how to set up a meeting to ask for a raise, my boss doesn’t trust us to work from home, and more

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

1. How to set up a meeting to ask for a raise

I am gearing up to ask for a raise next week. I feel confident about my case, and confident about the numbers that I’m asking for. I have poured through your raise guide and it has been so helpful for me as I prepare. There is one part that I am nervous about, and haven’t quite figured out. How do I get on my boss’ calendar to begin with?

Some friends have advised me to schedule a week out and let him know that I will want to discuss my compensation. Others have suggested surprising him the morning of, and not revealing what I want to talk about. I asked a friend who is a manager, and he recommended I give a week’s notice and say I want to talk about “the status of my employment” — they say this will make the boss nervous I might quit and he’ll be more ready to give me a raise.

Do not ask to talk about “the status of my employment” a week in advance! That sounds like you’re quitting, he’s very likely to ask you what’s up on the spot rather than waiting for the meeting, and when he finds out it’s about a raise it’s going to look really weird that you worded it that way.

If you have regular one-on-one’s, you’d do it there, but I’m guessing you don’t. If you have a pretty informal relationship and talk often, you can say toward the end of one of those meetings, “I’m hoping you might have a few more minutes for something that’s on my mind” and do it on the spot if he says yes. But if that doesn’t feel right, then say, “I’m hoping to get a short meeting on your calendar to talk about how my work is going.” Or, if you prefer, be more explicit and say, “I’d like to set up a short meeting to talk about my performance and my compensation. Would Tuesday at 3 pm work for you?” (Some people would tell you to only do the latter so he isn’t blindsided, but it really depends on your sense of your boss.)

2. My boss wants detailed reports of everything we do when we work from home

I work in a hospital setting and my boss is very old school. She is just getting open to the idea of working from home. She is aware that the neighboring companies around us have great benefits and allow working from home all the time or most days, but she seems to think that working from home is just “checking emails.” But after three years of us pushing for this, she has finally opened up to the idea and has let us do this one time per pay period. In our line of work, we do not need to be in the office. Some days, my coworkers and I don’t even see each other or anyone else. But she likes our butts in seats where she can monitor what time we come in and out.

She has now sent us an email requesting that we send her a detailed update of what we did on our work-from-home days. Is this crazy? Can I push back on this or will I dig myself into a hole?

Send her the updates. She clearly doesn’t trust that people really work on those days, so it’s to your advantage to demonstrate what you’re doing. Having a detailed account of what you got done from home will make it harder for her to argue that you’re just “checking emails.”

Is it annoying? Yes. Does it indicate she’s unclear on how to manage effectively? Yes. But it’s still in your best interest to send those reports to illustrate that her beliefs about remote work are wrong. (Plus, pushing back will probably confirm her worst fears — she’ll think you don’t want to be accountable on those days.)

If she’s still asking for those reports months down the road, you can push back then. But right now this is still an experiment that she’s unsure about.

3. What should I do before starting a new job?

Thanks in large part to your excellent resume, cover letter, and interview advice, I’ve received an offer for my dream job from an amazing company. My start date is in a few weeks. Until then, I have intermittent contracting work as well as travel and oral surgery :( planned, but I’m wondering if there’s any job preparing stuff I should be doing.

Yesterday I went Official Job Clothes Shopping and otherwise spruced up my closet. For now though, what can I do to make sure that I can hit the ground running on my first day?

My partner is urging me to start getting into a routine so that it’s not like toxic shock when I have to start going into the office every day. But there’s also the school of thought (mine. I guess) that my life is going to become way more hectic and busy when the job starts so I should enjoy these more relaxed days while they last.

I’m more of your school of thought than your partner’s.

I mean, know thyself and if you have a lot of trouble changing routines, then sure, start easing yourself into the new schedule now. But if that’s never been a particular issue for you, I don’t think you need to give up sleep and relaxation now just to put yourself in that mode early.

Beyond that, there’s not much you need to do! If you really want to be prepared, look through the company’s website, skim their annual report if one’s available, and check out the LinkedIn profiles of the people you’ll be working with. Check Google Maps a few mornings during what will be your commute time to see how long the commute will be at that hour on an average day. But honestly, all of that is more than most people do. You could skip all that, just get good sleep the night before, and you should be fine.

4. Employer sent me a survey asking what I thought of my interview

Last Wednesday, I was contacted about an interview over Skype the next day. The interview went pretty well and at the end I was given a skills test to complete with a 24-hour deadline. Due to a migraine, I did the test the next morning, and I judged the test to be perhaps too simple. And then I sat back to wait.

I have yet to hear back about either an official rejection or offer, but did get a puzzling email. On Monday, I was sent a post-interview survey that included questions like how I thought the interview went, what I thought of my interviewer, and what I thought of the survey.

I dislike being asked these questions without being officially told the results of my interview process. Am I overreacting here? I tried not to answer too harshly if at all on the survey. Am I right in thinking, however, that this is their way of rejecting me? Or is this normal and I am reading too much into this?

No, this is weird. This isn’t a rejection, though, unless it’s one being sent in deep code, which isn’t how rejections are usually done. That doesn’t mean you haven’t been removed from the running — employers don’t always bother to tell you when that’s the case — but the survey doesn’t signal that.

That said, this kind of survey shouldn’t be sent out while you’re still waiting to hear, since few candidates are going to give honest critiques while they’re still in the running out of fear of it impacting their chances. Frankly, it would have been fine to ignore it and not respond at all, or to wait to respond until you were done with their process.

(Also, what you thought of your interviewer and what you thought of the survey? Someone there sounds needy.)

{ 294 comments… read them below }

    1. Willis*

      I’ve had timesheets like this…”4:30-5:30 – filled out unnecessarily complicated timesheet.”

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        We had a policy in place for a while that required at least 40 hours every week to be logged against projects, in 15-minute increments, allowing also for things like staff meetings etc. After a lot of pushback, we were also allowed 15 minutes a day on “logging the time”.

        If it helps OP2, I used an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of what I worked on. Especially if you have to split your time between 5-10 different work activities every day, it helps to mark them as you go. I marked start/end times too where the nature of the work allowed it, because it helped me come up with a time log at the end of the day. I have actually become kind of a time-logging pro now. We had to do it for about two years. Not something I’d recommend for a workplace to use, but if anyone ever wants my time log, I know how to produce one for them.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          This type of time tracking is really common in professional services and project-based organizations. In those instances, it’s also how clients are billed, and, at least for us, it also provides metrics for project budgets, staffing, and administrative overhead. I have a department that has nearly an FTE if compliance-related tasks that are not billable, and having the time on those is valuable because, I’d you only look at the billed project time, it doesn’t paint an accurate picture of the resources required for the department (which would lead to them being short-staffed).

          TL;DR, time tracking can be super annoying to do, but it can also be really important and give you good info about work and resources.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            I guess I should’ve mentioned that we were exempt. No billable hours. Either way, the person wanted *all* our hours, not just the billable ones: staff meetings, training and so forth. Apparently for capacity tracking (like you said). In our case, it did not work for capacity tracking at all, because with the requirements in place that every minute of the 40 hours be accounted for, and an additional requirement that admin time like staff meetings do not exceed 15% of all the time logged, people were just giving this manager what the manager wanted to see. The numbers were nowhere close to matching reality, because if you tried to report your time as used in reality, you got a talking-to.

            Think about it. You come into work, you go to the restroom, then to the breakroom, maybe there’s no coffee in the pot, you make a fresh pot of coffee. While you are waiting for your coffee, a teammate walks in and you ask them about their weekend. That’s 15 minutes right there, and also a normal activity that most of us start our work day with. Now you have a choice. You can stay at work late to make up the 15 minutes you spent not working on a project, so your total is still 40. Or you can log these 15 minutes to a project you’re working on. Guess which of these two things everyone was doing.

            1. Chaordic One*

              You’re working on a project and then one of the several programs you’re using freezes. You attempt to close the program and restart it, but nothing happens, so you have to restart the computer. Before doing that you have to save the documents you’re working on and close several other programs that you are also using.

              Then you sign off and restart. After 2 or 3 minutes, but before it reboots completely up pops a message that says the computer is for official business use only and you have to click on a little box acknowledging this before it fully boot up. So you click on the box and then for the next 2 minutes the computer continues to reboot. One at a time, you click on the programs you need to use and log into them. You click on more messages that inform you the program is for official use. You go back and open the documents you were using. And by now it is 15 to 25 minutes later and you really haven’t accomplished anything. At least you can record the time as having worked on a project.

            2. NotAnotherManager!*

              I’m not suggesting your specific office’s time reporting policy made sense or was well-designed, just that there are legitimate and helpful reasons to log time in an workplace, particularly if implemented effectively. If management allows for no downtime during the day, then that’s a management or system design problem, not a reason to scrap all timekeeping. Trying to game the numbers isn’t the point, and it sounds like your manager had a crappy system.

              We are also required to log our full days, but there are codes for time completion, admin tasks, and other (for scenarios like your computer going south), and taking bathroom, lunch, or coffee breaks is expected and doesn’t count against you (unless your not getting stuff done on time, on which case your manager’s probably going to look at your time to see if you’re overloaded or just inefficient). Hide that time under a project or client code and get caught and you’re getting fired because that’s likely billing fraud.

              Our program also has timers, repeat entry autofill, and a number of other automation features, so it’s less burdensome for timekeepers (most of whom are exempt).

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                If management allows for no downtime during the day, then that’s a management or system design problem, not a reason to scrap all timekeeping.

                Agree. We still have the timekeeping. Just without the unrealistic constraints that we used to have.

            3. Amethystmoon*

              I have to eat breakfast at work due to a medication making me wait to eat, but that time I either put against my break time, or have a protein shake and work at the same time.

            4. Powercycle*

              That’s the case where I work. The numbers inputted in the time tracking system are basically inflated, especially during a slow week.

        2. Glitsy Gus*

          While I get that it’s annoying, I do think that if you do this for a couple months it may go a long way toward allaying your manager’s fears, so it’s a good idea to do it in good faith, at least for a bit.

          I don’t have to time track at my job, but I do have to give my manager, who works in another office an idea of how my schedule is going from time to time to help her figure out how my time is spread and what more or less I need to take on (it’s a little annoying, but it helps her get it when i have issues, so I do it). I just installed Toggl on my computer and it makes it really pretty easy. I just start a new task int he timer when I start something new. At the end of the day/week/month/whatever I can just run a report and it’ll show what I spent my time on, then I can just email that over to her. It’s a lot less manual than any other way I’ve tried and, as long as I remember to start/stop the tasks it is really accurate. It’s even helped me out a bit to see where some of my time sucks are.

      2. Just Another Manic Millie*

        This reminds me of the time that Fergus, my supervisor at the real estate company, demanded that I write down every single thing that I did all day long. My report would go something like this:

        9:00 – 9:24 AM – Fergus called me into his office, and he dictated three offers that he wanted to be typed and sent out. We discussed which offer I should type first, which one I should type second, and which one I should type last.

        9:24 – 9:25 AM – I got back to my desk and typed the above notation and this notation.

        9:25 – 9:35 AM – I got half-way through typing up the first offer when the phone rang. Since the receptionist was away from her desk, I had to answer the phone. The person the caller wanted to speak to wasn’t available, so I had to take a message. I put the message in its slot.

        9:35 – 9:36 AM – I typed the above notation and this notation.

        9:36 – 9:38 AM – After I typed a few more words in the first offer, Fergus buzzed me. I answered, and he told me that he wanted me to go to his office right away. I told him that the receptionist was away from her desk, and I couldn’t go to his office until she got back. He asked me where she went, and I told him that I didn’t know. He told me that his offers were very important and had to go out right away. I told him that I knew that they were important, and I said that I would go to his office as soon as the receptionist got back to her desk.

        9:38 – 9:39 AM – I typed the above notation and this notation.

        9:39 – 9:42 AM – I typed some more words in the first offer. The receptionist returned to her desk, so I told her that I was going to Fergus’ office. I went there, and Fergus made it very clear that he really had to get the offers out quickly. I told him that I knew that. He told me again that he needed to get them out quickly. I told him again that I knew that. He told me again that he needed to get them out quickly. I told him that while I was sitting in his office, I wasn’t working on his reports. He agreed with me and told me to get back to work.

        9:42 – 9:43 AM – I typed the above notation and this notation.

        That’s how my daily reports went! And he didn’t accuse me of being a smart-aleck or sarcastic or facetious or anything, because I gave him what he wanted – an accounting of everything I did during every minute of the day.

        But I got fed up with those stupid reports, and I finally stopped doing them. For some reason, he forgot all about them and didn’t ask me for them. Until several months later, he got the idea to ask me to do them again. I did the reports for a few days, and then I asked him, “What do you want me to do all day? Do you want me to work, or do you want me to spend time writing down what I do? Because all the time that I spend writing down what I do is not being spent doing actual work.” Luckily, he agreed with me, and I didn’t have to type up those stupid reports again.

          1. Just Another Manic Millie*

            Ha ha! Thanks! There wasn’t anything else I could have done. I guess my daily reports would have been more meaningful if working for Fergus had been my only reponsibilty. But I was also the relief receptionist and had to sit behind her, and when she was away from her desk or on the phone, I had to answer the phone and take messages if necessary (and then write the messages down and put them in the appropriate slots).

            It’s a good thing that I wound up not having to do those silly detailed reports any longer than I did, because the receptionist got into the habit of getting into work late, which meant that I had to make the coffee and call the answering service. Fergus would get angry and scream at me when I said that I couldn’t leave my desk, and I would scream back at him that it wasn’t my fault that (1) the receptionist was late, and (2) TPTB had decided that someone had to be sitting in either the receptionist’s chair or my chair every single second, unless there was an emergency. An emergency was running if there was a fire, running if someone came into the office waving a gun or knife around, having to give someone the Heimlich maneuver, and making coffee in the morning (because the owner demanded his coffee, and I couldn’t tell him that he would just have to wait until the receptionist decided to show up. The daily reports would have been really funny if they had included items describing our screaming at each other.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          That’s awesome!

