I don’t want to stay in an Airbnb with coworkers, illegal requests for salary history, and more

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

1. I don’t want to stay in an Airbnb with coworkers

I just started to work at a small company (under 15 people) that hosts conferences a few times a year in different parts of the country. Everyone in the company is required to be on location for each of these conferences, which I was aware of when I was hired. However, recently it came to my attention that instead of putting us up in hotels while we are on location, they rent Airbnbs that we stay at all together.

The idea of sharing sleeping/bathroom space with the rest of my coworkers and not having my own space to retreat to when the day is done for the entire week that we are away makes me feel uncomfortable. That said, I know that this is a tactic they are using to be financially conscious and not have too high of expenses.

How should I go about having the conversation with the owner of my company about my feelings about our travel accommodations? What is reasonable for me to ask for?

Personally, I think it’s reasonable for you to say you’re not comfortable staying in an Airbnb at all and ask if you can book a hotel room. If it were me, I’d say, “I’m not comfortable staying in an Airbnb — I’ve read too much about the safety issues that can crop up. I’ve found a room I can book for $X/night — can I go ahead and do that?

But you’re new and it’s possible it’ll come across as out-of-touch with the culture. It also may put a divide between you and your coworkers, if you’re the only one who opts out of these arrangements. So you’ve got to factor that in and proceed accordingly. If you’re in a senior role, it may not matter. If you’re pretty junior, it’ll likely be more of A Thing — and if that’s the case, I fear you may be stuck with this unless you’re willing to risk this type of blowback.

2. Online application illegally asking for salary history

I’m currently completing an online application for an organization in Washington state, where in July it became illegal to ask applicants what their previous salary was. I’m considering putting 0’s into the required box, because I cannot complete the application without putting numbers into the form. Moving forward, how should applicants inform the employer that their application doesn’t follow the new law, especially without jeopardizing their candidacy for the job?

Yep, put all zeros in that field if it’s required. Ideally you’d be able to contact them and say, “I saw there’s a problem with your application form. It’s still asking for previous salary, despite the state law that now prohibits it, and the form requires the field be filled in before the application can be submitted.” But (1) many employers don’t respond to questions about their application process, (2) the right person may not even see it (your message may go to someone low-level who ignores it), and (3) there’s risk to being the applicant who right out of the gate is advising them on their legal obligations. One option is to get around #3 is to send that message from an email not associated with your application, but then you’ve still got #1 and #2 to deal with.

You could also take a screenshot and send it to your state Department of Labor, which is charged with enforcing the law.

3. My coworker is a pain to schedule meetings with

Part of my job is administrative, and it often falls on my shoulders to schedule meeting for my department’s leadership team (of which I am a member). I’ve been assigned this task for about seven months, and am quite capable of effectively using my company’s scheduling methods.

The problem is, there is one other leadership member who, no matter what, tells me she can’t attend the meetings I schedule despite the fact that her calendar shows her as “free” or otherwise unscheduled for those times. This is a reoccurring issue, and it regularly forces me to ask her when SHE wants to meet, and then change meetings that I’ve already set. We’re peers in terms of company hierarchy and generally get along well socially, but I feel like it makes me look incompetent every time I schedule a meeting and have to change it. I don’t tell the rest of the team why I change dates/times; I simply note that there was a scheduling conflict. I also check with her from time to time about whether her calendar is up to date, and she always says it is. What can I do?

First, name the problem for her and ask her what you can do to solve it: “Jane, I’m having trouble scheduling you in for meetings. You usually say your calendar is up-to-date, but then when I schedule meetings for times your calendar shows as free, you nearly always end up having a conflict and I need to go back and find new times for everyone. I want to be able to schedule meetings correctly the first time. How can I solve this?”

If this doesn’t produce a resolution, then I’d stop relying on her calendar at all and just email her when you need to schedule things. It’s more work up-front, but it’s less work than always having to schedule everything twice.

4. Interviewer was eating lunch during our Skype interview

I am applying for entry-level jobs. I recently had a Skype interview with me and four interviewers on different cameras. One of the interviewers was using the time to eat their lunch while interviewing me. The three other interviewers didn’t say anything, but it threw me off. Is this normal to expect during Skype interviews during potential lunch hours?

It’s not unheard of. Some people work through lunch, and you happened to be the work they had scheduled for that time. Sometimes, too, people get pulled into interviews at the last minute, and it’s either eat while they talk to you or not get a chance to eat at all that day.

People are also sometimes more willing to eat during a Skype call since the food seems less intrusive — you’re not smelling it and seeing it across from you on the table the way you would if you were meeting in person.

It’s not so common that you’d expect it, but try not to get thrown by interviewers who are multi-tasking.

Read an update to this letter here.

5. Should I push back on sharing an office?

I need your help to determine if I’m being oversensitive about this situation. I’ve recently taken an administrative position at my current job. My position was newly created at all the sites across the organization. For background, each site has known about the addition of this position for over a year.

I was recently told that I would be sharing an office space (for about the next six months) until they could figure out the best place to put me. I find this incredibly odd as I will be not only the only manager but the only person in the whole building who has to share an office. I have issues with this for a number or reasons: (1) Perception. I find it hard to believe people will take me seriously as I don’t have my own office. Everyone who will be reporting to me will have their own office. A subordinate who I will supervise will be sitting directly across from me in the shared space. (2) How do I tackle handling meetings or employee evaluations? What if someone needs to speak to me about something sensitive? Do I ask the staff member in the same space to leave?

I’m generally pretty low maintenance and am unbothered by much. However, I feel like that’s why I was placed in this office, because my supervisor knew I wouldn’t make a fuss. I don’t believe that if they had hired an external employee for this position that they would have placed them in a shared office. Am I thinking too much about this?

You’re right to be concerned about how you’ll have private conversations with employees, which is something you need to do as a manager. It’s reasonable to push back on it. You could say, “I’ve given this some thought and I don’t think it will work. I need to be able to have private and sensitive conversations with employees. Are there any other options?” If whoever is in charge of this says they can’t think of anything, then I’d say, “In that case, I’m going to have Jane take the shared space and I’ll take her current space.” (Jane in this case is someone who reports to you, because you should have the authority to do that. Choose that person carefully though; whoever you pick probably won’t be thrilled, and it’ll help to be able to explain why you chose them.)

{ 632 comments… read them below }

  1. Xavier89*

    1-I feel for you, I’d be very uncomfortable with that too. I hope you get your hotel room!

    4-one on one I would really be bothered if the interviewer was eating their lunch, but for some reason the idea of one person doing that on a four person panel doesn’t bother me. I guess I figure the other three can pick up the slack while they are chewing haha

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I’ve eaten in front of a candidate exactly once in 30+ years, and I apologized and explained before I did it. We’d had a major issue come up, my morning and early afternoon schedule derailed, and no one had time to even ask for lunch, let alone eat it. By the time I met with the candidate I was faint and light headed, and grabbed some saltines from my desk, as I was still running behind.

      The candidate had been informed about our schedule challenges and was gracious about it. Still, I apologized and told him snacking wasn’t my MO during interviews, but I didn’t want to faint on him, ha ha. The interview went well wth no harm done that I know of, since we hired him.

      Regardless, I’m not okay with casually eating while conducting an interview without a very good reason (dangerously low blood sugar!), and if you do it you own an acknowledgement and apology to the candidate.

      1. Name Required*

        In this scenario, I’m wondering why you didn’t apologize to the candidate, eat privately and quickly, then commence the interview after a 5 minute delay? I’m not seeing why it was better to eat the saltines during the interview; that seems like a small snack that can be eaten hastily.

        1. Joielle*

          Because if you’re already behind, you can’t always accommodate another five minute delay? Idk, this seems perfectly fine to me. It’s obviously not ideal, but if you’re having an unusually packed day or dealing with a crisis, I don’t think it’s some awful transgression to eat in front of a candidate. Don’t unpack a five course meal, but cramming down some crackers so you don’t faint is so far from being a problem I’m having trouble understanding the pushback here.

          The interview is probably the most important thing happening in the candidate’s day, but may be far from the most important thing in the interviewer’s day, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing! That’s just reality.

          1. pope suburban*

            Not to mention that at least for me, by the time I am feeling light-headed from hunger, my decision-making capabilities are not flawless. Sure, if this were me, maybe in hindsight I would have thought to take a break and push the interview back a little. But maybe not, and anyway, my working experience has made me feel like I don’t want to work in a culture that doesn’t let people do stuff like this occasionally. I don’t agree that it’s more important never to have a hair out of place or a toe out of line; we’re all human, life happens sometimes, and the willingness to understand/be gracious about that is very important to me.

          2. Name Required*

            I don’t think I’d qualify my comments as “pushback.” It was a question about why this person made the decision they did, so that I could understand someone else’s point of view better.

            … and you consider eating crackers during an interview a non-problem, but that doesn’t mean other people won’t. I think it has the potential to look messy, inattentive, and unprofessional, but clearly there wasn’t a negative impact for SheLooksFamiliar, as the interview went well and the candidate was hired. So that might just mean I wouldn’t be a good fit for that workplace.

        2. SheLooksFamiliar*

          ‘I’m not seeing why it was better to eat the saltines during the interview; that seems like a small snack that can be eaten hastily.’

          You’re just going to have to trust me on this.

          The candidate had been gracious with our schedule and I chose not to keep him waiting even a minute longer. Knowing my body the way I do, I needed more than 2 hastily consumed saltines, I needed to eat several.

        3. Lily in NYC*

          Because most people wouldn’t care? I don’t think I’d want to hire someone who can’t adapt to something like seeing me eat a cracker in an interview.

          1. Name Required*

            Judging from the comments here, I don’t think it’s true to say that most people wouldn’t care. It appears there are a variety of opinions. I’m not sure what you mean by “adapt”. An interviewee isn’t in a position to pushback on an interviewer eating in a meeting, regardless of whether it’s a cracker or a full-blown Thanksgiving dinner. I’m not really sure you’d know how I felt about the cracker eating until after you’d hired me.

        4. JSPA*

          Eating is a common social activity and a not-uncommon work activity, not something intrinsically socially offensive.

          The socially transgressive aspect is, “eating when others can’t / not being able to offer food,” but in this specific case, it’s not likely that the inverviewee won’t have a chance to eat after, nor that the intreviewee would want to eat during the interview, as well.

          1. Decima Dewey*

            Some people with diabetes might need to eat NOW! to prevent a hypoglycemic episode (FWIW candy bars aren’t always a good option–fats can slow the absorption of carbs). You and the company do not want an interviewer having a low blood sugar episode. Trust me, that involves a drastic lowering of brainpower until the glucose level is right again.

        5. Observer*

          Why waste the time?

          Also, @SheLooksFamiliar is clearly someone who is not cavalier about treatment of interviewees. I think it’s reasonable to her that it was the best move.

          It’s not like she was doing the interview in the bathroom or something equally bizarre.

    2. Cattiebee*

      Eh, as a candidate I wouldn’t mind if an interviewer was eating during my interview. It’d probably make me more relaxed tbh, because they would seem less like The Powers That Be and more like a future coworker.

      But more importantly, I’ve worked with people with various health issues resulting in their needing to eat when they need to eat, and I wouldn’t want someone to be interviewing me to be in a similar position and interviewing while in discomfort – that’s just not going to end well for me. Even if there’s no health-related issue, I really wouldn’t want someone who is hangry interviewing me.

      Panel interviews just kind of suck for everyone, anyway. Trying to find time when everyone on the panel is available inevitably means there will be some interviews at times that are super inconvenient for you. You normally might be able to plan your day around your needs if you know you need to eat at 11:00a sharp (as someone I worked for once did), but that all goes out the window when scheduling panel interviews.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        I have had panel interviews that involved everybody eating lunch, scheduled as such, food brought in, etc.

        The only time it bothered me was when I was the only heavy person in the interview, and the “meals” were all salads.

  2. Avasarala*

    #4 I dunno, I think it’s disrespectful to eat during a business meeting with an external person, and an interviewer doing that anyway is kind of taking advantage of the power imbalance here. It would be pretty brazen of a candidate to bring lunch to eat during an interview. I know reality and ideal are different but this seems like another one of those things you can get away with if you have the power to do so.

    1. GM*

      I was going to comment exactly the same! Disrespectful to do it on the part of the interviewer even if he’s one among a panel of four, and also how would it look if a candidate did it?

    2. MistOrMister*

      That’s the same reason I found it odd and bothersome. It seems highly doubtful that a candidate would still be in the running after eating during an interview. I was always told you shouldn’t consume any food, gum, candy, etc during one (although obviously that goesout the window in case of a lunch interview). One time I had a recurring cough and had to take a cough drop in the middle of the interview and I felt so self conscious!

      1. KinderTeacher*

        I don’t find the comparison to what is acceptable for a candidate helpful especially in the context of a panel interview. In a job interview a candidate is presumably going to be doing a majority of the talking. They just aren’t going to be able to engage with that if they are chewing. But in a panel interview context, over Skype where you don’t have smell concerns and can mute your mic to eliminate chewing noises, a single interviewer is not only doing not the majority of the talking, they are doing a fraction of not the majority of the talking. An interviewer eating during a one-on-one interview, whether in-person or over Skype does seem rude to me, but with multiple interviewers who can take the lead on the next question if interviewer #2 is chewing when the candidate wraps up an answer, a member of a panel of interviewers eating over Skype doesn’t really bother me. To each their own though! And for what it’s worth, while I am not in a position to do hiring interviews I am in a position to do qualitative research interviews, and I would never eating while interviewing a participant.

        1. Banana Bread Breakfast*

          I’m not a hiring manager but sit on a panel portion of every interview for potential coworkers, and I would find this kind of appalling from any of my co-panelists. For one, we’re expected to be filing out feedback forms on their answers. If you’re thinking about evenly distributing mayo on your sammie, you’re probably not taking the most detailed notes. Also, what ever happened to the two sided we’re supposed to be selling ourselves to the candidate approach? Who wants to read as if they’re an employer that values you so little you can put down your lunch for a 30 minute interview? I don’t really agree with Alison on this one at all.

          1. A*

            To add on to the two way street call out – as a candidate this would also make me nervous about the workload and company culture. Are they so busy/short staffed/overloaded that they can’t even take a 15-minute lunch break? If the interview took what would have been their lunch break, are they so overbooked it was impossible to eat at another time?

            I wouldn’t lose interest in an employer solely as a result of this, but it would encourage me to ask more questions than I usually would about work/life balance (including while in the workplace).

      2. Jennifer*

        If it’s the only chance they will get to eat that day, I wouldn’t fault them for it. I doubt the interviewee is in the same situation. It’s possible, but unlikely.

        1. A*

          I wouldn’t fault them for it – but I absolutely would make note of what that might be indicative of in relation to workload and work/life balance (even when in the office).

          1. Avasarala*

            Agreed, I think this is what I would think in that situation.
            “Wow, what a shame that you haven’t gotten to eat all day! This company must have really poor work/life balance and a lot of eating-while-working culture.” And therefore not a good fit for me personally.

      3. NotTheSameAaron*

        A candidate eating during an interview, unless it happens at a cafe, is a no-no and might be a sign that they’ve given up and don’t expect to actually be hired.

    3. MJ*

      It’s one of those things that people will do on the other end of a phone/video call, or in their cars(!), but wouldn’t do in person.

      1. Liane*

        But I bet if it was the interviewee eating during a Skype or phone interview, it would look bad and hurt their chances. Since interviews are 2 way, I would take note of what that tells you, OP.

      2. Please don't let my stomach rumble*

        At a recent face to face interview both my interviewers tucked into a take away meal. Now it was a Friday lunchtime and I gathered take away was a tradition in that relaxed office. And they did apologise that it had arrived late so they had planned to eat before I got there. They did ask me if I wanted anything and I said no (because how was I going to talk if I was eating and that would put in a way too relaxed mindset for an interview). I’m also unclear how that was going to work if I said yes given they the order was already placed before I arrived.

        They were very apologetic and overall the interview went well and was fairly relaxed (because they were relaxed) but the smell of food was a bit distracting and I am sure I wouldn’t have done this if the roles were reversed. I actually think where it hurt me was at my second interview (with different people) which I anticipated to be similarly relaxed but was more classically formal. Fortunately by the time they rejected me I had already decided to accept a different role that I was interviewing for in parallel.

    4. Koala dreams*

      I agree with you. Would hiring managers be expected to accept that applicants eat during the interview? Somehow it’s less likely when it’s the other way around.

      I also think it’s more distracting to eat during a Skype or phone interview, since you rely so much on sound to communicate. The chewing sounds and pauses when people eat will be more noticeable and disrupt the flow of the conversation much more compared to an in-person meeting.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It’s less likely because the power runs the other way.

        It’s unusual and I think could be rude… but as Alison says, if Bill got grabbed for the interview last minute, for him this is less “Our chance to impress Wunderkind” and more “The work thing I have to squeeze in between two things where I really can’t eat” and he’s grabbing a bite while he can, thereby avoiding being hangry at everyone in his next engagement.

        You could come up with circumstances in which I viewed this as very rude, but my baseline is more that it’s an undesirable workaround and you should shrug and let it go.

        1. Name Required*

          “The work thing I have to squeeze in between two things where I really can’t eat”

          To me, an interview isn’t just a “work thing”, it’s a meeting between two different business parties. One of which is external. It’s not the same a brainstorming session with people you work with daily, or filling out spreadsheets at your desk. If you don’t think it would be appropriate for your sales person to eat a sandwich at the conference table when a potential client comes in for a meeting, it should not be appropriate when an external job candidate comes in.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            And if you view the dynamics this way, then you can conclude that this company is not one for you to work at. Anything can be the hill you die on–depending on other signals, I could see this being an embodiment of “never expect to eat lunch again if you work here.”

            I think it’s minorly rude. But also explainable by all sorts of circumstances that would make me shrug at it, even if they were not explained explicitly in the phone call. From Kevin’s blood sugar issues means he eats at very set times, to eating on phone calls is so routine here that no one thought twice about doing it on an outside call. It’s a data point–a yellow post it that might flag something in a larger pattern or might be a minor quirk skipping past.

            1. A*

              This! I personally am not offended by it (although would feel different if it was in person and something elaborate/smelly) – but I 100% would take it as indicative of a work culture where the workload is such that non-working breaks should not be expected.

            2. Name Required*

              I think that’s the difference: You see it as easily explainable, and therefore not very rude. I see all sorts of alternatives to “eat lunch in front of external person during interview” (even for Kevin’s imaginary blood sugar), and therefore find it more rude. It is definitely information for a candidate to assess about the company’s culture, for sure.

        2. Avasarala*

          If nothing else I would conclude that Bill doesn’t think my interview is very important, or that I’m worth impressing/avoiding being hangry at.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            And that might be quite accurate–to you it’s a shot at a job you really want; to him you’re one of 6 candidates for job A and 5 for job B that he’s supposed to weigh in on this week while also keeping the Miller project afloat even though it is on fire.

            From a thread on to what degree interviews predict the work culture, someone described a boss who was on his phone checking email the whole time. She got the job, and he was absolutely fantastic as a boss–but he was in fact always checking email on his phone, in every meeting, trying to approach Inbox 0 while receiving hundreds of emails a day.

      2. Colette*

        This is one of those things that don’t really compare. An interviewer can wear jeans if that’s the norm in the company because for them it’s just another workday, but an interviewee should dress up. And there are plenty of jobs where people eat while on remote meetings. I mean, ideally, an interviewer wouldn’t eat while interviewing, but I don’t think it’s outrageous for them to do so if that’s the best option they have.

        1. Roscoe*

          Yes, this is exactly as I see it. I would never wear jeans to an interview, even if I knew that this company is a shorts and t-shirt atmosphere

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yep. There are a bunch of double standards in interviewing. An interviewer can also take a call, check their laptop for an important email they’re waiting on, ask you to hold on while they leave the room to deal with a work thing someone needs them for, etc. As a candidate, you’re not going to do any of those things and would likely be judged if you did.

          Rightly or wrongly, those are the conventions around these things. Part of the reasoning is that the interviewer is at work, doing their job and while interviewing you is part of that, they still might need to field interruptions, just like if they were meeting with colleagues, whereas the candidate has presumably cleared their schedule for the meeting and isn’t on the clock. But part of it is power dynamics too.

          We can argue it shouldn’t be that way, but it is that way, and you’ve got to assess it within that framework and those conventions.

          One interviewer of four eating on a Skype call for a job/company that otherwise sounds appealing is not a red flag.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            We can argue it shouldn’t be that way, but it is that way.

            That’s why I like this blog–it acknowledges the way things actually work in a world in which people need to pay rent. Sometimes there is a why, and sometimes the thing is a cultural thing and that’s not a reason not to do it.

            1. Jadelyn*

              Agreed. This is one of the few spaces I’ve spent time in that actually manages to hold that balance pretty gracefully – not losing the idealism entirely, but still pragmatic and grounded in what is, regardless of what should be.

          2. Joielle*

            I think part of the issue is that the interview is probably the most important thing happening in the candidate’s day, but may be far from the most important thing happening in the interviewer’s day. I don’t think that’s disrespectful, it’s just reality.

          3. Avasarala*

            That’s what I mean. It’s a rude thing that companies can get away with because they have the power.

            Usually you address that but I just noticed this time you didn’t.

    5. EventPlannerGal*

      I agree. I would find that really disrespectful and rude towards the candidate, as well as being pretty offputting. I wouldn’t classify it as “multi-tasking” at all, just plain rudeness.

    6. Washi*

      If the interviewer had been writing in, I would say that they should try to avoid eating in an interview. But with the interviewee writing in, since I don’t think it’s a red flag at all, the best advice is just roll with it.

    7. Jdc*

      I think the interviewer should at least address it. “I’m so sorry Jane I was pulled into this meeting last minute and have to rush to another after this. I’m afraid if I don’t get a bite right now I may pass out from hunger.” At least then they are acknowledging its a bit weird. I’ve for sure has a meeting I had to eat in or be light headed although never with an external person and I just addressed it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        As a candidate, I would be fine with that. If they had lunch on their desk and were hungry and waiting until I was gone to eat, I might even say “Go ahead.” I wouldn’t really find it cringe-y unless the interviewer were clearly acting as if my presence were inconveniencing them, like This is my lunchtime, I didn’t want to do this anyway, and you are messing up MY DAY.

    8. londonedit*

      I’d find it really, really rude. I understand that people are busy, but sometimes meetings have to happen at lunchtime, and (medical conditions aside, obviously) you kind of have to deal with that. Maybe in an informal team meeting there’d be scope to say ‘I’m so sorry, I haven’t had a chance to stop all morning and I’m absolutely starving, does anyone mind if I quickly eat this sandwich?’ but I’d be really taken aback if an interviewer was eating their lunch during my interview. Whatever the reasons for it, it would come across as disrespectful, and it would be distracting. I’ve had to sit through plenty of meetings with a rumbling stomach, and then nip out to buy lunch at 2.30pm – or I’ve asked a colleague to grab me a sandwich if I can’t get out at all. Or eaten a quick cereal bar before a 12.30 meeting if I know it might end up running on. No, it’s not ideal, but I think all of those are better solutions than eating your lunch in front of an interviewee, whether it’s Skype or not.

      1. Colette*

        Would it be better to make the interviewee wait 15 minutes so you can eat first? Or would it be better to have an interviewer who is hungry and more easily annoyed?

          1. Roscoe*

            I’d rather not wait as well, as I value being punctual. I guess I’m in the minority where I wouldn’t find it THAT horrible

            1. MatKnifeNinja*

              I’d rather have the person eat, than me sitting there for anither 20 minutes, waiting them to inhale a sandwich.

              I don’t have issues with food noises, food smells, or “people not eating correctly.”

              So, *meh*?

              She who has the gold makes the rules. I know I can’t roll in there eating tacos, but if someone is finishing up a cheese sandwich, I’m not gonna lose my my over it.

          2. Yorick*

            Oh no. I am so anxious by the time they finally skype me even when they’re just the normal amount of late, I will for sure vomit if they wait 15 minutes for him to eat the sandwich.

          3. Joielle*

            But I’ve had days where I’m far enough behind already, I definitely could not accommodate another 15 minute delay. On those days, if two things can physically happen at the same time, they’re going to. And this was in a job where 95% of the time, the workload wasn’t awful and I could almost always take lunch away from my desk… but once in a while, there’s a crisis. If a crisis day overlaps with an interview day, that’s not great, but what are you gonna do?

            1. Colette*

              And I’m sure there are people that agree with you! But there are others who’d prefer to get the interview done, or who wouldn’t be able to wait, and the interviewer won’t know which category they’re dealing with. (And the interviewer may not be able to go past the scheduled end time, which may mean that the interview would get cut short if they ate first.)

        1. Jadelyn*

          Speaking as someone who does occasionally have to eat, no matter how inconvenient, because otherwise I will be dizzy and sick, making someone wait for me to eat would be awful. I’d be trying to scarf my food down so fast, in order to minimize the time impact on the candidate, that I’d probably make myself sicker and be even more distracted trying to keep my nausea under control during the interview.

          It’s not a great option, but I can definitely see eating during an interview as a least-worst of a set of bad options.

        2. A*

          Medical reasons aside, honestly – how often do these situations come up where people need to eat RIGHT NOW or are going to starve to death?! This whole comment chain is blowing my mind lol.

          1. Jadelyn*

            I mean, I’m thrilled for you that you seem to have transcended the limitations of the mortal flesh in which the rest of us remain captive, but this is…not at all helpful to the conversation.

            Here’s a neat alternative: it would cost approximately $0.00 for you to take people at their word that we know our bodies and minds well enough to gauge the urgency of refueling the meat-mechas that carry us through our days with a great deal more accuracy than you, random commenter on the internet, can.

          2. LilySparrow*

            There’s a wide gap between “able to be fully alert and attentive” and literal “medical issue.”

            How mentally present someone is able to be, or how much alertness they are willing to sacrifice in a given situation, is highly individual. Personally, I’d rather have an interviewer who isn’t hangry or distracted and forgetful.

          3. Avasarala*

            I agree. I am one of those people who loses brain abilities when I’m hungry and you learn to scarf granola bars and nuts in the bathroom, in the hallways, etc. before you get starving.

