my team keeps working unauthorized overtime, office lighting wars, and more

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

1. My staff keeps working unauthorized overtime even though I told them to stop

In my line of work, I oversee all the staff I used to be “teammates” with. I understand this can be a hard transition, but it’s been over a year and the staff are still having a hard time with this. That is not the question but I feel it’s relevant. The bigger issue I’m having with some of them is the overtime. Our company strongly discourages overtime, because we are a nonprofit and don’t have the money to pay out a ton of overtime. Therefore, ANY overtime has to be approved before it is taken. My staff know that if it is worked, legally it has to be paid and a few are taking advantage of this and not asking before using taking overtime, even though we’ve had the discussion several times. How do I get them to understand this isn’t just a rule I’ve made up but a company policy?

It’s a big deal that you’ve told them directly to stop doing this and they’re doing it anyway. Really, that initial conversation should be all it takes — so since it’s still happening, you need to take it very seriously and attach real consequences to it. The first consequence should be that if someone works unauthorized overtime, you require them work fewer hours the rest of the week so that they’re not earning additional pay, even if it means sending them home. That might be enough to show you’re serious (or at least that there’s no point in what they’re trying because they won’t get paid more for it). But if it keeps happening, you need to escalate the consequences — the point of being willing to fire people who knowingly flout this rule.

If that sounds extreme, it’s not. Working unauthorized overtime after being told not to is the same as saying  “I am going to take money from the organization that you haven’t authorized” — and that’s a huge issue, and, if it keeps happening after an initial warning, it’s serious enough to replace people over. That means you should loop in your boss now, because she needs to know this is happening and how you’re handling it.

It sounds like you think this is happening because your team doesn’t take you seriously as their boss. If so, you need to resolve that quickly too. You can’t have people on your team who disregard you whenever they feel like it or you’ll have a toxic mess.

(One caveat here: It doesn’t sound like it from your letter, but make sure people aren’t working the overtime because they’re being pressured to do more work than they realistically can achieve in a 40-hour week. If that’s what’s behind this, your solution needs to tackle that at the root.)

2. Office lighting wars

We have a very large, open office. There is one light switch with three settings: off, half on, and completely on. In the mornings when I arrive at work, it’s set to half-on. Coincidentally, I sit right next to the switch, but I don’t like the idea of messing with it. There is one person in the office who turns the lights completely on, and those who sit around me hate it. People roll their eyes, scoff in annoyance, and one woman spoke up “did she just make a decision on behalf of everyone else?” When she doesn’t come in, I’m very much aware of it because people mention how nice the lighting is. I’ve even stuck a piece of paper over the light switch, but despite all of this the individual either doesn’t get it or doesn’t want to. Our company would have no problem reimbursing this person for a personal lamp to keep at their desk, so I’m not sure why that hasn’t been an option — but I don’t work on this person’s team and I don’t have a senior position. I don’t think this individual has a senior position, either.

I doubt that this is something I can go to my boss with, and I’m not sure if HR or an office admin would be the correct option, either. I’ve thought about putting up a poll to see if the majority of employees actually do want the lights completely on, but i) it’s time-consuming, and ii) it doesn’t guarantee a resolution (how do we enforce something like that even if we can confirm that most people want them half on?). I’ve considered flicking them back after they walk away, but knowing my luck I’d end up turning off the lights completely (it’s not an on/off toggle), and … it seems childish. Do you have any suggestions? This has been going on for months and my patience is going to slip one of these days.

Yeah, one person shouldn’t be repeatedly choosing the lighting for an entire group without consulting anyone’s preferences but her own.

Check with the people around you to confirm your sense of their preferences is correct. But assuming it is, the next time this coworker switches the lights fully on, why not say, “Oh, we actually keep those half-off on purpose” and then switch it back? Or you can just switch it back without explaining, but speaking up has a greater chance of solving the problem. Alternately, you can try a clearly worded sign (although that would be weird to do without the buy-in of others there, so definitely ensure that first).

3. My coworker blows off my work event invitations

My department has quarterly parties with dinner and drinks at local restaurants if we meet our performance goals for the previous three months. Attendance at these parties is not mandatory, but my manager does appreciate it. My manager likes my organizational skills and he asked me to plan these events. I like doing it and get a bonus for it.

Two weeks before the events, I email everyone with the times and dates, asking for a reply within seven days so I can give the restaurants a headcount. Almost everyone replies, with the exception of one woman. She and I do not like each other very much. She is very nice and outgoing to a few people in her office clique, but when I try to talk to her she is curt and dismissive. She gives one-word answers and won’t engage in conversation with me.

I do not care if she doesn’t like me, but I do care if she ignores my invitations to our office parties. It is rude and ungracious behavior. She has done this three times. I talked to my manager about this. He agrees she should reply but I don’t think he can make it mandatory for her to reply to me.

How should I handle this going forward? My wife says I should just stop inviting her, but I have a feeling the day I do, she will complain I am creating a hostile work environment by singling her out. I worry if my boss does not put a stop to this, her passive-aggression will only get worse.

You’re taking this too personally. These are work events, not a personal party you’re throwing at your house, and if she doesn’t care to respond or attend, so be it. You’re right that it’s rude not to RSVP if requested to, and more so if she’s doing it at you in some way — but ultimately it doesn’t really matter. So she’s rude and ungracious; you don’t need to care or be invested in her in any way.

Don’t take your wife’s advice to stop inviting this coworker. These are work parties and you can’t exclude someone on your team from an official work event. But when you ask for RSVPs, just ask people to let you know if they’ll attend and say you’ll assume people you don’t hear from aren’t coming — and then do indeed assume that. If she doesn’t RVSP, figure she’s not attending and be done with it.

4. New hire backed out right before starting

My clinic hired an advance practice nurse more than three months ago. She accepted the offer and was due to start work in a week. Today she emailed us to say she wants “to take her career in another direction.” One week prior to start date and for us three full months when we could have been searching. Even worse, no phone call, no apology for wasting our time. Any advice on how to regroup and to lessen the likelihood of this happening again, other than baying at the moon and tearing my hair out?

It happens. If you hire enough people, eventually someone’s going to back out of an offer they’d previously accepted; that’s just how it goes. People get better offers, or change their minds, or their circumstances change. It’s worth looking back at the hiring process to see if in retrospect you notice any signs you should have paid more attention to (so you can learn from them for the future), but sometimes this just happens.

That said, when you hire someone with a far-off start date, it’s smart to keep in touch with them during that time. Not oppressive daily contact or anything, but checking in every few weeks, letting them know how excited you are to have them start, sending them an article that might interest them, sending benefits info, inviting them (without pressure) to events, etc. But even when you do that, sometimes someone will back out anyway.

It’s also worth reflecting on whether your work conditions might have played a role in her decision. Did she learn something after she’d accepted the offer that gave her pause? How are your Glassdoor reviews? What’s your culture like? But if this was a one-time thing and not a regular occurrence, it’s likely just one of those frustrating things that sometimes happen.

5. Can my past manager be a job reference if we’re now close friends?

A former manager (from about three years ago) has since become a very good friend of mine. So good that she keeps my dog when I go out of town, I pick her daughter up from school sometimes, and we even went to the beach together last summer. She was very careful to keep our relationship professional while she was my manager, and even when I got a different manager but we still worked in the same building. But since I left that company, we’ve become very close.

Is it appropriate to use her as a professional reference, since she was my direct manager for several months and is super familiar with many aspects of my work? Or is it possible this crosses the line into a “friend reference,” since we’re now very close and her view of me professionally could be understandably skewed by that closeness?

Well … if she’d been your manager for a longer time, I say that it’s not ideal but you could use her. Honestly, as a hiring manager, I’d want to know if the relationship has become a close friendship because that means the reference might be biased and she might not be fully up-front when talking about your weaker spots — but on your end of things, she was your manager and it’s legit to use a recent manager as a reference. (An exception would be if you’d become romantically involved — that’s something you’d be expected to disclose.)

However, since she only managed you for a few months, I’m skeptical about the value of the reference, totally aside from this issue! A good reference checker will ask how long she managed you, and a few months is so short that she barely qualifies as a manager reference anyway. That short time frame puts her much more solidly in the category of “friend reference” than “manager reference.” Given that, if you have other good options for references — people who managed you longer and also like your work — I’d use them instead.

{ 529 comments… read them below }

  1. Scott M*

    #2 have you specifically told this person that everyone like the lights half on? I would just assume that someone forgot to turn the lights all the way on. I personally hate dim lighting. She just may not be aware.
    #3 at my office, people regularly don’t respond to company lunch invitations if they aren’t going. It’s understood that if you don’t respond by the deadline then that’s the same as responding “no”. You really are taking it too personally

    1. Massmatt*

      Re: #3 I would agree, unless the unresponsive coworker is coming to the events after not responding, which the LW would probably have mentioned.

      1. merp*

        This is where I fall. Assuming she’s not showing up and messing up your headcount (which, like you, I assume would have been said) she… is doing something very normal. She’d presumably respond if she were going to attend, and since she’s not attending, she’s not responding. Feels a bit fussy to me to get up in arms that she’s not responding just to tell you ‘no,’ when not responding effectively does the same thing.

        1. Rainy*

          I think the interpersonal stuff between LW and this coworker is making LW interpret this more personally than they otherwise would. Might be helpful to take a step back and ask themself how they’d interpret the lack of RSVP from anyone else.

          1. BelleMorte*

            I think it may be a BEC issue (B*tch eating crackers), basically, you get so annoyed with someone that no matter what they do, they are doing it AT you and annoying you. i.e. “look at that B*tch eating crackers over there like she owns the place”

          2. rigger42*

            Agreed. That said, if the work relationship is so obviously frosty, looping in the manager was a good step to make clear OP isn’t cutting coworker out of the invites. Its amazing how many workplaces feel like high school.

          3. selena81*

            I think he should rethink what this party is about: it’s a reward, not a professional obligation. If she doesn’t want to attend than that’s her loss and not something to feel insulted over.

    2. DerJungerLudendorff*

      #2 Yes, that sprung out to me as well. For all the grouching from the team and pent-up frustration, nobody seems to have actually talked to that person. They don’t need a big conversation, just asking them to stop putting the lights up could easily fix this.
      And I’m kinda side-eyeing OP’s team here. They care enough to scoff at her and make snide remarks, but not so much to actually address the issue? That seems a bit unproffesional to me.

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        This was also my thought. Unless it was a well known thing that the lights are seen as too bright I’d just be like “oh I’ll turn the lights on as I go past” and not think about it at all.

      2. AngryAngryAlice*

        +1 to everything you said. I had to reread the question to make sure LW hadn’t said anything to the woman directly yet. It’s wild how many problems could be avoided/solved with minimal direct communication.

      3. Ann Onimous*

        Maybe OP #2’s team is much too polite. In my office, there’s always instant and EXTREMELY vocal groaning to be had whenever someone turns on the light. And there’s no option for dim lighting here.

        I actually had a team mate who used to turn on the light, while everyone else hated it, but since he said he had a medical condition we let it go. So I’d say to ask this person about a possible medical issue first, before collectively deciding to override her.

        1. 'Tis Me*

          But if they can get a desk lamp it needn’t be a choice between their comfort/accommodations and everybody else’s…

            1. valentine*

              if they can get a desk lamp it needn’t be a choice between their comfort/accommodations and everybody else’s…
              If what she wants is a bright room, I doubt a desk lamp will suffice, and I bet there are people who are suffering in silence because they don’t want to be chastised behind their backs for wanting the full lighting.

              But because they’re not a toggle, she may think whoever hits the light switch is giving minimal effort and not bothering to go back and correct it. After all, she doesn’t necessarily know they enjoy it when she’s away.

              1. AnnaBananna*

                Not only that, but the Bright Employee might actually be doing it for safety reasons, not because of her personal preference. Imagine how much it would suck to hear everyone being passive aggressive when in reality she’s just following policy. I know that our light wars came to a standstill when our safety coordinator Educated us with our policy. We hate it, every one of us!