          There has to be some balance between reporting what you’re doing and actually doing work. It’s good to have the information as a manager, but I think having 15 minute increments or even 30 minute increments is insane (unless you must have it for time-keeping purposes in terms of charging for your time, government contracts, etc.)

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Yes it’s a pain in the neck, but it can be done in note taking form as the day goes by, with a text file or a small pad of paper. And a hands-on manager would probably love to see 10 to 20 minutes on your schedule for time management or project planning or project wrap up. If all your work is in emails, those become a log as well.

      1. Artemesia*

        And resistance to this suggests to any boss that the person isn’t very productive when not supervised. Set up a system where it is easy to record activity in standard blocks — 15 minute is the most common — and many professions do that routinely for billing purposes. Make it something that is done automatically and don’t whine about it and submit every week or whatever. He may get bored and end it but working from home invites sloth and it is not surprising that especially when this is a new thing, a manager wants to know how the time is being spent. Not all jobs are as easy to measure by output alone.

          1. LSP*

            I have to track my daily activities as a part of my job because we use it to bill our clients. It’s not about not trusting your employees but being held accountable to our (mostly government) clients. A lot of people do this for their jobs, and while it can be a pain sometimes, it also helps when the time comes to discuss professional development because you have an exact record of all the good work you’ve done.

            1. Mel_05*

              Yup, I’ve had to track time for billing purposes at some places.

              Of course the frustrating thing is that sometimes people get upset that a project takes a long time and think you’re slacking and it’s like, “Nope, that’s just the time it takes!” But they would never have been upset if we weren’t logging times.

              1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

                Tracking for clients is different than justifying your day of activities so you can work from home. In most office settings there are a ton of things happening that can cause distraction. At home most can work uninterrupted. I’m MORE productive at home than in a large office. You would know if your employee is slacking off the same as you would if they were in the office. The thought that if you can’t SEE them, they must be slacking off is complete bullshit. I’ve seen plenty of people slack off in the office.

                1. LSP*

                  Oh, I absolutely agree. In my current job I used to work in the office full time and now I work from home full time. I get more done in less time at home, because I have fewer distractions.

                  I have to track my work either way, because it’s how we bill for our work, but I don’t have to do it hours by hour, just that I spent X time on this contract doing this list of tasks today.

            2. MCL*

              Yup! My spouse works at a software company that has employees out doing installations, training, and consulting all over the country, and he has to invoice their customers based on the time the employees spend doing tasks. The complaint I hear most about his work is that people fail to remember to log their time!

              This sounds like a different situation where the boss isn’t quite sure that working remotely can be just as productive as working at an office, so why not spend a little time to re-assure her that people are getting their tasks completed. Build up some trust and re-visit in 6 months or so. Or maybe she never gets to that point, but you still get to WFH with a fairly minor extra task to do.

              1. TootsNYC*

                Agree with you and Alison.

                Trust has to be created; it can’t be just demanded.

                I get that hiring adults you can trust should get you productivity even at home. But we all know that there are plenty of people who will skive off if they can. So reassure her of how productive you are with evidence, and then you have ammo when you say, after a while, that you want to work from home TWO days a week.

                (For me, working from home means I can start at least an hour earlier, sometimes more)

              2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

                Same here. We now have a fairly efficient tool both on our laptops and phones to keep our timesheets and expenses. We just need to put our hours on projects or overhead codes and optionally enter a comment what we did, not minute by minute.
                This is important as we have both fixed-price projects (more profitable if we need less time than planned) and time&material where we bill hours to the client. I’m not too fond of doing timesheets but it’s Part of the job.

            3. CB*

              +1. I work at a research institute housed at a university. Our researchers and communications team uses an app called Toggl to log their time spent on different projects. We don’t have many government grants, so it doesn’t have to be an exact science, and folks are allowed to log their time retroactively at the end of the week. Time data is used when submitting proposals for research grants, as it gives a more realistic picture of what we should ask for. I.E: does that type of rigorous data cleanup actually take 8 hours of staff time instead of 2 hours? If so, we want to be sure we’re including the most accurate project costs in future proposals.

            4. PhillyRedhead*

              I have to track my time for billing, too. But I do that whether I’m working remotely from home/elsewhere, or whether I’m in the office. When you ONLY have to do it when working remotely, it’s about trust.

          2. Oh No She Di'int*

            But it’s also the case that anyone can get distracted and taken off course. You don’t have to be evil, immature, or immoral for that to happen either. The distractions of home sometimes just . . . happen.

            1. Observer*

              And that doesn’t happen at work?

              The point is that the manager’s reaction is not really related to what actually happens with WFH, but rather their perception of it.

          3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            I have had a number of jobs where I billed to different grants so tracked everything in 15 minute increments. It isn’t that I am not an adult. It was that my work was paid, ultimately, by different entities and I had to make sure everything was accurate

            1. Anonapots*

              Except this isn’t that, so it’s kind of a ridiculous ask in this context. What is normal in one industry would be abnormal in others.

          4. Fikly*

            It’s amazing how many people and employers have not figured out that if you treat people like children or that you do not trust them, they will act like children and in untrustworthy ways out of sheer frustration.

            1. OhNo*

              It’s the old “might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb” mindset. If the treatment is the same, I certainly can’t blame employees for making things easier on themselves however they can.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          working from home invites sloth

          That’s an unusual (to me) take on WFH. Personally I found that I’m more productive when I don’t have the distractions that come with working in the office (people having a loud impromptu meeting five feet from my desk, office chatter, etc) and when things like getting lunch do not involve driving to a food venue and then circling the office parking lot in search of a spot when you come back, or standing in line for the office microwave, etc. Plus I can work late and not worry about when I’ll get home, because I’m already home.

          1. I Wrote This at my Desk*

            I think this is a know thyself situation. I am absolutely terrible at working from home on a regular basis because I find it more distracting. The dog wants attention, the laundry needs doing, I need to dust, oh look — food, hey where’s that dripping sound coming from? But in a work environment I can leave all that behind and focus on work. The only exception is if I’m on a deadline and take something home to finish it before coming in the next morning – which I usually do at like 4 am when there are fewer distractions.

            1. SomebodyElse*

              I’m one of those that wfh can be a great thing for my productivity or it can be terrible… really depends on the day and what I’m trying to get done.

              Technically nobody would ever know if I went to the office or not since my team is 100% remote from me (I work out of a small satellite office) and I travel about 20% of the time. But I find that some days it’s just easier for me to get stuff done in the office vs at home for whatever reason. Other days it’s easier for me to roll out of the shower and log in.

              1. miss_chevious*

                I also vary by day and what I am trying to get done. I WFH one day a week regularly and don’t have much impact to my productivity (if anything, it’s a positive one, because no commute = more work time), but if I exceed 2 days in a row (due to weather or illness or what have you) those extra days become challenging for me. I can still be productive, but I have to try a lot harder to do it, and I end up talking to the mail carrier or the cashier at the grocery store because I’m starved for interaction. :)

                This is very much a “know thyself” and also “know thy employees” situation. Some people, like me, do great with it in limited amounts, some people do great with 100% WFH, and some people need to be in the office to be productive.

              2. Glitsy Gus*

                Yeah, I WFH one day a week and I’ve figured out how to arrange my work because there are somethings that are way easier to do at home with fewer distractions and things that are easier to do in the office where I have access to people and equipment. When I break it down correctly, my WFH days are my most productive days of the week. If I don’t do that first part and work out what to do which days, then I can be really distracted and ineffective at home.

            2. MCL*

              Same, I’m much more productive in my office. I applied for a remote position a few months ago knowing that I’d probably want to find a co-working situation just because the routine of leaving my house and going to work really helps me mentally partition my work and private lives. (I didn’t end up getting that job, but it was a real consideration for me!)

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                I agree that the partitioning piece can be difficult. It got infinitely easier for me after I turned one of the rooms into my home office (Thank you, child who moved out!) I wake up, shower, put some semi-decent clothes on (something I could wear outside to get my mail, to go on a walk, or to a grocery store, but not to a bar after work etc), walk to the other room, and just like that, I’m at work! Don’t have to style my hair, or put on makeup (something I don’t do anyway, but a lot of people do for the office), put on work clothes, make sure that everything is up to the work standards etc. No commute either. But I definitely feel like I’m at work when I’m in this home office. More importantly, so do my family members. My workspace used to be in the middle of the basement and my mom, who lives nearby, would come to visit and just start talking at me while I was working. I agree that having an office-like work setup at home makes a ton of difference, and not all living arrangements allow for that.

                1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

                  I have set up my home office specifically to reduce distractions. There is no interesting view, little decoration besides a wall calendar for the next few months, a chair and a large desk with two 24″ screens I can connect to my work laptop, and a printer on a filing cabinet. A conference phone/speaker… that’s about it.
                  I tend to procrastinate, and the less distractions the better until I have achieved the quota I set for myself.
                  This way, I get about 180% work done compared to a day in the office, so I use WFH when I need to finish a report or proposal and use the office for meetings, planning, teaching and so on.
                  I have complete flexibility where I do my office-type (as opposed to on-site client) work, so I mix and match.

          2. Dragoning*

            Personally, I’m hyper attentive when I’m at work, because if someone tries to message me and I’m in the bathroom or something, I assume everyone thinks I’m slacking.

          3. Librarian1*

            Yeah, I used to work from home 2-3 days a week and I was about equally productive at home as I was at work. Distractions exist everywhere, they’re just different.

          4. HR Veep*

            Well….. we are mostly making comments during work hours, it appears. Including me! I’m working from home for a short stint due to office renovations, and I find two seemingly opposed things: 1, I am able to focus more and be quite productive, but, 2, I find it very easy to get distracted. No one’s requiring anyone to keep logs, but I email my boss every week to let him know what I’m working on. It’s just good communication, in my opinion, and these are things we’d normally update one another on in the course of a day in the office.

          5. ellex42*

            I would love to WFH. I did it in a previous job, and I could get twice as much done in half the time because all the noise and hubbub of the office wasn’t distracting me and I could set up an environment more conducive to concentrating (open offices are absolutely antithetical to any job requiring concentration). When I had an office to myself, I was happy to come in to work because I knew I wouldn’t have to deal with noise and constant interruptions. My current employer is very anti-WFH for reasons I don’t grasp, but I think they’re going to have to loosen up that restriction soon, especially now that management has made other changes that make our offices even more antithetical to actual work.

          6. Amethystmoon*

            Our company finally decided to trust us low-level support staff with WFH days, but the policy is strict. For example, it has to be a random day each week, we can’t have the same day and we also can’t work multiple Mondays or Fridays from home. Also if we take PTO, we cannot work from home the day before or after it. Likewise, with vacation. So this winds up being a choose a random middle day of the week and hope it doesn’t fall before a vacation day. On weeks where there is a vacation day, like next week, I just don’t work remotely. We have someone on our team who got some sort of exceptions for multiple days from home, and the coworkers have all been gossiping about her (even though she is nice).

        2. soon to be former fed really*

          Working from home invites sloth? WTF? No it doesn’t. People who are productive in the office are productive at home. People who read Facebook in the office and shop do that at home too. No correlation, not for professionals. I have worked exclusively at home and am way more productive, as there is no stressful commute or timewasting conversations. I don’t require much social interaction, like working in silence, and my setup is perfect for me. Facetime is BS.

          1. SomebodyElse*

            Eh… I think the ‘invites sloth’ is a bit of a stretch. But I don’t think it’s too far out there that some people need the structure of the office to max their personal productivity. Both home and office offer distractions, and it depends on the person which one they are more successful in (for some it truly doesn’t matter). But I disagree that there is no correlation for professionals. At the end of the day professional or not we’re all still human.

          2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            In addition to everything I already said, I’m here like “I’ve been working from home on and off for the last 20 years, and not a single sloth showed up! Where the heck is my sloth? I thought I invited them.”

          3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Also, on a more serious note, show of hands. Who here has had a job where one of the requirements was logging in from home on nights and weekends? Somehow there’s never any doubt in anyone’s mind that we can be productive when logging in from home on an evening or on a Saturday. But on a Wednesday morning we somehow become easily distracted by just being in our home? Can’t say I get that part either.

            1. AKchic*

              It may be that the commenter has problems with slothfulness (or sloths in general) when working from home, and has decided that it’s a problem across the board. It is true that some people do have a harder time with working from home than others, for whatever reason.
              However, it’s generally not such a great concern that WFH is going to go away. People are still going to do it. It’s still going to be a “perk” or a benefit, or even a standard for many companies. Some people are more productive at home than in a traditional office setting while others are just going to be more productive in the traditional set-up. That’s life.
              Now, where is my sloth? Do I get multiple for doing multiple jobs at home?

              1. Glitsy Gus*

                I had a manager like this. When he worked from home his wife kinda believed that mean that he was home, ergo she could ask him to help her with things, chat, have him run an errand, that kind of thing, so he really didn’t like working from home.

                Unfortunately he was absolutely convinced it was the exact same thing for everyone, so he didn’t want to let any of us work from home no matter what. The fact that I was single and lived alone didn’t change the fact that some how I would be riddled with distractions and people asking for non-work things if I was home. I have no idea who these theoretical people were, but they would be there, he was sure of it.

                1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                  I have no idea who these theoretical people were, but they would be there, he was sure of it.

                  It would be the sloth. Demanding treats and pats.

          1. RS*

            Yeah, I’m going to be generous and assume that commenter was speaking for herself and not for others.

        3. Kaaaaren*

          working from home invites sloth

          I’ve been working full time from home for nearly 5 years and, before that, I worked for about 5 years in a traditional office setting and I am WAY more productive at home than I ever was at the office. There is so much about working in an office that invites time wasting/distracts from work — chit chatting with colleagues, in-person meetings that take way longer than they should, discomfort with the temperature or chair or other distractions in the work environment… Sloth and time wasting only happens at home if you allow it to. Otherwise, it’s way easier to put your head down and get work done in a comfortable environment you can control without other people in it.

        4. JJ*

          Yikes, no. Resistance to this suggests that the employee wants to spend their time actually doing work – and if they’re overworked anyway, certainly don’t want to end up staying even later at the office because they had to spend time on this!. And it suggests that they resent being micromanaged and not trusted as an adult. (Tracking billable hours for clients is one thing, but sounds like it’s not the case here.)

