my boss wants me to hang up on elderly callers who can’t hear me, asking to work from home with a new puppy, and more

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

1. My boss wants me to hang up on elderly callers who can’t hear me

I work for a small not-for-profit organization which deals with a variety of clients, including the elderly, low-income, and disabled. We’re also located in an area with notoriously bad cell service. My position is outward facing, and I deal with virtually all the client and prospective client calls. The problem is that at least three times per week, I receive a call from someone who has hearing issues or bad enough cell reception that I need to raise my voice in order for them to hear me. The caller is always aware that I am not yelling at them, but my boss who sits less that 15 feet away from me, gets extremely annoyed at the volume of my voice. She constantly tells me to keep my voice down, but when I do, the person at the other end cannot hear me and asks me to speak up. It is literally my job to work with to these people and the mission of our organization is to help them, but it seems to drive my boss crazy to the point that she says, “If they can’t hear you, just hang up.”

It feels unfair to turn away needy people because they’re elderly, hard of hearing, or cannot afford a better cell phone, not to mention a violation of our organization’s mission. Also, when I have hung up, we’ve gotten complaints about being “unfair, mean, nasty, and unwilling to work with those who need help.” Frankly, I can’t blame people for being upset. I hate how this damages not only people’s lives, but the reputation of our organization. How do I handle this? Should my responsibility be to the needy client or the boss? I respect that my loud conversations annoy her, but everyone else within earshot seems to understand. We have no other work space for either of us, so moving is not a possibility.

Wow. I can understand not being thrilled that someone is yelling into the phone 15 feet away from her, but the solution isn’t “hang up on clients who need help.” That raises serious questions about her fitness for her job — any job managing people, really, but especially one with an elderly and/or disabled client base. Dear lord.

Is there someone above your boss who you can talk to about this? If the leadership above her agrees with her, then you have valuable (awful) information about your organization, but my guess is they’re not going to be okay with it and will intervene. But if that’s not possible (like if she’s the executive director), then all you can really do is try presenting a rational argument, which may or may not work. That would mean saying something like, “I know it’s not great to have me raise my voice on these calls, but since it’s an essential part of our mission to provide services to the elderly and disabled, I can’t in good conscience hang up on people. It’s directly at odds with our mission, it risks getting us terrible PR and alienating donors, and I’m just not comfortable cutting people off like that. Would it work for you to have headphones nearby for when my conversation needs to be louder?”

And hell, if that’s not an option and since there’s no other space for you to work out of it, I’d seriously consider whether your office can build some walls within its existing space, or have anyone who does a lot of phone work like you do work from home. Hanging up on the people you’re supposed to serve isn’t okay.

2. Asking to work from home with a new puppy

My husband and I live in a cosmopolitan city and both work full-time. We are committed to adding a puppy to our family this year and have started making the arrangements to bring one home in the fall. I’ve done my research and the breed is small, very even-tempered, and doesn’t need a lot of exercise … but of course I am concerned about making sure she doesn’t develop separation anxiety or struggle with training during the transition. I plan to take around 10 days off when we first get the puppy, but after that…

What’s the over-under on asking for flex time when you get a new dog? New parents get leave, and if we adopted a child we’d get some. But I’m not even asking not to work, but to maybe only come in two days a week (we can afford daycare for two days per week, and after 16 weeks when the puppy can control their bladder, we’d pay for dog-walking) and work from home the other three until the puppy gets settled in a routine, for about two months.

My job responsibilities don’t require I be in the office, but I work for a large corporation and I could see this ruffling some feathers. My husband is a corporate attorney and doesn’t have the same flexibility that I might. But I want to set my new family member on the right track for life and make sure they know they’re well-cared for in the early days of puppyhood.

Working from home three days a week for two months to care for a new puppy would be a really big request in a lot of organizations … and in others it would be fine. It really depends on your company’s culture.

So: What do you know about your company culture as far as remote work? Is it pretty easily approved for people, or is it more of “it’s fine to do occasionally but not regularly” or “only if you need to wait for a plumber”? Are there other people on your team who work remotely more than one day a week? How flexible is your company in general — does it offer flex time, etc.? And is that given out pretty easily or is it something you have to justify with a reason they consider “good enough”?

If your culture isn’t already pretty friendly to this kind of thing, there’s a good chance that taking 10 days off and then asking to work remotely three days a week for two more months because of a new puppy will come across as culturally out of sync and maybe politically unsophisticated. (Relatedly, you definitely don’t want to sound like you’re comparing it to parental leave. That’s unlikely to go over well, and I say that as someone who’s obsessed with my own animals and doesn’t have kids.)

But you’ve really got to know your culture on this one.

3. Coworker runs through the hallways

I work in a gorgeous office building surrounded by beautiful landscaping and loads of wildlife. It is a very small and quiet place. I truly love the setting. Unfortunately, we have an employee on the second floor who runs up and down the hallways instead of walking. The noise and vibration are beyond annoying. I’ve had multiple employees complain to me about it and have almost resorted to mean Facebook posts because it is so disturbing. When anyone risked commenting to the employee, her response is that she works such long hours that is the only time she can get her exercise squeezed into her day. Load of *#<%. I think she does it to make herself appear too be so busy she can’t behave in a normal respectful manner. I’d appreciate your thoughts on how to put an end to this running/jogging at work

Have you tried addressing it with her yourself? Ideally someone needs to speak to her who will be assertive enough to respond to her excuse with, “Regardless, it’s really disruptive to us on the first floor, so I do need to ask you to stop doing it.”

But if that doesn’t work (or if no one is willing to do that), the next step is to talk to someone with the authority to make her stop. That’s probably her manager, but it could also be someone like the CEO’s admin who has a lot of authority and is widely feared/respected, an assertive office manager who rules with an iron fist, or even just the most senior manager on the first floor who can use the authority of her position to say it’s disrupting her team and needs to stop. If you don’t have those, though, then just stick with her manager, and frame it in terms of the noise and disruption.

Stay away from the Facebook posts though.

4. I’m an intern confused by email etiquette

I am an intern in a office setting (10 people) where I send emails (at least one a day) to a manager. (My direct supervisor is the vice president, but my job is to float, going where ever I am needed. I may report to one person one day, and someone else the next.) I am new to the professional setting since I am still in college. I send reports to this manager, usually with a subject line like “the Wilson report” with the message being “Here is the Wilson report” and the attached file titled “Wilson report.”

At what point does this become redundant? I haven’t received any feedback (nor have I asked for any) about these emails. But I am used to college where any emails to professors will be written out like a letter, very polite and very formal, and receiving a reply like “okay” or “sure,” highlighting the power dynamic in professor/student relationships. So these really short, to-the-point emails feel weird to me, but I also realize that there is nothing left to be said. I feel uncomfortable adding “fluff” or even “let me know if you have any questions about the report” since I think that statement is a little insulting to send from a intern to a manager.

You are overthinking! The emails you’re sending are fine. It would also be fine to add “let me know if you need anything else or “let me know if there’s anything I can answer about it” (that’s not insulting — it does go without saying that she’ll ask if she has questions, but it’s still fine to say it). But short, to-the-point emails are the norm in the work world. It would be a little less brusque if you open with “Hi Jane” and sign off with your name. But lots of people don’t even do that. This is normal and fine!

(Don’t make them shorter though — like don’t decide that the subject line and attachment name are enough and thus eliminate the message text altogether. You still want a sentence or two of message, even if it feels redundant.)

5. I’m supposed to read a book for work on my own time

I just started working for a new (small) organization and we just had a one day “leadership retreat” in the office shortly after I started. It mainly included talking amongst ourselves about management style and bouncing ideas around about problems that may come up in our work. The next week, a workplace leadership book written by a motivational speaker was silently handed to me by a coworker. A week after, an email was sent out explaining that leadership from the organization that put together the retreat want us to read the book and be ready to summarize and discuss it at a follow-up retreat planned in August. The email sent specifically says that we “DO NOT have to read it for the” second retreat planned in July, which makes me think I am expected to read it by the third retreat and that it is a mandatory work assignment.

I am not against reading and enjoy it immensely and they are certainly giving enough time for even the slowest reader to do this, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I am paid by the hour at this job and value my time outside of work, especially reading novels I actually enjoy. How can I politely tell the director of this initiative that I have zero intention of reading this book unless it is during paid work hours?

You can say, “How should I log the time I spend reading this outside of work so that it gets recorded for payroll?” If their response indicates they weren’t planning on paying you for that time, you can say, “Oh, because I’m non-exempt, if it’s an assignment for work we do need to log and pay for the time or we could get in trouble. What’s the best way for me to do that? Or is the reading not mandatory?”

Do keep in mind that refusing to read a book without being paid for it does risk you getting labeled as not committed, not a good culture fit, etc. The law is on your side, but the kind of organization that assigns books by motivational speakers may not be.

Also, this is too many retreats. And, I would bet money, too few clear, actionable goals.

{ 847 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. AcademiaNut

    LW#1

    It looks like it’s possible to get devices that amplify your outgoing voice on phone calls, at very minimal cost, so you don’t have to yell but still sound louder on the other end (link to follow).

    Reply
    1. mark132

      +1, I literally immediately thought of this. A device may not even be necessary. It could be done in software, by simply adjusting the mic volume.

      Reply
    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      This sounds like a helpful interim solution or proposal.

      That said, I really question someone at a nonprofit who tells their report to “hang up” on clients because they prefer a quieter volume. At a minimum, this is probably an ADA violation given that the organization provides services to eligible clients, which include the elderly and hard of hearing. So in addition to being morally icky, it’s also probably a legal risk, as well. If boss refuses to allow OP to try these alternative solutions and insist on her preferred method, OP should definitely escalate to a level above the boss. If the boss is the ED, I think this rises to the level of an issue the Board needs to hear about.

      Reply
      1. WellRed

        I recently learned its an ADA violation if a restaurant won’t accommodate hard of hearing by moving them to a quieter spot or adjusting music volume.

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        1. fposte

          That’s not true, though; are you thinking of the recent WaPo piece? That was talking about some thoughts and contentions, not describing settled law.

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      2. CmdrShepard4ever

        I really hope the OP’s boss does not mean “hang up” with out any explanation. I do think there are times when ending a call that is really hard to understand is warranted. I deal with a decent amount of calls, I have had calls with really bad background noise or bad signal reception.

        For the signal reception sometimes it can be my phone or the other persons phone. For bad reception, I will explain to the caller that the phone reception is poor and that I will hang up and call right back. Most of the time making a new call will fix the problem. But on the occasions when it is bad reception is persistent and if 2 or 3 hang ups/call backs does not fix the problem, I will tell the person that the reception is too poor to continue the call and try to schedule a time to speak again when they are in a better reception area or can call from a landline.

        For bad background (wind, trucks, heavy machinery) noise, I will ask the caller if they can move to a quieter spot. If they are unable then I explain the background noise is too bad to continue the call, and ask them to schedule a time when we can talk again that they will be in a quite spot.

        I have never “hung up” on anyone with out explanation. I have had occasions where the call gets dropped, I always make sure to call right back 2 or 3 times and leave a VM explaining that the call got disconnected/dropped I tried calling them back and to call me back to finish our conversation. I do this mainly to finish the conversation we were having, but also to make sure the other person does not think I just “hung up” on them.

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        1. TootsNYC

          this was what I thought–if she says, “We have such a bad connection–would you call back from a different phone or a different place?” are they going to end up with a reputation for being nasty or snotty?

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          1. CmdrShepard4ever

            I think it depends, I have had “clients” who have thought I was mean, rude, and/or unwilling to help them, when I asked them to call back later, I explain certain things they don’t want to hear, or explained that we are unable to help them because of x or y reason that the organization does not control. A decent amount of the people I ask to call back due to reception/noise never end up calling back. I will usually call them once or twice just so I can say I tried and cover myself in case people say I was unwilling to help them.

            I also think OP could interpret the “hang up” command as I will disconnect/discontinue the call in a courteous manner and informing the caller of this.

            The hard of hearing issue is the most difficult one, but I have never encountered a bad signal/reception issue where being louder actually helps. I think someone below mentioned that for people that are hard of hearing loud does not always equal being able to hear. IDK op’s setup but for hard of hearing clients, it might be better to try and schedule in person meetings instead of phone calls.

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        2. CM

          For me, I think the key thing is not that you should shout into the phone — I actually think it’s a bad practice to do that on the regular — but that you should offer some alternative way for them to get what they need if the phone clearly isn’t working for them.

          So, asking them to call back on a better line, directing them to a website or a physical office, offering to email them the info, etc.

          The reality is that, if you have to shout into the phone, the other person can’t hear you well enough to have this conversation over the phone. If it only happens once in a blue moon then, fine, raise your voice and try to power through it. But, if it’s a regular thing, it’s a sign that you need other non-phone ways to communicate with people.

          Reply
    3. Troutwaxer

      Or shout, “Hold on please,” then go take the call in another room. (I think the real problem here might be the shoutings proximity to the boss. Move the shouting and the boss will probably stop telling you to hang up on callers.)

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      1. Blurn

        The OP already said there is no other workspace and moving is not an option.

        The real problem here is the boss, not the shouting. The shouting is an unfortunate side effect of the OP doing her job.

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        1. Troutwaxer

          The boss is definitely the real problem. I was thinking more in terms of working around the boss.

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        2. RUKiddingMe

          Exactly this. “Hang up” on the clients? They are working with *vulnerable populations.* That has legal implications in a lot of places.

          Ignoring their clientele because someone has to shout to make themselves be heard and it bothers the boss is not acceptable, at all.

          In many cases having such a client incurs a duty to protect said client, even from a boss, whose fit for their job is questionable IMO, to be honest.

          An easy analogy…nurses are not allowed to abandon their *patients. Sure they are unlikely (though it’s not impossible) to go to jail, but certainly can lose their license, face fines, etc. if they do so.

          *Of course they can quit their job, even on the spot, but if they are the sole carer at a given moment they cant really just walk out leaving patients alone..,and *vulnerable.* Not a perfect 1:1, but **you get the idea.

          ** The general “you” of course.

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          1. Kathleen_A

            I think the boss needs (1) counseling to determine why she’s so mean and unsympathetic to the people she’s supposed to serve; (2) a new job where she doesn’t have to be nice to vulnerable people; or (3) possibly both.

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            1. Marmaduke

              I’m not sure counseling is necessary, but some feedback and introspection on her feelings would definitely be in order. That should definitely come hand-in-hand with a job change, though; vulnerable populations shouldn’t continue to suffer while she works her way through this.

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              1. Kathleen_A

                She just sounds so *angry*, you know? I can imagine snapping something unreasonable in the heat of the moment, but it sounds as though she has made “hang up on them” some sort of informal policy – so it’s more than “the heat of the moment.”

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                1. Eukomos

                  There’s a phenomenon where people who work with clients in bad situations start to go numb to the clients’ problems over time, empathy fatigue possibly? Maybe that’s the problem here.

        1. Blarn

          If it’s anything like the time I worked in a similar sounding job, that wouldn’t be an option because you need your computer and files in front of you while taking the call. Assuming it is like that, the options are:

          -Boss moves when OP takes call or gets over herself and starts doing her job properly/acting like a decent human being.
          -Organisation renovates workspace or moves to new workspace so OP or boss can have an office
          -OP starts to work from home

          I’m also unsure of where you think the OP would go even if she doesn’t need her computer and files. She specifically says ‘We have no other work space for either of us, so moving is not a possibility’. So where would she go with the cordless phone? The toilet? The foyer? The kitchen, which is likely open to the office and thus within earshot of boss anyway?

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        2. Annie

          Yes and no. I am hearing impaired myself. Cordless can add an extra layer of interference and static to the call.

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      2. That Girl From Quinn's House

        You can’t take the call in another room if you’re on your office landline, though.

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        1. Koala dreams

          That depends on what kind of phone you have for the landline. There are cordless landline phones. The range depends on the physical location. However, in this setup it sounds like the OP needs a better headset, not a regular cheap cordless phone.

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    4. Lemmy Caution

      Yeah, this is a totally fixable hardware issue. If the boss/organization is too cheap to invest a few bob into a proper phone, they’re these days almost all VOIP even if they resemble a classic landline so you can do magic with software alone, and in non-dollar-store headsets can adjust the outgoing mic. Or then the boss invests in earplugs. Either way it is fixable.

      Reply
      1. Observer

        There really are limits to this. Despite the fact that are using decent headsets etc. and using over the ear units with noise cancellation for some of our heaviest users, staff still have to do a fair amount of shouting with some of the clients. We were stuck in an open office set up for a good long stretch after Sandy and it was extremely difficult – and one of the reasons we pushed back on the pressure from City government agencies to “save money” by going with a highly shared space design. Even our Controller who always needs a GOOD reason to spend money was horrified by the idea.

        However, this most definitely something that the org should be doing – anything that improves call quality should be tried. And if they won’t spend the money, that gives the OP a LOT of information.

        Reply
        1. Kuddel Daddeldu

          If the calls are coming in on a cell phone, set up call forwarding to a landline phone (OP mentioned they are in an area with bad cell reception.) The forwarding is done within the network, not in the handset, so bad reception does not matter.
          This will not help much if the caller themselves is having bad reception, of course.

          A phone with a professional heeadset with outgoing volume control was already mentioned.

          Also, is OP enunciating clearly? When you tend to mumble, speak fast or in an extreme Southern drawl, this may be hard to understand on the phone. Clear enunciation and a bit too fast speech pattern may be more important than sheer volume, especially on a bad connection.
          Also raising your voice both increases distortion and may make you speak faster.

          Pro tip: Record some of your calls (ask the caller for permission first) and listen to them afterwards. Are you easy to understand?
          There are also phone trainings available that include dealing with hard-of-hearing callers.

          This does not look like a professional call center, where these things are explained in training.
          The idea is not to hang up on clients, but to make sure the clients get the best possible call experience without blowing the boss out of the office with the volume of your voice.

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    5. ClemFandango

      I’m severely hard of hearing and I’d like to give you some gentle advice on how to speak to many people who have hearing loss. You’re saying a word – Yelling – that instantly makes me cringe.

      Yelling down a phone or in any context doesn’t help us hear better. It just makes whatever we are trying to hear super loud and uncomfortable.

      Try separating your words more. Make sure you continue doing that for more than the first sentence. Many customer service people (and in fact most people) run words together so they just become a ‘hihowcanihelpyou. Then, when you ask them to slow down, they do so for one sentence, then set off again like a rocket because it’s irritating to speak with deliberation. I’m not saying slow right down, I’m saying: “make…sure…your…words…have…definite…pauses…” and also learn the Military Alphabet. Words and numbers are a nightmare to us so having someone say “F for Foxtrot” is such a help on the phone.

      Oh, and if this is happening where you are irritating your boss too often, then perhaps asking a hard-of-hearing client if they’d prefer to communicate by email (if possible). When people offer me that it generates a huge amount of goodwill on my part.

      I totally understand having someone shouting on the phone is irritating, but living in a world where we are cut off is more than irritating, it’s depressing at times.

      Reply
      1. Project Manager

        This is correct. Shouting decreases the signal to noise ratio and actually makes it harder to understand. Other techniques besides speaking more slowly include emphasizing/repeating key words or using different words.

        I have had people hang up on me when I couldn’t understand them, including a doctor’s office. I also had one person from a hospital tell me I needed to pay better attention. And don’t get me started on voicemail. What really gets me is when a garbled, incomprehensible voicemail (“Hello, this is *rapidfire syllables* and I’m calling from *mumbling* with regard to *more rapid fire*. Please call back at *ten numbers squeezed into five syllables, and of course it’s not the number in the caller ID*”) is left by someone who works in an *audiologist’s* office. Of all people who should know better…

        Reply
        1. MusicWithRocksInIt

          I used to check a voicemail system for people who were looking for jobs with us and was always astonished at how quickly they spoke when leaving the messages. They would say their names and phone numbers so fast I would never catch them. If I had to listen to the message more than twice to catch the number I wouldn’t even bother – they were positions that dealt directly with customers and I felt like if you don’t have common sense enough to say your number slowly (or repeat it, those people were the best) then you aren’t gonna be great at this job.

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        2. Merpaderp

          Another technique suggestion for any type of communication issue, whether the client is hard of hearing, elderly, has a bad signal, or is just one of those people who struggles with speech on phones. (Fun fact, most people don’t realize but even if they can’t lip-read, everybody still receives a ton of linguistic information for mouth movements. Called the mcgurk effect. It’s why I don’t care for phones or dubbed movies!) But anyway, when you notice a disconnect in communication, try repeating back what you are hearing. Use the same words and phrases if you can. I don’t mean become a parrot or an obnoxious child, but think of it as troubleshooting/ eliminating variables. If you and I are struggling to talk to each other but we’re working from the same ‘word bank’, if I miss a word or phrase, I have a much smaller ‘dictionary’ to search for a possible match. It can help for people that struggle with accents to hear their words restated in the unfamiliar speech pattern. I also seem to remember some linguistic theory that said people tend to speak like people they like, and listeners pick up on that so it builds a sense of rapport.

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          1. Jaydee

            I don’t have any sort of hearing loss (that I’m aware of, at least) but understanding in crowded/noisy areas, understanding over the phone, understanding dialogue in TV or movies, understanding lyrics to songs, understanding a person who is talking to me but facing away from me can all be really hard.

            Turning on closed captioning revolutionized my life and I actually enjoy watching movies and TV now (and realized just how much I was missing). Having access to music lyrics on apps or online lets me enjoy songs for more than just their music. My son is slowly learning that he has to be looking at either parent (my husband does have hearing loss) if he wants us to understand him. I still hate phones though.

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            1. Ellex

              That’s called “auditory processing disorder” and it’s much more common than most people realize. Some people are really good at “processing” what they want to hear out of the cacophony of ambient noise, and some are really bad at it. The problem is your brain, not your hearing. I have this, and got my hearing tested, and it turns out I have really acute hearing, but a considerable problem with processing.

              I love my closed captioning…especially since I watch a lot of British tv and some of the accents can be quite challenging to an American!

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              1. Arts Akimbo

                Same here! My parents had me tested for hearing loss as a child, even! But it was an auditory processing disorder.

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              2. MarsJenkar

                Interesting. I’ve had trouble in the past separating the signal from the noise, and I’ve called it “phone ear” because I notice the issue most often when I’m on the phone. Didn’t know what the proper name for it was. I tend to speak relatively slowly anyway (especially on the phone), so I hope I’m not a problem for others!

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              3. Le Sigh

                I need to look into this. As far as I know, last time it was tested, my hearing is fine. My father and I both struggle with hearing people in a crowd/noisy environment . I CANNOT make out what people are saying when they talk into traffic or other background noise — you have GOT to talk directly to me. And ugh, don’t me started on how huffy people can get when you can’t hear them and I have to ask people to repeat themselves.

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              4. I haven’t had my coffee yet

                I have this too and it has helped a lot to fiddle about with the settings on the TV and adjust the sound quality – it really helps me to parse it better.

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        3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

          Re voice mails, I’ve been using the voicemail-to-text app and it’s been a lifesaver. Totally worth the $3/year or whatever its cost is.

          My mom has a flip phone and her English and her hearing are both not great (she’s in her 80s, and was 60 when she moved to the US), and she often asks me or my sons to listen to a voicemail and tell us what it says. I don’t know if the people that leave her voicemails realize that she can only maybe understand one out of ten. Most of the people that leave her voicemails are social workers, and I have to give credit to the several of them that do make a point of speaking slowly and clearly when they call.

          Reply
        4. Mimi Me

          I work in health care and have to make outgoing calls all the time. Anytime I have to leave a voicemail I make sure my phone # is slowly said because it’s my biggest pet peeve when I have to replay a message from an MD office six time just to get the contact name and phone # correct. I’m not hearing impaired either, so I can only imagine how much worse it is for those who are.

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        5. Hey Karma, Over here.

          Aside, this reminds me of a story I read online somewhere (maybe Not Always Right/Working?). OP tells of going to the eye doctor and being given directions to a testing room by the desk attendant in the office. OP comes back and says, can you please give me directions to the color blindness testing room without using the colored arrows as guides?
          “Oh, yeah. Ok.”
          OP: “don’t you get a lot of lost people when you give them these directions?”
          attendant: “yes, I just thought everyone was stupid.”

          Reply
          1. MarsJenkar

            It was indeed a Not Always Working story. It can be found if you search the site under “The Colour Derple”.

            Reply
      2. Jack Russell Terrier

        This is so true. I was in the room with my mother was being interviewed by a social worker – it did not go well. I kept having to say to the social worker ‘speak …… really ….. slowly …. and …. over-enunciate … each … word. My mother was able to process when she did this, but she just-couldn’t-seem-to-be-able-to-sustain-it-for-more-than-a-minute. This was an interview in a long-term care / nursing home where she had to ask mum questions and I wasn’t supposed to be speaking for her. It drove me batty – she’s engaging with that population all the time and she doesn’t do that as a matter or course.

        Reply
      3. Approval is optional

        But the OP didn’t say she yelled – she said the she raised her voice. She used the word ‘yelling’ only when saying that the clients knew she wasn’t yelling at them.

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        1. Kendra

          This. Some of us have naturally soft or quiet voices, so even if we enunciate clearly and speak slowly, and minimize background noise, we do still need to raise our volume significantly to be heard (even by people with average hearing, sometimes, not just the hard of hearing). That was what I took to be happening here.

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      4. Massmatt

        I was going to say basically this. Yelling into the phone will result in very little additional volume at the other end. And it is rare that someone raises their voice without also sounding, or GETTING, angry, even if it’s not their intention.

        Better to speak more slowly and clearly and enunciate. And not just for the first sentence!

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      5. TootsNYC

        “Try separating your words more.”

        YES!

        Slow down.
        Separate the words.
        Enunciate; exaggerate the consonants.
        Exaggerate the intonation (like the rise for a question)

        (and get that volume amplifier)

        Reply
        1. Not Fully Caffeinated

          In addition to the great advice TootsNYC gave, also try lowering the pitch of your voice. Elderly and hard of hearing people lose the top end frequencies, so if you have a high pitched voice, they’ll have trouble hearing you. You won’t need to increase your volume, but speak in a deeper tone. I’ll bet you (and your boss) will notice the difference, and your customers will get the service they need.

          Reply
        2. That Girl From Quinn's House

          I agree with this, but a lot of people are advised *not* to speak like this to persons who are hard of hearing or don’t speak the local language fluently, because it is insulting, condescending, and discriminatory.

          It is, however, hugely frustrating to deal with non-native English speakers and hard of hearing persons, when you are not allowed to enunciate carefully.

          Reply
          1. CmdrShepard4ever

            I don’t know about people being advised to not to do this ever. I think there is a difference between talking super slow like one word at a time and really loud, that can be insulting, condescending, and discriminatory and speaking slowly, clearly, and enunciating so people can understand you. I think it is a nuance. I am a soft and fast talker, and am “arguably” fluent in English, and even when I talk to coworker that are also fluent in English sometimes they have a hard time understanding me. I often will have to repeat myself and try to slow down.

            I have done several activities that require public speaking. People often speak faster then they think they are. One of the biggest tips to slow way down to an exaggerated pace, when you think you are speaking super slow, often times in reality you are speaking at a proper pace for people to understand you.

            I think the difference might be illustrated by:

            “HellmyamesShprd” too fast, not enough enunciation

            “Hello…my…name…is…Shprd” good pace, good enunciation

            “HELLO………..MY…………..NAME……….IS………….SHPRD” too slow, and too loud

            Reply
            1. ClemFandango

              Totally agree. There’s definitely a nice line between patronizing and enunciating.

              I’ve always said that if I had been alive during the ’50s, I’m not sure I’d have a hearing problem because I can easily cope with movies/tv from that era because the actors enunciate well. I’d love it if call centre people would veer towards a ‘newsreader’ style of voice – easy, clear and understandable. I feel like so many callcenter voices veer more towards the ‘Disney’ style of speaking – high pitched, rapid and slangy.

              I have a fairly incomprehensible regional accent (to most Brits) and I smooth and slow it down for calls.

              Reply
              1. CmdrShepard4ever

                I think unfortunately people talking fast at call centers problem is created due to the metrics they use of how many calls per hour they can get in. I do agree that people should slow down when talking on the phone, I say this as a person that talks fast and is trying to work on it.

                Reply
      6. TootsNYC

        would texting be allowed? A Google Voice number can be accessed from a browser, so you could text from your desk. And maybe even save records of the conversation.

        Reply
          1. Observer

            That’s true. This is especially useful for people who are hard of hearing but don’t have access to TDD / TTY services, and for poor services issues.

            Reply
      7. LCL

        Yes, I have reached the point where I don’t bother explaining about hearing difficulties. I ask the caller to say it again, slower.

        Reply
      8. Observer

        The OP did not say they were yelling. They said that clients know they are not yelling when they raise their voice.

        Thanks for the useful advice. It’s important for people to realize that volume is often not the problem and increasing it is not going to help – and may even be harmful.

        I can say from experience though, that sometimes just raising the volume or raising the volume in conjunction with slowing down and careful enunciation DOES help. It really depends on the problem. So while I really think that the OP should take your advice on board, depending on who they are dealing with, it may not resolve the issue completely.

        Reply
      9. Kuddel Daddeldu

        Very good advice!
        Another tool in the kit that could help here is a (text) chat window on your org’s web site. I’m not hard of hearing but prefer that to a phone call, as I do not need to take as many notes during the call, and critical information like numbers are right in front of my eyes. I can also save the chat for later.
        It has the immediacy and informality of a call with the written-ness of email.

        Reply
    6. em

      If it were me I’d also start keeping a record of each time I were asked to hang up. Nothing elaborate, just date, time, and maybe what was said. Because in customer or sponsor complaints, she’s not going to be the one in trouble – you will. It will also give you more information to take to the Board.