            And also if someone is so busy they don’t have time to eat, that says something about work-life balance at the company.

      2. londonedit*

        I’d say if you genuinely can’t wait until after the interview to eat, it would be better to ask the interviewee to wait a few minutes (even just five minutes to grab a snack). But really, if someone’s coming in to meet you, then it’s polite to put their time above your own.

    9. Person of Interest*

      You know, a simple solution in this case would have been for the interviewer who was eating to turn off their video while they were eating. They could have told their colleagues ahead of time “I’ll just be in listen mode until I’m done with my lunch.”

      1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

        That seems less than ideal for the candidate, too, though in that they can’t see the Eating Interviewer’s reactions. To be honest, I’d prefer to see someone munching a sandwich than not see them when they can see me.

    10. JSPA*

      While the interviewee is supposed to have a chance to ask questions about, and get a sense of, the company, that hardly implies that everyone in an interview is subject to equal expectations and equal scrutiny. An interview is SUPPOSED to be a bigger deal in the life of the interviewee than the life of all of the several interviewers.

      The interviewers should not be expected to curate themselves similarly. Otherwise every act of interviewing people (which in some places, may mean you’re on a panel every few weeks, for years) would be as stressful as interviewing for a new job, every few weeks–which would clearly be nonsensical. IMHO, the best thing the interviewer can do is provide a natural window into “how things work here” while asking the right questions. “We do sometimes get over-scheduled but we don’t make people suffer more than necessary when that happens, by standing on formality for its own sake” is actually a very useful bit of information.

      1. JSPA*

        But then, I don’t mind knowing that people are made of flesh and blood, and require nutrition. And I’m frankly freaked out by people who want to pretend otherwise, and consider them a high risk for being at best formally polite, not actually kind or understanding.

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          I think it’s quite an unkind interpretation of people’s comments here to say that they think people shouldn’t require nutrition. I think that if an interviewer is eating they are probably not focusing fully on what the candidate is saying, possibly distracting them/putting them off (especially if they’re already interviewing in a less-than-ideal format like Skype), and being kind of disrespectful of the candidate’s time by using the interview as their lunchbreak. And yes, I’m sure that sometimes people are working 16-hour days in back-to-back VIP client meetings and also will pass out if they don’t eat at set times and also physically cannot eat quickly and also can’t eat in their office because their officemate has misophonia and an airborne nut allergy and eating in an interview is literally the only possible thing that they can do… but in that situation, they should probably acknowledge it and apologise before breaking out the lunchbox.

        2. Avasarala*

          This is a very uncharitable read of my comment and I don’t appreciate your insinuation that I’m not kind. I’m not saying people should never eat or be robots. I’m saying that I don’t know why the interviewer is choosing to eat during my interview–maybe they’re crazy busy and maybe they have poor time management and think it’s easier to “multitask”–the result is that they clearly don’t hold the same level of respect and professional norms that are common in my area and industry. Maybe they are actually kind and understanding but not being “formally polite” means what, being rude on the surface but for a good reason??

  3. Avasarala*

    #1 I understand that there are many different kinds of AirBnBs as well, so you could also try asking for one where you’d get your own private room and bathroom (or whatever would make you feel comfortable, to me those 2 would make a big difference). Or ensure that it’s not a room in someone’s house/the owner is away/whatever makes hotels seem more appealing than Airbnb to you.

    Depending on where you’re going, often that kind of accommodation is the only thing available at a reasonable price so setting higher standards instead of rejecting it outright might make it go down easier, if you’re too junior to push back on Airbnb entirely.

    1. Tyche*

      Next year we’ll be staying in an Airbnb flat because it’s the only solution that resolves both logistic and budget issues.
      But it’s a very spacious flat and we’ll have each one a bedroom, and there are two bathrooms.

      1. Feline*

        I agree, asking about the particulars of the Airbnb can make a difference. Long before Airbnb was a thing, a small company I worked for did this for employees staffing a 10 day long conference. 10 days living with coworkers had its drama-laden moments, but most of that had to do with the one coworker who staggered in late after a night of drinking. We had the whole first floor of a brownstone in Chicago near Lincoln Park for ten days, and having my own bedroom and bathroom afforded enough privacy. Staying in a big loft would have made my introvert tendencies go off, so it’s all in the layout.

    2. Turquoisecow*

      My husband’s company has an office in a pretty expensive part of the country. Hotel rooms are crazy expensive, so everyone stays at Airbnbs. However, they don’t stay together. I went along with him a few times and we got a small apartment on our own and it was a lot cheaper than anything he could have found at a hotel. All his coworkers were doing something similar.

      The CEO does occasionally book extra cheap Airbnbs where he’s sharing a room with like six other men, but he never makes his workers do the same.

        1. Turquoisecow*

          Yeah, he has some other problems. But he’s reasonable about travel expenses, which is great because some of them have to travel a lot.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        But… like… doesn’t he make the six other men do the same? Or are they also OK with that like he is?

        1. Steve*

          It took me a sec but I’m now assuming this means that the CEO is staying at something like a hostel, where other people have booked the room, and not that the room is shared by 7 people who work at the same place.

        2. Turquoisecow*

          Yeah, the other guys aren’t company employees, they’re just strangers who picked the same accommodations.

    3. Anony*

      I think it depends on your workplace culture and I really feel for Op1 here. The company I work for (a start up) uses AirBNB to rent houses every time we travel to save money – which is quite often – and I hate it. The work never ends. We could get back from an event at 10pm and my manager will be pulling his laptop out and asking me to go through something with him, or work on a proposal. Same at 7am when I come down to eat my breakfast and (try to) relax before a hectic day.

        1. Anony*

          Said manager is of the opinion that mandatory events count as ‘time off work’ and that we should still fit in all of our usual work around it [i.e. get up early and stay up late to work]. It’s taken quite a while for me to realise that beyond making snide comments about my work ethic, there’s actually nothing he can enforce on this. So i’ve started using the excuse ‘I need to wash my hair’ in an actual, real life context and then just…Never coming back!

      1. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

        But that doesn’t seem an AirBNB issue–if you were all in the same hotel, seems like he might be knocking on your door or grabbing you at the continental breakfast or catching you in the elevator

    4. Dana B.S.*

      Yes – the specific AirBnB may provide a good level of privacy. And especially because it’s your first trip, I would go to see how it is. It’s possible that everyone else will also want some downtime and retire to their rooms at a certain point. Or watch a movie in the living room and won’t notice if you skip out.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        But because it’s OP’s first trip, I can see why she feels so awkward!

        Everyone else is rooming with coworkers, she’s rooming with virtual strangers.

        1. Dana B.S.*

          Oh, it is totally awkward. But I think OP would make it more awkward if she refused to stay with everyone else!

          1. A*

            this. I feel for OP, I *loathe* having to share space when traveling for work (which I define as not being able to do 100% what I want, when I want – as I should be able to off hours). In this case though, I think it would isolate the OP and could have unintended consequences in regards to rapport/bonding etc.

    5. nonymous*

      I have an acquaintance who books AirBnBs for training events all the time. The cost savings usually means that she can afford to bring in an extra person or two, especially if the public area is spacious to double as the meeting space. Having said that, she also schedules breaks throughout the event and the events themselves are situated in areas with lots of opportunities to go off and explore, usually with some meditative elements included. Everyone gets their own room and the invite list is usually limited to a crowd that has good EQ and is trying to get along, so there’s less chance of the creep factor.

      I would encourage OP#1 to assert the expectation that an AirBnB housing option is similar to a posh hostel. Sure the rooms are small and you have to go down the hall to the bathroom, but the doors lock, the bed is fairly comfortable and the building has all necessary safety amenities. Don’t think of the communal areas as space to unwind any more than one would at the hotel breakfast buffet. Do some research re: how to unwind/get some alone time outside of the house throughout the day, be clear when privacy is needed to make personal calls etc, and be realistic that meals at the house (even if it is catered) will not be a time for introverts to recharge.

      1. Name Required*

        A hostel, even a posh one, isn’t a normal accommodation for business travel, at least in the US. It’s normal to have your own private room and bathroom. Almost every hotel room I’ve stayed in for business travel also had a couch, mini fridge, and desk. Trying to think of an Airbnb as a posh hostel wouldn’t be equitable at all.

        Other things a hotel has that an Airbnb doesn’t: housekeeping. Front desk staff that can help ensure your safety and manage late-night issues. Extra safety locks on doors that a normal Airbnb bedroom would not have. Amenities like a gym or a “business room” with a printer or computer.

    6. Dr. Pepper*

      As I understand, AirBnB has come a long way from its “crash in our spare room/youth hostel” roots. Many rentals are like mini private hotels nowadays. Think about WHY the idea makes you uncomfortable and what would alleviate that. A private room and bathroom would likely go a long way to making the arrangement, if not ideal, at least workable. It’s much easier to insist on certain aspects of the accommodation rather than refuse it utterly.

      1. Massmatt*

        I don’t know about that. A family member booked one a year ago that was a fiasco. It was supposed to be a long term rental, he’d just sold his house and needed a place for a few weeks while the new place was renovated. He and his teen daughter arrived to find an eviction notice on the door and the place covered in filth. They clean the place up only to have the building manager show up with a sheriff days later. The guy renting the place out had been evicted and had no right to sublet even when he had been a tenant. Color me skeptical about Airbnb.

        1. A*

          Sadly that’s not an uncommon scam. Airbnb has had notices on their site about measures you can take to try and avoid this (at least going back two years ago when I first noticed them).

        2. JSPA*

          You have to do some serious recon if you don’t have anyone who can vouch (and in particular, make sure that the host doesn’t have 20 other places, with good reviews on 4 of them, and problems with the rest). I will check two dozen local options (even outside the price range), look for signs that the reviews are not all of the same place, and finally, “walk” the local streets in streetview until I spot the picture of the place in question, then use that for further research. Stuff that would be out of bounds for coworkers is, as far as I’m concerned, entirely in-bounds for an essentially unlicensed hotel where someone will have way too much of your info and a key to get access to you, while you may have only a mailing address and a probably-but-not-necessarily-real-and-complete name for them. I’ve done a long term stay, but first booked it for a week, months in advance.

        3. Sandman*

          I just had an online acquaintance mention this weekend that they showed up at their AirBnB, unpacked, and were kicked out because of a spousal disagreement. AirBnB can be nice, but it’s a lot riskier than a hotel IMO.

      2. techRando*

        AirBnB is just a modern unregulated hotel. I think people are right to be skeptical of it, inherently, because it lacks those regulations.

        1. Avasarala*

          FWIW I agree and avoid it whenever possible. But my area has lots of hostels, hotels, and other options at different price points and I know that the US is not necessarily so.

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        The one time I used AirBnB was while attending a conference in San Diego. The place was a studio apartment, furnished in the sense that a college apartment is furnished: sparingly. But it had a bed and a shower, which was all I really cared about. The thing is, it obviously is used only as an AirBnb rental. It also was obvious that this was against the terms of the lease, leading to an absurd cloak-and-dagger air to the whole thing. It made sense for the primary lesee because even charging half what the conference hotel did, and figuring a plausible occupancy rate, the lesee was turning a nice profit. So why did the landlord just do this, without the cloak-and-dagger? Because while I, a staid middle aged guy there for a conference, was the ideal tenant, someone else might bring in a keg and throw a loud party.

        It worked out fine for me. I got a cheap room, and I really didn’t want to make pleasantries with Bob and Jill, who turned down the sheets and left me a mint. I wanted to unwind for an hour then go to sleep. But while it worked out for me under those specific circumstances, the arrangement is not ideal for all interested parties, even in those circumstances. I have my doubts about AirBnB in the long term. Something is going to give.

    7. Maiu*

      I once booked a hotel suite for three coworkers traveling; I got them a 3 br, 2 bath (after confirming that they’d all be okay with sharing an apartment-like space). For some reason, the hotel gave them each their own 3 br, 2 bath suite. I was really confused when they were trying to text me. “Yes, I know you have your own bedroom, I booked that. What do you mean you have three bedrooms??” I did confirm that I had only booked one suite. They ended up moving in together for the duration of their travel.

    8. MoopySwarpet*

      Our company does AirBNB or VRBO when it makes sense to financially. When you’re talking about 4 rooms at $200 per night plus eating out and drinks vs VRBO at $400 per night plus the ability to buy cheaper/healthier food options and alcohol from the liquor store, it significantly decreases the overall convention spend.

      However, my boss is pretty adamant about each person having their own room, as many bathrooms as possible, AND the women stay in one location and the men in another. They often have a couple dinners together at whichever has the better/larger cooking space (the boss cooks unless someone else volunteers), but beyond that, everyone has their own meetings, dinner, and off site events scheduled to attend. (I promise no one misses out on any networking with the boss due to gender segregation.)

      I think it really does depend on the space, but I would hope that they aren’t actually asking people to share rooms or asking anyone to sleep in common spaces.

      1. JSPA*

        I’m generally fine with low-cost, shared-bathroom hotels; they used to be pretty common in Europe, and not unheard of in the US, when I was a kid. But they almost always had a sink in the room, which made a significant percentage of bathroom visits optional.

    9. Junior Assistant Peon*

      It’s not just for price – if you’ve visiting a rural area, you might have a long drive to the nearest interstate ramp with a cluster of chain hotels. I’ve been willing to take a nearby cheap motel over a nicer hotel with a long commute if I’m visiting a rural area.

    10. PhillyRedhead*

      I’d be uncomfortable with an AirBNB, even if I had my own private room and bathroom. AirBNB isn’t regulated like hotels are. I’d be worried about my safety, if there were hidden cameras in the room, etc.

      1. Yankee Expat*

        I work for a university. The travel policy was recently amended to no longer permit groups to book AirBnbs and to discourage solo travelers from staying in them, for safety and security reasons. I recently stayed in three different AirBnbs in the same city while I was waiting for my apartment to be available. The first one had no smoke detectors and a filthy shared bath and supposedly clean towels that smelled of cat pee and despair. The second had a nicer shared bath but an alcoholic/rx med addicted host who talked nonstop. The last one was the best, it had a private entrance and bath and was sparkling clean. I think the private bedroom/private bath should be non-negotiable for business travel.

        1. JSPA*

          I had a pretty comfortable AB&B, despite the host being honest about an alcohol problem and depression. And I’ve had hotels where the night desk person was well-pickled and snoring before midnight. Addiction and quiet desperation are not unknown in the corporate world either, after all, and plenty of heroin addicts managed to hold down jobs for years & decades.

          IMO, you rate the observables, not the presumed personal reason for any deficits, unless it rises to the level of, “felt scary.”

          1. Avasarala*

            Well also if the night desk person is snoring they can be fired. And presumably they have regulations they have to meet with regards to security and cleanliness in order to be a licensed hotel. The most you can do about an AirBnB with similar problems is write a negative review. It’s not the same level at all.

    11. Eukomos*

      Yeah, I share Air BnBs with coworkers all the time. We usually put people together in rooms by gender, but when I went to a conference with two coworkers who were both of a different gender than mine we just got an Air BnB with three bedrooms and we each got our own room. We did have to share a bathroom but y’know, it had a door with a lock, no one spread all their toiletries all over the counter space, it was fine. I’ve never had anyone take exception to me saying “ok, I’m going to my bedroom to decompress, talk to you all in the morning.” Just make sure they rent a large enough BnB that you all have a decent amount of space, a couple years ago we tried to stuff too many people into one and ended up sharing (queen-sized) beds, putting younger people on couches, etc, and that was a bit nuts. Crazy conference all around, that one.

  4. mark132*

    #3, if it’s always the same person, why not just name names when rescheduling. I’m a big believer in giving credit where credit is due. Give Jane credit. “Jane just informed me she has an off calendar commitment, so rescheduling”.

    And another suggestion, if this is a regular meeting, why not just create a recurring meeting at the same time and day. And then Jane can decide whether to attend or not. And only reschedule for stuff like holidays.

    1. Dancing Otter*

      Yes, both of these.
      How vital is Jane’s presence? When I had to schedule meetings through Outlook, it was almost impossible to find a time when six or more people were all available. (Meeting heavy company) Maybe try telling Jane that the time you chose worked best for everyone else, and let her choose whether or not to attend. Perhaps she might come to see the wisdom of putting things in the calendar if SHE is the one inconvenienced.
      Is it possible she doesn’t actually have a conflict all the time, and is playing games with you? She’s making your job more difficult; she’s making you look bad; is that maybe, by any chance, her goal?

      1. Mae Fuller*

        That seems unnecessarily machiavellian to me, but I did wonder whether Jane might be looking for a way out of the meetings. If her diary is up to date but she’s repeatedly not available, is it just that she’s prioritising other, not-meeting work? (Either way I think Alison’s advice to ask her directly is still the best approach.)

      2. PhyllisB*

        Someone may have already suggested this, but what about asking Jane FIRST what day/time works for her? Give her a couple of options and work from there.

        1. Life is Good*

          And, maybe ask her via email with the others copied. This is sort of passive-aggressive, but then she can’t say “yes, I’m available” then change her mind when the meeting is set. She will be accountable to everyone.

          1. AnnaBananna*

            As someone who schedules more meetings than is frankly necessary (eye roll), I would HIGHLY suggest using Doodle Poll, a putting the onus on everyone else to claim their own availability. There’s really no way for you to know otherwise. Maybe Jane or OP’s other colleagues prefer to use their iCalendar. This means that it’s totally pointless to use Outlook’s stated availability.

            Please do yourself a favor and checkout Doodle Poll. It’s such an easy tool to use and there’s other options that I really like using, like the Yes(yes)No option, which translates to ‘well, technically I’m available but I would only use this slot if it was the only time that worked for everyone else’.

        2. Important Moi*

          Send a group email to everyone asking they provide what days they ARE NOT available within a 2 week time frame (or whatever works for you) and ask that they respond to that thread. As opposed to asking Jane via email with the others copied.

          OP will then be seen as being transparent and not singling out Jane as she is asking the same of everyone. Ideally it may change Jane’s behaviour. It may not change Jane’s behaviour, however, it will provide a larger audience. Sometimes things just suck and you aren’t able to change them.

          1. mark132*

            I would detest emails like that. Just check my calendar. The only exception might be for large all day + Commitments.

            1. Jadelyn*

              Yeah, especially if this is a lot of top people, you’re going to piss off a bunch of folks doing it this way. This is what the calendar function is for. Don’t punish the rest of them because you’ve got one person who refuses to use her calendar appropriately.

            2. Observer*

              This is EXACTLY what I was going to respond. Sure, the OP unfortunately needs to email Jane. But they should NOT start emailing everyone else.

            3. A*

              This. Don’t send me emails asking me to repeat the info that is already on my calendar (and subject to change minute to minute) just because one person isn’t doing their due diligence. This should be addressed with Jane directly, plain and simple. If she continues to be unwilling, it should be escalated since it has a larger impact. Also because I’d see that as a giant red flag if THAT is the hill someone is choosing to die on.

              1. Lunita*

                Yeah I would probably see if asking Jane first for availability is a better system. If not, then address directly with her.

            1. Zombeyonce*

              Alison said to email Jane first before trying to schedule the meeting, so yes, it’s what was suggested in the original advice.

    2. NYWeasel*

      I like the suggestion to just set them up well in advance, and if Jane never prioritizes attending, that’s between her and the boss. I work with a Jane, and even if I book at the times she asks me to, she ends up coming to me half the time on the day of the meeting and saying “Is there anything important? Do I need to be there?” The only schedule I really take into account is my manager’s, though of course I try to maximize how many other people can attend.

    3. EPLawyer*

      Either she is misrepresenting that her calendar is up to date because she doesn’t want to admit she is not good at keeping it up. OR she is playing power games by forcing reschedules every single time.

      Either way, it’s not your problem. Schedule the meetings. If she says she has a conflict, simply state, well this is the time that works best for everyone else and your calendar showed free. If you need to change it discuss it with the boss. Then see what happens.

      I would give the boss a heads up. It’s not tattling. It is impacting how you do your job since it is your job to schedule these things and either her inability to handle her calendar or her power games is affecting that. Not accusatory but just a here’s how I have handled this issue, do you want me to do something different kinda way.

      1. Not a Blossom*

        Yeah, I definitely think the OP needs to give the boss (or just her boss if she and Jane don’t share one) a head’s up because otherwise it looks like the OP doesn’t know how to do her job.

      2. Snuck*

        I wonder instead of power play… if instead Jane has a bunch of stuff she’s holding in her head that isn’t in the calendar… things she thinks are so routine and obvious, she doesn’t need to schedule them?

        Daily spot meetings/ safety briefings/ data dumps/whatever or a standing lunchtime or school commitment that “everyone should know” and this is conflicting…

        Ideally she will set up recurring for those too… Even if they are just “not available” if it’s for a breast milk pumping session she doesn’t want to announce in a public space…. (or any other thing)

        I like the idea of emailing Jane, asking her general availability, then setting these up as recurring when you can, and if she tries to blow it off respond with “I’m sorry, this is the best time in everyone’s calendar, can you please try to make it?” And if she really can’t… then go back to the entire team “Jane has had something come up and can’t make this now, is it possible to loop her in without us, or should we reschedule?” She can only get away with this level of public ‘clash’ so many times before it becomes obvious… and sometimes things clash… Maybe she doesn’t need to be there… let the team decide.

        1. boo bot*

          I wondered about this, too – if Jane is thinking of the calendar as being for her own schedule, and not really considering that its purpose is more so other people know what she’s doing.

          To be honest, I’m someone who would *hate* keeping a shared calendar, especially one where other people could just schedule me for meetings without asking. I get that it’s more convenient for some business purposes, but the idea that my time is up for grabs to whoever wants it makes me stabby.

          I get that you can probably schedule blocks for “getting work done,” but in general, I think of all my time not dedicated to scheduled meetings as “getting work done” time. So if I have a day with no meetings, I’m going to plan to spend that working on Project 1794. But I don’t want to block it off in the calendar, because if someone from Project Acoustic Kitty wants to meet with me, I can schedule around that. But I also don’t want to leave it free, because I don’t want it filled with pointless conference calls with those weird Project Stargate people.

          I even get that it’s easier to schedule meetings if you can see when everyone is free, but even then I would find it really frustrating that it’s not even a request. I would probably be Jane, and I’m sorry! And, if I were Jane, I would be super accommodating and love you if you emailed me first.

          1. Sam.*

            I tend to think of my calendar time the way that you do. However, I think office culture takes precedence over personal preference. At my last job, the general expectation was that any time not booked on your calendar was fair game for meeting organizers. If you didn’t keep your calendar up-to-date/didn’t block off time for your own stuff and it resulted in a conflict, it was up to you to adapt or resolve it, not on anyone else to reschedule a large-group meeting or to give you the cliffs notes of what happened. And since that was the expectation, and because I fully recognize that this approach makes life infinitely easier for anyone organizing anything, I adapted. It sounds like Jane is the one out of step here, so I agree with others that it makes sense to flag this for the boss.

            1. boo bot*

              Yeah, I mean if it’s what the office does, you have to adapt to it – I’m sure I’d figure it out.

              I think part of my visceral “no!” reaction to this is because I’m a freelancer, actually. I’ve had to learn to defend my time pretty assertively from clients with no boundaries, so when I visualize implementing this kind of system, I sort of see myself handing over my life to be devoured hour by hour.

              If it’s an office, and people know each other, and there’s some kind of hierarchy in place, I guess it’s probably a much more reasonable situation.

          2. Observer*

            It’s not a matter of people scheduling you without your permission but being able to see when you are available.

            There is no evidence anywhere that the meetings are being scheduled into people’s calendars without a meeting request that people can accept or turn down. It’s just that she keeps on either turning them down or telling the OP that she can’t make it.

          3. A*

            But a meeting invite *is* a request (albeit request doesn’t necessarily imply optional). That’s why you can accept, accept with reply, RSVP tentative, decline, or suggest new meeting time.

          4. Zombeyonce*

            I recommend blocking time in your calendar as “tentative”. That way people can see it when scheduling meetings and avoid scheduling over it but if there’s no other option (or if you’re an optional attendee), they can go ahead and choose that day. If everyone expected someone to talk to them about when to schedule a meeting instead of checking calendars, schedulers would spend the majority of their time tracking down available times for all attendees and that’s a ridiculous ask. It would also not be helpful because one person’s schedule could change while they were waiting to hear back from everyone else.

            “I think of all my time not dedicated to scheduled meetings as “getting work done” time.”
            This is how most people work, and they turn down meetings if they can’t or don’t need to attend them. You say that your time being up for grabs makes you angry, but you’re literally being paid for that to be the case.

        2. Glitsy Gus*

          I think this is why it’s worth talking to Jane about it once. If she really is just clueless about how much of an issue this is she might get better about keeping up her calendar when you talk it through. I would also give my boss a heads up that this is a recurring issue, both so they can have your back and also so they know all the meeting rescheduling isn’t due to you not paying attention.

          After talking to Jane about it, though, I do think if there is a point where it’s becoming clear Jane wants to be the one who gets to decide exactly when each meeting is most convenient for her personally as a power play you already have established with your boss this is a “thing” and they can help you decide if Jane actually has that power or if something needs to be done about it.

      3. Phoenix Programmer*

        No. Not really. There is a 3rd likely scenario called “Jane gets pulled into last minute higher priority meetings frequently”.

        OP is letting her dislike of Jane color her view of these cancellations imo.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          If that truly is the case, then talking to Jane about it should make that clear. But if OP’s talk with Jane is unfruitful, I agree with the advice to just schedule meetings for when everyone else is free and say “Oh, you can’t make it? I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll make sure whoever takes minutes sends you a copy.” Because OP can only accommodate problems Jane tells her about, and it Jane won’t say what the problem is, there’s nothing OP can really do about it.

        2. Zombeyonce*

          Except that this seems to happen right after OP sends out a meeting invitation, so I can’t see how a last-minute meeting would be the problem here, unless OP is sending their own invites out last-minute. And OP didn’t mention any other meetings suddenly being on Jane’s calendar, which she has access to.

      4. emmelemm*

        Yeah, absolutely. In this day and age, that’s what shared calendars are for. If your calendar shows free, you’re getting booked in.