                I would actually double check with either the operations person or a manager first before deciding that the Bright Employee is a selfish jerk. And then maybe also consider not being passive aggressive? Might helps things along. ;)

              2. Emily S*

                Perhaps those who prefer the dimmer lighting can be reimbursed for a beach umbrella to go over their desks ;)

                1. selena81*

                  Good point: she may think it falls on her to ‘turn on the lights’ every morning because she has particularly bad eyes.

                  Obviously that office needs much better communication: please just tell her already that you prefer it half-dark (after confirming that most coworkers agree with you: a poll is actually a pretty good idea)

          1. Scott M*

            She may not realize that dim lights are “a thing”. Until I read these posts I had no idea that so many people preferred their office lighting that way. But she wouldn’t know to go ask for a desk lamp because turning the lights on full is just normal to her.

            1. Morning Glory*

              Yeah, same. I turn on the lights in my area (about a quarter of the floor I am on) every morning automatically. There’s quite dim power-save lighting on overnight so if it’s something like that in this case, I’m sure it’s never occurred to her that other people in the office had it set that way on purpose.

              Also…who wants to sit in dim lighting all day? Dim lighting combined with bright screens causes eye strain, and overall sounds unpleasant and cavelike. I didn’t know this was anyone’s preference before this morning and am finding it hard to understand.

              1. lilsheba*

                me! Bright lighting and computer screens cause eye strain. You don’t need bright light when looking at a screen that creates it’s own light. Plus bright lights and screens flicker at different rates and give me a headache. I can’t understand why anyone would want full blown bright lighting on it’s way too much.

                1. Anon for the moment*

                  It depends. I have trouble seeing in dim lighting thanks to some eye surgery and I do still work with paper documentation. On the other hand, I suffer from migraines and there are times when the lights are too much.

                2. Morning Glory*

                  That’s literally the opposite of what eye doctors say. Bright lights from a screen in a dark room cause eye strain which is why they recommend turning your phone down to minimal lighting or nighttime mode if you’re on your phone before bed.

                  However, I do understand that humans are different and what may work for some people doesn’t work for everyone.

                3. Dust Bunny*

                  See, I find the contrast between a dim room and a bright computer screen far more irritating than full light all around.

                4. Indigo a la mode*

                  Absolutely with Morning Glory and Dust Bunny on this. The contrast between dim lighting and bright screens can cause major issues. Plus, I mean…it’s daytime. We’re creatures of the light. It makes sense to have lights on during business hours in an office.

              2. Dragoning*

                A lot of people–I do. Overly bright fluorescent lights give me headaches, and bother me far more than dim lights and a screen.

                Also something about unnaturally bright fluorescent lights makes my entire body attempt to reject it like a bad organ.

                I don’t need anywhere near as much light as overhead lighting provides in order to see clearly.

                1. AnnaBananna*

                  Yep, I was coming here to mention the increased headaches with fluorescent lighting. It rather common light war fodder that they cause headaches and I’m suprised that folks here are suprised, actually! haha

                2. Emily S*

                  On the chance that you’re still in your 20/early 30s…live it up while you can, because you never know when it’ll start to go!

                  I used to prefer dim lighting but my aging eyes just can’t cope anymore. When it first began to get to this point I would get so frustrated if I was trying to inspect something small and I just couldn’t focus on it enough to clearly see what I was looking at. The only way I can describe it is like the picture I’m getting in my mind is being encoded with too few pixels per inch – like if you try to zoom in on a low-res photo and instead of seeing more detail, you just see a larger blurry object, like a Money painting. I remember as a kid seeing my mom pull things away from her face to try to see them better and finding it so odd – why wouldn’t you bring it closer?? Now I get it. There’s no resolution up close, you have to zoom out to make sense of the image.

                  Aside from holding the object further away, more light really does help with illuminating the details that you can’t see in dimmer light. It’s not just a brighter photo the way it is to young eyes – it’s a higher resolution photo.

              3. Cait*

                Ditto – I’m the one in my office who always insists on turning the lights on. I tried to leave them off one day for everyone else’s sake and I had to go home at lunch with a migraine.

                1. lilsheba*

                  I’m the opposite, the bright lights give me a migraine. My home lighting is very dim, it’s string lights and a few not very bright lamps and it’s perfect. Overhead lighting is horrible no matter how you do it.

              4. Rusty Shackelford*

                Lots of us do this where I work. Do you use bright overhead fluorescent lights at home? My office lighting is like my home lighting. Lamps.

                1. Morning Glory*

                  No but I have plenty of ceiling lighting and am not a fan of just lamp-lit lighting.

                  I’m also never far from a window at home so I don’t need as much artificial lighting to supplement sunlight.

              5. Dragoning*

                Weirdly, the overly bright florescents are what feel “cave-like” to me. It’s a lot less common to find that in places that are well-light by windows and have a lot of natural sunlight.

                1. Triumphant Fox*

                  Yeah, most people in offices with windows have no overhead lights on where I am. I always open my blinds and rely on the sun. Some go so far as to not open their blinds, so they are literally in a cave – it can be hard to tell if they’re there or not. In the cubes, there is harsh fluorescent lighting that no one likes but there aren’t really alternatives other than darkness.

              6. Miss Mouse*

                “Also…who wants to sit in dim lighting all day? Dim lighting combined with bright screens causes eye strain, and overall sounds unpleasant and cavelike. I didn’t know this was anyone’s preference before this morning and am finding it hard to understand.”

                ME! I never use overhead lights in my office (and at home), and I only use a floor lamp and desk lamps in my office. My co-workers actually do refer to my office as the “The Cave”, but overhead lights, even at 1/2 strength, are guaranteed migraine triggers. When I am especially sensitive to getting a migraine, I have to go so far as to close my door because the the overhead fluorescent lighting in the rest of the department is too painful to see out of the corner of my eye.

                1. Miss Mouse*

                  And I actually get many compliments from people who meet with me in my office due to the more subdued and less harsh lighting.

                2. Not really a waitress*

                  I hate over head lighting for the same reason – headaches. I bring in lamps from home and always get compliments on how cozy my office feels.

                3. SheLooksFamiliar*

                  Miss Mouse, I feel for you. I got awful migraines during menopause, but they got worse when my team got moved to office space that had extra-bright fluorescent lighting. Even individual offices were extra-bright, and most people kept the lights off and brought in desk lamps. Employees from other floors commented on the brightness, too. If they were in one of the conference rooms, they often didn’t turn on the lights. There was plenty coming in through the glass walls from the rest of the floor!

                  I didn’t have an office at the time, so I wore sunglasses when I felt a migraine coming on; it helped but didn’t stop them. We finally moved to a floor with dimmer lighting, and it was a huge relief.

                4. Veronica Mars*

                  Yep, when I worked for a small company where I could get away with it, my office mates let me go with standing lamps and twinkle lights. Everyone called us the zen room, and we even got a rock garden and a fountain as gifts one year. It was great.

                  Now, for my extremely light-sensitive migraines in a cubicle farm, I have an elaborate setup. Overhead lights removed in the vicinity of my desk, incandescent lamp on my desk, blue light blocking glasses, and a flicker-free monitor.

              7. Lex*

                I find that there’s usually a divide here between people who get light sensitive headaches and people who don’t. People who don’t get them are like yay bright lights!! And the people who do are like death cannot come swiftly enough.

                I removed all the overhead lighting directly above my seat years ago and just work with a lamp which makes me much happier.

              8. JustaTech*

                Oh man, when we moved to our new open office the arguments over the shades literally ended in tears, because one coworker has very sensitive eyes and didn’t realize the spot she’d picked for her desk was both in a sunny spot and right next to a coworker who loves light.
                There was passive-aggressive moving of the shade, there were words, there were tears (of pain) and I was asked to smooth the whole thing over. (It genuinely is a medical condition, and we’d been in a very dark area for so long her eyes had gotten better, so the sudden sun was extra painful.)

                My whole floor is regularly accused of being a cave, though it honestly isn’t that dark at all. It’s just not bright.

              9. Toothless*

                I do! I had a concussion a month ago and the bright office lights are still enough to give me a headache

              10. Elizabeth West*

                *raises hand* Me. I hate working on the computer with overhead lights blaring down on me.

                At Exjob one time, I was dealing with some kind of light sensitivity while trying to work directly under a ceiling fixture (I’m still not sure why; I think it was related to having the wrong contacts). We weren’t allowed to remove bulbs, turn the lights off, or get those cubicle leaf things, and wearing sunglasses made everything too dark. So I just put a damn umbrella over myself.

              11. AH*

                I get migraines working on computers in darkness or dim lighting. I’m very fortunate to be currently sat right near bright windows – it’s made a world of difference.

            2. Archaeopteryx*

              She could be assuming other people that get there early like to work in half light because it’s morning and the day is just starting, so you’re easing in, and if she gets in a little later she turns on the lights to start the official work day. Preferring half lighting is something atypical enough that you would need to explain it and not just assume that people get it.

              1. Sparrow*

                I actually don’t think it’s all that atypical. I’ve worked with at least as many people who prefer to avoid fluorescent lighting as people who liked it (and private offices are standard in my field so it really is based on personal preference). Regardless, if there are already a solid number of people at work when she shows up, I’d expect the appropriate course of action to be asking the closest person, “Hey, are the lights dim on purpose or have we just not gotten around to turning them up yet?” That said, if she’s been doing this for awhile and no one has actually said anything directly to her about it, I don’t blame her for carrying on.

            3. Dust Bunny*

              Same. Half my coworkers leave their lights off because they have windows. I don’t, so mine are on. I think my office is pretty well lit but the woman who occupied it before I did had the full overheads plus several floor lamps, which must have been blinding.

          2. Colette*

            It depends on the issue. A desk lamp won’t illuminate the halls she’s walking down, for example, so if she has issues seeing in dim light it’s not a solution.

            1. PaddyHaha*

              My office had this issue. Half of the staff wanted it dim, the other half needed it brighter.
              It didn’t escalate to passive aggressive ‘wars’ – mostly because of the way our dept handled the space: at the beginning of the year people were named ‘neighborhood captains’ a group of 3 who were took the lead on space issues such as A/C, lighting, furniture, ie space issues. Status of issues the captains were working on were always noted at the monthly dept meetings (ex., “Lighting issues have been raised. Because there are OSHA issues regarding the lighting in public areas, we are working with building maintenance to come up with a resolution to allow for dimmer lighting over desks, but hallways and shared spaces like the coffee nook and copy area must remain lit to OSHA specfications”)
              So for our dept the solution to the lighting issues was to remove bulbs/disconnect light sources over desks, but keep the lighting in hallways at a higher level. People who needed or preferred brightly lit work spaces, were given desk lamps.

                1. PaddyHaha*

                  It seems like common sense — if don’t have a dept way to solve problems, then you end up with 27 people trying to implement 27 solutions (which means at any given time 26 people are silently stewing). The neighborhood captains changed every year so if any employee felt like their needs weren’t being served, then they had the opportunity to be a captain (or shut up about it).

          3. Veronica Mars*

            Unfortunately, I’m “that person” who needs the lights on brightly for medical reasons.

            The issue isn’t that the lights aren’t bright enough, its that “dimmed” LED lights are actually flickering on and off very quickly, which triggers severe migraines for me.

            I am so relieved to be back in the junky building with crappy fluorescent lights I can just unscrew over my head. Because the entire situation was incredibly uncomfortable for me. I got snide remarks every time I turned the lights up brighter, but it wasn’t that I simply *preferred* them that way, its that I literally couldn’t get through an 8 hour day of dimmed lights without having to leave work for a severe migraine. But the alternative is to announce to a gigantic cubicle farm full of people the details of my medical condition. Which, I eventually did, but people still complained.

            1. a heather*

              It seems like in this case, “half on” means half of the lights are on (fully) and half are off (fully), nothing is dimmed. (This has been my experience in previous open office environments, so I might be projecting.)