      Reply
    7. Lily B

      LW#1’s organization could also think about having all callers listen to a very loud, well-articulated automated message before they’re patched through to a live human. Something like, “Thanks for calling ABC Corp. You will be connected shortly. If you are hard of hearing or have poor phone reception, please know that you also have the option to reach us through email at OP@org.org or by visiting org.org.”

      Reply
  2. Sparky

    I know of two different work situations where someone running through a hallway ran into someone and injured them. One is a friend who was knocked into a wall and had a concussion. This might not ever happen, but the risk should be enough to have management ban running in the work hallways.

    Reply
      1. PretzelGirl

        I was going to say, I am shocked that their facilities department or management of some kind hasn’t put a stop to it. So much could happen, she could hurt herself or some one else.

        Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      It’s a bit mind-boggling that someone would try to justify this by saying it’s how they get in their exercise. But it’s high risk and not safe, and most of us learn to stop running down hallways when we’re young children. OP and others should speak frankly with the coworker—don’t reason with her, just tell her she needs to stop.

      But I agree about avoiding Facebook posts. Nothing good comes from venting online via subpost, especially when it could be addressed through a face-to-face conversation.

      Reply
      1. RUKiddingMe

        Tup. Her desire to get in her daily exercise dies not include the right to impose an unreasonable burden on others. At work, at home…wherever. It’s self-centered and inconsiderate.

        Reply
        1. Ariaflame

          And brisk walking is exercise anyway. If they specifically want to run they need to find ways of doing that outside work hours, somewhere appropriate

          Reply
        2. drinking Mello Yello

          Right. She works in an office building, not as a professional athlete. She needs to fit in her exercise outside work hours (and at a proper location that doesn’t bother people with noise or put others at a risk of getting run into and knocked over) like everybody else in the world.

          Reply
          1. Antilles

            She works in an office building, not as a professional athlete.
            And honestly, even if she was a professional athlete, this would still not be acceptable. We have a workout room, gym, etc for that sort of thing; no team wants to be the laughingstock of the league because a player twisted his ankle after colliding with someone in the hallway.

            Reply
        3. MusicWithRocksInIt

          There are plenty of ways to fix exercise into a workday without running through the hallways like a loon. Especially in a two story building! Just go a little out of your way to take the stairs. I used to work on the third floor and would go down to the first to use the bathroom – which had a nice extra bonus of the fact that almost no one ever used that one so it was always empty and super clean. Or sit on a yoga ball at your desk. Or request a standing desk. Or do lunges when you go to the printer. Heck, she could get an InMotion, which you can put under your desk and pedal like a bike. There are dozens of things that you can do that aren’t disruptive and dangerous to your coworkers.

          Reply
          1. The Man, Becky Lynch

            Seriously.

            I say this as I stand at my standing desk, using a resistance band to do arm stretches. If you read a lot of stuff during the day for your job, it’s super easy to stand and stretch I learned that one quickly. Instead of just hunching and giving myself eyestrain and back aches. Yawn.

            Reply
            1. Dontlikeunfairrules

              Your last sentence is me, despite having a standing desk and the most cushiony, amazing new mat to stand on.

              Some weeks I love my standing desk and other weeks I pretend it’s only a sitting desk.

              Reply
      2. LadyGrey

        Running inside for your exercise is obnoxious- and even more so when this is a place “surrounded by landscaping”! Run outside!

        Reply
          1. Katertot

            +1
            This was my take as well. The amount of exercise the average office worker could get running down the hall on their way to a meeting or engaging in normal day to day office stuff doesn’t seem like it could be very much – unless she was moving through the building really often. She continues to do it even though she knows it disturbs people which means she is either unconcerned with, or enjoys, the attention she is receiving.

            Reply
            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

              I’m imagining 30 minutes of running laps back and forth. Complete with Richard Simmons style workout clothes.

              Reply
            2. Kendra

              Yeah, unless they’ve got an absolutely huge building, or she’s running up and down stairs or something, I doubt she could get a significant rise in heart rate out of it, so it’s most likely got no real “exercise” value, anyway. Running 15 steps to a coworker’s desk now and then does not a cardio routine make.

              Reply
          2. AKchic

            That’s my thought. This is 100% performative. Since taking it to her has gotten nowhere, it is time to get her supervisor or the building manager involved because it is a safety hazard. And that’s how it must be framed. Her running is a safety hazard for anyone who is and could be in the hallways with her, as well as the noise complaints from anyone (especially non-staff) that are on the first floor. She has been asked to stop before and not only declined to do so, but justified her behavior. Authority, please intervene.

            Reply
        1. Kate R

          Right?!? I suspect she said it was the only way to get in her exercise just as an excuse to keep doing what she’s doing, but if she really needs to get a run in during the day, go outside! OP started with, “I work in a gorgeous office building surrounded by beautiful landscaping and loads of wildlife.” I mean, unless the wildlife is grizzly bears or mountain lions I guess…

          Reply
        2. Moray

          Or just do deep lunges from one end of the hall to the other. Just as much exercise, just as weird. But quieter.

          Reply
          1. Iris Eyes

            I’d say probably more exercise. But running in office clothes (is she wearing heels doing this?!?) is probably safer for your clothing than deep lunges.

            Reply
        3. Elizabeth West

          Yeah, why isn’t she using the grounds for this? I assume she’s doing it on her break?

          I used to walk up and down the stairs at Exjob–in fact, when I left, it had become a trend–but plenty of people just went outside on their breaks and walked around on campus when the weather wasn’t foul. Also, the staircase was not in the middle of the office, but in a separate stairwell away from where people were working.

          Reply
      3. pentamom

        Imagine trying to justify doing other generally accepted as desirable personal behaviors in the middle of the workspace by saying “I work so hard this is the only time I have to do it.”

        Reply
        1. smoke tree

          Now I’m just wondering how to get an Olympic standard trampoline to the second floor of an office building.

          Reply
        2. AKchic

          I’ve been trying to get hammocks and recliners in my office for years. I’ve found a nice office desk chair that *is* also a recliner, but I’d have to purchase it myself. Problem is, if I buy it, my husband wants it for our house, and I am loathe to have it delivered to our house because I know him and the teens would commandeer it, which would defeat the purpose. I can’t have it delivered to the office (because of where I work, there are special rules, blah blah blah).

          So, I am destined to not have my recliner. Not at work. Which is sad for me.

          Reply
      4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

        That’s… hardly even exercise. Unless the hallways are a half a mile long and all she does all day is walk up and down the hallways for a living. The running coworker is being unreasonable.

        Reply
        1. Observer

          The hallways could be quite long and she could be doing a lot of moving around. But so what? It doesn’t really matter.

          It really bugs me the extent to which people fixate on people’s intentions and use that as a reason to disqualify their behavior. The fact of the matter is that we don’t really know why she’s doing this. Sure, it’s quite possible that she’s doing this to show off. But it’s not really relevant. And it will not help the OP to go in that direction.

          There is one, and only one, good approach to this. And that is the fact that it presents a problem for the organization. Actually two, but the point is that the issue is not whether her motivations are pure enough or she is accomplishing something for herself, but that there is a work impact that needs to be resolved.

          That’s why I like Alison’s scrip. It focuses on the core problem and doesn’t give her an opening to argue about it.

          Reply
        2. Working Mom Having It All

          I once worked in a film studio which was built with an extremely long hallway (probably 1/8 or 1/4 mile long) with the various sound stages off of that main, HUGE, hallway. You definitely could have gotten a real workout running back and forth all day. It was the kind of structure where certain people who really did need to travel back and forth between the sound stages all day would get a bike, scooter, roller skates, etc.

          But, 1, nobody actually jogged up and down and claimed it was “for exercise”, that’s ridiculous. And, 2, I’m pretty sure this is not the type of space OP is describing.

          Reply
          1. Gazebo Slayer

            I really love the mental picture of a bunch of cast and crew rollerskating down long hallways between scenes!

            Reply
      5. Observer

        To be honest the whole letter is a bit mind boggling. It almost sounds like a caricature of a bad middle school.

        Running in the hallways? Should have figured this one out by High School.
        “dare to talk to her”? What is that supposed to mean? Is she a queen bee?
        resort to mean Facebook posts”? That’s a juvenile man girls reaction, and it’s juvenile to think of it as a useful means of dealing with someone.

        Reply
        1. Tos

          Agreed, the letter is a little too breathless. If it’s just someone who is clueless, clear the air by saying it’s distracting and people should not have to be concerned with collisions, so running only happens in bona fide emergencies (a where’s-the-emergency distraction, as there is no apparent earthquake prompting a sprint for safety) and move on.

          Reply
    2. Annie

      I was thinking along the same line. What if someone crossed into the “running track” and got clobbered. What kind of shoes is the runner wearing while doing his? My ankles hurt just thinking about running in office shoes.

      What about telling the runner to do steps instead? I used to work in a building where I routinely had to go up 2 floors. I took the steps unless I was carrying a lot of stuff.

      Reply
      1. Observer

        What about telling the runner to do steps instead?

        I think that focusing on the exercise is the wrong way to go here. Of course, if she says that she’ll stop asks in a reasonable tone for some suggestions to get some exercise, someone could say “I’d consider taking the stairs a few times a day.” But otherwise, no. Because it’s no one’s responsibility to figure this out for her and you really, really don’t want to give the impression that the only reason that it’s ok to ask her to stop running is because there is a good alternative, when the real reason for asking her to stop is that she is being disruptive and posing a risk.

        Reply
    3. Isabelle

      We all learn in school to not run in corridors because it is dangerous.
      This lady sounds like she has too much pent-up energy and she would be better off going for a quick walk outside. The ‘I work very long hours’ excuse is ridiculous, most of us work long hours and we still have some breaks. In fact in many places it is illegal for employees to not take breaks.

      Reply
    4. Tom & Johnny

      I had a co-worker who used to skip through the hallways.

      She ended up with a foot injury one day and spent time at the doctor getting it taken care of. She had to wear a brace for a few weeks.

      It turned out that her injury was *not eligible for workers comp* due to the nature of the behavior that caused the injury. It was ruled “horseplay.”

      I’m not here to debate the relative justice or injustice of that. I will say multiple coworkers were beyond fed up with the constant skipping through the halls (literally skipping like 3rd grade), and were not sad to see it put to a stop by what felt like karma. Even the employee herself laughed about it. She wasn’t a terrible person, just terribly annoying at times. She never skipped again.

      The point is that some workplace injuries are not covered by workers comp, despite happening on work property, during working hours. That was a revelation to me at the time, and something I expect too few people know.

      This person running up and down the halls may benefit from that information being included in a strongly worded explanation by management. Not as a threat (management would need to be emotionally intelligent about how its communicated since this person sounds wacky already). But as information she needs to have to make the best decisions.

      Reply
      1. AKchic

        You bring up a very valid point.

        If/when she runs into someone, there will likely be injuries on both sides. An investigation will likely occur and it will come to light that she has been running for a long time and management didn’t put a stop to it. The company (and possibly building management if more than one company is in the building) may end up liable for the other party’s injuries as well as Worker’s Comp, and OSHA may also want to consider fines for allowing such shenanigans to continue.
        From a risk management standpoint, she’d be better off taking a 15 minute break and running around outside. She is not too busy for that, she just thinks she is.

        Reply
  3. HannahS

    OP1, I run in to this kind of attitude in healthcare sometimes, too, where people don’t seem to have considered the realities of working with the population that they’ve chosen to work with. It’s baffling and weird and uncomfortable when you’re the lower person in the hierarchy reminding someone that, actually, this is a values-based thing and not a convenience-based thing. I’m running into it in medicine pretty regularly, and I think it’s partly because people sort of divide up their work in their heads–like, THIS is the part where I’m a hero, but when I’m just doing paperwork it should be exactly like a normal job, which means that OP1 isn’t making extra noise on the phone.

    Reply
    1. Katertot

      I’ve run into similar attitudes in education. I work part-time in a writing center, and the comments regarding students’ work and ability can be mind-boggling. Yes, many of them are not skilled writers and need quite a bit of help. That is why they come to us. It can be really tiring and exhausting when you are constantly helping and supporting others in your job, but you can’t simply not do it, and if you feel like you can then you need to look for a new line of work.

      Reply
      1. Environmental Compliance

        When I was a TA at a large uni in a STEM field, the number of TAs (and these were all graduate students, mind you – not that far removed from undergrad!) who were absolutely (rudely) flummoxed that a student didn’t understand “this simple thing!!!” but the simple thing was simple to *them* because of course it would be, they have a degree and a half in it. Of course the student may not immediately understand it – it’s a freshmen level course, it’s likely to be their first college science class, and they legitimately may not have seen it before and may have never seen anything like it before. It’s okay for them to struggle at first with chemical nomenclature, and it’s okay for them to struggle with how to write a lab report. But that’s why *we* were there – to teach them How To Do. It does get frustrating after the 83rd student asks the same question, but that’s something to flag to probably teach more in detail in the next lesson.

        (I’ll get off my soapbox now….. I was one of very few non-chemistry graduate students teaching a chemistry course, and it was so, so frustrating having a chem grad student PhD complain ad nauseum about “dumb students” like they were never new students before. This is how I ended up with leading all exam review sessions lecture-wide, and held more office hours than the chem-grad TAs, because I tried my damndest to never be frustrated *at* a student, and welcomed any questions, and it got requested that I lead instead of the lead chem-grad TA. Loved my students, but it was a hell of a lot of extra work.)

        Reply
        1. Elitist Semicolon

          I had a similar experience in a first-semester music theory class where the TA was a DMA student in piano performance. Like, sorry you don’t understand why I don’t think naturally in chords, but I can only play one note at a time on my bassoon.

          Reply
        2. Kendra

          I’ll never get why there’s this attitude in academia that if you’re good at learning something, you must also be good at teaching it. Umm, no?? Some people just aren’t patient enough to teach, and they just make it harder on the students coming along after them.

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

      I think that might be care-giver fatigue too rather than just convenience, especially if it’s in healthcare, first responders, non-profit, education… Sometimes you have only so many…spoons…to give and so people ration them to the area that they think makes the most impact toward the mission. Boss may be lovely to the constituents face-to-face or really committed to securing funding for the mission, but when it comes to hearing .5 of a loud phone conversation, she’s out of spoons. It’s too bad that boss can’t be moved to a quieter area or work from home.

      Reply
      1. Observer

        That may be true. But that means that the organization needs to do something about it. Leaving the situation as is, is a significant sign of serious dysfunction.

        Reply
      2. Tos

        There is a great book called Trauma Stewardship by.. Laura Van Der… that speaks to sustaining yourself while serving others. It’s full of humor and practical wisdom, and can be a godsend if burnout happens often in your workspace.

        Reply
    3. MarfisaTheLibrarian

      I was the receptionist in a mental health clinic and my boss the clinical director…really had this issue. I tried to defer to her as the person who knew people’s issues and knew what boundaries we needed to set and stuff…but sometimes it was burnout plain and simple. Including (a) telling me not to apologize to clients when there were scheduling complications/no available appointments for new clients/we didn’t take someone’s insurance (was any of it my fault? no. Was it the clinics fault? generally also no. I apologized because empathy makes people feel nice even if materially we can’t give them what they want. I generally *was* sorry that what we had and what they needed didn’t match up because I cared.), (b) getting into yelling matches with clients, and (c) telling me to lie to clients, saying that she wasn’t available when she was.
      Right before I left that job, we got a new director and all the clinic staff were *stunned* when one of the frequent yelling-match clients came in all upset and the new director talked to her…and everything de-escalated and the client left feeling heard.

      Reply
      1. Fiberpunk

        Ugh. I never understand why people get into social services when they seem to not even care about the people they serve. And you’re exactly right- you apologize with a sense of empathy. You aren’t apologizing because of mistake or failure, you’re apologizing because you can’t help them and you wish you could.

        Reply
        1. TyphoidMary

          Some people get into social services because they have a savior complex. And then when clients aren’t always perfectly grateful for their “generosity,” the ugly truth comes out.

          Reply
        2. ToS

          Burnout happens when people overbalance into helping others without restoring their own reserves. Sometimes helping professionals have a non-work crisis, such as a spouse in a terrible car accident, and managing both ends while being understaffed at work…it happens.

          Look up Laura van Dernoot Lipsky’s Ted Talk , and she has written Trauma Stewardship, which briefly mentions savior beliefs, however, the work is The Work, regardless of motivation. Falling short of the mark happens for many reasons.

          Reply
  4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#2, when I’ve worked at places that don’t accommodate this kind of request, my colleagues have made ample use of puppy cams so they can watch their puppy basically sleep all day. Although it wasn’t the same as getting to be at home, it made them feel a lot less anxious about leaving a new puppy at home.

    I think it would be really difficult, even in an accommodating organization, to allow this many WFH days unless there’s a culture of your department already allowing people to WFH (I get the sense that that’s not happening).

    Reply
    1. Zombeyonce

      I will preface this by saying I’ve never had a dog so I truly don’t know, but do puppies really require this much work/supervision for months?

      Reply
      1. Kc89

        Yeah, ideally someone is home for most of the day when you have a young puppy

        But obviously many people can’t do that and they still make having a puppy work

        Reply
        1. RUKiddingMe

          Doggy daycare. I mean if OP is going to equate a puppy with a human being then she should make arrangements like she would for a human baby.

          Reply
              1. Jules the 3rd

                I recommend OP delays purchasing her dog until she has enough saved up to cover 4 – 5 days / week at dog care.

                And I say this as someone who does have a dog, and did have to figure out dog care the first two months.

                Reply
            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

              Came to say this about the vaccines – what they need is a dogsitter/dog walker. I have a friend who lives alone with his dog and works fulltime, and that’s what he does.

              You cannot even take a dog to obedience classes or dogparks until they’ve had their shots.

              Reply
              1. Beaded Librarian

                Even walking them outside can be dangerous. I had a relative loose two puppies to an aggressive strain of Parvo from just walking them outside. They had had all but the last shot in the series.

                Reply
            2. CML

              Clarification: Daycares don’t always require vaccines before babies can attend. Babies start at daycare as young as 6 weeks old and vaccines, typically, are administered in a scheduled timeline (not all before they turn 6 weeks old). The vaccination requirements depend on state law and the daycare.

              Reply
              1. Ms. Pessimistic

                Right! Your baby just has to be on a schedule to be getting them but some don’t even ask. My baby didn’t get his first round of vaccinations until 8 weeks and started daycare at 6 so…

                Reply
            1. Sara

              My daughter was paid $5/hour to basically sit at a woman’s house and puppy sit which amounted to watching Netflix for 6 hours and letting the puppy out every hour. As a 19 year old who was, um, in between commitments, she found this to be a pretty good gig.

              Reply
          1. School Psych

            I have a dog who goes to doggy daycare. As has been mentioned, they need their shots before going. They also need to be a certain age(my doggy daycare specifies 3 months). Many dog walking services will do puppy visits where they do short 10 minute visits 2-3 times a day to give the dog attention and a potty break. That might be worth looking into.

            Reply
          2. Mama Bear

            That’s what I was thinking, or hiring a daytime pet sitter – I’d start saving now if expense is an issue. Granted, it’s been a long time since I had a puppy, but we weren’t able to run home all day and he was fine. Crate training may be a very good thing here. Three days out of the office per week is a big ask for most companies.

            Reply
          3. Dontlikeunfairrules

            I’m going to be that guy. Sorry.

            There are thousands of fully trained, practically free amazing adult (but young) dogs at shelters and rescue groups that would just need a day or two to become acclimated to their new home. Both of my dogs came fully house trained and cost $55.

            As my former boss/mentor said when I mentioned getting a new dog and debating a puppy, “Puppies are highly overrated.”

            I’m so lucky to have gotten dogs that needed literally NO training whatsoever. Amazing!

            Reply
            1. Your dog isn't everyone's experience

              Cool! Those are your life choices, but they are not everyone’s, and just because you get an older dog from a shelter doesn’t mean it won’t need training and time spent with it immediately post-adoption.
              This contribution isn’t really helpful for OP’s question

              Reply
      2. Meghan

        Nope. Granted, you don’t want to leave them alone 14 hours per day, but as long as you have a crate or safe room or know they’re well trained they’ll be fine. But people do worry, especially with a new pet or a new species or one that’s developed a destructive behavior and nanny cams have gotten a lot cheaper.

        Heck, if I had kids I’d love to be able to flip a switch and see exactly why the 4 year old is being so quiet in the playroom when I’m in the kitchen.

        Reply
        1. Jasnah

          Agreed, I think there are 3 separate issues of safety for the dog, safety for the house, and safety for the owner. If there’s water and puppy pad and some toys then the dog, even a puppy, will be fine. If you have a crate or separate area for the dog to restrict destructive behavior, then the house will be fine. But people are really attached to their pets nowadays, to the point where I think the owner has more anxiety about leaving the dog alone than the dog.

          Again, OP, you are a dog owner, not an actual parent. Your puppy will be fine! But don’t compare it to parental leave, please!

          Reply
          1. MusicWithRocksInIt

            If you had a batch of newborn puppies who’s mom had died, and you needed to feed them all with an eyedropper every two to three hours all day and all night, day after day, and you could never leave them in the house alone for even five minutes, and had to constantly listen for them crying – then you could maybe allude to parental leave as long as you acknowledge that it is not as hard as caring for a baby. But getting a puppy from a breeder who is ready to go home with a new family is not even in the same dimension.

            Reply
            1. Falling Diphthong

              When my aunt’s dog had a rough delivery and couldn’t nurse, my aunt dropped the puppies off with my retired grandfather each morning while she and my uncle went to work. He would take a puppy from the basket on the left, feed it, put it in the basket on the right. Then reverse, all day.

              No one invoked parental leave as a comparison.

              Reply
            2. MM

              What I don’t understand is–Allison’s standard for WFH with kids has been that there has to be childcare because you can’t reasonably expect to actually get a day’s work done while caring for the kids. With this kind of high-maintenance puppy situation, wouldn’t the same be true? Like if we’re making the comparison to parenting, shouldn’t we…..make the comparison?

              Reply
              1. SamC

                Puppies are more high-maintenance than dogs, but they’re still pretty low maintenance. You’re not changing a diaper, just taking them outside. You’re not breastfeeding or making food, you’re just dumping food and water into a bowl. And their “mental stimulation” needs are not taxing for owners. The biggest concern for the LW is probably that the dog won’t be housetrained or trained to be alone, so it just needs someone to be there and make sure it’s getting business done outside.
                You can’t leave a small child home alone and have someone come check on them every few hours, but you can with a dog. They’re just not comparable.

                Reply
              2. fhqwhgads

                This is an additional reason why the OP should NOT be making the comparison. Not only will it look completely out of touch in most offices, but it doesn’t make the argument OP thinks it will, it counters it.

                Reply
              3. Don't Be Silly

                We’ve specifically asked LW not to make the comparison bc no, dealing w a dog requires nothing akin to the energy, physical labor, emotional changes and psychological consequences of birthing and rearing a child. So. No

                Reply
        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

          I already worked from home full time when I got a puppy, and having me around 24/7 actually resulted in a very attached dog. Not, like, shredding the house when I leave or something, but while my older dog is perfectly happy to lounge around wherever and entertain herself, the younger one must be where people are, preferably fairly close to them. And heaven forbid there be a closed door (other than the bathroom, at least) between me and her at home – I joke that she’s like a perma-toddler, “HEY WHATCHA DOING IN THERE I WANNA HALP” all the time.

          We did put a critter spy cam in my husband’s office, because that’s where 3 of the 4 cats and the Elder Statesdog like to hang out and that way I can see who’s in there without disturbing her napping :) it’s motion activated or live view, Kasa brand. We’ve been pretty pleased with it.

          Reply
          1. Argye

            Wait, you get to go to the bathroom alone? Mine consider me sitting on the toilet to be premium petting time. Only when they’re feeling especially needy do they demand to come in during a shower, however.

            Reply
            1. AKchic

              Yeah, my elder cat will follow me around, yowling until I sit on the toilet because then I am in prime petting range. If I don’t reach down to pet her, she will reach up and snag my hands to do the job she insists is the correct one while I’m sitting.
              Then she follows me back to bed. I am not allowed to go to the bathroom at night without an escort, because she assumes I will get lost walking to the next room without her.

              The dog is sure I’m going to sneak off to the kitchen for snacks without her.

              Reply
          2. Joy

            Ditto! My husband was at home most of the time when we got our puppy, and that definitely created rather than resolved her separation anxiety. I still wish we’d done SOME crate training and regularly left her alone in those first few months…

            Reply
            1. DaffyDuck

              Yes, this is a big behaviour issue vets are seeing nowadays. Teaching them how to be alone for a few hours while they are young is important and much less stressful on the dog in the long run.
              I have friends who adopted a shelter dog with extreme separation anxiety, they can’t even leave her alone for an hour to run errands or she will destroy the house/crate (at 50+ lb pitty can do a lot of damage). They take her to their parents to “dog-sit” so they can go grocery shopping together. It is very stressful on everyone involved. Her first owner stayed with her 24/7 for the first year, but when he got a job she started destroying his house. I believe they are in it for the long run and both telecommute, but have sworn off ever getting another “problem child.”

              Reply
              1. Chinookwind

                I had an adult rescue, Petey, who was pretty good about being left alone but had anxiety attacks when kenneled. If he had been taught this as a puppy (I got him at age 1.5), it would have meant avoiding him barking for an entire 8 hour plane ride or a 14 hour ferry ride (he was hoarse after each of these). He got so anxious near the end, when he was going blind and I needed to kennel him at times for his safety, that he would try and chew his way out through iron and plastic. It was heart wrenching for both of us and preventing that would have been worth a puppy’s cries as he got used to the separation.

                Reply
            2. Chinookwind

              We got a puppy 6 months ago and I had the same concerns as the OP but, since DH worked shift work (and had raised a puppy before), I learned to let him take the lead.

              Turns out that crate training was so successful that the adult dog and puppy now wait at the basement door at 7:29 a.m. because that was the routine. They both happily run down the stairs and into the kennel (though the adult will wait until the puppy gets back out because the adult goes first). It is so successful that today, with DH sitting on the couch, petting the adult, all I head to say was “crate” and they ran to the stairs and into the kennel. For sake or routine, I closed it, walked away, came back, opened it and they bounded out, happy (and begging for the walk and treat they get when I get home).

              This floors me because I thought crate training was isolating and “mean” but DH has always done it this way and it is successful. It truly does become their happy place.

              Reply
              1. Former Admin turned Project Manager

                We adopted two rescue dogs from Puerto Rico last year, and they love their crate. It’s their safe space, and they retreat to it when we have wind and rainstorms (Hurricane Maria did a number on their emotions).

                I would recommend crate/designated space for OP’s potential new canine family member, with dog walker or sitter hired to deal with the allowing a pup to relieve herself. I echo the comment above encouraging adopting an older dog instead of getting a puppy from a breeder; so many dogs need homes for various reasons, and doggy cuddles are just as precious from a mixed breed of unknown origin.

                Reply
      3. Usually Lurks, Sometimes Comments

        They require a lot of work and flexibility, but this is definitely overkill.

        Reply
        1. princess paperwork

          I agree. When I got my puppy I went home at lunch to let her out and that was enough. She started in my bathroom with toys, water and a puppy pad and gradually moved to a bed and designated area. The first week I got her I asked my mother to stop by to see what puppy was doing. Her answer was the same every day. Sleeping.

          Reply
        1. RaccoonMama

          Yep- a common recommendation is from 1-6 months to give them potty breaks in hours=months. Awkward phrasing, but a 2mo would be every 2 hours, 5 mo every 5.
          This can be overkill but definitely decreases the risk of accidents!!
          Then until they are geriatric or having urinary problems every 4-8 hour. I like to give my dog every 4-6 if possible, but if I can’t come home for lunch or if I sleep a full 8 hours she’s fine.
          Puppy should be snoozing most of the day so the biggest concern would be the bathroom breaks! I’d recommend trying to tucker it out in the mornings before OP leaves for work. That would help too

          Reply
      4. Seeking Second Childhood

        It depends on the dog….it sounds like OP is getting one from an anxious breed.
        But it’s also why I will not be getting a puppy when we finally fence our yard — older dogs have settled down a bit more. Or not — Read “Morley & Me” for one Labrador who never did settle down…. With an older dog, personality has already developed & you can know what you’re signing up for.
        What a co-worker did was to alternate vacation time with her partner and spread it out over a longer period of weeks. A full week for her, a full week for him, then each did a week of halfdays, then quarter days…. you get the drill. They also staggered their times away from house, had a large crate, and took puppy to doggie day care when he was old enough. And now that he’s older, they’re building an indoor/outdoor run in a shaded part of the yard. That dog’s living the dream!

        Reply
        1. Puppy OP

          This is a good suggestion about staggering vacation times, thank you. It’s not an anxious breed per se but definitely one more accustomed to social interaction.

          Reply
          1. Jasmin Owens

            We got a puppy last year, and while my husband works from home, we actually made sure to crate train him and leave him alone on a regular schedule so he would get used to entertaining himself, playing alone, and generally not be over attached or over anxious. We got puppy cam, and literally all this dog does is sleep while we’re gone. Bum city.

            Really, we love our dog a lot, but honestly, he’s a dog. He will be fine.

            Make sure you get him on a routine, and he will be fine :-) Good luck!

            Reply
          2. Arya Snark

            When our boy was a pup, hubs and I were able to alter our schedules to make sure he had plenty of time outside the crate. For the first 6 months, one of us went in to work earlier than normal and the other went in later. At least one of us would always come home for lunch on top of this so he was never without a bathroom break for more than 2-3 hours. He never loved the crate but he never really hated it either (I’ve know dogs who felt both ways). Fortunately, he house trained easily and our dedication to making sure he was exercised/mentally stimulated several times a day (multiple walks every single day, play sessions on lunch and more) meant he wasn’t destructive so he was out of the crate at just 5 months. After 6 months, the staggered schedules remained for the most part but we no longer had to come home on lunch. Doggy daycare also helped immensely, we only did 1-2 times a week (more in winter/bad weather) but it was great for his socialization and made him adaptable to different scenarios not to mention giving us a break from all the attention a young pup requires. This is not overkill for a puppy, at least if you want to end up with an awesomely well behaved adult dog who gets along with everyone and is welcome wherever he goes.