        Signed, someone who had the job of scheduling meetings with 6-12 attendees back in the late 80s, when you had to make your own spreadsheet, call everyone, hear back from them, put Xs through days and times, and look for the hole with no Xs in it.

      5. Eukomos*

        My boss totally does this as a power play. She won’t even tell her own scheduler when her busy blocks are for private stuff, which somehow always is critical to do in the middle of the day. It drives me up the wall, I do everything I can to avoid taking on tasks that involve scheduling meetings around here.

    4. Sara without an H*

      Yes, there’s really no need to conceal the fact that it’s Jane who has the scheduling issues, not OP#3. Standing meetings are a good solution — the meeting is scheduled for every Tuesday at 11:00 a.m., if that is the best time for all the other attendees. Let Jane reshuffle her own schedule, if she really needs/wants to attend.

      1. nonymous*

        And the nice thing about that is if there is a conflict Jane can rotate which one she skips. I have that issue right now with two groups I’m in and I just tell people about the other group and that will miss the upcoming meeting and plan on attending the next one (so I appreciate getting the meeting agenda and any minutes so I can be prepared for the ones I do attend).

    5. Dragon_Dreamer*

      This feels to me like a power move on Jane’s part. I agree that giving her “credit” for the constant rescheduling would easily point that out. Basically, she’s trying to force you to accommodate her *wants* as to meeting times, and forcing you to come to her. She is taking control of the situation in doing so.

      I had a classmate who pulled this stunt often during a group project. She’d give us a list of times, then repeatedly claim she had a prior commitment as soon as the rest of us agreed on one. Turns out she expected us to do all the work and tried telling the professor that we’d “refused to meet when she was free.” Thankfully, email chains forwarded to the professor nipped that in the bud.

      1. Dragon_Dreamer*

        Also, I wonder if Jane wanted to be given the scheduling task and is trying to show the OP as incompetent so that she can have it after all…

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            I worked with a newish supervisor a while back who wanted ALL the tasks, including the least fun ones like scheduling. She was really trying to prove herself, and she thought the best way to do it was “see how much better I am at this than anybody else who’s tried?” It…did not work.

          1. Massmatt*

            yeah, if someone WANTED the schedule duties I can’t imagine having to resort to some sort of subterfuge.

            I think the issue is more likely either that she is inconsiderate, doesn’t quite understand the function of a calendar, or making a power play.

            I agree with the advice, including going to the coworker’s manager, but the OP says she’s been at the job 7 months, maybe Jane has more tenure, OP should be careful about spending capital early in the job.

    6. Quinalla*

      Agreed, just matter of factly state what happened. If it just happened once or even twice, I too wouldn’t mention who, but with it being every single time, just put it out there. Might motivate her to update her calendar.

      And yes, make it a reoccurring meeting if possible for sure, but I’m guessing that isn’t the case here, just having to schedule different meetings that all have happened to involve Jane.

      Folks that don’t keep their calendars up to date frustrate me quite a bit! If you need that block of time to do something, block it out!

      1. Fieldpoppy*

        All of the replies in this thread give Jane a lot more credit for deliberate actions than I think is going on — I think she’s just not great at keeping her calendar up to date, and always feels overwhelmed, rather than deliberately doing anything. I would try the scheduling her first thing.

        1. Doopersoop*

          Yep I agree. I don’t think it’s a power play, it’s lack of organization. I’ve dealt with this on both sides. Trying to schedule meetings with people who don’t use the company tools (ie Outlook) are a nightmare and I always call them out “it wasn’t in your outlook calendar and this time works for everyone else, so, sorry.”

          On the flip side, people would try to schedule meetings with me at times when I already had appointments and I’d always use it as a teaching moment on how to use the scheduling tool in Outlook: “I already have an appointment at this time in my calendar, if you use the scheduling tool I’m sure you’ll be able to find an open time that works for all of us, thanks.”

          1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

            It drives me crazy when people don’t use the scheduling tool and just send me an invite for a call or meeting at a time that conflicts with something else already on my calendar. And it’s not always for a group meeting where that was the only time that was good for everyone else. I want to ask them if they even bothered to take the five seconds to use the scheduling tool. Definite pet peeve.

        2. mark132*

          I think it doesn’t matter either way, deliberate or disorganised, the approach still will work. By which I mean sparing the OP so much effort in rescheduling meetings.

    7. Not a Morning Person*

      It sounds like this is a rotating responsibility and the OP has only had it for awhile. If so, surely the team members who had this role before had a similar issue with scheduling. Maybe talk to the previous schedulers and see if they had the same issue with Jane and how they handled it? Also, I agree that there is no need to be so sensitive to Jane and hide the fact that it is at her request that the meetings be rescheduled.

    8. Mockingjay*

      When I or someone on our team schedules meetings, if 8 or 9 out of 10 attendees can make it, the meeting time stands. We would never have meetings at all if we tried to find a date/time for 10 out of 10.

      Jane can suggest another time to the meeting lead (not the OP as the meeting scheduler), arrange coverage, or skip it. It’s Jane’s responsibility to manage her attendance, not the OP’s.

      1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        That makes perfect sense. At OldJob, we had a standing weekly team meeting. But if one person wasn’t able to attend due to travel, etc, there was one person who always asked if we could reschedule “because we’re a team.” I always found that odd. If one person couldn’t attend, they could always provide their updates in an email and then be briefed of any pertinent info after the meeting. Rescheduling for one person was really unnecessary. And it happened somewhat regularly.

      2. JayNay*

        “It’s Jane’s responsibility to manage her attendance, not the OP’s” – yes to this 100%. scheduling meetings is so annoying and she’s making it more annoying for OP. Also, OP, you’re on the same level as this person, you’re not her assistant, there’s a limit to how much you need to accomodate her.
        I would bet you money that once you start responding to Jane with “that was the time that worked best for everyone, so I’d like to hold the meeting then” the whole back-and-forth will die down significantly.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          Yes. At some point the OP just has to say, “This time was the only time free on everyone’s schedule, so we aren’t going to adjust the time.”

          At this point, if you have Outlook Calendar, you have to know that it is going to be used to schedule meetings. If Jane doesn’t know, then she’d better figure out really quick. The OP is using the tools available to schedule the meeting at the best time. It’s not her fault if Jane isn’t using the tool appropriately.

      3. Kat in VA*

        There have been times where I’ve tried to schedule a critical meeting for 8 or 10 senior leadership folks and I’ve looked at that colorful overlay of squares and wanted to cry because nothing, NOTHING was open.

        We also have two networks – commercial and federal. So I have no visibility into commercial and vice versa. Makes it loads of fun scheduling when someone’s calendar is entirely grayed out.

    9. Dana B.S.*

      Agreed on creating a recurring time.

      I’ve also come across a lot of people that don’t know how to use Outlook and don’t realize that it shows as “free” when someone else looks at their calendar.

    10. schnauzerfan*

      We have conference / Skype calls where we need a representative from each of 6 different teams spread out across the state, in two different time zones. We use doodle polls. The organizer sends out a poll with possible times, gives a deadline, and schedules the meeting for the time that works for the most people. Obviously, if someone is presenting or is otherwise essential to the meeting, their conflicts will take priority. But everyone has the option to decline upfront. It works for us.

    11. TootsNYC*

      For #3, the solution seems pretty obvious to me.

      Check the online schedules, pick a preferred time (and a couple of backups, to save yourself some back-and-forth), and email her to ask it if will work.

      THEN send your official meeting invite.

      1. Malarkey01*

        Yes This plan. I get that a lot of comments are annoyed at Jane and want to go with the sorry you can’t make it approach, but that wouldn’t work at my company. If our leadership team is meeting everyone needs to be there and our director honestly wouldn’t care if Jane was the one causing the rescheduling so neither calling Jane out or proceeding without her would work.

        I think this is a case of “do you want to be right” or “do you want to be able to schedule this with the least hassle for the reality you are in”.

    12. JSPA*

      I’d check that her calendar looks the same to her as it does to you. Some people never seem to figure out what level of private / public setting on an event means that people who need to see the full schedule (if not all the details) can in fact see the full schedule. She may think that her default hides whether it’s a gynecologist apt. or a client meeting, while showing the time as “booked,” while in fact, the one is showing “available.”

  5. Language Lover*

    LW#1, How much do you know about the Air BnB they’re renting? Are the details about sharing sleep/bathroom space things you know or things you assume based on your experience with that type of property? I too would be uncomfortable having to share a bedroom/bathroom but it’s worth looking into what specifically the arrangements have been. In my recent vacation planning, I’ve started to notice more properties offering different options of renting from individual rooms (essentially set up as hotel rooms) up to being able to rent the whole house but the bedrooms would still be like hotel rooms. It could still be awkward if you’d be expected to socialize in the other living areas but it may not be as intimate as you initially thought.

    LW#2, I think putting in zeros is the right solution. And if asked about it, that’s when you can casually drop that you figured they just hadn’t gotten around to updating the online application after the law passed.

    1. Jax*

      #2 I’m afraid won’t be asked about it because these systems tend to automatically disqualify/reject candidates for not filling in especially the salary history field. Take a screenshot and send it to Labor like Alison suggested.

      1. Lauren*

        These systems do kick out those that ‘ignore’ the questions with zeros. You could try emailing HR asking about why they are still asking after the law went into affect, and that you are concerned the system automatically kicked you out of consideration for placing zeros. You could do it anonymously to the company Twitter account if you don’t want your name associated with it. If the system is meant for other states, they didn’t bother to remove it. You can also wait a few weeks to see if you are considered before commenting to. You have to speak up to get it removed. The Labor board can only do so much. You have to scare people with emails to the CEO saying ‘you are in violation of the law’ – you might be forgoing the job, but you are helping others after you.

      2. Zombeyonce*

        Putting in $1 also works and is unlikely to get you automatically rejected. HR/interviewers will know that’s not someone’s actual salary.

    2. China Beech*

      Even if that were the case (whole house booked) I’d still not want to spend all day with my coworkers then have to go home to the same house with them afterward.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        Oh goodness if I had to do that I’d pull my hair out. Partly because I don’t really get along with the people most likely to go on trips and partly because I’m an introvert and need quiet wind-down time.

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        TBH, my favorite part of business trips are that my evenings are miiiiiiiiine. Exercise, read a book, watch TV I like that my husband doesn’t, whatever. I get to do what I want for a change. And I cannot people all day and night. Cannot.

      3. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

        I’m also an introvert, but I’m not really seeing how it has to be different from going back to the same hotel. Nothing stopping you from saying goodnight at 6pm and locking yourself in your room

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I don’t even like renting a giant house for me and all of my friends for vacation. And for a work thing, I wouldn’t want to spend all day with my colleagues and then have to spend the evening in the same place with them as well. It’s not about liking/not liking them. It’s about needing my own space to unwind each day.

  6. Kendra*

    OP3: It’s also entirely possible that she herself hasn’t noticed that she has a pattern of doing this, and will be apologetic/embarrassed if you point it out.

    Or, it could be that there’s something else going on (maybe her phone defaults calendar entries to her personal Apple or Google account, instead of her work one, and she hasn’t noticed, or maybe it’s not syncing correctly), she could be equally frustrated, and doesn’t understand why you keep “ignoring” her appointments.

    Either way, a direct conversation with her definitely sounds like your best bet. You’re not going in with your guns blazing to confront her, you’re just trying to figure out what’s going on!

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      I had an employee at one point who just … wasn’t good at Outlook calendar and scheduled everything so it showed as “free” – so it showed up on HIS calendar but no one else could see it.

  7. Quake Johnson*

    Mmm, personally I find it extremely disrespectful to be eating while conducting an interview. I would never in a million years do that when I’m interviewing candidates. If I have to skip lunch that day, so be it.

    1. GM*

      Yes that’s what my colleagues and I have done several times in the past – skipped lunch or had it after the interview. In fact that’s probably what this interviewer should have done in the first place – finished eating and then joined in.

      1. China Beech*

        I concur; it appears so unprofessional. And like someone else pointed out, if the candidate did it, you can guarantee that would reflect poorly on them.

    2. PM*

      Some people’s bodies are not suited to skipping lunch. I get stupid and bitchy if I don’t eat in the middle of the day. I block lunch on my calendar to reduce the odds of back-to-back meetings because I hate eating in meetings, but sometimes stuff comes up and it’s the least worst option.

      The only reason I’d eat during an interview is if the adjacent meetings on my calendar were with customers. But many companies suck at training interviewers and this may have been someone who didn’t know better.

      1. Dusty Bunny*

        “I get stupid and bitchy if I don’t eat in the middle of the day.” I’m so feeling this. Now I have an accurate descriptor for what is going to happen when I get too hungry. Hangry never seemed descriptive enough.

      2. nonymous*

        People are weird about food. I personally keep a small stash of extra-yummy meal-replacement bars for these situations, so I could eat a Luna protein bar as I transition between activities for a light lunch and then have a heavier snack later on.

        But some people don’t feel like they’ve eaten a meal unless it’s heated and served on a plate. And others make the noon meal their main one and have a sandwich for dinner. I personally think expecting a full meal experience at lunch is a luxury that is not guaranteed in the workplace (to be clear, meal breaks are necessary, but the sit-down experience is not), but that could be my blue/pink collar roots showing.

        1. A*

          I agree. I have a stash of high protein snacks in my desk (hooray for salted dry roasted edamame!) to grab when rushing between meetings for the days where I’m stuck in things back to back. I’m really surprised at how many commenters apparently need a full blown sit down meal within a 3 hour window mid-day in order to function.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          It’s usually more appropriate to drink during an interview, since having a beverage doesn’t really ping on most radars. So I keep some random Slim Fast shakes around for that kind of day as well. At least it’s something with some kind of substance.

          I have snacks too! But those are for before I walk over to the conference room to settle in if there’s enough time. As opposed to just dumping a shake into my bottle, everyone else is drinking something too usually.

        1. JSPA*

          Sometimes the only other option is multi-tasking on the toilet. Which just isn’t OK for eating, at a much higher level of “not OK” than in an interview.

          If you’ve never bled through from not having two minutes to get to the bathroom to change a tampon, you may never have been scheduled this solid–or you’ve been given the benefit of the doubt if you waltz in 3 minutes late (a benefit of the doubt that only some of us ever get).

          But maybe trust people on this: some of us don’t get anywhere near the benefit of the doubt that every human should get, if we take 5 minutes off of a solid schedule to handle biological necessities.

          1. Avasarala*

            This is so specific and weird an example. So the interviewer is scheduled so solid, with such unmoveable and important commitments, that they can’t even use the bathroom in between commitments? This sounds like a bigger issue to me, and if I found out this is why the interviewer was eating it would be a major red flag about how the company views its workers’ time. Is that the point you wanted to make?

            Also I’ve eaten granola bars in the bathroom.

    3. Brett*

      ” If I have to skip lunch that day, so be it.”
      So, one thing that I have observed from doing many panel interviewers is that if an interviewer is hungry, they are far more likely to interview aggressively and take a negative approach to the candidate. They also do a poor job of responding to candidate questions compared to if they have eaten.
      So, it might be rude to eat lunch, but it might be a far greater disservice to the candidate to skip lunch.

      1. Colette*

        Yeah, that’s my thought. Why would you want an interviewer who is grumpy because they’re hungry, or who is daydreaming about lunch while you’re talking?

        And that’s assuming that the interviewer doesn’t have a medical issue that requires them to eat at a particular time.

        1. Quake Johnson*

          Yes there is always room for medical exceptions, and I think most people would say “Sorry, I know this is unprofessional but if I don’t eat soon I’m gonna pass out.”

          But as for being “grumpy” or “daydreaming” I’m firmly of the opinion you can control yourself enough to remain professional with the interviewee. You are also trying to make a good impression on them.

          1. Observer*

            And your opinion is based on what? Sure, most people can control themselves to the point that their behavior is ok. But, controlling how your judgement or actual mood is affected is a lot more complicated and often not practical.

            Just because YOU can deal with not eating impeccably, that doesn’t mean that everyone can, and that doesn’t make the inherently unprofessional.

          2. JSPA*

            Uh, yeah, generalizing from your experience is clearly not working for you, here. Each person is exactly one data point. There’s no such thing as interpolating from a single data point. There’s also no way to make any sort of reasonable extrapolation. You can assume that everyone here who says that they “can’t” is a slacker, liar, some combination of the two, or just has never really tried, or you can, y’know, actually treat every other person here as an independent data point with equal validity to your own.

          3. Hapless Bureaucrat*

            You… want people to disclose private medical issues to interviewees so that the interviewee can judge whether it’s sufficiently bad enough to warrant them eating during the interview? Really?

          4. Avasarala*

            I agree. I think people are doing a lot of “not everyone can eat sandwiches” here, literally and figuratively.

            At the point where someone is so hungry they might pass out, or is grumpy and distracted in the interview, maybe they should sit the interview out and get notes afterwards.

            But of course this is something interviewers get away with because of the power dynamics. What about interviewees getting passed from interview to interview, not getting a lunch break in between? What if they have a medical reason or perform poorly due to hunger? Guess it’s still unprofessional when they do it.

  8. Mop.*

    If you’re eating lunch during an interview, it’s not because you’re an ungracious hateful oaf, it may be because that is the only moment for 12 straight hours during which you’ll be able to eat anything.

    I’m not a big eater and I generally don’t want to eat in front of others (especially these days with the prevalence of allergies and Misophonia and whatnot) but sometimes I’m going for 12-16 hours and there is honestly no other time but in a meeting. Cut people a little slack; maybe they’re hiring BECAUSE they are so busy and need more help.

    1. MK*

      Eh, no, not necessarily. It’s perfectly possible that you are being ungracious, or at least thoughtless. In days were I was too busy to have lunch, I gobbled my food in a couple of minutes so as to have something in my stomach; I am dubious that during an interview was the only moment this person had to eat. Even if they do need to have a normal lunch, it’s rude to do it during a meeting with an external person, if you can do it later or beforehand.

      It’s not the end of the world, and possibly this time it really was unavoidable. But most times it probably is someone being thoughtless or prioritising their schedule over politeness.

      1. Ms Cappuccino*

        Maybe they can’t gobble their food in a couple of minutes. I know I can’t or I’ll get sick (litteraly).
        I would take the interviewer eating during interview as a potential red flag. It could indicate employees of this organisation are overworked and not allowed breaks or don’t have the time to take them.

      2. Mop.*

        This strikes a nerve with me. I have had meetings booked from 6:30 am until 6 or 7 pm all this month. Then I rush home to feed kids and help with homework for the 1 hour I’ve marked as unavailable. The moment they’re asleep I’m back to attacking the actual work that’s accumulated in the meantime. It isn’t awful work and this isn’t necessarily typical, but it is BUSY right now.

        Sometimes I need a 30-second reprieve and I check a shopping page or this site in order to read stories and to be amused by how horrible I apparently am for, say, having 1000s of emails unread or using dryer sheets or wearing makeup or liking sandwiches or some other random thing .

        It’s past midnight where I am. I have another hour of work at least. I’ll be back up at 5:30 to shower and pack lunches and get ready before the early conference calls. I do not lack intelligence or organizational skills. But you know what? I don’t have a single frigging second that is not booked between 6:30 am and 10:00 pm tomorrow. So, someone is going to have to a) bring me food (for which I will pay them, recognize them, and appreciate them), and b) someone else is going to have to (horror!) see me cram a crunchy lettuce leaf or slurpy spoonful of yogurt into my lipsticked maw and they are going to have to DEAL with it. And if this is enough to frighten an applicant, they won’t have enough resilience for the job anyway.

        I am not thoughtless; I am not cruel. I am a successful woman, a considerate boss and a loving mother and despite my best efforts to the contrary, I do need to eat from time to time—and I can’t gobble sustenance in the 94 seconds of free time I have during the day. As I said, I generally avoid eating in meetings, but honestly, some people need to grow some skin.

        1. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

          Wow. Respectfully, your work life balance does not sound sustainable, and I’d say eating food is the least of your worries.

          1. pleaset*

            And if this is the situation in the place the OP was interviewing with – interviewer working 12 hour days all the time – the OP should probably avoid that place. The problem isn’t just the interviewer – it’s the place that allows that type of situation.

            There is of course a middle ground – that that particular DAY or week was so packed the person had not option but to eat during the call. But frankly, even then, eating with an external stakeholder is worse in general than with a colleague who can be more understanding.

          2. Jennifer*

            As they said, maybe they are interviewing BECAUSE they realize their hours aren’t sustainable and they need help.

        2. Not Australian*

          At the same time, it would go a very long way if the eating interviewer said “I hope you’ll all forgive me if I finish my lunch while we’re talking; I have another meeting immediately afterwards and this is the only chance I’ll get to eat.” i.e., if they recognised that what they’re doing is less than ideal and apologised for it.

          1. Yorick*

            Yeah, if they said that it would be no big deal.

            One person on my dissertation committee always eats a whole lunch during a defense. It’s weird, but it kind of took some pressure off, too.

        3. Myrin*

          That sounds like a pretty unusual situation, though (and stressful, holy crap – I’m really sorry you’re dealing with that!). It’s not impossible that what you’re describing was also the case for OP’s interviewer but in terms of likeliness, it really doesn’t invalidate MK’s point that “most times it probably is someone being thoughtless or prioritising their schedule over politeness”.

        4. MK*

          Instead of some people growing skin, maybe some companies should not be working people to death? I am not saying eating during a meeting is the end of the world, but, given any choise, the person seeing you eat shouldn’t be an applicant who is nervous enough without having to deal with an interviewer focused on their lunch instead of the interview (yes, I know people think they can multitask, most of them are wrong about it).

          Look, in my view, you are a victim, not a badass, like you pretty obviously think of yourself. That’s what strikes a nerve with me: instead of looking at your schedule and seeing how messed up it is that you have to do that, you defend it and say that other people should deal with it and that a successful applicant should have to do the same. It would have been one thing if you replied to my comment to say that actually, sometimes it is unavoidable to eat during an interview (which I also said might be the case, though I doubt it is in most cases). But to basically say applicants who expect basic courtesy of their interviewers are thin-skinned, frankly that’s just sad.

          1. Mop.*

            I’m not a victim or a badass. I’m a human in a tight situation doing my best.

            Look, if a candidate said they were running late due to a car emergency, or they showed up and didn’t realize a baby had spit up on them (both true stories), I wouldn’t judge them because I get that life happens. Is it ideal? No. But cutting others a little slack when they need it isn’t the end of the world.

            1. kittymommy*

              But cutting others a little slack when they need it isn’t the end of the world.

              If more people could do this life would be so much better.

            2. JSPA*

              Your job sounds like hell, but you sound like a great boss. I’d hate to think people are passing on what could be a great job once you manage to hire the extra hands you need.

          2. NYWeasel*

            Or maybe Mojo would be hiring bc they are so short staffed?

            Honestly, my schedule has been insane for 2+ years now, though not quite to the level that Mojo experiences. It’s not healthy, and I’m actively working with my manager to address it, but first there were a number of LT staffing changes. Then we had to educate the new members of the LT on our challenges and clearly demonstrate that the issue is staffing, not performance. Now we are waiting for the LT to go to the ELT and get approval, and then we’ll have to recruit and train our new members. It’s realistically at least another 6 months before I will get a real break from this slog, but knowing my company sees the issue and is trying to fix it is huge, and helps me put up with the stress.

          3. Falling Diphthong*

            If someone is eating during a skype meeting, it’s probably much better for your mental health to assume that they are having a difficult day with no free time. Rather than that the eating is a sign that they see themselves as a victim, or as a badass, or as Batman, or whatever else.

            If a job applicant wants to take it as a sign that this company has no work-life balance, they can do that. Or as a sign that applicants are not respected and so it’s a bad culture fit. But if you want to parse for secret power meanings, “Kevin is having a crazy day” is probably the one that comes closest to the truth.

            1. Environmental Compliance*


              It really makes life a lot less stressful to assume the simplest & least offensive reasoning you can behind an action. It’s pretty draining otherwise.

              Hoofbeats by itself does not make a horse. Wait until you see it or hear it neigh before you assume it’s a horse. Maybe it’s actually a donkey, or maybe it’s a zebra.

            2. Lily Rowan*


              It really wouldn’t occur to me to be offended if someone was eating during any meeting that happened between, say, noon and 2pm. (Or ever, honestly, but I’m a very accommodating person, apparently. And also I really need to eat lunch at a regular time.)

            1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              What if the other meetings are with customers or clients you are just meeting for the first time? Or you are the presenter at all of the meetings scheduled that day? Why would this meeting with someone you may or may not hire be considered more important?

              One of my co-workers had to eat during one of our panel interviews. She was pregnant and was facilitating a meeting before and after the interview. She ate lunch during the Skype interview because it was the least bad option.

              1. Avasarala*

                That’s my point, that the interviewee is also an external person you are meeting for the first time. And in a way the interviewer is “presenting” by interviewing and speaking in the interview. It’s just that the power balance favors customers and clients rather than interviewees, and that is why this is “ok.”

        5. Mop.*

          Thanks all. My work life balance is not at all sustainable and is at the moment strongly fueled by coffee and Adderall, but honestly my company has been extremely supportive emotionally and financially.

          I have an intense job at a very large company, but this is an unusual situation and won’t be long-term. I just sometimes bristle at the comments here; people seem so sensitive to such minor things. Senior-level people aren’t always demons. Please consider that the next time you are micro-aggressed by an exec, particularly if a female, that she is not being callous or selfish—she is perhaps juggling in her own way, and she will be similarly supportive of you.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            and she will be similarly supportive of you.

            Honestly, if you told me all of this in order to explain why you were eating during my job interview, I’d run away screaming. I don’t want to work for someone who supports my need to eat during job interviews because there is literally no other time to do it. I want to work for someone who makes sure I can take a lunch break.

            1. Aquawoman*

              Well, if you want to work where hours are always predictable and there are never any crises, you should do that. Where I work, we work 40 hours a week with lunch breaks except when we don’t. And when we don’t tends to be during the most complex and challenging–and therefore interesting and fun–issues. Some people gladly tilt their work-life balance towards work for a period of time to do some interesting and challenging work. Mop specifically has said that this is short term.