              1. Librarian of SHIELD*

                Yeah, I was envisioning a two-switch set up where each switch turns on half of the lighting fixtures, so the lights that were on were fully on, because that’s how several of my previous workplaces were set up. But I could be wrong in that assumption.

              2. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

                Which makes me wonder if maybe this coworker’s desk is under a dark spot, so of course they’d turn on the lights that impact them

            2. Veronica Mars*

              Either way, I think its best if we stop assuming that a lamp will “definitely” fix the woman’s problems. Its worth having a conversation with her to see if its as simple as preference, but there’s all kinds of medical conditions we can’t possibly know the ideal lighting situation for.

            3. JustaTech*

              Oh, you would hate our new light system which is dynamic to the light coming through the windows to save electricity (as required by our city). So the lights closest to the window are dimmer and they get brighter the farther you are from the window.
              But getting it all to work right has taken a lot of time and fiddling.

              1. Veronica Mars*

                Oof, bright lights AND flickering lights in one room? Hard pass. The accommodation I finally worked out with the company was to remove the dimmer switch. Which, I felt bad about, but they also were paying me to work and not go home with migraines so?

            4. Temperance*

              I have the opposite issue – I get migraines from overly bright lighting, especially florescent lighting. They trigger regular headaches, too.

        2. Booklover13*

          I worked with a coworker to remove the Extra bulbs from the overhead lightning in our area of the office. It changed the area from way to bright to reasonably well lite fairly effectively. For bonus points if someone likes the bright light we can just only put the extras back where they are.

          1. Just J.*

            I like this response.

            I was coming here to say something similar, in that, it may be possible to turn off the circuit breaker for some of the lights.

            However, both of these options require buy in from someone higher up…….

            Plus though, using half of the lights = using half of the energy.

            1. Tidewater 4-1009*

              Where I used to work it didn’t need approval from someone higher up. I asked the facilities person to remove a bulb in my office and he did. I had my own office though.

          2. not really a lurker anymore*

            Yeah, my officemate and I worked with maintenance to get a couple of the fluorescent lights bulbs removed/turned off in the fixtures.

            1. Dragoning*

              When the light over my coworker’s desk went out, she simply never notified maintenance. They noticed and fixed it eventually, and I was sad, because my desk was immediately next to hers.

            2. MissMaple*

              Yep, same here. Only one of the three over my desk is on, although when I came back from maternity leave maintenance had “fixed” it and it was like a tanning bed in here, luckily they undid the fix for me the next time they came by :)

          3. SomebodyElse*

            Isn’t this the common method for adjusting the lighting? I work in a 10x20ish office with 4 banks of 3 florescent bulbs… with all of them on it’s as bright as the surface of the sun. So I had the bulbs twisted in the bank directly over my desk and the one diagonal from that one.

            Perfect solution… every time someone comes in here to change them I just ask them to forget that they’ve noticed they are out.

            Agree with the others… this seems like a simple conversation. For all the OP knows the woman is getting badgered by her close workmates over how dim it is.

            Honestly, seems like a sadistic person who added one more thing that can have multiple settings to a workplace… aren’t there enough things to argue about?

            1. Rachel Greep*

              That’s what my office recently did. Each cubical has a set of 3 fluorescent bulbs overhead. Custodial went through and removed some or all for those who requested it. We all have desk lamps built into our shelves. I get to sit in my bright light and my vampire colleagues get to sit in the dark. :) Everyone is happy.

          4. Mr. Shark*

            Yes, that’s what we did. There were lots of light fixtures that had one or two bulbs out/unscrewed, so that the light was dimmer.
            I don’t usually get headaches or anything like that, but when I moved desks, I moved to one with the light directly overhead, and I noticed I’d get headaches. So I removed one of the bulbs, and it made a big difference. Luckily I ended up moving to another desk, and when I did, I chose one that didn’t have a light immediately overhead. If it was off to the side a little bit, even at full brightness, I didn’t have any issues with it.
            Generally I’m not one to like it to be dark in the room, but I guess to bright is bad as well.
            We actually have people that come into each cube and measure the light. I don’t know what standard they are using to determine if it’s acceptable or not.

        3. DarnTheMan*

          If OP isn’t the person’s manager or HR though, I’d be wary of bringing up medical issues because it might come across as invasive if handled incorrectly.

      4. Nobby Nobbs*

        #2 is literally my nightmare. “You know this thing you’ve been doing that’s socially acceptable or even encouraged in the rest of your life? You’ve missed a social cue, you’re inconveniencing everyone, and they all resent you but are too polite to say so.” -my anxiety, every day.

        1. Ann Onimous*

          Sorry this is off topic, but… I can totally picture Nobby actually saying this, while Sergent Colon is nodding along sagely. :-P

          1. Third or Nothing!*

            I feel like Nobby wouldn’t care. I can see Angua having that internal conversation though.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              This is super entertaining to me, because my Elder Statesdog is named Angua (after the Angua you’re referencing) and she is so very not willing to inconvenience people that if it starts to rain while she’s outside, she’ll just stand there in the rain outside the door and stare in and wait for someone to notice her, rather than like, bark to get our attention.

        2. LadyL*

          Same friend! This letter made my stomach clench. This is why the main thing I look for in any relationship I have is directness.

        3. Aquawoman*

          It’s not your fault you’re not a mind reader. It’s not missing social cures if there aren’t any social cues.

        4. KoiFeeder*

          Your anxiety and my anxiety. I’ve heard all the time that if you’re coming into a room with other people, you turn on the lights. And I have photophobia, so I understand light sensitivity!

      5. DarnTheMan*

        It also really depends on the culture of the office (or possibly the culture of previous offices they’ve worked in). My office covers the entire floor of a building but the company is big on eco-friendliness, so it’s practice that whoever’s in first will only turn on the lights in their section and maybe the common area and then the rest of the lights will get turned on as more people arrive. Individual offices have their own way of doing things and people often carry those over when they change jobs.

      6. MOAS*

        yeah that’s either a… BEC? that that person is so annoying in many other ways that this is just another minor thing, or they’re being really snide.

        honestly im envisioning the lights version of the bus window war (it’s basically a video of two passengers on a bus sitting in front of the other and one keeps closing the window while the other keeps opening it. They’re completely silent AFAIR and they don’t acknowledge each other…it just goes on).

        Fun (well not really , it was fun for us but not fun for anyone else lol) story: Occasionally I’m come to the office when it’s dark and I won’t touch the lights. I don’t mind a little dim lighting once in awhile, but it also deosn’t bug me when someone turns them on. One day during a weekend in tax season the lights stayed half off pretty much the entire day.. my coworker and I were just betting when someone would turn on the light. we lasted til 3 PM. Fun times.

      7. Quill*

        Also have they checked that lightswitcher can actually work in the half lighting conditions? poorer eyesight or just a propensity to tire based on ambient light levels could explain why one person thinks the place needs to be so much brighter than the rest of the office does.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          That’s my issue. My eyesight has become terrible in dim lighting. I have to have fairly bright environmental light, and I have to have my computer screen down very very dim (like 4 pips max), or I get terrible eye strain that half-blinds me or gives me migraines.

      8. IronicTonic*

        Agreed. This is a communication issue as well as a lighting issue. If you have a ‘wars’ situation in the office over anything (fridge, lights, temperature) it is because there is no open discussion, no policy and nobody taking ‘ownership’ of the resolution. Ironically, this all wastes the office members time — instead of having a direct, open acknowledgement and statement of policy. An announcement made to the entire department “In the hotter months of June-August, the office temperature will be kept at 68C. Please plan accordingly by either bringing in a sweater or small fan as you prefer.” If there is no clearly stated policy, then you end up with people either trying to accommodate their own specific needs or marinating in resentment of those who do.

        1. lilsheba*

          Oh lord don’t get me started on temperature. Our office is WAAAAAYYYY too hot. I wouldn’t survive if it wasn’t for my fan. It really wouldn’t kill them to lower the temp, if you’re actually cold in the summer then bring a jacket or blanket, and don’t me me sweat it out in a hotbox.

          As for the lights, they won’t let us remove lights now because it’s Leeds compliant or something? smells like bs to me.

      9. Puggles*

        OP are the lights bothering you? If yes, then yes, speak to the person. If they are not bothering you then let someone else take the burden of talking to the person turning on the lights. My suggestions is to not make someone else’s problem your problem. Next time they complain, tell them to say something to the person turning on the lights.

      10. LW2*

        The “scoffing” is very much an annoyed sigh, and that started after we put a piece of paper over the light switch. I’ve assumed that she probably figured those sighs were directed at their computer screens. The lady who asked “did she really just decide that…” was trying to direct it at the perp, but perp already had her back to us and was walking away. I’ve said “please don’t”, after I wrote in, but she still ignores it. I think the team is just SCARED to say something directly, because the politics here are weird and they don’t want to get in trouble with HR. We have no idea who that woman is. We would like to address the issue, we just didn’t know the best method (after all, I was considering options). I mean, that’s why I wrote in…

        1. LadyL*

          Wait, you said to her “Please don’t turn the lights on, we all have a strong preference for it to be less bright”? What did she say??

          I ask because I definitely would just assume the lights are off because it’s morning, and that the normal thing to do is to turn them on once people start arriving. In fact it seems so normal to me that I definitely wouldn’t think to connect people sighing or “did she really just decide” heard behind me as being directed at me at all. I would need very direct instruction to consider turning the lights on to be a thing that’s bothering people.

        2. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

          Am I understanding that she does not work in the same area as you? You mentioned that you do not know her?
          So how about ‘Excuse me, but we prefer it at half’ and if she argues, ‘You do not work in this area, we are confused as to why it matters to you. And btw, who are you?’

        3. Arts Akimbo*

          That is next-level appalling that she continues to do so after you asked her not to, AND she doesn’t work in your group! Is there any way you, as a group, could bring it to HR yourselves?

        4. Eukomos*

          Are you sure she heard you? It honestly sounds like standing up, walking over, and having a polite, ten-second conversation would fix this problem.

      11. rigger42*

        The passive-aggressiveness of the whole group is really unimpressive. They talk about the ‘nice lighting’ when she isn’t even there? Coworker might even think OP is imposing *their* preferences by virtue of the switch location, since nobody is having an actual conversation. One of the Gripe Patrol should approach coworker in a non-confrontational way, and explain that a lot of the department finds it draining to have it so bright (or whatever the reason), and suggest the task lighting option rather than building resentment.

    3. Project Manager*

      #2 yep, I also hate dim lighting, to the point where it severely affects my mood to have to spend the day (or any amount of time, really) in a poorly lit room. I feel strongly enough about it that it took me a very long time to realize that some people actually *like* feeling like they’re in a dank cave all day. This woman is probably the same way – she probably thinks someone forgot the lights, and it hasn’t occurred to her that the rest of y’all prefer a subterranean atmosphere.

      (note: a lamp is not the same. It helps with being able to see my work, sure, but it doesn’t help with the oppressive feeling of being in a dimly lit area. (No, I would not make a good caver!))

      1. 'Tis Me*

        I have a mini SAD lamp for my office but depending on the desk configurations, it has sometimes bothered colleagues…

      2. AnonAnon*

        I agree. Not knowing what the lighting is like when it is half on, I can’t work in low light either. I actually get migraines and nausea. A few years ago my company had a day where we had to save as much electricity as possible. They told us to turn off all lights and just use our desk lamps. I got so sick from looking at the bright light of the PC screen to trying to read papers under a desk lamp. The company never did that again.

        I recently bought one of those natural light simulators. It is amazing!

        1. rigger42*

          You’re right, how the lighting is set up makes a big difference. If OPs workplace has poor lighting design, just turning them to ‘half off’ might create dark pockets where task lighting is more like a flashlight in a closet.

      3. Works in IT*

        It’s not that I like being in a cave, per se, it’s that my desk is right by the window, and gets plenty of light whether the overhead lights are on or not (and noticing that it’s getting noticeably darker is a useful cue that the weather’s gotten very bad, or I got sucked into something and am working much later than normal). So I typically don’t turn the lights on. My new coworker’s desk is farther from the window, and he turns the lights on. I don’t even notice one way or the other, until it’s time to leave.