            Reply
          3. Jules the 3rd

            Staggering start / end times may be a really useful trick too.

            It’s good for the dog to have both ‘with people’ and ‘alone’ time.

            Reply
      5. WellRed

        10 days off is insane. I like that Alison pointed out not to make it seem like she’s equating it with patental leave, cause that’s how it’s sounding.

        Reply
        1. paperpusher

          Why is 10 days crazy? If she has the PTO, she can use it as she pleases. Especially since when you get a new puppy, you’re probably not going to go far away on vacation abroad anyway.

          Reply
          1. Jadelyn

            Agreed – I’m taking 10 days of vacation at the end of July. Just because I want to. Would it be that different if I were doing it because I wanted to be at home for a reason other than just a good old “ye gods I need a break from this place before I snap”?

            Reply
        2. AnotherAlison

          Agreed. I mean, my youngest child is almost 15, but I only had 7 weeks off work with him, and those who are used to more modern family leave may not understand that that was for my own “short-term disability” not childcare. This type of leave for an animal is out of the norm.

          I have a dog who is 4 now. We got her as a 7 week old puppy. I spent about a week going home and cleaning her kennel at lunch, and then my kids where home for Christmas for 2 weeks. After that, she was fine to be kenneled from 7-5. She is an English Setter. You might have to replace the puppy pad in the kennel when you get home, but it’s fine. Even though we started off that way, she didn’t pee in her kennel once she was old enough to hold it all day. She really just wants to sleep all day. She will go to the kennel or another room on her own when we’re home and is happy to ignore us all.

          Reply
        3. Olly

          10 days isn’t crazy… People get way more with a baby. As someone very knowledgeable about dogs (and working in the dog industry), the biggest things with leaving puppies all day while they’re under 4-5 months old are 1. potty breaks (especially small breeds, they will need to go out every time they wake up and about every hour if they’re awake and active) 2. lack of stimulation and socialization (puppies need to be socialized before their socialization window closes around 14 weeks. Being socialized doesn’t mean interacting with people only, it means being exposed to many situations, many environments, sounds and things, sometimes with direct interaction and sometimes not).
          Working from home 3x a week is a lot to ask if the company doesn’t really allow it. But for a puppy it’s not an unreasonable request… I mean I’ve seen some of my friends want months off for their babies (not paid, but the company didn’t approve it…) when it would be reasonable why a young parent would want that to take care of their baby. It’s sad that many companies are not very family friendly

          Reply
          1. I hate coming up with usernames

            Yes, people do expect longer time off for babies. Because it’s a baby. And they are recovering from childbirth. You know how you should typically wait until about 8 weeks to separate a puppy from it’s mother? Like, it’s actual dog mother, not its human owner. Same idea for babies.

            Reply
            1. Ms. Pessimistic

              Puppies get more time with their mothers than babies. I had to go back to work at 6 weeks. It was awful, emotionally and I was still bleeding. And then I’m still learning how to pump, etc. I think it’s fine to stay home with a puppy and puppies so do deserve attention but they are not babies and parental leave shouldn’t be compared!

              I get “fired up” about this because we literally respect puppies needing their moms more than babies.

              Reply
              1. Olly

                Not really, babies get their mom “forever”, puppies are separated from mom & siblings at 8 weeks
                And past 5-6 weeks, puppies generally have little to no interaction with their mother because they’re getting weaned, and usually the mother won’t want to be around them/will growl at them. They’re supposed to spend the last few weeks with their siblings and other adult dogs (if from a reputable breeder) to learn the basics of dog manners like bite inhibition, how to play nicely, how to respect elder dogs etc… Anyway I get that you all value babies over kids, that’s fine and I respect that, but not everyone is like that especially my generation where more and more people don’t want human kids but treat their pets like family.

                Reply
                1. Ms. Pessimistic

                  We’re probably in the same generation! I think you’re missing my point a little, I get not everyone loves babies and that is totally fine. I just don’t think people understand how ridiculous it is that women have to go back to work at 6 weeks or earlier. Whether you’re a baby person or not as a society we should be wanting to do our best job raising future generations and there are so many studies showing that babies need their moms, especially that first year.

                  I also am a dog mom too and love my puppy! We recused him, his mom died when he 7 weeks old and we got him when he was 12 weeks from the shelter. My husband and I each took 2.5 days to be home with him (a full week) and then crate trained him but went home during lunch….I’d take an early lunch, he would take a late one until he was several months old and he is a part of our family!

          2. JJ Bittenbinder

            Babies are different from puppies, no matter how much people try to equate the two. Much of the leave associated with a new baby is for physical recovery for the woman who gave birth, for one thing. And a baby absolutely cannot, in any circumstances, never no way no how, be left alone whereas a puppy can.

            Reply
            1. Olly

              Puppies are actually very similar to toddlers… They can’t be left alone either unless they’re in a safe environment ie. a playpen, or a crate for short periods of time, like a baby could be left alone for short periods of time when sleeping or in a baby proofed room. But somehow parents and pet parents make it work either way
              Yeah, leave after pregnancy is longer, but again people get like 8 weeks to get their baby used to their routine, the house etc… so in comparison 10 days (I’m assuming it’s 10 work days = 2 weeks) is a good amount of time to get the puppy used to their routine and start with the basics
              Of course I personally see dogs as full members of the family, the same way people see their kids, it’s just that I recognize they have different needs because they’re not human (food, exercise, body language etc) but emotionally they’re just like kids to me. I know not everyone feels like that, just like not everyone likes kids. But people should be respectful and accommodating when it’s possible, and even when it’s not, people shouldn’t judge so quickly. I feel neutral about kids now, and I think people taking months off when they can is overkill (if it was me I would save my time off for when the kid is older, like toddler stage) but I understand that some parents will want to be around their kids for as long as possible in the beginning. So if it’s approved and it makes them happy, I don’t care and I respect that. I wish people would understand that about dog parents too, even if they personally don’t see the dog as a full family member

              Reply
              1. Jubilance

                1 – the US has no standardized leave so there are women who get NO TIME away from work after birth. The average is around 6-8wks depending on the type of delivery.

                2 – That 6-8wks is NOT to get your child used to their routine. That time is for the birthing parent to recover from delivery (sometimes involving major surgery) and bond with their child. That’s not the same as getting a puppy used to their new home.

                3 – Many places do not allow you to “save time” for when your child is older. Either you take it when you first give birth, or you lose it. I’m very thankful to work for a company that allowed me to do something called “parental bonding time”, where I use time throughout the first year of my child’s life but after I’ve come back from maternity leave. In my case I was able to use it to transition back to work on a 4 day schedule. However this is rare and not common.

                Reply
                1. Eukomos

                  Paternity leave does exist, though, and all the fathers are going through is a bit of sleep deprivation. Parental leave is partially childcare-based.

                2. Marmaduke

                  @Eukomos:
                  Part of paternity leave is caring for the mother as she recovers. A big part of the reason my husband took time off after the birth of our baby was because I needed a lot of rest and support during recovery.

                3. Anonymous12

                  12 weeks of bonding time within the first 12 months of birth or adoption is available to both mothers and fathers per the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) assuming that the eligibility requirements are met (must be employed for at least 12 months and have worked at 1250 hours in the last 12 months). However, it is not required to be paid which is why most parents do not take the time. 6-8 weeks (depending on the type of delivery) is often paid through temporary disability. The main issue in the US is not having the ability to take time off, it’s that the time is most often unpaid.

              2. I hate coming up with usernames

                Counterpoint to your first paragraph. If you leave your puppy in a safe place like it’s crate and leave the house to go get dinner, that’s totally fine and allowable.

                Doing the same thing with your toddler would be illegal and Child Protective Services would be involved.

                Reply
              3. fposte

                I’m on the dogs-rather-than-kids side myself, but I think you’re really missing the boat on this.

                Reply
              4. AnotherAlison

                My god, no, no they are not. I have had 2 kids and 2 dogs and a cat. I definitely get that pets are important to you, and they are important to many people’s families, including mine.

                People don’t “get like 8 weeks to get their baby used to their routine.” That’s not what it is at all. Unless you are the dog breeder, that 8 weeks for the newborn puppy is spent at the breeder with the puppy’s dog mother. THAT is what is equivalent to the initial time off people get for their babies.

                Reply
              5. Flossie Bobbsey

                If you are comparing a puppy to a human *toddler* rather than a newborn baby, that already undermines your entire comparison to parental leave in the first place. Toddlers don’t just spring out fully formed. Someone has raised them into toddlers from infancy – including the around-the-clock care of feeding, diapering, monitoring environment at all moments, even burping can take a surprisingly long time (hours) for some babies who can’t settle without doing so after eating.

                For some babies, a three-hour cycle of feeding (three hours measured from *start* of feed 1 to start of feed 2, not from end of feed 1) can literally take the entire three hours before it begins again, with all it entails (new diaper, burping, etc.). You literally have to have your water and sustenance within arms reach because you may not leave the couch for 12 hours.

                There is just no comparing the human newborn phase to the human toddler phase or to the new puppy (several weeks old and ready to bring home) phase.

                Also, I have a dog (and have had other dogs in the past) and now a toddler. My dog is a 100% full member of the family but in no way took the same level of care as my child when we brought him home.

                Reply
              6. Mountainly

                I have three dogs, a cat, many smaller creatures, and two human children. Please be aware that emotionally dogs may feel like kids to you, but that doesn’t even come close to the reasons a parent stays home with a human child. Parents don’t stay home with their babies simply because of their own emotional needs. They do it because raising a child with healthy attachment is crucial to the well-being of society, and the care demands of an infant are incessant. I have a puppy, and for three weeks he did not sleep through the night. For my firstborn, it was two years, during which I was also teaching him how to eat, count, read letters, use manners, etc.

                In the workplace, it is good to be conscientious of this, especially in the United States, where the lack of paid maternity/paternity leave is downright cruel. Families either borrow ahead from their leave, go unpaid, or go back to work inhumanely early. They spend thousands of dollars for infant daycare. In some cases, they pump multiple times a day. You acknowledge that everyone forms bonds differently, and pets are certainly part of the family. But a lot of parents have significant emotional, financial, and physical upheaval associated with the childbirth or adoption process and the subsequent separation, and just like suggesting that healing from a broken foot and fighting cancer are equivalent, this comparison will seem way off base.

                Reply
                1. AnotherAlison

                  Amen. Can I also add that the emotional burden of raising a child goes on for [at least] two decades? My kids have an age gap, so I’ll have been raising kids for almost 30 years once my youngest is past college age. I felt pretty good until a couple years ago (~ages 20/13). Now I am just worn out. Maybe I should seek therapy, but I think it’s just the toll of having an overgrown teenage man child, an actual teenager, a demanding job, a husband, and coming from a somewhat dysfunctional family growing. Eh. . .any more pondering will devolve completely off track, but anyway, raising kids is freaking hard and it never ends!

                2. Ms. Pessimistic

                  Amen! I pump every two hours because I’m prone to clogged ducts. EVERY TWO HOURS, that’s 4 times while I’m at work and I answer emails while doing so. I went back to work at 6 weeks, it was heart breaking and my vagina was still bleeding. Puppies get more respect than babies. Ridiculous.

                  Oh also, I’m supposed to be amazing at my job and be an amazing mother and cook and workout. It’s exhausting. Didn’t feel like walking your dog one day? Not a big deal? I can’t take a day off from not caring for my child…

              7. Ann Perkins

                If you think 8 weeks of leave after childbirth is to “get their baby used to their routine, the house, etc” I don’t think you’re qualified to make the comparison as to how puppies are like toddlers.

                I have a toddler, a baby, and a dog. Their needs are all different. They are all members of my family. But having a toddler is not similar to having a puppy.

                Reply
                1. Dankar

                  It is similar only in the sense that silence is very, VERY suspicious… I think that must be the golden rule of caretaking.

                2. Jules the 3rd

                  Similar: You have to manage potty activities for toddlers / dogs (even if only having a dog door and good fencing)
                  Different: Every other way.

                  I do tell people ‘having a dog is like having a 4yo who never gets potty trained’ (4yo was when the kid really started wanting to do his own thing but still find parents for reassurance), but I still know deep down there’s a ton of other differences.

                3. Stitch

                  Amen. Puppies are a challenge, sure. But let me tell you, I couldn’t even walk properly for 2 weeks after my son was born and tired easily for months thanks to my c section. A puppy has nothing on the mental and physical rigamarole that is a new baby.

                4. Olly

                  Similar to toddlers: they explore and will get into everything at their height, they need to be supervised and redirected, praised and encouraged when they do something good (positive reinforcement), they have a routine schedule (sleep, potty, play/explore, repeat) so pet parents have to work around that just like real parents. If a young puppy is napping, you have some time to yourself (like with a baby) but when they wake up they will NEED to go potty.
                  Puppies need mental stimulation (more than exercise actually, most people will over exercise their puppies especially when they’re an active breed, but really younger puppies need to explore, sniff around, and only go on short walks to teach them how to walk on leash, not to “tire them out”). Sometimes the pet parent has to be directly involved (preparing a stuffed Kong, hiding treats on a snuffle mat, mind games, training, active socialization with people, animals and things…) sometimes not. Just like with babies. If you want to provide top care for a puppy because you see them as a full family member, it’s a lot of work that will pay off (with an incredible bond, loyalty, unconditional love, etc. thing that most people don’t get from babies or toddlers as they’re too little to really develop a personality yet). Sure you can get by with the basics and have a good family dog. But more and more people value their dogs more than that and want more. So if you do what’s best for your puppy, it is time consuming, exhausting, but very very rewarding.

              8. Malarkey01

                This is just so out of touch- leaving a puppy at home alone in a crate for 8 hours will result in soiled puppy pads and potentially some emotional stress.
                Leaving a newborn at home alone in a crib for 8 hours results in serious dehydration, serious bonding disorders, and potentially death. It is not the same level of care. A 2 week old baby is not the same as a puppy (who will be older if separated from mom).

                I get the emotional argument but if a doctor came to me and said one of my children would die without a heart transplant, I would gladly give them mine and most parents would understand that decision… I have yet to meet a pet parent who would do the same. If a crazy gunman had a gun to my child’s head and said pick you or your child, I won’t give it a second thought, but can’t imagine asking for someone to shoot me over our beloved family dog.

                Reply
                1. Kendra

                  Yeah, I get considering yourself a “pet parent,” but a puppy that’s been weaned from its mother is not equivalent to a human infant. For one thing, it’s a LOT more ready to be on its own: it can walk, it can feed itself, and it’s just plain farther along in its relative lifespan and development.

                  To me, it’s more like leaving a 7-12 year old home alone; with some kids, that would be doable, especially if you have a neighbor who can stick their head in every few hours and make sure everything’s cool (or take the puppy out to do its business); with others, it’s a terrible idea. It really depends on the kid (or puppy), and how safe you can make their surroundings.

              9. Loolooloo

                Taking months off is overkill? Pretty much every developed country in the world disagrees there. Lord knows schlepping my mangled, still bleeding, sleep-deprived, milk-spurting body to work after “months” of literal round the clock child care was “overkill”. Yes, having a child is a choice for many women. But since they will literally be the future, I hardly think it’s overkill to give parents the time they need to recover and keep their very small children alive. I had hallucinations from sleep deprivation after returning to work because I could no longer nap during the day. So yeah, overkill…I also have a dog, and can’t imagine equating their needs. Sorry if this comes of strongly, but it is just very offensive to me to think that someone with this mindset might be supervising people going through the newborn phase.

                Reply
            2. neeko

              “Much of the leave associated with a new baby is for physical recovery for the woman” I don’t think that is necessarily true. At least in the US, most places give equal time for pregnancy, a new foster, adoption, etc.

              Reply
              1. Jubilance

                Actually most places don’t give any time at all – only 12% of women in the private sector have access to any type of paid leave. 40% of American women don’t qualify for FMLA, which only protects their job & don’t provide for any type of paid leave.

                While it’s true that most big companies (Fortune 500) provide some type of leave, that doesn’t mean that all their employees are covered – often part-time or hourly workers are left out. And that completely disregards the millions of people who work for small businesses that either can’t afford or simply don’t provide maternity leave, and aren’t required to.

                Reply
              2. fposte

                In addition to Jubilance’s points, this is disregarding how laws and policies get made. It’s not that people sat down one day and decided what was all equivalent here–it’s that what started out as basically sick leave for the new mom morphed and expanded to be about parenting as culture changed.

                Reply
                1. That Girl From Quinn's House

                  Yes, because our society values women as incubators, and once the baby’s out, mom’s health is not important any more, including to her own doctors who wave her off and refuse to listen to symptoms of postpartum complications.

                2. fposte

                  @That Girl–

                  While I don’t disagree with your points, I think that’s not really the tentpole of maternal leave policies. Those are more based on male dominance in the workplace and the inability of low status workers in general to get leave.

              3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                The fact that you can take FMLA leave for those purposes doesn’t mean they’re equally prevalent or equivalents. It’s absolutely true that the majority of women who exercise parental leave do so to recover from the medical aspects of giving birth and then additionally for caretaking and bonding.

                This subthread is incredibly frustrating.

                Reply
                1. neeko

                  Whoa. I wasn’t saying that people who give birth (not only women give birth FYI) don’t do so to recover from the arduous task of giving birth. I meant that because of many places allow (and I apologize for my bias of living in several states where they all offer the same amount of leave for adoption, etc) for people to take the time for other things related to a new child regardless of the way the child was new to the family, that the intent wasn’t just for recovery. Obviously, people need to recover from that. Jeez.

                2. neeko

                  And I concede that I was wrong. And was never equating a dog to a baby, just for the record.

                3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  I apologize! I didn’t mean to attribute the puppies = babies analogy to you. I was responding to the whole subthread about whether puppy care is like having a new baby, but I realize that my comment nested in a way that looks like a direct expression of frustration with you. I apologize for that, and I should have been clearer when responding.

              4. Observer

                That’s just not true. SOME places do that, most don’t. In fact, for a large percent of women, the only way they get to take the time off is because of FMLA, but they don’t get paid maternity – they have to take it unpaid unless they have sick / vacation time.

                When Trump floated a paid maternity leave policy a lot of people expressed concerns about the potentially discriminatory nature of the proposal, because it was strictly for women only. Then they saw the length of the leave and that it was NOT for adoption. At that point pretty much every expert was “Yup, no discrimination problem here. All they are paying for is basic healing time. That’s just not something men and adoptive parents have to deal with.”

                6 weeks is the bare minimum a women needs to recover – so much so that standard disability insurance won’t ask for anything but proof that you actually had a baby to pay that out.

                Reply
        4. Jungkook

          I’m definitely in the 10 days off is crazy camp. Assuming they’re in the US they really don’t get many vacation days and they’re choosing to spend 10 of them on this??

          Reply
          1. Jules the 3rd

            enh – vacation varies widely by employer. New employees with my employer get 15, I’m up to 20, on top of 6 for national holidays (xmas, 4th, Labor, Memorial, tgiving). That’s pretty standard for US professionals. Taking 2 weeks off in the summer is not crazy.

            I’d probably stretch it out with half-days and staggering start times with my spouse, and save up more cash before I get the dog to pay for more days in day care, if my employer wasn’t comfortable with wfh. I’d also expect spouse to look for ways to take a half day a couple of times a month. It doesn’t have to be 100% on OP, even 10% on OP’s spouse could help a lot.

            Reply
          2. DJ

            It depends on personal preference. I work a job where I only get 10 vacation days and 5 personal (aka sick) days. And I don’t make enough that I can usually afford to go on vacation. I’ve absolutely taken off 10 days (two full weeks) multiple times over several years and just stayed at home with my pets. Plus there’s the possibility the OP gets way more time off than that or that they can bank holidays or that they’ve got a bunch of accrued time off.

            Reply
            1. Oh So Anon

              I’ve done this too, and there’s nothing I resent more than people acting as though I don’t “deserve” my PTO because I’m not flying somewhere exotic.

              Reply
          3. Jadelyn

            Alternatively, it costs $0.00 to not audit a total stranger’s choice of how to spend their duly earned PTO.

            Signed, someone who is taking 10 of my 15 days of vacation I get per year to sit at home and play video games, because I just want some damn time off and that’s what it’s there for.

            Reply
            1. Oh So Anon

              +1. People with these kinds of attitudes don’t have any idea how hard they make it for some of us to maintain our political capital at work. It’s such a PITA having to hide how I spend my vacation time THAT I EARNED so that people will think I’m “normal”.

              Reply
            2. Olly

              Totally agreed!
              People here are being super judgemental because they don’t understand how some people love their dogs as much as some love their kids. Like I said before, would I want to take months off for a baby (if I could take the time)? Personally, no. I would rather take that time off when the kid is older (like 3 or 4). Would I take time off for a puppy if I had the time? Yeah, and I have before (not months, but 3 weeks for my latest puppy, and was working part time afterwards). But I don’t care how people decide to take their time off, even if I would use it differently.

              Reply
          4. Oh So Anon

            It’s no one’s business how someone spends their vacation days, and how you choose to spend your vacation has absolutely no bearing on their professional judgement. People have different priorities. Not everyone vacations, or uses all their PTO on actual vacations. Why is this an issue? I truly don’t understand where this attitude comes from, but maybe that’s because I’m a person who doesn’t use my PTO for vacations. Is there something wrong with people like me?

            Reply
          5. Clisby

            How employees choose to spend the vacation days they’re entitled to is surely no one’s business but their own.

            Reply
        5. fposte

          If I had a new puppy and could take 10 days off, of course I would, because the whole point of having a new puppy is to enjoy the new puppy. It doesn’t have to be a child-care equivalent for 10 days to be a perfectly fine choice if you’ve got it.

          I would absolutely agree that it’s a big strategic fail, whatever people’s personal feelings, to make an argument based on a parallel between puppy care and child care. But that doesn’t mean 10 days off to play with your puppy is insane.

          Reply
          1. Jadelyn

            I think this is about where I come down. I don’t think it would be wise to frame your request in terms of comparison to what new parents get for leave, simply because (as amply demonstrated by a number of commenters here) a lot of people get Very Upset about that sort of thing and even those who don’t get upset have Opinions on the subject, and opening that can of worms isn’t likely to get you what you want – but I don’t see what’s so wrong with wanting to take the time off/work an alternate schedule for awhile while you’ve got a new puppy.

            Reply
        6. Nicelutherangirl

          I work as a customer service representative for a third party leave of absence management company with several large corporations as clients. I’m assigned to an account for Well Known U.S. Company, and I set up a variety of medical and non-medical leaves of absence, paid and unpaid, covered by short term disability, fmla, state medical leaves, and other company benefits for its employees.

          Well Known U.S. Company offers 8 weeks of bonding leave, at full pay, to new parents, which they can use within the first year of their child’s birth or adoption. One day, I received a call from an employee who asked if she could use the bonding leave benefit to take time off to bond with her new puppy. I managed to give her a firm but respectful “no” before concluding the call, then I shared the story with my co-workers and case managers on the account. Every one of them, including the dog owners who cherish their pets, thought the question was insanely misguided and hilarious. It’s become my favorite work story to share with friends and family.

          Reply
          1. Nicelutherangirl

            I should add that the 8 weeks of bonding leave is in addition to 6-8 weeks of paid maternity leave for birthing mothers.

            Reply
        7. Micklak

          I’m going to offer what might be an unpopular suggestion: don’t get a dog. I mean “don’t add a puppy to your family.” It seems like you’re bending over backward to make a puppy fit into your life and maybe it’s just not the right time, or maybe a puppy isn’t right for you.

          I had my last dog for 17 years and it’s been almost 20 since she passed. Any time I’ve thought about getting another dog since then I just couldn’t figure out how to make it work, so no dog. I can’t offer a dog the type of life I think they would enjoy.

          I used to torture myself with corgi tumblrs but I’ve even given that up.

          Reply
          1. mrs__peel

            Adopting an older dog is also an option, and perhaps a more sensible one for households where everyone works full-time.

            It’s rather sad to me that so many people are focused on getting puppies, when there are so many great older dogs that need homes.

            Reply
      6. ThatGirl

        Yes, because they need frequent potty breaks, mostly.

        Honestly I would recommend the OP adopt a slightly older dog, around a year; that’s what we did and he was already housetrained and after a short adjustment period had no issues being left home during the day.

        Reply
        1. Iris Eyes

          This seems like a great solution. An older dog even one that is 6 months old would be ok with a long weekend and someone coming home for lunch to do play time and potty break. If its a breed that is used for service dogs you could see about adopting one of the drop outs. They will have a great baseline of training already.

          Reply
        2. DJ

          That would be my recommendation too. Though to be fair, some puppies are super easy. My sister had a terrier puppy that was crazy easy to potty train and no trouble beyond normal puppy chewing habits. But my current dog (a beagle) had a lot of issues around potty training and it took months before it was manageable (and seriously, I tried everything). Thankfully she does well now, but I’ve sworn off ever getting another puppy. Even at 6 months a lot of those issues will be evident, so you can know what you’re getting into ahead of time.

          That said, just be sure to keep potty training low stress for the dog and consistent. When I first got my beagle I was with family, so the training wasn’t quite as consistent because so many different people were helping out with it, which probably contributed to some of the issues for her.

          Reply
        3. Jules the 3rd

          We can make a lot of recommendations, but OP knows her situation best, and I’m going to trust she needs a puppy. We got a whippet puppy (low energy, low anxiety, I love my couch potato) because I needed to train it up to live with the cat, and I just wasn’t comfortable with someone else’s assurances.

          Reply
      7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

        I had one dog in my whole life, he was an amazing (albeit a bit nervous and vocal) dog and passed away four years ago. When we got him as a puppy, we were a family of four and both my parents were still alive and in good shape, and lived in walking distance. He was 4.5 months old when we got him, and it took another maybe five months for him to become self-sufficient and okay with being home alone during the day. He also kept us up at night when he was a puppy. The first couple months were tiring for sure.

        Reply
      8. Archaeopteryx

        For some breeds, it does- some of them will be seriously distressed at being left alone for eight hours a day unless they’re elderly, and can destroy your stuff or injure themselves. But for chill breeds who are happy to sleep for most of the day, it’s more of a bathroom issue, especially if you’re in an apartment so they can’t just learn to go out themselves.

        Reply
      9. I'm A Little Teapot

        I don’t know dogs, but I do know cats. And kittens are basically extremely mobile small furry toddlers. With knifes for fingers. I don’t want to leave them alone (and unconfined) for their safety and for the intact-ness of my house.

        A very long time ago, I had a very sick kitten (ie, no energy to play) that I left alone for 30 minutes. I then spent 45 minutes dismantling my book case to retrieve it from where she’d gotten stuck. Babies are cute, but dumb.

        Reply
        1. That Girl From Quinn's House

          I adopted my cat at around 6 months. She was home for a few hours when she found a gap in the underside of our kitchen cabinets, and disappeared into the wall.

          Thankfully, she found her way back out shortly, and focused her energies at pawing at the cardboard we’d used to block off her cave of fun.

          Reply
          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

            My grandcats were about 2 months old when they were first brought to my house. I’d never had cats before. Walked into my living room a couple of weeks later and both cats were climbing up my curtain. The curtain did not survive.

            We also had to keep both toilet lids closed when they were kittens (which as I understand it, is the AMA-approved way anyway), because one of the kittens was extremely curious about the water in the toilets and kept trying to drown himself.

            Reply
      10. CommanderBanana

        Depends on the puppy! Some are more destructive than others, and during teething all bets are off (my neighbor’s puppy chewed up their baseboards after he’d gotten done chewing through everything else). Crating or penning them helps, but obviously you don’t want a puppy in a crate 8 hours a day and you have to crate train gradually.

        Reply
      11. Name Required

        I have had many dogs at all stages of life, including infant puppies that needed to be hand fed. Puppies at the stage of life that OP1 is talking about absolutely do not need this much one-on-one time. They need potty breaks and adequate stimulation, and if OP’s work will accommodate her working from home to let her dog out for several months, more power to her.

        She should be prepared as being seen by her colleagues as out of touch, or “extra” — there are lots of folks who have new puppies, as most of them do not take 10 days of work off or ask to work from home three days of week. They use puppy pads or newspaper in a laundry room or bathroom during the day (most commonly), or wait until they can afford to pay for a dog walker or doggie daycare before getting a dog.

        Reply
      12. BananaPants

        No, they don’t. Friends we know who’ve gotten puppies have either had the flexibility to go home at lunch time for a walk, or they hire a dog walker to come by midday. I’m a lifelong dog owner and have never had a dog who couldn’t “hold it” for 8-9 hours once they were house trained.

        An employee who tries to justify working from home for several months on the basis that a puppy/kitten is anywhere as demanding as having a newborn baby is going to be laughed right out of my office.

        Reply
    2. PretzelGirl

      There are also apps like Wagg where you can have someone stop by and walk your dog for you. Or if there is a neighbor with an older kid or teen (esp with it being summer), you hire them to walk your pup.

      Reply
    3. Moray

      I’m a bit of a scrooge, but I’d be more amenable to a vague “if it’s possible, working from home a few days a week would be really helpful” than “I want to work from home because I chose to get a puppy.”

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Yeah—strangely, this is a situation where making the request without an explanation may be more effective/successful.

        Reply
      2. AnotherAlison

        Agree because you don’t know how people feel about puppy care.

        When my mom was a kid: The dog lived outside 24/7, not allowed inside. Perfectly socially acceptable.
        When I was a kid: Dog outside during day, inside with family in the evening/weekends, sleeps in garage. Pretty typical. People could also chain up a dog without social media shaming.
        Now: Dog is family member, deserves the same care as a child.

        I’m not saying we should go back to chaining up a dog in the yard, but people who have the extreme modern views of pet care have to keep in mind that not everyone feels that way, and you may come off as out of touch to those who don’t.

