and I’m pretty sure you’re not going to see this), it did get pretty heated and a lot of people jumped to conclusions. And I’ll admit – I’m a little agitated by some of the responses you got.

        Anyway, a little bit above this comment I explained what my company usually does when we have emergency calls. From what it seems, this is actually close to standard – except for the additional twist that we’re also dealing with employees who receive counseling services from us so that might need to go in their case file, and I believe any ambulance call is a reportable incident for our records.

        Here’s my read on what happened with you, and although I d0n’t work in your environment, mine is somewhat similar:

        1a) Your bosses took a hands-off approach because as a lot of people (and myself) noted, a lot of people might not want everyone around them when they’re ill. Your bosses told Kirk’s wife, and by the time they were considering going to the hospital, they knew she was on her way.

        1b) Further, I presume the first responders were provided information at the scene and it would have been their job to relay it to the emergency room team. In that case, management showing up could have just added to the chaos and made things less efficient. (It sounds cold, but consider: The EMTs and paramedics are trained professionals.) Kirk had his wife aware of what was going on and on her way, and he was being treated by medical professionals. He might not have had people he knew around him in that moment he passed by you, but he was in good hands.

        2) I have…A LOT OF THOUGHTS about the fact that you would have appreciated a warning that a stretcher was coming through. But in the most succinct form: Kirk was really sick and there almost certainly wasn’t time for a heads-up. (Also, like…not gonna lie, Lorelei, this is actually something you guys have to account for – that there need to be clear exits for emergencies.)

        3) The silence seems unusual…but also, this all happened in a matter of hours, it seems like. They might not have had enough information to say anything. In emergency situations, they may not know until later whether the person will be okay, and that’s why the late update was sent out – that might have been the first point they had any conclusive information about how Kirk was doing.

        4) And even given the structure of your workspace, it seems as if you’re not really part of the direct workflow – you’re essentially just a bystander. I didn’t see anything that said your work directly crosses with Kirk’s, and you weren’t a witness to him collapsing. And this has bearing on your entire response – it sounds like you simply weren’t involved beyond witnessing Kirk go by and having to deal with Kirk’s wife calling Emily (although – dude, my condolences on having to see that, especially after losing your dad in what sounds like a similar fashion). To be honest, if you were one of my employees, I’d consider you pretty low priority in terms of who I’d inform, since you have no business need to know about Kirk’s whereabouts.

        And…you know, it’s tough. I’ll be honest, your OP and this post don’t make you look great, at least to me – they read as if you’re emphasizing your feelings about Kirk getting sick at work over Kirk actually being sick. (And to be clear, I think you genuinely do care about Kirk! It’s just the way you phrased it was clumsy.) But also…like, this sounds like your first (and hopefully last) time dealing with something like this. It’s a terrifying situation to witness, and if you don’t understand general protocol and why certain things are done, it can be really confusing.

    27. RedinSC*

      Oh, yeah, we have a policy that someone accompanies anyone who goes to the hospital or urgent care. For that reason, so no one is left there alone.

    28. Not a Mere Device*

      I once kept a new acquaintance company in an ambulance, and for a few hours in the emergency room–I happened to be with her, and asked her if she wanted me to come to the hospital with her. This was really random: someone I’d been chatting with at a convention and I decided to go get lunch, and she fell and injured her leg on the walk back. Since her entire family was at home, halfway around the world, I offered to go with her; it’s not what I had in mind for the afternoon, but it wasn’t what she’d had in mind either. (I suspect her logic was some combination of “Not a Mere Device” is part of the same loose community as I am” and that I would be someone to keep her company so she wouldn’t be sitting there staring at the walls for however long.)

      “How you treat people,” in my opinion, is you let them choose–I have a friend who doesn’t want anyone around if she’s unwell, not even her son or husband. That’s unusual, but someone like that really isn’t going to want her boss, or Jane from Accounting, sitting next to their hospital bed.

    29. R*

      As it happens, I’m 60 and when I collapsed at work a few months ago, I had never been to the hospital before. The difference is that I’m single and have no family so I’ve always taken care of myself. I like being independent. I was there for nearly a week but I told my workplace and friends that I wanted no visitors.

    30. DataGirl*

      as someone who has had health problems at work that resulted in paramedics being called (I was allowed to have a friend drive me to the hospital instead of taking an ambulance, once they saw my bp go down and determined it was most likely a panic attack, not heart attack)- I would be horrified to have an email go out about it. It was bad enough that people saw me as they walked by the lounge where I was being treated. Personal health issues, even if witnessed at work, are still personal and it would be improper of the company to share information about it.

    31. a1*

      Nobody heard anything until Luke sent an email late in the day with an update form Kirk’s wife. Which, honestly, thank God for Luke.

      So, an email *was* sent. This timing makes perfect sense to me. Spouse/family member contacts work when convenient for them and with info they are willing to share, and work passes it on. This is pretty normal to me.

  6. Foreign Octopus*

    This has been on my mind for a while and is a question for Alison.

    I’m in Spain so when I check the website I see the letters uploaded like so: early in the morning and then after 5pm, three more, which is great for me but it’s really bugging me because I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what time they’re uploaded in the US.

    Please help me!

    1. 123456789101112 do do do*

      Eastern time zone: the 5 short answers are up early (before 6am?), then 11 am, 12:30 pm, and 2 pm.

      1. Tort-ally HareBrained*

        I think the short answers go up around midnight EST as I can usually see them around 11 pm Central time. You can also check the Facebook time stamps :)

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Yes, midnight – they come up just as I go for lunch, or just as I get back, depending on daylight savings time.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I’m in EST.

      The short answers go up at midnight, the first standalone question (and this post) go up at 11am. The second standalone question (usually a link to another site or the podcast) is at 12:30pm. The final question gets posted at 2pm.

    3. Secretary*

      I notice that it’s usually one in the evening, and two or three in the morning. I see them pop up around 7 or 8 am; which means Alison is uploading them around 10 or 11 am. There’s some variation but that’s what I usually see. Sometimes there’s a longer follow up one around 12 or 1pm her time.
      Alison, am I getting that right?

        1. Blue Eagle*

          I always thought that Alison was uploading from the west coast so 9pm Pacific Time, then 8am Pacific Time, etc, etc.