              1. paperpusher*

                There definitely are people who love their work enough to rely on amphetamines to get through the day. I think of it as Smithy described below – a place where you are regularly in such crisis that you literally have no time to eat and can maybe squeeze in an hour to see your kids is not for most people. (Although Mop does have time to post here so I assume there’s some slight exaggeration going on.)

            2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              And that is why you should want interviewers to eat during an interview if that was the only time they had. If this is a high priority for you, this would be a good clue for you that this isn’t a place that you’d want to work. Wouldn’t you rather know that before accepting an offer rather than after? For the OP, it is up to them to judge work culture fit. Could be a red flag and could be a “meh, stuff happens”

          2. A*

            1) I hope things get better for your soon. That’s a LOT to contend with on a day to day basis.

            2) Why “particularly if a female”?

            1. Observer*

              I’m guessing it’s because women tend to be judged more harshly for these kinds of infractions on the one hand, and on the other they also tend to shoulder more of the “second shift” work.

          3. Avasarala*

            Your situation sounds truly awful. I would never want to work somewhere where people have to take drugs to handle their workload, if you are stating that Adderall is not for a condition but as an aid like coffee.

            You sound very tired and overworked and I hope things get better for you… but your situation is exactly what sends a lot of us running.

        6. Smithy*

          When I see comments like this or think about where I work – eating lunch during an interviewer serves as a solid information point more so than a sign of rudeness. And it’s a point that would make me ask a lot more questions about work life balance, and based on those answers would inform my level of interest.

          Those on my team who regularly eat during meetings are all the people who are the most busy, work the most nights/weekends/holidays, and represent a culture where “it’s just done that way”.

          Maybe the interviewer is just having a crazy day and if everything else is great, then I’d let it go. But if there are other red flags, this would be a data point that would alert me to ask more questions.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Like interviewing with a curious energetic dog, or everyone in beanbag chairs. It gives you information about the company, and you know to ask more questions.

            I could see Bob’s coworkers on the call thinking everything from “Bob is making us look terrible” to “Bob was great to squeeze this in when he has so much on his plate.”

            1. Smithy*


              There are some interviews that bless you with giant flashing RUN AWAY signs, and others where you get more of a collection of clues.

        7. Washi*

          Whoa, I don’t think the interviewer eating in a meeting is a huge deal, but if an interviewer happened to explain their eating like you have above…I would run so far away from that company. I think you’re proving other people’s points more than defending the interviewer!

        8. Quake Johnson*

          Eating during the interview is red flag #1, and your description as to why you’re doing it is just bringing up even more, larger red flags. If your work truly, honestly, is making it impossible for you to treat the candidates respectfully by not eating in front of them, they shouldn’t come work there.

          1. I Need Coffee*

            It’s not a red flag. It’s a data point at best. Life happens and sometimes you have to improvise. A brief acknowledgement and apology for the less than ideal situation is all that should be required. It’s not like the interviewer was kicking a puppy.

        9. JimmyJab*

          Respectfully, you might be taking the generic comments a little too personally. People have all different experiences.

          1. Observer*

            Some of these comments are more than just generic. I’ve never had to eat during an interview, but some of the the reactions here are just over the top.

            I do agree that people eating during interviews should acknowledge and *briefly* apologize. And also that it’s a data point that MIGHT indicate bigger issues. But the idea that it’s NEVER excusable to eat during an interview (unless you are diabetic, thankyouverymuch) is just over the top.

        10. OhCanary*

          Thank you for this. Honestly, the preciousness I’m seeing displayed here is WILD. Heaven forbid someone sneak a couple of crackers in front of a candidate!

        11. A*

          Of course you’re not cruel. I also personally wouldn’t be offended by someone eating on a Skype interview – but in person I’d be a little more inclined to notice it in a less than pleased manner. Assuming that you aren’t booked all day with only external candidate interviews & external client or customer meetings, it seems to me like eating in an internal meeting would be a better option.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Many facilities restrict where you can eat– this may be their time when they’re not in the [clean room / lab / metalworking shop / hazmat area / customer area. ]
        They might also have blood sugar issues so when you have to eat it’s medical issue not to.
        That said… if i were the interviewer, I’d block out 15 minutes before the meeting for a bite to eat.
        I’m honestly more red-flagged by the way one person dominated the meeting despite having had 3 other people attend. That detail makes me think this manager does not value anyone’s time as much as his own…and wants an audience or at least constant reassurance.
        What questions would we ask to nail those flags down?

        1. Myrin*

          I think you might be misreading OP – are you referring to her “[t]he three other interviewers didn’t say anything”? Because if so, I’m pretty sure OP means that the other interviewers didn’t comment on the fourth person’s eating, not that they didn’t say anything at all during the whole interview.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Good point that some jobs have restrictions on whether you can eat at all during them, like a clean room or lab, and some people have medical reasons to eat within a narrow time range.

          If the question is viewed as “Why would anyone do this?” then I think the range of answers–crazy day, grabbed last minute, company has no work life balance, Kevin is a diva, never expect to eat lunch if you accept a job here, etc–is really useful and a great use of crowd-sourcing. (I’ve certainly had some aha moments here, like “…. Or the reason for the crazy emails about her paycheck is that her account was hacked by someone trying to get the bank numbers, that fits.”) The debate as to whether it is always rude or can never be taken as rude I think misses being helpful.

    2. Koala dreams*

      I’m sorry to hear that your company only allows people to eat when they are interviewing applicants. It sounds very difficult. However, I doubt that this is the case in the majority of organizations. I wouldn’t rule out working in a company if the interviewer was eating in the interview just in case they had such an unusual and cruel rule. The other explanations that people have provided are much more likely.

    3. Moo*

      Yeah I’ve been there. Had 10 back to back interviews scheduled by someone else. sandwiches arrived but with no break to eat them. We all tried to discretely scoff between interviews (mostly skype) but there was definitely some crossover.

      While is not ideal and feels rude, there’s a lot of research that says interviewing hungry is a bad idea. You will be unfair to the later candidates. Obviously the answer is to have breaks and not be rushed, but it’s not always the case.

      1. Not a Morning Person*

        Interesting point about not doing anything critical when you are hungry. I’ve read similar research and that is a great thing for all of us to remember. Don’t make decisions, especially the more important ones, when you are hungry.

      2. Pommette!*

        Yep – I’d rather be interviewed by someone who was having a sandwich than by someone who was hangry!

        That said, I think that the ideal would be for the interviewer to briefly acknowledge and explain/apologize for the food.

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      It would be more appropriate for the interviewer to eat during another internal meeting than while interviewing a candidate for a job.

      1. J*

        This is what I think. If your day is truly booked back-to-back-to-back, why is the interview the meeting that gets the sandwich? How is the interview any more “the only available time” than any other already-booked portion of the day?

        1. Colette*

          Maybe there are multiple interviews? Maybe the interviewer is presenting in other meetings? Maybe the interviewer needs to finish the interview and travel to another location and won’t be able to eat on the way? Maybe the interviewer needs to eat during the time the interview is booked for medical reasons?

          Ultimately, you can choose to be offended that someone else is eating in front of you if you want, but the only person you are hurting is yourself.

        2. Hapless Bureaucrat*

          You mean the portion of the day when you’re in meetings with senior leadership? Or customers? Presenting? Doing something hands- on? Working in a lab with caustic chemicals? Driving? Having horrible morning sickness up until that moment?
          There are tons of reasons an interview might be the least- bad time to eat, at least in the judgement of the interviewer. Ideally the interviewer would acknowledge that, of course, but I don’t know that I’d feel comfortable making a judgment about the interviewers priorities or propriety just from a sandwich.

      2. OhCanary*

        I’ve had days where I’m the one leading every single meeting I’m in, back to back, throughout the entire day. (VP here!) So that’s not always feasible.

        I honestly think the job candidates will be ok.

        1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

          Your point about being a VP is interesting to me. I wonder how much people who are taking offense to the eating here are imagining the interviewer is in a position fairly equal to their own. Middle management, for instance. I’ve noticed that back-to- back meetings tend to accrete faster the higher up you get.

    5. a1*

      I don’t even get what the big deal is if someone eats during a Skype meeting or interview. If it were a conference call instead, you wouldn’t even know (unless they were crunching or slurping loudly and not on mute, but since OP didn’t reference it being loud I’m going to assume that’s not the case). LOTS of people eat during calls. It’s such a non-thing to me.

      1. WellRed*

        But if it’s a conversation back and forth, it’s annoying to listen to the other person chewing in your ear.

  9. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    #1 – I agree with Alison that LW may not have the standing to push back completely on the accommodation, but I think it’s reasonable to insist on (for example) a private bedroom and bathroom, and to be able to eat out / order in on the employer’s dollar and not have to cook for yourself if you don’t want to (or each other, yikes).

    I think a solo traveller has absolute standing to insist on hotel accommodation for safety reasons.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      fwiw a close friend often takes long work trips (measured in weeks, without going home at weekends bc distance) and prefers Airbnb for that kind of trip, because a hotel room becomes a prison cell after a while and eating out quickly becomes tiresome. You can often get far nicer accommodation for the money in an Airbnb than a hotel – compare an $80 hotel room to the equivalent spend on an Airbnb house or apartment when it’s shared by several employees. He’s had great experiences making friends with the resident host’s dog, or playing their vinyl in the evening, or whatever.

      But that’s his CHOICE and I certainly don’t think sharing should be forced on anyone.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think it makes a huge difference whether you are alone in the airbnb or sharing it with other people. If alone, I would prefer it in a number of circumstances, and especially the long-term stay you describe.

        For travel with my family, private bedrooms around a central gathering space is ideal. Sharing that with Fergus, whom I tolerate only because I am paid to do so, is very different from doing it with the family members I actually want to see even if you don’t pay me.

      2. political staffer*

        I also take work trips that can be measured in weeks or even months.

        I’ve had accommodations ranging from an AirBNB room that was a modern day boarding house, a 2 BR apt shared with a same sex coworker, and an Extended Stay hotel.

        The latter was by far the best experience. I had the most privacy, the hotel covered all of my needs (and provided a free breakfast), and I could simply unwind at the end of the day.

        I also prefer hotels for personal travel. As someone who’s not married, I’d rather my own hotel room than a cot in the living room (‘bedrooms are for couples and children.”)

    2. Belle8bete*

      I think the LW should push back on shared bedrooms. I’m weird about being on my own when I want to be, but I honestly wouldn’t push for a hotel for fear of looking dramatic.

      When I was going to have to share a room with other grad students for a conference (I had sleeping issues up the wahzoo at the time and need it super cold to sleep well) I told them I would pay the difference for my own room. One person opted to stay with a friend nearby so they just let me have my own room. My peers were huffy until I explained I had offered to pay the difference out of my own pocket.

      Anyway, all this is to say, maybe say you don’t want to share a room, and if they balk, offer to pay the difference. It might not be that much with an air bnb.

  10. Ellen N.*

    #1 – I am an Airbnb host with 506 reviews, all of them positive.

    If you feel more comfortable in a hotel; by all means ask your boss if you may book one instead of staying in an Airbnb. If you can’t get your boss to agree to put you up in a hotel, there are several things you can do to feel safe/comfortable:

    Ask for the link to the listing:
    Make sure that it has smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. This is under amenities.
    Read the reviews. There should be a lot of them. There should be few complaints. It’s a red flag if several guests have the same complaint.
    Look at the sleeping and bathroom arrangements. Some have en suite bathrooms (also known as master bedrooms). Be aware that in Airbnb lingo a private bathroom is one that isn’t shared with the host. It does not mean that you don’t have to go through a public area of the listing to get to it.
    If you will be out at night, check out the area where the Airbnb listing is situated.

    1. Beth Jacobs*

      I don’t think the main issue is Airbnb x hotel, it’s sharing the space. We get similar letters about sharing hotel rooms.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        But the LW did express concern about the sharing bathroom specifically. So if it’s an Airbnb with all master bathrooms, then the shared space is really the kitchen, living room and hallway, which the LW might not need to use. So she could just retire to her private room and private bathroom and it’s much less different than a hotel than what she may be picturing. This is a really good list for anyone who is uncomfortable with Airbnb because it’s Airbnb – not just the shared space aspect.

    2. vlookup*

      This is good advice! I always read Airbnb reviews carefully (would never stay somewhere with few/no reviews) and have never had a bad experience. It’s totally possible to ensure a private bedroom for everyone and you generally get a nicer space and more amenities than a similarly priced hotel. I personally prefer Airbnb for work travel and will just retreat to my bedroom (or go for a walk) to get my introvert time in.

      Then again, I work in the nonprofit sector, so as long as everyone has their own bed and the space is clean, I’ve learned to be happy with whatever weird arrangement gets cooked up to save money.

  11. Shy Anon with Opinions*

    LW 3: If your coworker says her calendar is current and she still keeps saying she’s unavailable, it sounds like she just doesn’t want to do that meeting then. I think the first part of Alison’s advice is great! Maybe sitting down with her and asking her how to solve the problem will then remind her that there are people other than herself to think about. That could help either fix or greatly lessen the problem.

    It may ultimately be rather passive-aggressive, but I think this is what I’d do if talking to her doesn’t help though. Calling to talk to her might be a lot more work than you have time for, and ultimately you’re doing it because she’s at best bad at updating her calendar and at worst being controlling. So stop covering for her. If it’s feasible, not going to harm your reputation, and not going to get you into trouble, keep doing what you’re doing, but let people know that the changes are due to unforeseen conflicts in “Alice’s” schedule. Likely, people already suspect it’s her and you’re just confirming. If they didn’t know it was her, then they’ll quickly see a pattern, put two and two together, and direct their annoyance towards her. You’re also letting them know it’s not you and you’re not that incompetent this way. Eventually she’ll start hearing about it from others and feel pressured to change or a supervisor will decide to nose in on why she can never make times she’s free. Again, a little passive-aggressive, but if she’s not getting with the program and is doing this on a regular basis, it sounds like she needs to education on why there’s “no ‘i’ in team,” as they say.

    Otherwise, I’d do one of three things which might be more feasible and more palatable. 1. Just annoy the crap out of her with asking why she keeps changing her availability forcing you to change meeting times; 2. ask your supervisor or whoever could help you set a policy that once a meeting time is made based on times shown as free in the calendar, it can’t be changed, or 3. Send her two or three meeting times you can schedule that she shows as free and let her choose one.

    Good luck! Hope it works out!

  12. Mathilde*


    I understand that you are upset at being the only one to have to share your office, but if my manager made me leave my office to take it… I would definitely NOT take it well. It would absolutely make me resentful and I would think less of her, because it would very obviously be about perception and power. I would hate to be made to leave my personal office and share one just so my boss could be seen as not sharing one.

    The confidentiality thing… meh… I think that is just a red herring.
    You say your organisation don’t think of you as capable of rocking the boat. Please ask for another option but don’t kick one your employees our of her office so you can take it. It is a good way to lose good people.

    1. WS*

      Yes, this seems like a very quick way to make an instant enemy unless there’s a situation like a person who is out of the office so often that they’re an obvious choice. I do agree that it’s weird that they’d make the manager share and not lower-ranked employees, but there surely must be a plausible solution other than “someone randomly loses an office to their new manager”.

      1. pleaset*

        While I agree overall with what Mathilde is saying, that’s some really strong language here – the words hate and resentful.

        If other things in the work situation back up this intensity, then yeah I get it. But if this is a rare instance of apparent disrespect, I don’t think it’s productive to have feelings this strong. Or if there is another reason for the change.

        “there surely must be a plausible solution other than “someone randomly loses an office to their new manager”.” Great point.

        1. Mathilde*

          I get what you are saying. Hate might be too strong a word : I would really dislike it. Resentful… hum, I maintain I would feel that way, yes. :)

      2. fhqwhgads*

        Except it sounds like the current plan with be “someone randomly loses a private office and how has to share with their new manager”. I mean, I’d resent it too if I got bumped from my private office to sharing with a coworker so manager could have one privately. But I’d understand it as logical because hierarchies do exist at work. Unless my role specifically really required that privacy, I get it. But I’m the one being bumped either way and the choice is “share with random other colleague” and “share with brand new boss”, even though I wouldn’t like losing my private office to either scenario, boss gets the private office makes more sense to me. And would probably be less anxiety-inducing than sharing with the boss.

        1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

          Yes absolutely. And I don’t think the confidentiality issue is a red herring. We hear from a lot of writers to AAM that they don’t like their boss correcting them in public or other non-private areas. An organization with this kind of space crunch likely has confidence rooms that book far out, as well. Meaning if my boss shares an office my access to their one on one time is very constrained. Also, do I really want a coworker able to see my bosses computer while they’re working on performance reviews?
          No, thanks. I’ll share with the coworker myself.

    2. Asenath*

      I was once in this situation as the junior person who had a much more senior person assigned to my office – the office was intended to be shared with someone else on my level who hadn’t been hired yet, the senior person started work a bit earlier than expected, and the building was direly short of office space, and as a result there were a lot of interdepartmental fights over space. It was completely untenable situation. I’d known the senior previously – he was and is a very nice person, and we had no personal disputes. But it was incredibly uncomfortable because it was so odd; and confidentiality was a big thing. We both handled confidential material of different types, and his work involved much more confidential material than mine; stuff that was at a higher level and that I didn’t want to know about because it was the sort of thing that if there had been a breach of confidentiality and I had been involved, I could have lost my job and been part of a public scandal about “Privacy Breach at X Institution!!!”. People higher in the food chain than I was apparently entered with increased vigour into the office space wars, and he soon had his own office. Looking back, I wonder if setting up such a ridiculous situation was a way of pressuring the space committee, but maybe I’m being cynical.

    3. It’s me*

      Agreed. I thought that asking a subordinate to move was a step too far. After all, this is a temporary placement, LW even says 6 months at the most. If my boss shared an office and I needed to talk to them about something sensitive I’d book a conference room or duck into an empty one if that was an option.

    4. Oh No She Di'int*

      I don’t know. I feel for LW5. There’s no great solution here.

      Yes, it absolutely is about perception and power. And perceptions matter. I don’t know her exact circumstances, but it’s easily possible that the blowback from having 1 new enemy may actually be less of a hassle than 6 direct reports and 5 other peer managers not taking her especially seriously. And yes, people are extremely sensitive to the semiotics of space, its size, its allocation, even its decor. She absolutely will be treated differently as the only manager without her own office. It not a stretch to imagine that her own direct reports and staff in other departments will think of her as that manager who is slightly less important than the other managers.

      And I disagree that confidentiality is a red herring. I’ve had employees come to me to reveal their HIV+ status, seek help for domestic abuse, let me know the results of a tumor biopsy (benign, thank god), and various other extremely private issues, including being able to unload in private about their coworkers. Confidentiality is critical in many work situations.

      1. Mathilde*

        People talk. The perception that she felt so unsure of her authority that she had to compensate by kicking someone out… I think this is worse than sharing, especially for a short period of time.

        I guess it depends on the workplace, but in mine, it would really be out of place and there would be some serious side-eye. In a very hierarchical workplace, maybe this would not matter as much.

        If the confidentialty is that much of an issue, her management will have to do something, and I agree Alison’s first suggestion is good. But if this is just about power… I would not like to work with someone who would do that.

        1. Snuck*

          If it’s only for 6 mths… then it’s probably not worth burning capital on… but… 6mths can turn into long term rapidly… so I’d say it’s reasonable to look at the setup (I’ve posed some questions below in another comment) and see if there’s something else that makes sense… but demanding an office just for ‘looks’ for six months is sort of petty, unless this is a highly hierarchical workplace, with strong Alpha personality junk going on… then demand the office, don’t cave and join the cavemen in their brouhaha.

          1. Lindsay Gee*

            seconding this. When I started 2 years ago we were in ‘temporary’ space that was only supposed to last 6 months…2 years later we got into our new space.Shit happens, plans change and you have no idea when the new office would materialize. I understand there are a lot of dynamics around office space, but if i were booted from my space for a senior person…i wouldn’t care. they’re senior to me, why would i trump them? if it were a peer id feel differently.

        2. ChachkisGalore*

          This. To me, it would make me think the person was incredibly insecure to make a direct report give up their long term space over a temporary situation.

          Handling an unideal situation graciously would make me respect the person far more and would make think they are secure enough in their role/authority that they don’t need to engage in the petty bs.

          To be clear – I only consider it petty because it’s temporary. If it were a permanent thing then I’d feel differently.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            To me 6 months is long enough that even if the company is telling me “temporary”…that’s not temporary. Maybe it’s shorter term but I’ve had jobs where they reconfigured spaces and moved people sometimes every six months, or a year. None of those were framed as “temporary”. It was just “this is the seating arrangement now” and then “the seating arrangement is changing”. If this were temporary like six weeks, I’d say don’t bother. But six months is a long time, and when the starting point is “it’s temporary, only six months” I’d easily expect it to go a year. Or more.

      2. Snuck*

        Talking of confidential stuff… sometimes it’s actually minor, but highly sensitive… I had a staff member who had a child with active chicken pox… not serious… until you consider I also had two pregnant staff members as well… and suddenly there needed to be a rapid and firm conversation about “going home to look after your child, and not coming in until we know you haven’t contracted it…” (after chatting with her to confirm she’d never had it, and wasn’t immunised)… She originally asked for a day off to settle her kid … and it came out… and yeah… (and who knows who hadn’t announced a pregnancy, and the office was still reeling from a SIDS death in the group too… it was … look… stuff happens in lives outside our clean neat air conditioned offices, and people are private about it… you know?)

        Small inconsequential things blow up … Big ones linger for a long time. People need a ‘safe’ space to breathe it out.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Even if it’s not personal stuff, confidentiality is a real thing! I had a staff member come to me upset because I had given her some minor constructive feedback on a project at her desk in an open space. She really didn’t want other people listening to that, which I appreciated after hearing it from her.

          1. CmdrShepard4ever*

            If it was something minor that seems like a weird reaction from the employee, they need to be able to hear constructive feedback without getting defensive in a somewhat open setting.

            It is one thing if you conducted their yearly review or told them they needed to go on a PIP out in the open.

            But when you say minor constructive feedback I am imagining “Hello Matilda, you forgot to change the font color to blue like I requested, could you please do that by end of day, or Hello Matilda the calculations on the TPS reports are wrong I need you to make sure you double check them from now on before turning them in.” That people should be able to listen and not get defensive.

      3. Smithy*

        I agree with this completely and would also say that having the move happen before the LW starts is important. How many letters are there about X was supposed to happen soon after I started but now it’s been 6/12/24 months.

        I will also add that if an environment used to be “we all/mostly have offices” and then moves to a space crunch – there will inevitably be hurt feelings. That will also likely pass. Where I work now – when I started all Directors and above had their own office/rest open cubes. Now it’s only VPs and most Sr Directors.

        Is more space needed – yes. But it’s not been a lasting hurt about who does/does not have an office.

      4. Tupac Coachella*

        I have to agree- LW5 can’t win here. Kicking someone out of their office is plagued with drama. Even if I kinda understood why and didn’t make a fuss, I would be resentful as hell and trust that person less. And having my boss share my office wouldn’t be much better. I wouldn’t be resentful toward them in that situation (I’d assume they’re probably in the same boat as me), but I’d be insanely uncomfortable. I’d almost certainly be privy to information I don’t want, even if it’s just TMI about the content of their personal calls, and I’d always feel on high alert. I’d feel a lot of pressure not to take breaks in the office because it would look like I was slacking off, and the emotional work of controlling my various odd little quirks 8 hours a day would be exhausting. A week or two while they find and set up an office? Sure, fine. But 6 months would be an issue. Like a look-for-another-job issue; I’m just cynical enough to be reasonably sure that if they think it’s cool to do this for that long, 6 months could turn into indefinitely, and what other ways will my work situation become unpleasant in the meantime?

        I do understand that this is me personally (and I’m…umm…exceptionally fussy and anxious in general) and some people wouldn’t mind and might even like it, but there are about 100 different ways of being that would make sharing an office with the boss unpleasant for the employee. LW is not in a good situation, and should push back that they need to find a solution sooner rather than later.

        1. juliebulie*

          Perhaps there is some perk that LW can offer the unlucky employee to acknowledge/compensate for the inconvenience.

      5. Close Bracket*

        I have worked and currently work in office situations where managers had cubes, just like their direct reports. There are other ways to achieve confidentiality than a private office with a door. Confidentiality really is a red herring.

        1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

          I currently also work in such a situation. It’s… far from ideal and the people who wish I (and the other supervisors) had a private office the most are my direct reports. That is despite us using every trick in the book to find private space as needed.
          It’s really not a red herring. It is sometimes a thing you need to compromise, but never lightly.
          And I think it’s very telling that OP would be the only one without a private office. That suggests a workplace that is not set up to provide flexible space for confidentiality.

        2. Life Is Beautiful*

          But did the managers have cubes while their direct reports had offices? Because that is not a normal set up. I know people losing offices stinks, but it is really inappropriate to ask a manager to share an office while his/her subordinates keep their private offices.

    5. MommyMD*

      Agreed. Bad way to start. And it’s only six months. Sometimes you have to put up with some not perfect stuff at work. Don’t start out by throwing your weight around.

    6. Lynca*

      Having seen this in action (manager and direct report sharing an office) I really think they should move someone on the same level in. That’s not popular but I think for the short term it’s more workable.

      Not because of perception and confidentiality but because that specific paring can be very fraught. They’re not on the same level, they have different work priorities, and the subordinate will always have to have their guard up. I have seen it go really bad because the subordinate does not have the ability to push back on things as effectively.

    7. snowglobe*

      I disagree. It is absolutely reasonable that a manager should have a private office where they can have private conversations with employees. I don’t see it as “perception” at all, it’s just practical. I’m sure employees wouldn’t be happy if they couldn’t stop by their manager’s office to have a private discussion. I’d hate to lose my office, but I would understand why and I wouldn’t resent my manager for it.

      1. Jon Eric*

        I work in an office where managers don’t have a private space. (Tech support department. We tech support staff sit in a giant open-office plan, and the managers get cubicles. The only office in the department belongs to the department director – the managers’ manager). It’s really frustrating, because we have a difficult time booking meeting space for 1-on-1 meetings, or if I ever have something sensitive to discuss with a manager, which has happened numerous times. Important conversations get delayed for lack of a place to hold them. I strongly agree with Allison that if this person is a manager with people reporting directly to her, it’s a genuinely important facet of the job to have a space for private conversations with her reports.