      4. Not A Mouse*

        Also this! It’s not just about eyesight and headaches, moods are affected too. Let’s not minimize SAD or the other depressive effects of darkness.

          1. Not A Mouse*

            Totally get that. I get migraines too! But as a person who gets both, I find it easier to make accommodations to how I work when I have a migraine than I do to SAD, which really is just darkness = sadness for me. Plus, my eyes are bad enough that not having overhead lighting causes headaches too, because I’m straining so much to see anything.

            1. Just J.*

              Yep, and as we age, our eyes do not ‘gather’ light like they did when they are younger, so that adds to all of it too.

              Commercial, developer-based, offices stink as the lighting design was probably not done by a lighting professional. Lighting is not just ‘having enough light’ but having the right type, that is well positioned, and well distributed, does not create glare, etc. Modern energy codes also require daylight harvesting and multilevel switching and / or dimming.

              1. ugh*

                This. It takes twice as much light at age 50 to see what a 20 year old can see. I used to be the young one who wanted dim light, now I’m the old lady running around turning up the lights, and, thank God I can do this, wear a headlamp when needed!

        1. Dragoning*

          I don’t know, overhead fluorescent lighting has never helped my SAD one bit. People buy special lamps for that.

          1. Dragoning*

            (Plus the bright flourescents feel more subterranean than anything, because it feels like how those spaces are lit with no windows)

            1. Leslie Knope*

              My office has no windows and all the overhead lighting is fluorescent. It made a HUGE difference to switch the bulbs out to a warmer color temperature. Instead of having a more blue/white tint, they have a more natural white light (3500 K). I ordered the bulbs with my boss’s permission to experiment and see if it helped with headaches. Makes such a difference!

              My windowless office still feels like a closet…but now it’s a slightly happier closet :)

          2. Bee*

            Yeah, bright fluorescent lighting kind of makes it worse for me, because it makes the dull greyness outside the windows that much more apparent.

        2. Quill*

          I’m the kind of person who can conk out like a bird in a sufficiently dark and stuffy meeting. If there’s enough natural light I can work pretty well in lower light levels, but in an office filled with fluorescents? I already feel like I’m underwater in full lighting, let alone half.

      5. Third or Nothing!*

        Ha, you’d hate my house then. I throw open all the blinds and let in all the wonderful natural sunlight during the day, but come sunset it’s all indirect lighting via lamps. It feels so cozy.

    4. snowglobe*

      LW#2 – Also important to note – OSHA actually has requirements for minimum level of lighting in an office environment. It’s possible the ‘half on’ lighting is below the legal minimum. (That’s the stated reason that our maintenance department wanders the halls every two weeks to replace every burned out bulb in the building.)

      1. Just J.*

        Your maintenance department is creatively bending the truth. It’s actually the Building Codes that set the minimum lighting levels, not OSHA. OSHA though would apply if you turning off all of the lights and making it so dark that it is not safe to walk.

        1. Just J.*

          BTW, code minimum for lighting for safe passage is pretty damn dim. Lighting that is ‘half on’ most likely is not getting below that minimum.

          1. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

            Right, the light you need in order to safely walk through a corridor is surprisingly low. Definitely not the same as the amount of light you need sitting at your desk reading a document. It’s the difference between ambient light levels and task light levels.

    5. Yorick*

      When I started, most of the overhead fluorescent bulbs were out in my area. I assumed everybody was too lazy to get the bulbs replaced, it didn’t occur to me that this could be on purpose. So I put in a request about it. The office manager had the lights right above me turned on, but told me to ask others about the rest. The person in the next cube went crazy. It was far too bright for her, even though it was now only almost half as bright as the designer of the building meant for it to be. She went on and on about how the light was hurting her eyes. I didn’t bother to explain to her that the light hurts because the rest of the room was too dark. It’s so dark that you can’t see the error message on the printer.

      This is all to say, tell her y’all are keeping the lights half off on purpose. She probably hasn’t even thought of that. She is not trying to make a decision on lighting for the whole office. She just thinks the lights aren’t on.

      1. Yorick*

        I meant she went crazy about *just the light that was right above me,* I didn’t even ask her if it was ok to have them all turned on

    6. joss*

      For the office light wars I would like to bring up that some people need more light than others in order to see well. I know that I need more light since I had cataract surgery a few years back. Rather then being irritated it would be better to ask the reason for the full light. And try to help her to get a personal light for her desk IF she is open to that solution. Talking about things really works in many cases

  2. Phil*

    Just a reminder that here in the Great State Of California it’s not just 40 hours a week, it’s 8 hours a day when OT kicks in.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        I have never heard that before and couldn’t find anything in a google search. I suspect that it’s only true in some states or is a policy at some non-profits but not a legal requirement.

      2. Ego Chamber*

        No it’s not. The only info I’m finding via Google about time and half being paid over 37.5 hours is on a couple of university websites where collective bargaining got them that benefit.

        The DOL website says even in jobs where 37.5 is considered a standard workweek, overtime pay still doesn’t kick in until you go over 40 hours in a week (or over the state-specified daily hours) and they’re usually pretty good about asterisking the state exceptions.

        A link to anything about non-profits having to pay overtime on over 37.5 hours worked would be helpful?

    1. Jedi Squirrel*


      “Jack, you worked two hours of unauthorized overtime yesterday. You haveto leave work today two hours early.”

      1. Data Nerd*

        The only issue I see with this is people start working over on purpose to get half days on Fridays. I’ve seen it done.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I’ve seen that too. What I saw in response was time cards being pulled earlier in the week (Wednesday was my experience) and the boss going around ant splitting up who came in late on Friday and who left early on Thursday. Leaving early on Friday was almost never an option. Sometime people were also told you have a longer lunch Thursday and Friday as a result of working just a little late.

          Most people went back to not working over when the payoff of leaving early on Friday got removed. The remaining late folks were invited to strategy meeting to figure out if there were workload issues that caused the need to stay late (and anybody just staying to stay got the this needs to stop now convo).

          But acknowledgements that this may not work for every situation.

  3. Retail4Life*

    #1 for the first option of cutting their hours later in the week – that might not mean they don’t get overtime. In my state it’s over 8 hours per day or 40 hours a week. So even if I work a single day in a week but it’s a 12 hour day, I’d get overtime pay.

    1. Flyleaf*

      One solution is to cut enough hours to make up for the overtime. If they work 2 hours of overtime and were paid time and a half, they would have 3 hours of work cut the next day.

      1. Software Engineer*

        Then they’re getting the same pay for less work which probably isn’t a good consequence if you’re trying to make them stop…

        1. Chaos Coordinator*

          That’s why you escalate the consequences… if they don’t stop, then in addition to cut hours they need to get a written warning, final warning, and termed.

          1. Quickbeam*

            In my line of work (nursing) , just adding on OT hours without approval is a fire able offense. You’d probably get one warning.

            1. Artemesia*

              This was something to not let go even once. This is pretty much embezzlement — they are helping themselves to money that is not allocated or authorized to them. Letting this go on a second and third time shouts ineffective management. This needs to go to PIP NOW and to termination if it continues and the OP needs to line up her own bosses on this. Explain to the boss that you have tried several approaches to alert them to not do this and they continue and you need to put them on notice that continued unauthorized overtime will mean termination. There are a few fireable offences in any organization — some have no tolerance for time sheet fudging for example. Unauthorized overtime is often another.

              1. Leslie Knope*

                It adds a whole other level of awfulness that they’re working for a nonprofit and purposefully working unauthorized overtime. You can’t just be willy nilly with that operating budget.

              2. Ego Chamber*

                “This is pretty much embezzlement”

                No, this is a bullshit argument. Working extra hours doing work in exchange for money isn’t the same as robbing the company. It’s unethical and it needs to be addressed but equating it with stealing is extreme hyperbole. You can take someone to court for embezzling, you can’t take them to court for working unauthorized overtime: you fire them, that’s the recourse.

                (I’ve had a lot of shitty bosses who all equated wanting to be paid for doing the job to stealing from the company, which meant a lot of working off the clock just to get everything done, but I’m too old for that shit now and I’m definitely too invested in this argument.)

                1. Mr. Tyzik*

                  It’s unethical if the work isn’t required and is decided upon by staff. It’s not ethical to steal the salary budget from others. This could become a real shortfall to budgets and have ramifications of even cutting jobs back to make payroll.

          2. Antilles*

            To be honest, I don’t even know if OP would need to do that many steps – given that OP has *already* had the discussion several times, it’d be totally fair to jump straight to “…and just to be clear, this has happened before and we’ve discussed this before, so this is the final warning I’m going to give you about this”.

            1. Not Me*

              I agree. I wouldn’t even change their hours later in the week, I would write them up for failure to follow policy and insubordination. Seems like adjusting their hours is an unnecessary hoop to jump through.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          You do that once. If it happens again, at that point — where they can’t possibly have missed the message — you’ve got to seriously look at firing them.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            They’re also probably really not expecting this – getting sent home from work as a punishment is pretty rare in most jobs. I wouldn’t be surprised if after the first person is sent home from work for violating overtime policy, it’s enough of a shock to the whole group that they take the OP seriously.

            1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

              They’re not being sent home as a punishment. They’re being sent home to minimize unapproved overtime which they’ve already been told “no” to. Being sent home is LW keeping her payroll under control. If her employees choose to not listen to her and work unapproved overtime, well, they have created the reality of being sent home early.

              1. Smithy*

                While you are entirely correct – the first person(s) who have that happen would very likely see that as a punishment.

                This reminds me somewhat of working somewhere that has unrealistic KPI’s and for a while it can be standard that no one meets them. While there may be “tut-tuts” about goals not being met, because it’s thought of as understood that the goals are unrealistic and not achievable. So employees nod their heads over the situation of not making their goals, and then go about their business with the knowledge that no one’s actually going to get fired.

                Then one day a management team is brought in that views those goals as achievable and starts holding people accountable to those goals, putting those struggling most on a PiP etc. For a staff used to hearing “this is a problem” but then nothing happens – it’s going to feel exceptionally harsh.

                1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

                  They are welcome to interpret it however they want. That interpretation serves to make them a victim, instead of someone who is breaking the rules which have been very clearly laid out.

                  They are creating their own reality. That reality is not punishment, but rule enforcement.

              2. Not Me*

                That is a punishment though. It’s a negative consequence resulting from their actions, that’s a punishment. It may not be the sole purpose of it, but it is still a punishment for the employee. As it should be, they’ve done something they shouldn’t have done and there are consequences for that.

                1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

                  It’s not. It’s called “rule enforcement.” If they don’t play by the rules, they get sent home. If they view it as punishment, I’m sure there are other areas in their life where they also get to play the victim, instead of the rule breaker.

            2. Artemesia*

              I agree — this is a vivid way to make the point — gets their attention but is also very public. Sent home once then terminated if it happens again.

              If I were the boss I’d probably be demoting or terminating the LW for allowing this to go on; she does need to get a handle on it immediately and manage upward.

              1. Ego Chamber*

                Jesus, dude. If LW’s boss had been discussing this with her, I’m sure she would have mentioned it in the letter. What the letter does mention is LW not being able to talk her team into following the rules, which might mean she’s tried nothing and is all out of ideas—or it might mean she’s a manager by title but has no management tools to leverage to force them to comply.

                This is very common in all sorts of companies and it’s always surprising when the commentariat acts like they’ve never encountered that kind of set up (it gives me hope though!).

                1. Mr. Tyzik*

                  This is great example of where promoting from within can go horribly wrong. I’m not a fan of putting an employee as a manager of former teammates.

        3. Jen S. 2.0*

          Yes. The point is less to get the right amount of work out of them that particular week, and more to make the point that you are now aggressively taking steps to resolve the overtime problem, since they are not taking you seriously when you tell them not to work more than eight hours in a day.

          You aren’t going to do this very often before you escalate to bigger consequences.