      2. ursula*

        Yeah, I have a similar reporting requirement for work from home days. A lot of our staff complain about it and I understand why, but I have come around on it being a reasonable trade-off for me personally. I just keep a draft email to my boss open all day and add bullet points to it as I do them throughout the day. It really only adds 10-15 to my day (an eighth of what I would spend commuting, plus it counts as work hours!) and it keeps her comfortable with how I’m using this perk I value a LOT.

        Of course LW’s system might be way more onerous (I don’t have to give exact times or anything), but despite it being a bit annoying, they might find after a few tries that there’s a system they can use that actually isn’t so bad. (As a sidenote: my office does actually have issues with people abusing the WFH perk, especially before this system came in, so that colours my view; YMMV.)

        1. Quickbeam*

          My office is really skittish about WFH after some egregious problems…people not answering phones, going hunting, having pool parties, mowing their lawn during work hours (*not* their lunch break). Because of those leakers, the rest of us have to document pretty closely. It’s a perk so I’m ok with it.

          1. soon to be former fed really*

            People don’t always answer phones when in the office either. Bathroom breaks happen at home too. As for the the rest of it, how does anybody know? Is there drone survelliance or something? I have no probelm tracking work for performance review purposes, but if someone is not delivering, regardless of their physical location, that should be the management focus. Some managers just don’t like staff not to be at their immediate beck and call. Ugh. So unenlightened in 2020.

            1. CSR by Day*

              Actually, our phones are monitored and all calls recorded. When I’m on the phone with a customer that’s fine, but I’ve been questioned about taking too long to wrap up a previous phone call and about the times I’ve had to leave to run to the restroom. Anything, other than being on the phone, that takes more than 5 minutes seems to attract the supervisor’s attention.

            2. Quickbeam*

              When the company had problems with WFH, they sent managers out. All of what I mentioned was seen. Lots of abuse. it happens.

          2. miss_chevious*

            Interesting. My office allows WFH specifically so you *can* do some of those things from home. Not pool parties, or what have you, but appointments, errands, chores, etc. I go to the gym and grocery shopping every week on my WFH day, if my meeting schedule permits it (which I try to arrange so it does). A fellow employee has a tennis lesson on his. Of course, we have to put in the work, but the nature of our jobs routinely requires at least 50-60 hours a week (I’m a lawyer), so that’s not really a problem.

          3. Free Meercats*

            At $FormerJob, the inspectors had take-home vehicles when I started. They got taken away when I’d been there about 6 months because the neighbor of the guy nearing retirement turned him in. Seems he was getting up, walking out to his truck in his robe and checking in on the radio, then going back in for breakfast, coffee, shower, etc and getting out to work an hour or so later; he had a scanner, so if he got called he’d go out to the truck and respond. The neighbor got fed up with the “lazy City worker”, rightfully so.

            He retired a few months after that, but we all paid the price. I stayed in touch for a while and it was still that way around the turn of the century, almost 20 years later.

    3. richard*

      and AND compile updates for days worked in the office. well assuming a similar workload is accomplished.

      1. Sharon*

        That’s a pretty good idea, actually! Especially if later the OP wants to have a demonstrable case for why working from home is productive.

      2. Ginger Baker*

        Came here to say this! If you have not been in the habit of compiling updates of what you do daily, you should DEFINITELY start because more than likely, your boss doesn’t actually have a clear grasp on what a “good/productive” day, logged, looks like versus one that was slow. Giving her updates on a regular basis will help counter that…and might make it clearer than you get *more* done at home versus less (if that’s the case).

        On the note of time logging itself, I used to feel it was super annoying and very indicative of an “I don’t trust that you’re actually working” mindset. While it is true that sometimes that is why you are asked to start tracking, I have found it helpful to reframe like so: Lawyers, including very high-level partners, at my law firm are absolutely expected and required to produce daily logs (timesheets) of every bit of client-related work they do. Not because they are not being trusted to be hard-working, but because we bill clients directly based on that time-tracking. And so…if my bosses and THEIR bosses have to do this, surely I should not take it as an insult to my work ethic, yes? Feel free to steal this adjusted perspective – how true it is or not is not important to me, because viewing it this way makes me *feel* better about it. :-)

      3. Glitsy Gus*

        That is a good idea. You want your manager to understand that there is parity between WFH and in office work, not just that you stay busy when you’re at home.

      4. vlookup*

        Good idea. I’d be annoyed about send the end of day updates too, but it’s a good opportunity to demonstrate that WFH doesn’t negatively affect productivity.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      In a previous role our boss demanded a timesheet in 15 minute increments for any day we worked from home. All tasks had to correlate with a list of approved codes and he didn’t set up any for ‘compiling this spreadsheet’ or even ‘getting a cup of tea and using the bog’.

      So, being the overly sarcastic IT bods we were…we hacked the thing to include our own timecodes. Compiling the spreadsheet became ‘detailed breakdown of daily data flow’, tea refills were ‘resource optimisation’ and bog breaks were of course ‘data dumps’.

      The spreadsheet soon became unnecessary after a month. He got bored with reading all that information.

      1. 8DaysAWeek*

        Amazing! Also being in IT I have done something similar to our time sheets. It has been over 6 months and no comments have been made and my time is approved.

        I was also going to say something similar to what you have. Providing way more information than requested can also help to shut this down. Once your manager actually sees these detailed lists they may realize they don’t want to see them anymore. That has been my experience.

    5. Liane*

      At the one job I had (late 90s) that required time tracking, we actually had a code for “filling out time tracking spreadsheet.” I don’t know why Boss asked us to track–no billable hours & Boss was right there in the lab with us.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        Boss might have had a grant reporting requirement for staff hours worked to justify to the granting organization. I’m thinking you were in a grant-funded science lab–but otherwise, I got nothing!

      2. Texan In Exile*

        I see that you also worked at the IRS for a while. We had to track our time in six-minute increments and there was a code just for filling out the tracking form.

      3. Glitsy Gus*

        A lot of jobs where I had to track billable time had some kind of code for “Administrative- non billable” or “Other task- non billable.” It’s good to keep an eye on how much time your staff needs to spend on the “other BS” that is a necessary part of every job. If that number starts creeping up too high then it might be time to review some of your processes and see if there isn’t a way to get rid of some of the nonsense so your employees can focus on the money making stuff.

    6. Jules*

      As a manager, I’ve used work reports as a tool for lots of direct reports, but never in a punitive way. My team is 100% remote, and when folks are having a hard time transitioning to working from home I have them do this exercise. Each day, put a fresh sheet of paper next to your workstation. Every time you shift tasks, jot down the time and what you shift to. They look something like this:
      8:55 wake up computer
      9:01 check email
      9:22 check facebook
      9:28 listen to vm
      9:32 phone call
      9:37 coffee
      Etc etc etc. It looks tedious, but it’s easy to get into the rhythm after a bit.
      But! Here’s the important part: I never read them. I use them as an analysis tool, and ask folks what trends and habits they see. What times of day are you most focused? Which “real quick” tasks actually take longer than you thought? How much time are you spending on social media (less than you think, probably)? I find this exercise especially helpful for folks who feel like they never get anything done at home, and they’re surprised by just how much they accomplish.
      #2 In your scenario, this format might be helpful for your daily tracking, which you would then edit into a more streamlined report. It’s easy to forget everything you did during the day!

      1. Lulu*

        My new manager started this when they came into the team. It really helped me see what took me the most time and how often I was doubling up on work that I could actually consolidate. I really took to it and even though it isn’t mandatory any longer I still do this to some extent. I used to get to the end of the day and know I did a lot and not be able to quantify it. So thinking about my work in this way has helped me.

      2. EH*

        My mentor had me doing that when I reported to him. I round to the nearest five minutes, but otherwise it’s the same methodology – when I change tasks/activities, I note the time and what I’ve been doing. He also had me coding everything and tallying my productivity percentage at the end of the day. It was really helpful when I felt like I wasn’t getting anything done – impostor syndrome kind of had to shut up in the face of the numbers.

      3. Glitsy Gus*

        My manager, who is in another office, is always asking me what I do and how much time I have available. I started periodically using Toggl to basically do what you’re talking about here and, while it is great to be able to better have that conversation with my manager, I’ve also found that I get a lot of great information for myself as well. Like you said, which “super quick’ tasks actually end up eating up a good half hour or more, when do I really get things done vs when am I a bit foggier? When is the best time to send that email to get a good response? All of that is good information.

      4. Emily K*

        I did something similar when I had a new report whose work was actually totally different from my own but there was no one senior who did the type of work she did, so she reported to me instead. We had started getting a lot of a new type of request and I noticed she was working late a lot, so I asked her to track her time for 2 weeks.

        I asked for 20-minute increments and reassured her that I wasn’t worried about her productivity and she didn’t have to account for her breaks – there could just be a gap between 12 and 1 or 3:30 and 3:40 if she was on a break – that I just wanted to better understand how her work gets done so I could support her better as a manager/gatekeeper to her workload, and also make sure we were using her time wisely instead of piling on a bunch of time-wasting crap that took her away from more important things because we didn’t realize how long the time wasting crap really took.

        After two weeks we went over her timesheet together and talked about which things she felt like she was spending too much time on relative to their value/ROI, which high-ROI things she was getting pulled away from too often and could spend more time on if other things were taken off her plate, which activities she thought she might be able to do more efficiently if she had additional resources (equipment, software, etc), and so on.

        It was really helpful for me to understand how her days generally went and how long certain things took to get done so that I could assign her a realistic workload that didn’t require her to regularly work nights, and gave me ammo to push back against those new requests we’d been suddenly inundated by. And she suggested a couple pieces of software that she could use to work more efficiently that were super inexpensive and well worth getting her, that neither of us may have ever considered getting her if we hadn’t gone through the activity together.

    7. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      This makes me ragey on OP’s behalf. I had a manager like this at my last job. She HATED the idea of us working from home, but we had arranged it before she got there so she had to suck it up. What I wanted to say to her was “when I’m home I get a lot more work done because your gums aren’t flapping to me or everyone around me all day as a distraction” but I just completed the reports and it only lasted a short time. I did ask in the beginning why she needed the reports while I was home and not while I was in the office. Her response was that she can see what I’m doing in the office. No bitch, you can see that I’m at my desk, but I could be playing tetris for all you know.

      But as Alison suggested, if it continues for more than a few months, I’d have a talk to her about them. Ask legit questions. “Am I not meeting deadlines?” “Are you not satisfied with the work I’m doing?” “Are you not able to reach me when I’m home?”

      UGH. Just because your manager can’t SEE you doesn’t mean you’re napping or sitting on the couch watching trash tv and eating bon bons.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        LOL part of the draw of working from home every once in a while is getting to have Netflix on in the background, eat all the junky snacks I want without judgement, and work while sitting on the couch (we have laptops). Also wearing sweatpants.

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          I 100% agree.

          I just meant that they think that’s ALL you’re doing. I have to force myself to work in my office instead of the couch because it makes me extra lazy :-)

      2. Oh No She Di'int*

        I dated a guy for a year who worked from home and his day did indeed vacillate between napping, sitting on the couch watching home improvement TV and eating–not bon bons–but spreadable cheese on crackers. Minus the 60 to 90 minutes he would spend on phone-in meetings, that literally was his day. I think we have to be honest that that sometimes does happen.

        1. soon to be former fed really*

          He would be goofing off in the office too. At the gym, Starbucks, perusing Facebook, whatever.

          1. Oh No She Di'int*

            No he wouldn’t. I mean to an extent, yes. But when he worked in the office he did actual work. He didn’t like doing that anymore, so he got a WFH position so that he could take more naps and watch more HGTV. I mean, that’s just . . . what happened.

            Please don’t mistake this for a counter-argument by anecdote. I’m not saying that he is typical of WFH employees. I’m simply saying there’s obviously a range. So to claim that the very notion of wanting/needing to track what employees do at home is somehow an inherently pointless idea doesn’t quite tell the whole story.

        1. JSPA*

          I could do without the “bitch.”

          And frankly, when I’ve made someone come in, it was because I had no polite way to say, “I don’t know if what you’re producing is the best you can do when focused (in which case, I’ll provide extra guidance and occasional real – time feedback for the parts where you’re generally competent, but a little off – base / mis- focused, and try putting you on fewer overlapping tasks) or if there’s some sort of multi – tasking you do at home that’s affecting your focus. Basically, “butt in seat” is a tool for ruling out differential diagnoses. (Alternatively, sometimes part of your job IS to listen while the boss churns through ideas. Some people think better with an audience; if you’re the boss, you get to do a certain amount of conscripting employees for that duty. And for an employee to get viciously angry about the boss talking strikes me as a misunderstanding of what it means to be an employee, and to have a boss.)

          Given the (weirdly gendered) anger and dismissiveness, there’s a non – zero chance boss was intending to provide support, guidance or real – time feedback. Not effectively. Clearly not, given the outcome.

          Sure, we are all adults. But we’re not all the boss. We’re not all uniformly competent, either. “We are all adults” is a glib way to gloss over the problem that some people who are not great at some aspect of their jobs are unsatisfactory in shifting or unquantifiable ways. The reason why may not directly be the boss’s business, but seeing the process may be very relevant to recognizing enough of a pattern to put a name on the pattern. Once you can define it, you can address it.

      3. FedUpWithBoomers*

        THANK YOU – Preach! No reports are required while at work but required while I am at home. For all they know we could be shopping on Amazon all day – I do not understand this.

    8. Mockingjay*

      We work on a federal contract, so we have to do a lot of detailed reporting including hours per task, and have to send a daily status report each day while teleworking. (Permanent teleworkers send weekly reports.)

      It’s normal in my industry; I’ve used all kinds of tracking systems, from sophisticated databases to a steno book to a spreadsheet. The numbers have proven very useful. Last year I pulled metrics on all the meetings I attended and realized I was in more meetings than I was actually working. So I opted out of several non-essential meetings to balance my workload better. My team has analyzed the types of tasks and deliverables we provide, which gave us insight on the skillset we needed for our next hire. (She’s wonderful, by the way.)