      2. Zombeyonce*

        I agree with you. As someone who has had many private, sensitive conversations with her manager about various work issues, I absolutely think a manager needs their own space for confidential conversations.

    8. Anne of Green Gables*

      I’m going to disagree about not asking that two subordinates share, and I super disagree that confidentiality is a red herring. Having access to your supervisor where you can talk without being overheard (or kicking someone out first) is crucial.

      I get that the people having to share when no one else does won’t like it. But I also think that people should realize that different jobs have different needs. I’m in situation where we just moved from “everyone has their own office” to “most people have to share.” People don’t love it, and there was a lot of nervousness before the move, but lower-on-the-totem-pole people were actively trying to hep those in supervisory positions have their own offices. I can practically guarantee that if I had been put in a shared space and someone I supervise had their own office, they would have offered to switch with me before I could even bring it up.

    9. MissDisplaced*

      That happened to me. I once had a nice office space and was made to give it up for a new male manager when I was also a manager. I was told it was temporary until we moved and then I’d get an office again. But when we did move, I was out in the open bullpen while all the other managers got offices. Yes I was resentful!
      If it is that important to you, you might rethink this job. I’ve found that office accommodation and job titles are a sign of how you’ll be treated.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        I would be upset too if I were you, but it’s a different situation. Alison is suggesting having a subordinate to share an office with another subordinate so their manager can have their own space.

      1. Not a Morning Person*

        Maybe, but even if there is a convenient conference room, that doesn’t help with the random situations where employees need a minute to share or to make a request that requires only a minute or two and isn’t’ something the rest of the office needs to know. It’s uncomfortable for the rest of the employees who report to that manager. I would stop communicating with my manager if there was another employee in her office.

        1. pleaset*

          When it’s only a minute or two we step into an empty space away from other people to do this all the time where I work. Even a conference room if it’s that brief, without booking it.

          “I would stop communicating with my manager if there was another employee in her office.” In general? Wow. Or is almost everything you do confidential?

        2. Admin in the department office*

          If all the other people in the group have private offices, can’t those be used as the private spaces for one-on-ones?

      2. Nope, not today*

        If I need to or would like to talk to my manager about something private or confidential that isn’t vital – like say, I have an issue with a coworker that isn’t serious, but I want to let them know what’s going on – and I have to ask for a meeting and book a room to have a two minute conversation? I’d be skipping that conversation altogether. It would be useful to talk to them but isn’t critical; if I can’t just step into their office and close the door for a second to relay information, I will be relaying less information.

        1. Oh No She Di'int*

          Of course. Exactly. That is exactly how that would go for most people. The huge crises might get communicated, but you’d transmit a lot less of the “not a crisis, but I need you to know this quick thing” type information.

      3. CAA*

        The LW says “Everyone who will be reporting to me will have their own office.” so it doesn’t seem that there’s any lack of private space. If this arrangement stands, then LW needs to make sure to walk around and visit each staff member daily to provide opportunities for those sorts of conversations to happen.

        1. Oh No She Di'int*

          I’m not sure if this is a serious recommendation. Are you implying that every day for 6 months, the manager should just roam the department poking her head into each office saying, “Just checking to see if you need me” like she’s the sandwich delivery guy or something? That seems not only inverted from an authority perspective, it sounds incredibly annoying from the employee’s perspective.

    10. Snuck*

      I’m not sure what the need for individual offices is in your workplace LW5…

      Take a look at the work types plus the personalities of people… and see what makes sense?

      If they are meeting often with clients each and need offices for client’s confidentiality … then it makes sense they have the offices, and you might share with an admin or non-client facing person?

      If they have roles that would benefit from working more closely with each other then maybe several of them could be co-located to assist with that?

      If there’s functions that are technically on your team, but might work very closely with other teams, maybe co locating staff from various teams could work?

      It could be a good chance to re-jig the way your staff work and interact with each other, and others in your company…

      And if they all have offices… and it’s push comes to shove… and you really need to… you could do your one on ones in their own offices… or book out a conference room for them if you feel it’s a power play situation … or take them somewhere semi private like a cafe or restaurant for a cuppa/meal and chat if you are more relaxed in your style (I personally preferred to do 1:1s in this way, a quiet corner in a discreet cafe over a coffee for check ins and low key one on ones was a good way to build on our relationship, share information… tough ones were in conference rooms).

    11. Wintermute*

      What? No this is bizzare. As the junior employee I would take it as an obvious matter of course that if I had an office and the manager did not that I would lose my office to them. Frankly to assume you could keep a private office over a manager (unless you are also a manager, or deal with intensely confidential information) is strange and shows a serious lack of understanding of work norms.

      I mean, basic empathy would dictate you wouldn’t want a disciplinary meeting with YOU held in a cubicle in full view/hearing range of a peer or peers (and this would, honestly, go triple for someone that IS a manager, sure they have to oversee their employees and meet with them privately, but having their own performance issues or sensitive conversations aired would be absolutely undermining). Add to that how often managers have to communicate bad news that isn’t disciplinary, or discuss sensitive things like FMLA, sick leave, ADA accommodations, etc.

      In fact, a manager discussing some of those HR-type matters in public could well be illegal, well not immediately illegal but conversations with a boss can quickly edge into territory where public knowledge of what was discussed could give rise to legal liability. You’d be surprised how fast a simple conversation about everyday stuff like office supplies or travel arrangements can implicate ADA-protected matters, for instance.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        What? No this is bizzare. As the junior employee I would take it as an obvious matter of course that if I had an office and the manager did not that I would lose my office to them. Frankly to assume you could keep a private office over a manager (unless you are also a manager, or deal with intensely confidential information) is strange and shows a serious lack of understanding of work norms.


        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          I would agree 100% with this if the situation were going to be permanent, if I got kicked out because a new manager needed an office, I would understand.

          The way the letter was written, it made it seem to me that OP was more concerned with the appearance of status, making sure everyone knows they are clearly a manager now and as others have said insecure with their authority. The privacy issues were brought up last didn’t seem like they could not be worked around.

          I have had bosses that had their own office but still scheduled meetings, employee evaluations in conference rooms they booked. If employees need to impromptu talk about something sensitive the conversation could be had in their office. Again I only suggest these work around because it is said to be a temporary 6 month situation at most.

          If this was a permanent change then yes I agree two junior people should share an office. Since it is only a temporary situation I think OP should do their best to deal with it for now, if after giving a good try it even before the 6 months are up it really does prove to be unworkable then OP can bring up the issue with their boss to see if anything has been resolved or move a junior employee out of their office.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            If you’ve never been in a “six months at most” situation that stretches out for years, or if you’ve never agreed to something “just this once” and then had it impact you into perpetuity… you’re luckier than I am.

              1. juliebulie*

                d’oh, I meant “def longer than six months.”

                It wouldn’t be six years. Six years later there will be a different VP and all the projects will be different.

            1. CmdrShepard4ever*

              If the company drags their feet and it is still on going at 6 months, or if by month 4 a concrete plan is not in place get OP a private office, then at that point they can still have a junior employee switch offices with them so OP gets their own office. OP can even give this a try and if by month 3 the privacy issue really is a hindrance to OP getting work done, I would understand if they decided to move a subordinate out of their office.

              This reminds me almost of a manager who comes in wielding their authority and changing policies procedures at a workplace before even getting settled in and understanding the new work place. I have had both happen before.

              One manager came in and changed procedures to the way they were used to doing it almost right away. Most changes were bad and even the ones that actually were good resented for a while. On the other hand a different manager came in took some time to get the lay of the land, asked us about our current polices and procedures, how well they worked, why we did things the way we did. Then after evaluating all that information they started changing policies/procedures. This made people more willing to accept the changes and even things that didn’t end up working people were okay with trying them.

        2. Massive Dynamic*

          Agreed – subordinates don’t get private offices while their direct bosses share an office for half a year. But for what it’s worth, this message about office reassignment shouldn’t be coming from the LW boss – it should be clearly and definitively communicated by LW’s boss/office dwellers’ grandboss.

          1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

            Oh yes this. That is assuming this six months is actually six months which… good luck with that. But yes, OPs boss really should be the one communicating this. And ideally, while OP might recommend people to share based on job duties, OPs boss should have the final decision.

            I don’t love what it says about OPs management that they defaulted to having OP share instead.

      2. emmelemm*

        Agreed. Jobs have hierarchies. If there are only so many private offices, people higher on the totem pole may end up displacing lower people. Would I be resentful? Probably. But I recognize reality.

      3. Mr. Shark*

        If I were the junior employee, it wouldn’t even surprise me one bit that when the new manager came in, the lowest seniority employees would end up sharing an office while the manager got an office.

        People saying that it’s only 6 months are not living in reality. The LW said that there was plenty of time to prepare for this while they were in the process of hiring her for the new position, yet nothing happened. Why would anyone think that the 6 months is a real, firm timeline? It likely isn’t.

        What I don’t understand is what happened to LW’s previous office (since everyone else had offices, I assume she did too). If she moved to a different division (hard to get that from the information provided) then I can understand why they do not have enough room. But what is going to happen in 6 months that will open up an office–someone retiring? A new office being built in place of open space/conference room? What is the plan?

        I’m not a manager, but I would fully expect to get kicked out of my office. In CurrentJob, the managers move people around all the time with much less thought than going on here, and the lower-level employees just live with it, because they aren’t making those decisions, the managers are. In PreviousJob, my supervisor one day decided to change desks with me, without even telling me before hand (she arrived earlier than I did). I came in and I was in a different location. That’s part of being lower on the totem pole.

        Quite honestly, the GrandBoss should come in and tell the group, “hey, I need Jaime and Cersi to share an office so that LW can have an office alone, but we anticipate this to be a temporary situation for 6 months and then Jaime and Cersi can have their own offices again.” This keeps the blame off the LW, which it shouldn’t be on since GrandBoss didn’t have enough foresight to get an office ready for LW.

    12. Anon.*

      I see the other side of this situation. At my last job all the attorneys had their own office and the paralegals were in cubes. There was one senior paralegal who had her own office. Well they hired a new junior attorney and the senior paralegal had to give up her office to this attorney and move to a cube. I’m sure she wasn’t happy but the attorneys needed to have offices with doors that locked. One to protect confidential information. And two to be able to hold meetings and have telephone conversations in private.
      If all the other managers have their own office then the OP should not have to share with a subordinate. Two of her staffers can share until a new office space opens up.

    13. Aquawoman*

      It’s ridiculous that the company is putting her in the shared office instead of the two most junior people. If someone is such a malcontent that they can’t share an office for 6 months without quitting, the manager and the company might be better off without them. I would find a way to recognize the person for doing it.

      I don’t know why you think confidentiality is a red herring. Managers have to give performance feedback, have conversations with their higher-ups about organizational issues that the staff don’t know about, etc. Managers also have to HEAR confidential stuff from their reports, whether it’s about staff conflicts, medical issues, etc. And that’s before I get to the poor person who has to share an office with their new boss.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        So then is OP being a malcontent for being unwilling to share an office for 6 months?

        If the office sharing were going to be a permanent thing, then I would absolutely agree that two junior people should share an office so that OP a manager could have their own office, but since it is only temporary they should deal with it for now. Confidential conversations can be had in conference rooms, or asking the junior employee to step out.

        If OP takes another junior employee’s office and forces them to share, and then a nicer office opens up, will the employee that was sharing get the nicer office or will OP move into the nicer office and push the other employee back to their original office.

        If I were the employee who got kicked out (or even someone who just saw it happen) I would side eye, and it would lower my perception of the manager.

        1. Joielle*

          Agreed! I’d definitely be thinking “You want me to move all my stuff out of here and have to find somewhere to store it, just to move it back in six months, rather than being inconvenienced yourself?” Moving offices is a lot more work and disruption than I think people realize!

          I think OP should start by sharing with the junior employee. If it ends up being way too difficult with confidential conversations or whatever, then she can go to the other employee and say “I’m really sorry, but I tried sharing offices with Fergus and it turns out I really need a private office because I need to have private conversations a lot as a manager. I’m going to have you share with Fergus for the next few months and then we’ll find a permanent solution after that.” I’d have a lot more respect for that approach.

        2. Oh No She Di'int*

          “If OP takes another junior employee’s office and forces them to share, and then a nicer office opens up, will the employee that was sharing get the nicer office or will OP move into the nicer office and push the other employee back to their original office.”

          OP takes the nicer office. Which is exactly as it should be. As a manager, OP will typically have levels of stress and responsibility far beyond that of the junior employee. (Note that I said TYPICALLY; I don’t know her exact company so I can only go by what is TYPICAL of managers and junior employees.) She has likely spent longer paying her dues in this industry than have her direct reports. She will have pressure put on her to achieve things that are bigger and more critical than her reports, to solve problems with much less direction, and she will be called to account for problems she didn’t cause. She will typically have to deal with a much wider set of stressors and the results of her actions will most likely have much greater impact on the company. Yes, for that she gets a nicer office when it open up.

        3. D'Arcy*

          As a manager, OP has an absolutely valid business reason to *need* a private office space, which makes displacing a junior team member who *doesn’t* actually need private space entirely justifiable.

          This is especially important considering that she’s taking on an administrative role — if she’s the only manager without an office when *even junior employees get them*, the perception will absolutely be that she’s a menial support position like an “office manager”, as opposed to being a *real* manager that people report to.

      2. Mathilde*

        I don’t know why you think confidentiality is a red herring
        Because basically the whole letter and Alison’s answer are about perception and her status in the company. Confidentiality is an after-thought, a pretext.

        I am not saying that confidentiality is never an issue in any job ever. Just that it seems really secondary in this letter.

    14. Venus*

      I wonder if maybe there is a benefit which could be given to an employee who volunteers to share an office? I’m reminded of airlines which have too few seats for the number of passengers, and they offer financial compensation to volunteers, so maybe “Due to my confidential work I will need to have an office to myself. I’m looking for volunteers to share an office with , and am willing to let that person leave an hour early one day a week in order to encourage volunteers”

      I can’t imagine being a manager and not having an office to myself for confidential discussions. I’m not a manager, so perhaps I should change the wording to: I can’t imagine having a confidential issue and not being able to drop by my manager’s office without an expectation of privacy.

    15. Oh No She Di'int*

      So many of the responses in this thread act as though OP is complaining about cooties from sharing space with a junior employee. That is not her concern. Her concern is that she is being treated differently from all the other managers, and everyone at the company can see that. Of course that will have an effect on how people view her. Six months is a long time for opinions and relationships to set in. People saying that OP shouldn’t be concerned with respect or perceptions are, in my opinion, not fully taking power dynamics into account, how critical it is for reports and other managers to see OP as a legitimate authority figure, and (especially if she is a woman) not to come across as someone who is taking less than what others in her position are afforded. No, not even for one day if she can help it.

      For those saying that office space doesn’t matter, what would anyone think if upper management set up a new manager in the break room? How about in an unused corner of the warehouse? How about in a bathroom stall? Obviously I am exaggerating to make a point: what upper management does with that manager absolutely sends a message about her perceived value to the company, even if they don’t intend that. Even if it’s subtle. Optics matter.

      1. Life Is Beautiful*

        100%. Perception is not nothing – it is how you build your brand and capital so you can help your team succeed. If LW is seen as “less than” all other managers, she’s going to eventually have a hard time, say, negotiating raises for her team, or asking for more resources, or whatever.

    16. Lana Kane*

      Confidentiality is definitely not a red herring. If you supervise employees, having confidential and difficult conversations comes with the territory. If you have to go somewhere else to meet with an employee, it can signal to others that something is going down. I work with a team where their supervisors don’t have offices and they meet with their employees in the conference room. Not only is it a visible thing to their colleagues, now you have to add the layer of having to find free conference space to have confidential meetings.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        GrandBoss should take one for their team, and be the one who says that OP gets their own office, and the two most junior employees share an office for 6 months or until another office opens up.

    17. Nameson*

      I know that I’m late to the thread, but I agree that the person that loses the office randomly will be upset. There are two okay options I can think of: ask for a volunteer “hi team, for confidentiality reasons Op needs to have an office starting in November, and so we need to have a pair of people share an office until March. Would anyone be willing to volunteer to share an office for an amazon gift card and some goodwill?”
      Or two: have a reason someone loses their office “unfortunately, we have to double up two people and the fairest we could come up with is to use seniority, so Annie and Jay will be sharing an office for 6 months” or “we really need to double up this office, and since Alex and Taylor work closely most of the time, it makes the most sense to double you up temporarily.”

  13. Sarah*

    Eating during an interview is super rude. Yuck. I would be so turned off to the Company after something like that.
    I hate it when folks eat on the phone too. My husband does this sometimes and I can’t stand it- I just end the call.

  14. Violet Rose*

    #1 – One thing to keep in mind re: AirBnB is that a host can cancel your booking last-minute – and, unlike a hotel, AirBnB isn’t obliged to find you alternate accommodations, leaving you to find a new place on your own dime. It’s rare, but disruptive enough to mention that one-in-a-thousand chance.

    Last summer, I had two separate groups of friends attending the same big event get their bookings cancelled within two days of their scheduled arrival. A few of them were on transcontinental flights when they got the news. They all had to scramble for a new booking, and of course, what was left was hundreds of dollars more expensive and less conveniently located. Seeing that really shook my confidence in AirBnB, and I’m now willing to fork over a little extra for a proper hotel and the peace of mind that it offers.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      That’s really interesting, because when my friends have had problems with last minute cancellations Airbnb has been fantastic about finding alternative accommodation at very short notice. I wonder whether that was in their earlier days and now they don’t have to try so hard.

      I agree though that big brand hotels would be more reliable, especially if you’re travelling somewhere that’s likely to be busy, e.g. for a big conference in a small town where every bed in the area will be booked out.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I should add, booking directly with hotels is important too. Trivago (etc) have their place but they don’t offer the same protections and while the price might be cheaper it might also be a less secure booking and a lower service level (e.g. no breakfast, no early check-in option, etc).

        1. Jdc*

          I also find now days with both airlines and hotels the prices are the same as on those sites. They know they exist and they match them now. I always book directly after checking them all to compare. Never have paid more.

        2. Hepzibah Pflurge*

          I second this. I regularly book business travel, and always book directly through the airline or hotel sites for that reason. I will use Trivago, Kayak, Expedia, etc. for looking at options, but I have found that booking through those sites can end up disastrous should anything change/go wrong. And many times, the hotels will match the lower rate to avoid paying the commissions to the sites.

        3. A*

          So true. Also, the majority of the ‘convenience’ 3rd party sites are owned by the same parent company. I always grown internally when I hear about people “price shopping” across a large catalogue of companies – all of which are more expensive than booking directly – that exist purely to make one seem better than the other.

      2. Violet Rose*

        That is interesting – I’d be interested to hear from more people who have been in this situation. I also wonder if part of the problem is the impact of the price; an extra $500, as mentioned by MommyMD below, might be a slight nuisance to one person, but put someone else on the Ramen Diet for a month. My first group of friends, for example, had been saving for most of the year for this trip, and so having to book more expensive accommodation wiped out most of their budgeted spending money.

    2. MommyMD*

      Airbnb cancelled me and my kids in Manhattan. Very last minute. A plumbing issue. I ended up having to spend $500 for a pricey Manhattan hotel for the night and sneak a dog in in a beach bag. It was kinda fun though.

          1. Violet Rose*

            “Why are your clothes wiggling?”
            “Eh… guess that’s how you know it’s time to do laundry, amirite?”

          2. Essess*

            As someone that is highly allergic to dogs, I rely on hotels that don’t allow pets. You might think it is funny or cute about smuggling your dog in, but you would have caused me to risk going to the emergency room if I was the next person to sleep in that room.

            1. A*

              Given that they were left in a lurch at the last minute – if there were no pet-friendly hotels available, what would you suggest they do? It’s Airbnb’s fault for not providing alternative housing arrangements after a host cancelled at the last second. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do – abandoning a pet is certainly not an option.

      1. Smithy*

        To be fair – this is my main reason for not Airbnbing for work. Issues like a broken a/c, lost key, plumbing, etc – how that would be addressed with Airbnb is going to have a lot more variation than hotels.

        I love using Airbnb for private travel – but for work it’s often a variable I just rather would not have to focus on.

      2. Artemesia*

        ‘plumbing issue’ is shorthand for ‘someone else agreed to give us more money or stay longer’ or ‘I decided to give it to my parents who decided to come this weekend.’ I remember someone on TA telling about the plumbing problem that cancelled them last minute for a villa in Italy and walking by the same villa and seeing partying going on.

    3. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

      AirBnB is nice until it isn’t. We had a horror story and had to cancel our reservation because the place was that bad (linens damp, hidden fire alarm chirping but out of town host couldn’t tell us where it was to change the battery, dangerous wires), but AirBnB never addressed our complaint and charged us anyway. So we had to pay for the privilege of driving through the night to go home while the host threatened to watch her cameras to make sure we were gone.

      Add sharing with my coworkers to that? Ugh.

    4. londonedit*

      A friend of mine had booked an Airbnb for a family trip this summer, during the school holidays and in a popular seaside town. It tied in with a wedding they were all going to, so they needed those particular dates and location, and they have a large family which reduced the number of suitable properties they could find. A week before their trip, the woman they’d booked the Airbnb with cancelled, claiming illness. My friend didn’t quite understand what her being ill had to do with them renting the property, so asked a few more questions, and got a strange sort of flip-flop of answers until it boiled down to the fact that the woman was actually renting out the property without her landlord’s knowledge, and she’d suddenly got cold feet about the whole thing. At some point she did say something like ‘Oh, well maybe if you still want to come, it might be OK after all…’ but by this point Airbnb had refunded her money and she was seriously wary of having anything to do with the situation. I think Airbnb did try to help her find an alternative, but with the date/location/family size constraints and in the middle of the school holidays, they didn’t have anything suitable. In the end, after a mad scramble, she did find something else, but it was hugely stressful (especially as they had an event they couldn’t miss!) and it ended up costing them more to book the replacement accommodation.

    5. Kat*

      Is a hotel significantly better for cancellations? I recently had a hotel cancel our reservation due to a hot water issue, and it was remarkably last minute (check in was at 1, they called at noon, we were already on our way). They offered to book us at the motel next door, but we would have had to pay the motel rate, it certainly wasn’t discounted / comped in any way. We ended up being able to find a room at a chain hotel that was a little nicer than the motel, but I think it ended up being exactly as much work as a cancelled AirBnB would have been.

    6. Clementine*

      I have had a last-minute cancellation on AirBnB, and I was not happy about it. AirBnB offered a $20 credit or something, which was not enough for the price difference in what I found.

      But a couple weeks ago, I was in a very popular metropolitan area at a 4* chain hotel, and late at night several guests were being offered a dumpy Econolodge for the same ridiculous price because the hotel had overbooked. I agree you are generally better off at a hotel, but I’m not sure there are any guarantees anywhere.

    7. Ellen N.*

      Booking with Superhosts improves your chances of not having your booking cancelled. Hosts lose Superhost status for a year if they cancel a booking unless there is an extenuating circumstance. Airbnb requires proof of extenuating circumstances (an invoice from a plumber for example). When hosts cancel and there are no extenuating circumstances, their reviews show that the host canceled and how many days in advance of the arrival date. I would not book with a host who had ever canceled without having an extenuating circumstance.

  15. MommyMD*

    If you start talking about state laws and their application process, your application is going straight into the trash. Wrong as it may be, it’s reality. You’re already a squeaky wheel. They will see you as litigious.

    1. Snuck*

      That’s my thinking too.

      “Does this person embody the team spirit we are looking for? Hrm… probably not”

      Unrelated, but perceptions matter side story…

      I know a person with an Assistance Dog (Service Dog is US speak for it)… and she when job searching had people who wouldn’t have her dog in the premises (illegal in most roles in Australia), and others who would say things in interviews like “We love dogs, in fact we decided to interview just because you said you had an AD and we wanted to meet it”… she dropped any mention of the AD from her applications after all this silliness so it was a moot point… People grab small unusual things and make act in weird ways. You dont’ want to be ‘weird’ when applying for something.

    2. boo bot*

      Yes, and for that reason I would actually suggest taking the “send it to the Department of Labor” route, if the OP wants to do so.

      It’s a new law, which means that probably a number of businesses aren’t going to comply with it until they see it’s actually being enforced, and “enforcement” probably just means a sternly-worded letter, which will have a lot more weight coming from the DoL than from a random job applicant.

    3. 8DaysAWeek*

      My first thought when I read this was that since the law just changed, they haven’t updated their online application. Since it is the law, it should have been made priority, but it may have just been one of those things that slipped through the cracks. I’m sure (hopefully) as they start to see applications come in they will catch it.

    4. kittymommy*

      Yeah. While the DOL route might seem “extreme and/or excessive” at first, it’s probably the easiest, most anonymous, and most tactful way of getting the issue fixed. It’s also very likely that the question still being on the application isn’t malicious, they just didn’t think about.

  16. theothermadeline*

    #1 – Alison, I didn’t actually see the OP mention concerns about safety in their letter, just concerns about close quarters with coworkers, so I’m a little concerned why the advice was to lean on potential safety issues? Honestly, to me I would find it a little out of touch if I had a coworker that took different accommodations than the Airbnb (which would presumably be the entire house or apartment rented by the company and not shared with the hosts) because of safety concerns. Unless I’m somehow unaware of a reputation Airbnb had gained, I would consider that to be a pretty paranoid/over the top thing.

    1. theothermadeline*

      I get not wanting to be able to disconnect from coworkers the way that you can in a hotel. I’m just finding a vague safety flag about Airbnb’s in general to be pretty wild and easy for the company to push back on by sharing specific listings and reviews of the places they’ve booked.

          1. pleaset*

            Yup. But remember, it’s “high-strung” if you’re a women. If you’re man, then you’re “careful.” Unless you’re not particularly macho – then you’re a “whiner.”

            1. Observer*

              All of which is a good pragmatic argument for the OP to find phrasing that’s not as likely to pigeonhole them.