        4. Me*

          Agree but since they’re likely trying to get more pay, it blocks their goal.

          But like Alison said, it’s a one time only without escalating the consequences.

        5. Aquawoman*

          Yes, when I read this, I thought that the OP should make it much more painful to have worked OT. First offense, a one-day suspension without pay. Second offense, a one-week suspension without pay. Third offense, firing. Probably won’t get to that.

        6. Mommy.MD*

          Right. Just inform them if they keep it up they are not going to have a job. Have them sign a document that all OT must be authorized. They can manipulate this cut the hours the next day thing. Maybe they want to leave early.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Or you just cut to the core and suspend them a full day. That hits a pocket book and doesn’t just balance out.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I could definitely see this as a very fair second time consequence.

          And then you are no longer employees here as the third violation.

          (Caveat to all of this is that they aren’t staying late all the time because of unrealistic workloads – there is a whole other process to follow if workload unreasonableness is the cause.)

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Absolutely hands down agree on the work load issue has to be a nonissue!

            In my life these OT issues are always traditional milking the clock issues. They get in 10-15 minutes early and laze around on the clock getting ready for the day every day. So that behavior adds up to an hour or more a week.

            If they’re known to work constantly and are indeed just keeping up with work, then we don’t even bother and authorize OT without a blink. Or if it’s a funds issue, you approach it with the whole “We can’t be doing OT, we can’t afford it. What can I do, as a salaried individual to take these things off your plate and get you out of here in 40hrs?” And then adjusting the budget if we need another person or if we need to actually authorize more OT,etc.

        2. Me*

          The only reason I think it deserves a warning in the form of adjusted hours is because it’s been happening without consequences.

          Yeah they were told not to do that, but since they have been getting away with it, it behooves the OP to lay out with staff exactly what will happen if they continue.

    2. Amethystmoon*

      Well, it depends. One can go the route of the company I work for, which is that falsifying time cards is a fireable offense. Several of the people i can count on one hand that I’ve heard of being fired were let go for that reason. Now we don’t know that they’re falsifying the time cards. People have been fired at my company for working unauthorized overtime as well. I don’t know the details, such as if they were first warned and ignored the warning. Presumably they had been talked to first, but one never knows.

    3. Syfygeek*

      At one company I worked for, the manager would pull the time reports on Wednesday afternoon or Thursday mornings to see everyone’s hours for the week. Then circle through the department telling Sue to come in 2 hours late Friday, Bill to leave an hour early Thursday, etc..

      She had to alternate who came in late vs. who left early because everyone wanted to leave early on Fridays and would try to rack up a few minutes here, a few minutes there to leave the office early on Friday. Once she started alternating, it wasn’t guaranteed you would get to leave early, and a lot of the overtime stopped.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        At one time, it was my responsibility to run everyone’s time cards daily and let them know how many extra minutes they had to take off at lunch on Friday. No one got to go home early that day.

  4. Phil*

    Oh, and the light switch lady might have, like I do, vision problems and need more light than other folks

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Then she should request a personal light from her manager to put at her own desk instead of taking it upon herself to change the main lighting that everyone else liked.

        1. Not A Mouse*

          Depending on your eyesight, that really just might not be enough. I know that personal lamps generally aren’t bright enough for me!

          1. AcademiaNut*

            That’s the fundamental problem. Some people suffer when the light is too bright, some people suffer when it is too faint, or too uneven. If you put everyone in a giant cubicle farm with overhead fluorescent lighting and, in some cases, no natural light, there’s no one lighting situation that’s going to ensure that everyone is pain free and un-depressed. And both sides are in pain – the migraine havers, and the people who get eyestrain with poor light, or seasonal depression sitting in a dark room all day.

            The best solutions I can think of are

            – medium light (half the light bulbs for example) *and* provide shades for people who are light sensitive, and very good quality lamps/cubicle lights for those who need strong light.

            – have multiple rooms, and group people by lighting preferences.

            – split the room or offices into bright light half and low light half, and provide shades/extra if desired.

            1. 'Tis Me*

              With hot desks in both rooms for people like me who get SAD and headaches from sitting in dark rooms, but who also suffer from chronic migraine headaches and am sometimes totally photophobic with them and need dark. (I have been known to wear my sunglasses at my desk if I’m trying to work like that…)

            2. Amy Sly*

              Or at bare minimum, at least allow people to wear shades!

              I don’t mind a well lit office, but my eyes do much better when the white light isn’t bouncing off my pale cheeks into my eyes. I don’t demand the lights be off, but let me wear a visor. But no … a couple office jobs ago, I was told that even though we could wear jeans and not have to be professional in dress at all, a sun visor wasn’t allowed. Ugh.

            3. Sharkie*

              I am in an open office bullpen now with overhead lights but instead of the fluorescent lights, they are the “sun lamp” model. We also have a dimmer with fancy settings like ” Natural sun” where it gets brighter gradually then dimmer over the course of the day. A lot of my coworkers who have bad eyes/ mirages have said those types of lights help!

              1. Leslie Knope*

                I worked in a retail store many many moons ago that had solar-responsive lighting. It wasn’t really noticeable until there was a sudden change, like the sun going behind a big cloud. You could see the light coming from skylights get dimmer, then a moment later the overhead lighting would increase.

                It was really meant as a energy-saving technique in a big box store, but it really helped when we were under those fluorescent lights all day that they weren’t too bright or too dim. When it was sunny outside the skylights were the main source or light.

            4. Curmudgeon in California*

              It’s not even a cubicle farm – it’s an open plan. I like half light, but the building managers decide on *everyone’s* light levels. Ergo, if I even might have a migraine, I stay home.

              But it’s yet another reason I hate open plan offices. The disavowal of individuality is soul crushing.

          2. Dust Bunny*

            Personal lights also create uneven pools of light rather than all-around even light, which is annoying and probably stressful to some people (I’m fortunate not to suffer from especially poor vision or migraines or anything, so I only find it obnoxious, but I imagine it could cause physical problems for other people).

          3. Clorinda*

            She might also need a higher level of ambient light in order to move around safely. OP should ask before assuming.

        2. Ego Chamber*

          Seriously, man. Especially if they’re those godawful fluorescent lights like in most offices I’ve worked at.

          We had one whole section of the building where we kept the lights off (big windows with natural light along one wall, we could see our monitor screens just fine, and there was also light coming in over the cube walls) until this one horrible manager got mad at us one day and went on a power trip insisting that THE LIGHTS MUST BE ON. It was a lot of fun for everyone who had migraines triggered by the lights, or just eyestrain, which is why a lot of us were over there.

          It wasn’t an OSHA thing (plenty of natural light), and the security guy said the cameras were in the hallway which was brightly lit so that wasn’t the issue.

            1. Ego Chamber*

              It was a call center with about 300 total usable workstations, divided into 6 main sections and there were consistently at least 40 people in the “dark” section that was natural light only. At least 10 of them were there because migraines.

            1. Ego Chamber*

              No, I mean the manager who insisted the lights be on couldn’t say it was an OSHA thing because there was plenty of natural light to see by. Also a few people in the lights off section had ADA on file for their migraines but the company said leaving the lights off wasn’t a reasonable accommodation. They were terrible.

          1. Cog in the Machine*

            I’m wondering what OP’s definition of dim lighting is. Is it “may as well be sitting in the dark because there is no natural lighting and the overhead lights are 40 watt yellow bulbs” or is it “half the super bright white florescent bulbs are turned off in self defence?”

          1. Ego Chamber*

            The Lighting Wars are less frequent but just as divisive and intense. Most people in an office don’t seem to realize that the overhead lights will switch off, which is probably for the best, considering.

            1. Allonge*

              And they might not switch off either. I had an office where the lights and the heating / cooling was connected to motion sensors and automatically turned on / off. You could regulate the heating part a bit, but it was not a comfortable setup…

              1. Ego Chamber*

                This is true. I’ve been spared from participating in the Heating Wars because everywhere I’ve worked has a locked acrylic box over the thermostat.

                It was less than ideal when I worked at the call center that decided to save money on the heating bill by … just not turning on the heater during the winter—they finally caved after 32 days of sub-zero temps outside (yes we kept count), but probably mostly because the CEO of our main client was visiting the site.

          2. Anonymous Poster*

            Haha, yep. My office has half the floor with full lights and half the floor with 1/2 lights, which seems to solve the problem.

            This started as an accommodation for someone with migraines, but everyone in the low light zone likes it and the employee with migraines is long gone now.

        3. Mystery Bookworm*

          But before people get up on their high horse they should let her know their preferences? Not everyone is always good at catching up on every social cue and she may not realise she is upsetting people (especially if there are those who have shared with her they like the brighter lights).

          1. Anna*

            I wouldn’t have caught the social cue or the office norm. I would just assume that everyone was too lazy to find the light switch. I was the employee turning on the lights for everyone for years, until someone told me to stop… last month! Lighting in public spaces is not an easy one! I can’t work in the dark/half dark, especially not for 8 hours!

            If the company/HR does accommodate her, please respect her choice too of a massive lamp (or TWO, as I have!) vs a dinky reading lamp. What a pickle for that employee to be in.

        4. DiscoCat*

          Yepp, I get weird headaches and sore eyes and a slightly messed up bio rhythm if I’m working in brightly lit rooms, it just completely wrecks me.

        5. DerJungerLudendorff*

          Then everyone else should start by telling her they liked it the other way, and ask her not to change it. Because right now they just seem to sit around making vaguely disapproving motions.

          1. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

            Yes, and complain about it behind her back. Lovely workplace /s

            Just communicate with her about it? Perhaps she is doing it because of bad eye-sight, perhaps she thinks that someone forgot it, perhaps it is just habbit? Talk to her to find out about her reason(s).

        6. FiveWheels*

          From her perspective there’s no need to request a personal lamp.

          She comes in, the lights aren’t fully on, she turns them on, no big deal.

        7. EPLawyer*

          She might not know she can get a desk lamp. If no one has mentioned the rest of the office likes it half dark, she might not know that she can leave the lights low and get her own lamp. This is a situation where people need to talk.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        It seems like OP is mentioning that as an option here, but it doesn’t seem like anyone has actually mentioned it as an option to the coworker.

        1. Anonymous Poster*

          I wonder if that coworker knows it’s an issue at all. For all she knows, everyone’s just too lazy to turn the lights on.

          This happened to me, not that it was a big deal at all. I was the first to arrive in the office every morning, I sat beside a large window, and I didn’t need to turn the lights on. The next people either liked low light or had good natural light. One coworker, always the last to roll in, would act frustrated that we didn’t turn the lights on.

      2. Mommy.MD*

        Maybe she doesn’t know. Also, she’s turning on lights in an office. It doesn’t sound personal. I like dim but others like bright so we have bright. I think lights full on is the default.

    1. Hamburke*

      That would be me – my boss provided a desk lamp and offered various light bulbs to accommodate the amount of light I need on my work surface.

      Another possibility is that the dimmed bulbs make a slight hum. We have this problem with a light in our kitchen. One of my kids and I hear it and go click it all the way on (it’s a slider) but my husband and other 2 kids don’t hear it.
      The best course of action would be to politely talk to your coworkers.

  5. SisterSpooky*

    Omgggg office lighting wars are the Bain of my existence. We used to have fluorescent lights and half the people wanted to loosen the bulb above them because it gave people headaches, and then the other half felt like they worked in a cave. Then we got the solution! Canned lighting with the same half on, all on option. It’s still an argument every day. One person says the lights are too bright and wants them off. The rest of use are straining to adjust to staring at a bright screen in a dark room. Lamps help, but it affects moods as well. There is no winning, in my experience. Some of the people really sensitive to light we’ve been able to have work from home. It seems unfair for 50 others to sit in dim dark, depressing lighting because one person likes it that way. Same here if it’s only one person who wants them on. But the struggle we always have is that if the one person says it will give them a migraine so bad they have to go home, you don’t feel like you can say “sorry, everyone else wants them on”. But also a thing that affects 50 others negatively isn’t a super reasonable accommodation…

    If you figure out the solution, let me know.