      Timelogs can be a pain sometimes, but it can give managers a very good sense of team workload and individual skills. Mary and Joe have the same tasks, but Mary completes hers 30% faster. Is Joe slacking? Does Joe need training? Is Joe bored with this task and would rather work on something else? Or in another example, Dept. A is asked to help out Dept. B temporarily, part-time. Dept. A’s manager can look at the hours expended by her team on Dept. B’s stuff, to make sure temporary doesn’t become permanent and her staff don’t let Dept. A’s work slide.

    9. ThatGirl*

      At a previous job I had to track how much time various projects took per day/week (some manager’s great idea for determining metrics) and I definitely noted at least a half-hour per week spent “filling in tracking sheets”.

    10. RabbitRabbit*

      In a similar position as OP #2 except my manager has now backed down from the detailed reports.

      I used to give her a spreadsheet that I created the template for – itemized lists to the minute, with start and stop times, the ID numbers of each project I was working on or general categories like e-mail, sending reminders, setting up the spreadsheet in the morning, etc. I’d attach it to the sheet she provided which was supposed to be a more ‘summarized’ view of our workday activities. I stopped with the attachment after a while but now she’s gone to saying even her form is not needed any longer but may do spot-checks, asking for an accounting afterwards, so she’s still expecting us to do our own tracking.

    11. Nom de Plume*

      I can’t tell if this is meant to be a serious suggestion or made in jest, but if I were a manager who struggled with the idea of my staff working from home, reading that on a daily task would annoy me at best. I think the advice here is akin to “your manager sucks and isn’t going to change”. If you want to keep this job, and you want to have the chance to work from home, jump through the hoops. Otherwise, go get a job at one of those many surrounding businesses with great benefits and a work from home option. Maybe as you are writing down a list of daily tasks while working at home, ask yourself if you would rather be job searching or working in the office. (That is not meant to be snarky. Everyone has their limits, and maybe this is yours.)

      1. PhillyRedhead*

        Why would it annoy you? It’s a work-related task. It takes time. I’ve been working in jobs for 10 years where I’ve had to bill my time for clients (I’m a graphic designer), and there’s always been an expectation that logging your work is part of that (in some jobs, it was just filed under general Admin work, along with checking email, in other jobs, it was specifically “Time Tracking”).

    12. Jennifer Juniper*

      OP2: Be grateful your boss isn’t insisting that you have the camera on your laptop on and pointed at you at all times so she can monitor you from her office. Didn’t another LW have just that situation?

    13. Deanna Troi*

      I’m not sure why everyone is jumping to time tracking when LW#2 said she has to provide detailed updates on what she does while she teleworks. I have worked at a job where I had to track my time closely for client billing. But in my current job, we have to provide updates, but it wouldn’t occur to include time tracking with it. So, my emails to my boss at the end of the day look like this:

      1. Received four calls from the puppy cuddling client. Did some research and wrote an email in response to one of the calls.
      2. Reviewed cat claw clipping report, sent comments in email to client.
      3. Analyzed data for goat training audit report, began writing report.
      4. Watched webinar on sheep shearing.

      No one is concerned that I spent 15 minutes walking my dogs outside, loaded the dishwasher, etc. It really doesn’t take long to do this at the end of every day. I wouldn’t spend a lot of time tracking my time if all your boss is looking for is some kind of confirmation that your work is getting done.

    14. Tisiphone*

      When I was working in tech support, I was promoted to the group that answered customer emails. We’d been bought out and the parent company had no respect for those of us at the acquired company, so in order to prove we did, in fact, work, our management decided to send daily logs of what we were doing in 5 minute increments.

      Someone asked about bathroom breaks. Yes, we were to include that.

      I call that kind of detail quantum accounting, as in the act of measuring the data changes the data.

  1. ES*

    #3 <>

    This gives me a flashback to several years ago when I started a new job the Monday after getting back from a wedding out of town. (The timing of their start dates was very constrained, so there wasn’t a much better option.) Of course, my Sunday morning flight home got me to Atlanta, where summer thunderstorms delayed everything for hours and hours. I finally got home (via a different airport an hour farther away from my house) at 4am the day I was due to start. I was dragging horribly the next day but obviously needed to go in. By 2pm, my new boss could tell I was completely zonked and sent me home. I was so embarrassed by my exhausted first impression, but my boss ended up being very understanding and it turned out to be a great job. But I will never fly home the day before my first day on a new job. (In fact, my wife and I have a tradition now of getting a couples massage the day before one of us starts a new job to celebrate.)

      1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        +1 The true genius lies in the “couples” part of the “couples massage.” A new job is stressful for all pieces of a partnership!

    1. Jean*

      Oh my gosh, what a nightmare. The first day I went back to work after being a SAHM for 2 years, I woke up to a lake of water in my kitchen from my fridge/freezer that had died overnight and defrosted all over the place. I was already in a very anxious place, obviously – new job jitters, sending my toddler to daycare for the first time, etc – and the mess plus all the ruined food just sent me over the edge. I melted down hard, but still made it to work on time, dressed and ready to rock. Fortunately my new coworkers were wonderful, and very sympathetic and understanding when I regaled them with my morning adventure. (My then-husband, now ex, was a complete jerk about it, but that’s neither here nor there.)

    2. Creamsiclecati*

      I had a similar fiasco several years ago. I went on a ski trip with my boyfriend and his friends for a long weekend before I was supposed to start a new job Monday, which was poor planning on my part because a huge snowstorm hit us Sunday morning when we were supposed to make the 6 hour drive home. We ended up having to stay Sunday night and drive home Monday, meaning I had to miss the first day of my new job and start Tuesday instead. Thankfully my boss was understanding but I was embarrassed, and I make sure I don’t go out of town right before a big work event anymore just in case I’m delayed getting home.

    3. Bubbles McPherson*

      First morning at a new job a few years ago I was on my way bright & early … and then had a major tire blowout, couldn’t get the lugnuts off myself, had to have the car towed to a tire place, and didn’t get to work until lunchtime. GREAT first day impression!!

    4. Texan In Exile*

      Not my first day but my first week, I fell off my bike as I was riding to work. My face hit the only non-grass/non-soil area in an acre, so I guess I passed out? A stranger found me, took me to urgent care, etc, etc.

      Anyhow – I didn’t get to work until after lunch and when I did, I looked like I had been beat up.

      Fortunately, that was when I still had my amazing boss, so it was not a problem.

      (Except when it looks like someone has beat you up, people will not ask you what happened. It’s – weird.)

      1. BradC*

        After my interview but before my start date, I did something really stupid and fell off my kid’s scooter and jammed my hand and broke my finger. I was even between insurance.

        Had to show up my first day with a splint on my hand, but at least had a funny story to tell (“so I was walking two Razor scooters down the street and decided, hey, why don’t I just put one foot on each scooter to get down this hill faster??”)

        1. BradC*

          To finish the story, going down the hill with one foot on each scooter was MIRACULOUSLY not when I fell – I fell coming BACK up the street on a single scooter (after dropping one off), and hit a crack in the sidewalk.

      2. Fikly*

        First day of work at old!job, was walking between buildings with my manager, trip over nothing, fall flat on face, and because I have a body that hates me, have to take a minute to slowly get up and make sure I haven’t damaged anything. My manager was about to call an ambulance.

        I wanted to melt into the ground. My job involved a lot of walking, and here I was demonstrating my inability to master such a basic skill as not tripping over air.

    5. BT*

      Love! I’m starting a new role next week and am definitely going to treat myself to a massage. Great idea.

  2. TiffIf*

    When my office first instituted a work from home policy, we were asked to do this, and it really was annoying. However, after just a few months they told us they didn’t need them anymore and acknowledged it was a waste of everyone’s time. Hopefully, once your boss gets used to the idea and sees you are all still productive she’ll be able to let it go too.

    1. Nee Attitude*

      A lot of managers don’t really know how to, or desire to, gauge individual needs and respond accordingly. It’s much easier to institute a blanket rule.

    2. Kendra*

      Maybe OP could think of it like a science experiment: you’re making observations to see if remote work is a) possible, b) productive, and c) sustainable for your particular office. Don’t think of writing these reports as “wasting time;” try to look at it as gathering and recording data instead. It may still be annoying that way, but at least it has a purpose!

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I’d suggest re-framing it as “helping your manager picture what a work from home day looks like” rather than someone checking up on you to see if you’re working. If your manager really can’t picture what work you could do from home beyond just checking emails, you can use this time tracking to paint that picture for her. Maybe once she sees that oh yeah, basically all the resources you need to do your job are on the computer now (rather than in file cabinets at work or some such) and you can get complicated, useful parts of your job done remotely she’ll be more in favor of it.

    3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I had the same a few years ago. It was annoying at first, but kind of fun, because I realized I did more at home than in the office. After about a year they dropped the requirement to document because it was too hard to read all the updates and do, you know, actual managing.

    4. Alternatives to reporting keylogging or stalking*

      I manage a team whom I allow to work from home, for most of the team this works fine. I see communications going by, get feedback on what they were working on (without me having to ask) etc, there are other people though that I don’t believe are actually getting work done when they work from home….. I’d love some ideas from users about what they would recommend as a way to follow up that they are actually working without stalking them or making them feel singled out…. I generally trust my people to be responsible grownups but every once in a while I get some that just raise some red flags with me…

  3. Jackalope*

    #3: I recommend trying your commute out a time or two if you aren’t familiar with it. Doing it at the time you’ll actually be traveling is the most helpful, but even doing it at a different time to see what it’s like can be useful if you aren’t super familiar with it. That way you have fewer nasty surprises the first day.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ll add–if you’re driving a road you arent usually on, check the state DOT construction schedule.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Yes to this. I had it happen about a month ago – was driving to work on Monday morning, as I do, got to my exit to change from Freeway A to Freeway B, and there was a concrete divider where the exit used to be. Turned out, over the weekend, as a part of the large construction project that’s been underway on that road for a couple of years, the exit had been moved to an earlier point (but the signs weren’t yet updated to show that) and I’d already missed it. I’d been commuting that way for years, and so knew the side roads and the shortcuts I could take. If that were an unfamiliar area to me, I’d have been really late (though Google Maps usually does a good job coming to the rescue).

    2. I Herd the Cats*

      I’ll add: if you live in a place where more than one mode of transportation is an option, sort those out too (even if you don’t try them.) I live in DC and take Metro, which isn’t 100% reliable. I figured out the bus route options in advance, in case I need them.

      Finally, I’m terrible with faces/names. I put some effort into studying the faces on the website and their names. It wasn’t perfect memorization but helped me feel less anxious going in.

    3. Platypus Enthusiast*

      Also, parking! Our lots fill up REALLY quickly, so I felt a lot more comfortable knowing what the other options are, and how far away they were!

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      +1million This is what I came here to say.

      Do it at the time you’ll actually be traveling in the morning, and write down how long it takes. Then give yourself extra time the first week in case the test run was unusual. Around here, Friday mornings have significantly less traffic than Mondays; Friday takes about 20% less time than Monday.

      I also recommend catching up / getting ahead (if possible) on your home chores list. Any small repairs or long-term cleaning projects, get them out of the way.

    5. Expert Wrangler*

      Also coming here to recommend testing out your commute, whether you’re driving or taking public transportation.

      In my case, I use both depending on my week, what plans I have before or after work, doctor’s appointments, etc. I was in for a much rougher driving commute, which takes me through hellish construction on my city’s main highway, with my new job. I actually tested out my morning drive commute twice before I started because traffic can be so unpredictable and I wanted to get an idea of what my worst case scenario drive might look like.

      I also have the option of taking the light rail, which I do most days (thank god for this option.) So, I took the train one day before I started and timed how long it would take me to walk from the station to my office and determined which train I should take in the morning.

      Other than that, enjoy the time you have off to get rejuvenated. I’m glad I took a week between my last job and my current one. I was leaving a very toxic workplace and the break did me good.

    6. iglwif*

      Yes, definitely this! This is how you learn when the trains are most crowded, which buses keep to their schedule and which are wildly unreliable, which stretches of road tend to jam up and don’t have a bus lane, where the good places are to stop for coffee en route …

      And when you go to do it for real, the commute will be one less source of anxiety because it’s familiar.

    7. HR Veep*

      OP, one thing I find super helpful if to have a week’s worth of work outfits ready to go. I do this on Sunday afternoon, after checking the weather forecast for the week (It can vary wildly where I live). I’m not a morning person AT ALL and this tip has changed my mornings. Been doing it for years. (might be relevant to note that I have to wear fairly professional attire, so it may require more thought that some office clothing norms!)

    8. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

      I was coming here just to say this – if you have a spare weekday, test your commute time DURING rush hour traffic. It’s better to know what to expect (what streets have backed-up traffic, etc.) than to panic on your first day.

    9. Donkey Hotey*

      Add me to the “I was coming here to say this.”
      My most recent job, I had the luxury of a week before I started and I tested out five different commute routes just to find the best option (and the best backup option in case something got borked and I needed to re-route.)

      Good luck on the new job!

    10. AP*

      It’s also a good idea to punch in your route into Google Maps. You can set it to depart or arrive at a particular time and get a pretty good idea of what commuting times will be like. And you can see what alternate routes may work as well.

      1. Fikly*

        I always do this, but if you are using any kind of public transit, it won’t take into account how many buses/trains/etc you have to let go by before there’s space for you to get on. So that’s where actually doing a dry run during rush hour can help.

    11. snoopythedog*

      +1 on this. Especially if you are at all nervous about being on time (like I am). Even knowing things like if you need to be in a certain lane can help. Running your route during the time you would be doing it is so key. For my previous job, I didn’t do this before the first day because I assumed I’d be fine because I drove that route lots (in the evening). Turns out, in the morning, if you weren’t in the left most lane 3 lights before you needed to turn left at a particular intersection, there was no way in hell you were going to be let in across two lanes of traffic during morning rush hour. Also, this was a major feeder route, so for every minute I left my house after 740am, I needed to expect to add 2 minutes on to my commute.

      If you aren’t a nervous about being late/stuck in traffic, and are more easy going, you don’t have to do this. But if you have the time…just do it at least once. Then you can also use that time to scope out good coffee/snack/lunch places nearby.