          Uploading at midnight eastern time never made sense to me as folks in the eastern time zone are likely asleep and it is readers from either the west coast or Europe, etc who always get first chance at the short questions.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I’m on the east coast. Post go up at midnight, 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 2 p.m. ET. Someone is going to be asleep no matter when I post.

            1. Foreign Octopus*

              Thank you (and everyone)! I really had no idea and it was bugging me, but the schedule is actually really great for me because it’s about 6am, 5pm, 7pm, and 8pm (more or less) in Spain, which means I have something to look forward to in the evening.

              1. Tau*

                Agreed about the schedule being great, from someone in your timezone. (Why are Spain and Germany in the same time zone? Central European Time makes no sense whatsoever!)

                1. Specialk9*

                  Because Europe is eentsy teensy?

                  (Sorry, everything in the US is utterly forked up these days, but at least we can brag that we have LOTS OF LAND!!! Ha ha ha ha {sob})

  7. Aldebaran*

    Question about how to network with a company overseas. I am an expat living and working in the US for the past 30 or so years. I am interested in eventually moving back to my country of origin to work and retire there to be closer to family.

    Purely by coincidence, I found out about an international company with HQ in my hometown in my home country. This company specializes in technical writing and documentation, which is an area I am interested in transitioning after a 15 plus year career in digital communications and administration in the US.

    I was wondering if folks can give some advice on (a) how to best make an overture with the company from overseas to express my interest in their work (b) how to broach that my skills might be a potential good fit with their operations (c) how to gracefully inquire about opportunities in their company (c) who best to target for communications. It is a small company with less than 100 staff and the CEO is an American who is also an alumnus of where I finished grad school in the US.

    I don’t have a timeline of planning to move back to my home country anytime soon but if the right opportunity were a possibility I would seriously consider moving back sooner rather than later.

    The company’s location in my hometown is a huge factor in my motivation in wanting to contact them.

    Thanks for any advice and tips!

    1. Safetykats*

      Does the company have a website? There is generally information on the website about how to enquire for employment opportunities. Some of the information in your post would be good for a cover letter, although I would leave out the part about knowing where the CEO went to grad school. In a company that small someone on there end will eventually figure that out from your resume.

      1. Aldebaran*

        Thanks! They do have a website with a careers section but none of the current openings are a good fit for me. I was thinking they may have an opening in the future and I could apply formally. I was thinking of how best to approach them even if there are no openings with an eye that one might be a possibility in the future.

        1. Specialk9*

          I tend to connect with people on LinkedIn. So you might rework your profile to emphasize the local parts (eg local high school, add your native language if not English, jobs you had in that area that you might have removed for brevity).

          Then just start building connections. Don’t try to sell to them, just connect.

    2. Thlayli*

      You can try two routes simultaneously – contact someone in the local office to you and contact someone in the local office in your hometown. My experience of these big international companies is that most people won’t know each other and won’t even necessarily know they have an office in the other country, let alone what are of expertise that office works in. So you can go through both channels simultaneously I would say.

      As for how to find a contact in the office to network with, sorry not a clue.

    3. Jessica*

      Gosh, I have really different advice than Safetykats and Thlayli, I hope others chime in so we get a consensus! I’d say you should reach out to the CEO directly if possible. If you would like an “introduction” you could maybe reach out to your alumni association for your university and see if they can put you in touch, but otherwise you can just write to the CEO. You already have two things in common: you both have lived in the US and your home country for several years, and you both went to the same school. I think you can write an e-mail based on those factors:
      Something like: “Hi! My name is X and I’m a digital communications specialist in the US, but originally from Country X. I’ve been considering relocating back to country X as well as transitioning to technical writing. As I researched employment opportunities I noticed that not only do you have experience moving from the US to country X, but that we also attended the same school. I’d love to be able to talk with you further about your experiences during this transition, what the employment field is like currently in Country X, and any other suggestions you have for me. Would you be willing to set up a time to talk on the phone/skype with me? Thanks, Aldebaran.” I think this would be enough to signal the CEO that you’re interested in a job, but also leave the door open for helpful advice in other ways…and people often like being recognized for their expertise.
      I’m giving this advice because I just applied for a teaching job at a community college. I didn’t even get a phone call but about a month after applying online I contacted the department chair directly and asked if I could talk with him more about the department’s needs both now and in the future. We ended up having a 90-minute conversation with two excellent outcomes: he is really interested in hiring me if a position opens up, and I understand much better what it takes to get hired there (basically all the current adjunct professors have to decline teaching a course before it could be offered to an outsider). Obviously, if you’re going to go through “unofficial” channels you have to be prepared for the chance that the CEO just doesn’t want to talk to you (and you can’t just demand a meeting) but it seems like an “informational interview” could be really helpful for you even if it doesn’t end in a job, so this is the perfect situation.

      1. Aldebaran*

        Thanks very much! Yes, this is excellent and makes a lot of sense. This is the type of outreach I had in mind but was having trouble defining or articulating it. Thank you for laying it out so logically

      2. Specialk9*

        Oh I overlooked the school connection with the CEO. It can’t really hurt to send that message and might work! Wouldn’t hold my breath, CEOs of big orgs tend to get a lot of that kind of request, but someone far from home may actually be glad for a little nostalgia. Worth the try for sure!

  8. Construction Safety*

    City of Atlanta rescinds offer on the day the education chief was to start. Link in reply.
    Of note:
    “decided to move in a different direction and review other options as it pertains to filling this role.”
    “that the offer was contingent upon successful completion of a background check and a physical examination”

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Translation: “We decided to move in the direction of someone who could pass a background check.” My theory, anyway. (The link isn’t available yet.)

    2. McWhadden*

      Obviously a terrible practice to grant and rescind but more expected in local government jobs, where politics come into play.

      She had been a consultant, taught for Teach for America and seems to have been at least sort of involved with some charter school initiatives. TFA is pretty unpopular with union teachers (for good reasons and reasons I don’t agree with it’s a complicated issue.) She didn’t have any other direct education experience except her couple of years teaching. And might have been perceived to be sympathetic to charter schools.

      So, my guess is the union advocated for her dismissal.

    3. Julianne (also a teacher)*

      Was the candidate actually qualified to be a superintendent? If not, I wonder whether that came into play. My district just barreled through the hiring of an interim superintendent (who has zero qualifications) and the question of whether she would actually be approved by our state board of education was one that seemed to flummox the office of our idiot mayor.