      1. NotGreatBob*

        It’s probably going to go over better if LW1 goes on one trip, sees what it’s like in the AirBnB, and THEN approaches their boss if they have concerns about something that actually happened. Asking for a change based on a hypothetical may come off as a bit touchy. Not to mention, LW1 may find that their coworkers have already figured out how to navigate booking/sharing AirBnBs for these trips in a way that works for everyone.

        1. Snuck*


          The townhouse behind mine is an Air BnB and the exact same layout… three bedrooms, two bathrooms (one ensuite, one ‘family’) and three toilets… (one downstairs, one in each of the ensuite and bathroom)… While the minor bedrooms would have to negotiate a ‘shower time’ between them, there’s plenty of space to avoid each other. A single shared kitchen and living area downstairs (and nice courtyard, arid – Mediterranean climate = good outside time)…

          Sharing this place with two or three colleagues for a week would be mildly annoying due to the lack of personal space beyond your bedroom (which might be shared) but it’s also in the middle of a cafe district, with a river a few hundred metres away that is the highlight of the city’s marketing materials, and plenty of transport and food and outside in the world options… it’s an awesome area… you would only be ‘stuck in the house’ if you wanted to be… on your down time. And you could safely assume that your colleagues would use some of the amenities as well.

          The only time it mightn’t work is if there’s a LOT of you in a house, and it’s a young crowd, who then treat it as a bit of a Big Brother House (did the American’s get that reality tv show? Dozens of 20 year old extroverts plied with alcohol regularly for reality tv stupidity) …. that would suck to share.

          1. No Tribble At All*

            I am a grown adult. I’m not sharing a bedroom with a coworker, unless the company wants to hire my husband.

    2. MommyMD*

      Yeah I also thought the safety issue wouldn’t wash. It’s kind of out there. Hotels have safety issues as well.

    3. MsSolo*

      I think because there’s been multiple news stories recently raising awareness of the safety and security issues of AirBNBs? Which isn’t to say hotels don’t share some of the same issues (a member of staff could let themself into your room just as an AirBNB host could), but AirBNB have been distinctly handwavey about accepting any responsibility regarding their vetting of hosts in a way hotels are generally more concerned with. Additionally, hotels are generally better at the practical safety implications in terms of fire evacuations, carbon monoxide detectors, first aid and so on, because the same rules don’t apply to private homes.

        1. Lime green Pacer*

          That’s no guarantee, though. CBC news recently had a piece about a superhost who managed to become highly rated by posting many fake reviews. His account was suspended.

          “But the popular short-term rental company won’t say why it didn’t warn travellers who had already reserved with Montreal-based “AJ” that he was under investigation and that his listings were suspended as of two months ago, or give them the chance to cancel. Hundreds of people stayed at his places even after he was blocked from booking new guests.”

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Agreed– I wouldn’t mention safety issues, because that’s not the problem. It also has the potential to create a weird tension, like an AirBnB is unsafe for the OP but perfectly fine for her co-workers. Kind of like, “I would never go to that neighborhood, it’s so unsafe” when the person you’re talking to lives there.

      1. theothermadeline*

        Yeah, this is what was really striking me. I was also kind of surprised that Alison was this much on the side of ‘yes, request other accommodations’ considering that each time someone writes in about having to share hotel rooms with coworkers (not just common spaces) she has been much more ‘yeah, that’s common practice, unfortunately’

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I don’t think that’s what Alison says at all; she says that in some industries, this is common, but it’s not a practice she believes is common in most areas nor does she approve of it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Alison tell anyone “too bad, that’s how it works.”

          My surprise was that Alison suggested mentioning safety issues rather than focusing initially on discomfort/privacy/personal need. Though I do agree that the more junior the LW is, the less likely the request is to go over well.

          Bottom line, I think safety is best kept out of it.

        2. A*

          Wow, I must have over rode Alison’s previous comments with my own hopes lol. I always thought Alison was against employers requiring employees to share a hotel room, and that it is not common practice (although certainly not unheard of). 100% possible I made that up – I had to share a hotel room w a coworker once and now have MANY thoughts & feelings on the matter lol

        3. Jadelyn*

          There’s a difference between a pragmatic acknowledgment that, in some situations, this is seen as normal practice and you might not be able to change it, versus saying this is fine. I’ve seen Alison say the former. I’ve never seen her say the latter.

      2. EventPlannerGal*

        Agreed. It also sounds like this is an established practice that the company has, not a new thing – if the OP says she’s worried about safety, I would imagine the response would be “we’ve been doing this for X years, we do Y and Z things to avoid safety issues and we’ve never had a problem – you’ll be fine!” I would just name the actual problem, honestly.

    5. Cat*

      I totally agree. If you need to object for reasons other than “WTF would I want to live with my coworkers for a week” it would be much more “current” to object with “Airbnbs are damaging neighborhoods” rather than a safety-based complaint.

      1. Spek*

        Yeah, more and more stuff is coming out about AirBNB being a pretty terrible company overall, forcing many cities all over the world to impose regulation since AirBNB refuses to self-regulate. You may want to add this to the mix of reasons you don’t like the arrangements when you push back.

    1. Snuck*


      This is what I thought too. I’ve worked with Jane. Janet. Janice. Jan-Marie. Jandelle and Jane The Second.

      If Jane wanted to be at the meetings she’d be there.

      So either she’s playing a game, or has crap ability to manage her time, or doesn’t care about the meetings.

      Any of these are Not Your Monkeys, Not Your Circus. Jane’s inability to play ball means you take your bat, ball and meeting schedule to everyone else… and leave Jane to decide when she wants to join the game.

    2. juliebulie*

      Yeah, I thought so too.

      If Jane denies trying to avoid the meetings, OP should give (not offer, just plain give) the scheduling task to Jane. “I’m going to let you schedule these meetings from now on. That way you can be sure not to miss any more of them.”

  17. Mannheim Steamroller*

    OP #3…

    My boss often marks his calendar with a simple “Busy” notation. It lets me know that he’s unavailable without sharing gory details. Jane can easily do the same if she is truly unavailable.

    1. XoP*

      But she doesn’t. OP cannot make Jane use the calendar functions correctly. So the advice needs to be how to handle the situation when Jane’s calendar is not reliable.

  18. Asenath*

    # 1 – As someone who really needs privacy to unwind, most especially when travelling, I do sympathize with OP. But I also suspect that since OP is a newcomer, pushing back right now might hurt her image in the workplace – she might be seen as a bit of a prima donna who doesn’t want to associate with co-workers. I think it might be better to try their arrangements for the first trip, and then, if its untenable (as I suspect it might be), go to management saying you’ve tried this, you find it very difficult to unwind and rest and then do your best the next day, and give them a proposed solution (bigger AIRbnb or one with a different layout or a private one for OP or a hotel room) with costs to the company attached. Maybe even offer to pay personally the difference between what they pay for you now and what it would cost to get a private room in a hotel.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      If the company is booking out an entire property then the difference in cost could be the entire hotel room – you would be unlikely to get a discount for under-occupying the Airbnb. So if they’re putting five people in an apartment for a week for $1000, they won’t suddenly free up $200 for hotel rooms for LW if she doesn’t stay there.

      1. Asenath*

        Yes, that’s a good point – there probably wouldn’t be any savings to the company, and she’d end up paying the full cost. But maybe offering to pay would show willingness to consider the costs to the company and make her request more acceptable to them.

    2. Person of Interest*

      I agree with Aseneth – you might not have standing to change this for now, but you can voice your concerns but suck it up, make a business case for it after the fact, like I wasn’t able to fully rest and focus for our meetings – and they may reconsider next year. You don’t know if others have made similar complaints, and sometimes it just takes enough people raising it as a concern to get them to rethink future trips. This is how my OldJob’s company retreat eventually changed from shared bunkhouses/cabins in the woods, to a proper hotel :)

      1. Dana B.S.*


        Also, consider ways escape from the house for a few hours in the evening. Maybe pretend you have an old friend from college in town and go “visit” them.

        1. A*

          Ugh, this sums up my major issue with a shared space of any kind with coworkers. I refuse to be put in a situation where, off hours, I have to tell someone where or when I’m going somewhere (or expected to). As far as I’m concerned, if I might have to contend with the question “where you going?” or “where did you go?”… it’s not off hours.

    3. CmdrShepard4ever*

      I get needing to unwind from work. But why can’t that be done if your own room*. The OP can go to their room to “sleep” and then watch netflix, read a book, etc… Even if everyone was still in a hotel, coworkers might ask to go to dinner together, get drink after work, or lets meet in Joe’s room/lobby to discuss further work matters. The only issue that might be different in an Air BnB vs Hotel is sharing a bathroom. But assuming that if it is a 3/4 bedroom house it has at least 2 bathrooms, that really isn’t that. In most employers you share a bathroom with many more people.

      *I am assuming that OP will be getting their own room in this Air BnB, if not then they definitely need to push back on that. It would be no different then being asked to share a hotel room with a coworker.

      1. blackcatlady*

        As someone who put the ‘I’ in introvert my sympathies! You should make sure you have your own bedroom and not more than two people per shared bathroom. Just tell the gang you are tired, have a headache, want to read or whatever and retreat to the bedroom each night. Absolutely push back against shared bedrooms! Totally unreasonable. This isn’t a high school field trip.

      2. A*

        What about the lifestyle limitations? What if the OP wants to go out for whatever reason, now all of a sudden they’ll most likely need to explain where they are going. Or what if OP wants to grab a six pack and chill out on their own, without worrying about professionalism? Or *gasp* have a cigarette. I don’t know… I’m just throwing stuff out there. To me it’s unrealistic to expect employees to be ‘on the clock’ around the clock – and as far as I’m concerned, if my time is not truly my own to do with as I please – I’m on the clock.

      3. Jadelyn*

        There’s a difference between sharing a public toilet with a bunch of people at work, and sharing a house bathroom with those same people. For one, you don’t shower in the work restroom, apply makeup, dry and style your hair, brush your teeth, etc. Work bathrooms are just use-wash-leave. You’re not negotiating shower times or contending with someone’s half-hour beauty rituals while you need to shower or take care of your own beauty ritual. It’s really not equivalent.

  19. Redqueenwildboy*

    4 – I work in an office with a very blasé attitude to work etiquette, and where employees and managers are not expected to appear polished at all. However, I’d still be horrified if someone was eating during an everyday video call to me, let alone an interview. Not only would I consider this a bit of a slight (and an inappropriate “power move” – there’s no way an interviewee would feel in a position to whip out a sandwich mid-call), it’s also often unpleasant to hear or watch someone eat while you’re trying to have a conversation with them, professioanl or not.

    Maybe I’m just very sensitive about this very specific thing, as I’m normally very laid-back about office manners!

  20. Oh No She Di'int*

    #5 A further thought:

    I would also consider enlisting the opinion of the subordinate you’d otherwise be sharing the space with. Chances are she’s not thrilled about that situation either and might vastly prefer sharing an office with a peer than with her manager. Who the heck wants to be in the same office with their manager? If asked, she might say, “Oh yeah, Jane and I get along great; I wouldn’t mind temporarily bunking with her while the space gets sorted out.”

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        I shared an office with my manager once and it was perfectly fine. I was his only subordinate so confidentiality wasn’t an issue, and we each had cubes set up back to back so there was some level of privacy. It can work, but not in OP’s situation.

      2. ashie*

        I’ve done both. I shared an office with the CEO for a few months after I was hired while they were doing a building expansion. He was my direct supervisor so I didn’t have any issues but obviously his scope of work was a lot wider than mine and he had a lot of meetings that didn’t (or couldn’t) involve me. Usually he took those in the other person’s office or found a conference room or took them to Starbucks. Only once or twice did I have to get bumped and I just found something that needed doing elsewhere. It was nice to have direct access to my boss but I did feel a bit segregated from other staff on my level.

        Currently I share an office with my only subordinate and it works great. We get all the benefits of an open office plan without any of the problems. If one of us needs to pop in headphones for a while we do but otherwise we can collaborate in real time. It helps that we get along really well and our standards of cleanliness aren’t too different.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Something that occurs to me as a possibility is that that person needs oversight and the PTB think they’ll achieve that by having her in close quarters to her boss. They’re too cowardly to take away her office completely, but oh shucks we’re full and LW needs somewhere to go so we’ll just shove another desk in Scatty Sally’s office so she can’t doze off any more.

      1. snowglobe*

        Or there’s not a problem with that person’s performance, but all their co-workers will think that there is – not good.

        1. Snuck*

          Or Scatty Sally isn’t scatty, but suddenly starts to think there’s an issue with her performance, and starts job hunting out of fear over increased supervision… or whatever else might come up from feeling that she’s a problem… when she wasn’t.

          Remember Scatty Sally is losing her private office too I presume… and that’s a demotion for her too…

    2. juliebulie*

      It occurs to me that there are some people (who have even written to AAM) who either don’t mind sharing space, or actually prefer it. “Jane” might be such a person. Maybe she even volunteered. (Good luck trying to get her to come to a meeting, though.) Maybe Jane would like to share with someone.

      OR maybe there will be a new letter here in a few months about an annoying officemate.

    3. Letter Writer #5*

      She and I got along. I actually felt bad for her because I didn’t want her to think I was constantly monitoring her. It can be a strange dynamic. One time, she said something like, “I was going to make you some coffee but I didn’t want you to start thinking of me as your admin asst.” I absolutely didn’t (and don’t even ask or expect my admin to make me coffee).

    4. CM*

      Yeah, I think the key point is to approach it more like “two people on our team need to share for a while” and then be really careful and intentional about the match-making, rather than framing it (even for yourself) as “I deserve a single office more than you do, person I just chose!”

      If you wanted to, you could even bring to issue to the team and give them an opportunity to weigh in privately before you make the decision about who’s going where. Just be really transparent about your thought process and about trying to do it in a way that minimizes how disruptive it is for people.

  21. Don’t like ghost hotels*

    OP #1 – I had this exact scenario happen to me. I don’t stay in AirBnBs in my personal life for ethical reasons, so I was confronted with the double whammy of never getting downtime + deciding how firm to be about an ethical belief. I was a fully remote worker who would be meeting my colleagues for the first time at a mandatory conference – and then rooming with them. I had only been on the job a month and didn’t feel I had he standing to push back, so I didn’t. It sucked, but it was one weekend out of my life. The next time the conference rolled around, I had built up some more credibility, so I just sent an email to the appropriate person that said “I prefer to stay in licensed accommodations, please let me know whether you prefer to book me in a particular hotel or have me book and be reimbursed.” No issue with that going forward; my coworkers see my no AirBnB/Uber/Lyft policies as an endearing quirk, my hotel stays and taxis get reimbursed by the company.

    1. CmdrShepard4ever*

      What are your ethical concerns against Air BnB? I have stayed at Air BnBs, but I continue to stay in hotels too. Each time/place I book I weigh several different issues, but I have never thought about any ethical issues. I would be curious to learn more about them.

      1. J*

        They can contribute towards gentrification of neighborhoods/drive up rents. Short term rental properties earn far more money than long term, provided they’re frequently booked. Lots of neighborhoods are seeing their demographics change in response to Airbnb, VRBO, and the like.

        1. curly sue*

          Exactly this. I live in a university town and students are finding it increasingly impossible to find apartments within an hour transit of the schools, because so many of the downtown rentals have turned over into Air BnBs. And then those houses sit empty during the winter, leading to all kinds of other problems.

        2. Avasarala*

          Yep. The only reason I’m able to afford my apartment is because AirBnB is illegal. Roomy size and right off a train to the airport and downtown? Why rent to a young couple for $1200 a month when you could get twice that renting it out as a hotel? Plus you don’t have to pay for any licenses or inspections!

      2. DJ*

        Everything J said.

        Plus, all of those companies are frequently unwilling to take responsibility for when things go wrong and yet are happy to profit off people putting their own property on the line. They basically pass the risks of doing business to their “employees”. In the case of Uber and Lyft, I’ve seen quite a few articles that cover the many issues that exist with regard to their policies, which tend to favor the company and don’t benefit their drivers. Plus the existence of these businesses encourages getting rid of traditional models (i.e., taxi drivers) where employees have at least some protections under the law. I’m not as familiar with AirBnB, but I’d guess there could be similar concerns.

  22. loudwhitenoise*

    #3: >”it regularly forces me to ask her when SHE wants to meet”. This made me instantly think ‘power play’. Sounds to me like she’s trying to make herself feel more important by making you subject to her will.

    1. Nye*

      This seems likely, but I wonder if there’s any chance she’s come from a field where scheduling someone else’s times is typically done interactively. I’m in academia and my calendar is private – the idea of someone just adding a meeting to it without asking me makes my skin crawl. My colleagues feel the same. In a poll about a new email system, our admin staff all put calendering as a high priority, while our academic staff all put it as our lowest priority.

      More likely that OP’s problem employee is just being high-maintenance, admittedly, but thought I’d mention that not all fields view scheduling meetings without consulting participants as acceptable.

      1. Asenath*

        I’m in an area in which there are comparatively few meetings. They’re held at regular intervals and booked well in advance. Most of us don’t put any of our regular activities on our calendars – some don’t use them at all! But other sections of the same employer schedule meetings through Outlook – I was on the phone only last week to someone who said she could look at my calendar to see when to schedule a meeting, and I said well, there’s a lot that’s not on my calendar, but mornings are usually good for me. After a bit of discussion, we set on a time, but that’s the first time ever that I’ve known someone to assume that I’m actually available all the times my calendar has nothing on it. At least she didn’t assume that I’m working the same schedule as people in her office, and so am available after my workday has ended, which has happened more than once.

      2. snowglobe*

        But all the other participants are ok with that and presumably they are in the same industry. If Jane came from a different industry, it’s on her to recognize that the culture of this organization is that is how meetings are scheduled and to stop making things difficult for the meeting organizer.

        1. Snuck*


          And don’t worry Nye… when the Admins get what they want (and they will… eventually) you guys can just book the entire calendar out with recurring appointments of “Lab work” and “Not available” and they will be back to scheduling via request again ;)

          1. Nye*

            Most likely we’ll just ignore the Outlook calendars, honestly. I don’t use Outlook for scheduling my time, and don’t see that changing. Luckily our admin staff are wonderful and patient with the foibles of academia.

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        This seems likely, but I wonder if there’s any chance she’s come from a field where scheduling someone else’s times is typically done interactively. I’m in academia and my calendar is private – the idea of someone just adding a meeting to it without asking me makes my skin crawl.

        The OP doesn’t have to add something directly to Jane’s calendar, though. She should be able to search for free times and then send everyone an invitation.

      4. Aquawoman*

        In Outlook, people can see THAT I’m booked for a particular time slot but not any content of the meeting notice itself. So, they have no way to know if I’m at a work meeting or having warts removed, just that I’m not available between 10 and 11, and possibly if I’m out of the office versus in the office (we can “code” for that in the “show time as…” drop down).

  23. Hiring Mgr*

    On #5, not sure I agree with AAM on this one. OP says they asked her to take the office because they knew she wouldn’t make a fuss, but then OP is doing the same thing to someone else? If it’s short term as OP says, I’d probably live with it if there’s no other way. Not ideal but not terrible either..

    1. Artemesia*

      For a manager to accept this without a peep establishes her as subordinate to other managers and a pushover. Who is going to see a doormat as promotion material down the line? Accepting this kind of treatment is a great way to get more of it. She should make it clear it is not acceptable and the idea of having two subordinates share the office rather than manager and subordinate is an obvious one. The more crap you accept, the more you get. She will be planning potlucks before you know it.

      1. Life Is Beautiful*

        Agreed. It may make someone resentful, but it is absolutely the right thing to give the manager their own office. Where did the old manager sit? Also, I think picking is easy – most junior person (by role, not tenure) unless that person has specific needs for confidential phone conversations/document storage/etc.

    2. Letter Writer #5*

      I would never haven kicked anyone out of their office. I would have sucked it up. There’s an update below.

  24. Lynca*

    #5- So I’ve seen this from the subordinate side. Our office layout is ancient and we can’t really remodel so we have weirdly sized spaces. So we’ve ended up with people that need to share space. Some managers share offices together. Co-workers share spaces. I’ve even seen set ups where manager and direct report were in the same office. I agree with Alison that assigning someone else in that space that is at the same level is probably the way to go.

    But I think the perception issue might be more on your part than your subordinates. It’s just a reality of the situation in your office and why would someone hold that against you?

    Also the privacy thing is easy enough to deal with. When my manager was office sharing we would either have meetings in the conference room or in my office.

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      I think your case actually illustrates an important factor here. It’s about context. I don’t think it’s so weird to share a space in an office in which everyone else is also sharing space, as you describe. Everyone knows the terms and abides by them.

      But I do think it’s weird in an office in which literally no one else is sharing space, that the decision they made was to put OP in the same office as a subordinate. That’s a weird decision, and it sends a message to everyone she deals with vertically and horizontally.

      There is no right or wrong way to allocate space; there is only context. It’s analogous to salaries. If everyone in the office is making about $100, then coming in making $100 seems about right. But coming in making $100 and finding out everyone else is making $200 is indeed a problem. There is no right or wrong salary, but there is context.

    2. Antilles*

      It’s just a reality of the situation in your office and why would someone hold that against you?
      It isn’t the reality of the situation in OP’s office though. It’s clearly the standard to give most/all people their own offices. And it’s especially weird that the manager will be sharing an office when her direct subordinate has their own office.
      This isn’t a scenario where everybody is in an open office so OP should be happy just to have an office, this is a situation where she’s the odd one out.

      1. Artemesia*

        And the only moment to fix this is now — if she accepts it temporarily, she will always be behind. This is a line to draw up front.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Yes. My initial reaction was “it’s only temporary don’t be a prima donna”. But after reading everything I agree with you. This is the type of situation that snowballs, and you look back on in 6 months (or 2 years) and realize this was the origin point. This was the moment you could have spoken up and you didn’t and since then you’ve been on your back foot.

        2. Letter Writer #5*

          This was the point I was attempting to make. I truly did not feel like they would have made an external higher share a space. I believe they would have figured something else out before that person started. You can find my update below.

  25. TimeTravelR*

    Funny… I was just thinking this morning about how unprepared some offices have been when I have arrived to start a new position (re office sharing letter). At various places I have had no desk, no computer, a really dusty workstation, no supplies, broken supplies… It is the little things like this that make one feels from the beginning that they may not be very valued. In most cases, I have gotten past it, and in all cases eventually got what I needed, but it has always struck me as odd when the place was so unprepared for my arrival that they hadn’t even set me up to work well from the start.
    I do make it a practice to be proactive for my new hires by having their email already set up, computers, phones, workstations ready, etc.

    1. LindaJ*

      Yup. I arrived at a new job and the supervisor was like, “I guess you can work there?” as if she hadn’t had years (glacial public service hiring) to think about where the new hire could sit. A few years in, we hired another person and I had to nicely point out that maybe we’d have to clear the years of backlogged work off the desk if she expected the new person to sit there, and maybe find a computer. It wasn’t a huge red flag but it was some insight into my manager’s big picture, never mind the details working style.

      1. Alexandra Lynch*

        My boyfriend recently got a job with a large midwestern energy company, and they are paying him very good money to…. do nothing for eight hours. Now, being who he is, he’s deep in working through a calculus book so that he’s up to par when he goes to take his master’s in Mathematics, and writing poetry, but he would like to, you know, work, if they’d give him any to do. You’d think if you’re paying $125 an hour for a data scientist you’d want to get something for it. (This is the fourth week of this, or 1/3 of the way through his contract…..)

      2. Asenath*

        In one of my jobs, I was shown my cubicle and given a stack of publications to read to familiarize myself with the work done while they actually got me set up to do what they hired me for.

        1. New Job So Much Better*

          I did the same for someone I hired, showed her to a small office and gave her some materials/manuals to read. She went to her car for “cough drops” and never returned.

    2. Sara without an H*

      Ditto. And it always puzzles me. I work at a university, where work space can be an issue, but start dates are known weeks in advance. If you know in May that Prof. Jane Erudite will be starting on August 15, you would think there’d be plenty of time to make sure that her office had a desk, chair, telephone, and a working computer. But no, I still get frantic calls from department heads, saying that IT still doesn’t have a computer for their new faculty member, and can they please check a laptop out of the library???

      1. College Career Counselor*

        This is often because the Department Chair isn’t actually in the office over the summer, nor the departmental admin person (10 month contracts). Consequently, it’s a case of “out of sight, out of mind” until everyone gets back in the office on August 7th and freaks out trying to get stuff done because a week should be enough time to do it. That’s when they discover that everyone else with a faculty member starting in mid-August had the exact same game plan, AND IT, security, and other offices are kinda busy with a lot of things right before students arrive…

        Source: many years in higher ed

        1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

          Yeah. And the professor who retired at the end of last academic year decided to un-retire so the office that was going to become available, isn’t. Or unbeknownst to the department, whomever is in charge of allocating space at the university has decided that this department isn’t “using” that space and has allocated it to a different department — there is a huge amount of politics and favoritism. Some departments have the budget to get whole new office furniture suites every year, while other departments have to scavenge the surplus storage room for a table and broken chair.

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I started a new job once and I had a long table setup on the outside of the row of cubes, with a huge open space next to me. But I was interviewed on a Monday, and started that Thursday so they didn’t have a whole lot of time to prepare.

    4. Artemesia*

      When I changed departments and found myself going from a giant office with conference table to a broom closet, I knew if I didn’t fix it NOW I was stuck. So I went to the director and indicated the roles I would being brought in to do for the department and how important certain kinds of private space were to get this done. I needed in particular a space where I could conference with 3 or 4 people at once as this was a routine part of the task they needed me to do and that no one else really wanted to do. He built me an office i.e. took some open space and literally had an office built — it was kind of weirdly long but had a personal desk and writing area at one end and a table space for small conferences at the other. The key was focusing on the business need for appropriate space rather than what I was feeling i.e. the symbolic loss of power of moving from a lavish office to a hole. So don’t whine, but be firm about what is needed — and the inappropriateness of having a subordinate privy to your conferences with other subordinates and your private business calls. You can also mention that it sends a message to your subordinates that is inappropriate if they all have offices and you don’t and this is not the foot you want to step out on in assuming this role.

    5. juliebulie*

      You are right. The only time I ever started a new job where they seemed totally unprepared, it turned out that my boss disliked me from the start (even at the interview). Long story, OT, but he eventually admitted it to my face.