    1. WS*

      It’s difficult! I’m susceptible to migraines in bright light, especially fluorescent lights, but I’m also the only person in the workplace whose eyesight is good enough that I don’t need glasses for computer work – I really don’t need as much light as other people do. We’ve ended up taking out the fluoros which everyone hated and having all lights on but a few bulbs near me removed.

      1. TechWorker*

        Me too (except for the needing glasses bit lol). The light above my desk happened to be out for ages and when they replaced it I very quickly had to get them to undo it because it gave me insta-migraine and wasted the rest of the day of work…

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I wish they could invent or discover lights that give out reasonable lighting but don’t trigger off migraines. It’s a long way off I think though, so in the meantime I try to find ways of explaining to bosses that I can’t stop the migraines and they’re not just a ‘headache’ if they can’t remove the brightness above me.

        Mixed results thus far.

        1. 'Tis Me*

          If you puke with migraines doing so on their desk while trying to explain how it isn’t a headache might be effective?

          1. Not a cat*

            This! I worked with a CIO that thought migraines were either “fake” or “just a bad headache” until he saw me headed back from the ladies after a bout of puke-migraine. As he said, “I’ve never seen someone actually turned green before..” He now believes the staff member w/ migraines.

        2. snowglobe*

          Years ago when I had a private office with multiple large fluorescent lights, I had to get a doctor’s note to ask for an accommodation to remove one of the 4 lights. We actually had to test the lumens (both with and without the light) so the doctor could specify precisely how bright the office needed to be.

        3. Sharon*

          I am a big hater of office fluorescent lighting, so I always notice them and look for ways to get them out of my direct line of sight. I don’t get headaches, but the glare still bothers me. They make me work angry if i can’t turn my workspace around to put the light behind or to the side so I’m not staring at it directly over my computer.

          At any rate, I did once work in a building that had the most amazing lights. They were still fluorescent but the fixtures hung slightly below the ceiling and directed 98% of the light up at the (bright white) ceiling tiles. Having all that light reflecting off the tiles made a smooth, zero-glare, bright workspace that actually felt comfortable.

      1. CM*

        Pretty much. I also have migraines, and the ideal accommodation is to put me in a separate space either alone or with other vampires. The second choice solution would be for me to work remotely, so that can be an option for people in the odd-man-out scenario, too.

      2. LadyL*

        I actually prefer open offices! But that’s because I focus best when around other people, I always prefer working in a busy coffee shop over like a study room at the library. I blame years of living in group housing, I’m actually better at tuning out low level noise than focusing in dead silence.

      3. DarnTheMan*

        We’ve actually made my senior-senior boss a sign for her office door to let people know she’s in; she’s got two windows in her office so she doesn’t like to turn on the lights but it gets dark in her office during the last hour of the day (which she doesn’t mind) but people tend to think she’s left for the day.

      4. Curmudgeon in California*

        This. I would even go as far as allowing for shared offices by people with similar lighting needs. I’ve seen this work at various places.

    2. triplehiccup*

      People in my sea of cubes use cubicle tents/shades/canopies/shields. I also have specially coated glasses that make a big difference – maybe the company could help pay for them, since they’re not covered by insurance if there’s no prescription. And I’ve found that the program f.lux does a lot to help with eyestrain by automatically adjusting the brightness and color of my screen light.

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      As someone who suffers from migraines, bright overhead lighting is an instant trigger for me. At my last company, I sat in 10 different cubes, and each move was a call to maintenance to remove the lights from above my desk. I had a small table lamp and turned down the brightness on my monitors. If we had lights that weren’t able to be removed, I would have worn a hat while I was at my desk (and in fact I did for a few days waiting for the maintenance guy to remove my lights. The problem is that you’re never going to have a solution that is pleasing for everyone. Find a solution that works for you based on the norm of the office.

    4. Annony*

      I also wonder whether the OP has talked to people who sit in other parts of the room. The lighting is not necessarily even, especially if not everyone is near a window. Everyone’s preference should be taken into account, not just those that sit near the OP.

    5. Quill*

      Fluorescents don’t bother me until they flicker… god the headaches from trying to read a scale as the light starts to have it’s own, private rave…

    6. Curmudgeon in California*

      The solution is not having open plans, but shared offices where you put people with similar lighting needs together. The more people you have contending over a shared resource, the less likely you are to find a solution.

  6. Good grief*

    Kind of follow up to #1: I had a job for a year that was nonexempt full-time. They expected me to work exactly 40 hrs per week but anytime I would always go over since I was a closing shift and couldn’t always get people to get out. When I asked what I could do (since I also had to take my lunch hour within first few hours because lack of coverage), I was told to make it work.
    What would other people have done in this situation?

    Disclaimer : definitely not with this company any longer.

    1. BRR*

      Yeah whenever companies say make it work I 100% believe they just want you to work for free. I think my advice is going to be from now on “great I’ll put the extra 30 min on my time card.”

      1. Ego Chamber*

        They don’t want you to work for free, that would be against the law and they could get in trouble for that—but if you came to the conclusion on your own somehow because it’s literally the only way to get all the work done and not put more than 40 hours on your timecard, well, no one at the company told you to, so…

        It’s really the worst strategy though because you can file a wage complaint after you leave for all the overtime up to whatever the statute of limitations is and it doesn’t matter that no one explicitly told you to work unpaid overtime, they still have to pay you for all hours worked and they’ll probably get fined on top of it.

        1. Massmatt*

          This behavior is rampant in depressed areas/industries where people are just grateful to have a job. During the Great Recession lots of employers did this or worse, many hourly people needed whatever work they could get and few had the resources to take something to court or go through arbitration etc. now that the economy has improved its important that people dont tolerate this nonsense.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            Oh I know. I was working at a call center in a rural community during the Recession and they pulled this kind of shit all the time. Unfortunately, we had to be logged into the system to work so it was easy to prove the thousands of hours of unpaid overtime when the wage complaints were being investigated. It was like they didn’t even realize their Kronos records wouldn’t be the final word.

            Also this was just a series of complaints with the Labor Board, nothing fancy like individual employees taking them to court or anything. Although most of us did get fired for “unrelated performance issues” once it was all done and dusted. No big loss but it was one of the highest-paying jobs in the area (if you could get paid).

            1. 'Tis Me*

              I spent about 7 or 8 months as a student with a weekend retail managerial job. I needed to log out so I could do the closing up cash counting and computer admin stuff. It’s how the system worked. I also needed to do a certain number of things before I could physically log in.

              I mean, I guess most managers may have been salaried so it hadn’t occurred to them that this was an issue when it was designed? But I was hourly.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Ha! I have this playing out at a place near me. So the cashiers have to cash out and punch out right on time. The store closes at 11 pm and everyone is expected to punch out at 11 pm. (Skip the part about waiting in line for your turn to punch. That’s not an excuse.) Cashiers have the added wrinkle that they need to have their drawers counted and registers closed out AND get to the time clock at 11 pm.

                I punched out 1 minute late one day and I had THREE people lecture me for 20 minutes about stealing time from the company. Yes, 1 hour of labor total, 3 people times 20 minutes. Yes, because of ONE minute. The time clock was on the far side of the store. My choices were leave my area before the exact time and get admonished for that OR be late punching and get admonished for that.

                These people were exhausting with their self-righteousness and their inability to think logically. I didn’t last much longer.

                On the plus side, I did recently hear that the company realized having people work varying hours each week was probably not good for employees health. So now people get set shifts. The company took advantage of a law that says there has to be 8 hours between shifts. On a snowy day this could mean as much as 2 hours each way for an employee giving them 4 hours at home between shifts.

                1. Batty Twerp*

                  Just give me a moment to pick my jaw up off the floor at this comment!
                  They berated you for 20 minutes because you’re not Usain Bolt?!
                  Please tell me this job is a line towards the bottom of your resume, having been replaced by far more sensible workplaces.

                2. Ego Chamber*

                  Ohmigod I had a similar situation at a fast food job right out of college but I had a super helpful shift manager who was exempt and would always count out our tills for us so we could clock out and leave on time. This super helpful guy skimmed nearly three grand and no one realized what was happening for two months because all the higher ups were incompetent.

                  The store owner was cool though, she offered to work out a repayment plan between all the cashiers so we could just pay it back in labor instead of taking us to court and having that on our records forever (but then the shift manager confessed, so we just all got fired instead).

        2. Fikly*

          No, they 100% want you to work for free, they just don’t want to get caught making you do that. If companies didn’t want to break the law, there would be no companies breaking the law, and that clearly is not the case.

          Been there, worked for those companies. Got in trouble for filling out paperwork for having to miss my lunchbreak (and thus have to be paid for 30 minutes) because job refused to hire coverage.

          1. Myrin*

            I’m pretty sure Ego Chamber’s comment/first paragraph is an ironic statement from the company’s point of view, not a serious assertion. ;)

            1. Ego Chamber*

              Oh totally. If I tried to take all this shit sincerely all the time I’d start screaming and never stop. ;D

    2. WS*

      Exactly what you did in the disclaimer: leave. They want you to work for free and also won’t even cover your lunch at an appropriate time.

    3. Massmatt*

      It sounds like that was a terrible company to work for and you were right to leave there. I don’t think there’s a magic answer to solve this problem, which is very common in retail. I worked for a “never ever rush customers out of the store” employer and it was a pain but they paid for the time worked.

    4. Beth*

      Yeah, uh, you can’t have both a “don’t kick customers out of the store at closing time” policy (or a “we’re not going to give you any tools/power to kick people out” policy, which functionally amounts to the same thing) AND a “we won’t pay even a minute of overtime” policy. Those are fundamentally incompatible. The only solution is to not work there anymore (as you clearly realized!).

      1. 'Tis Me*

        Closing a shop on your own makes it pretty hard to stop people from coming in. If there are two of you, one can literally stand at the door and unlock it to let people out as they finish while turning away “I’ll be quick” people trying to come in after closing. If there is only one of you, you have to pay attention to the door and tell them that you’re closed (but by then they’re already in the shop and if they don’t accept it and leave what exactly can you do about it?), while serving the people who entered before closing, so you’re kinda trapped behind the till…

        1. JohannaCabal*

          True story. I worked part-time at a pharmacy/gift store. One night, we’d closed. As in, all outside items brought in. Lights off. Registers closed. Several announcements on the intercom.

          As we were walking out, there was a customer standing in the greeting card aisle, still looking at cards. To this day, I still wonder how she missed the announcement about closing and the lights turning off.

          (Fortunately, the owner’s daughter was running things that night and had the rest of us leave while she took care of the customer).

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            I once had someone walk in the back door and say “hey, the front door is locked and all the lights are off.” Yes, sir, there’s a reason for that.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              This used to happen at the cafe where I worked in CA. The nearby shopping center had a movie theater in it, and people would get out of the last show expecting to come over and eat. But we locked the doors at 10 pm. The lights were kept on while we were cleaning and sweeping. Hours were posted clearly on the doors, but they still knocked, and sometimes they’d come to the open back door and ask if we were still making food.

              The open back door was open because we didn’t have AC, and it got hot back there. That changed when the night crew was robbed at gunpoint. After the second incident, they finally put in AC so the night crew could shut and lock the kitchen door. They were really lucky no one was hurt or killed. That would have cost a lot more than the cooling units!

              1. Ego Chamber*

                I worked at a pizza place like that (minus the robbery). At first I thought it was rude to not acknowledge the people banging on the front door when we were trying to clean up and count the tills, but I learned really fast that if you engaged with them at all they’d just argue about it.

                “But my watch says it’s only 9:55! You’re still open for another 5 minutes—now make me a pizza!”

      2. Lily Rowan*

        Can’t they schedule the closing shift to run an hour (or whatever makes sense) past closing time? I think that’s how it worked when I was in a similar position — we had a half-hour after closing to do our internal stuff.