      1. ronda*

        she was not being hired as superintendent. she was being hired on the mayor’s staff to work with stakeholder around improving education (including the school board and superintendent, I would think). Kind of an education Czar. This is the mayor that was elected last Nov, so has not been mayor terribly long yet. And improving education was one of her main platforms…. so I think mayor wants to do something.

        Canidate has a masters in public policy from harvard. seems like the right kind of education for this sort of thing to me….. but not much experience.

        1. Julianne (also a teacher)*

          My mistake re: titles, I hadn’t heard about this story until seeing this post, so I conflated the roles.

          Personally, I think experience matters as much as (and maybe even more than) education when it comes to education policy, and when the districts and cities where I’ve worked have brought in leaders and decision-makers who have little or no classroom experience, or little or no experience leading actual schools and teachers (as principals, instructional leaders, etc.), it’s often frustrating. It would be like hiring me to make healthcare policy; I’ve been to the doctor, but I don’t have the experience to make the best decisions. (Not a perfect analogy because I also have no education that would qualify me for that kind of job, but I hope my point comes through.)

    4. Boop*

      A physical examination? Was the candidate going to be running track and field with the students? That’s an pretty crazy requirement for an education job.

      Anyone know the type of physical examination? Purpose? What would disqualify a candidate that would be apparent from a physical exam? Is it anything like the special pope-grope chair (

      1. ronda*

        i did a search on the city of atlanta hiring process and found this as a response on indeed about the topic :

        I applied for my original position in January of 2000 and was hired after physical and background checks were performed in May on 2000

        Answered July 22, 2016 – TRAFFIC SYSTEMS ENGINEERING TECHNICIAN SENIOR (Former Employee) – Atlanta, GA

        It is just part of the process for them. 3 out of 4 places (all in Atlanta) that I remember the hiring process have required a drug test after the job offer. I think one place, a long time ago, may have required a physical, but I really think they just didnt want to call it a drug test back then.

    5. Observer*

      I wonder what the school system looks like. This was a mayor elected on a platform of improving education. And the first thing said mayor manages to do is to massively bungle a major hire. That’s pretty unnerving.

  9. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow*

    I’m having one of those days, where I’m kind of amazed that some of the people I work with manage to get themselves dressed and out of bed each money.

    We are down an administrative assistant, and so an admin from another department is pitching in. I appreciate the help that this person is offering. However, I’ve never bet an administrative assistant who can use word. And I’m not talking doesn’t know how to do some of the more complicated things in word. I’m taking, doesn’t know how to copy and paste, can’t work out why the text turns red when she makes changes, doesn’t understand how to save a document under a new name.

    I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

    1. Anon right now 2*

      Really makes you appreciate those admins who do understand their jobs and how software programs work.

      1. Margery*

        OMG Word is the most basic an admin should know – I can kind of understand that some admins might not be up to date with Excel formulas etc – but Word that’s a bit bad really.

    2. Jadelyn*

      I sympathize. We once hired a temp admin who was doing a task for me, converting email attachments into PDFs and storing them in a folder on the shared drive.

      He came to me after a little while and said “The folder I was putting them in was full, so I started a new one, I hope that’s okay.” I kind of blinked at him, trying to figure out how a folder on the enormous shared fileserver could possibly be “full” that quickly, and asked if he could show me what he meant. So we went back to his desk and he showed me.

      He apparently hadn’t realized that he could keep adding files even once the visible window was full, that the scroll bar would appear at that point so you could still see everything. He thought that once the file list reached the bottom of the visible window, it was “full” and he needed to start a new folder.

      I’m very proud of myself for keeping a straight face. And I think I managed to be tactful about explaining that no, the folder can hold quite a bit more than can be displayed on a single screen at a time, please combine those folders and keep going as you were, it’s fine. But I can’t be sure, because I was fighting so hard to hold it together at that point, just long enough to get back to my office, close the door, and dissolve into giggles.

    3. McWhadden*

      When I started at my office pretty much *all* of the admins only knew how to use Word Perfect.

      I started a little less than five years ago. Not twenty years ago.

      1. Little Bean*

        When I got my first job out of college in 2005, I had to learn how to use a typewriter.

        1. Anonymosity*

          I started at OldExjob in December 2005. There was still a typewriter in the office. I never had to use it, thank goodness, because I would have been lost. And I grew up with a typewriter!

          1. Hamburke*

            I could use a manual typewriter but the electric ones I always found complicated and never lined up correctly.

            When I did admin work in high school and college, the company I worked for had a typewriter to submit certain government paperwork that came as 3 attached sheets of pressure/carbon paper. I imagine that they still have that typewriter tucked away somewhere even if all the forms have become fillable PDFs or online forms!

      2. GlassHouse*

        WordPerfect is what I learned in my senior year of high school “Business Computers” class. I graduated in 1999. Everything I learned was obsolete by the time I graduated college. That might have been the least useful class of all time.

        1. Not Maeby But Surely*

          GlassHouse – your comment reminds me of my high school experience (class of ’01), when my Keyboarding (aka Typing) class from 9th grade in a different district somehow translated into a Computers credit. Even then it made no sense; Computer Science 1 or whatever was clearly much more than a typing class. I actually wanted to take a real Computers class since I didn’t have a lot of exposure to them at home, but the guidance counselor basically told me I didn’t need to, and encouraged me to find something else to round out my schedule. It’s hit me fairly often over the years what a disservice this was to my education.

          1. The New Wanderer*

            My STEM high school still had a typing skills class on typewriters (it was a part of another class), in 1992. It ran concurrent with various computer programming classes, and there were school teams using the in-house super computer. Guess they wanted to cover all bases!

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’m an internal auditor. There is a minimum amount of computer literacy generally required. However, I don’t do IT audit. Those auditors need a higher level of knowledge.

      Which makes the string of 4 different IT auditor contractors who were computer illiterate especially amusing. I was the admin on our software, so I got to know everyone’s comfort level. These 4 were WELL below even the most challenged of the rest of the department. For some reason, they didn’t last long.

    5. JxB*

      We had a long-time admin who was quite valuable but would have odd gaps in knowledge of common tools. She had to compile a spreadsheet of employee training, and then I was asked to do some summary info. Admin later went ballistic, almost to the point of tears because I had “erased” all her work. Mystified, we finally figured out she somehow didn’t realize you can have multiple worksheets/tabs in Excel – despite using it EVERY DAY. I had saved the file while working in a separate summary tab, so when she opened the file -that’s all she saw.