        Reply
        1. Sara

          I’ve been living/working in a part of the US with a wide variety of cultural views about pets for the last few years. It ranges all the way from “dogs belong outside all the time” to “let me put my lap dog in the baby seat in this grocery cart.” I’ve previously lived in places where pretty much everyone had the attitude that dogs live in the house and are a member of the family, but definitely not in the same way that the humans are. My point is that it’s not just an era thing but also a cultural thing (which is also probably why people get weird whenever pets come up on AAM).

          So as others said, my advice to the LW is to a) frame the question as being more generally about WFH and flexibility and b) to consider a puppy cam (and other resources like dog walkers and such).

          Reply
          1. That Girl From Quinn's House

            Just look at the conflict between Americans and Brits about whether or not cats are allowed to go outside!

            Reply
              1. mlem

                The British view (as in many other countries) is that of course the moggie lives as much outside as in, and that it’s possibly inhumane to coop up a cat full-time.

                The modern American view (at least in many areas, and promoted by animal welfare organizations) is that of course cats must be 100% indoor pets. Some of that is organizations like the Audubon Society trying to keep cats from killing birds. The US also has much more of a car culture and much lower requirements for licensing (so I suspect traffic is much more of a threat to cats in the US than in the UK), more of a gun culture (I’ve taken in a stray who turned out to have BBs embedded in her), more medium/large wildlife to be a fight/predation threat … and rabies is not uncommon in US wildlife, while I think it isn’t actually present in the UK, maybe?

                Anyway, I think a lot of the difference boils down to difference of environment/circumstance.

                Reply
        2. Eukomos

          A major of the problem with chaining dogs up is that it usually makes them aggressive and territorial. I suspect that played a larger role in making chaining dogs that way unacceptable than the suffering the dogs experienced, as much as it would be nice to think we stopped doing that for humane reasons.

          Reply
          1. Dankar

            Right. Now, in some places, chaining is not only worthy of shaming, but also against the law. Our locality just passed a measure a few months ago making it a) a misdemeanor under the umbrella of animal cruelty and b) cause to have the dog removed.

            A habitually-chained dog can become a dangerous dog, though they’re often capable of rehabilitation.

            Reply
        3. Mr. Shark

          Yes, this. When I was a kid, bigger dogs were outside. The neighbors had a kennel and kept their dogs outside all year, including winter in Colorado. We kept our big dogs outside.

          Our smaller dogs came inside during the winter, but still, they were mostly outside pets. So I found it funny the way my brother started raising his dogs, and this talk about taking 10 days off seems crazy excessive to me.

          Reply
    4. Smithy

      My organization is very open to remote work – even up to 3 days a week. However, even where I work – if the OP was my colleague, I’d make the focus all about wanting to set up a remote work schedule and not about the dog.

      First, if the OP will be taking off two weeks of PTO and then looking to switch to WFH two days a week – then already having a WFH schedule before the puppy’s arrival can help sort out any WFH kinks that might exist (which days of the week are good or bad, what’s preferred communication methods, etc).

      And then second….my department is both very pro WFH and very into sharing stories about furry babies. However, if the request was positioned entirely around the new puppy as opposed to a more general work-life balance needs – it could open the OP up to a lot of unsolicited advice around what is or is not necessary for a new pet – and potentially push back. Whether it’s a case of “you really don’t need to be that involved” or “if you’re that worried why not adopt an older rescue dog”, etc.

      Reply
      1. schnauzerfan

        Yes. Make this about the work. I realize that puppies aren’t babies, but from a boss/coworker point of view, if Bernadette and Amy are both doing essentially the same job and both are able to get their work done does it matter the Bernadette is taking care of kids, and Amy is taking care of a turtle? I don’t think so. If WFH is possible why not make it possible for anyone who finds it meets their needs? Yes, Bernadette probably does need time to recover from the actual birth, but that’s a separate issue. That said, I would make it about work life balance or something, not “I need to stay home to take care of Sheldon (the turtle)” People just don’t understand.

        Reply
      2. Anon for this

        Also — Alison usually brings this up — work from home is *not* for providing childcare — even if you work from home, you should still have childcare set up for your child! I know puppies are less work than babies, but still — WFH is not so you can do something else besides your actual work and still get paid (which is what this can look like if it’s not done right). I’d start working from home NOW if your place of employment is okay with this so you can make sure everything is a well-oiled machine when you do get the puppy.

        Also, it does kinda boil my britches all the assumptions people who have never needed maternity leave are making about maternity leave. I spent the first TWO WEEKS of my first maternity leave not being able to walk normally or eliminate my bodily functions (soiling myself was common). And I only got six weeks of maternity leave; and I work much more than 40 hours a week when I’m working

        Reply
    5. Lindsay Gee

      Is it possible to get a puppy that is a little older and would theoretically require a little less supervision at the beginning? Like instead of getting the puppy at 12 weeks, getting it at 18 or 20? My friend just got a golden puppy and the breeder had already worked with the pup on basics like house training

      Reply
    6. Doggie Lover

      LW #2:
      In my org it would be totally fine to ask for this, but we have casual work from home policies and I worked remotely for a few years anyways. But this is a know-your-audience moment because there are def more offices where this would make you sound unreasonable than where this would be normal/fine.

      I really think you should consider getting an older dog OR rather than taking 2 weeks off, see if it would be possible to have a month or two of going home once or twice a day to let the dog out. Ideally you and SO could stagger schedules and let the puppy out every 2ish hours.

      Another thing about working from home is that work will take longer with a constantly interrupting puppy. My 10 hour days became 12 hours.

      Various other relevant notes:
      1) Being at home doesn’t prevent separation anxiety/distress. It may even make it worse, as my dog very much expects me to be there all the time, in part because I’ve always worked from home or brought her to work
      2) My manager got a dog a few months after me and did not potty train her properly (used pee pads rather than take the dog out, in part because every 2 hours is a lot), and the dog is now over a year and still not potty trained. While my dog can roam pretty freely in the office and stay all day, manager’s will pee anywhere given the chance and has to be supervised.
      3) Depending on the daycare, it could SERIOUSLY set back potty training. The daycare near me is great in that dogs play all day, and aren’t crated unless staying over night. My dog loves it. But they don’t have dedicated go out to pee time, so the dogs just pee all over the place (the watchers clean it up immediately, this place has cameras, so you can see how good the employees are, they’re truly great – there is turf and a fire hydrant in there, but many dogs don’t like turf or recognize it as equivalent to outside). This is fine for my well trained dog, but when she was like 6 mo and I left her there for a week, she came back home thinking it was okay to pee by the door if I didn’t let her out fast enough. She was far enough along in training that I got her back on track in just a day or so, but I would be willing to bet that potty training would have taken multiple times as long if she was in this daycare regularly.

      Reply
  5. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    I mean, okay, I walk quickly on breaks, and more so when I work long hours. And I live on Hoth so it’s often in the hall!

    But that’s just it. I WALK, don’t run. I don’t run into people and hopefully it is not floor-shaking!

    Reply
    1. Seeking Second Childhood

      Is someone really running from desk to meeting to meeting? Sounds sweaty to me.
      If she’s actually pulling on sneakers and jogging she should go outside.
      In either case, any non-job-required activity that disrupts co-workers can & should be shut down by management.

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        I picture this as someone’s weird take on “squeeze in movement during your day” and so she sprints whenever she needs to go to a meeting at the other end of the hall, and maybe if she has 3 minutes free does 1 hall lap.

        Reply
      2. Observer

        In either case, any non-job-required activity that disrupts co-workers can & should be shut down by management.

        Bingo!

        Reply
  6. Clementine

    I’m not saying it’s right, but I suspect the employee who doesn’t want to read that no doubt hokey management book may find their work days are numbered if they ask for compensation for it. So that would be a primary factor I would take into account.

    Reply
    1. Grack

      How about just using work time to read the book? Come in in the morning, and sit down and read for an hour.

      Reply
      1. Jasnah

        Yeah rather than asking to be paid for reading in our time off, I’d confirm whether we can read during work hours.
        Yes=OK going to read the book at work then. Unless I’m too busy with other work to read the book.
        No=Guess I’m too busy to read the book then.

        Reply
      2. CameronT

        Yes, use work time for it. And definitely don’t read it cover-to-cover. Just skim a few sections for a couple of tidbits you can use in a discussion. Or search for a blog post online summarizing the book. You only need to dedicate 20 minutes to this!

        Reply
      3. RandomU...

        I’m confused by this too. Surely there will be opportunity to read what I’m assuming is a short book (100-200 pages normally for these things) during down times in activities over the next 3 months. Before anyone says it, yes I’m sure there are jobs where this wouldn’t be possible, but in the average office job there would be plenty of time to snatch a few pages here and there.

        Ex: when 1 meeting let out early and before the next one starts. A couple minutes waiting for everyone to join a meeting. You finish everything up for the day and don’t want to/have time to start the next big project (5-10 min before the EOD). You get to the office one day and find that your computer is taking ages to boot up, or you are trouble shooting an IT problem and someone has remote control of your machine

        I feel like this is one of those situations that is being overthought by the OP.

        Reply
        1. Reader(ornot)

          Hi op here, there is typically no downtime in my work and I find myself stretched thin as it is. When I first started at this office I was scolded for chatting briefly with a coworker because it would give the impression to others that I wasn’t working so I can’t imagine sitting down to read this book would be acceptable. Part of my concern is setting boundaries about my personal time as I get the feeling if you give and inch this agency may take a mile. I also discovered after I wrote this letter that my supervisor was editing my time sheet without my knowledge to ensure that my overtime work would not be reflected so I believe many commenters are correct with the assessment that I am not going to last long here.

          Reply
          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

            Yikes. If they aren’t even paying you correctly I’d spend my time looking for a new job. Maybe the book will have some useful pointers? ;-)

            Reply
          2. Mockingjay

            Umm, I am not a lawyer, but editing your timesheet is fraud.

            OP, what’s your gut feeling about your workplace? Are there other flags? Are these development retreats valuable and fixing problems, or just a ‘feel good’ thing? Might want to think about an exit strategy and move on.

            Reply
            1. Reader(ornot) OP

              Gut feeling is bad and getting worse. I believe that they grew too quickly and have hired people that are perhaps not suited for the positions in an effort to grow. People in leadership positions do not seem to understand HR and are not trained, just sort of thrown in to the job to figure out as they go along. I’m excepted to train people in things I was never personally trained to do for example. There is also an issue of not knowing who does what do I have trouble getting answers about how to manage tasks and get different answers from different people or directed to people that can’t actually assist me. The more I go on the more I clearly see how doomed I am.

              Reply
              1. Jules the 3rd

                Start job hunting. holy cow, edited your time sheet?! To cheat you out of overtime pay?!

                That house is full of evil bees, swarming into midair signs that say ‘Get Out’….

                But document that time sheet stuff, he is stealing from you and you may be able to get it back after you leave:
                Log when you come in / leave in a file or notebook that is yours personally
                If possible, get some kind of time stamped record – a screenshot of the first record you create that can’t be easily faked (eg, not your computer’s time/date bcs that’s easy to change, but emails often use server time/dates) to supplement your personal log.

                Google “flsa Working Off the Clock” and check out UpCouncil’s article for starters. Click on the ‘unpaid wages’ link in the article for more details on documenting.

                Reply
                1. Jadelyn

                  Back when I worked for a nightmare supervisor who started quibbling over every bloody second on my timesheet and would go several rounds with me of her demanding I edit out time I actually worked, brandishing a post-it where she’d supposedly written down the times I arrived/left, I started taking a photo on my cell phone of the time displayed on my desk phone’s display every day when I arrived and left. That made it double time-stamped – the time shown on the clock in the photo, and the timestamp on the file in my phone. When I started pulling out photo receipts to compare to her scribbled-in-pencil post-its, she stopped fighting me over it.

                  OP might consider doing that to contrast against the doctored timesheets, because yes, that’s fraud, and it’s illegal as hell.

              2. Mockingjay

                Reframe that: you’re not doomed, the company is. View it as a culture/skills/experience misfit and look for something else with more structure, targeted work in your career interest, financial stability, etc.

                It’s not you, it’s them.

                Reply
              3. Observer

                Is there someone you can go to about the time sheets?

                In any case, start keeping copies of the time sheets, as you entered them! And if there is no one to talk to about this, report to the DOL. This is absolutely a problem that they will jump on. And if you’ve done the initial legwork of providing documentation of what’s going on, they will probably be happy to take you case.

                In the meantime, start looking for a new job. NOW. Not in a month, not in a week. This place is bad news. Your intuition is on the mark, I’m afraid.

                Reply
            2. That Girl From Quinn's House

              I’ve had several jobs where this was standard. It’s not legal, and it’s not right, but it’s alarmingly common. And you just go along to get along, or have no job. From a financial standpoint, it’s cheaper to get paid for 32 hours when you worked 34, than it is to get paid for 34 hours and then be unemployed until you find a new job.

              Reply
              1. Gazebo Slayer

                Yep. I’ve worked a job where they told me to clock out and keep working if I wasn’t done with my quota, and I just went ahead and did it because I needed the job.

                I also know someone whose daughter worked for MassPIRG, a nonprofit group I will never do anything to support again because they require their entry-level, low-wage nonexempt employees to work 13 hours a day but only pay them for 8 (and falsify their timesheets to that effect).

                Reply
          3. RandomU...

            Just came back and saw this comment. Yeah… the reading thing is the least of your worries. I think you ought to forget about the work and figure out what’s happening with the OT, understanding that you learned about this after the original letter.

            The OT aside (but truly I do think this is more important). Yes I can see where misguided scolding for chatting is one thing. But reading a few pages in a book they gave you (visible so people don’t think you’re reading your new Harry Potter (or whatever the cool kids are reading these days)) sends a different vibe than chatting about the game last night with a coworker. Especially if you do it while hanging out near the copier to wait for your big job to run or whatever.

            Reply
      4. Angelinha

        This. Scan it at work, read reviews of it, get enough of an idea of it to be able to participate in the conversation at the retreat. Do not make inquiries about “how should I record this time” when you know they are not planning on having you record it. That just makes you look like you’re trying to catch them in a trap. I guarantee you the rest of your coworkers are not going to a) read the whole book or b) do it at home.

        Reply
      5. Lauren

        I absolutely recommend reading the reviews on Amazon or the like and calling it a day here.
        Want to look like an over-achiever? Write down a few bullet points to ‘bring up’ in the discussion.

        Reply
    2. Jimbob

      Agreed. I think it looks pretty silly to refuse to read a book. Not to say that its right that the company is enforcing it. It just seems like something silly to push back on and won’t come across well. Just read it at work or google the main themes while at work and BS the retreat discussion.

      Reply
      1. tamarack and fireweed

        Frankly, that last suggestion might just be the easiest way to handle the whole thing.

        The company appears to be off if they are trying to engage employees in leadership conversations without otherwise treating / compensating the employees like they are in leadership roles.

        Reply
        1. Falling Diphthong

          Look on Wikipedia for a synopsis. Maybe skim and read the occasional paragraph to flesh that out.

          Reply
      2. EPLawyer

        If you are having 3 retreats and one of them requires homework on leadership, then doing the CliffNotes version of the book is fine. Most won’t even bother with that. Everyone will BS their way through.

        Unless this is a group of people looking to move into leadership not sure why there are so many retreats on the subject anyway.

        Reply
      3. Antilles

        Just read it at work or google the main themes while at work and BS the retreat discussion.
        Especially for something like a management book at a retreat. Nobody is expecting an academic dissertation on the merits of every individual argument, just having a general idea of the themes is going to be plenty.
        Heck, if you really want to shine like an all-star without doing much effort, track down one specific example he cites from the book and memorize that ahead of time, then pull it out at a random part of the discussion.
        “See, what I really appreciated was when he was talking about his time at CEO of GM and noticed that they were wasting the first five minutes of every VP meeting because the conference room projector was difficult to use. Can you believe that when they actually added up all the lost executive time, it netted out to six million dollars of productivity? Six million! For a projector that they could replace for a trivial sum! Definitely eye-opening. I really wonder if there are similar parallels in our industry. Thoughts?”
        (Note: Nobody will have any thoughts because they also did not read the book and did not know that example existed)

        Reply
        1. CameronT

          Perfect. It is SO easy to B.S. a discussion on management or motivational books. All you need is one actual example from the book, and otherwise just share your thoughtful opinion about stuff.

          Reply
      4. LQ

        I’m 100% on the google the themes. Read the first (and maybe) last paragraph of each chapter, that should get you more than enough to bs with. If you can find a good review that describes it that’ll get you a lot of the way as well.

        (I’m not saying it’s right but, eh 30 minutes on google and flipping through the book if you don’t have the capital to push back.)

        Reply
      5. iglwif

        Also, lots of management/leadership type books have summaries at the beginning or end of chapters, discussion questions, and other tools you can totally use to BS having read the whole thing.

        And since everyone else will do that too, no one is going to know you didn’t read it.

        Reply
      6. Reader(ornot)

        Hi I’m the OP I hear what you are saying but I am concerned about their expectations in the future. My original plan was to read a review and call it a day but I don’t want to set an unrealistic or unfair standard. It’s very petty in concept but my concern comes from an overall vibe in the office about work time . On paper they say our timecards are legal documents that must reflect the truth but this is not reflected in practice in some concerning ways.

        Reply
        1. Lynn Whitehat

          How do other people feel about this? There is safety in numbers. Pushing back as a group is better than pushing back as an individual.

          Reply
        2. Formerly Arlington

          Have you considered a podcast of the book? My agency has similar requests and every single one of them, I’ve found a podcast with the author discussing the book and listened during my 25 minute commute. I love reading, but not that kind of stuff.

          Reply
      7. smoke tree

        Yeah, I think if there’s a synopsis or article about it online, that should be enough to get through a discussion. These kinds of books usually have a lot of repetition anyway. You can always say you read the book early and forgot some of the finer details if it comes up.

        Reply
    3. Bilateralrope

      What if the employee frames their objections as trying to avoid getting the company in trouble ?

      Not a refusal to read the book, just making sure that there isn’t anything illegal that the company could get into trouble for later. For example, if an employee is keeping track of their time spent reading it with the plan to claim those unpaid wages after they leave the company.

      Though if I wanted to have some fun, I think the best thing to do would be to read the book. Then, at the retreat, ask questions about times when the advice in it didn’t work. Real incidents I was involved in. Lets see what insults I can get thrown my way from the people behind this retreat.

      Reply
      1. Managed Chaos

        I think in this case, the employee would just be told reading it isn’t “mandatory.” They would have to be able to prove that they were told it was.

        Reply
      2. That Girl From Quinn's House

        A company like this will hear, “Well, we wouldn’t want to get in trouble?” as “I am going to report you to the state if you do not do what I say,” and work on managing you out.

        Reply
    4. Lynca

      I wouldn’t say their days as an employee are numbered. But it would definitely hinder their upward progression into leadership.

      I know that the leadership training in my agency does have some homework aspects, but they do mean for you to complete it during working hours.

      Reply
      1. Long Time Fed

        I can’t imagine challenging having to read a book over several months and expecting my protest to be well received by those with control over my upward progression.

        Reply
    5. Slartibartfast

      I suspect an employer who crosses this boundary is crossing others. The book is just a diversion from other things that aren’t sitting well, culture wise.

      Reply
      1. Samwise

        Not necessarily. No doubt the people assigning the reading are salaried / exempt and are not even thinking that, hmm, some of my employees are non-exempt and I have to pay them for work assignments done outside their regular hours.

        I’m salaried/exempt and work at a university, so you can be sure we get reading assignments (webinars, online mini-courses, writing of various sorts…). I almost never do this work at home and I *like* reading, classes, writing. Just not work-related stuff during my non-work time. I squeeze it into the work day where possible.

        Reply
        1. Ama

          Yeah I manage one of the few non-exempt employees in our office and I frequently need to remind my peers (whose reports are exempt as are we) that when they schedule a lunch meeting, I either have to pay my report for that time or give her an extra hour off. I also sometimes have to tell my report that just because she sees other (exempt) junior staff working through lunch or talking about answering an email from home that is not expected of her and if she feels the need to do that she needs to make sure any time she works goes on her timesheet. It’s difficult for people who have only had exempt jobs to realize how non-exempt jobs are different.

          Coincidentally we’re currently all having our reports do a professional development activity of their choice. I made Alison’s latest book one of the options for my report and let her know that if she chose a book we would purchase it for her and she would be allowed to read it in the office on work time (my plan was to let my boss know that she was doing that in case anyone said anything). Alas, she selected an online program on time management instead (I am actually fine with that as time management is something she’s had a little trouble with but I really was hoping we’d get to talk about the book together).

          Reply
      2. Reader(ornot)

        (Op) yes! This was a specific example but there are many incidents similar to this I have witnessed and a few I have experienced as I am very new to this workplace. I am trying to get a handle on these things early so I don’t continue to have issues in the future. I do think I will be viewed negatively for voicing any concern but I’m not sure what I am more concerned about at the moment, my reputation or my (not to be dramatic) workplace rights.

        Reply
        1. Observer

          Both. I’m not being snarky. The problem here is that they are not going to change their expectations. They’ll just tell you it’s not mandatory, but still expect you to read it.

          The place is well messed up. To be very honest, you should be planning your exit strategy. If you can, start looking for a new job. If you really can’t do that figure out what you need in order to be able to do that and start taking those steps.

          I don’t know whether these people are bad or just out of their depths and reacting like major league jerks, but everything you describe does not sound like a tenable long term situation.

          Reply
    6. Seeking Second Childhood

      If I were the employee, I’d be asking for an audiobook version so I could listen *WHILE* doing repetitive portions of my job. (EVERY job has one!) But I’d tell them it was to listen to on commute.

      Reply
    7. Heidi

      I would be astounded if anyone really read the book by the time the retreat started. The OP could probably get away with one or more of the following: skimming the whole thing, reading just a few important chapters and focusing any discussion on the parts you read, pointing out an interesting element in the forward, appendix, footnotes, or endnotes (assuming this book has any), saying things like, “I disagree with Author’s assertion that (miniscule point in the last chapter),” Googling the author and bringing up some obscure point about his life that may have motivated some part of this work, reading the Amazon reviews. Knowing me, I would probably hate-read this book and bring a number up a number of points where it is factually incorrect, makes gendered assumptions or assumptions that are tone-deaf to the needs of protected groups, uses faulty evidence, or makes generalizations that do not apply to my workplace. I miss college sometimes. And sometimes not.

      Reply
      1. Works in IT

        I would actually read it, but then again, I read so quickly I am constantly desperate for something new to read. Leadership books might be boring and often pointless (so much of the time they only focus on one facet of leadership and ignore other things such that literally following the book is a bad idea) but at least reading one is better than reading nothing.

        Reply
    8. Just Listen

      Download the audio book and listen to it whenever: at work, in the car, grocery shopping….
      I recommend listening right before bed, because these types of books are pretty redundant and awesome sleep aids.

      Reply
    9. Moray

      I am normally up in arms when organizations–knowingly or unknowingly–ask non-exempt employees to do work-related things outside of work hours.

      But…in this case it seems awfully nitpicky and time-stingy to refuse to spend an hour (or less) of your time skimming through the book, when it is ostensibly to your benefit to read and discuss it. Mentally reframe this as an annoying but well-meaning gift and get over it.

      Reply
      1. Anne Elliot

        +1 . For me this is firmly in the category of “hills that are not worth dying on.” Are they out of line to make you read a book without paying you? Yep. Should you push back on that? Absolutely not. It is a dumb request on their part, but there is no way to refuse that will not communicate: “Hey, Company, just so you know, there is literally nothing I will do for you unless you are paying me to do it.” Which is of course a perfectly legitimate position to hold, but not one you need to spray-paint across the collective brains of the people who manage and pay you.

        So I’m firmly in the camp of “skim it or Cliff-Notes it,” and be ready to BS your way through the conversation. The truth is, they can’t MAKE you read it, but there is no upside to making it explicit that you won’t.

        Reply
        1. Reader(ornot)

          (Op) I think my plan will be to skim and look for other jobs. I don’t want to come across as not being game but as others have mentioned this is an example of my concerns about employees use of work time and personal time and the expectations the agency has. I have not been there for long but I have noticed that staff are frequently asked to complete more tasks then possible in a 70 hours pay period and then refused overtime or rebuked and written up for failing to complete all the work they have been given. The book issue was the first example I experienced personally but it has progressed very quickly after I sent that letter.

          Reply
          1. Jules the 3rd

            From your other comments, this is a smart plan. Suggestions:
            1) If you think it’s worth it, track your unpaid hours (re: mgr changing your time card mentioned above; you’re new, might not be worth it). Google “flsa Working Off the Clock”, check out UpCounsel’s article; their link under ‘unpaid work’ has documentation suggestions.
            2) Think about whether there were any red flags in the interview process here, and whether you can check future employers for the same problems. Some industries are more prone to overloading employees (legal, financial) than others, but you should be able to at least find people who will pay properly for the overtime.

            Reply
            1. Observer

              If you think it’s worth it, track your unpaid hours

              It is ABSOLUTELY worth it. The minute it happens more than once, it’s not a mistake. And even few month’s worth of overtime pay can add up! Also, this is almost certainly the tip of the iceberg. Hand this to the DOL, and they are likely to do an investigation.

              Reply
              1. Lalaroo

                If OP is working for a state agency, it’s not worth it. The DOL will not do anything to help state employees because they don’t have jurisdiction over them.

                I learned this when the executive director at my former agency edited my timesheets to show vacation time for days and times when I was at work, working. I lost those hours because no one could help me.

                Reply
    10. President Porpoise

      Solution: Read it in the restroom. Employer gets a benefit from a mandatory break that would otherwise be dead tome, employee doesn’t have to burn political capital on what many would see as a minor issue. Bam.

      Reply
      1. Decima Dewey

        I can summarize what the message of the book is likely to be:

        1) Change is coming.
        2) The change will not be in your favor.
        3) Too bad, change is happening anyway.

        Reply
  7. Budgie Buddy

    LW 4: Your sample email is perfect. Redundancy in emails should be embraced. A good rule of thumb is imagine you’re a person who gets dozens of emails per day and has just had the thought, “Oh No I forgot did intern send me the Wilson report today and is it an attachment??? Quick let me do a search in my inbox…” and then your sample email would pop right up and I wouldn’t even need to change the file name when I saved it.

    Reply
      1. I haven’t had my coffee yet

        Yes! This!

        Also, it’s absolutely not insulting to suggest that someone might have questions or need to ask things. A manager who takes issue with that would have to have a seriously fragile ego.

        Managers are just humans. They don’t know everything always. Plus, you’re not implying they’re stupid / ignorant if you suggest they might have questions – in a way you’re saying “if this isn’t as clear as I think it is let me know”.

        Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          My go-to closer for emails is “let me know if you have questions or need anything else” – including when I’m sending data to folks at the top of the chain. Part of the whole point of their role is that they’re not doing the “in the weeds” stuff like I am, so I actually do know more about it than they do on a specific details level. I try to anticipate everything they’ll want to know and give them that in the synopsis, but sometimes they want more info on something. So I just leave the door open for them to ask if they want. It’s not an insult.

          Reply
      2. RUKiddingMe

        Oh god yes! We have a rule about that here. File names must be descriptive. I wont even open it otherwise. I’ll send it back to be fixed.

        Reply
        1. Environmental Compliance

          I enforced this rule when I was teaching. Lab reports were all submitted digitally. I had a very specific format for file names because I’d get about 80 every week. StudentLastName_Student2LastName_LabTitle_ClassSection was it. It only took about 2 lab’s worth of me sending it back telling them to review the class syllabus for the proper file name, and to remind them that submitting with an improper name did not constitute submitting the file on time. (Not that I would dock them for real, but I could do empty threats.)

          It was part of a little mini-session I put together for them as part of email etiquette as well after I got sick of getting emails in text speak with goofy attachments and no subject line.

          Reply
      3. Seeking Second Childhood

        About filenames: If it’s something that is issued regularly, it might be worht including the date “Wilson Report 2019-06-27”. But honestly? I’d ask to see if there’s a records-management standard. Some reports are only valuable if they’re the most recent one.

        Reply
          1. Evan Þ.

            I used to do that. Then I noticed that when I went back to compare different drafts, I kept having to look up which version I’d created which date, so I switched to saving by date instead of version number.

            Reply
          2. Working Mom Having It All

            V3 is terrible because, unless your entire organization is extremely diligent about tracking, and versions are A Thing (so you would immediately know which version was version 3, and what the differences are, and out of how many total versions, etc), people very quickly forget what version they were on and just call it some random nonsense. Or multiple V3s saved in different locations, all of which are different. Or even if you get it right every time, you have to sit down and remember the specifics of what happened with V3 vs V4 and which file you should open. The date solves all of that.

            Reply
        1. Iris Eyes

          YYYYMMDD Reportname Report is usually the route I go, that allows for the default sorting by alphabet to put the most recent at the top. I do often reference back to prior reports so getting rid of all of them or only keeping the most recent one is problematic.

          v2 ect is generally used for drafting reports not for the final product.

          Reply
        2. Working Mom Having It All

          Yeah, my company doesn’t have an official Records Management Standard, but I’ve worked at enough places that do that I basically do it automatically. I tend to do TypeOfDocument_Vendor_[MoreSpecificInfoAsNeeded]_Date.pdf.

          I even do this when I do basic admin tasks like expense reports. So all the receipts are given file names like receipt_cardholdername_vendor_date.jpg. I can instantly see at a glance whether this is the receipt for the time Jim took a business lunch at Taco Torrent on June 15, or the time Mary catered a meeting with Salads N Such on June 23. It makes doing expense reports take zero time. Everyone should do this, and when I get files like “invoice.doc” I just don’t freaking understand how those people live.