    12. The New Wanderer*

      Just, check both directions before you do it. I know if I were testing out my commute, getting to the office would take me about 30 minutes. If I then turned around to go home, I’m looking at 1 hour easy to travel the same distance because the opposite direction has All the traffic. The few times I’ve headed to my office in the morning and realized I’d forgotten something, it remained forgotten for the day.

  4. Clementine*

    My suggestion: focus on being rested, well-nourished, and relaxed before you start your job. If it’s a job with a significant technical on-ramp time, and you can study in advance, I suggest to spend at least some time doing that.

    1. Lynn*

      In addition, during the time before you start the job, catch up on any things that need done and can be done ahead around the house/errands/chores.

      So-if it is getting to be time for a deep cleaning, do that now instead of leaving it until later. Or if you really need to spend a few hours on the lawn, change the oil in your motorcycle, put new tires on the car, get your hair cut and colored, get your sewing machine fixed, take the cat in for an annual exam, etc. then go ahead and get those things done and out of the way.

      That way, when you start in the new office, you can have a week or two where you don’t have to worry about anything at home and can just concentrate on making a good start at the office. I would be less stressed at a new job if I knew that, when I got home for the day, I could just decompress. And if I knew that I wouldn’t have to try to leave dead on time on my first day/in my first week because I had to stop at Joe’s House of Tires to have them put new tires on my car (insert your errand here).

      1. Re'lar Fela*

        ^This! Also, if you’re someone who cooks, prep meals ahead of time for easy dinners that first week and think about your lunch. Are you going to pack it? Run out every day? What’s the kitchen situation like at the office? What restaurants are nearby? Do you have the groceries you need to pack lunches that aren’t a huge production? If you’re a snacker, what kinds of snacks will you bring? Lots of questions, but as someone who previously worked from home for 4.5 years, going back to an office environment was a HUGE change for my eating habits and I wish I had done some of the above before starting.

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          Rats, you beat me to it! I was just going to suggest this. I figure you (OP3 that is) will be tired from all the info you have to take in those first couple of weeks. It will make life easier to have dinners ready in the fridge to just heat up and eat.

        2. Lynn*

          I didn’t even think about the food thing. But that is a great idea. The less you leave to be stressed about in your first week or two, the better.

        3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          My advice is, pack something for your first day that doesn’t need to be heated up, like a sandwich. That’s the lesson I learned on my first day at my current job. This was my 5th job change in my US career and you’d think I’d have seen everything, but nope. I did correctly figure that I wouldn’t know the office microwave situation. But then I didn’t pack any lunch or snacks at all. “Eh, I’ll run out and get something, and most places, the team goes out with you on your first day anyway” (valid assumption in that case, because my teammates at this new place were all people I’d already worked with previously.) Lo and behold, I walk in to an all-day meeting. It was a new company, but created to support an existing system for someone else, and they’d flown an expert in from a satellite office to train us on the system, so we really had to all be there for his presentation. The 30-minute lunch break was spent doing mandatory online new-hire training that was for some reason due by 5PM on my first day. The building had no vending machines! My lunch that day was… drum roll… M&M’s out of the receptionist’s candy bowl and a few of those tiny packets of half and half that they sometimes have in coffee shops, that my boss kept next to the coffeemaker in his office. An experience I would not care to relive!

          1. Smithy*

            Here to echo definitely bring something to eat that doesn’t necessarily need prep/microwave/refrigeration. I had one job in the part of the city I was kind of familiar with, but not in that “I work here 5 days a week” sense. And before working there, if you’d ask me about lunch spots, I would have said that for sure there are places to get lunch.

            While it wasn’t a complete restaurant desert, it was pretty close to one. Nearby options were either expensive sit down restaurants, a mini-market and one to-go style cafe. End result was that a) it was a not a tradition to take new employees to lunch and b) most staff brought their lunches every day of the week and I only learned about the cafe until I’d been working there for 2 months.

            Certainly during interviews you’ll see if you’re in an empty industrial park or not – but I think a lot of work spots can be sneaky lunch deserts.

          2. Evan Þ.*

            +1. I recommend packing something that keeps, so if you do end up going for lunch with your team, you can just save it and have it later. (And something that keeps without refrigeration – you might start in another building to talk with HR and not get shown the office fridge at once.) Personally, I’ve always packed a peanut butter sandwich, and usually ended up saving it and having it my second day, but I’ve felt better having it just in case.

        4. snoopythedog*

          Oh man, this is such a concern for me.

          I’m a big snacker, I eat a lot, and I drink a lot of water and tea. I showed up to my first day with a bag of snacks, a big lunch that didn’t need to be refridgerated, a thermo of tea, 4 extra tea bags, and a water bottle all hidden in my bag. Luckily, my office has a fridge/kettle/tea.
          I also made sure to eat a bigger than normal breakfast the whole first week because I get hungry quickly and was worried about getting hangry if I was pulled into piles of meetings.

      2. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        Such good advice. I also try to knock out any appointments ahead of time (where possible) that would otherwise pull me away from work in the first six months on the job. Teeth cleanings for me and kids, annual check-ups for me and kids, vet visits for my dog, meeting with the accountant, whatever. I also always implement my “getting ready for visitors/the holidays” list, which includes super-random stuff like stocking all the bathrooms with clean towels and TP, refilling all my salt shakers, restocking all cleaning supplies, and basically anything else that gives me the illusion of having my shit together.

  5. Nee Attitude*

    2. It’s funny how your boss could be perfectly fine with you sitting behind your desk doing absolutely nothing, but be utterly paranoid when you’re at home being productive.

    Nevertheless, this might be one of those areas where you’re better off just giving them what they asked for and letting them deal with the consequences, similar to bosses who demand to be CCed on every email.

    Eventually, they might realize that they were were being ridiculous, and/or they will use your increased productivity to make themselves look good. Either way, you get to work from home.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’d actually suggest doing it while telecommuting AND while at the office* because you might demonstrate a huge productivity gain. We did.
      *Vocabulary caution: avoid “at home” vs “at work” — that subtly sounds like home is not work.

      1. hbc*

        We’ve been calling it “virtual office,” and while I generally hate corporate speak, it actually seems to change people’s attitudes towards the people we can’t see. It used to be “Oh, Fergus is working from home today, we’ll talk to him on Monday.” Now it’s more often “Fergus is virtual office, so let’s get him on his cell.”

    2. Sick Civil Servant*

      My previous boss thought “butt in chair” time was more important that tasks completed. I was the only one who worked from home. (I have migraines & the air quality at the office was awful, just dreadful.) A lot of my work included research & review so I made a point of tell boss that I often “switched devices to give my eyes a break.” He was tracking my key strokes, because he didn’t believe that I was working while at home. Even though I was completing all of my work. He wanted daily worksheets handed in at the end of the day. “Researched topic X on my own iPad” was common. Eventually, he asked for weekly tasks done & plans for next week. Eventually, after I completed all my stuff on time and all my clients told boss how great I was & how they only wanted to work with me & no one else, he laid off and let me do his thing. By then, his attention was on another staff person.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Not that I’m aware of. I once worked somewhere with a highly problematic high-level employee. He was problematic for a lot of reasons, but one in particular was the biggest concern. There was no real proof but a sum of a LOT of very suspicious (but circumstantial) hard to ignore stuff. IT suggested installing a keystroke logger as the easiest way to confirm if what they were worried about were actually happening, but legal shot it down. I don’t know if this is a case of the legal team being overly cautious – or if lots of other companies wouldn’t have bothered consulting legal before doing so – etc. But my takeaway from the situation (which was more complex than I’m getting into here) is it’s not generally a good idea or easy to use keystroke logging on your employees.

    3. Threeve*

      I hope the next person who moves on to another position mentions “behind industry standards in telework flexibility” in their exit interview.

    4. Laura*

      I work at the HQ of a hospital group with the finance function. We are allowed to work from home about once a month. A lot of it stems from the fact that the clinical staff can’t work from home. In the past, leadership has felt that it’s not fair to then allow support staff to do so. I think it’s a perk they can offer some that is low cost, but it is not an easy sell.

      1. noahwynn*

        We fight this battle at the airline I work for as well. Although a lot of my work can be done at home, there is obviously no way for crews and others to work from home. That means a WFH day is a rare occurrence for us and generally only allowed if weather is super bad or we are sick and contagious but not sick enough to want to take a sick day.

  6. Allonge*

    I would try to refer in my report as much as possible to established sytems. Surely your work somehow leaves a trace somewhere? So I would be like: as you see from Tracking / Filing, I handled tickets 2 5 and 8 and on top of that I advanced well on table compiling report x. I anonymised all records under D.

    In other words, I would try and interpret ‘detailed’ creatively, and nudge the manager to do the normal checking things. If you have no contact normally, some work must happen in a trackable way.

    I can also report that having done this on the organisational level, managers chilled pretty fast. The most helpful thing for me as a manager was when employees ‘reported’ proactively (e.g. cc-d me in emails, checked in before the WFH day and said what they were going to work on). I know not all workplaces have this possibility as the work is different, but the initial investment in this absolutely paid off.

    1. Allonge*

      Sorry, one last point: if you interpret this as natural curiosity on how something new works as opposed to Bad Manager is Bad, it may be helpful for you too. Add things like it was great not to have to do 2 hours of commute / having my cat around (if applicable) once in a while. Catch more flies with honey and all that.

    2. Lana Kane*

      This is exactly what I was coming in to suggest. I have been both a telecommuter and I currently manage telecommuters – both in a hospital setting. I rely heavily on existing reporting systems, and it’s not hard to do. It just requires shifting how you review certain things. I would even argue that it’s likely that those very reports are how she reviews productivity now. My sense is that she’s either someone who has to see to believe, or who maybe is not currently doing as much reporting as she should be.

      When I became a telecommuter it was a pretty new thing at my hospital and my manager was also pretty unsure. As a team we talked to her about all the tools we had for her to keep track of things. She eventually relented (probably in part because there was an organizational push for telecommuting to get off the ground, our hospital is always crunched for space). She chilled out pretty quickly when she saw that the work was being done just as well – and sometimes better – than before.

      If you and your team can meet with her to go over the reporting possibilities, I’d start there. If not, definitely give her what she wants but gently point her to where she can verify.

  7. Rexish*

    #2 I also work in a hospital. We have to request the WFH day a week in advance and provide a planned schedule what we aim to achieve that day. Then manager evaluates if that’s enough work fro 8 hours. Then after the WFH day we need to provide a report that has a schedule of what we actually did do that day.

    We work independently and anagers don’t have a clue what I do behind my desk. Also our work cannot be planned week in advance (or even a day), manager has no clue how long indivdual task takes so they cannot comment if it is enough work, the plan and report doesn’t have to match up. It makes no sense. After about 2 years it is getting more flexible and we don’t have to provide a plan a week in advance and if we need to change the date at short notice due to work situation, that is fine. So it might take a while but it might get less ridiculous once the manager gets more confortable.

    1. Mannheim Steamroller*

      Of course, the schedule of what you did during the day always ends with “Prepared this report of what I did today.” Don’t laugh — it’s an assigned task, so it’s fair game for inclusion.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      Wow! I get annoyed at doing these things but I mostly don’t really think it’s that unreasonable an ask–but asking me to tell you what specifically I will be working on a week from now??? How often did your plan line up with what you actually did?

      1. Rexish*

        Practically never. But it was never a problem. We just had to have a plan and a report. What was in it didn’t really matter. Our office has this annoying habbit of taking a vague hospital policy and interpret it to be very strict and then tin with that.

        1. Submitter*

          We have to ask and plan WFH days a week or more in advance too – that’s insane you need to plan it out but sounds like if my boss would have thought of that, she would ask that too! Do we work for the same person? :)

  8. Toph*

    LW2 – I work for a government agency in Australia, and I have to do the same reporting for one day per week working from home. An email setting out the plan the day before; then an email after with the actual deliverable. It drives me bonkers because things change, so often I do different stuff than the plan, but I send all this at the same time as doing my timesheet, which has the same information viewable by the same people. And it’s far more supervision/tracking than at any day my actual desk. I just have to view it as their issue, not mine, and a small annoying price to pay for not having that commute one day a week.

    1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I always saw it as the price one had to pay not to wear a real bra and real pants and still get paid. In that context, the annoying documentation was worth it,

      1. HR Veep*

        DANGER: Gumption Ahead: – I actually typed almost that exact comment in an email to a co-worker regarding our current work from home issues! :) AND NO SHOES either!!

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I swear that for so many people the ability to ditch uncomfortable clothes is the #1 benefit of WFH.
          I can also fart, burp, microwave fish, clip my nails, and have dumb conversations with the pets instead of coworkers. If I need to track time, so be it, especially since I tend to work longer and on more stuff at home than in the office. I don’t mind working 6-6 at home. In the office? Hell to the no

  9. Green great dragon*

    I don’t think you need ‘a routine’ but I’d start getting your sleep times in sync a day or two before, so you don’t have to get up for your first day hours before your body thinks is normal (or have to try to get to sleep hours earlier than usual the night before with pre-job nerves).

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      If you do this, I recommend starting 4 days before the new schedule is required. My experience has been the second day of a new sleep schedule is the hard one. Third’s only slightly better, then it gets easier quickly.

    2. BT*

      I’m in the same boat, and This is my concern. I’m going to try to start my new sleep schedule during all of next week.

    3. pentamom*

      Ditto on the sleep schedule. You don’t have to do it weeks in advance, but getting used to a bedtime/wakeup schedule that fits with work does take 4-7 days.

  10. cncx*

    re OP2, i have a boss who is permanent wfh and a coworker in my team who has a wide berth for wfh. Both of them send out emails to the team when they sign off for the day with what they did, not because our boss’ boss asks, just to give people an update on what they can’t see or know. When my coworker wfh he usually also tells me why beforehand (needs to concentrate, has a short deadline etc). I agree it’s annoying to justify your life in an email but it has an added benefit of since it is in writing, our n+2 and higher management have proof of what they are doing in case anyone complains about presence or availability. Also my coworker’s status updates were used to justify more headcount so yay. Also for me, i have a butt in chair job where office presence is mandatory, so knowing that my coworker is out for REASONS also helps me not be jealous.

  11. KevaW*

    #4 If the company is using a platform like Greenhouse, this kind of thing can happen.