    6. BeenThere*

      Just this week we received a marked up document from an administrative type who apparently didn’t know how to use track changes so did all the mark ups manually… strike through, red font… all of it. Do you know what a pain that is to fix?! Sending it back!

  10. Redux*

    Summer Interns! We just said goodbye to this summer’s group and, while I think I was a better supervisor this year than last, I still think I have room to grow. I’d love to know: what are your tips for a successful summer internship experience? Here are mine:

    – Share the love. Supervising an intern is a lot of work! I like to build in a few assignments from other people in my group who do not have interns themselves so that when I have a busy week or run out of things to give them, I can kick that week’s assignment and supervision and feedback to a colleague.

    – Write it down. At least for the first assignment, I like to give the intern a memo outlining the project and the first assignment. I also schedule a check-in at the end of the day to give them a chance to clarify the assignment and ask questions. I’ve also moved away from writing assignments because it draws me into editing/ writing coaching (which takes a lot of work), and instead give them narrower questions with 3-4 sentence answers, or task them with sourcing material to support a thesis I am working on.

    – Showcase. A successful event we did this summer was a roundtable of all the interns in our group to showcase what they had been working on so far. We mostly do research/ writing, so they were brief presentations outlining the research topics. My colleagues asked a few (softball) questions to give the interns a chance to respond and clarify. It was low-stakes public speaking practice, gave them a chance to hear about the other projects and interact with the other people in the office, and gave me a chance to see how well they understood the assignments and implications.

    – Socialize. Our interns this year were natural socializers but my colleagues are pretty introverted at work. We organized a few outings over the course of the summer to get interns and staff to mix– a few lunches and a couple field trips gave the interns and my colleagues the chance to talk about non-work things.

    And for a very targeted question I answered for myself yesterday: do you write your interns a thank you note? My office got them gifts, and I had the impulse to write them a thank you note but ultimately decided against it. If anything, they should write me one (right? I always did when I was an intern). And, I figure I will write them a letter of recommendation sometime in the future and that is better than a thank you note.

    (and hello! to the lovely folks on the other thread who responded!)

    1. Humble Schoolmarm*

      Not quite a business intern, but I gave a thank you card and a gift card to my student teacher this year. It was an unpaid practicum and she had to do a lot of work for no money and she did a great job for someone just starting out. I’m not sure what I’ll do if my next one’s a dud, but I was more than happy to give her a small gift and a “let me know if you need a reference” thank you.
      For the record, she also gave me a lovely thank you card.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        I’ve had over a dozen student teachers, including a few duds. With my good ones, I get them a thank you card and a gc (usually to Staples so they can stock up), about $50. With my duds, usually just a thank you card and a judiciously-worded final evaluation. Sometimes a gc if they weren’t super-dud. (Had one of those too. I wanted to fail her, actually.)

          1. Middle School Teacher*

            I was talked out of it by the university facilitator. I wanted to fail her because she wouldn’t abide by our dress code, for starters, and she WAY overstepped. But her teaching was adequate (which is being generous) so I was encouraged to pass her. But I had the principal help me write her final evaluation, in a way that any admin worth their salt could read between the lines.

    2. LibraryBug*

      No suggestions from me but I love your Showcase plan. I work mostly with student employees (so, close to interns) and we’ve never done something like that. It would be a great way to give them experience on presenting, too.

      I agree that a thank you note is a little odd. We’ve put together small gifts with a card or note but nothing specifically thanking the employee, more like a going-away gift.

    3. bdg*

      I”m in engineering, which tends to be much more structured in co-op programs. Here were things I thought were successful (4 rotations as a co-op with company C, 1 rotation with company A, 1 rotation with company B):

      1. Co-op Presentations – towards the end of the rotation, co-ops should create presentations. 7 minutes for first rotation (or sophomores), 10 minutes for second rotation (juniors), 13ish minutes for third rotation and up (seniors). It should say something about who they are, what they’ve worked on, what they’ve learned, and what they’d like to do next (eg, move to site projects, graduate and pursue full-time position in design, etc).

      2. At the start of a rotation, give the intern/co-op an outline of what they’ll be working on. The big projects. Then include smaller things they can pursue with different people so that they can structure their own time a little bit (eg, my big projects were Write a Big Thing, send out the Giant Status Update every week, and update Database Information, with small projects in Assist with Inspections and Assist with Reviews, so if I had free time I could go to the people who had inspections and reviews and help them).

      3. Field Trips and Volunteering – Company C organizes field trips for co-ops/interns to go visit other sites with those co-ops and interns, so you can see the different locations where people work. Company B had a volunteer day, where co-ops and some full-time employees went and did various projects at a shelter. Good one-on-one time. We also celebrated E-Week with Company B, and had teams of co-ops compete against teams of full-time engineers in some design competitions. I actually ended up with a job offer solely because of how I rallied my team together during those competitions. Company B invited Big Important People to that week, so it was good facetime for employees and co-ops.

      4. Change Things Up – I spent 2 rotations at Company C with a group at corporate, 1 rotation with the sister group at site, and 1 rotation with a different group at site. I worked with generally the same people, but always met more people and changed up my knowledge base a little bit with each rotation. Some companies like to stick co-ops/interns in one group every time they come back, but moving between site and corporate and different groups has been hugely beneficial to me. This obviously works best when you have students for 3 rotations so they can actually rotate.

      5. Take your interns/co-ops to every meeting with you, and be sure to tell them the purpose and then, afterwards, what you thought was accomplished and what they thought was accomplished. But be sure and tell them where to sit. I hated having to guess if I should sit on the wall or at the table.

    4. the gold digger*

      I wish I had been a little more hands-on with my intern last summer. She did not report to me and my boss told me later he had kept things deliberately vague about authority (no, I do not know why he did that), but I should have taken the initiative to have a check-in meeting with her every day and ask her how her work was going, if she needed a new project, etc. She was so fabulous and so hard working that it didn’t occur to me that she needed some hand holding, but at the end of the summer, that’s what she said in her exit interview – that she would have liked a little more guidance.

      I got a text from her yesterday about her internship this summer: “I was thinking about how you always let me listen in on meetings in order to grasp the industry better. That was super helpful to me to learn. Right now, my boss creates special meetings to teach me certain things but I think I’d learn quicker if he took me to his meetings as well.”