          Reply
    1. fredsherbet

      I would add that it doesn’t hurt (and can be extremely helpful!) to briefly explain why you’re sending this email. I assume in these circumstances it’s obvious, but it’s a good habit to be explicit. As a receiver of a lot of email, it’s frustrating when something comes out the blue with no indication what I’m supposed to do with it!

      You could include some of the following, depending on the circumstances.

      * a request – what do you want the recipient to do?
      * context – why are you sending it? What is it about (what project, what conversation/issue/thread is it relevant to)
      * status – if it’s a document you’ve been Working on, is it finished? In draft? Waiting for review?
      * what you expect to happen next

      Okay! That’s a lot. I’m not advocating for long wordy emails full of obvious stuff. Just offering ideas for ways to make emails clear :)

      Reply
      1. Iris Eyes

        Also including the top level summary in the email is great. Whatever information is most relevant especially information that is relevant to assigning a priority to reviewing the file.

        So it could be 15 new customer added or a snip of the grand total line whatever is most actionable and relevant. That might be something OP can determine or it might be something that needs to be asked about.

        Reply
      2. Name Required

        Yes, this is a great suggestion! OP, I’ve sent emails with attachments where the email gets there but the attachment sometimes doesn’t — it’s filtered out by an a aggressive email filter, the internet “eats it”, the sender’s organization doesn’t allow them to open it.

        I’ve also made human mistakes when sending attachments — sent the wrong attachment with a similar name, or forgot to send all of the intended attachments.

        Including a line like, “Please see xx attachment/s” helps the send know that they are receiving exactly what you intended to send to them. Also, reiterating an offer of assistance isn’t insulting at all, it’s polite and warm. An email with just an attachment comes off rude and cold.

        Reply
      3. Working Mom Having It All

        I try to keep it simple, but yeah, I learned quickly that the text of your email should include any action you need to have taken. And it should be spelled out very clearly. And not clogged up with anything else that might distract from the action that needs to happen on the recipient’s part.

        I do something like this:

        Hi Jim,

        Please find attached an execution copy of the amendment to the Wilson Teapots Access Agreement that we discussed in the staff meeting yesterday. Would you mind sending a copy of this over to Karen at Wilson Teapots for her signature? Let me know if you have any questions.

        Thanks,
        Working Mom Having It All

        No “hows it going?” “I’m just writing to check in about…” or anything like that. 100% actionable content.

        Reply
    2. Wakeens Teapots LTD

      I read the post and was like, can you come intern for me please.

      Emails and files that are exactly what is says on the tin are <3 <3 <3 <3 . So many people don't get this!

      Reply
    3. tamarack and fireweed

      OP#4 – what Alison and everyone else said. I’ll just piggyback on here to add: As a college instructor, I can say that some of your instructors may not have the greatest email etiquette themselves. Which is regrettable as this is something to teach students. For me, the goal is to alert students to the fact that there *is* such a thing as professional email etiquette, and to set a tone that is appropriate to what the students and I *are*, at least for a time: Members of the same scholarly community who treat each other with care and respect.

      So if a student writes out a multi-paragraph letter I will at least acknowledge the form in my answer (“Dear OP4, Thanks for letting me know about the issue regarding X. I agree that we should talk about possible paths forward in person and I’m available at [office] at the time you suggested. I’m sure we can work out a schedule that allows you to [whatever the problem is]. Warm regards, Tam” … with my signature saying “Tam Fireweed, PhD” plus more information about contact.). However, if I get a few dozen students sending messages with the subject saying “Assignment 3” and an attachment that is called “Assignment 3”, I’ll just respond a copy-and-pasted “Thanks, got it!” even if one of the students happened to write a formal note with it instead of the more common, and appropriate “Attached is assignment 3”.

      Reply
      1. Samwise

        If only students would name their homework files “Joe Student Assignment 3”.

        This is why I love our somewhat clunky learning management system: It’s clear who submitted what and when.

        Reply
        1. tamarack and fireweed

          I nearly went off on a tangent about it this :). Yeah, I try to teach them that. We submit quite a few things as pull-requests on Github in one of the classes I teach, so that helps. Seeing how others name things helps, too. And for the rest, everything goes into folders with the student name, and is renamed by me. (And I guess I’ll use the clunky LMS in the fall.)

          Reply
        1. tamarack and fireweed

          Without harping on this excessively (but who are we if not people who harp on things…), some of these are eye-rollers, but for example I’d be fine with the “cool” in 6 and also with 12. These are bare-bones exchanges that could have been happening in chat, and the student also didn’t provide anything beyond the bare minimum. They’re respectful and purely utilitarian, and the students who sent them into a meme site are wrong to complain about one-word answers. (Also, the answer to the student who wanted to bring up their grade is not great, but I’d probably give a more clearly harsh, if more polite answer (“Dear [studentname], The grade in [LMS] is your final grade. The deadlines for work submission is over. Regards [myname]”. The student’s “good afternoon professor” is also not really a good address.)

          I’m also not particularly hung up about the one-word “ok” answers — you’ll encounter that not only in college but more generally when one requires another very busy person to sign off on something. I wouldn’t normally do that, and for students who have a medical issue or a job interview I will add good wishes! You’re right I think that these are part of a dynamic that some profs (not me) cultivate. Even more so is the “see me” – a style that my guess is the professor themselves will have experienced as “normal” from their professors. (I don’t use it, but I am unlikely to provide more in the substance, as in “Hi [studentname], This is something we need to have a discussion about, so please see me during my office hours. Regards, [myname].)

          Reply
    4. Sara without an H

      LW#4, you’re doing just fine — in fact, better than some colleagues of mine.

      It’s especially important to write a descriptive subject line, so that your managers can quickly scan their inboxes and find what they need.

      I also like it that you give files descriptive names. If you’re dealing with documents that go through multiple versions, you should probably think of a way to differentiate that in the filename: “Wilson report draft 1.0,” or something like that.

      But you’re doing just fine. Work is much different from university. You may come to like it better.

      Reply
      1. Elaine

        It helps, as others have said, to also include a short but descriptive subject line. In this case, instead of “The Wilson Report” (which could mean anything about the Wilson report), I’d say “Wilson Report is Attached.” Without even opening the email, the recipient will know exactly what is in the email, and it will also be easier to find in the inbox later.

        Reply
    5. Zennish

      This. I get dozens of emails a day, and would be way happy if the subject was “Wilson Report Attached” and the file was just called “Wilson Report” so I hopefully didn’t have to rename it when I download it.

      Reply
    6. Anne Elliot

      To: Client or Colleague
      From: Anne Elliot
      Re: Wilson Report
      [Attach: Wilson Report DRAFT v3]

      Attached please find the latest draft (draft 3) of the Wilson Report. Please let me know if I can further assist.

      Thanks,

      Anne

      Reply
    7. Doggie Lover

      One thing that could be considered is talking with people about how they like their inbox to look. My manager needs to be told how important things are to my work flow. So a sample email to him might be
      Subj: [48 HOURS] Wilson Report
      Text: Wilson report attached, I was unsure of section 4, so if triaging, start there.

      Whereas a past manager likes the subject to tell him what is needed, so that would be
      Subj: Review section 4 of wilson report by eob thur

      Also, for file names, different places have different conventions, but I’ve found that decades later it is SO much easier to find the files I need if they are DATE PERSON THING, like
      20190627 Wilson Income Taxes
      20190627 Jones Inventory Report
      etc. this def is less efficient when something will be iterated a lot, but I like it for notes, small reports, and other things that I may reference again, but won’t likely revise

      Reply
    8. Safely Retired

      Redundancy is good, but what I think you should be is EXPLICIT. Don’t require anyone to sort through all the Wilson Reports looking for the date they were sent. They might forward your email to someone else a month later, and that recipient shouldn’t have to find the original message’s timestamp to figure out when it came out. And just saying the Wilson Report might be clear enough this week, but what about in six months? Two years?

      “Here is the Wilson Report showing custom orders for product group ABC, generated 6/27/19, covering YTD 2019 through 6/15/19.”

      Reply
  8. Kc89

    I’m sorry but the mental image of a serene beautiful office space and then some employee doing her daily jog indoors is just killing me

    Reply
    1. Mystery Bookworm

      I keep picturing that episode of IT Crowd where one of the employees is doing a virtual triathalon and keeps jogging and ‘swimming’ during a meeting.

      Reply
    2. Seeking Second Childhood

      Even worse…. I pictured someone in that serene beautiful office space dressed professionally in pumps sprinting from desk to meeting to production floor to cafeteria…

      Reply
      1. smoke tree

        I like to believe she puts on sweat bands and leg warmers and otherwise doesn’t change her clothing at all.

        Reply
      2. Jadelyn

        I immediately pictured someone in full business professional dress doing the anime ninja sprint run down a hallway and just about choked on my coffee.

        (just do a google images search for “ninja sprint gif” and you’ll see the one I mean)

        Reply
  9. Meghan

    LW#2,
    Why not adopt a slightly older dog? Shelters and fosters often have dogs in the 6-12 month range from people who got a dog on impulse. Spend a few days adjusting with them, then start with a mid-day dogwalker. If you are attached to a specific breed, there are dedicated rescues for most of them. I do not know many workplaces that could accommodate that much time off, plus flex time.

    Reply
      1. Blarn

        Seems more of a gentle suggestion. Lots of people don’t consider the option of getting an older dog and many don’t realise that you’ll bond just as strongly with dogs of all ages, including old. I know I’ve bonded very closely with dogs that came to me in the final years of their lives.

        Reply
        1. RUKiddingMe

          *1 Considering the fact that OP is talking about so much time off, thinking of it as analogous to parental leave, etc…

          Throwing out the idea of a less high maintenance dog isn’t really questioning so much as it is just floating something to think about that they may not have considered.

          Reply
          1. CupcakeCounter

            This is exactly how I read Meghan’s comment as well – as another suggestion vs a critique.
            My parents are doing this today as a matter of fact – a 6-month old mostly trained pup joins the family in a couple of hours. Their 7YO dog was recently diagnosed with heart issues that really can’t be fixed so he has anywhere from a few months to a few years depending. He is such a great dog – super friendly, not overly yappy (which for a chihuahua is really rare), doesn’t shake, etc…that they want the new pup to have time to hopefully adopt some of his traits.

            Reply
    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

      We’ve had good luck going this route and have gotten several great dogs that came pre-potty-trained and were already old enough to be left alone at home long enough to fit into more work schedules than a puppy would.

      Sometimes you have to wait a little longer for the dog you’re looking for, and some rescues can be pretty picky about the living situations they will place dogs into, so if you decide to go that route it can be worth reaching out to the rescue even before they happen to have a suitable dog so you can be making any needed changes to your house/yard/etc. (Around here, a lot of rescues will expect you to have a fenced yard but most of them will make exceptions if you’ve had a dog before without a fenced yard and can articulate why your specific dog situation will work without one. We’ve successfully gotten 3 different dogs from animal rescues with an overhead dog run rather than a fence by talking to them about how it worked out with the previous dog(s). The yard expectation might be different if you live in a bigger city where everyone lives in apartments.)

      Reply
      1. Puppy OP

        Thanks but no thanks, I’m not interested in adopting advice. Having this particular breed of puppy is a lifelong dream of mine for a lot of reasons more appropriate for a therapists office than this forum, and it’s really important to me to be able to accomplish that dream. We’re considering adopting a dog down the road.

        Reply
        1. Jules the 3rd

          Go you!

          Pet choices are very personal and can be quite intimate, and people don’t need to be questioning / judging.

          Reply
        2. smoke tree

          I think it’s reasonable to want to spend a lot of time with the puppy when it’s still very young. Not just because small puppies need a lot of care, but because spending time with puppies is great! Depending on your office’s culture, you might have to be strategic about how you go about it, though.

          Reply
        3. Close Bracket

          I get it. I dream of owning a GSD. I’d way rather adopt an older animal than get a puppy, but if the only path to GSD ownership is a puppy, then I’ll be buying a puppy! Enjoy your breed, and maybe you can adopt an older animal of the same breed later if you think they need a friend.

          Reply
        4. Episkey

          Oh good Lord. I’ve lost all sympathy for you at this point. Look, lady, you live in a city and work a typical full-time 9-5 job. Here are your options:
          1. Adopt an adult dog who is already potty trained & can hold it
          2. Buy this puppy and send him/her to a doggie daycare until the puppy is old enough to stay home alone
          3. Buy this puppy & hire a dog walker to come to your apartment a couple times a day to take puppy out until old enough to stay home alone
          4. Get a cat

          Reply
          1. Yup

            Yeah…

            1) I have issues with people talking about their dream dog being X. Dogs are individuals and I’ve never met an owner that honestly and objectively thinks their dog has no faults. Mine is perfect in most ways, but hates being alone. She also had expensive health issues early on. Knowing her faults, I’d still pick her again every time, but she’s a real dog, not a dream dog.

            2) There isn’t always a win-win solution. In this case, your options might be to get the dog you can actually care for now OR get the puppy and spend a significant amount of money to pay someone to be there when you can’t. And if you try to do a middle ground, you’ll likely make potty training take longer with a higher failure rate.

            I will add though that a fifth option might be a doggie door or other set up?

            Reply
          2. Jadelyn

            Holy unnecessary rudeness, Batman!

            Seriously, there’s no need to be a total jerk to OPs, and in fact Alison very specifically asks us NOT to do that. If you can’t be kind, just don’t comment.

            Reply
        5. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

          I’ve had luck working with a breed-specific rescue to get a purebred specific breed of dog as an adoption – I meant to make that clearer in my initial comment and I now realize I did not. A rescue still may or not be an option for you if the issue is that you are focused on a specific breed rather than a specific life stage (and may rarely even have purebred puppies, but obviously that’s less common). You know your situation better than I do, but I worry that you’ve got a lot of emotional stakes and “perfect plans” piled on a tiny creature you haven’t met yet, and that really is something best gone over with a therapist rather than a comment section.

          I will give you a word of caution not to get to focused on everything about the dog going “just like you dreamed it” based on your breed research, though, particularly if you’re hoping for specific behaviors rather than a specific appearance. I’ve had multiple dogs of the same breed at different times and they were definitely different from each other in many ways! It is possible to get the one Basset Hound that regularly snubs their dinner, or the one Lab that doesn’t like to go swimming (and they’re still good dogs even if they don’t fit their breed stereotypes) so I wanted to caution you not to assume your dog will be typical in all ways of its breed. (This is particularly true if you get a puppy rather than an older dog, because with an older dog you can ask about previous behavior and find out about that specific dog’s likes and dislikes if one of them will be a deal-breaker for you, whereas with a puppy there’s no track record of that specific dog’s behavior over time yet.)

          I wish you the best of luck with your new dog, though. Dogs can be wonderful.

          Reply
          1. Puppy OP

            I do feel that you’re undervaluing them, yes. It’s very complicated and will help me process and move on from a lot of issues in my childhood.

            Reply
    2. Perfectly Particular

      Agree! We wanted a puppy for years but weren’t able to swing the time off to get through those early weeks. By chance, we found a family who needed to rehome their ~1 year old lab mix. It has been amazing! She came to us house broken and knowing a couple of tricks, and, surprisingly, with no bad habits. We never had her when she was tiny and cuddly, but that time is so short, and the past 5 years she has been such a great pet.

      Reply
      1. Rusty Shackelford

        And to clarify, I have a house with a yard and already had a dog of the breed I was looking for and had references and a good relationship with a veterinarian and any dog would be ridiculously lucky to find itself in my family, and I was still unable to adopt a dog from a breed rescue.

        Reply
      2. RandomU...

        When we got our dog, we didn’t even bother with a rescue group. On paper I’m apparently the worst dog owner in the world.

        In reality, our rescue dog that we got at the Humane Society lives the life of riley, including supervised hours on her lead in the backyard, after spending the day at daycare or with our neighbors who adore her.

        To bring this back to the OP, while I’m very glad to see they are thinking about all of the changes and commitment that comes with puppies. I think they are overthinking this a bit. (seems to be a theme in the letters today). I would come up with a loose plan, then expect it to go kerfloowie as soon as fido enters the picture. That’s what happens to most people I know, including me. Ours was 12 weeks when we got her, took her to the vet, got the last round of puppy shots and enrolled her straight to daycare. Her first day at daycare I got a call from the vet about 1/2 way through the day and lo and behold found out she had the worms. Quarantine for 30 days while being treated. (I immediately picked her up and explained why to the day care.) So we ended up coming up with plans b and c.

        Reply
      3. MatKnifeNinja

        I’m very lucky. The rescue I used has a strict no children and no fenced yard means no dog policy. Period. This is a toy breed, not something like a Setter that you could say needs ample room to run.

        An older adopted dog with mobility issues came into care. My town house was deemed big enough, and I have no children. The dog has been a total joy.

        I also had to show my yearly income.

        My social worker friend said, had they rescue added background check, it was almost verbatim of a foster parent application.

        Also had two home inspections.

        Reply
      4. Lynn Whitehat

        I saw an article once by someone who used to work at one of those crazy rescues, and believed in their philosophy at the time. He had this huge epiphany when a friend of his was rejected by the crazy rescue, and said, “yeah, so I just went to the pet store. They don’t have all these picky rules!” It was an amazing epiphany for him. “Wow, so if we reject 95% of the people who walk in the door, they don’t just give up? They go… other places? Maybe even places with irresponsible practices?”

        Reply
      5. Jules the 3rd

        Yeah, stories like this are also part of the reason we went ‘whippet puppy’ instead of ‘older greyhound’. A friend with fenced yard who’d had a greyhound before got rejected because they increased the min height requirement on the fences.

        Reply
      6. Jules the 3rd

        People who are willing to fail at their responsibilities to their pets will just go to someone with less stringent requirements, while people who will not fail can be shut out for capricious reasons. A friend with a 5′ fence was refused because it wasn’t 6′.

        I don’t see anyone on the thread complaining about the questionnaire per se, but rather about how their answers were handled (accused of lying) or that the requirements were unreasonable. I know that ‘unreasonable requirements’ is one of the very first thoughts about rescues and a significant barrier to people going to rescues to adopt. We didn’t bother once we heard a few of the stories, and we’re fully committed dog parents.

        Reply
    3. ThatGirl

      Yeah, I understand why people want puppies, but as someone who adopted a slightly older dog for exactly this reason… I recommend it.

      Reply
    4. MechanicalPencil

      This! An older dog has a more developed personality so you’ll be able to see that Scruffy is super low energy/high energy instead of waiting for the puppy to grow into that. Just because the “breed standard” is XYZ doesn’t mean your dog can’t be the exception to that, like the retriever I ran across who is terrified of water but as a retriever should be diving in.

      If OP is dead set on a puppy, staggering leave times/running home at lunch to let the dog out should be sufficient. Also crate training is key. And spend your at-home time doing engaging activities to tire the dog out so that a nap the next day while you’re at the office is even more appealing.

      Reply
  10. Zombeyonce

    I love reading but the moment someone tells me I have to read some non-fiction self-help vague management tips crap written by someone trying to make passive income in addition to courses they teach is the moment I become instantaneously illiterate. I can barely work up the motivation to read actually useful books for career development, much less something like this.

    I have a feeling OP is not the only person who doesn’t want to read it, but I’m guessing that whomever set up these retreats is totally on board so asking to be paid to read it is going to come across badly. I recommend reading the chapter names and the first paragraph of each chapter (or just any headings) in the book. If this is the kind of book I think it is, anyone with half a brain can infer the full content from that pretty accurately.

    Reply
    1. Sleepy

      Yes. I seriously doubt you need to read the whole thing to get the idea. It is an obnoxious assignment though.

      Reply
    2. Nopey McNoperson

      I was assigned to read one of these at work recently. I am exempt so being paid for the reading time is irrelevant, but I definitely don’t have time at work, so it has to happen on my personal time, which is mostly full of other obligations and commitments and I struggled to get the book read at all. Refusing to do it or complaining about doing it wouldn’t go over well, but lots of us will admit not being thrilled to do it. I was able to download it for free in audiobook form, which is somehow easier for me than reading the physical book, and I read about half of it that way, and then one of my coworkers found a 10-page summary online and I’m reading through that instead.

      The ideas in the book are decent. I hate the way it’s written, and all the case studies are unrealistically fairytale-like (Person struggles with a problem, Person applies the methods described in the book, Person’s problems are immediately and completely solved, rainbows appear, and everyone lives happily ever after…in endless iterations.) But it’s the fad du jour at my company right now, and it’s easier to get what I can from it and fake going along with the rest, rather than actually use career capital to push back. They’ll forget about the book eventually, but they’d remember the pushback longer.

      Reply
      1. Salamander

        Seconding the audiobook approach. If it’s a well-known book, the OP’s library probably has it for free, and she can listen to it on her commute or at work. I download audiobooks all the time from my library to my phone, and I’d probably try to get through as much of it as I could that way, rather than pushing back. Since she’s new, OP may need to save that capital for other things, since it sounds like this is a weird organization.

        Reply
      2. Sen. Longfellow Kittypants

        “they’ll forget about the book eventually, but they’d remember the pushback longer”

        This.

        Reply
    3. Scarlet2

      Yeah, it’s probably enough to be able to fake your way through it.

      Assigning a book is obnoxious, but I think the multiple “retreats” are even worse. Between this one and last week’s “summer camp” letter, I’m so glad I work for a company that doesn’t treat its employees like high schoolers.

      Reply
      1. Traffic_Spiral

        Yup. Note the chapters titles and the first paragraph, pick out 2 chapters you like, pick out something from each chapter, then start the discussion early on with “I really was struck by blahblahblah. It made me think a lot about how we do/don’t/could have that in our workplace.” Then “Mmm,” “in what way,” and “that’s a very good point” your way through the rest of the discussion, and occasionally practice some active listening on whomever you want to support or ass-kiss.

        Reply
    4. Rusty Shackelford

      There are probably case studies scattered throughout the book, and they’re usually formatted to stand out, so it will be easy to pick them out. Read a few so you can say “I thought the bit about how Sucracorp handled this kind of problem was interesting…”

      Reply
  11. I Go OnAnonAnonAnon

    For #4: I’d send an email like this – short, sweet, to the point, but not brusque.

    Subject Line: Wilson Report attached

    Hi SoAndSo,
    Here’s the Wilson report. Let me know if you need anything else.
    Regards,
    IGoOnAnonAnonAnon
    Attachment name = WilsonReport06_2019.pdf

    Reply
    1. Dragoning

      My office is fond of “EOM” in the subject line.

      So we would type “Wilson Report Attached (EOM)” as the subject line and leave the entire message blank except for the automatic signature and just attach it.

      Reply
      1. I haven’t had my coffee yet

        And I just had to google that, because I had no idea what it stood for.

        Letter writer, my advice to you is to stay away from acronyms in emails unless you see lots of people at all levels using them. If one person uses it, don’t assume everyone will.

        As an example, in my office lots of people use EOP (end of play) to mean “by the end of the working day” but nobody would have a clue what EOM meant.

        Reply
        1. Dragoning

          I admit, it was something I walked into the office seeing on email and it took me a moment to parse what it meant. (It was pretty clear when it was attached to an email with no further message). But I don’t know that I’d suggest a junior, new person (especially an intern) to start something like this. It was an established culture thing, I didn’t start it.

          Just sharing how it works where I work.

          Reply
        2. PhyllisB

          I just did a quick google search of EOM because I had never heard that, and it said there are 163 definitions of EOM. No, I did not read all of them. :-) I believe this is meant to say End of Message, but unless you’ve seen this used in-office I wouldn’t use it. What you are doing is fine.

          Reply
          1. Seeking Second Childhood

            Acronyms should always be checked. At a past employer this was “End of Month”.
            (Side suggestion to the OP4 — ask if there’s a company acronym cheatsheet. If not, start making one and share the file with your supervisor & co-workers near the end of your term. If they’re anything like this place, they’ll be delighted to have it for future hires & contractors!)

            Reply
            1. L.S. Cooper

              Yep, if I send an email (especially a report!) at my current job with EOM anywhere in it, it would mean End of Month.

              Reply
              1. Jadelyn

                Yeah, that’s what I parse it as, and I was super confused why you’d have that just like…tacked on to your subject line. I can see that being useful, but it’s definitely not a universal version of the acronym.

                Reply
        3. KayEss

          I’m sure many of us have at least one story about being taken aback by use of “F/U” until we worked out the acronym. I definitely blinked several times in consternation the first time I saw it.

          Reply
        4. Environmental Compliance

          I was not familiar with EOM or EOP. We do COB.

          And I’m environmental compliance, all I do is acronyms. ;)

          Reply
          1. Dragoning

            I work in pharma QA, we, too, have so many that we occasionally have to add “in what context?” when someone asks for a definition of one.

            Reply
      2. tamarack and fireweed

        I use this style when I send 1-liners home to my spouse. (Subject line “En route w/ Thai food EOM”. Message body blank.)

        Reply
      3. Asenath

        I’ve never heard of “EOM” (and strongly feel that my workplace already has far too many acronyms, many of which do not have an obvious meaning), but I send so many files to one particular office that I set up a special signature (using an acronym):
        ——
        FYI

        Asenath
        Contact information as required by employer.
        —-
        I put more information in the subject line, like “Form2 Smith, Mary” and use descriptive file names.

        People I don’t email as frequently get “See attached form as requested” or something similar. I do write longer more formal emails, but there are a lot of times when busy recipients just want the essential information.

        Reply
      4. Rusty Shackelford

        Some people here use [end] to indicate the entire message is in the subject line, but no one uses it for a message you’re actually expected to open, so be sure this isn’t going to be confusing in your specific office.

        Reply
    2. Imprudence

      I’m in the UK and I hate emails that begin “Hi Imprudence” in a work context. I always begin “Dear Alison” or whoever. I don’t think I’m alone in finding Hi inappropriately informal.

      Reply
      1. Project Manager

        I don’t really like it either (in the US), but I switched to it in my workplace because “Dear Allison” reads as too formal, and just “Allison” with no salutation, which is what I used to do, reads as abrupt.

        Reply
        1. Iris Eyes

          We really need to come up with an alternative to “Dear” I have an aversion as it is to formal and at the same time too intimate. (I’m not your dear, you aren’t dear to me)

          And as a side note I’m not annoyed at no salutation or getting the @ tag but if you are going to use my name for crying out loud spell it correctly it is right there in the to line.

          Reply
      2. FD

        I think it’s a cultural thing. Where I am (US midwest), starting with ‘Dear’ sounds too formal for most emails. Name only (e.g. “Imprudence,”), greeting and name (“Hi, Imprudence”) or greeting only (“Good morning”) are all commonly used.

        Reply
        1. ECHM

          I don’t like just the name at the beginning. Maybe it was this site that helped me place why. It seems like the written equivalent of taking someone’s chin and turning their head to look at you.

          Reply
      3. AGirlHasNoScreenName

        It depends on company culture. My last job, every email had to begin with “Dear [Title] [Lastname]” or you would be considered rude. At my current job, even though I’m still working with a lot of MDs, anything more formal than “Hello/Good Morning/Afternoon [Firstname]” is looked at as being not ‘in touch.’

        Reply
      4. Cap

        Really? To me, “Dear Alison” is way too formal to use with someone you communicate with regularly. I only use it when I’m emailing someone I don’t know well.

        Reply
      5. londonedit

        I’m in the UK too, but I guess my industry is less formal – I’ll use ‘Dear’ if it’s the first time I’m emailing someone I haven’t met, but after that (unless they insist on using ‘Dear’ every time they email me, in which case I’ll default to their level of formality) I start my emails with ‘Hi [Name]’. Close colleagues and a few of the external people I work with on a frequent basis will put an ‘x’ at the end of their emails, so it is pretty informal!

        Reply
      6. Cam

        I’m reminded of this recent Clickhole article: https://www.clickhole.com/amazing-this-new-gmail-feature-will-let-you-know-if-yo-1834681155

        “Once you turn on the new feature called “Let Gmail Help You Sound Normal,” you’ll be notified whenever you write something that seems like it was typed by someone with no concept of basic human interaction. As soon as you make a misstep like starting an email to your coworker with “Dear” like you’re a lunatic who’s writing them a love letter instead of just writing “Hello” like a normal person, a popup will appear, stating, “Are you sure about that? That sounds pretty weird.””

        I know it’s a cultural thing, but that’s really how “Dear” comes off to a lot of people.

        Reply
      7. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool

        For internal emails most folks in my office use “hi” and I’m in NE US. For external emails I use a slightly more formal greeting.

        Reply
      8. Ella

        Whereas getting an email that starts with “Dear” makes me feel like I’m in trouble or am being sent legal documents to sign. It just feels way too formal to me, though I’d probably feel different if my industry was something formal/conservative, like law or academia.

        Reply
      9. LQ

        This is interesting. Part of it might be if they are people you work with all the time. If someone started something that wasn’t painfully formal in an email “Dear LQ” I’d be ready for battle going into the email because I’d assume they are planning to make this part of a public record or something along those lines. Most of the emails start with just…the thing.

        “What do you think?”
        “System areas…”
        “Hey,”

        And none of those feel overly informal to me. Hi is on the more formal side for my emails. The last “Dear LQ” I got was an official promotion offer letter.

        Which brings us back to your work culture is critical. If you’re in an always “Dear…” culture then you want to add in formality. If you’re in a “What do you think?” culture, just say what you want and nix the formality.

        Reply
      10. Jadelyn

        To me, “dear” is just…wildly inappropriate. Too formal, for one, and weirdly intimate, for another. I would never use it. My schema for email openers looks more or less like this:

        Hey – [message starts on same line] = super casual, someone I talk to every day and am on good terms with
        Hi, [message starts on next line] = default, used for anyone in most contexts
        Hello, [message starts on next line] = formal, only for a first email to a new external contact – would never use with a coworker, even on a first email
        NAME, [message starts on next line] = I’m at least mildly annoyed with you or feel like you’re being weirdly brusque in your replies, so I’m dropping the salutation entirely.
        NAME – [message starts on next line] = I’m pretty annoyed and just want this email string over with.
        [no salutation] = EITHER means f*** you, or we’re six emails into this chain and I’m tired of adding salutations, so I’m just replying directly at this point.