      I did have a desk, but no wastebasket, supplies, computer, etc. No lunch outing (all other new hires were taken to lunch). No introductions up and down the hallway.

      This is the wrong way to welcome OP to the company, and it’s up to OP to “help” them figure out how to treat their new hires right.

    6. Filosofickle*

      A handful of years ago my sibling started at a Former Internet Giant and spent an entire 40 hour week wandering the halls. No computer, no desk, no phone. Not even any training or meetings. It was ridiculous. Why not delay the start date? Why were they paying out very high week’s wage for absolutely no reason?

      This was one of those moments where I remember all the people who insist corporations are naturally efficient and government is naturally inefficient and SMH.

    7. i forget the name I usually use*

      When I started a job and they had absolutely everything ready for me, including a desk fully stocked with new pens, post-its, fresh pads of paper, and not a trace of the previous occupant in the drawers… I knew I had made the right decision. When I started my previous job, the person before me had retired and left years of built up crap and grime on the desk that I had to deal with. I once asked for a letter opener and the office manager talked me out of needing one, which was really weird?

      Both offices were staffed with conscientious and thoughtful people, but the old company really overloaded people, and it showed when it came to taking care of the little things.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        This is so gratifying to hear.

        In my company, we make sure the entire workspace is set up, including a new chair and a computer that has at least been wiped if not purchased new. Post-its, pens, and other office supplies are placed within reach. The trashcan is checked to make sure it has a new, clean liner.

        A welcome packet is placed on the desk that includes the employee manual; benefits information; tax forms; starter business cards; a team staff list with names, titles, and 1-sentence job descriptions; a meeting schedule; and a day-1 checklist. This sits alongside a “Welcome to the team!” card signed by everyone on the team.

        An additional placard shows them their computer login and email account credentials. Once they check email, there is an introductory message from the team manager, welcoming them and spelling out a few initial things to be aware of such as how to order supplies and what the lunch policy is.

        We take the first day very seriously.

    8. Letter Writer #5*

      So True! I didn’t even mention the condition of the office. There were things all over the desk, and other odds and ends just laying around. It’s crazy to me that you would have someone start a job without even providing the basics like a clean space.

  26. Another Day, Another Dollar*

    #5. As a former manager, I totally get the problem with sharing an office given your role, but you are so clearly not “the only person in the whole building who has to share an office”. I’d drop that language when you make your case because it’s inaccurate and it might be taken as devaluing the person you would be sharing with.

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      Wait, I’m a bit confused. How can we know that that isn’t accurate? This isn’t a challenge, it’s just an honest question on if I’ve missed something in the letter?

      I used to work in a company of about 100 employees across two buildings. A number of people worked in various common/open areas. The rest worked in offices (maybe 35 people). Of the people who worked in offices, none shared an office. Perhaps that’s unusual?

      1. WellRed*

        If they are sharing an office, then so is the person they are sharing with. Therefore, the OP is not the only person who has tp share.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          Making 2 people out of 100 share an office, with OP being the only manager that has to share, is still out of the ordinary with the rest of the office. While *technically* OP isn’t the only person obviously, because otherwise they couldn’t be sharing an office, that’s a bit of a distraction from the issue at hand. I get what you’re trying to say, but the response focuses on trying to share an office with a subordinate as their manager, not the OP’s word choice in the letter itself.

  27. Llellayena*

    #2 – based on the timeline, the new law has only been in place for about 2 months (probably less when the letter was written). It takes time to reprogram online applications, they may not have gotten around to it yet or it may have slipped someone’s radar. Instead of accusing them of doing something illegal, assume they’re on a timeline to fix it and offer a work-around: “I assume you’re in the process of updating your application to not ask for past salaries due to the new law. In the meantime, it might be helpful to candidates if you informed them they should enter all zeros in those fields.”

    This informs them of the law without accusing, flags you as helpful instead of confrontational, and gives them a temporary solution until they’re able to get the problem fixed.

    1. Dana B.S.*

      Or it’s possible that someone from another state manages the site and hasn’t heard the news yet. These online applications are definitely a “set-it-and-forget-it” thing. I can guarantee that this company is not trying to do something illegal.

  28. MissDisplaced*

    My team actually wanted to rent a large Airbnb house for one event in a very expensive city. It was big enough that everyone would have had their own bedroom without sharing though. Well, corporate shot that down due to risk issues.

    It’s one of those things that could be fine ( if you get a room if your own ) or an absolute nightmare if your company culture is prone to drinking and shenanigans and few boundaries. I don’t blame you for being cautious. Can you inquire more about this setup? If you get a private room in the Airbnb could you deal? If not, I ask about booking a hotel nearby, but bear in mind that cost may be on you. My guess is their policy might change as the company grows.

    1. theothermadeline*

      I’m also a little unclear on this point – my read on the letter didn’t indicate that they were sharing rooms (which is a setup that Alison has said is regrettably normal and not really push-backable before) just that they were concerned about sharing bathrooms and common spaces.

    2. MommyMD*

      If everyone has their own bedroom I think it’s fine. I’d just hold up on my room if I wanted privacy.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I wouldn’t think it’s fine. I want my own bathroom. I’m barely happy sharing bathrooms with family members. I draw a hard line at sharing them with coworkers. (I know I do it during the workday, but honestly, I’m not even happy about *that*).

  29. Roscoe*

    #1 While I agree with you, I’d really consider if this is how you want to go into your first conference as a new employee. Right or wrong, its coming off like you’re not “one of us”. Also, think about if you want to miss out on all of the bonding/networking that will be going on then. It may be one of those things you suck up for the first few times, and maybe now and then try to do a hotel.

  30. Myrcallie*

    Spinoff from the salary history question- would the same apply if you see a job ad that’s below minimum wage? There was a really interesting-looking paid part-time role at a local museum, and I was considering applying when I realised that the pro-rata amount they were quoting was below NMW for the hours they wanted.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      I’ve seen multiple job listings below minimum wage in my area, especially during the recession. A lot of employers just don’t care about what is or isn’t legal.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Don’t touch it with a ten foot pole.

      New laws are one thing. If the minimum wage just went up and it’s to the old set, that’s one thing. But if it’s below minimum wage that’s been in place for any length of time, that’s a tire fire you don’t want anything to do with.

      If they screw with minimum wage laws, the most basic, well known of them all, what else are they doing in there? Yuck.

  31. Tobias Funke*

    I am confused and hope someone will help me understand. Many members of the comment section are going to the mat to defend the interviewer eating in an interview today. I remember a couple months ago, an employee was concerned about not getting a lunch and not being able to eat, and the comment section was largely very negative about that person’s concerns. It almost seemed as if that person’s desire for lunch/for food was viewed as somehow precious or needy or disruptive. I am aware that power dynamics exist in workplaces, but didn’t really understand that they extend so deeply to “management has to pack food into their busy schedules, underlings are spoiled babies if they want to ensure the will be able to eat”.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Most of the time, comments are based on personal experience. Maybe more people involved in interviewing are commenting today? I personally think NOBODY should be eating (or doing anything else that takes attention away from the task at hand) during an interview. If you’re doing something else (even as simple as putting food in your mouth), you’re not fully engaged in the interview. And it’s rude IMO.

      1. MommyMD*

        There is no defense for eating during an interview unless it’s a lunch interview. None. Not having time doesn’t cut it. Either don’t eat or shove a couple of bites into your mouth on the way to the bathroom.

        1. Observer*

          When you run the world, you’ll make sure that people will always be able to follow your dicta.

          In the world we live in, what you are saying is simply out of touch with reality.

      2. OhCanary*

        Are we allowed to drink water while interviewing? Or is that also a distraction? i mean, it’s “as simple as putting water in my mouth.”

        What if my phone chirps — can I check and see if it’s an emergency?

        What if a fire engine roars by the window and I turn my head to look because the noise has caught my attention? Should I reschedule the interview?

        It’s like some of you think interviews should only be conducted in windowless, noiseless rooms. WILD.

    2. Brazilian Hobbit*

      I believe it’s about who is writing. When someone else is eating during an interview with you, there isn’t much you can do. But there might be something the person who is eating can do – or could have done -, so comments will focus on what could help the letter writer. In this case, what would be most helpful for the letter writer is to focus on the least offensive explanation.

    3. Gazebo Slayer*

      Yeah, it’s depressing how heavily skewed comments on this site often are toward the perspective of well-paid people with authority. Of course, that’s just a reflection of power dynamics throughout the workplace, as you note – not to mention society in general. We are all swimming from birth in a culture that tells us some people are more important and valuable than others.

      1. Brett*

        The vast majority of interviewers are not managers and not particularly high up on the chain of authority. Yes, they have power in that situation, but they are far from “well-paid people with authority”.

        This is particularly true of remote panel interviews like the one in the letter. Odds are there was one person in that interview with some level of authority (if that) and three others rank and file workers who were assigned to the interview.

      2. A*

        Interesting. This hasn’t been my take at all. I often feel like the comments are heavily skewed towards a perspective that is lacking a point of reference in re: to high than mid level work experiences. That and SJWs for sure, but that’s just the internet for ya.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      To me I think in either case, if the person with no other opportunity to eat simply mentions that breifly and then moves on, it changes the whole dynamic. It’s the not saying anything part that makes this interview weird. Like yes, sure, there are lots of reasons to cut that person slack for eating and there are lots of reasons it might’ve been super rude. We don’t know which, or if it’s actually both. It is out of the ordinary, to me. For the OP I think it’s easiest to assume good intentions since they have no way of knowing. If they continue in the process and the person keeps doing weird things or possibly rude things, then you’ve got more info. But from this one occasion it’s not at all clear if this was some sort of intentional slight, if this is normal in that office ad OP just doesn’t know, or if that one person was going to pass out if they didn’t eat right then but this wouldn’t normally happen, or if the other interviewers thought it was weird too but didn’t say anything because they werent sure what to do so they just carried on. Too many unknowns.

    5. Observer*

      If you notice, a lot of people on this thread are equally negative about the interviewer in this letter as well.

      I don’t recall the letter you’re talking about, but I don’t think I would have dismissed someone who didn’t have a chance to eat.

  32. Fabulous*

    #5 – I’m going to be a tad nitpicky about Alison’s language in her script… By asking, “Are there any other options?” this gives them an opportunity to say “No there are no other options.”

    I would instead ask, “What other options are there?” – Make the question open-ended so they’re forced to give an answer other than yes or no.

  33. AngryOwl*

    I feel for you, LW1. I was in a very similar position, where the CEO expected me to stay in an AirBnB with him and 4 other colleagues (all men). There was talk of sharing rooms and someone taking a couch. I expressed I was uncomfortable and would prefer a hotel room and it was fine…except after the event, when I learned the CEO expected me to cover the hotel room myself. It was all very uncomfortable and (in my case) spoke to larger culture issues in the company.

    Good luck!

      1. AngryOwl*

        I am not and I did not, though the implication was that he would cover this time as a kindness, and if I needed other accommodations going forward I would be responsible. I loved what the company did, but couldn’t handle the culture.

  34. Rebecca*

    OP1, I feel for you. I understand it’s often a cost-cutting measure or the result of necessary travel to a place that doesn’t have a lot of lodging options, but IMO an Airbnb shared amongst coworkers is 100% inappropriate and asking for trouble. I know there are companies where people are close, casual, and friendly…I work for one such place currently…but at the end of the day, I still want to be able to lock a door behind me and be alone. Business travel means being “on” much of the time and the ability to turn “off” is necessary to rest and feel ready to take on the next day’s activities. And on another note…there have been times in my career that I would not have been at all comfortable with sharing sleeping space with some of my coworkers. In short, it’s a lot to ask people and I’d definitely push back as AAM suggested.

    1. CmdrShepard4ever*

      But unless OP is being asked to share a room, they are not sharing sleeping space, they are sharing common area space, living room/kitchen. If you don’t want to share that space with coworkers you can just stat in the room, the same way you would in a hotel. The kitchen is like the shared breakfast area at the hotel, the living room is like the shared lobby that people can hang out at.

      If OP is actually being asked to share a bedroom that definitely need to be pushed back on.

      1. Rebecca*

        Sure, and there are certainly different things that different folks will find tolerable. For me, it’s not a matter of just the sleeping space. The last conference I attended had me with coworkers from 6am until late in the evening. I need the illusion of solitude to recharge for the next day!

    2. Bunny Girl*

      Yeah I would never stay at an AirBnB with coworkers. I don’t care what I “miss” or the networking involved or whatever – I need a break after being around my coworkers all day. And I mean an actual break. Not “I know there’s a closed door but I can hear Bob from accounting snoring in the next room.” The only way I would not push back on this is if they rented everyone their own apartment through AirBnB, which could still be cheaper than a hotel room! But I guess it would depend on where they were traveling to. I don’t know what position the OP is in, but this would be my hill to die on. Sorry.

  35. Miss Fisher*

    LW1 – Odds are you aren’t the only employee who hates the shared living space, so you might want to ask around to see if anyone else has asked about hotels instead. Since this is a multiple times a year thing, I doubt employer is going to pay for a hotel room for one employee. And even if, this could snowball on them to where every other employee will want the same thing. I doubt they can say yes to you and then sorry no to everyone else. And if you pay for one yourself, you are going to be the odd man out and that will carry over back to the workplace after the event.

    1. Interviewer*

      Yeah, this is what I was coming to say. Ask around to see how the last group Airbnb stay went, what the accommodations were like, proximity to the conference, if everything was just as advertised, etc. Typically the conference has a room block at a hotel either at the conference center or right nearby, with a guaranteed room rate. It may be easier if you have the details and numbers to back up your request for a single hotel room.

      The only time I stayed at an Airbnb was a group trip to the beach. After we drove 8 hours back home and left a fantastic review, the host charged us an additional cleaning fee, stating that the place was covered in sand and he had to pay extra to get it detailed. Not true – I had followed the checkout list, washed & scrubbed everything personally, and we had literally swept our way out of the place. But I hadn’t taken pictures, and being so far away after it had already been cleaned, I had no way to prove the condition of the place when we left. So we sucked it up and paid the fee, completely angry about it but had no choice. I feel like the host took advantage of us living so far away. Lesson learned on Airbnb for next time, and I would really hate for this to happen to anyone on a business trip.

      1. WellRed*

        I didn’t even think about that part of it, didn’t know AirBnB had this. (Are they not required to be professionally cleaned after each use?) But, on a biz trip, am i really supposed to do housekeeping, too? Will this fall disproportionately on women/junior employees? Hotels have housekeeping staff (and yes, I tidy my room).

        1. Filosofickle*

          I think you raise a great question about who will tidy up the Airbnb if it’s a business trip.

          They are not required to be “professionally” cleaned, but they should be cleaned to a professional standard by the hosts. (Some hosts do their own cleaning so they can keep the cleaning fee.) But some also impose “house rules” to reduce the amount of cleaning they need to do, asking guests to put out the trash, run & empty the dishwasher, put the sheets in the washer, etc. I tend to avoid those because those hosts sound impossible to please and I don’t want to incur extra charges. I prefer not to have to do those things anyway — I do not think of myself as a guest in someone’s home, this is a hotel to me and I don’t want to have to strip the beds!

          I have really appreciated Airbnb and have had generally very good experiences. However, I’m really picky about which ones I choose.

          1. Filosofickle*

            p.s. While I love the “comforts of home” nature of Airbnbs for personal travel, I can’t say that’d be my choice for business travel unless it was entirely mine (no sharing even common spaces) and I was able to choose/approve it.

            People have asked about locks on doors, which I’ve never seen at an Airbnb. Then again I always rent a whole place, not a room or a hosted home so maybe those do have locks?

  36. Kate*

    #5 – The most senior people I interact with – who are not only multiple titles above me, but who frequently awe me with their experience and knowledge – regularly share cubicles with people with titles below me, squat in abandoned offices filled with boxes, and huddle in rooms where five or six other people are working. Part of this is the nature of our industry (I’m in consulting, and when you’re at a client site, you get the space you get), but I have never once had less respect for them because they don’t have their own office, or are sharing with me. Whether or not the people you manage respect you has nothing – NOTHING – to do with the office you sit in, how big it is, whether you share it, etc. One of the things I respect about the firm partners I work with is they’re just as likely to help clean up after an event if they happen to be standing right next to the person doing it, as they are to sell a multi-million dollar deal. This idea that certain levels of authority come with certain status symbols – like an office – not only creates poor office culture, it also makes the person in question look weak, like they can’t exert influence and knowledge without those symbols. So, in short: worry about how you manage and communicate and lead, not whether a – as you call them – “subordinate” is sitting in your office. (I’ve never once felt like a “subordinate” to my firm’s partners. That word makes me skin crawl.)

    (The need to have a private conversation is, yes, a logistical issue, but logistical only.)

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      What you say makes sense. Unfortunately, I don’t think that the situation you describe is at all similar to OP’s situation.

      1. You describe an environment in which there is lots of space sharing going on. Awesome! But imagine a different company that has the luxury of space. So much so that everyone gets their own office. Now into this mix you throw one new employee. That employee–and that employee alone must take accommodations that are atypical for other such employees similarly situated. OP is right to question that. If all employees get a free lunch every day, except one employee who does not, that employee should indeed question that arrangement. Not because anyone has a god-given right to a free lunch, but because making that person the odd one out sends a message about how that person is being treated. These are fair questions.

      2. OP states that she is not an “external” hire. It’s not clear whether that means she was transferred from another location or promoted from within, but either way, it’s possible that she is coming to this position already having established relationships with other employees. However, she is now in a new position. It is imperative, therefore, that people begin to view her and interact with her differently than before. This is going to be a rough transition anyway–such transitions are typically fraught, such as when someone is promoted to manage people that used to be their peers. Sending a signal that she’s somehow not the same as the other managers is not going to aid that transition.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        But because two people have to share now, the company does not have the luxury of space they do have space issue, and the company is in the process of addressing. The lunch example that you mention is not the same. I think it is more like all new employees get an upgraded fancy computer when they start a new position, but the company is out of the new computer, but they are in the process of ordering more, but the item is on back-order with the normal supplier and will be in stock in 6 months. But all the junior employees have the new computer and the new manager wants to take one away from them and switch with their older computer.

        If the company said that this was going to be the normal permanent office placement I would be 100% on OP’s side, but since it is only temporary I think they should deal with it for now.

        1. Oh No She Di'int*

          Right. The requirements of my job are such that working with this old computer will be a real hindrance. It’s doable, but will have a real cost in terms of my effectiveness. So if we’re gonna have to wait for 6 months for a new computer, sorry, yeah, I’m gonna have to switch with you Fergus for those six months. It’s not only to ease my own work, it’s actually for the functioning of the entire team for which I am responsible. You’ll get your fancy computer when the back orders come in.

          1. CmdrShepard4ever*

            But in the OP’s letter it was all about appearance, status, and everyone else having an office/fancy computer first and then the issue of if could be a slight to real hindrance is brought up (almost as an afterthought.) I think if OP gives it a go at sharing an office but it really is a hindrance (OP should document issues they have) they can still switch with a subordinate after a few weeks/months. I guess I see it as agreeing to share an office now isn’t agreeing to share an office forever or even for the full 6 months the company mentioned.

            In the computer situation, if a new manager came in and gave it a go with the old computer first and then after a little while they saw that their performance/productivity was a real hindrance and asked to switch with someone who didn’t need the fancy computer as much that would go a long way. Especially versus the manager coming in and saying “I’m so important I need everyone to see me with a fancy computer so everyone knows I am the boss, and oh yea it will help me do my work a bit better.”

            When I started my current job a few years ago the computer that was assigned to me was still running Windows XP. Everyone else in the office had a newer computer. I had a good idea that this was not going to work and I was going to run into issues, but I didn’t say anything right away. I worked on it for a few weeks, 2/3 and documented minor issues I was having, and when I ran into a major issue, software comparability issues when collaborating with coworkers, I brought it up and listed all the minor issues as well and asked for a new computer. I was then approved for a new computer right away.

            After being here for a few years, I know that if I had just complained right away and it was just about it being old and everyone else having newer computers I probably would not have gotten one.

    2. Colette*

      In the OP’s case, I think coworkers would be more likely to think “the OP is new” than “the OP doesn’t deserve respect”. And in general, I think most people are better off not worrying about whether people respect them unless they have a specific reason to think they don’t.

  37. cmcinnyc*

    OP#3, your peer whose calendar looks free yet can never make the meeting you just set up works in every office I’ve ever been in, and it’s a power thing, conscious or unconscious. We all have to accommodate Jane’s mysterious schedule. Please do not worry that it makes you look incompetent. Someone did this before you; everyone knows it’s Jane. My tactic when rescheduling is to write in the body of the invite “Rescheduling to accommodate Jane,” or “Moving at Jane’s request” every time. Every time. Every single time. No other comment. Jane can bask in everyone accommodating her; everyone else knows the fly in the ointment is Jane. If someone more senior gets sick of things moving or wants to have the calendar stay steady, they’ll talk to Jane, not you.

  38. Newington*

    #2, I’d go ahead and mention it to them. If they blacklist you for pointing out when they’re flouting the law, you’ve dodged a bullet.

  39. Kourei*

    #5 — On taking a subordinate’s private office, I absolutely would not “choose that person carefully”. I’d just assemble all the subordinates and draw two names out of a hat or something. This really needs to be fair and random to avoid even more drama.

    1. PeteyKat*

      There will have to be perimeters. If that subordinate deals with confidential info they can’t really share an office. I know when I was an A/P clerk and a Payroll/hr assistant I was given an office after an unfortunate incident. Prior to that I was in a open air cubicle. Everyone could see my computer screen. It was ridiculous.

    2. CmdrShepard4ever*

      As much as I don’t think OP#5 should kick someone out of their office, if they do choose to go that route it should be based on careful selection of actual work needs not random chance. If Joan and John are constantly on the phone having private conversations, or meeting with clients, but James does only computer work they should not have an equal chance of sharing an office. It would make more sense for James to be one to share an office.

    3. MoopySwarpet*

      What if you draw the 2 people out of the hat who can’t hardly stand to be in the same room with each other? I’m talking about the ones who can work fine together when needed (projects, daily task overlap, etc.), but will leave the break area versus listening to one. more. new. puppy. story.

      I think you have to take the ability to interact that closely into consideration. If you put Chatty Cathy in the same office as Grumpy Greg, you’re probably going to have problems.

    4. Gene Parmesan*

      I am so curious about what Alison would recommend in choosing a person to share an office. We’re going to have to ask a couple people to share and I’m really struggling with deciding who it will be in an equitable way. What factors go into making someone a good candidate for sharing an office? I expect that some of our employees will be more willing than others, but I hate just using someone’s easy going nature to stick them with the short stick. Thoughts?

    5. Kourei*

      Eh, you guys are probably right. I just didn’t like the idea of choosing someone carefully because that’s how #5 got here in the first place: they carefully chose someone who they figured wouldn’t make a fuss.

      Maybe there are two subordinates who are friends and do the same sort of work and would volunteer to share?

  40. Bilateralrope*

    For #2, if I was asking the salary question on the application form, I would also program it to filter anyone who entered a salary outside a specific range. Anyone who entered a number outside that range would have their application automatically rejected without ever being seen by human eyes.

    1. Dana B.S.*

      That is very dependent on the size of the organization & how attached they are to their salary ranges. My company is smaller and very niche, so we don’t get that many applicants. We also do not have set salary ranges.

      Plus, this is current salary, not desired salary. If someone puts a number below the salary range, then that’s fine if they qualify for the next step in their career.

      1. Bilateralrope*

        Below the range I’m planning to pay is expected and should be considered when deciding the allowed range.

        But I doubt that $0 would be in my allowed range.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      But the question isn’t what salary you WANT, which is what needs to line up with your range for the position. The question is what their CURRENT salary is, which has no bearing on what the new position would pay. That’s why it’s not allowed to be asked. I could see autorejecting maybe someone who currently makes way too much, assuming you have no shot at alignment, but someone who makes too little right now, makes no sense to reject them based on that.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      And this kind of filter system is exactly why the laws are being being enacted.

      Along with the very real issue of inequality in pay and places that use those old wages to lowball you.

      So really the thing is, if it’s illegal to ask for salary history, you can’t use it as your data point. So the writer should make that known instead of entering any numbers. Then they can ask them how they should move forward with the application process given the road block. My response would be “We’ll have to have IT fix that issue! Go ahead and enter zeros.” or maybe they’ll say “due to filtering system, just put in $1”

  41. Don't Blame the Ozone Layer*

    There’s nothing more annoying that someone else placing a meeting on my calendar because they think I’m available without checking with me first. Not being in a meeting at a given time doesn’t automatically mean I’m available for one. I’m 100% Team Jane on this one.

    1. Colette*

      Everywhere I’ve worked, it’s normal to assume people have their calendars up to date. That means people will block time off for personal tasks (including dedicated work time). It’s not practical to check with every person individually for meetings of more than a couple people.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Right. In my office, no one “puts meetings on my calendar.” But if they search for an open time, and my calendar says I’m available because I neglected to block off the time that I wasn’t, then *I* am the one who’s being annoying when the invitation comes through and I say “oooh, no, whatever made you think I was available on Tuesday?”

        (Also, this isn’t what’s happening to Jane. She is literally telling the OP that her calendar is up to date, and then suddenly being unavailable despite that.)

        1. Don't Blame the Ozone Layer*

          My calendar can be correct and up to date but that doesn’t mean I’m planning to spend any time that appears black doing nothing just waiting for a meeting to appear on my calendar without notice or permission.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            I’m wondering if there might be a terminology gap here. In every office I’ve worked in, it’s works like the above posters described. But sending a meeting in Outlook isn’t really thought of as “putting it in your calendar without notice or permission”. It’s an invite. You can click accept or decline, but the assumption is your calendar is up to date such that when someone sends you an invite for a time that appears open, they’re not being jerks. They’re doing a very normal thing. If you have too much other stuff to do that day, or just other plans that didn’t merit a specific block in your calendar, sure you can decline. But sending the appointment isn’t demanding your time. But it is reasonably assuming you’re most likely available at that time. If every time someone sends you an invite for a meeting at a time that appeared open you reject it, you’re the one who is going to look unreasonable, not them. The whole point of being able to see availability is to have reasonable confidence that the time works for the people involved. Plus in theory, that meeting does show up with notice and gives you the chance to respond. People shouldn’t be putting in meeting requests an hour before or anything but if it’s within a few days, that’s just how Outlook works?