      (I answered that her boss might be scared that she’s like the Refinery29 marketing intern.)

    5. Phoenix Programmer*

      I have our interns complete “informational interviews” with staff and leaders around the org. First I have them research the questions then I review and approve or make suggestions. Everyone loves them. The interviewees are flattered and the interns get great knowledge and experience from it.

      I also always offer a resume and cover letter workshop and refer them to Alison’s resources and explain why in our field their university’s suggestions are wrong.

    6. Naptime Enthusiast*

      Seconding the showcase. It is likely that wherever they end up in the future they will need to present their work, so no time like now to start practicing. As an intern, we presented to our department leadership, and they got to know us a little better and get a feel for how we would be as employees after graduation.

      Also, don’t be afraid to introduce interns to other areas in the business where they can intern or get hired full-time in the future. I was a go-getter as an intern and had no problem asking those around me for suggestions, but not all interns know how to ask and can be afraid to come across as ungrateful for their experiences. This summer, I’ve already spoken to 2 interns about what I do day to day and what we look for in potential employees, one of whom reached out to me herself and another whose manager asked if I would be willing to speak to him. It’s better for an intern to know all of their options for the future and find a great fit rather than feeling obligated to take a role they feel ‘meh’ about.

    7. smoke tree*

      Wow, this is much more support than I ever got as an intern (although I was technically a co-op student, so I was paid–not sure if that changes the dynamic). I was generally happy if I was given some vague idea of what I could be working on, but my main problem was no one ever having time to assign me anything. My main suggestion would be to have some back-up tasks on hand for times when things are slow. I’d rather spend hours scanning than spend hours staring at my monitor.

      I definitely don’t think a thank-you note is necessary (and might give them some misguided ideas about the dynamic of the intern/employer relationship), but an offer to serve as a reference is always appreciated.

    8. Nesprin*

      Mine are assigned friends and rec letters. Ive mentored nearly 2 dozen undergraduates and when I hire 2 at once, there’s a de facto buddy system- pairs of interns seem to learn faster since 2 people are listening at once, and it’s harder for 2 people to get stuck than one.
      I’ve also started writing rec letters for everyone who comes through my door and giving them to my trainees- they function as thank you letters in addition as functioning as med/grad school rec letters. My students have really appreciated having a list of what they’ve done with the interpretation of why that work was important and how it fit into the greater scheme of things more than a thanks letter. I have my PI’s rec letter in a secret file of nice things people have said about me for when I have bad days.

  11. stephistication1*

    Video conferencing is part of many office cultures. What are your funny/cringe worthy stories of video conferencing at work? Me:

    – Coworker had his camera on and when the big boss was speaking, said person was making faces, rolling eyes and throwing up his hands as if he didn’t agree.

    – Team was on a project call and one guy (on video) looked like he had is computer on his lap with the cam tilted up…no issues. That is until he stood up to put it down…he was in the bathroom…handing his business…

    Interested to hear other stories!

    1. Murphy*

      Not me, but a friend of mine was doing a webinar. She decides to pump (breast milk) while watching the webinar. Soon after she starts, the man hosing the webinar says, “Just so you all know, this is a two-way street. I can see you.” She panics and covers up the webcam.

        1. Murphy*

          I know! She was laughing when she told me, and she said it wasn’t that long, but still.

      1. DaniCalifornia*

        Stories like these are why I keep my webcam covered unless necessary (and bc of hackers!) I could just see myself doing something like this! Bought a sheet of little black stickers that have an easy tab to peel off and on. So worth it!

        1. EddieSherbert*

          I put a sticker over mine haha :)
          It HAS been useful – I had a recent “just pull the laptop into bed with me for an early morning conference call” where someone would have seen me in bed in my pajamas still if I didn’t have it!

        2. AdminX2*

          Have you seen the new keyboards where the camera is under a pop up key you have to push to reveal?

          1. Specialk9*

            My computer has a slide cover for the webcam. But I can’t figure out if red means recording, vs off, and both look shiny enough to be a lens. I may just go back to the sticker method.

        3. JxB*

          I always keep the camera on my laptop covered. I’ve tried various products (often swag from conferences) with sliding panels and such. But the easiest cover I’ve found are Post-It Flags. Those translucent strips about 2″ x 1″ with a colored edge. Regular paper post-its fall off too easily. Some of the plastic lens covers prevent the laptop from closing completely. Others blend in so well, it’s hard to see if cover is open or closed. The Post-It Flags have just the right amount of adhesive to stick well but be easily movable. I apply it horizontally.

            1. Specialk9*

              Painter’s tape stays put and removes without lens residue, for years. Looks kinda silly, but I figure it’s a security badge of honor.

          1. BeenThere*

            I’ll try that! I have been using a post it note but, as you say, they tend to fall off.

    2. Random Canuck*

      There was a presentation being done by a very senior manager, and they decided to have the camera facing the audience. Manager decided to do his presentation in between the camera and audience, so those of us off-site spent an hour with a huge view of his rear.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        So from your point of view, he really was talking out of his ass?

        Also, were there slides? How would you see the presentation?? This isn’t a game show. We don’t need to see the audience cheering.

        1. Random Canuck*

          Ha, yes. We all thought he was an ass, so it did result in a lot of chuckles and comments at his expense.

          There were audience questions at the end, with the possibility that they would be asked during the talk, so it didn’t hurt to have a camera in the audience direction. I can’t remember if there were slides, but if there are then we get them ahead of time so that wouldn’t have impacted the video view.

    3. I Contain Multitudes*

      I logged in to a video conference room a little early from home and didn’t realize the program defaulted to webcam on as soon as you entered the room. I wasn’t fully dressed yet and was standing in front of my desk while I waited for the program to load (plan was to log in early to avoid last-minute computer issues, then finish getting dressed before the meeting started). Suddenly, my underwear appeared on the screen. Camera was precisely at underwear level and broadcasting to the room. One other person was in the room already, but his video and microphone were off and I have no idea if he was at his computer and witnessed the purple lace display or not. I’m certainly not going to ask and I can only hope he’ll never speak of it if he did see anything.

      1. stephistication1*

        OMG. I would have passed out. I’m sure if he saw it he would have said something to alert you.

    4. motherofdragons*

      I was hosting a video conference call with a large group of people, and we were recording the call. One person on video tried (and failed) to put a Post-it note over her laptop camera, and proceeded to start applying makeup in the middle of the call! We have a friendly relationship so I immediately texted her to let her know and she eventually moved the Post-it properly. She was mortified, and unfortunately there was nothing I could do to take it out of the recording!