        Reply
        1. Zephy

          I agree with you re: “dear” – how funny that it only feels appropriate to use for either loved ones or strangers you want to impress (hiring managers and the like). No middle ground!

          Reply
      11. Dragoning

        I’m in the US Midwest, and graduating to just “Hi, [name]” instead of “Dear, [name]” felt a little like growing up and calling adults by their first name instead of “Mr./Ms./Mx.”

        Reply
      12. Working Mom Having It All

        I do a lot of business in the UK and noticed their email standards are more formal and more letter-ish, with “Dear”, etc. I will use Dear instead of Hi when emailing someone in the UK, if possible. (Like, if a UK person is copied on a US thing, they can deal with our goshdang informal workplace culture.)

        Hi is standard at every company I’ve ever worked at or done business with in the US. Or no greeting at all, depending on context and formality level. (Like I would never just get right into it if it was a cold email to an outside vendor or someone I didn’t know well.)

        Reply
    3. Angwyshaunce

      Even though I work at a small, laid back company, I like to keep formality in my emails. My boss, on the other hand, is the most casual emailer of not only anyone I’ve worked for, but of anyone I’ve ever worked with.

      A typical email I write:

      “Hello [Boss],

      [Message in complete sentences]
      Let me know if you need any additional information.

      Thank you,
      -Angwyshaunce”

      Their typical reply:

      “thx”

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        I’ve found that the higher up the chain you go, the more casual someone’s emails tend to be. I only ever get chatspeak like “thx” from C-suite level folks. Seems to be a “rank hath its privileges” sort of thing.

        Reply
    4. Mockingjay

      I use subject lines that identify both action required and topic, then one or two quick lines repeating and expanding the subject line.

      Subj: For your Review: Wilson Report Draft Jun 2019
      Hi, Sue. Here’s the report for your review. Boss requested your comments by Friday, 4:00 pm.

      Subj: For your Signature: Wilson Report Final Jul 2019
      Hi, Boss. Please sign the final report, attached. (Or “at link ____” for online file access.)

      Reply
  12. SuperSuper

    LW #2 – Absolutely agree, you need to know the culture…And if you’re not absolutely certain the answer would be “yes”, then don’t ask the question. If one of my direct reports came to me with that question, you would be added to the same category as the employee who asked for family/bereavement leave after his hamster died (true story).

    Reply
    1. Greg NY

      You’re heartless on both counts. Asking a question when you don’t know how it would be taken is showing concern for others. What’s the worst that would happen? Someone would tell the LW that the organization isn’t set up well for remote work and trying to do things off premises would be largely unsuccessful. And people SHOULD be asking questions about culture, not trying to guess or figure it out merely from observing.

      While bereavement leave policies may not include pets (because there is no funeral, and that’s really what bereavement leave is intended for, not just grieving), asking for time off after a pet dies is NOT out of line and in fact is perfectly acceptable. If you would take time off to grieve a miscarriage (which also does not involve a funeral), surely you would take time off to grieve the loss of a pet.

      Employees are human beings, not work drones. I’m sure you wouldn’t like to be treated as one by your manager, so don’t treat your reports that way.

      Reply
      1. Autistic Farm Girl

        I’m sorry, did you just compare a miscarriage to a hamster dying?! And then told someone that they were insensitive?
        If you can’t the difference between losing a pregnancy and a hamster dying then you’re the one who’s being insensitive. Alison’s also said that comparing a new puppy to having a child is quite out of sync in most places.

        Reply
        1. Autistic Farm Girl

          Edit: it should have read “if you can’t understand the difference” but i can’t edit my original post.

          Reply
        2. Mathilde

          That is really not what Greg said. He highlighted that no funeral =/= no grieving, and that people can grieve for different reasons. Basically, that people should be able to get flextime without having to justify themselves, whether it is for a miscarriage or for a hamster dying.

          No need to try and find offense.

          Reply
          1. Pnuf

            Greg absolutely did equate a miscarriage with the death of a pet, which even for a commenter with a stellar history of pontificating in subjects he doesn’t understand is … startling. Having experienced both I can tell you that they are absolutely not equivalent. In. No. Way.

            Reply
            1. Mathilde

              I don’t know about Greg’s history here.

              It just didn’t seem problematic to me. I basically understood that people should not be judged for their reasons to take time-off. And, you know… yeah, sure.

              Anyway, let’s leave it at that.

              Reply
              1. Merpaderp

                I agree as well. Maybe not the best example but I think the point holds – it’s reasonable for an employer to not give time off if there is a disproportionate impact but an employer saying “no, adult employee, your needs are dumb.”… Ehhhhh. It’s not like we don’t have evidence from past letters of employers unreasonably forcing staff to ‘justify’ their time off, medical leave, accommodations, etc. that I’m wary of judging someone for taking time off for ‘silly’ reasons. I try not to assume ill intent so my default is that, even if it seems silly or a poor use of PTO to me, I assume that they are acting in a reasonable manner for them in this situation. (Until I have evidence otherwise of course).

                Reply
          2. doreen

            All that’s true, about not needing a funeral to grieve- but it’s also true that when people talk about asking for/granting bereavement leave , they aren’t generally talking about using a day or two out of their normal allotment of vacation time or PTO. They are asking for extra days that are granted only due to the death of a close relative or perhaps a relaxation of rules for taking sick leave. It’s not a matter of being judged for your reasons for taking time off- it’s a matter of asking for extra time off.

            Reply
          1. I hate coming up with usernames

            I never thought I would find myself disagreeing with sentiment, but here I am. Because hamsters and miscarriages. No. That’s madness. Yes, I was sad when my hamster died. I wouldn’t fault someone for taking a day off work for being sad about the loss of a pet – it’s hard! Take the day! But do not compare it to the loss of a person.

            Reply
            1. kittymommy

              Ehh, I was more upset and cried harder/longer when my dog died than when my dad died. That doesn’t mean that others will have the same reaction in their lives, people are different.

              Reply
                1. Perse's Mom

                  And I’ll reply to myself because I didn’t mean that as meanly as that sounds, but there are all sorts of factors involved in grief – if someone you love is terminally ill, maybe you come to terms with it early so their passing is more easily accepted because much of the grieving process is already come and gone. If you’re not close to them, you’re likely not going to be as impacted. That sort of thing.

          2. Lynn Whitehat

            I asked for the day off when I had to put my dog to sleep. Not because I was beside myself with grief; she was an old dog and it was time. But there were a lot of logistics to deal with, digging a hole in the yard, meeting with the vet, doing the euthanasia, having my step-daughter over to say goodbye, trying to explain it to the boys. There was also a whole weird thing where my in-laws tried to hijack the process and have her put down while I was at work the day before. It took from 9 AM-2PM just to get it all done. By then, I was pretty wrung out and wouldn’t have been much use at work.

            Reply
      2. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis

        There are so many options to take the p*ss when it’s a pet though. If I asked for bereavement leave every time I lost one of my fish, I’d be in the office for approximately 4.5 days (had a very unlucky bout with both disease and old age).
        Plus, it depends on the company bereavement policy. Our company handbook specifies that if it’s not a direct family member (extending out to grandparents/aunts/uncles), maximum bereavement leave is half a day. For direct family members it’s a week or management discretion (one lady lost her husband unexpectedly and was granted a month, for example – taking a month off for losing your hamster is taking the p*ss no matter how devoted to it you are, given that hamsters have a life expectancy of 2-3 years). That said, we do have pet bereavement leave – tends to be 1-2 days unpaid after a half day paid since it may include vet admin.

        Reply
      3. Jasnah

        Oh Greg… it’s not because there is/not a funeral. Pets are property, and are not considered the same as actual human family members. If someone asked if they could put their pet on their human health insurance or claim it as a dependent they would come across as wildly out of step with social and professional norms, to the point that I would question their judgment. This is what an employee risks when they ask questions about having their pets treated like human family members.

        Reply
        1. Slartibartfast

          One-many places are offering pet health insurance. It’s an optional benefit for me.
          Two-there is a very good chance it’s not about the hamster. Often when people lose close family members, the pet becomes the last attachment to the deceased, so when the pet dies all the residual grief from the human loss comes back. Or the pet was the one good thing that got them through a rough time, such as divorce or depression. The type of pet is irrelevant, it’s what the pet represents. So yes a dead hamster could be emotionally devastating, depending on the circumstances.
          As for comparing a hamster to a miscarriage, I read that as “we don’t expect bereavement leave for this exponentially worse thing, let alone a hamster”.
          But the tl/dr is, grief is grief and it’s not a competition.

          Reply
          1. Yorick

            “If you would take time off to grieve a miscarriage (which also does not involve a funeral), surely you would take time off to grieve the loss of a pet.”

            Greg NY actually sounds like he finds the death of a pet MORE worthy of time off than a miscarriage.

            Reply
          2. Merpaderp

            Seconding this reading: the whole gamut of grief, from “oh, I’m sad” to, “how do I go on?” and everything in the mean – not a statement of equivalence.

            Reply
          3. Jasnah

            Pet health insurance would be a great benefit, but I stand by my statement that I would be taken aback by anyone claiming their dog on their regular, human insurance.

            And I’m not sure how much the level of grief someone feels towards the deceased matters here. Or what the pet “represents.” It’s about the category of leave you’re using. Bereavement leave usually has limits on what humans you can use it for. So you can feel nothing when your evil stepmother dies and still get 3 days off, or you can feel devastated to lose a pet (as I have) and take regular PTO or at least call it a “mental health day.”

            Reply
      4. Jule

        “If you would take time off to grieve a miscarriage (which also does not involve a funeral), surely you would take time off to grieve the loss of a pet.”

        Why did you need to do this? Make your point without bringing a false equivalence into it next time; you’re saying hurtful things.

        Reply
      5. mamma mia

        I think Greg’s miscarriage comparison was out of line but I agree with his overall argument. Why would you tell OP2 not to ask unless they’re already certain of the answer? Then what’s the point of asking questions at all? OP2 wasn’t planning on going in like, ‘i demand this’ but was asking if it’s reasonable to ask, which, of course, it is! I wouldn’t compare it to maternity leave when asking (that’s just straight up dumb) but the question, in and of itself, is reasonable. The worst they could happen is they say ‘no.’ Like, that’s it. If she’s prepared to hear ‘no’, she really doesn’t need an extensive knowledge of the company’s culture to ask.

        And while it’s understandable to not grant bereavement leave to someone whose hamster died (as bereavement leave policies are very specifically…people oriented), I hope you at least approved some PTO for it because who knows? Maybe that hamster was the most important thing in this person’s life.

        Reply
        1. Washi

          I don’t think “the worst they could say is no” is true in all cases. If the company is at least somewhat open to remote work and she frames it as a request for a perk but shows she is understanding if the answer will be no, then yes, the worst they can say is no.

          If she frames the request as “well you give a whole 3 months off to parents so why can’t I have 2 months wfh to care for my new puppy” then the worst is not hearing no, the worst is that she is perceived as naive/entitled and her judgement is called into question.

          Reply
          1. mamma mia

            Yeah, I agree. I don’t think it would be smart for her to compare her situation to maternity leave. I wouldn’t advice going in with an elaborate PowerPoint presentation discussing her desire to “set my new family member on the right track for life and make sure they know they’re well-cared for in the early days of puppyhood” because that would definitely rub people the wrong way. But I see nothing wrong with asking in a straightforward and respectful manner.

            Reply
          2. Metikon

            Yup. Worst they could do is say no and lose respect for her, which will come up every time she’s evaluated again. Signed, someone who is in frequent management discussions where everything we know about the person is brought up, yet again.

            Reply
        2. Lissa

          IMO any point he might’ve had was undermined by him starting by responding by calling somone “heartless” for not feeling the same way he does about pets – as demonstrated by this mini thread, plenty of people having differing opinions on this topic, and insulting someone for not seeing it that way is pretty crappy. Some people see pets as equivalent to family members but many don’t (this can be a cultural thing too) and someone isn’t heartless for not viewing it that way.

          Reply
          1. Stitch

            I had a friend who lost a fallopian tube to an ectopic pregnancy. She had major drugs and surgery, plus she lost a pregnancy she very much wanted.

            This is not funny.

            Reply
      6. MusicWithRocksInIt

        Look, I love my dog so much, and if I woke up in the morning and she was dead (which honestly I am expecting/dreading more and more, she is old and has health issues and it is a daily struggle to get her to eat) I absolutely would not go into work that day. Even knowing that this was coming I would need time to cry. But I would never be so out of sync that I would ask for bereavement time for it – that is a personal day, to deal with something personal. I am aware that asking for that bereavement time would seem super out of touch, and would leave HR with some thoughts about my judgement. And honestly if someone compared their dead hamster to my dead dog, I would be almost as offended as someone comparing taking care of a new puppy to maternity leave – and I just got off maternity leave.

        Reply
      7. JJ Bittenbinder

        If you would take time off to grieve a miscarriage (which also does not involve a funeral), surely you would take time off to grieve the loss of a pet.

        Others have made salient points about the false equivalency you have very callously presented here, but I’d also like to add that miscarriage typically involves physical recovery as well as emotional recovery.

        Reply
    2. Mathilde

      I guess it really depends on your work. If your workplace is big on flexibility… I mean why not ?

      But in most workplaces… asking for so much flexibility because you got a puppy, that is just… way too much. 10 days of leave and then flexwork ? Unless you work for PETA, there is a very good chance it will go over badly and you judgement will be questioned.

      Is there any way you can just… not say exactly why you need so much flexibility ?

      Reply
    3. Washi

      I’m not sure I would say that you have to be certain the answer would be yes, but you definitely need to know the culture. And if your work culture tends to be disapproving of work from home, the way to get around that is NOT to try to equate your puppy care needs to maternity leave. Giving the impression that you don’t understand the difference between pets and humans will make you look naive and wildly out of touch (honestly I found the language used in this letter pretty cringe-y.)

      Reply
    4. Seeking Second Childhood

      The category of “bereavement leave” usually implies paid time off. Some corporations are crazy restrictive on that as it is — three days for the loss of a close family member here. (It was *just* enough for me for my 94yo mother… but some co-workers who lost family shouldn’t have been back in yet.)
      As for losses not covered in the employee handbook… if I were running the zoo I’d suggest taking some PTO on short notice, or a day off unpaid. I’d even bend rules and allow them to charge it to sick leave instead of vacation. But I’d be clear that it was their regularly accrued PTO, not anything special for a loss.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        That’s because bereavement leave isn’t about grief–it’s about the logistical handling of a death. (I think the euphemistic name wrong-foots people.) Three days is pretty standard, and I wouldn’t say it was crazy restrictive for arranging and attending a funeral. (That’s why it’s fewer days for more distant relatives–it’s basically a day off to attend the funeral.)

        Reply
        1. Smithy

          I don’t know if I’d see that as universal.

          When I worked in Israel, bereavement time was always seven days starting from the day of the funeral to allow for the Jewish ritual of sitting shiva. And where I work now in the US – bereavement of an immediate family member is 5 days and from what I was told, it would have been possible to include PTO after bereavement in case I wasn’t ready to return. Whether from grief or for matters of the estate.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            I didn’t claim it was universal; I said “pretty standard.” I will absolutely agree I was talking about the U.S. only, because culture-based work policy differs wildly country by country.

            But if you need more time for grief, then yes, that’s PTO thing, not a bereavement leave thing.

            Reply
      2. smoke tree

        A lot of these policies are really about social custom rather than the unique experiences of the individual. You may be closer to your great-aunt or your best friend than your sister, but many policies would only grant leave for the sister. I wouldn’t be surprised if these customs shift over time, but for the moment, asking for bereavement leave for a pet would be considered out of sync with norms around this.

        Reply
        1. Lissa

          Yes!! This is a perfect way to put it. There’s no way to emotionally measure how someone’s death would affect you but there has to be some policy there, so they do the best they can – I think points above about bereavement leave having to do with the practicalities are right on. Also – there are loads of things that might happen in one’s life other than a death that could be just as devastating but we don’t have specific policies for those either.

          Out of sync with norms is it exactly. I know of someone who called in for a day off due to Carrie Fisher’s death (this person was not related to her or anything). I mean – I’m not policing people’s emotions but maybe don’t tell people that? If a hamster’s death could be devastating to someone, so could a celebrity’s death, or a rough breakup, etc – but most people are not going to think it’s a great look to compare it to someone’s family member’s death.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            Yeah, I don’t really care about the morality/emotional arguments–I fully believe there are people who grieved for for their hamster than some people have grieved for human family, and that’s fine. But you want a workplace communication that’s basically the least common denominator of information: sufficiently informative and understandable but not more, suitable for people regardless of how they feel about pets or family or Carrie Fisher. “I’m really not feeling well and I won’t be coming in” protects both you and the people who are better off not being distracted by personal stuff they don’t need to know.

            Reply
    5. Lily in NYC

      We had this exact situation last year. The employee took a week of vacation and then worked from home two more weeks. The CFO approved it and then constantly complained about it the entire time. Other people found out and became resentful because they didn’t ask for special treatment when they got puppies. So just a warning to OP that it might be one of those things that backfire even if it’s allowed. I really dislike our CFO because she has a pattern of approving things and then complaining to anyone who will listen about it.

      Reply
      1. mamma mia

        Your CFO sounds annoying but if your coworkers didn’t ask for “special treatment” when they got dogs, they don’t have any logical right to be resentful if someone who asked and received the time off. They should’ve just asked.

        Reply
        1. Jasnah

          It would be so beyond the pale for me to ask for something like that… I don’t think it would occur to me in the first place. It would be like asking the company to cover my dog’s medical bills. And I would definitely be resentful if someone else got a huge random perk for something everyone else just finds a way to deal with, just because they had the chutzpah to ask for something ridiculous.

          Reply
          1. mamma mia

            Clearly not that ridiculous if it was granted. It doesn’t make any sense to be resentful of someone who asked for something that you didn’t ask for. That’s a “you” problem, not the coworker’s problem.

            Reply
        2. Lily in NYC

          People are people, they are going to act like people and get annoyed with things like this. It’s human nature.

          Reply
    6. quirkypants

      As a manager of a small and busy team, I wouldn’t have a problem with someone using their vacation time to adopt a puppy…. It’s their time to spend but I wouldn’t be game if they wanted to use sick time (different category of time where I work). I might be ok using one or two days of sick time but not ten days.

      The working from home three days a week would be trickier to accommodate. We allow employees to work from home once or twice a week as long as their role allows it but most people know that they might have to change that schedule if required by meetings or obligations come up.

      I’d probably allow it but they’d need to have the same flexibility to change their day as I expect from all other work-from-home employees or even know that some odd week they might only get 2 days if business needs trump.

      Reply
    7. SuperSuper

      To clarify, bereavement leave is strictly defined by our employee manual with no flexibility; and I had no problem granting the use of PTO for the hamster death — because of course I’m not heartless. However, this employee insisted they shouldn’t have to use PTO because the hamster was “like a child” to them, so they should be granted bereavement leave instead.

      A new employee asking for accommodations because they liken a new pet to adopting a child would likely come across as tone-deaf to a conservative office culture. And the LW expressed concerns about ruffling feathers, so that tells me that the support may not be there for this type of request.

      Reply
  13. mark132

    #3, echoing Alison’s advice here, have you actually tried seriously talking to this coworker? I had a coworker whose customs text tones were loud (I often easily heard them through my headphones). I finally spoke to this coworker about it, and they were very agreeable in dropping the volume.

    I would put money on it, if it bothers people on a different floor, it almost certainly bothers people on the same floor. If you talk to the person with a fair amount of people around you might be surprised how many people will offer support to what you are saying.

    Reply
    1. boo bot

      The phrasing used in the post, “when anyone risked commenting…” along with the nearly-made Facebook posts makes me thing one of two things is going on: either the coworker in question is personally known for being vindictive, or there’s a culture of talking behind people’s backs without ever speaking directly to them. Either way, it likely means that no one has been clear about how disruptive this is to others.

      To the second point, it probably is more annoying to the people on the floor below (because she’s running over their heads) but I think that’s their opening to talk to her! “Hey, I know it probably doesn’t seem disruptive upstairs, but down here the noise really comes through the ceiling when you run.” Heck, if she insists it’s not disruptive, ask her to come downstairs, have someone run above you, and show her what it’s like.

      Reply
      1. Jennifer Thneed

        This right here is what I came to say. And this is how to handle it in apartment buildings, too.
        1. The person on the upper floor should visit the lower floor to see how it sounds.
        2. The person on the lower floor should visit the upper floor to see what is actually happening when it sounds so very loud. (This is moot for this instance, because the LW does know what is actually happening, but apartment buildings are notorious for having inadequate insulation between floors, so that normal walking can end up sounding like stomping around.)

        Reply
  14. Engineer Woman

    Regarding #5, it’s not clear to me that the expectation is you read the book on your own time. Is there no way you can read the book on the clock without “taking time out” to read it?
    I would just take the reading of the book as part of your job now and read it little by little until completed ahead of the retreat.

    Reply
    1. CoveredInBees

      This sounds like an excellent idea. Also, there seem to be cliffs notes versions of most of these books, sometimes in audio form so you can listen while doing other things.

      Reply
  15. Mike C.

    Why in the heck do people take these bullish!t management books seriously? They’re little more than just-so stories for adults with no falsifiable ideas and scant supporting evidence to back those ideas up?

    Also, most of the ones I’ve thumbed through use all the wide spacing and big font tricks I used in college to pad my five page essays. It’s really embarrassing that folks actually look up to these sorts of authors.

    Reply
    1. Perpetua

      Maybe because not all of them are bullsh!t? And many of them do have evidence from research (even though one can question if the research is truly applicable in practice, but still).

      I don’t think they should be used as gospel, but I also really don’t get the intense hate for them. Some of them have useful ideas or approaches, some of them do a good job of describing the situations people come across so that we feel less alone in our experience, some of them are interesting to read. Some of them are just bad, yes, but that’s the case with anything in life.

      How are people supposed to learn anything if so many things are dismissed right away as useless and embarrassing? Yes, learning on actual “work stuff” is great, but what if you don’t have a great example of a leader in your environment? Why not try and get something from books as well?

      Reply
    2. 867-5309

      I joked once that I’m going to write a book titled, “The Advice of Wealthy White Women,” after Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In.”

      Reply
    3. tamarack and fireweed

      Well, it depends what it is. Sure, some of it is cultish bullshit, and nearly none of it is actually triggering deep insight. However, some of this stuff is basically a compendium of experience in digestible, cartoonish form. I remember when I was first made team lead. My then manager swore by a series of short (< 100 pages), "funny" management books and handed me some of his favorites. The style and the writing were very basic. The imagery was infantile. But I can't say I didn't get something out of them.

      Sure, my manager could have found a moment in his busy travel schedule (he managed me from the next country over) and TOLD me what I needed to know, but then he'd have to marshal his thoughts etc…

      For the one I remember best, the serious synopsis would have been along these lines: "Now that you're the line manager of [team] people will come to you to solve their problems, even more than they do now. Both your reports and people from [other team] who want something from your team. The vast majority of these problems will be real. And you may feel that you can help — you almost certainly will WANT to help, and you also know that to a degree it is your responsibility to make these problems go away. HOWEVER, you CAN'T just help. You'll quickly get overloaded with problems that you can't ALL solve, and while your reports will be happy to have handed over their problem to you, in the long run it won't make them any happier to have you clogged up with thorny issues and unable to do the work that your job description says is yours. What you need to do is to acknowledge the problem and then carefully examine who [NOT YOU] should be solving it, and how. Here are some strategies [case 1/ case 2 / …]." I would have appreciated to hear this from my manger as a mentoring session, but absent the opportunity, I was happy to glean it from a booklet written for a 6th grade reading level and illustrated with animal drawings.

      Reply
    4. FD

      I think it’s a bit more complicated than that.

      I have found a lot of different books that have helped me to approach work more successfully. Are all, or even most of them, scientifically verified? No, they aren’t. Most of them don’t claim to be, for that matter. Heck, I have Alison’s book and it has a lot of ideas that I’ve found handy and none of which were scientifically tested (as far as I know).

      Lots of things don’t have to be universally true to be useful for some number of people. If a book helps you, you tend to admire the person or group that wrote it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

      Where the problem does come in is that what works or is good advice for one person may not work for others, and people who have found something that works for them (a diet, a lifestyle, a management book), often assume that the same thing will work for everyone. That can lead to them being obnoxious about it.

      Reply
      1. Norm

        FD, if you’re looking for a management book that is scientifically verified, please read “First, Break All The Rules,” by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. It’s almost 20 years old now, so some of it is dated, but the science behind it is solid.

        Reply
        1. FD

          Yep, I’ve got that one already.

          I do take Mike C’s point though. A lot of the books that make that claim either had issues with research methodology or subsequent studies haven’t been able to reproduce their results. It’s also common for these books to draw less nuanced conclusions than the studies they were based on. So business book evangelism is right about as irksome as diet evangelism (as we were all discussing yesterday). That alone doesn’t mean that no one can get anything from a business book (just as some people find some diet systems work for them).

          Reply
      2. Lissa

        Yup, totally. People have a tendency to say “this worked for me, so therefore it’ll work for everyone and if it doesn’t, you’re just not trying hard enough!” Or conversely “this didn’t work for me so it’s BS and nobody should ever do it.” I mean, a management book is no more useless than a website or conversation talking about it – it’s just another tool. I think it’s good that we don’t have to all start from scratch to figure things out in our own heads – a lot of things that seem obvious started somewhere but get repeated so much it gets fairly well known (especially true online.)

        Reply
        1. Mike C.

          But this is just straight up equivocation. “There are some good, some bad thus the truth must be in the middle”.

          No, this isn’t actually the case. Most of these books are written as little more than overly simplistic “fake it ’til you make it” gut feelings unsupported by reasonable evidence or worse narcissistic memoirs of incredibly uninteresting people who generally refuse to recognize the role that luck or other people played in their own professional success.

          Are there one or two decent books in this genre? Sure. But I’ll take my odds that this book is complete garbage.

          Reply
    5. Lily in NYC

      I am still mad at the jerkwad who gave me “Who Moved My Cheese” as a secret santa gift 15 years ago. It still had the piece of paper inside that made it obvious he received it for free (we worked in media and got tons of free books).

      Reply
      1. Hlyssande

        Ugh, my company used to have posters related to that book in the cafeteria at the old office location. So glad they’re gone now.

        Reply
    6. Moray

      Sometimes all they do is start conversations, and that can be beneficial or enjoyable.

      If you give me a free lunch and a few hours to chill with c0workers away from my desk and work-talk, I will happily take the Strengths Finder quiz every year.

      Reply
      1. ArtK

        We criticize idiotic trends in management all the time here. This is exactly the right place for the discussion.

        Reply
    7. JustaTech

      You’re not wrong that the signal-to-noise ratio in management books is very low, but there are a few useful ones out there. They’re not all useful for all people, but, for example, “Managing Humans” is a nice starter book for people in tech who are getting started with managing.

      My dad did management consulting for years, and then was a business professor. We had *so many* of those stupid, awful books lying around the house. And then he would sometimes use the TV (the only TV) to watch management training videos. Uuuuggghhhh… (Unless it has John Cleese; he’s good.)

      Reply
    8. Argye

      Funny story – the former CEO at a non-profit made all of his management staff read a management book at discuss it at weekly meetings. Unfortunately for him, reading that book made it clear to all of his staff (me included) that he was a really, really lousy manager and gave us the tools to go to the Board to complain.
      He ended up getting fired.

      Reply
  16. NopeNopeNope

    I went to college with a guy who ran any time he went from one place to another. We called him Simon-run-everywhere. Odd chap. I’d definitely suggest doing more to stop the running woman from running. It sounds like a massive health and safety issue.

    And re the book, rather than asking to be paid, I would read chapters at my desk and slowly work through it during my normal paid hours. If my boss said that wasn’t ok I would act surprised and say ‘but this is work!’. If I’m researching or learning things for my job then I often do it in work time.

    Reply
    1. TechWorker

      Ha this reminds me we have two buildings and one colleague always runs between them – it’s not far, maybe 100m across a car park but it always startles me a bit..

      Reply
    2. ArtK

      Should have named him Rikki-tikki-tavi. For those who don’t know, he is a character in a Kipling short story whose motto is “Run and find out.”

      Reply
  17. Dragoning

    OP 5:

    Dear lord. Are you going to have a retreat there every single month? That’s absurd.

    Do you have any downtime at work you could maybe fill by reading this book, or else put it on your “desk” at work as a task to complete?

    Reply
  18. Gir

    OP #1…. I can sympathize where your boss is coming from. I do not work in an open office plan, but a majority of our offices have open ceilings. My boss also has the tendency to leave her door open as well as a loud “phone voice.” Luckily I have the relationship with her where I can just walk up and close her door if I think her voice is carrying further than she thought. She’s also one who has trouble focusing if there’s a lot of background noice going on. And if she can hear my phone conversations with someone, she’ll get distracted and pop in to see what’s going on and if she can help.

    I would ask and see if there is somewhere else you can take these types of calls. A quite area may help you hear the callers better, or at least put distance between you and your boss.

    Reply
    1. Chatterby

      I have the unpopular option that the manager is partially in the right. The LW is constantly shouting on the phone in a shared office space. That is insanely distracting and annoying, and I completely understand the manager snapping. Equally, if they can’t understand her, shouting isn’t going to fix bad reception or hearing no matter how long she tries, so there really isn’t a point in staying on the phone.
      She should 1) offer to have them email instead, or propose walk in hours 2) look into technology fixes like speak to text, or a volume amplifier and 3) formally bring the issue up and request a fix, such as a phone area or booth being installed so she isn’t bugging everyone.

      Reply
      1. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool

        These are all suggestions the manager should make then, not just tell the LW to hang up on people. Hopefully the LW can read some of these comments and suggestions and resolve the issue as it sounds like her manager doesn’t really care to.