    Greenhouse (and perhaps other services, though this is the one I know best) allows you to schedule a ‘no thank you’ email for a few days out – a courtesy, if you want a certain amount of time to pass, or if you want to avoid giving bad news on a weekend.

    Greenhouse also allows you to automatically send surveys to candidates – exactly like the one described above – X number of days after they have ‘exited the hiring process’. It should be the case that you receive the email first, and the survey after.

    If the company isn’t familiar with the platform, or if they’re not being careful, it is possible to accidentally set it up so that the email is scheduled to send after the exit survey.

    Candidates are only considered to have exited the process after they have either been marked as ‘hired’, or after the company has indicated they’ve decided not to move ahead with them. To get to the ‘hired’ stage though, you need to have been through the ‘offer’ step – so I’m sorry to say that, if you haven’t already received an offer letter, the survey most likely doesn’t bode well.

    Best of luck, and hopefully you’ll get to work with a company that keeps a closer eye on details like this.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I wondered if perhaps the wrong test was set up for OP4, but this seems more likely.

    2. Allison*

      Slightly off-topic, but I can’t stand recruiters who delay bad news just to avoid ruining someone’s weekend. I know it’s a common practice, I known I can’t change it, I know I need to accept it, but I just needed to state my perspective on the matter in the hopes that maybe someone here might reconsider that practice.

      I’d much rather receive a rejection as soon as it’s decided, even if it’s Friday, heck even if I interviewed earlier that day and you really know that quickly that I’m not a fit for the team, so I can take the weekend to get over the news, move on, and start the next week fresh. If someone tells me “you’ll hear by the end of the week” and Friday comes and goes and nothing, I’m gonna spend the weekend agonizing over whether something came up to delay the process, or whether the recruiter is just sitting on bad news. Getting a rejection on Monday actually means starting the whole week on a sour note, especially if I’m actively job hunting.

      A 24 hour auto-delay on rejection emails is really only useful for applications who haven’t been spoken to yet, because even if you see a person’s resume within minutes of their application and it’s immediately apparent they’re not a fit, receiving a rejection too quickly without any sort of “human” communication will make them think no one actually saw the resume and it was just scanned by a robot or something.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        So, just to add to your perspective on this: A lot of people feel the opposite.

        A lot of people are bothered to get rejections right before the weekend (or a holiday). Some of those people have sent employers nasty notes about it (I’ve received some of them). The same thing with quick rejections — a lot of people feel stung by a quick rejection, as if the employer didn’t bother to fully consider their application. Some of those people send nasty notes about that too.

        Nearly 100% of the time, I know before I even hang up from a phone interview whether or not I’m moving that person forward. If I sent them a rejection that day, a sizable portion of them will feel hurt and will read into the quick no (like, why were they such an obvious bad fit that the decision was so fast?). That’s why employers wait.

    3. LW4*

      I have no idea if they are using any kind of platform for their emails. I still haven’t gotten an official rejection or acceptance at this point though, and it’s been more than a week. I can’t say I was overly impressed with them either. They seemed to think everything should move at the speed of light on my end. I’m kinda thinking that this might be a blessing in disguise, but the survey really did throw me.

    4. J.B.*

      I’ve gotten some surveys post interview lately and it is so weird. Everything about hiring and tracking systems is weird. So over it :)

    5. jam*

      I got a survey a couple weeks after a big on-site interview, after the window of when I was supposed to hear about the outcome. The first few questions were about the interview process, but then there was one that asked how I would rate the way I was told I was out of consideration! Uh!

      So I emailed my contact to ask what was going on — I did say I’d given her a low score on that particular question, just because, come on, I had to vent a little. When she replied she was extremely apologetic; it was her mistake, apparently, that she had pulled the trigger on the surveys before finishing sending emails. That company was actually outstanding in the communications department up to that point, so it was an extra weird thing to happen.

  12. Ha*

    It’s perfectly reasonable to have to account for your time on WFH days. Given the number of clients of mine who are “working from home” but actually bringing all their llamas to the llama vet and taking phone calls during the llama vet’s exam there is probably more reason for concern than posters here usually admit. Before owning my own business I worked for a large international company with an offsite boss. I needed to briefly outline what I accomplished each day, besides direct llama care Took maybe 10 minutes, usually less than 5. It’s just part of work.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m bristling a bit –please don’t assume your clients who are telecommuting aren’t putting in a full day.
      On my TC days, I could work a 9 hour day and still get in an appointment. Instead of getting into the car before 6am, I was logging in for work with Europe. I’d take a 2 hour break but stay available to project members in my own time zone, and log back in late to call Australia or India. And to be honest, some days I had lawyer hours simply by having more energy without the highway commute.

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        Yeah, that’s one of the main reasons to do a WFH day, to be able to go to an appointment during the day more easily. If you have a vet appointment, you get to skip either bringing the pet to work with you (probably sitting in the car), or going home to get the pet and then to the vet.

        My office moved downtown two years ago. More people take public transportation now. That has also made people WFH more because of the added time of getting in and out of downtown. It takes me an hour end-to-end to get to or from work. It’s ok because I get to read or play on my phone for most of it. BUT if my boss were a stickler about no WFH, a vet appointment would eat up half my day. (An hour to get from the office to the house, then take the pet to the vet, be at the vet, go back home, THEN back to the office. Getting to skip the “extra” mid-day commutes gives me two hours back, and makes it a normal-length errand to do during a lunch break.

        This stuff has to happen some time. People need to be able to go to the doctor, dentist, vet, etc. For the most part, it has to happen during business hours.

      2. Quill*

        Yeah, half my WFH days have been “I was able to get a mid afternoon appointment, still managed to get in about 8 hours because I worked through the hour and fifteen I usually commute in, the appointment works like a 1 hour lunch.”

    2. Link*

      In a lot of jobs, it is reasonable to have to account for your time whether you’re working in the office or at home, but it can feel pretty patronizing to have to do that only when you’re working from home. Some people do misuse their WFH time, but those people are likely to misuse their time in the office as well. It’s generally wise to treat employees like adults unless they give you a reason not to. If someone’s productivity is low, that will become obvious in their work output overtime. 

      1. londonedit*

        Absolutely. If one person is abusing their WFH time, the right way to deal with it is to have a conversation with that person. The wrong way to deal with it is to assume everyone is abusing their WFH time and make everyone account for every minute of their time spent working when they’re not in the office. That’s just a sure-fire way to make decent employees feel like they’re not being trusted to manage their own workloads and behave like adults.

        I completely understand that in some industries you need to be able to account for your time, or you need to be able to allocate time to certain projects or budgets and keep track of that, but that should be happening all the time and not just when people are WFH. And in many industries (like mine), working at home is really no different from working in the office, and I’d certainly feel like my boss didn’t trust me, or had a problem with my work, if she suddenly made me write up a list of everything I’d done while WFH.

        1. CupcakeCounter*

          I got dinged by this at my first job. My boss was old school and one of the people he needed to work with on a regular basis “worked from home” on Fridays. No one could ever get ahold of this guy. Phone calls, emails, and IM weren’t answered for hours and in a few cases days. To us it looked like he logged in at 8am and answered a couple emails for visibility and did the same at lunch and then spent about an hour Sunday shooting off half-assed answers/documents so everyone who attempted to contact him on Friday has something in their inbox. Come Monday morning there were a lot of excuses of connectivity problems, locked out files, etc… His boss didn’t give a shit since he was out most Fridays and it didn’t impact him so nothing was dealt with even though my boss put together a case for why this guy’s WFH privilege’s should be revoked.
          Needless to say, getting the ability to WFH was an uphill battle my entire time there.

        2. Allison*

          Right, you sit down with that person and say “hey Jane, I’m concerned you’re not being very productive when you’re working from home, if I don’t see an improvement I may ask you to account for your time when you do work remotely.” It’s also valid to reign in someone’s WFH flexibility so they can only do it when they really need to, like when a big blizzard is set to hit or they’re recovering from an illness.

      2. hbc*

        Yeah, but pretty much all the ways I can abuse my time at the office are ways that I can abuse my time at home, and then there are all the dishes and appointments and yoga that I can’t do when I’m at the office. I think it’s pretty reasonable to create additional structured oversight when you’ve lost out on the casual “someone could walk in and catch me on Amazon” oversight.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Amen to this. I wfh full-time and I have slow days and busy days– just like I did in the office. The only difference is that at home when it’s slow I can do laundry or vacuum or bake a loaf of bread while I wait for my projects to move forward. I resolved to stop feeling guilty about that.

          Now, granted, I do not have the type of job that is very task-based– but if I did, the amount of downtime would be very different.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            Same! I just went to full time WFH and had some serious guilt about doing anything not work related for a while. Then Mr. Gumption asked me what the difference was between doing dishes for 10 minutes vs chatting with a co-worker about her weekend and I had to honestly say that dishes was probably more productive. Mind blown. I wasted just as much time in the office but since it was in the office I wasn’t aware of it

            1. MtnLaurel*

              Mr. Gumption is right. I’ve been WFH exclusively for over 5 years and I spend a LOT less time doing the odd chore here or there than I did with coffee and office small talk. It ends up to the company’s advantage.

        2. Link*

          To me, one of the benefits of WFH is that I can take breaks throughout the day to do the dishes, do some yoga, or go out for an appointment that is closer to my house than my office. That doesn’t mean I spend less total time doing work. It’s just a different way of distributing my time. Giving people that flexibility and self-oversight can really improve how much people enjoy their job.

      3. Mystery Bookworm*

        Eh, I may be an outlier, but I’m actually fairly unproductive when I WFH, but not in an office (although for this reason, I don’t really use WFH time).

        1. Allonge*

          Me too! Which is why I do not like the assumption that everyone is more productive from home. And a reasonable reporting at the beginning can be used by the employee to test that, too.

    3. Susie Q*

      “the number of clients of mine who are “working from home””

      These are your clients not your employees or co-workers. You have absolutely no idea what arrangements or stipulations your clients have with their company. For example my company encourages us to work home on days when we have doctors appointments, vet visits, etc. And we are also allowed to check our email and respond to calls while sitting in the waiting room.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        Our admin assistant (who is ineligible for WFH as a result) frequently insinuates this about us, but she’s the one printing out recipes and crafting patterns half the day on the laser printer at work.

        On my WFH days I roll out of bed at 5 am and commute straight to my laptop, and put in a full day regardless of what mid-day breaks happen due to vet appointments or what have you. And I might actually be writing work e-mails on that “off” time while waiting for the vet but not logging it as worked time.

        1. Welling*

          Yes, one of my favorite things about WFH is being able to start my day as soon as I get up because I don’t have to get dressed and commute and then I have time to do some chores and run some errands later in the day.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            I check my e-mail while the coffee is brewing. No way in hell or heaven would I do that if I was heading to the office

    4. Antilles*

      Given the number of clients of mine who are “working from home” but actually bringing all their llamas to the llama vet and taking phone calls during the llama vet’s exam there is probably more reason for concern than posters here usually admit.
      I really don’t see that as a cause for concern. Like, at all. That just seems like typical flex-time as it exists in professional offices.
      If I was working in the office and had a 11:00 am vet appointment, nobody would have the slightest issue with me just telling my boss that I’m going to head out for an appointment, be back after lunch. I’m trusted to manage my time, get stuff done, and that it’ll overall balance out. It’s the same exact thing if I’m WFH…except it actually means *less* time away from my desk because the vet is 5 minutes from my house instead of 40 minutes from my office.

      1. MtnLaurel*

        The other thing is that if I were at a vet appointment during a workday, I’d not be able to take a call from my office during that time. It’d just need to wait. Since I WFH and use my cell phone, I can and do take calls while I’m doing something else, like waiting in the vet’s office.

    5. Nanani*

      You realize people can put in a full day’s work that isn’t a consecutive 9-5 block? Doing things like going to appointments during the hours the appointment is available is not actually a problem, as long as the work gets done. And if you allow wfh at all, I have to assume the work isn’t client facing/coverage based so what on earth could be wrong with having a llama vet break?

      I work 100% from home (freelance!) so all these “bUT SomE PEOPle do NOn WorK thinGS IN THe WORk HouRS?” comments are laughable.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      But they’re available to work while also doing their personal tasks!

      At the office I’m sitting wasting space waiting for the phone or email. It’s no different than using that time sitting in a doctor’s office. Sitting. Waiting. Wasting space. Until someone needs me.

      Not all of us has a never ending pile of work on any given day. I create tasks at work sometimes but it’s filler and nobody expects it.

      I suppose those who come from the background of hands on work like that do struggle to see how you can be productive. That makes sense because you don’t know their full job scope.

      My boss does a lot of planning. It’s phones and email. He can do it from the office and get more face time with our local crew or do it from his couch. His boss is in Europe, so it doesn’t matter. He has certain things he needs to be present for and many things he doesn’t. So yeah, he works remote when he has a dental appointment or is feeling contagious or just feels like it. I know damn well he’s working either way.

    7. Lana Kane*

      It’s in fact not always perfectly reasonable to have to account for your WFH tasks. I manage 13 remote workers and am able to manage just fine just be keeping an eye on things like existing systems, timeliness of replies to emails, and productivity reports. It can happen in some areas, sure, but emailing your daily task list is not the norm across telecommuting.

      On my situation, it would super unreasonable for me to request it – and would haaate to have to review those emails every day.

    8. NotAnotherManager!*

      I guess we’re just lucky that as long as my spouse remains the most productive person on his team, his boss doesn’t care that, when she calls him on his lunch break, he’s doing afternoon carpool. She gets an extra hour out of him on the front and back ends of the day, since he’s not commuting in DC traffic, too, and he seems to be the only person on his team who notices and jumps in when the server sends work-killing error messages past closing time. He’s built up enough credibility that, if he needs to take a cat to the vet or to run an errand that can only be done during the day, it’s a non-issue. Just like the way I still answer my phone and email when I leave my desk and go to the bank or run another personal errand away from the office.

  13. Old Admin*

    #2 : I’ve had similar situations, and solved them by malicious compliance. :-)
    Basically, my daily reports were as detailed and long winded as possible, I flooded my boss with emails about every little detail, and I constantly called (preferably during her break times).
    She folded under my barrage within a few weeks and begged to “just manage my time myself”. :-D

  14. Mary*

    –What should I do before starting a new job?