    5. motherofdragons*

      Also I haven’t witnessed this myself, but apparently team members have fallen asleep on camera during our regular videoconference team meetings. How embarrassing!

    6. Quackeen*

      I had an interview via Zoom recently, and the job turned out to be much different than advertised. That was all well and good until the recruiter told me the (shockingly low) salary. Evidently I *made a face* at the amount.

      I would never have taken the job, but it was still funny when I got the rejection email about 3 minutes after getting off the phone.

    7. Jenna P*

      OK, this is not a video slip up, just an audio one, but still funny. A few jobs ago, we were gathering in the conference room and the project manager was dialing in the audio conference number for the meeting. He instead dialed a 1-900 sex chat line. Now, he is a great guy, but a bit spacey, so instead of just hanging up the phone the second the automated sex line talk started, he left it on for about three minutes while doing something else before he suddenly noticed and immediately hung up the phone. The rest of us were stifling giggles, waiting to see how long it took before he noticed.

    8. No Tribble At All*

      Emergency conference call with the C-suite, CTO is calling in from home. And now I know what he looks like shirtless.

        1. No Tribble At All*

          Everyone on the line quickly told him that his camera was on, don’t worry. It was a sunny day and he was outside. I was more amused than anything.

    9. H.C.*

      Skyped with a work-from-home contractor in his office, which was fine until he toddler bumbled in and he had to escort her out, showing everyone that his “business on top, sleepwear on bottom” outfit. XD

    10. Nerdling*

      In our old office, the tiny kitchenette was right behind my desk (microwave, minifridge, small sink). I was on a call one day with my camera on, and everyone in the main room started cracking up. Turns out one of the other folks in my offsite was at the microwave dancing while her lunch heated up.

    11. Anon for this*

      I was part of a webinar where one of the other participants flushed. Yet my boss chewed me out in the middle of the office for clicking my mouse too loudly during my section. I was not sad when resigning a month later.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        Anon for this, your boss was an ass. Put me in touch with him, and I’ll tell him myself for you.

    12. Green Goose*

      We do a lot of video conferencing and we’ve had the occasional employee take a personal call and forget to mute during a large meeting, and a few grumpy faces but the weirdest was when I called one of our branches to conduct a training with some newish employees that I don’t know very well.

      I asked them how they were doing and one of them answered “oh you know, overworked and underpaid, the [company name] way” in a sing-song voice. I was startled by her comment, and I may have laughed awkwardly but then she adjusted her computer and her video caught the back of the room and there were a whole bunch of other staff members in the room. That floored me that she was being so blatantly negative about the organization with people she didn’t know very well and she was such a new employee.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        We didn’t do video (too complicated!) but plenty of audio-only telecons, and yeah, the number of people who thought “go on mute” didn’t apply to them was infuriating. There would be the people taking personal calls on their cells, probably wearing their work phone headphones around their neck, because they definitely couldn’t hear the many pleas to them to GO ON MUTE. If we could tell who it was by the sound notification that appeared next to a name if they spoke, they’d get an IM or email about it.

        I’m surprised there aren’t more people snacking stories, considering how many people were clearly eating crunchy food from crunchy wrappers during most meetings! But I suppose those are tame next to accidental peeks of underwear

    13. JennyFair*

      When I worked from home for GiantCo, a friend who did the same had her home office in a closet off the master bath. In that closet hung all her undergarments, and she put a curtain up in front of those. A curtain which was apparently not secured in a sufficient manner, and which fell down during a video conference, revealing her unmentionables to everyone. And my poor coworker is a very conservative Mormon lady, who was quite mortified.

      1. Specialk9*

        Oh no. That would be bad enough for anyone, but someone who’s extra modest for religious reasons? Awful.

    14. For Sure Anon!!*

      I’ve been wondering if this question was going to come up at some point! I was sharing my screen and rummaging around for a couple files. I had the view on large icons because I needed them in a specific color. Got to the My Downloads folder and OMGGGG there were some nsfw pics/videos of my hubby. And all three other people noticed after the one squeaked. (0_0)

      The worst part is that the files I was looking for was in the My Downloads folder on MY laptop, not Hubby’s laptop (which I was using).

      To be fair, the items were intended for me when we were first dating, and semi-long distance at the time. But still, more of him than most people would like to see. I’m STILL mortified about this.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        A previous job used to have regular Town Hall meetings, with live link-ups from all the different countries and offices. There were several occasions when Mega Boss would start by saying hello to each office in turn and the camera would cut to a deserted conference room.

        1. Time zones galore*

          We had the same – every location was booked, so the video automatically appeared, however due to time zone issues some people called in from home. This resulted in a few empty offices, despite full attendance.

    15. voluptuousfire*

      Had horrible insomnia for about 2 months–averaging maybe 3 hours of sleep a night if I was lucky. I was in a team meeting (luckily camera off!) and fell asleep for 15 minutes during the meeting. I just went out like a light and work up 15 mins later.

    16. CurrentlyLooking*

      Online meeting (go to meeting) with about 5 people from my office all in one conference room and two people, Rachel and Monica, from a different office who were at their own desks.
      Monica is presenting (we can see her screen) during the meeting. There was some differences of opinion on a project between the two offices that we were discussing and Apparently Rachel was not happy. So instead of speaking up, she started IMing Monica insults about the people in my offices conference room. Which we all could see.
      Rachel was in a junior role and her opinions didn’t carry much weight so it was more amusing than upsetting for us.
      After the meeting we did let Monica know we saw the insults. (And eventually Rachel was fired for poor attitude/incompetance)

      1. RedBlueGreenYellow*

        Oooh. That reminds me of the time that the head of another department arranged an online training for my department about a tool that she wanted us to start using. We (the trainees) were in one location, the department head was in another location, and the trainer was in a third location. The department head hosted the meeting, and apparently thought she was sharing only the training slides. Only she was sharing her whole desktop, which is how everyone in our department saw that she was badmouthing us in IM to the trainer throughout the meeting, basically making us out to be idiots. I don’t think she ever figured out why we didn’t get on board with her plan…

    17. Misa*

      Well there was a story at the old big global corporate company about two co workers going into a conference room for some… private time… and not realizing the video equipment was on, there is a control center in the London office that could see them live and all video conferences are recorded…

      I understand they were let go but man… ***shudder***

  12. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    It looks like I’m going to finally get a promotion and raise. I have never negotiated a raise before, I just took what was offered. Standard at my company is 10%, but I’ve been here 5 years without a promotion and will be taking on a LOT more responsibility. How do I go about saying I’d prefer 15%? Help!