        1. Andytron*

          That’s often how it works at reasonable businesses: close the doors at 10pm, employees are still on the clock for 30 to 60 minutes after that for assorted cleaning and close out tasks. But the stories that show up on AAM are usually not from reasonable places.

        2. Beaded Librarian*

          Our library shifted to that years ago staff at the library 30 minutes early and start 30 minutes late. That way we could get ready for patrons and not have to completely rush them out the door at night.

    5. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Some of the places where I’ve worked have made a point of scheduling non-exempt workers who cover the closing shift to end their day 10-15 minutes after closing time, so if you get a customer who takes longer to shoo out, you’re not going over your allotted time. It’s easy enough to schedule somebody to work 12:15-9:15 instead of 12-9, and it can save a lot of overtime headaches.

  7. Chili*

    On lighting:
    Is it possible to remove/ turn off the individual lights above where the people opposed to full light sit? So even with the switch set to full light, some lights above select people stay off.
    That’s what we did in our office: it’s not perfect and some people would prefer it be darker or lighter everywhere, but at least people’s individual workspaces are more comfortable for them.

    1. MayLou*

      This was our solution too. So many of the lights were broken that we needed to replace them all anyway. The ones over two people prone to migraines got individual pull-cord switches. It resolved the issue of an entire row of lights being switched off (making it like a cave for the rest of us) while still respecting the needs of those migraine-having colleagues. Took months to get it approved though.

    2. Nea*

      My office went through several rounds of the lighting battles. It wasn’t just a social thing, people argued – justifiably – on both sides that it was a health issue. Some folks got migraines in bright light. Some got migraines in dim light. I was on the latter side and a single desk lamp did not fix the problem.

      Sometimes the office set the lights bright and the people who needed (note I do not say “wanted”) it dim set umbrellas over their desks and wore sunglasses indoors. Sometimes the office set the lights dim and the people who needed it bright set up multiple lamps. (I had three, two of them bouncing off a whiteboard set over the top of my cube to get enough light.) Regardless of what was picked, there were shouting fights and the light switches changing.

      Finally, the place divided between two offices – the bright cube farm and the dark cube farm. It’s really the only way to deal with this – individual offices with individual lighting or self-selected light/dark offices.

      1. chipMunkey*

        Add another reply here – we have lighting wars too and have had the migraine camp in favor of turning the lights off, and other staff with vision problems in favor of it on. We defaulted to an assessment of the lighting levels by an industrial hygenist to tell us what they should be at, replaced all the lights with LED bulbs, and told anyone if they still had issues that they would need to use our medical accommodation process for any further adjustments. Everything has been relatively quiet since then…

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        Finally, the place divided between two offices – the bright cube farm and the dark cube farm. It’s really the only way to deal with this – individual offices with individual lighting or self-selected light/dark offices.

        If I ruled the world, anyone moving into a new work area would get to choose between dim/bright and hot/cold. Every workplace would divided into four zones: light/hot, light/cold, dark/hot, and dark/cold. It would be nirvana. (Or would I need to add a noisy/quiet factor?)

        1. RC Rascal*

          If your nirvana world has individual offices, people can solve the noise factor themselves.

          I say this as a noisy person.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            That’s really the best, by all of the studies I’ve read (plus personal experiences.) But of course, most workplaces these days are too cheap for that, they’d rather gaslight you by telling you how “collaborative” the open plan makes you. It’s BS all the way down.

    3. BlueWolf*

      Yes, we’ve done this too. Certain people just asked facilities to turn off some of the bulbs over their cubes so the lighting is not quite as bright. Actually, only one out of three of my bulbs are on, but it was just like that when I got here. And the rest of the lights in the walkway are fully on so it is still really bright.

  8. Not A Mouse*

    I am literally in the midst of a lighting war in my office. I, for one, strongly prefer to be able to see when I’m working and I have poor eyesight that makes working on my computer in the dark difficult. The lights start off, and I often end up turning on the lights on when everyone else has migrated from the open office to a tiny conference room they keep dark.
    Today, another person turned on the lights before everyone had left, sparking outrage! That person said she and another coworker wanted the lights on, so I mentioned I’d also like them on. I was then told “People who vote for lights don’t count, Not A Mouse.” That, to me, seems an absurd thing to say in an office full of people who are supposed to be adults! Unfortunately, they mostly act like middle schoolers. People are the worst! I like my job, but can’t we all just be nice?

    1. Ego Chamber*

      Wait, so the Lights Off People usually go to a smaller area that they keep dark because they want to work in the dark but Team Lights On isn’t allowed to turn the lights on while the Lights Out People are still in the main office? That’s … uh, that’s bonkers and weird and incredibly rude.

      I outed myself as Team Not All The Lights Please in a previous comment but if there was another room free for the Lights Out People to work in I’d just start the day in there. That is literally the solution we’re all looking for. Wtf.

  9. Ego Chamber*

    #4 | Why such a far off start date? I know it can be unavoidable sometimes but 3 months just seems like kind of a lot.

    Personally, if I was unemployed (or forced out of my current job early) and another offer came in while I was looking down the barrel of months without pay, I can’t say I wouldn’t take it. 3 months without pay means I might even keep interviewing and see if something better was out there while waiting for the start date. Just not a whole lot else to do if you’re not working, you know?

    (This assumes the candidate wasn’t the one asking for the far off start date. If she was, that’s incredibly rude to bail on you last minute like that.)

    1. Myrin*

      OP might (like me) be somewhere where a notice period of three months is the norm, so it’s very common to start a new job in three months plus whatever time you still have left of the current month. Your point is a very good one, though, if that is not the case.

    2. PsychNP*

      NPs usually require credentialing which can take anywhere from 2-6 months off. This timeline is normal in the field.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        This also makes sense. Does that credentialing have to be renewed whenever and NP moves to a new facility or would that timeline only apply if the candidate was new to that position?

    3. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

      It’s rude to bail at the last minute without an apology or explanation, even if it was the company’s timeline.

      Some countries / industries have long notice periods. I once had a job that required 2 months of notice.

      1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

        But a reason was given–not one the OP liked but it was a reason. “Taking my career in another direction.” It may not be a reason people like but it is a reason/explanation. Personally, I think the company should have been emailing every week with updates.

        1. DireRaven*

          Another direction—could it be a way of saying “I did not pass the credentialing exam?” or whatever the process is?

        2. BTDT*

          Sorry, that’s a non-explanation. I’ve had people use this excuse after committing to a professional position- it’s rude and lame.

          1. Purple*

            Rude and lame, but again if the company was the one pushing for the 3 month away date…. It’s going to happen.

            I think it’d take 5k per year to convince me to be this rude.

    4. Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves*

      My state was so behind on licenses because one person handled everything from hair dressers to MDs that it was routinely taking 3-6 months to get a new one. They would say they didn’t have all your paperwork because it was literally sitting in a giant stack for 6 weeks before it was even scanned. And of course they couldn’t just offer reciprocity with other states. In addition to the wait my last license cost $200 in extras in addition to the license itself (fees for letters of good standing for every other state I had a license in, exam copies from the boards I passed a decade ago, ect). Our last new hire couldn’t practice for months because of this.

    5. Pommette!*

      Three months is not abnormal for advanced practice nurses!
      The idea is that most people are moving from one job to another, and need time to wrap up their responsibilities/hire a replacement/have a final meeting with patients before moving on to a new role.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        This is useful context, thank you.

        In that case though, it seems like sending updates to “keep in contact” during that time would be less likely to make a difference, if the timeline is standard and not the extended timeline a lot of us interpreted it as based on the advice given.

    6. Mommy.MD*

      She has to be credentialed. It takes at least three months where I work. It’s like a background check x 40. It usually takes four. That’s how medicine is in major facilities.

      1. Jay*

        Plus I have a 90-day notice period and have had that in every job ever (I’m also an MD), so if I’m going directly from one job to another it’s a minimum of three months before I can start the new one. When we hire an NP, it’s always at least two months and often three – and the last two started before their prescribing authority came through the state, so I had to write all their scrips for a month or two. That was fun.

  10. ..Kat..*

    For people who want less light, get a “cube shield “ or a “cubicle leaf shade.”

    For people who want more light, desk lamps and floor lamps could help.

    1. Lights on!*

      I am a lights on person and I HATE lamp light. I need bright, overhead light. If I had to sit in the dark with just lamp light I would get headaches and feel like I couldn’t see well enough.

      1. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

        Yes! I want to be in a space that is light, not with a lightbulb shining a little circle of light down on my work. I do like the lamps that point up at the ceiling, cause that gives at least a similar ambiant light effect. I also dislike when the lights are spaced so there are dark spots, or if there’s just a light in the middle of a big room and so you move a few feet and have to squint to read something

    2. LW2*

      I really like this idea. I don’t like the idea of just deciding one way for the whole office, because then SOMEONE is going to be upset no matter what. Thank you!

    3. JustaTech*

      The Ikea child’s bed canopy leaf (I think that’s what it’s sold as) was a real eye saver in my old office. Sadly now we don’t have proper cubes, just on little half-wall, so there’s nowhere to attach it.

      I once worked with a guy who wore a green visor like an old-timey accountant, because we worked in a lab and there was no possibility of changing the lights.

  11. Rexish*

    Ah, the light wars. The everyday joys in my office. We’ve had light bulbs removed from above certain people, several different types of deskl ights and other light solutions. It’s never good and everyone thinks their needs are more important and whoever is the boldest get their way.

  12. Beth*

    OP3: I’ve been the planner for this kind of thing at various points in my career. It’s really normal for not everyone to RSVP. For a private event, it’s good manners to let the planner know if you’re not able to attend because presumably they invited you because they really wanted you there.

    That logic doesn’t apply to work events, though. You invite the people you invite because they happen to have met some fairly arbitrary standard (being on a certain team, having met a performance goal, being part of a specific project, whatever). It’s not personal; it doesn’t say anything about your feelings towards them. If they don’t respond, that’s not personal either. Don’t take it too seriously, it doesn’t say anything about their feelings towards you personally. Just assume it means they’re not coming.

    If it makes you feel better, add a line to your invitation that goes something like, “Please RSVP by [date] so I can finalize the headcount. If I haven’t heard from you by then, I’ll assume you can’t make it; we’ll hope to see you next time!”

    1. Dezzi*

      OP#3: is it possible she has a legit reason she can’t make it to these events, but doesn’t feel comfortable saying no all the time because of how seriously/personally you take this? Or isn’t coming *because* of how seriously/personally you’re taking it? Because honestly, from the tone of your letter….well, if I knew my coworker was THIS personally/emotionally invested in regular work events, I’d probably be creeped out and stay away.

      1. Dot Warner*

        I think her reason for not attending was in the letter: she doesn’t like OP and has no interest in interacting with her. That’s a good reason! Having one person at the event who’s “curt and dismissive” with the organizer would make things very awkward for everybody else at the event. OP, make like Elsa from Frozen and let this go.

        1. Salty Caramel*

          While it’s definitely rude not to RSVP the LW doesn’t know that dislike is why. There are lots of reasons to skip work events.

          1. Dot Warner*

            Sure, but in my mind, “I don’t like the person who’s organizing the event and don’t want to talk to them beyond the bare minimum” is a pretty major one. The party can fit perfectly with my schedule, have food I love and activities I enjoy, but if I hate the person hosting it, I’m not going.

            Certainly, it’s a good idea for OP to get input from team on how these events could be changed, but 1) they’re not likely to get any input from this coworker and 2) this person probably still won’t attend.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      OP, try to keep in mind that she is only hurting herself, as the boss will see she continually refuses to acknowledge or go to these events. Try to think of where the actual damage is here in the end.

      I hope you aren’t taking this on as your personal failure to get her involved. You have to treat everyone the same, so everyone gets an invite. Some accept it, but she doesn’t and that is on her not you. Her boss can chose to say something to her or not. TPTB can chose to make these events mandatory or not. But any way you look at this one, the ball is no longer in your court. Nothing you can do here. It’s her loss, not yours.