        Reply
      2. tamarack and fireweed

        It’s the manager’s job to create conditions in which the OP can carry out their work effectively, and the manager is failing at that:

        1. The proposed “solution”, to hang up, is deontologically unsound, and the OP’s concerns about how this would reflect long-term on the company are reasonable.
        2. Even *if* the solution would be to not take those calls at all, there is no justification whatsoever for the manager to snap or complain, or blame the OP or make them uncomfortable for doing their job.

        Reply
  19. kilika

    LW5 – find the book online, read some reviews, skim the chapters, and read a few paragraphs the day before the retreat. At the retreat, make sure to ask questions about what you read. That lets you look interested and pretend to engage with the material without having to actually know anything.

    Reply
    1. I haven’t had my coffee yet

      Or get together with colleagues and google for spark notes on read a chapter each?

      Reply
    2. Mathilde

      Yes. Read the intro, the conclusion, maybe some transitions if you can. Prepare 2-3 questions on some pages you read.

      That should be enough. I am pretty sure you are not the only one who won’t have read it.

      Reply
    3. TooTiredToThink

      That works too. Although I don’t understand why LW5 can’t just read a few pages a day at his/her desk? It won’t take up that much time away from work and its not on their own time frame either. If I was required to read a book for work; that’s what I would do.

      Reply
      1. DJ

        This is what I’m wondering. I’m non-exempt and if I was assigned a book to read, I would assume I could do it during work hours. If OP doesn’t have a job that lends itself to having time to read, I would ask about taking the time to read during work hours. This is assuming that it hasn’t already been made clear that this should be happening outside of work, in which case I’d do what Alison said or what kilika suggested.

        Reply
      2. kilika

        Well, I was answering the assumed idea that the book is silly and annoying and OP doesn’t actually *want* to read it. There are ways around that :)

        Reply
  20. Auntie Social

    LW1: Can you offer to phone these elderly callers back—ostensibly to try to get better reception or something–but then go make the call from the conference room or some office where you can close the door? You can raise your voice, you won’t annoy your boss, the client gets served. You’ll just step away from your desk for a bit. Or is there someone on staff with an office who could take care of these ‘volume’ calls? Hanging up just gets you negative reviews, you have to justify your conduct online, etc. Easier, faster and cheaper to just help the callers.

    Reply
    1. Blarn

      The OP specifically says ‘We have no other work space for either of us, so moving is not a possibility’. Also, she might need to be in front of her computer and have access to her files while taking the calls.

      Reply
  21. Knitting Cat Lady

    #3: My employer is very safety conscious. It comes with the subject matter.

    If the wrong person sees you using the stairs without using the handrail? You’ll be written up.

    And we’re supposed to tell people ‘Walk, don’t run!’ should we see someone run in a hallway.

    Should someone actually get injured because of someone running in the office? The whole company will HATE the runner, because there will be mandatory ‘training’ (read lecture) on accident avoidance. Hours of it.

    Also, I learned the whole ‘No running inside’ thing in grade school…

    Reply
    1. Mathilde

      Do you work on Everest ? Because that seems excessive.

      But even for a not-particularly-safety-conscious workplace, running in hallways seems far-fethced.

      Reply
        1. Knitting Cat Lady

          I am.

          Our company’s motto is literally ‘Safety First’.

          We have ‘5 minutes for safety’ in every. Single. Meeting.

          There have been a few really bad accidents involving people tripping on stairs in the past year. That’s where that particular crack down comes from.

          There’s also TONS of information about road safety thrown at us.

          Which can be useful. I, however, commute by public transport. Unless I trip somewhere my biggest risk are inattentive drivers. Nearly got hit by some dude playing with his phone while driving, speeding, and turning left without checking for pedestrians. Fun.

          In general it’s a bit of a bad look if your company full of safety engineers is riddled with accidents that could have been prevented with a tiny bit of care.

          Reply
          1. Seeking Second Childhood

            Life-safety branch of a larger corporation here. “Thou shalt not get us into the odd news” is an unwritten rule.
            Everyone who sees something that doesn’t meet safety rules is expected to submit an “observation” through their management, and if the safety team uses it in their tier-meeting talking points, the submitter gets a lunch ticket. Stockroom pallets with nails sticking out, boxes stacked too high, carpet with a square on it, cabinet drawers left open when someone walks away, people texting while striding down the hallway, power cables across a walkway, etc.
            When they reminded us to use handrails, I pointed out the inconsistency between hands-free towel dispensers and handrails with the gunk of ages on them….and facilities cleaned the handrails.

            Reply
            1. Chinookwind

              “cabinet drawers left open when someone walks away”

              I am glad you guys see this a safety risk. Our safety guy grabbed something from my filing cabinet and then left the drawer open (which was at exactly at my head height if I had slid backwards) and couldn’t understand why I made him turn around and fix what he did (my coworkers thought my reaction was correct but hilarious ). Just because my job doesn’t involve fire, sharp metal or blades doesn’t mean I can’t be severely injured by a lazy coworker.

              Reply
              1. Mike C.

                I wish more people realized this. I feel like when I bring up safety in this forum people think I’m absolutely bonkers.

                Reply
      1. londonedit

        I have a friend who used to work for an oil/petroleum company, and safety standards for oil rigs applied to every office building the company had. So they had to use the handrails on the stairs, they weren’t allowed to carry uncovered mugs of hot liquids, etc etc. It seemed totally bizarre for an office building out in the suburbs, but those were the rules.

        Reply
        1. Orbit

          My husband works in an office like this. They had to sign paperwork agreeing to use the handrail in the stairs that actually stats that it is a potentially fireable offence to be caught not doing so.

          He also had someone report him for walking with an uncovered coffee mug. He had a lid he’d just forgotten it at his desk.

          Reply
        2. Hlyssande

          I’m in the O&G industry and while we don’t have a rule about uncovered mugs in my office, safety is HUGE. Every webcast meeting with the VIPs includes a safety moment to start and they have a different safety focus every month.

          Since I’m in an office without any manufacturing on site, I’m guilty of tuning out during the safety moments, but I’m grateful to work for a company that is so invested in worker safety.

          Reply
          1. Seeking Second Childhood

            Some of those safety issues may be relevant. The most dramatic work accident I’ve seen *personally* was ….a file cabinet. An intern was shuffling files between cabinet drawers because we’d received a new cabinet. And she added a big stack of files into an upper drawer of a mostly-empty cabinet with all the drawers open. The unit fell forwards. Luckily she was athletic enough that she did NOT hurt herself catching it. And luckily it was not files that had to be locked up because the bottom drawer could never be completely shut again.
            The noise was loud enough to make my mind flash on earthquakes, and I hadn’t lived in California for 15 years by then!

            Reply
            1. Grace

              My dad works in the oil industry, and the worst accident they’ve had at his site* is a guy who put a parcel on his lap to slice open the tape and nicked his femoral artery, then had to go find someone to call an ambulance because he didn’t have a form of communication. The guy was fine, but it led to a lot of doubling down on office safety, making sure that you can always get in touch with somebody and that people know where you are, etc.

              *They did once have an explosion that could have been really bad, but it was shift change on a bank holiday so no-one was anywhere nearby.

              Reply
            2. Hlyssande

              Oh yeah, for sure. I guess there have just been too many admonishments regarding wearing the right PPE as needed, or safety regarding forklifts and other industrial equipment-y things. Most of it is really common sense. But also, the webcast meetings are incredibly boring overall and ADHD makes it hard to pay attention to them.

              Just got an email today that ends with ‘Safety is a CHOICE, not a CHANCE.’ Really apt regarding this particular letter.

              Reply
        3. Mike C.

          It’s about enforcement.

          It’s starts with people who are working certain types of jobs need to wear eye protection. But people take it off during breaks, forget to put it back on and so on. People move from area to area doing different type of work are also at greater risk because not being in the habit of wearing eye protection means that you’re more likely to forget.

          There’s also the fact that there’s no way for others to tell who needs to be wearing safety glasses unless you’re specifically in the area where that sort of work is being done. At the same time, an injury to the eye, as rare as they are, is devastating to the individual and incredibly costly to the company.

          So you just make everyone wear eye protection when they’re in the area. Even if it means walking from offices to the cafeteria. The eye protection is provided and very inexpensive and this sort of policy makes it impossible to forget because everyone is doing it, and is empowered to point out folks who aren’t. This led to a massive decrease in serious eye injuries even though the vast majority of folks don’t technically need to be wearing them.

          Reply
      2. Lynca

        It’s a huge deal here- we work in a building with a ton of labs and then we also go to active construction sites. And we have to action plan any accident that occurs (talk about how to avoid it, etc.).

        I know several supervisors that would write you up for running. You’d have to be running for a fire extinguisher or medical kit to get out of it.

        Reply
      3. Metikon

        I used to work on a remote oil drilling facility, and THE # 1 safety briefing was always to hold hand rails going down stairs, because guess where the most work related accidents came from.

        Reply
      4. Mike C.

        This isn’t unreasonable in the slightest. If you care about safety then you deal with a safety issue until it’s fixed. Normally that means using your words to address the problem but if it keeps happening you deal with it rather than ignore it.

        Reply
    2. mamma mia

      OP3 did not present this woman’s running as a safety concern though so I don’t think it’s helpful to treat it as one. I’m sure if the woman had run into someone in the hallway, OP3 would’ve mentioned it in her letter.

      My advice would be to talk to the “offender” directly and if she refuses to stop, shrug your shoulders and just move on. Wear headphones. Look out at the beautiful scenery and wildlife. To suggest to tattle to their manager about the running is inappropriate, in my opinion. If you want a job where you can work in utter silence, freelance and stay in the comfort of your room.

      Reply
      1. Colette

        Things can be a safety concern even if no one has been injured yet.

        I’ve had enough inadvertent collisions/near misses with colleagues who were walking to know that I don’t want to experience the same thing with someone who is running.

        Reply
        1. mamma mia

          Ok but if someone crashed into you while you were walking, the solution obviously wouldn’t be to ban walking in the workplace. I disagree with the notion of banning someone from doing something because of the POTENTIAL for it to cause harm, especially when there is zero evidence from the letter that supports the idea that this woman running is a safety concern. OP is not presumably working at a pool or a nuclear plant or whatever kind of place where a “no running” rule makes sense. If she were, it would have been included in the letter. OP is annoyed by the noise and finds it “disturbing” when she is trying to look at the scenery. She needs to either speak to the runner directly or get headphones and move on.

          Reply
          1. Hlyssande

            A ‘no running’ rule makes sense in just about every work setting. Running through hallways in an office is ridiculous unless it’s an actual emergency. Why on Earth would anyone need to run in an office setting otherwise?

            Just because nobody’s been injured yet doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. What’s going to happen when someone carrying a hot beverage collides with the runner? Someone carrying something sharp or that could break? Since it apparently hasn’t happened yet, do we not care about the potential injury or property damage? How should the company handle a potential work comp claim resulting from a collision?

            I have enough trouble nearly running into people in my office hallways at a walking pace (there’s a major 4-way “intersection” where at least one way is always a blind approach, and the bathrooms open up into a very busy hallway also).

            Nobody is saying the runner can’t run. But the office hallways are absolutely not the appropriate place to do it in. That is something the company can and should control, for their own insurance liability if nothing else.

            Reply
          2. Colette

            We ban plenty of things because they have the potential to cause harm – we require people to wear shoes and hairnets in restaurants, wear seatbelts, etc. And it’s not reasonable to expect office workers to look out for someone who is running in an office environment.

            Reply
          3. Seeking Second Childhood

            OP is writing about the noise being disturbing — we’re pointing out that she can use the safety issue as a neutral reason to get the runner to stop running.
            (And yes even walking can be an issue — this building went so far as to install mirrors at busy hallway corners to reduce the possibility of walkers colliding. Even a sprained ankle goes on our safety record — and a spilled coke still means an extra charge for cleaning.)

            Reply
            1. mamma mia

              If I were the runner, I would take a lot of issue with LW disingenuously framing this as a “safety concern” (when clearly that is not her problem with it, otherwise she would have mentioned it) when her real issue is that the running disturbs her sense of peace and serenity that she expects to get out of her workplace. It’s one thing to help the LW, it’s another to encourage them to lie to get what they want.

              Reply
                1. Hlyssande

                  Seriously. Just because the OP didn’t realize or think of the safety issues involved initially doesn’t mean they aren’t still concerning.

                  Honestly the noise/disruption from someone running through the halls should be reason enough, but the safety concerns may be viewed as more legitimate and not as the OP having a grudge/whining/tattling.

              1. Iris Eyes

                Well combined with advice to reach out to coworkers on floor two about the issue (who do have a legitimate safety concern) bada bing bada boom no integrity issues.

                Also now that it has been brought up she can say that every time she hears/feels the running she can legitimately say that it makes her think about how dangerous it would be for someone to be bowled over by such an activity.

                Furthermore, activity that unnecessarily disturbs your coworkers is a legitimate thing to address. Yes people should exercise, yes people need to trim their fingernails and toenails, no these activities shouldn’t take place regularly in the workplace.

                Reply
              2. Mike C.

                It doesn’t really matter if you’d take issue with it, it’s still a safety issue and that’s more important.

                Reply
          4. Jaydee

            You can’t ban walking in the workplace because people need to be able to get around and, barring a mobility limitation, walking is the way most people get around. You CAN have and enforce rules to ensure safety when walking. “No running” would keep folks moving at a more or less consistent speed. Put mirrors up at blind corners if needed. Create “lanes” and require people to stay to the right or left based on driving conventions in your country. Keep doors that open into hallways and common areas closed when not in use. Keep hallways and common areas free of obstacles and tripping hazards.

            Reply
        1. Hlyssande

          Yeah, this. Near misses are taken extremely seriously at my company, even for my location (office, not colocated with any manufacturing). This letter set my hackles up something fierce.

          Reply
      2. SarahKay

        OP3 may not have presented it as a safety concern, but it absolutely is one. I work for a safety conscious company, and we’re absolutely not allowed to run inside buildings. We’re also supposed to look for events/behaviours/obstacles that could cause accidents and then change them to make sure the accident doesn’t happen, rather than reacting after the event. After all (and at the top end of the scale), the whole problem with the Titanic is that no-one did any worst-case planning.

        Also, can we not with the word ‘tattle’? If someone won’t change unreasonable-for-work behaviour (and I would say this falls into that heading) after a polite and reasonable request, then a sensible next step is to speak to their manager to get it dealt with.

        Reply
        1. mamma mia

          I’m confused as to why so many people are writing in with their experiences of how safety conscious their companies are as if that is, in any conceivable way, relevant to the question at hand.

          Also, don’t nitpick my word usage. I will use the word “tattle” if I feel like it applies and it applies here. The running does not actually affect LW’s work and to bring a manager in would be unnecessary and would absolutely fall under my definition of “tattling.” We can definitely disagree on that but you have no right to tell me not to use certain words.

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            She’s taking issue with the whole concept of tattling, if I understand her correctly (which I’ve done in posts here myself).

            The OP says it’s noisy and distracting. That affects her work.

            Reply
          2. Mike C.

            Because people who don’t work at safety conscious companies hear the folks who do and generally disregard what the latter have to say about safety regardless of data, injury reports and so on.

            Reply
    3. The Man, Becky Lynch

      It’s not as extreme as that in manufacturing but yeah, we discuss the heck out of anything that results in an injury. I’ve had to lecture people about not running over people with frigging carts full of heavy AF things because you know, that breaks feet and such.

      Reply
  22. Magpie

    OP2: I cannot sufficiently agree with the advice “you definitely don’t want to sound like you’re comparing it to parental leave. That’s unlikely to go over well”. I’d apply it when speaking to colleagues as well as the boss, and I would even suggest being careful about phrases like “new family member”. Most people don’t think it’s reasonable to compare buying a pet to having a child, and it really does put up parents’ hackles–especially if someone implies the work, obligations, legal requirements, and career impacts of pet ownership are comparable with parenthood. (It can also be pretty hurtful to people struggling with infertility to hear that someone went to a shop and bought ‘a new family member’.)

    I used to work with someone who called herself a cat mother, and complained to me that I was getting preferential treatment because I had flexible hours as a parent when she didn’t. At this time my baby hadn’t slept through the night for 14 months, my toddler was potty training, and I was getting up at 5am to be in work for 7 in order to keep childcare costs down. She…had cats. /rictus grin/ She was generally referred to as “the mad cat woman” if people didn’t know her name, and quite often when they did.

    Obviously your actual feelings as to your dog as family member are your business. I’m just saying, this is a potential culture war that nobody needs at work.

    Reply
    1. anon for this

      Look, I’m struggling with infertility and I’m not about to go into hysterics because someone calls a pet a family member. What does them going to a store to buy a pet have to do with infertility?

      Stop treating us like we’re all so fragile we’re going to fall apart at any mention of families. It’s incredibly condescending.

      Reply
      1. Sam Sepiol

        But for some people it can be very upsetting. It’s not the end of the world to err on the side not offending people if it’s as simple as avoiding a particular phrase.

        Reply
        1. Blarn

          I disagree. Many people really do see their animals as family members (in my experience, without thinking or saying it’s the same as having a child). I don’t think someone’s right to not be arbitrarily offended trumps my right to regard my family as family.

          Reply
          1. Mathilde

            Yes, you can have all sorts of feeling towards family members : loving them, hating them, having favourites… it doesn’t mean that you love them all equally, just that they are that : a part of the history, people, living and inanimate things that make up a family.

            Reply
          2. Moray

            Just because you can think of your animals as family (sure!) it’s not very reasonable to think that calling your animals family around other people will never cause grimaces or indignation or hurt feelings.

            I like my coffee mug better than many of my coworkers, and I don’t feel guilty about it, but I don’t go around sharing that information.

            Reply
            1. Blarn

              If explicitly saying my family includes dogs causes indignation or hurt feelings, it’s not my problem. Indignation and hurt feelings aren’t reasonable responses to that statement and it isn’t reasonable to to tiptoe through life lest you inadvertantly upset an unreasonable person.

              I don’t skip through the office screaming my love for my dog family, but I certainly don’t hide the fact I’m close to my dogs and they’re a huge part of my life. This hasn’t been a problem in my career at all. If anything it’s helped me to network since I often end up bonding with other dog people.

              Reply
            2. Ask a Manager Post author

              There’s nothing wrong with considering animals who live with you as part of your family. Someone who has a problem with that is unreasonable and volatile, and that’s about them, not you.

              (This is different than saying that having pets is the same as having children, which it of course isn’t.)

              Reply
          3. Princess PIP

            People should not get offended at who others regard as family members, that is for sure.

            I think people get pushed out of shape when pet parents want to start bringing treated and benefited as child parents — which is go say, taking it beyond simply referring to their pet as a child.

            Reply
        2. I haven’t had my coffee yet

          Are you one of them?

          I’m sick of people speaking for me and it happens with frustrating regularity on this site.

          Reply
          1. anon for this

            Yeah and the people speaking for others often seems to happen when they want an unrelated example to drive their point home. I’m tired of my issues or identity being used as someone’s attempt to win an argument, and I’ve considered no longer reason this site because of it. It reeks of performative wokeness sometimes.

            Reply
            1. Rebooting

              Agreed. It happens with infertility and disability and mental illness way too often, and as someone who deals with all three of those issues, I’m sick of it.

              Reply
        3. anon for this

          Disagree, many people on this site who have never dealt with certain issues love to talk FOR people with those issues and it’s always a bit condescending in the assumption that those people with issues are so helpless and fragile that they need woke allies of all causes to speak up for them.

          People with infertility issues know they’re going to hear about families from other people. You can’t expect people not to talk about things in their life just on the off chance it’ll make someone sad. If we all avoided every simple phrase AAM commenters dream as potential phrases to hurt feelings we’d start sounding like robots.

          Reply
          1. I haven’t had my coffee yet

            Exactly. And really, what you call your dog makes eff all difference to how I feel about being unable to have kids.

            Reply
      2. Ethyl

        This is a great place for “I statements”! FOR YOU it’s not painful but you don’t have ESP and can’t read people’s minds.

        Reply
        1. anon for this

          It’s also a great place to remind people use issues they don’t have as a way to solve a completely separate argument. I don’t need people who aren’t infertile telling me what people like me will be hurt by. Too often it becomes a bunch of people who aren’t infertile setting the conversation and tone policing and people who are infertile are actually ignored.

          Reply
    2. Blarn

      I openly regard my dogs as my family members without pretending the responsibilities or relationships are the same as they would be if the dogs were children. Families are fluid and flexible and certainly can involve non-human animals.

      Reply
      1. paperpusher

        Yes, people’s families also include grown-up children, siblings, and parents who are still in great health. Family =/= dependents.

        Reply
    3. London Calling

      *She…had cats. /rictus grin/ She was generally referred to as “the mad cat woman” if people didn’t know her name, and quite often when they did*

      Your colleagues sound lovely. Full of the milk of human kindness to someone who might be lonely, not be able to have children and compensating with cats, or who just loves cats.

      Reply
      1. Scarlet2

        +1000

        This. Plus, seeing a pet as a family member (which a lot of pet owners do) is not the same as seeing them as children.

        Reply
        1. CommanderBanana

          ^^ This. Yes, my dogs are family members. No, they’re not my children (pretty sure the big one thinks I’m her large, dim, hairless puppy). But I have the same sort of caretaking obligation towards them that I would have for any other living thing that depends entirely on me for survival – as in, if one gets sick, I’m leaving work to take care of them, full stop.

          Reply
      2. Cat Lady

        Magpie asked for flex time while dealing with a baby and a toddler, and someone complained because she didn’t get similar accommodations for her cats? I’d be rolling my eyes super hard at that, because (as someone with no kids and two cats) I am well aware that my cats can take care of themselves all day and babies and toddlers can’t.

        Reply
    4. Metrics

      Actually, this just sounds like the culture of your office is one full of toxic people, if we’re resorting to an ableist, childish, often misogynistic nickname behind someone’s back because they love their cats. That’s definitely unneeded at work.

      Complaining about your maternity leave isrude, yes, but not because of anything else. It’s a fairly large leap you’re making by bringing infertility into this as well. I’ve noticed many an internet argument do this with the opposite of the intended effect.

      Reply
      1. CupcakeCounter

        I’m sure the nickname isn’t simply because she loves her cats. Most decent people have to be at the end of their rope with the cat person to start using that kind of nickname. My husband’s family got to that point with their cousin – and we are all HUGE animal lovers and obviously love our cousin very much. When she started introducing herself as Pup’s mom and refused to go anywhere the dog couldn’t go, including a family funeral, the nicknames come out.

        Reply
        1. London Calling

          Nicknames are all well and good if the person with the nickname accepts it and has no problem with it. I’m not getting that impression here, rather that this is unpleasant name calling behind the colleague’s back. I note you say ‘referred to,’ implying that this is how she’s described to other people or when her colleagues are talking about her; which doesn’t sound decent to me.

          Reply
          1. kittymommy

            Agree. While complaining someone got flex time for being a parent and they didn’t for being a cat owner is ridiculous (though if flex time is doable for the rest of the office, regardless of reasons, perhaps that should be looked at) is asinine, referring to others with nasty nicknames is not the way adults should be handling the issue.

            Reply
    5. Bagpuss

      I agree with the advice not to conflate it with parental leave. (and I say that as someone who has no chilren, but does have a very nice cat!)

      I don’t think that referring to pets as family members is inerently inappropriate but I think it is sensible to be clear that you are talking about an animal not a child, not last as it avoids confusion.

      I don’t think that seeing a pet as a family member is the same as eqauting them with a child – an of course ‘family members’ covers an awful lot of ground even if you limitit to humans – many peopl will have relatives who they don’t se much or are not close to, and would grieve more or be more emotionally affected by the death of a much loved pet. That doesn’t mean that popl and pets are the same, or that employers should be expected to treat them the same in terms of leave etc.

      (As someone whose childlessness is not by chouice, I am not upset or offended by people who talk about their pets as ‘fuirbabies’ or members of the their family, and would be confused but not distressed by someone calling their pet a child (without making it clear it was an animal) .)

      Reply
      1. Hills to Die on

        Well stated. It’s very surprising to me that this has to be explained to people over and over (and they still argue the point).

        Reply
    6. NextTimeGadget

      And for those of us who actually consider pets a member of the family and value them to the same degree a parent would a child, I suggest parents calm themselves and learn to have some empathy. The fact is that adults are allowed to prioritize what they want. Parents chose to have children knowing the financial, time, and energy implications.

      There wouldn’t need to be a “culture war” if everyone just stopped comparing their values to others’ in some sort of sacrifice olympics of worthiness and let people take time for themselves and their lives outside of work.

      Reply
      1. DJ

        This.

        I also think it doesn’t help that (at least in the US) a lot of employers give the bare minimum to parents with kids. It can be easy to fall into the mentality of “Well if I get the bare minimum flex time (or leave or whatever) for my child, why should Jane get anything to deal with her cat?” But that’s an issue with the system, not with Jane the cat-owner.

        Reply
      2. I hate coming up with usernames

        You say parents need to calm down and have some empathy, and that this wouldn’t be an issue if people would stop making comparisons. But in my experiences, parents aren’t usually the ones comparing having a kid to owning a pet. Why would we? My pets and kids are both very loved members of the family and that’s where the similarities end – why compare the two?

        As far as “parent martyrs” goes, parenting seems to be one of those weird things where those who don’t want to participate in it feel that those who did have no reason to complain. As you said, we knew the expectations and still chose to have kids. Yeah, that’s true. Does that mean I’m not allowed to complain when I’m having a hard time? Like, if my co-worker complains about having to do repairs on their home, I’m not going to say, “Well, you knew that’s what you were signing up for when you bought a house! Stop being such a martyr!” It’s just weird. Of course it’s going to cause culture wars when you call someone a martyr for basically just being a human being with regular frustrations.

        Reply
      3. Also Into Cats

        You’re conflating two separate issues, though: whether or not people are entitled to their PTO and availabile flexibility for their own reasons and whether or not parents are somehow callous and un-empathetic in their belief that parenthood and caring for children is unique from other caregiving relationships. I am a parent and I also have two adored and very spoiled cats, one of whom definitely spent his first several very young weeks with me thinking I was his mommy. I would walk through literal fire to save my cats from a burning house. But to say that someone values their pet “to the same degree a parent would a child” is almost always a statement from a person without children. I think if you had an actual parent say they loved their pets and children so equally they’d have difficulty deciding which they’d choose in a life-or-death situation, we’d all think that was pretty F’d up. If a really weird murderer made you chooose between your dog and your toddler, I think we all know there’s a clear right choice there–however heartbreaking it may be.

        From another angle: If I went around to all of my coworkers saying that I wasn’t really single because I lived with a male cat and he was “like my husband,” everyone would probably think I was pretty out of touch without having a whole big conversation about whether cats or husbands were more important and whether or not a person is capable of loving a cat as much as they can love a husband. It’s a ridiculous argument. It seems to come so often from what is almost a position of disgust for children and the choice to have them. Pets are wonderful. My heart swells with love for my cats and they bring me more joy in life than I can possibly express. They’re still not people and they’re especially still not children.

        And then to top it all off there comes the comment about how people (here, parents) need to stop “comparing their values to others'” like the entire debate doesn’t originate with people comparing their pets to other people’s children in the first place. I agree that competition is the enemy of joy, but parents don’t seem to be the ones who start that comparison and competition in the first place–I’ve never seen someone say “I just love my cat so much!” and have a parent pop up with “but not as much as I love my son!!” It always seems to be the other way around. Pets =/= babies. In most ways, they’re like 10x better/easier and wonderful little individuals who give us so much not only in their capacity for unconditional love but in their ability to receive it as well.

        Parenthood and pet ownership are simply different. They are apples and oranges. One is not better than the other, but they are not the same. Thus, it is not automatically absurd or unreasonable for OP to request this time off or this kind of work flexibility if it’s available to them. OP is similarly entitled to use their available PTO to take 2 weeks off to get their part-time freelance Etsy shop off the ground or to work on their new podcast or to recover from some kind of elective plastic surgery procedure. To draw a direct comparison between a new puppy and parental leave, however, has already been robustly proven to be fraught and probably isn’t a wise rhetorical choice.

        OP, I will keep my fingers crossed for you with this arrangement. May I also suggest that you make a tweak in your strategy/approach (rhetorical appeals!) by shifting a bit towards the practical reasons for wanting to stay home with the puppy? We’re all having this big debate about the emotions of it all, but no one seems to be bring up the possible effectiveness of saying something like “Hey, we’re getting this new puppy and we’re stoked. It’s going to be really young so I’m going to take a couple of weeks of PTO to make sure everything’s good and there are no food or bladder issues going on that I’d need to take him/her to a vet for and to get some good routines established. After that, if it’s possible, I’d like to see about working remotely for 6-8 weeks. We’re not interested in crate-training but I’m a little worried about leaving a puppy that young alone with free reign of the house and it would be nice to be there to make sure the house doesn’t get destroyed in our absence: to clean up quickly if there were any accidents or to stop any chewing on the furniture. If 3 full WFD days aren’t possible do you think we can come to another sort of arrangment–perhaps longer lunches 3 days a week–that will let me go check on the puppy and the house?”

        That way it’s less about your need to form an emotional bond or protect the fragile psyche of the puppy and more about realistic adult concerns that come along with the adorable puppy joy.

        Reply
    7. EventPlannerGal

      Honestly, I would rephrase the request entirely not because of hurtfulness but purely because I personally find all this “welcome our new family member to the early days of puppyhood” or whatever unbearably twee. The OP is getting a dog. She wants time off to look after the dog. It’s not a Hallmark card. /curmudgeon

      Reply
  23. Perpetua

    #5: This seems to me like a pretty intense reaction for one book. How are you feeling otherwise in your new role? Did you arrive there excited and interested in your work? If yes, I would let this one go and use the following months to get to know the culture better and see how other things work. I don’t think one should put their head down and just go with anything the employer suggests or demands, but this is one book, to be potentially read over the course of several weeks. You can even skim through it, so it really doesn’t seem like a huge imposition.