    1. irene adler*

      Research what the going market rate is for the position you will be promoted to. That is what they need to pay you.

      1. SarahKay*

        And be clear in your head what your options are and what you will do if they won’t match (or at least come reasonably close to) the market rate.
        It’s much easier to stand firm on what you want if you know that you’re willing to stay in your old post, rather than take a huge rise in responsibilities with only a tiny rise in pay. Or if you decide you’d rather look elsewhere altogether if they won’t pay what you’re worth.
        Bear in mind it will almost certainly cost your company a whole lot more to replace you than to pay what you’re worth.
        Good luck!

    2. Higher Ed Database Dork*

      AAM has a lot of good posts about researching market rate for your position, as well as putting together a justification for a certain salary. I’d do a post search here to start with, and then draft up some points as to why you think 15% would be fair for the position.

    3. AnotherKate*

      This may feel nitpicky but it’s actually not–you’re not telling them what you prefer. You’re going to make your case for what you deserve. This is a pertinent difference; when negotiating a raise, you aren’t dealing in feelings or what you’d like or bringing up things you’d spend the money on. Rather, it’s a business case. Go back through your past 5 years with the company and find things where you’ve gone above and beyond. Particularly in the past year, are there things you’ve done that directly affected the company’s bottom line? Bring those things up.

      Also do a little research about your area and what people with the same job title you’ll be promoted to are earning. Requesting that your salary be in line with industry norms is also a very normal thing to do.

      You can say all of this in a meeting, but I prefer a paper trail. Don’t be like me the first time I asked for a raise and write a novel. An example ahead of your next meeting with your boss might look like this:

      Dear Boss,

      I’m thrilled to be taking on more responsibilities and at the prospect of transitioning into the New Title role. As you know, I’ve already taken on X and Y responsibility with 1, 2. and 3. successes, and I anticipate adding A and B will be an exciting challenge. Given the new responsibilities I’ll be taking on and my success in the past year performing [above and beyond job duty] I’m asking for a 15% increase in compensation to bring my salary up to the industry norm for this role in our area.

      Looking forward to discussing at our meeting on Monday.

      1. Anona*

        I picked up on the “prefer” word choice. Don’t say that you prefer it. Tell them why it makes sense. Because we’d all prefer a raise!

    4. BeenThere*

      I was just telling someone the story today.. How I negotiated the first time. I was making $## and the new job offered me the same. It was slightly further from my home and a pretty responsible position so I just said, I was hoping for $%%. When they asked why I had my justification all prepared (as another poster noted, know what the market is and how your experience aligns so you can rationalize the number). They gave it to me. 6 months later they gave me another bump!

    5. Blue*

      Alison did a podcast on this a couple of months ago. It was conveniently posted the week before I expected to negotiate a job offer for the first time, actually. Once I combined the advice and script she provided with the posts on researching market rates for salary, the whole thing wasn’t nearly as scary as I’d feared. And it worked! The original offer was about what I expected but lower than I wanted. I assumed they’d respond to my counter with something between our two figures. Instead, they came back with what I asked for + a little bit extra (not much more, but still!)

      Good luck!!

  13. Chaordic One*

    Open offices?

    Is there anything more to be said about them? Apparently so.

    Last week I came across this article about open offices and I thought I would throw it out there for debate by the AAM Collective Mind. The author states that open offices work when you adopt “Library Rules” of behavior. He may have stumbled onto something. I’ve certainly never thought of it.

    Link to follow.

    1. Lumos*

      But…which library rules are they talking about? Libraries aren’t the quiet spaces people think they are anymore.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I think the author is talking about an old-fashioned library where people don’t visit with each other and just read and do work. It sounds kind of nice in contrast to the chaotic nightmare that open offices can become.

      2. Higher Ed Database Dork*

        Yep, the central library at my university has designated quiet floors, and then other floors are louder than the student center (and have tons of food options in them).

        1. The Original K.*

          The branch of the library in my neighborhood has a quiet room on the second floor. There’s often a hum of activity in the rest of the library, particularly the computer lab. There are also a bunch of programs for kids, which aren’t particularly quiet (and aren’t expected to be).

    2. Ruth (UK)*

      my last job was an open office where we phoned people and booked appointments for them to have hearing aid assessments. Basically, we had to speak VERY loud and clear to be heard :D

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I’m sorry, I just cracked up. that sounds like the makings of a comedy sketch! Madness.

        1. Ruth (UK)*

          add to this that many of the people we were calling were quite elderly (often over 80, occasionally in the 90s etc) and often had memory issues or similar… between them mis-hearing, getting confused, getting forgetful and so on, we had some very interesting circular shouted conversations…

    3. Sorry about that*

      Washington Post had an article last week on open spaces. Title – Open space plans are as bad as you thought

    4. Antilles*

      Your link isn’t up yet, but I saw a similar article last week, so I’m guessing it’s either the exact same or a very similar line of argument. I have two big arguments with it:
      1.) Libraries can get away with having people just quietly do work because everybody is there specifically *because* they need/want an environment where you can be alone and nobody talks. For most teams, that’s just not feasible with phone calls, quick questions, etc – in most offices, even having a 15-minute stretch of pure silence is pretty rare.
      2.) Making the library rules work require a level of commitment, effort, and thought about how to effectively manage the quiet spaces…a level which greatly exceeds the amount of thought that generally goes into the “let’s go open office” decision.

      1. Observer*

        Well, if you read the article, it’s clear that they did make some very considered choices.

        Also, he does point out that they knew perfectly well going in that it wasn’t going to help with the collaboration piece AT ALL.

    5. Kimberlee, Ranavain*

      Eh, an open office where people don’t talk to each other is 1) kind of defeating the point and 2) a kind of sad thing to be in (she said from experience).

      I think the solution to the problems of the open office are having adequate conference room, phone booths, and other quiet spaces. Most of the problems come from companies implementing the concept but failing to do that.