    Clean the house, see your friends a lot, fill the freezer. Starting a new job is KNACKERING because you’re constantly meeting new people and absorbing new information, and it’s so nice to come home and have nothing to do!

    1. 1234*

      I would also add meal prep some lunches (assuming that New Company doesn’t provide lunches for employees every day) or dinners so that there’s food when they get home from the new job.

      1. Allison*

        I regret not making a big batch of chili and freezing it in soup containers before starting my new job, because I’ve had to buy lunch pretty much every day and I know this isn’t sustainable in the long-run.

        That said, don’t bring lunch your first day. Someone might want to take you to lunch, and you should scope out the kitchen/fridge situation before bringing anything. You want to get a sense of:

        a) whether you’ll need to label everything you bring in
        b) whether you can bring in a few days’ worth of lunch or whether you can barely find room for one lunch at a time
        c) whether there’s a microwave, whether it works and whether there’s a big line for it every day between 11am and noon, or whether there are a few microwaves and you may only need to wait behind a few people if you eat at peak lunchtime.

        1. Dragoning*

          I usually bring a packed lunch that doesn’t needed to be cooled and I’m okay missing. I don’t know if the workplace will have good places to eat nearby or how busy they’ll be when, or if they’ll have a good cafeteria I can buy things at, etc, etc. I wouldn’t bring leftovers, but a peanut butter sandwich and some chips and a drink? Yes.

          And what do I do if no one takes me out to lunch? No one has ever taken me out to lunch on my first day.

          1. Texan In Exile*

            Yes, do bring a lunch! I was used to going out to lunch on day one, but at a new job a few years ago, nobody said anything about going out, including my new boss, who ate his lunch alone in his office, and I was on my own and didn’t know where to go and the only options I could find were pretty expensive and the whole reason I was working was because I needed money (I know that makes me unusual) so I bought this awful chia pudding thing and was starving all day long.

            Bring a lunch. You can always eat it the next day. Peanut butter keeps.

    2. Daisy-dog*

      Yes to filling the freezer! I love prepping some things that can turn into easy, tasty meals whenever I get time. I also like to clean out my closet or generally declutter my house. Anything that makes my life easier when things get busy. Though this is my idea of relaxing.

    3. Ama*

      I’d also add that if your benefits at the job you are leaving will remain active for a bit (make sure you check with your HR and possibly also your insurance company) maybe schedule any checkups you might need for your time off.

      I still regret that the last time I changed jobs, I didn’t go in for one last visit to both my dentist and my eye doctor — both ended up not being on my new job’s insurance and finding new ones while I was dealing with acclimating to the new job resulted in me delaying my next checkups far longer than I really should have.

      This of course wouldn’t apply if you are on a family member’s insurance plan but it still might be nice to get checkups out of the way if you are due for one in the first couple of months at the new job, just to have one less thing to have to handle.

  15. Bazinga*

    I would recommend driving the route a couple times if it’s a distance or an unfamiliar route. Ideally at the same time as you’ll be leaving for work. It helps to see what the traffic is like. Plus that will be one less thing to stress over on your first day of work.
    I say this as I live in a major city and traffic is a nightmare.

  16. Navn Navnesen*

    No-one expects you to “hit the ground running” on your first day. As others have said, be rested, check out the commute time and maybe read up a bit, but no sane manager will expect you to know everything about the job before you start.

  17. BRR*

    #2 If you can, save work to do on your work from home day that’s more easily quantifiable. I.e “built X teapots” instead of “made progress on teapot design.”

    #3 I set an alarm for a day or two before a new job so I’m not adjusting from waking up at like 9 to waking up at 6 or whatever.

    1. WellRed*

      This is what I do on the occasional WFH day. I’m an editor/writer so I set aside articles to write. I do a few other things too but nothing like filing stories to show productivity.

  18. Policy Wonk*

    RE: Work from home, I wish my agency had some standards for accountability for those who work from home. I have a great team, and trust that my employees are working when they are at home, but am concerned about the unknown auditors and inspectors general who periodically check up on us. How do I demonstrate to them that my employees are actually working when they are at home? (It doesn’t help that there was a big, public scandal at the Patent and Trademark Office a few years ago where work-from-home employees weren’t doing much – or any – work.) Employees who have easily quantifiable work – updated x case files, adjudicated y applications – are easy – the work is getting done. Those whose work is not so quantifiable are more complicated.

    While I take OP at her word that the supervisor doesn’t trust her employees, I wouldn’t rule out that there may be similar concerns. So even if the record-keeping is scaled back after a few months, I would recommend that the employee do some sore of record-keeping anyway, so that it is easy to produce a year later when the department or division is audited.

    1. LQ*

      I don’t understand the anger at being accountable for doing your job, in the office or wfh. It’s part of how I show I’m worth the money I’m being paid. I’m exchanging my time and labor for money and as a part of that exchange, I feel like I should demonstrate that I am doing the thing I said I was going to do, giving you that chunk of time and chunk of labor. It’s a business exchange. When you buy a thing you want to actually get the thing. Maybe it’s coming from a background working in grant-funded roles but I always want to be able to show what I’m providing in a way that the company wants to continue the business exchange.

      I think chances are good people are under-reporting and under-monitored at the office, the boss either just thinks seeing people means at least they are getting the time, if not the labor, or has decided that it’s not worth the battle that people put up any time you ask someone to report on their time, so they only do it when they have an opening, like someone wanting to wfh.

      People don’t merrily go along with it, just look at the angry comments here, so don’t tell me that all boss’s have to do is just say “Hey, I need you to account for your time and labor to demonstrate accountability for your half of this business bargin,” and everyone will cheerfully go along.

      1. Fikly*

        It’s the different standards. If there is a reason to be held accountable, you should be held accountable all the time, regardless of where you are working, in the office or from home.

        If you are only being held accountable while working from home, that’s saying I have no reason other than not trusting you, even if I have no basis for that distrust.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      My spouse works primarily from home and on a job that is harder to quantify. His boss looks at progress and quality of large projects, response and resolution time on (erratically but not infrequently) reported issues, collaboration and contribution to team and department projects, and ability to get things done without her hanging over his shoulder. Frankly, he’s the one on her team that other team ask to have as their point of contact/collaborator because he’s got a reputation for being responsive, helpful, and knowledgeable (or willing to dig in and figure it out). He works for a large, far-flung federal agency, so it’s no different to his coworkers or customers in Philly or Cheyenne if he’s sitting in an office or on our couch.

  19. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP2 – it might help to frame it for yourself as demonstrating to your manager that wfh is valid, and you are providing evidence that will help improve working conditions for you.

    She’s never done this before and needs evidence that it will work.

    You’re part of the experiment, and reporting your results helps her get the data she needs.

    1. Ali G*

      Yes! I see it as a positive – she is willing to consider that she needs to move along with the times if she wants to keep quality workers. Help her get there 100%! It’s not that hard to send a report of what you accomplished at the end of the day, and give her the data she needs to get on board with WFH.

  20. StellaBella*

    #1 – Good luck on the raise – if well received please ask when it will become effective too – next month? in 2 weeks?

    #2 WFH – tool use like Slack/IM tools of some sort, and Trello boards for tasks, and the full update end of day are great to be available and visible to management while WFH.

  21. Akcipitrokulo*

    Also when I wfh I will generally send an update to boss at end of day letting them know what’s been done.

    It’s keeping in touch, giving him the same knowledge of what I was up to as he’d get if I were in work and talking during the day.

  22. Jdc*

    I say relax before the job starts. You won’t be taking vacation days for a while, for some up to a year before you even can. Get your hair done, a manicure, a relaxing lunch with a friend. Drive the commute once in the morning so you can get a feel. If you usually wake up at noon, ya I’d start getting up earlier but if you’re up at a normal hour then I wouldn’t worry.

  23. Shadowbelle*

    OP#2: There are apps for that. I’ve had to do it when working as a consultant, even on-site. It’s no big deal.

  24. CupcakeCounter*

    #4 This is apparently a thing now. I had several interviews last year and I received one of those surveys from 3 of the 5 companies. The company I accepted an offer from did not do this but there was a follow-up phone call after the initial interview with a few general experience questions.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’m curious if the surveys were similar. Is there a recruiting or HR consulting company that has a standard survey that they run for all their clients?

  25. IT Guy*

    #1 – At my place of employment if you ask for a meeting to discuss a raise I have not found good success in that. However, in meetings I already have with my boss and then taking the conversation in that direction at the end has helped tremendously. No one has ever asked me for a presentation, but I have provided reasons such as looking for growth and taking on higher level work or new task.

  26. Ginger Root*

    #2 As annoying as this is you are part of the pilot program of people working from home, this is a great opportunity to get you all to more WFH time. Tracking your performance at home is going to give you all more ammunition to expand the program (as long as everyone doing it is working). I would go further and start documenting what is done while in the office as well so that you have a comparison and can prove that working at home is more beneficial to the company than having you in the office.

    1. Mystery Bookworm*

      Yes, I can completely sympathise with the people here who feel that accounting for your WFH time is patronizing or who are advocating malicious compliance. But I honestly think it’s in your best interest to meet this request with good faith, at least for the first 3/4 months. There are definitely programs and apps that help with that kind of tracking (I don’t know if those cost money or if you ask your boss to cover one).

      I agree that the boss’s skepticism sounds unjustified, but this doesn’t sound like a hill worth dying on.

      1. SomebodyElse*

        This is where I land on the topic. I’ve seen WFH done right and terribly wrong by both employees and managers. I don’t think there’s anything over the top in the managers request. It’s pretty normal at the introduction of WFH. The manager in the OP’s case is new to this and is uncomfortable with it. It’s worth complying without snark or annoyance until the manager has a better feel for the situation. Typically the requirement is dropped in a couple of months.

        If you think about it, there are managers out there that require this type of tracking by their employees while they are in the office. I know I’ve told this story before, the manager of one of my teams that I replaced used to make her employees leave a note on their desk anytime they got up with time, where they were going, and when they expected to be back. Yes, this included bathroom visits. Poor team… I ended that practice within a minute of hearing about it! (It may have taken me a couple of seconds to get over the shock before I could get the words out “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard and stops immediately”

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        If you’re hoping the requirement goes away after a while then I wouldn’t recommend asking the boss to have the company pay for a program to track it–then six months down the line they’ll probably feel like “well, we paid for this so you have to keep using it”

      3. Antilles*

        There are definitely programs and apps that help with that kind of tracking (I don’t know if those cost money or if you ask your boss to cover one).
        Honestly, I’d just do a quick search for a pre-made Excel spreadsheet. There are (free) templates out there that already have days broken down into 15 or 30 minute increments and you just fill in the name of the project or task. For a situation like this where the primary concern is simply to show the boss that yeah, we actually do work when we’re at home, that should be plenty sufficient.

  27. Statsy*

    #4: In theory, by asking your opinion of the interview process before you do/don’t get an offer, the company can get your opinion unbiased by how you did. (Presumably people with offers are more likely to think highly of the interview process than people without.) Definitely a tradeoff against other factors of course — like your willingness to invest time in this, and your willingness to be frank while they are still making a decision — but I can see an argument in favor too.

    1. LW4*

      I’ve been asked at the end of an interviewed about how I thought the interview went by my interviewer. I can’t say I normally like that question, but it’s a lot easier and less problematic to answer then. An entire survey though? I was entirely thrown by it since I’ve never gotten one before, and I found myself irritated that they’d give me such a thing without at least warning me about it beforehand. I also agree with Alison, you’re not going to get any negative responses from anyone who still hopes for a job. I certainly didn’t even irritated and I normally don’t care on surveys. I get what you’re saying, I just don’t think the theory translates to fact, y’know?

    2. Fikly*

      Except that the company has all the power in this situation, so it’s impossible for the opinion to be unbiased. It’s going to be heavily biased towards the positive, because aside from the few people who have already decided they don’t want to move forward in the process, anyone who still wants the job and has any sense will only give positive (or at worst, neutral) feedback.

  28. CheeryO*

    For #2, I’ve been coding my time in 15-minute increments for the last five years, first for billing purposes at a consulting firm and then for general accountability/budgeting purposes in state government. I can see why it might feel patronizing, but it’s really not a big deal (and as someone who has never been able to WFH, it feels like a very fair compromise). Just keep a notepad nearby, or compile a list in a draft email as you work on things.

    1. Welling*

      I’m not sure if anyone finds time tracking itself patronizing. A lot of jobs requiring it, including salaried, high-level jobs. I think the objection is to tracking time only when you’re WFH. For me, that demonstrates a level of distrust that isn’t warranted. If a person can be trusted to get their work done at the office without someone looking over their shoulder all day, they should be trusted to get work done at home unless there is evidence that they can’t.

    2. iglwif*

      I’ve been tracking my time for freelance jobs, contract jobs, and full-time salaried jobs for … probably the past 10 years or so? Both when working in an office and when working at my kitchen table. Honestly it’s just habit now, and I like knowing how long things take, where the time goes, etc.

      I don’t understand why it would seem patronizing, although I do understand why making people do it *only* when they’re not in the office is annoying. But you’re right, it’s a fair compromise when the alternative is “no, you can’t wfh ever”!

      1. londonedit*

        It seems patronising if you’re only asked to do it when you’re working from home, because it’s easy to infer ‘we don’t trust you to actually work when we can’t keep an eye on you and we assume you’ll be slacking off’.

  29. Smithy*

    #3 If you’ve been working for a while and this new job is starting after a break of a few months, I largely agree with Alison. However, my first job after graduate school I found I was exhausted in a way I was not expecting. I had worked for a few years between undergrad and grad, and was a bit surprised by how long the transition took to be comfortable with normal business hours.

    I don’t think you necessarily need to set your alarm for as early as you’d need to when working – but perhaps just even the act of setting one and waking up that way can be helpful.

  30. CanCan*

    OP3 – depends how different your lifestyle will be. If you’re going to have to leave your house at 7am every morning, and with your current relaxed schedule you’re used to watching movies until 2am and sleeping until 10, – yes, it’s a good idea to get used to a new schedule. You can still have fairly relaxed days when you’re awake, and you can get enough sleep – but since it takes your body some time to adjust, might as well do it beforehand.