    I’ve only felt this type of resentment or resistance when something else in the environment or my job role was really not agreeing with me, or I felt a lack of control that I then needed to exercise somewhere else (such as on tasks like this). Your mileage may vary, of course. :)

    Reply
    1. Hrovitnir

      There’s a decent chance the objection is rooted in (a) so many retreats, it feels bizarre that so much time is getting sunk into retreats and then you’re expected to read this book as well? Definitely not for free I don’t! And (b) many people, including myself, have approximately zero time for “motivational speakers” so the level of resistance is related less to being weirdly expected to read a book that may or may not directly address your actual job, but more to reading pseudoscientific waffle then having to pretend you agree with it.

      Practically speaking I would just skim-read it in work time, and act surprised if anyone acts like you’re supposed to have read it outside of work time.

      Reply
      1. Scarlet2

        Personally, I think all the retreats + assigned reading sound borderline cultish. It’s the kind of thing that reminds me of scientology.
        (As an aside, I don’t see the point of asking someone who’s just been hired to go to a “leadership retreat” where people are “bouncing ideas around about problems that may come up in our work” – if you’ve just arrived, how can you really discuss that? And I won’t even get into the “leadership retreat” concept *shudder*)

        Reply
        1. Perpetua

          That’s a pretty big leap to make from retreats to a cult. The OP mentions 3 retreats, all of them might last one day (or even a half-day), and if leadership development is something the organization is putting a big emphasis on at the moment, that doesn’t necessarily sound like a horrible cult. A retreat might mean just an offsite meeting at a conference center nearby, it doesn’t have to be a cleanse and a ceremony with naked coworkers. The usefulness of the retreats OP#5 mentions still depends on how well they are planned, of course, but I think we have too little information to determine that it is definitely just a waste of time.

          Do you think it’s better that a new leader sits it out completely or that they join their peers even if they don’t have much internal experience? They can still use it to get to know the colleagues, to see how things work, and possibly give input from their other experience.

          Reply
          1. Scarlet2

            I said “borderline cultish”, not “it’s a cult”. I find the idea of having 3 retreats over 3 months and assigning reading to adult professionals to be not only absolutely preposterous, but more importantly a pretty big imposition on the employees’ free time.

            Reply
        2. Hlyssande

          Ugh, scientology. We’re getting radio ads for dianetics around here and it is so annoying.

          That said, 3 retreats/events in 3 months is a lot. I get annoyed as it is from the monthly and quarterly webcasts I have to attend.

          Reply
      2. ABK

        Can you just read the table of contents/into the day before the retreat, pick up a line or two from the book and say you read it????

        Reply
  24. ZucchiniBikini

    LW2, I agree that this is going to depend entirely on the culture of your organisation regarding workplace flexibility generally, and WAH specifically. If you work somewhere where a lot of people make use of flexible arrangements and WAH is a well-accepted part of the way you do business, it may be OK. If not, I would be fairly cautious. Honestly, care of a puppy is not going to land as a super strong reason why they should make a big exception to work norms for you, in the way that (for instance) health problems, or child, elder or other family care needs, would likely do. You point out that you’d get access to maternity leave if you gave birth to a human child, but as others have pointed out, that’s not a comparison that is likely to be well received; I have seen people make that argument to ask for flexibility to care for a parent or other adult with particular needs, but even in Australia (where I live), where flexibility is more common, I have yet to see anyone successfully analogise puppy care to human care in terms of how much it should be accommodated. If your employer chooses to accommodate you, I imagine it will be because they generally think that flexibility to allow employees to have work-life balance is beneficial, not because they are persuaded by the needs of pet ownership.

    Reply
    1. Kat

      I’d approach it from the perspective that you want the time off because it’s part of your benefits and treat it similar to taking a trip overseas or a family reunion etc that isn’t easy to postpone vs comparing it to parental leave. And if other people have taken the same amount of time off that should be your focus – that you’re not asking for more time off than is normally approved for other employees.

      When I got a puppy I asked for a month off work during a busy time for us. I approached it from the perspective that of course it would be approved because we frequently had staff at all levels take time off during busy periods and we had certain staff that took a month off every year to travel overseas. When I mentioned my upcoming vacation I just stuck to the facts – that I’d be on vacation for a month. If people asked what my plans were I’d tell them I was getting a puppy and they’d often joke I was taking “puppy leave” but I never made comparisons to parental leave because I knew I’d be more likely to be approved for the time off if I just approached it as me wanting to take time off the same way others were allowed to.

      Reply
      1. EventPlannerGal

        I think this is the best way to approach it. Just ask for the time off or the WFM arrangement or whatever and don’t mention the dog. If they’re the kind of place that doesn’t usually grant those, they’re pretty unlikely to change their minds if OP starts talking about ensuring their new puppy feels emotionally secure.

        Reply
  25. Dog mom

    2: Ill avoid getting fully into #adoptdontshop etc., but I’d really recommend adopting a slightly older dog in this case. Mine is 3, and while he still had to adjust which required a bit of job flexibility, his personality and demeanor had already settled and it was a much smoother adjustment process than I imagined! There are loads of horror stories about traumatized dogs being given to unprepared owners, but plenty of rescue shelters are aware of this and take many steps to avoid this. The last thing they want is to have to take the dog back. You probably know which dog you already want, but if not, do look into your local shelters if you can. If nothing else comes of it, it is fun to read the personality descriptions of their dogs on their sites.

    Reply
    1. Hrovitnir

      Honestly, I am a huge advocate for adopting and for adopting older animals, but this person has clearly put their research in and decided not to do so, so I’m not a big fan of encouraging a complete 180.

      Young adult animals are such an amazing choice! I used to love it when I worked at a shelter and people came in just assuming puppy/kitten and ended up being completely sold on an older puppy/kitten or even an adult. I personally want to adopt all the elderly animals. <3 But people are allowed to want babies, and even though you have been very gentle, there's still an element of guilt trip inherent to this discussion, so I would urge people to avoid going there when someone has expressed zero interest in changing their well thought out plans.

      Reply
      1. Introvert girl

        I would also add that there is no such thing as a puppy that doesn’t need a lot of exercise. Taking in a dog means switching your life around. Please be aware of that. I have a dog and work very close to my office, so I use my lunch break to take him for a walk, but when he get’s ill I can take home office. A coworker just adopted a puppy (4 months) and is working a couple of days a week from home so she’ll adjust. It really depends on your company’s policy.

        Reply
      2. PhyllisB

        Removed because off-topic (and removed the off-topic thread that followed).

        But for what it’s worth, I’m not ever going to host a thread here that advocates buying animals over adopting them, with millions of dogs and cats being euthanized in shelters every year.

        – Alison

        Reply
        1. Hills to Die on

          This is so surprising to me! I never have heard of animal shelters not having adoptable dogs before this post.

          In my area, a major metropolitan city in the US, you can go adopt a pet at a shelter in an hour or less and there are always many pets available.,

          Maybe a day trip to another city would enable you to find an adoptable dog?

          Reply
          1. paperpusher

            Yup, there are four dogs for the province of Nova Scotia. There are other rescues, of course, but most have similar numbers. The nearest major city out of province (5 hours away) has four dogs at the SPCA.

            A friend adopted from Yellowknife, NWT because she could not find a healthy dog (she wasn’t able to adopt a high needs pet) on Vancouver Island. They shipped him to her of course, because that’s a bit more than a day trip.

            Reply
            1. Dankar

              It’s a little different here in the US. The northern states have stricter spay/neuter laws (generally), and tend to bus or fly in rescues from states further south when the shelters empty. There are always dogs to be adopted. There is some controversy attached to the practice, but that’s how we got our girl (from Arkansas) to us (in Connecticut).

              We, too, were initially turned down by a rescue group. It was disappointing, but they really did know better. Now that we have our pup, I realize that were in no way ready for the first dog we’d applied for. And my girl is better, anyway. ;)

              Reply
        2. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool

          Wow that surprises me as well! I didn’t know there was anywhere with a dearth of animals up for adoption. Where I am (which is admittedly a city) is the opposite – there are dozens, if not hundreds of organizations who adopt out dogs.

          Reply
      3. Also Into Cats

        I have one of each! I ended up rescuing a 6 week old kitten spontaneously from a woman who had literally rescued them from where they’d been abandoned by their mom for whatever reason. He was scraggly and wormy and riddled with fleas but he’s doing great now and is a little house panther. My second cat is almost 3 and was rescued off the street when she was very, very pregnant. I’d originally intended to get an elderly cat but I simply fell in love with my girl’s face when they posted her pictures so I followed my heart and brought her home. If I get another cat (unlikely based on the combined number of critters in our house) I’d definitely get a senior kitty. They’re so chill with so much love to give.

        That said, I agree with your caution here! OP definitely has a dream she’s following and all the links to rescues aren’t going to change that. I’m not totally innocent, though–every time I hear someone say they want to get a kitten I bust out my “what about TWO kittens?” spiel.

        Reply
  26. Genevieve in NZ

    When I was 22 and brand new to work I did run in the office…until one day I slipped across the carpet and sliced a massive gash into my knee on the doorframe and got carted away by ambulance. After that they made a specific “no running in the office” rule!

    Reply
    1. Emma

      Someone in our sub-office ran and tripped and parachuted through a glass door. It was a huge deal, they could have been seriously injured, the door was expensive to fix, and now we strictly enforce the no running rule.

      Reply
  27. 867-5309

    OP #2, I’ll add my POV to many of the others. I have two dogs, both of whom I adopted as a single woman & I continue to be single without children (and with the dogs) 13 years later. I am the CMO at a flexible, positive culture company. If one of my employees asked this, I would be jaw-dropped, shocked.

    Sure, this is a perfect way to do everything. But the reality is that very few people are missing work and new puppies are adjusting. I adopted on a Friday so I had the weekend with each dog. They were crate trained and loved having their own space. My eldest still prefers his crate for hanging out, even with the door open. You can hire a dog walker for less than day care, usually, so that would be a bonus for the new pup when you’re work. The video cam suggested above is another good idea, as is having a very specific morning routine, which will help with separation anxiety. The dog will know what to expect.

    In addition to the comments above, I’d like to add that even the ten days seem excessive. If someone told me they were taking a couple days PTO because they got a new animal, then I’d get that. More and it would make me question their professional judgement. My suggestion is that if you’re taking more than 2-3 days, consider just saying you’re taking vacation/PTO to get things done around the house or something similarly vague.

    I love my puppers and as they get older, my time with them is sacred. I’ve even worked from home a couple days in the last year because one became ill. I understand your impulse and it’s a sweet one.

    Reply
    1. Clisby

      I agree except about the PTO. Why would an employer question someone’s professional judgement for taking PTO? It’s a benefit that’s there to be used, for whatever the employee likes. I don’t see why “get things done around the house” is somehow a better reason than “help acclimate this living creature to its new home.” (Plus, I don’t see how either tells me anything about professional judgement; it just tells me what they plan to do with the leisure time they’e entitled to.)

      Reply
      1. cmcinnyc

        Yeah, the PTO seems easy because if you’re entitled to take the 10 days, it’s no one’s business if you’re going to Spain, staycationing, helping your mom paint her house, or house training a puppy. All legit, and nobody’s business. It’s getting additional leave, framing it as family leave, that is tricky.

        Reply
        1. Clisby

          It didn’t sound to me like the OP wanted to ask for additional leave; she wanted to be able to work from home 3 days a week for a couple of months. Especially for someone relatively new to this job (even though it’s a fairly senior position, according to a follow-up post), I can see how a request like this might not go over well. I’m just totally taken aback by the idea that people are getting judged by how they use their PTO. I once had a co-worker who took a week off every year to watch baseball spring training in Florida. I can’t think of anything more boring. At least it wasn’t as bad as the people who took a week off every year to go to Disney World – they must all be masochists. (Of course my opinion of spring training and Disney World are completely irrelevant – it’s none of my business what these people were doing with their PTO. Just pointing out that sitting at home playing with a puppy sounds way more fun – and I don’t even like dogs.)

          Reply
      2. 867-5309

        Good point, Clisby. I just meant that it can be perceived as a little odd, and potentially concerning: How much time will they be requesting to care for the pet? Etc. Maybe unfair, but I’m feeling that reaction after reading OP’s letter. You’re right that perhaps outside of the context of the original letter, my reaction wouldn’t be as strong.

        Reply
  28. Jack V

    Re OP#3 I agree “communicate” and “what about health and safety” are the professionally necessary ways of handling this, but I feel really sad that we finally have a question that can be solved with thousands of ACME ball bearings and that wasn’t the first proposed answer :)

    Reply
    1. The Wall Of Creativity

      Rather than ball bearings, I’m thinking that if there are swinging doors at the ends of corridors, you can arrange for the runner to smack into a fixed door. When you hear him coming you either quickly stick a couple of wooden wedge size under the doors or you put your foot down next to the door that you expect him to barge through.

      Reply
    2. Samwise

      Paint a black tunnel opening at the end of the hallway and let a train come roaring upon her.

      Trapdoor.

      Pile of bird seed, rube goldberg system of pullies and ropes, large anvil…Oh wait, that one’s gonna get *you*, not the runner…

      Reply
      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        (I’ve long wanted a story about Wile E. Coyote’s second career as a technical illustrator….)

        Reply
  29. Shira

    OP2: If the puppy won’t have a routine yet and will require so much attention that you need to stay home to care for it, will you also be able to focus on work?
    Alison – wouldn’t this fall into the same category as someone with a child attempting to work from home without any childcare arrangements?

    Reply
    1. tamarack and fireweed

      Well, a puppy is a lot more autonomous than a human newborn or infant (and less work than a toddler), and especially if the OP is house training her, probably crated for long periods. Or asleep.

      But yeah, that’s a question of office culture, and even in a flex-friendly office I’d play down the “I need this to care for a puppy” aspect a little. I’ve certainly been in jobs where I was *free* to elect to work from home, and “young puppy / sick cat at home” would have been just as acceptable as a vague explanation, insofar as an explanation was needed, as “handyman is installing an antenna” or “plumber in the house”. Or “moose in the driveway”.

      Reply
      1. Shira

        Re: your first paragraph – sure, could be; I’ve never had a dog, so I’m just going on what the OP described. But based on their description it sounds like the OP is planning to devote a lot of energy to the dog’s adjustment. And if the puppy has no routine/schedule in place yet, I wouldn’t expect the “down time” to be all that productive for the OP work-wise, because I could see them being mentally “on alert” – checking on the dog, trying to anticipate its needs, being interrupted unexpectedly, etc.
        It’s one thing to want flexibility so that you (general “you”) can take 20 minutes out of your day to walk the dog or have a service person come by; it’s another thing to perhaps subconsciously expect yourself to actually be able to work while also actively taking care of your new puppy. There seems to be an element of dissonance between “I need to be home all day so my puppy will be well cared for” and “I will be able to focus on work for a full-time workday.”

        Reply
        1. Mel

          Yeah, I took vacation time to care for my new puppy and I thought I would get a ton done while I was home, but that did not happen.

          The new puppy *will* sleep quite a bit, but will also abruptly wake up and want to play or pee on your carpet. It moves focusing on anything pretty rough.

          Reply
        2. Mystery Bookworm

          I hear what you’re saying, but I think OP sounds like she’s worried about separation anxiety. Puppies aren’t used to being alone – they can become loud and destructive – so many dog-care approaches recommend being with them often in the beginning and then slowly getting them used to alone time (rather than taking them home from their mothers and immediately leaving them alone for eight hours a day).

          At least in my experience, it’s fairly easy to work from home with a new puppy. They want to be aware of your presence, but they don’t need you to be caring and attending for them in the way that a human baby does. (Plus puppies sleep something like 20 hours a day!) As far as routine goes, that often means gettting the dog used to being in their new home – it’s not as rigorious as the sort of feeding/napping schedule that a human would require.

          A note for OP though: I’m sure you’ve come across this in your research, but you definitely want to use those ten days to get the puppy used to being left alone. Start with short periods and work your way up! (Maybe head to a coffee shop?) If you go from being home 24/7 to at work, you’re not going to have really helped the puppy with separation anxiety. For both my dogs, we did not require a full 10 days to get them used to being home alone, but YMMV.

          Reply
          1. Puppy OP

            Oh definitely! I plan to be around for the first few days, crate training, leaving it alone in the crate for longer periods of time (aka at night until it needs to pee) and then transitioning to leaving it alone in the apartment. I’m confident that I can accomplish working from home while training the puppy- it will sleep a lot, as another commenter said, and it’s really just a matter of training it in those early weeks when it has no bladder control.

            Reply
  30. SezU

    I am not so old (although a little old), can hear fine, and have good cell service. However, the other day i inadvertently muted my phone and the woman at the doc’s office couldn’t hear me. She was so quick to hang up, I didn’t even have time to get the mute off. This is exactly how it went from her end (without a pause at all between hellos):

    Hello?
    Hello? I can’t hear you, I”m disconnecting.

    Reply
    1. Rusty Shackelford

      I get a lot of spam calls that start with silence, so she may have thought this was happening.

      Reply
      1. SezU

        That’s true. If she hadn’t been quite so abrupt, I probably would have been a little more understanding in the moment. But I did call back and she turned out to be perfectly pleasant… so yeah… she might get a lot of those!

        Reply
  31. krysb

    #5, we have a book club at work with quarterly book reports – participation is totally optional, but in my department we include it as an option for professional development, which is a part of everyone’s job description. For those who participate, we allow them to carve out time during their work day to read. Also, depending on the book, you can get a gift card for $25 – $100 per quarter once you complete a report and attend a book club meeting.

    [Note, even though we allow people to be paid while reading and they get a small bonus when they finish a book, most people don’t participate (double note, because most people in my department don’t participate in the book club or even bother with any other professional development – which, again, can be done on the clock during the work day – it dings them on their evaluations). IDK why, I enjoy that $100. It’s what I use to buy new books.]

    Reply
    1. Harper the Other One

      This is amazing! I am so jealous of this program; I would take advantage of it for sure.

      Reply
      1. krysb

        I love it. We’re restricted to what books to read – usually business-y or personal development-y books, but we’ve expanded to anything we can really relate to our company’s core values, including true crime. But I’m the type of person who is attracted to this type of program.

        Reply
  32. Mel

    When my husband and I got a puppy we used our vacation time to deal with it. It helped that my husband has a more flexible schedule and worked close to home, so he could go home mid day and walk the dog long after we were done with our vacation.

    If I had it to do again, I think I would actually enrolled the puppy in an all day training program, it would have been more effective than we were and he would have been well cared for.

    Doggy daycare is great, but in our area they won’t take young puppies. But the train program is specifically meant for new puppies.

    Reply
    1. Bagpuss

      I thought that day care might not be an option at least until the pup has had all its shots and possibly ben spayed / neutered, but OP could look into etting a pet sitter who could come by a couple of times a day in the first weeks to help the pup adjust.

      OP, I think that the work from home depends entirely on the culture of your office. If it is common for people to have flexible arrangemetns then it’s probably OK , if not, then it may look tone deaf and/or be turned down, so it would be a good iea to explore other options like using vacation time and a dog sitter.

      If you and your husband each took some time off, you could cover the first week or so, and then maybe move on to having a sitter come in 2-3 times as day do there is someone checking on the puppy every couple of hours, and add a camera for reassurance in between.

      I assum that since you haven’t mentioned it as a possibility,neither you or husband has a dog-friendly office? One of my coworkers brought their puppy in in the first few months – puppy had a crate in the corner of his owner’s office and was no trouble at all. But that probably only works if you have a separate office and a dog friendly workplace.

      Reply
  33. LGC

    I’m just REALLY confused by letter 3 as the resident Obnoxious Runner Guy here. It seems like the area outside of the office is somewhat safe – I’m assuming that this woman is running mid-day – and it would only be slightly more inconvenient for her to go outside.

    And honestly, maybe it’s just me but I’d rather get outside than be stuck running the hallways in a building. Maybe it’s just flashbacks to high school and when we had to run on the second floor (we had an enclosed courtyard) on days we couldn’t use the track.

    Reply
    1. Myrin

      I found that somewhat confusing at first also, but now I’m quite sure that she isn’t talking about an actual exercise routine (which I believe you’re referring to?). So it’s not like she’s changing into running gear on her break and goes doing laps, only instead of going outside, she’s doing so in the building’s hallways.
      The way I read it, she just needs to get from point A to point B multiple times a day – visitinig a coworker, carrying documents into another room, getting a drink, stuff like that – and instead of walking there like a normal office worker she chooses to run everywhere; basically, she’s substituting regular walking with running and excuses it by saying this “is the only time she can get her exercise squeezed into her day”.

      Reply
      1. LGC

        THAT JUST BRINGS UP EVEN MORE QUESTIONS.

        Like, is she a magical unicorn that doesn’t sweat, for starters? Do her coworkers notice when she rolls into meetings looking like she just ran a 200 (because she actually did)? Did Ann Taylor release a new line of sweat-wicking work wear and no one mentioned it on AAM yet?

        And if they did, what the heck would an athletic blazer even look like?

        LW3, I’m sorry you have to deal with your coworker, but PLEASE send her to me, I need to get inside her head.

        Reply
        1. Birch

          This baffles me too. What is the structure of that hallway that 1. you could even get decent exercise doing that, and 2. that decent exercise would be qualitatively different than just walking briskly? My office building is shaped like a weird circle where you can only get to ends on certain floors by going through certain stairwells, so there’s a lot of brisk walking, but it takes like, max 30 seconds to fully traverse an entire hallway a a brisk walk. You definitely don’t have time to get your heart rate up as if you were running even a few minutes! And I count taking the stairs and adding steps as positives but not in any sense a replacement for an actual exercise routine. How long and straight are the hallways in this building?! I call BS on this being “exercise,” I think this person just wants to be known for something unique and maybe doesn’t realize how annoying it is.

          Reply
          1. Rusty Shackelford

            Anyone else suspect the LW works at Apple headquarters, and her coworker considers those round corridors her own personal track?

            Reply
            1. LGC

              That…both sounds like an idea that the writers of Silicon Valley rejected for being TOO stereotypical and also absolutely something that would happen at Apple HQ.

              Reply
          2. Seeking Second Childhood

            Suburban buildings sprawl lengthwise. The one I’m in has a 300 yard main hallway, and a previous employer had a full-fledged campus with many buildings joined by breezeways & one memorable bridge.

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          3. boo bot

            I think it’s possible she believes it’s legitimately helping her. Like the taking the stairs example – a few years ago there was a ton of free-floating advice about that, so she probably thinks she’s just going one better.

            Plus, annoying other people in service of better health is practically a virtue./s

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    2. FD

      I suspect she wants to avoid the weather outside. I could run a modest amount inside and only work up a mild sweat, which I can easily wipe away with a baby wipe, but outside in the summer? Nope.

      (Doesn’t mean I think it’s a good idea, but I suspect that’s why she’s doing it inside instead of out.)

      Reply
  34. Left Turn at Albuquerque

    LW#2:

    Is the breed of a size and temperament and your office setup such that you could bring it to work with you during those first few weeks and keep it in a playpen at your desk? You should talk to your boss and/or HR, of course, and maybe anyone seated nearby (if you don’t have your own office) to see if allergies might be an issue.

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  35. Slartibartfast

    With dogs, begin as you expect to continue. Peak socialization time for dogs is 12 weeks to 6 months, and they continue to be pretty adaptable up to a year. So if you’re home 24/7 for the first 6 months, you are more likely to trigger separation anxiety when you do go back to work full time than if you went back to your normal routine at 12 weeks. And certain breeds are more prone to getting separation anxiety too, sometimes it’s a genetic issue that would happen anyway. It does sound like OP has done the research to match their lifestyle to the dog they’re getting. Early puppyhood, bathroom breaks are important but kennel training and someone coming to let the pup out at lunchtime is adequate. For safety, all puppies should be crates or otherwise confined to a small space. You wouldn’t let a toddler run around the house unsupervised, it’s the same with a puppy. And small spaces feel safer from a dog’s point of view. Being cozy in their den while mom is away is more secure than being out alone in a big empty space, they will feel vulnerable if they have the run of the house. As far as potty training goes, it’s easier when you’re crate training because you’re there to supervise at potty times. If you do go with puppy pads, use them exclusively until that’s mastered and then you can take the pads outside to transition. Trying to train potty outside and potty pads at the same time is confusing to most dogs and you’re more likely to have accidents. Also now is a good time to research veterinarians in the area. Pick one out now and set up your first appointment. A good one will be thrilled to have you call now, and many will give free advice about how to go about preparing for the new arrival and puppy proofing the home.

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  36. LGC

    So, there’s one more thing with LW4: …you are aware that a lot of professors teach multiple classes, right? Let’s say that a professor has two classes of 20 students each in a semester – that’s 40 people she would be responding to! And that might be on the low end – especially with entry level courses, one professor can have hundreds of students.

    I’m pointing this out because you focus a lot on status, but part of the reason your professors may be “brusque” is because a formally written response isn’t needed. And a formally written message might not be needed in the first place – one thing I’ve had to learn is how to get the necessary information across as quickly as possible, since I tend to be a little flowery sometimes. (Like this post.)

    I don’t know, maybe I’m reading WAY TOO MUCH into your letter, but I’m a little concerned that you might be sacrificing clarity for deference. And while that may be necessary in some places, in a lot of others it might be detrimental.

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    1. Nervous Nellie

      I am with LGC – I was baffled by the idea that a busy professor’s brief email response to a student email constituted a power dynamic. Profs are busy! In many ways it’s a compliment that they didn’t have to ask for additional details or clarity, but had all they needed to approve & move on in one sentence or less. Power? It’s not about power. It’s about brevity, which is neutral.

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      1. Heidi

        Agreed. I don’t think it’s fair to assume that the “okay” is some sort of power move. I guess it would be too casual to email a professor with a “s’up?” But I can assure you that none of them are thinking, “I need to assert my authority here, and therefore I will respond with a one-word email.” I think that sometimes school gives us a warped perspective on how much we need to write. It’s all that, “write me a minimum of 12 pages on Proust.” In the workplace, I’ve seen people struggle with taking all the filler out of their writing and breaking it down to the essential 3 sentences.

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        1. Yorick

          In fact, when I am emailing a student in a situation where I feel the need to assert my authority, the email tends to be wordier.

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    2. Birch

      Totally agreed. And it’s even off-putting sometimes to get extreme deference in an email. It makes me worry that the students are putting that deference over their own educational opportunities. Acknowledging power dynamics should not come from the bottom up, it should come from top-down openness, i.e. more power = more responsibility, not more power = you get more respect. I’m 30 and I want my students to show respect toward *everyone* and not be afraid to get in touch with me. “Hi Birch,… Best” is perfectly fine. No need for “Dear Dr. Birchwood, …Yours Truly”. When I started my PhD I was a little weirded out that our research director would often send one-liner emails with no greetings or signature, and smiley faces. Now I get it! The brevity and clarity respects everyone’s time, and the smiley takes away any feeling of brusqueness. Not that everyone has to use smileys, but just to say that it’s just as respectful to keep it short rather than include a bunch of fluff in the name of respect.

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    3. rando

      Agree, LW4/LW#4/OP4/OP#4, I highly recommend you consider whether you need to be sending as long of emails to your professors as you do.

      When sending an email to a professor, it’s helpful to include the following info:
      – Your full name
      – Which class and period you are emailing about
      – Depending on if this is a bigger class, some clue about who you are can be helpful. Like “I’m the one in the bright blue hoodie every day who asked you about [topic] last week”. I generally don’t assume this is necessary for classes with fewer than 100 students.
      – What you want/need. [To make up a test, an extension, a question answered, etc]
      – Why you need it. [Family emergency, illness, you found conflicting sources, etc.]

      And I highly recommend bulleted lists or separate paragraphs. Perhaps even bold the specific details that matter, like the class section and title. Avoiding drawn out pleasantries is good. It saves them time. Every professor I have ever known prefers short-and-to-the-point emails over ones with pleasantries in them.

      Also, if you aren’t already, always check the syllabus for email etiquette. If a professor wants formal emails like letters, they are likely to say so in the syllabus. I did have a professor who really believed in the “dear x, blablbla sincerely y” format, but they also followed that when emailing students back, and it was spelled out in their syllabus. Chances are, they don’t care about that format if they aren’t following it themselves.

      I’ve had professors require very specific subject lines (class code, then days of the week they meet, then times, then a specific key word out of a list indicating why you’re emailing… so on so forth) because they use them for heavy filtering rules into folders. Especially for those professors, be concise.

      The same general principles are true for emailing bosses, but it plays out differently. Include any context which they might need, in a clear, quickly readable format. So you might say “Hey, here’s the report on X you asked for in today’s Y meeting when we talked about Z briefly.” Separate things into separate emails if they can be answered/used separately and don’t share significant context. Your goal is to require the least time you can while still getting what you need.

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    4. Working Mom Having It All

      But a lot of this is also going to be true the further up the corporate chain you go. The people on your specific team or others you work closely with are mainly going to be dealing with each other, and they’re going to know who Karen is, why they’re being sent the Wilson Report, etc. Your boss may need a little more hand holding, because they’re probably getting more emails from more people, more facets of the business, etc. Your grandboss will be even less in touch with you, your team, your current projects, the nature of your work, etc. and you should use more discretion in whether to reach out to them and how to frame it when you do. All the way up to the corporate CEO.

      I phrase emails going to the SVP of my division of the very large company I work for very differently than I phrase the ones I send to my team. Not because I think she’s literally higher status than me, but because it’s not her job to know that if the Wilson amendment isn’t signed by COB Friday, the whole deal could be in jeopardy. I need to explain that in a clear way if I want to make sure things get handled properly.

      Reply
      1. LGC

        I don’t disagree at all with this – and in the case when you’re reaching out to someone you don’t have a wor