      1. Thlayli*

        This. I had a wonderful office experience in my last job where the entire floor was all one open office with about 100 people. My current open office is still in the “settling in” stage and sometimes can be too loud. The key things for an open office to work are:
        1 quiet areas where people can go to do quiet work
        2 people keep it to a reasonable volume at their desks – not whispering but not shouting
        3 sufficient space for whatever work you do – room around each teams area for sufficient storage, layout area (if you work with drawings), printers, etc, whatever u need
        4 a bit of separation between teams, Whether that be dividers or plants or similar

    6. Undine*

      But you don’t spend 8 hours a day (or more) in that kind of library. You don’t attend online meetings in a library. You don’t walk up to other people in the library and ask them urgent questions about work. You don’t make sales calls in a library. They don’t have microwaves and lunch tables in a library. You don’t fire people in a library, or if you do, you’re a librarian and you do it in private, in the office behind the desk.

      On the other hand, in my library, kids play video games (on a library computer), there’s an event where children sing nursery rhymes and for sure some little kid gets overstimulated and has a meltdown, and there are people with nowhere else to go muttering to themselves. Oh, maybe that last one is kind of like work.

      1. JustaTech*

        I think the kind of library being referenced in the article is an academic library, where people do work for 8-10 hours at a go (sometimes) and it is silent like a tomb. (I worked in one for a summer and it was very peaceful.)

        But. That is people working alone, usually on a project that is just them (dissertations, usually). So it’s still not a great model for most offices. Heck, even the librarians in an academic library have offices outside the stacks so they can have meetings and collaborate.

        1. Anon for now*

          Academic libraries are quickly moving away from the “silent as a tomb” model, though. Most will have a quiet floor, and that’s the only space in the building where you’re not going to hear a lot of talking. The one I work in is generally at a dull roar on the other floors during most of the semester, and the same is true for other academic libraries I’ve work at or visited in the past decade.

          1. Library Land*

            Seconded. I’d also wager that their library was so quiet because it was summer. Every academic library sees the summer slump – it’s no way indicative of semester usage (or quietness).

    7. fromscratch*

      I would LOVE if library rules were the case in my open office. I’m currently distracted for 75% of my day by an incredibly loud talker. I’ve started coming in early to avoid her. I have a white noise machine on my desk and even paired with noise canceling headphones, I can still hear every word this coworker says. Management is attempting to coach her on how to use an “inside” voice but it isn’t working.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        I’d love it if library rules were actually enforced in the library. But we aren’t authoritarian shushers anymore. So enjoy the string band that’s performing on the library floor.

      2. Windchime*

        I wonder if you work in my office. We have a lady who has a high, Minnie-Mouse voice and SCREAMS at top volume. Her voice is so loud and shrill that I have to use white noise and Bose headphones to tune her out. We work in a large room that is made up of mostly cubicles (with offices for the managers) and for the most part it’s OK, but there are always going to be people who just will not be able to be quiet (I’m looking at you, old man who likes to spend his day lecturing others about Bitcoin).

    8. DaniCalifornia*

      So these rules are great. The planning and thought behind a good open office is great, if your company is willing to put in the effort to make adjustments for acoustics and such. But all it takes is one loud/annoying/obnoxious/rude coworker to destroy that. Kind of like libraries themselves. Our public libraries are not quiet at all, not like I remember when I was a kid. They have quiet rooms but I no longer enjoy reading in one. College libraries seem to better follow the rules.

      I also don’t think the growing bigger is applicable to every business. I’ve worked six years in my current role and the owner is very set on staying in the building he bought (it’s historic) and not expanding staff. He’s in an area of work that isn’t always improving and he will always be needed (taxes)

    9. Quaggaquagga*

      I currently work in an open office space where music is played and people talk (or shout, really) across departments. It’s incredibly distracting. I *used* to work in an open office space where you could hear a pin drop. I can tell you that the latter made everyone far more neurotic and miserable. If you’re going to have an open office space, then you really must have quiet *areas* for people to get work done in.

    10. Adaline B.*

      My biggest problem with this article is the last part where he mentions this office gets used by 3-5 people AT MOST each day. Well yea it’s going to be quieter, there’s no body there!!

      1. Windchime*

        No kidding. Also, they spent a ton of money on sound-dampening materials, which practically no company is going to really do. And yeah, most of their employees work from home. So I’m not super impressed that it’s quiet there.

      2. Antilles*

        Yeah, I thought that was hilarious, especially when combined with the other items he mentioned.
        “10,000 square foot office”, “3 sound-proofed quiet rooms”, “3-5 people there if you’re lucky”.
        Not to burst your bubble dude, but the reason your office is so quiet is because each employee basically has an the square footage of an entire *house* to himself.

    11. Ginger ale for all*

      I work in a university library and it is not quiet. Professors assign many group projects and students come to the library to collaborate all the time. So the silent library is a stereotype that is only sometimes true. We have a few quieter areas though, but about 70% of the library is filled with study groups and tutors talking.

      1. Alex the Alchemist*

        Yep. Working at one over the summer and we also get a lot of tour groups coming through. One campus guide always comes in and says, “I know I’m a loud talker and we’re in a library so I’ll try to tone it down a bit” and then proceeds to talk at the same extremely loud volume the entire time. Think Andy Samberg’s park ranger character on Parks and Rec.

    12. Triple Anon*

      Open offices are great. They incentivize employees to work from home and/or schedule a lot of pointless meetings.

    13. batman*

      This sounds pretty awful to me. I mean, I don’t like open offices, but I hate coming to work every day and just spending all my time working by myself and not having social contact.

  14. Lumos*

    I have so much to talk about today.

    we got a new manager who’s decided we all need to have absolutely perfect punches (in our annoying 3-step system I’ve complained about before) and now, instead of being able to shorten our lunch if we were fifteen minutes late, we have to use our vacation to it.

    In addition, she’s decided we’re supposed to always be walking around and not be at the desk on the computer at all or having conversations with each other. Yet, she’s always sitting when scheduled on desk, usually working on something on the computer, and she literally is always having personal conversations. I don’t even know how I could handle it if I get in trouble because she’s talking to me? Definitely a do as I say, not as I do thing. But we’re scheduled on the floor 7 hours a day on average and standing that much is really bad for your health, new studies have discovered it’s even worse than prolonged sitting. ughhhh

    1. WellRed*

      So sorry to hear you now have an uptight micromanager who wants to squeeze every dime out of you that she thinks you owe the company for the privilege of working there. This is going to get worse, a lot worse.