    You may also want to consider what you’re going to do about lunch and dinner. If you’ll be bringing lunch to work, figure out what that might be and when you’ll be preparing it. Will you be cooking supper after work? Or will you make a big pot of something on the weekend and eat that in the evenings? What grocery shopping should be done on the weekend so you don’t have to go in the evenings?

    Another one is figuring out your commute / parking / public transit schedule.

  31. AvonLady Barksdale*

    #4: Interview experience surveys seem to be a Thing now. I was rejected by an employer and sent a survey about the process, then with another company I had a phone screen set up but the position was put on hold. They’re automated, so I don’t think anything of them– and in the latter case I didn’t even bother responding. The questions are very generic and obviously not tailored to my own experience. I really wish companies would send these only to people who interview or, better still, only to those who were hired, but as someone who works in a field that uses a ton of market research, these surveys are part of the “data is everything” mentality that’s pretty prevalent these days. So I disagree with Alison that this is super weird, though it is very annoying.

    By the way, I filled out the survey for the company that rejected me and said that maybe they should time their automated rejections to go out on “bankers’ hours” timelines, because getting a form rejection at 9pm on a Sunday just made it look like no one had actually read the application I sent on Friday afternoon. However, I am under no illusions that anyone at the company– or the vendor they hire to conduct this survey– will see my response and change anything based on that.

  32. Sara without an H*

    OP#3 — First, congratulations! I agree with everybody upstream that on your first day, you need to be well rested, well-breakfasted, and well-caffeinated before you report to work. If doing that requires you to adjust your schedule a few days in advance, so be it.

    You and your partner should also probably discuss ways to simplify your evening routine. Stock your fridge/freezer with stuff that can be put together quickly and with minimal effort, because you are going to be TIRED. Try to work ahead on the laundry and housekeeping, so that you don’t come home with a bunch of chores to do.

    Oh, and if you’re the one who routinely does most of the cooking/housekeeping — you and your partner need to have a conversation.

  33. Eric*

    #5, I’m guessing a conversation went like this:
    1: We should do a survey
    2: No, candidates wont like it.
    1: Don’t worry, we can ask on the survey if they like the survey.
    2 *groans* yes boss.

    1. LW4*

      LOL yeah, you’re probably right! And meanwhile the candidates are wondering what the crap they’re doing. ><

  34. Sara without an H*

    OP#2, you say your boss is very “old school” — but she’s showing that she’s willing to learn. Don’t discourage her.

    Go ahead and set up some kind of tracking system for what you do when you work from home. Ask her for feedback on whether your system is giving her all the information she needs. If she feels like you’re trying to be cooperative and meet her halfway, she may eventually relax and give you more flexibility.

    And try not to let your dislike for this woman (and you do dislike her, don’t you?) screw up something that you’ve wanted for a long time.

  35. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

    OP 4: It’s too late now, but I would have been tempted to leave all the answers blank except for ‘what did you think of this survey?’ and answer that by saying that it was premature and an unnecessary burden on the applicant’s time.

    On the other hand, I once answered a customer service surveys with “your staff did a fine job solving the problem I called about. This survey, on the other hand, is interfering with my work, and your repeated calls during the workday to demand my opinion of the experience has lowered my opinion of your company.”

    1. LW4*

      Yeah, that was the harshest answer I gave on the survey. I recommended they wait to send the survey until AFTER sending an official rejection or acceptance.

  36. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

    As someone in a field that requires time-logging (in six minute increments), some tips for doing it genuinely:

    * Time spent on a project does not mean you have to be 100% focused or sitting down 100% of the time. If, in a 2 hour timespan, I work on Project A, get up, go to the bathroom, sit back down, work some more, get up to refill my tea/coffee, come back and work more… my office still counts it as 2 hours. You don’t need to log bathroom breaks, just like you don’t need to clock in and out for them.

    * Relatedly, if you’re not sure how long you spent on a project, a round number is fine. In our office, we round up to the nearest increment, e.g. if a call takes ten minutes, it’s logged as twelve minutes since that’s the next increment of six.

    * Have a catch-all designation for random stuff (mine is “checking email”) if you’re not able to remember exactly what you did or if you’re off by a couple of minutes at the end of the day.

    1. AnotherSarah*

      Yes to all of these! When I was freelance, I had a client who was hyper-concerned about hours. I got paranoid about bathroom/coffee breaks etc., and decided that if I wouldn’t clock out, I wouldn’t not count that time. So bathroom, coffee, bananas, quick text exchanges with my mom all got counted, but lunch and jogs didn’t. I logged stuff like “checking/writing email” and “Googling a term I don’t know” as “administrative.”

  37. Emilia Bedelia*

    For #3, you should make sure you know where your supporting documents are for completing the I9 form, and figure out what you want to select for deductions on the W2.

    The night before your first day of work is not a good time to realize your passport is MIA!

  38. Nicki Name*

    #3, if your sleep/wake cycle is going to be significantly different when you start the new job, it’s worth starting to transition toward it now.

    Otherwise, as others have been saying upthread, don’t worry too much about trying to “hit the ground running”! Your first couple days will probably be spent meeting people, getting your workspace set up, reading company policies, and so forth.

  39. cosmicgorilla*

    LW4 – my company sends a survey like this, only not as detailed. Our is more, based on your experiences so far, would you recommend that a friend apply with us? You then have the opportunity to add more detail. It’s part of an initiative to improve candidate experience.

    We deliberately don’t tie the survey to results because your response could be biased by your status in the interview, and I see the same here. If they told you that you weren’t being moved forward, would you decide you didn’t like the interview after all? Or would you overlook pain points because you were happy that you made it to the next round? Your interview status shouldn’t be relevant, although I can definitely understand the flip side about being cautious that it might impact your chances.

    I can’t speak for all companies, but I can tell you that at mine, we protect the anonymity of the candidate. We take that very seriously. The only time we would disclose a respondent’s identity to the recruiting team is if the respondent specifically gave us permission or requested further information about their candidacy.

    1. LW4*

      I could understand and work with that wording. “At this point in the process” leaves open the possibility of further interviews, being hired, or being rejected. This survey was something you’d give someone at the end. It came out of nowhere and looked out of place before the end of the process.

    2. Fikly*

      But how can the candidate trust that you take anonymity seriously? I mean, look at how people answer surveys sent out by their actual employers.

      So whatever results you are getting from this survey are likely very skewed.

  40. Jennifer*

    #3 I’m a mix between you and your partner. I think relax as much as you can in the weeks leading up to your first day, but maybe during those last few days, start getting into a bit of a routine so it’s not such a shock to the system. You definitely want to take advantage of the time you get to relax before everything changes. This way you get the best of both worlds.

    Congrats on the new gig!

  41. Orange You Glad*

    #2 – I also have an old school boss and after 3 years of “trying out” working from home certain days, he’s finally comfortable with me working from home pretty much whenever I want. The work is getting done. I’ve proven I’m available for calls, etc on days I’m working from home. I’ve had long discussions with him about what tasks I prioritize at home vs. the office and that I’m aware I still need to be in the office to complete other work.

    It’s annoying, but doing the follow up now might mean more flexibility in the future.

  42. I'm just here for the cats*

    Letter writer 3 I would maybe do a run through of your commute, especially if you take public transit or if you are unfamiliar with parking in that area. If you take the bus you would know exactly what stop to get off of. Or if you drive you can see what parking looks like.
    I would also maybe think of what your going to do for work lunch. Maybe bring something that doesn’t need a microwave or bring money to go grab something.

  43. Pretzelgirl*

    #3- Def research your commute! If you live in a heavily populated area, the commute times could double.

    Other than that, unless you’re drastically changing hours. Like from 2nd or 3rd shift to 1st, I think you’re fine to jump into your new routine.

    That being said, I am always pretty wiped out the first few weeks of a new job. Learning new info really drains me mentally and physically. Get good sleep, meal prep and on a day off/weekend, make sure you take time for yourself.

  44. Jennifer*

    #3 Also look up what restaurants are in the area if you want to order delivery in or go out and check out reviews. That can also be kind of an icebreaker when you meet your new coworkers if you want to ask them for recommendations.

  45. NotAnotherManager!*

    OP #1, it probably depends on your company’s culture, but I’d probably just ask for a meeting with your boss to discuss your performance and opportunities for more responsibility. I absolutely loathe it when people ask me for a meeting and refuse tell me what they want to talk about because I like to be prepared and our time (for both of us) effectively. I had someone who seemed to enjoy ambushing me so much that I just started refusing to take off-schedule meetings with them without a topic/agenda. (We spoke regularly about work, had biweekly meetings, and did annual reviews, but anything else required at least a “hey, can we talk about promotion opportunities” or “do you have time to catch up on some issues I’m seeing with the new hire” because they seemed to be playing some sort of psychological game with meetings and liked to hand me aggressive and over-the-top letters that tended to require HR or higher intervention, often for them to backtrack or say that’s “not what they meant” and they didn’t understand why “it became such a big deal!”.) I assume people who refuse to tell me what’s going on are quitting, and that pretty much never prompts me to run to HR for a counteroffer.

    The manager who told you to leave a chat about your “employment status” hanging for a week to make your boss nervous is giving you terrible advice, unless you work for a really dysfunctional place.

    That said, we also don’t do a lot of off-cycle, non-promotion-related raises either, which seems to disappoint people who come to ask for one. The reason is that our HR department proactively monitors and adjusts for market, so people don’t have to ask for a raise to be in the area/position range or to be paid fairly with similar in-house positions. (They are very aggressive about vetting for and correcting pay discrepancies, too.) We had a major market shift in one particular department when new salary surveys came out late last year and gave the whole team a market adjustment because it’s another seven months before their annual review. We’ll never be tippy-top of market, but we’re not going to be unfair either.

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      I was going to say the same – I would very much prefer a heads up so I have time to prepare. It doesn’t need to be super-detailed, but if you at least say “I’d like to meet with you to discuss the possibility of a raise,” that will give me time to look into whether or not I’m allowed to give you a raise, how much I’m allowed to give, your past salary and performance history, and so on. Then when we meet, we can have an actual conversation about what you’re looking for and why, and what I can do to help you.

      OTOH if you don’t tell me ahead of time, you can come in to my office and lay out your case if you want, but I’m still going to have to get all that other information before I can give you an answer.

      Also, if you let me know what you want to talk about, it helps me triage my own time. If I’m going to tell you that I’m working on a critical deadline and won’t be able to think about your request until next month – would you rather hear that before we sat down for your big talk, or after? Personally, I think it would suck to prepare your talking points, work up your nerve, and have the meeting, only to be told that it’s not a good time for your manager. You’ll get far better results if you plan to talk to her at a time when she can give you her full attention – and you can only get that by telling her ahead of time what you want to talk about.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      Yes to both of these comments.

      “The manager who told you to leave a chat about your “employment status” hanging for a week to make your boss nervous is giving you terrible advice…”

      Agree. Booking a meeting with me and saying they want to discuss their “employment status” comes off kind of strange and a bit too formal; I’d likely be anticipating a resignation or maybe a complaint about their job. In my opinion, a one-on-one meeting is the best place for this to come up, or booking a meeting to talk about their performance and opportunities. In the former, it’s very easy to transition into this talk. In the latter, it at least gives me a heads-up so I can come prepared.

  46. Brrrrrrrr*

    #2, I dealt with a similar challenge in a past job. I found it helpful to be strategic in the work I chose to do when I was working from home. The work I tended to focus on from home was work that would require supervisory review. That way, I could send my work product to my boss at intervals throughout the day in an email saying something to the effect of, “Hi boss, I just finished my draft of this assignment and it is ready for your review. Please see the attached.” That way, it wasn’t just a log of what I had done, but actual work product that I had completed. I think this helped my boss feel more comfortable that I was actually being productive at home.

  47. West Coast Reader*

    #2 – I have a virtual assistant who works for me 10 hours a week as a contractor. I want her to tell me how much she’s worked and what she’s done for the day – not because I don’t trust her to do her work, but because I want to know how the work is progressing. This information is going to help me figure out how long I need to budget for tasks when someone else is doing it or if she’s struggling and I need to provide more training. At then end of the day, it’s data for me to improve operations.

    You can view this as compiling evidence for YOURSELF to get more WFH days in the future. Demonstrate how much more productive you were at tasks that require quiet and uninterrupted time.

  48. always in email jail*

    #2 WFH has been a minefield in every job I’ve worked where some staff were clinical (aka HAD to be there, you can’t give vaccines remotely!) and some could WFH. There was always a lot of pushback from clinical staff behind the scenes “it’s not fair they can be home to meet the cable man and I have to use leave because I’m clinical” “It’s not fair they get paid more and get to work from home and do nothing while we come in and do the real work” etc. Your boss may want those logs to cover their own butt if other managers who are advocating for their clinical staff push back. I’ve done the same thing, had people submit detailed logs so I can say “well take a look for yourself. Also, my staff are exempt and often called after hours and don’t get paid for it, would you like that arrangement as well? If we want to discuss what is ‘fair’ I’m happy to open up that can of worms”

    She really may be doing this to prove to higher ups or colleagues that it’s OK.

  49. AnnieG*

    Re: Alison’s response to the letter writer wondering how to prepare for her first day at a new job, here’s a hot tip on using Google Maps to figure out commute time in advance: you don’t have to map it on the day/time you want to check for; there’s a little drop-down menu under the starting and ending addresses that says “Leave Now” that you can change to leaving at a specific time/date or better yet, arriving at a specific time.

    I just found this out a few weeks ago after using Google Maps for years…

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Not the OP, but thank you! I had no idea the leave time could be changed. I always thought “leave now” was the only option. Good to know. :)

  50. Acm*

    Yesssss enjoy your few weeks of having a job lined up but no job to do. periods of unemployment are rarely as nice as they could be, even when finances are okay, because of the stress of Not Knowing when you’ll find something and the pressure cooker of reading ads, thinking, resume tweaking, cover letter writing, paranoid obsessing, aaahhh. I envy you this time, enjoy!!!

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