            1. Don't Blame the Ozone Layer*

              It simply seems courteous to ask first. If I reject an invitation for a time that I wasn’t first asked if I was available, I’m not the one being unreasonable.

              1. Observer*

                Sure. Because it is SO reasonable to require people to make a half a dozen phone calls before scheduling each and every meeting, or add 3 days lead time to the planning for each meeting so all the emails can sync up. And it is SO unreasonable to assume that if someone has a free block on their calendar, they probably don’t have any immovable commitments for that time.

              2. fhqwhgads*

                I understand what you’re saying, but what I’m saying is when you get the calendar invite in your inbox, that is the asking part. I’m taking it you’re saying the culture you prefer is either an email or a call or an in-person mention “hey would X work” before you get the calendar invite, but in the places I’ve worked, that’d be considered redundant. We check calendars. We send the invite. We know that some things may come up or some people might sometimes reject a time that in their calendar appeared open. So we expect some people to decline for various reasons some of the time, but the invite is the asking. But when one person consistently, to every single invite that was always a time that appeared open on their calendar, declines – that yields the question the OP is asking. The invite isn’t demanding you’re presence and assuming you’re free without asking. It is asking if you are. But if you NEVER are when your calendar suggests you would be, that’s confusing.

              3. Rusty Shackelford*

                The invitation IS them asking. If you aren’t available, you decline. It sounds like you expect the organizer to call every single person and ask when they’re available, rather than using a perfectly useful calendar function to find time that isn’t already blocked off and *then* ask by sending an invite.

          2. Alianora*

            It’s not clear to me whether this is a regular problem for you or just a hypothetical, but if it is I would suggest blocking off work time on your calendar as well. I do this and so do people at the director level when we need an uninterrupted block of time. (If it isn’t a problem, awesome.)

          3. Observer*

            If you are planning to do something that needs to be done at that time, you should block that time out. It doesn’t matter what that thing is – you don’t have to put that information in. Outlook / Exchange allows you to put that information in and just not show it, if you want to, but you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to.

            No on is assuming that an empty space on your calendar means that you are planning on sitting around waiting for someone to call you into a meeting. People don’t “put” meetings on your calendar, they send meeting invites. And good planners try to avoid last minute meetings.

            Your insistence that people have to contact you in person is actually MORE likely to give you less notice because you are making people’s lives significantly more difficult for no good reason, and most people don’t like dealing with Prima Donna behavior, which is what this comes off as.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Agreed. Now, I have had to be extra careful to mark things as “free” instead of the default “busy” when it’s something like a reminder to check in with someone*, but it’s up to me to make sure that any truly unavailable time is marked off. My boss occasionally sends out emails to our team reminding us to keep our calendars up to date because he will be scheduling some all-hands meetings in the coming weeks. In my opinion, it’s SO much easier to keep the calendar marked up than to go back and forth with people about meeting times.

        *I realize I can use Tasks for this, but I hate Tasks and like to have everything on my calendar. My partner makes fun of me regularly for this– or he used to, until he started working an office job again and realized his Tasks weren’t syncing properly.

      3. Don't Blame the Ozone Layer*

        It’s not practical that I block off every hour I need to spend in my office, working on my projects.

        1. Hepzibah Pflurge*

          But it is more practical that the person scheduling the meeting has to go through the steps of checking with you, possibly via multiple e-mails/phone calls/conversations to establish a date/time option? And then extrapolate that process to include anyone else who needs to be involved in the meeting who shares your views on calendar updates. It is inefficient for basically anyone else involved. I saw your comment below about academia, which explains your perspective a bit, but it seems to me that it would, in fact, be more practical to keep your calendar updated, at least for anyone who isn’t you.

          1. Don't Blame the Ozone Layer*

            My calendar IS updated. It’s literally one email, “When are you available next week?” on their part and one, “Tuesday at 2 or Wednesday at 12 and 1” back. Not that complicated, respectful of those whose time you’re asking for.

            1. Observer*

              No, that’s the problem. It is ONE email to YOU. But it’s another email to each and every one of the other meeting participants, AND more emails if your initial availability does not sync up with everyone else’s.

    2. Alianora*

      It depends on the culture of the workplace. The standard at the LW’s office is to schedule based on calendars.

      I’m an admin and I do this for my immediate team all the time. For people outside my department, I ask first – but then I get people annoyed that I didn’t just schedule a time when they’re free, since I can see their calendars. You can’t please everyone.

      1. BRR*

        Yeah it’s office and even person specific. But it’s really common for people to assume free time on your calendar is fair game. I’d go so far as to say that most people feel others would go ahead and just purpose a meeting time instead of having back and forth about availability and preference.

        1. Alianora*

          Yep, I would prefer to do that and I’d prefer others did that too, but enough people outside my department don’t have their calendars up to date that it’s more practical for me to ask every time. In fact, the people within my department sometimes don’t even put their OOO days on their own calendars, so I do it for them.

    3. JimmyJab*

      At my workplace we search for a free time in Outlook and invite. With the exception of the very top management, people will, I believe rightfully, get super pissed if you reject a meeting invite where you had calendar availability. Ok, once or twice is fine because we all forget sometimes, but we have notorious meeting rejectors and it’s incredibly frustrating.

      1. Don't Blame the Ozone Layer*

        The scheduler sends out an email, “I need to schedule a meeting for Team X next week. Can you please identify some times and dates where you are available?”
        I do so.
        Scheduler schedules the meeting.
        For those who don’t care when and how meetings appear on their calendar, this step isn’t needed. For those of us that do, it is. It works just fine everywhere I’ve worked. (mostly academic)

        1. J*

          This is really only feasible if it’s a meeting with two or three people. Once you get into a meeting with 6+ folks, that’s too much back and forth.

        2. Observer*

          It actually doesn’t work well in any office that I’ve worked in – or that I’ve watched (quite a few). It takes a lot of time on the part of at least one person – much, much more time than all the aggregated time of all the people who need to keep their calendars updated.

      2. Observer*

        We do encourage people to just check calendars for smaller meetings. But for large scale meeting Doodle polls actually work well. It’s often a LOT easier to navigate the results that deal with the outlook meeting planner.

      1. Don't Blame the Ozone Layer*

        What? No! Apparently it’s meant to be set in stone, which is why LW is annoyed that Jane asks for a reschedule and is fretting about how to make it clear that it’s not LW’s fault.

        Ask first. It’s courteous and simple.

        1. Green Kangaroo*

          Is there a reason why you couldn’t just decline the Outlook invite and propose a new date & time? You would then also be able to see the availability of other invitees.

    4. cmcinnyc*

      Where I work, if you are very senior, I will ask your admin before putting a meeting on your calendar. If you are not very senior, and your calendar is free, I will go ahead and book the time. So push back here is based on hierarchy. If you a the junior nobody and you are telling me “Wha! I can’t make it!” I will tell you to update your damn Outlook then. If you respond by block the whole day in defense, I will steamroll right over you anyway. This is not nice, but we’re meeting-heavy and the senior people have killer schedules and there’s just no tolerance for “I was planning to read the report on X at 2pm.” It really sucks, actually, because you probably DO need to read that report, but unless your C-suite, I’m not going to be accommodating that. It’s def a Know Your Culture thing.

    5. Observer*

      So, no one should be placing meetings on your calendar – they should be sending meeting invite. But there is simply no good excuse for not blocking out times that you are not available of you are someone who needs to attend meetings with multiple people on a regular basis. making rounds of calls or coordinating emails takes MUCH more time that checking people’s calendars.

    6. Don't Blame the Ozone Layer*

      Let’s add this to the (growing) list of things that are wildly out of whack with norms in academia.

      1. Don't Blame the Ozone Layer*

        (and explains why [but not really?] all the folks who do this are from the non-academic business-y functions of the school)

  42. almost empty nester*

    OP#3…schedule a recurring meeting for the day and time that works best for most…that time becomes sacred and the only good reason to change it is if the boss says so. Considering that she’s your peer, it’s totally a power play and she is doing this to cause you more work. You should politely opt out of her game and just don’t play along anymore.

  43. Dr. Pepper*

    #3: Does Jane HAVE to be there? It sounds like she either thinks meeting schedules should revolve around her or is terrible at managing her calendar. Or both. Either way, it’s gotten to the point where I’d be tempted to give a “too bad, so sad” response next time she demands a meeting be rescheduled to accommodate her. She’s not the boss, why does she (and apparently only she) get priority here? I’d be annoyed as her team member constantly having meetings rescheduled. Checking ahead with her each and every time you schedule a meeting would potentially solve the problem, but that still gives Jane far more weight than anyone else on the team and I can easily see Jane “forgetting” she agreed to a certain time.

  44. Captain Context*

    #5 – The writer claims to be “the only person in the whole building who has to share an office,” but that can’t be correct. There are at least two people who share an office in that building: OP and OP’s officemate.

  45. TiredMama*

    LW 1 – Another thing to consider, you might end of feeling out of the loop or miss out on information that everyone else is sharing when they are at the Air BnB. I would try it the first year and see how it goes, and if it is terrible, ask for your own space next year.

    LW 3 – Definitely be direct and ask what the deal is and note that it is frustrating that you will have to call her every time you want to schedule a meeting. That reflects poorly on her in my book.

    LW 5 – Needing private space is such a good reason. I hope they recognize that and make it right.

  46. CanadaNarwhal*

    #1 – I will never stay in an AirBnB on a work trip again. Last year on night 3 of a 4 night work trip, I returned after 8pm to find that the power had been disconnected in the apartment. This left me on my own to find accommodations for my last two nights, when I also had a full slate of work activities during the day. Plus the many messages exchanged with AirBnB to get a refund for the 2 nights I couldn’t use the unit.

    I would still use AirBnB on a personal trip, however, because there’s more leeway to change daytime plans if there’s any problems with the unit. But on a work trip where I need to be at the top of my game during the day and can’t change my plans? nope, nope, nope

    1. TiredMama*

      Hotels can be hit or miss as well. A friend of mine found bed bugs in their room and had to deal with getting their clothes and luggage cleaned and bounced to a different room before finding a different hotel. For me, the bigger issue would be constantly being around co-workers. But as I said in another comment, I would give it a shot once.

  47. Mockingdragon*

    OP1 – is the question more about whether the employer should pay for a hotel, or about whether you should stay in one in the first place? If you have the money, could you book yourself a hotel room on your own dime? Then it’d seem easier in what to say… “I’ve booked myself into X hotel down the street. Should I expense that? I’m fine on my own if not.”

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      A week long hotel stay probably runs 4 figures. That is a heck of a lot to take on your own plate.

      Even with the independently wealthy working for charities, it comes up as an unfair standard that everyone who ever hold this position be independently wealthy and not ask to reimburse business expenses.

  48. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    They didn’t even readily make the new Salary History law well known and it’s been in effect only since July. So I would let them know, any reasonable company who is big enough for an online application process will most likely care that they’re breaking a law!

    Is it a company with multiple locations? Possible that they’re rusty in WA laws if HR is say in Michigan or something? It’s still annoyingly bad but it’s going to take a long time to get the changes across to everyone.

    I know ban the box still comes up with outdated applications as well!

    1. Melody Pond*

      I had no idea this law had passed, either, until seeing this morning’s post. I live in Oregon, and much of my family lives in Washington state – so thank you to OP #2 for identifying your home state!

      This post was very timely for me – just a couple days ago, I was having a conversation with my youngest sister who is about to leave her first professional job (in Washington state) to go travel in Thailand for a while. She’s leaving in October, but she had supposedly been promised a raise effective in September – but now the time has come, her manager is saying they’re not going to follow through with it, for whatever reason. My sister was talking to me about preparing to push back on this, primarily because, “it’s about putting down a higher base salary on future applications” when she eventually comes back to the US to work. Of course I immediately said, you shouldn’t give out that information, anyway – the conversation should be about what salary range you’re seeking, not what salary you’ve previously held.

      Thanks to this post, I was able to track down the actual, codified law in RCW (Revised Code of Washington), which I immediately sent to my sister, along with today’s post. Here’s the link, for any other readers who might be job searching in Washington state:


      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        They changed it literally 3 days before it went into act.

        I took a seminar that the labor department put out on the law as soon as it was announced and available. Only to get blind sided by this. So I’m assuming a lot of companies are going to get flagged on this.

        The good news is really there’s usually a grace period so the company in question may get a call from LNI if someone reports them but they’re not going to get fined at the moment.

        1. Fiddlesticks*

          I didn’t know about this new law either, and I work for a Washington local government, and subscribe to regular legal updates from the Washington Legislature and the MRSC. My husband also works for local government, and his position is unionized – their shop steward never sent any notice out about this change, although they’re usually very good about notifying their membership of anything that could affect hiring practices. So I’m very grateful to have seen this post! Thank you, Alison.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Yeah it is bizarre and so under the radar in ways.

            I had to dig around and found it buried on the LNI website this morning since I had forgotten about it anyways. A news release dated July 25. For a law going into effect the 28th…

            It’s under the Equal Pay and Opportunities Act for anyone who is confused.

    2. emmelemm*

      Yeah, as a Washington state person, I’m very glad to hear this law exists now, but I certainly haven’t heard about it before this!

  49. Shy Anon with Opinions*

    LW 3: If your coworker says her calendar is current and she still keeps saying she’s unavailable, it sounds like she just doesn’t want to do that meeting then. I think the first part of Alison’s advice is great! Maybe sitting down with her and asking her how to solve the problem will then remind her that there are people other than herself to think about. That could help either fix or greatly lessen the problem.

    If it doesn’t work out, though, I think I’d want to avoid having to do too much MORE work just because of her and her inability to keep to her own schedule. So I’d do one of four things depending on which was more feasible and best implemented for you in your office.

    1. Just annoy the crap out of her with asking why she keeps changing her availability forcing you to change meeting times. She’ll get the message and eventually get with the program if only to get you to go away.

    2. Stop covering up why you’re changing the meeting times and let people know subtly and/or indirectly. Not letting people know is making you look bad, and letting people know if putting onus back on her. It also puts pressure on her to start respecting other people schedules and time. (This can be a dangerous road to take though, so it’s probably the least wanted one.)

    3. Ask your supervisor or whoever has authority to make policies for help. Set a policy that once a meeting time is made based on times shown as free in the calendar, it can’t be changed. You can can name the numerous times this has happened with her and the few times with others along with the problems this causes happening so often for the reason why such a policy is needed.

    4. Send her two or three meeting times you can schedule that she shows as free and let her choose one. This is presuming that you figure out more than one possibility when you initially do your scheduling and simply choose one the schedule. It also presumes there is more than one possibility.

    1. Don't Blame the Ozone Layer*

      #4 is what you should be doing anyway. Anything else is assuming Jane is being a jerk, when she’s really just being protective of her time.

      1. Shy Anon with Opinions*

        At the expense of LW’s time, energy, and reputation. She already knows there’s a system in place for creating meetings, and presumably she hasn’t protested it. Even if she has protested it, that’s not LW’s problem; that’s their manager’s problem. If she doesn’t want certain times taken for meetings, she needs to mark that. As it is, she’s being disrespectful of LW, whether purposefully or accidentally.

  50. Lauren*

    #1 – Airbnb is a great cost cutting measure. Likely just got into a habit of booking 1 place versus several. You can ask to have your own place or your own room. I’d liken the conversation to ‘going to the party vs. living at the party’. If others are more inclined to have a quieter house – maybe ask for a 2nd one nearby especially if you don’t get your own room.

    Migraines are great excuses to get away from the extroverts – grab a bag of ice and go chill in your room while your roommate isn’t there.

    Our hotels near our office are often $700+ so we’ve gotten creative telling other offices to get Airbnbs on nearby houseboats, which are a fraction of the cost. I also prefer an Airbnb than the preferred mice / bed bug ridden hotel with a discount in our other office location – so I made sure to ask my coworker if he was ok with sharing and that if he wasn’t – he needed to tell me right then and there and that I don’t care if his answer is no, but I it determined our choice in travel accommodations if he said no. He said yes, and now we have a lovely 2br / 4.5 bath airbnb with a fireplace in one of the bathrooms. He gets his own floor and the extra half bath (cause i’m such a thoughtful manager :)

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      4.5 bath? Is that a typo for 2.5? Because I could definitely get on board with a >2 bathrooms each accommodation scenario!

      1. Lauren*

        Yup, 4.5 ! I plan on brushing my teeth in one, taking a shower in another, and making smores in the fireplace bathroom! Bizarre brownstones in the Northeast for the win!

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          A. Maz. Ing. Also nuts, but…

          Actually it occurs to me that my parents have 3.5 between the two of them.

  51. Anna*

    #1) Oddly enough I had the very opposite issue with a very junior new hire that we were sending for training along with several other new employees. She was insisting on booking her own Air BNB accommodations and continued to push for it even after it was explained to her that due to safety issues the company policy was to only put our people in approved hotels when traveling (and the city she was traveling to had some very high-crime areas that we wanted to avoid). Her argument was that the place she wanted to book was the same price as the tell (and I told her that we actually had a negotiated lower rate with the hotel for our block of rooms so this was not the case) and went on an on about how wonderful AirBNBs are and how she feels so much better when she stays in one as it feels more homey. We explained our decision several ways and finally she gave up, but it was exhausting. She came across as very pushy and it made us really question whether or not we’d made the right decision on hiring her because if she was pushing for something like this, would she push for every little thing and push back on every decision? She did end up being a very good, but extremely high-maintenance employee during the year that she worked with the company. I’ve always found that very strange because I would imagine that most cases would be like #1 where a hotel would be preferred due to privacy and safety concerns.

  52. Anonymous for this*

    So for the first time in the history of my company, three people stayed in an AirBnB this week (hotels very expensive in the city), three guys that are similar in age and temperament). It was two bedrooms (third guy slept on couch), near a train track and on the second night, the fire alarm started chirping and the offsite host was not sympathetic. THIS is why AirBnB is not my choice for business travel.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I have been in hotels with fire alarms that go off, that are right by the airport with no sound barriers in place. And the hotel staff is like “Yeah that’s a thing, oops it’s not something we can control, no you can’t have anything for your troubles.”

      But the “slept on the couch” part, that part is unacceptable!

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Yeah… if I’m a partner/owner and literally get more money in my pocket by sleeping on the couch, or if I’m given a flat amount and can keep the rest if I spend as little as possible on my room, I might consider it. Otherwise, it’s unacceptable.

  53. Autumnheart*

    Eating lunch while interviewing candidates:

    I agree it’s a bad look, even though I completely understand why it might seem like the best solution.

    I’d recommend the liquid solution. Get a protein shake, or bottled smoothie or even milk, put it in a coffee thermos, and sip it during the interview. That should be enough to tide people over until they have a chance to grab a meal, and it’ll look a lot less awkward than a meal will.

  54. Noah*

    OP#3 – “I don’t have something scheduled on my calendar” isn’t the same thing as “I am available for a meeting at this time.” It bothers me when people assume I can go to their meeting as long as I don’t have another appointment on my calendar. Unless you’re my boss, that isn’t how it works, especially on short notice.

    1. Fiddlesticks*

      Every morning, I look at my task list and my Outlook, and if I see I need a chunk of time that day to accomplish certain tasks, I will mark my calendar as “Busy” and therefore indicate that I’m unavailable for meetings. I also try to do this on Monday morning and block out scheduled “no meeting” times for later in the week, if I know what’s coming down the pike. It’s only considerate to do this if you are in high demand for meetings where a number of people need to be assembled together on a regular basis.

      1. Don't Blame the Ozone Layer*

        I’m with Noah here (and Jane). It’s rare that meetings appear on my calendar the day of. I’d say my requests usually come 3-7 days in advance. I have a lot of projects that I need sustained periods of focused work, and I tend to work a lot of flex hours that confuse people. I’m not going to spend the time it would take to block off every hour that I’m present but working, not present even though some people think I should be, and leave open any times that I’d be okay with meetings. It’s not that hard to just ask first. It’s common courtesy to me.

        1. Green Kangaroo*

          Sure, if you’re the only one who needs to attend. Asking someone to schedule multiple attendees this way would be ridiculous.

  55. Don't you be that kind of barn owl*

    OP3 have you tried using Doodle poll? I use it when I have to schedule meetings with multiple people who work at multiple sites and it saves me a lot of work.

  56. Jessica Fletcher*

    #3 – At my company, when we reschedule meetings, we add a note to the meeting planner, “Rescheduled at the request of XX Dept.” This is just an FYI here, but maybe doing this on your constantly rescheduled meetings will shame your peer into managing her schedule.

  57. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I would certainly ask for a hotel verses a airBNB if that’s your preference, as long as it’s within the same price range, we don’t care either way. We have some that only want them and others who prefer the hotels nearby. All they need to do is say what their preference is. It’s not only a cost measure usually but it’s also just some people prefer that setup to hotels since it’s come into fashion.

  58. Fiddlesticks*

    I have a coworker like #3, but worse. “Wakeen” says straight out that he doesn’t bother accepting Outlook meeting requests from non-superiors, or at best accepts them as “Tentative”, because something more interesting or important (to him) might come up and create a “conflict”. It is absolutely infuriating and our boss just laughs about it. Nearly all of the time Wakeen DOES show up anyway, so why all the drama about not being able to just click “Accept” on a meeting invite when there are clearly no current conflicts on his schedule?!

    Wakeen is probably also one of those people who can’t accept an invitation from friends or cancels at the last moment because “something else came up” (i.e. something he thinks is more fun). GRRRR.

  59. Curmudgeon in California*

    #5 Wow! You get an office? At my current workplace we are in an open plan fishbowl, and only directors ans above get offices. It sucks.

    Sharing an office with subordinate is sub-optimal, both for you and the subordinate. If someone has to share, it need to be the two members of your team that get along the best, not you and a direct report.

    Maybe you should suggest sharing with one of your manager peers. It might get the point across.

  60. GreenDoor*

    #5 Push back hard on this. I wasn’t management but I did have a job where, upon hire, they said they’d have a desk for me “soon.” I spent the next year bouncing from one area to the next, sitting in people’s space when they were out for vacations, working in closets, and being kicked out of conference rooms. At the time I was one step above an intern. You are management. Command the respect you deserve. If they won’t have an office ready for you, then insist on two of your reports sharing an office so you can have private space. If you don’t set that tone now, I worry they’ll expect you to make more of these types of concessions and then, no, you won’t be viewed properly as a manager.

  61. Free Meerkats*

    Re: #1

    I’m in Washington, and today I’m sitting on an interview panel (municipal government entry level position). I noticed that a couple of the 13 applications in the packet had previous salary listed, so I asked the HR rep about that. They hadn’t noticed. :)

    It looks like anyone who created a profile with the government recruiting vendor we use for applications before the change had to enter previous salary and their database autopopulates the field. The HR person immediately called his office and they are getting that fixed immediately .

  62. Letter Writer #5*

    Hey All LW #5 Here…
    Thanks all for you opinions and feedback. It’s always good to get multiple perspectives.
    Just a few things for clarification, I wouldn’t have mind sharing a space if it was the norm, but it wasn’t. I couldn’t quite understand why I was being expected to work under circumstances that the other mangers weren’t (especially considering that our Boss had known for over a year the position was coming). Other sites anticipated this and planned ahead. In my mind 6 months would have easily turned into a year or more.
    A quick update. A few weeks after I took the job I was in a meeting with a few other managers and our boss. The topic of space came up and I casually said, “Since we’re on the topic, can we talk about my office for a second…” That conversation led to a plan which resulted in the building of a wall between myself and the subordinate so we can each have our own offices! Again, I feel if it was that easy, it should have been taken care of before I started!

  63. Oh No She Di'int*

    Amen and hallelujah! Good for your for pressing the case, and I’m glad to hear it resolved itself so smoothly!

  64. CM*

    #3 — If you’re using Outlook, have a policy that people who want to reschedule the meeting have to use the Outlook options to propose a new time, and then let nature take its course.

    Meaning, if she rejects the time you propose, that’s fine, but don’t chase her around to get a new time. Make her propose the new time herself, directly in the calendar system, and let everyone else accept, decline, or propose a new time of their own. If she refuses to do that, then she’s basically refusing to attend the meeting, and that’s not your fault.

  65. Officeless no more!*

    #5: So glad it’s all been sorted out! I was going to encourage you not to let it go if it was really important to you, and even if you were ok with it for 6 months, get a firm end date on the sharing situation.

    I just recently left a job, and part of the reason was that they kept promising I’d get my own office, but it was constantly pushed aside. (Representative of all the other issues, honestly!)

    It was a very small organisation, almost all part time staff, and everyone had their own office. I worked there on a contract covering an absent permanent staff member, and after that ended they asked me to stay on. However, the permanent staff member returned to their own office, and I was left with none. As most of the staff were part time, I ‘temporarily’ moved to a different office every day.

    It was meant to only be for a few weeks, which I was willing to put up with. But it kept getting postponed, and pushed back, and ‘oh we’ll deal with that next month’, and so on.

    It was incredibly demoralising to be the only one shuffling between offices every day, having to set up multiple computer settings, having to put my keyboard and mouse on top of co-workers papers spread all over their desk *without* disturbing them, and being the only one without personal effects on my desk and family photos/kids artwork on the walls.

    I don’t think hotdesking would work for me even in a proper setup where everyone was doing it, as having that individual assigned space that’s mine really helps me feel grounded and secure, as I’ve discovered. But being the only person who had to constantly move between the private spaces of other coworkers was on a whole other level. It didn’t even make sense for my role, as particular software I needed wasn’t on all of the computers, so I was often unable to do time critical work if it came up on the wrong day. Of course this would be sorted when I got my own computer, but that was bundled in with the new office/desk/chair supposedly ‘coming very soon’.

    After just over a year of this, (along with similar broken promises in other areas of the work) I was headhunted by another organisation, and I took the role. Of course the office wasn’t the only reason, but it definitely made my decision a little bit easier. (And my replacement? Well, they’ve been promised it will only be a couple of months until they’ve got their very own office!)

Comments are closed.