      1. MsM*

        Honestly, TPTB should either make these events official, or do occasional check-ins to see whether the format works for everyone or if someone else would like to take a turn at planning (assuming events are even the preferred type of reward). If I were OP’s coworker, I think I might be a little salty that someone I wouldn’t voluntarily choose to hang out with was getting a bonus to peer pressure me into giving up my free time to hang out with them.

        1. Antilles*

          Agreed 100%.
          If the boss is going to (as OP says) ‘appreciate those who attend’, then “attendance is not mandatory” is untrue. Either make it fully optional and boss stops paying attention to who attends OR stop the charade and make it mandatory.

          1. MsM*

            And the more that I think about it, even if (or especially if) they go the official route, they need to survey everyone occasionally. If OP’s coworker can’t be bothered to respond to that, fine. But if she’s vegan and OP keeps scheduling these things at steakhouses, or something along those lines, I can see why she might be too annoyed to RSVP when the answer will always be no.

          2. MCMonkeyBean*

            It seems like this is supposed to be a reward for hitting performance goals, so making it mandatory would be pretty crappy IMO.

            1. SweetestCin*

              When “rewards” for hitting performance goals mean I have to jump through hoops in order to attend because they’re outside of work hours, I tend to get salty. (Hoops = child care, anything I typically do outside work hours, figuring out what I can actually eat due to allergies, etc. Mileage may vary here.)

              1. Ego Chamber*

                Samesies, and I have even less patience for “rewards” that end up being held over you forever because you couldn’t find childcare would rather hit the gym can’t/don’t want the food being served are just so antisocial.

          3. Dust Bunny*

            And if it’s mandatory it had better be paid (if y’all are hourly).

            I wouldn’t go most of the time because I have little enough left of my evenings as it is. If I’m required to be there, I’m going to a) want it paid and b) be suuuuuuuuper annoyed that it’s not during work hours.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              For the record, at my current workplace, all events are either paid and during office hours, or entirely optional.

      2. Office Grunt*

        If a boss is wont to “ding” me for not attending something that is not mandatory and that I find incredibly boring (like dinner/drinks with people I already work with), then that is someone I do not want to work for.

        If boss wants more of my time, then pay me for it. Dinner/drinks doesn’t cut it if I’d rather spend my time at rugby training or doing the things one supervisor called me Elflord for.

            1. KoiFeeder*

              Spellslingers have more fun, anyways. Fireball is one of those “to whom it may concern” spells anyways.

      3. RC Rascal*

        This. Part of succeeding at work means being able to successfully navigate office politics; it’s called being “Organizationally Savvy”. Skipping your bosses celebratory events is *not* Organizationally Savvy. I have gone to office parties when I didn’t like my boss and didn’t want to talk to have the people there. Go. Show up. Smile, engage in polite conversation, and go home.

        The party skipper is hurting herself.

      4. Artemesia*

        NOwhere I have ever worked would anyone care a whit that someone, gasp, failed to RSVP to a workplace lunch event. If Fergus never responds and never goes, no one will care most places. It is only a problem if Fergus never responds but sometimes shows up. Otherwise, why is this an issue. Count the yeses and be done with it and assume since Fergus didn’t respond, that he isn’t coming.

    3. Marthooh*

      I would not change the wording on the invitation, since it’s currently working for all but one person and everyone else actually gives you an answer. From now on, just take no reply at all as equivalent to “No thanks”. Any change is going to look passive-aggressive, assuming anyone even notices.

    4. Bookworm*

      Something we found here that you may want to consider. If you are using Microsoft Outlook to send the invitations, when responding people have a few choices. When you click accept or decline, one option is to not send the response to the sender.
      People here thought that Outlook updated the sender calendar and response fields but did not inundate their email with replies…they thought they were being helpful. However, that is not how it work. If you don’t reply to sender, they don’t get anything.

      We had to send out instructions on how it worked.
      Something to consider.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yes, that was news to me when I learned it recently! I always would hit “no response” because I didn’t want to clog their inbox.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Right? On mine, I click “Accept” and then have the options to send response, edit response before sending, or not send response … so if I do Accept > Don’t send response, the “accept” part doesn’t go through?? BRB, testing.

          Okay – as the meeting sender, I do show “no responses received” when my team member does not send response, but it is added to her calendar and I can see that through the scheduling review. So basically it accepts it on the receiver’s end, but that’s it. Huh.

          1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

            I’m going to stop not-sending a response! I nearly always accept/decline and choose “do not send a response” because I thought I was being polite and not cluttering up people’s inboxes. Whoops.

      2. Jennifer Thneed*

        But the organizer can look at the calendar event details and see who has accepted! I don’t have time to track email responses. I rely on the system to organize that info for me.

        1. Bookworm*

          actually, no, the calendar event details show “no response” if they don’t send one. If they do, just make a rule to delete them but your event will be updated.

    5. Mommy.MD*

      OP should only ask for positive RSVPs. Assume the negatives are not coming. Personally I don’t want to spend time off work socializing.

    6. a heather*

      If she’s not replying and also not attending, I don’t see a problem here. It may be personal, but it may not have anything to do with her presumed dislike of OP#3. This is a work event, and as the planner but not the manager/owner/decider, you can’t leave one employee off the invitation without direction. You *can* decide that if someone doesn’t reply, they aren’t going to attend, and proceed as such.

      It seems like the dislike might be mutual here. OP says they don’t care, but that’s not the impression I’m getting. Considering doing something unprofessional here is not great.

  13. Bagpuss*

    It also means that if someone doesn’t RSVP but shows up anyway you can flag it up for them and remind them they need to let you know, if they plan to come.

  14. Bagpuss*

    #2 seems like a ‘use your words’ situation in the first instance – nest time she does it, speak up and say “Oh, can you put that back as it was? Most people prefer to have the lights on half so it isn’t too bright”

    If she pushes back then you could suggest to her that that she ask HR about getting a personal lamp for her desk.

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, I think people need to be more outspoken on both sides, here.

      I mean, I personally wouldn’t just single-handedly change a lightswitch which illuminates a whole room full of people – I’d ask loudly whether it’s okay for me to turn the light up, giving people the opportunity to object. So I do think the coworker is being a bit self-centrered (or at least absentminded) here.

      However, if no one has ever spoken up about it, I don’t see how the coworker can magically intuit that not everyone is okay with her light preference (and in fact, it seems like she might be the literal only person with that preference, given how the light stays halfway whenever she isn’t in). I’m not quite clear if the scoffing, rolling eyes, and loudly saying “Did she just do that?!” happen when coworker is within earshot or not, but if so… well, I agree that ideally she’d get the hint, but much more importantly, that’s just a suuuper passive-aggressive way of handling it. Especially when there’s a very straightforward way of solving the problem, which is talking to her directly.

      And if she has issues which make it important to her to have more light – like vision problems or all the other stuff people mention above – then she in turn needs to bring that up when confronted so that a solution which is favourable to everyone can be found.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        For me the “intuition” part would be “Oh, I have to turn this on every day. Must be people don’t want it on or they would have turned it on by now.” There’s a reason why the light is not on.

        I do agree that if she needed more light she could talk to her boss about what to do.

        1. MsM*

          I don’t know: I might just assume everyone else was indifferent, and since I have a strong preference, I might as well go ahead. Never hurts to ask, though.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          She may have no idea they’d prefer to have it off. For all we know, she’s thinking “can you believe my lazy coworkers won’t even turn on the light?”

          1. introverted af*


            My default assumption here would be huh. Nobody decided to turn on the lights yet. Guess that’s something I can do for the team to be helpful :D

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      It’s a good point that humans aren’t telepathic. When I was new to the workforce and suffering under bright lights I used to just fume and rant to myself and a few others. After 20+ years though I’ll actually ask if anything can be done.

      (Although the answer is often ‘no’. I have to remind myself to actually ask though instead of just becoming an eternal pessimist!)

    3. KKaboom*

      I had the situation where myself and 80% of the office liked it dim, and one lady who was old insisted on having it full blast, and would go over and turn them way up with no notice. I tried to tell her many of us have migraines and sensitive eyes, and she waved her hands at me to go away, talked over me, and said “yeah, well everyone had a “medical disorder” nowadays, who cares!” Needless to say, I stood my ground and boss bought her a desk lamp and put the lights at halfway and installed a locked cover.

      1. Not A Mouse*

        Fwiw it’s not just old people who need light! I’m not even 30 and I get horrible eyestrain and headaches if there’s not at least some overhead light while I’m working on my computer because my eyes are just bad.

        1. James*

          It’s not even consistent. I get migraines, and often bright lights are extremely painful. Sometimes, though, the strain from trying to see in dim light is actually worse. That’s why I advocate individual control over lighting: the person can tailor it to their specific needs in real-time.

      2. Rexish*

        We had 2 people sharing an Office where one sai tha tshe was getting a migrane from the lights and the otheroe was getting a migrane from the contrast between screelight and room darkness. Than was an interesting one

    4. hbc*

      I can totally imagine her grumbling at home, “People are so lazy at work, they don’t even flip up the lightswitch the whole way. I try to wait hoping someone will figure it out, but I almost always have to do it.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        I guess I don’t understand why the person doesn’t ask “Is there a reason the lights aren’t on full?” The assumption of laziness is really pretty gross, IMO, but apparently a lot of people do it.

  15. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

    The most extreme case of wanting dim lighting I experienced was at a temp job years ago. I don’t know if the woman I was sharing an office with had a medical issue or what but she had the overhead lights off, the little window in the door covered in paper, and a blackout curtain in the window. I was allowed to have a tiny desk lamp and that was it. She also insisted on playing the smooth radio station all day, and she told me stories about her various exploits (especially the story of her affair with Michael McDonald every time he came on the radio, which was often on the smooth station) in her lovely, soothing Southern drawl.

    I had to drink A LOT of coffee at that job.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I can’t comment on the music, but the light level maintained in my house is very similar to what your coworker had. One of my meds makes me incredibly sensitive to light so every light source in the house is dimmed right down low and I don’t often open the curtains.

      Cat loves it, husband tolerates it. I can’t imagine inflicting it on a coworker though! Hope you don’t have to go through that again!

      1. Bagpuss*

        Out of interest, would / does wearing dark glasses help, in situations where you can’t control the light levels?

        1. HalloweenCat*

          It depends on the type of work you do and the kind of glasses. I had a concussion a couple of years ago that kept me out of work for almost 3 weeks on bed rest. When I was medically cleared to go back to work, the fluorescents still bothered me enough that I tried wearing sunglasses. The problem was something about the sunglasses made my computer monitors impossible to read! I mean that when I looked at my computer monitors, they just looked like black boxes.

          1. No Tribble At All*

            Probably you had polarized sunglasses — if the computer screen is also polarized, but in the opposite direction, then your sunglasses will block out all the light!

        2. MCTD in the Hizouse*

          Not unless you mean those wraparound ski glasses. I have an autoimmune disorder and between the disorder and the meds to treat the disorder, I have a permanent, awful headache any time I’m not at home. I’m not wearing those glasses, though.

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        A glass of warm milk would have been more fitting. It was like nighttime dark in there. I had to use a flashlight if I wanted to look at files in the filing cabinet or get something out of the desk drawers. And no headphones, so I couldn’t try to keep myself awake by listening to the Dead Kennedys or anything.

  16. KKaboom*

    OP#2, I thought you were someone from my work for a minute… my new job has an open cube office, and the lights are on a dimmer and the full blast is like a lighthouse spotlight. 2 ppl in the office were older and insisted on full blast, even though the other 8 of us with sensitive eyes and migraines hated it, so it was up and down all day depending on who was in the room. Finally, I got a doctors note for it to be lower, and my boss bought everyone desk lamps and put the lights at medium and installed a locked cover on the light switch. The two old ppl hate me now, but I really don’t care. Being able to work without headaches and sensitive eye tears running down my face is more important.

    1. Not A Mouse*

      It’s not just old people who might need the lights! I’m in my early 20s and get horrible eyestrain and headaches trying to work without at least some overhead lighting. My eyes are pretty bad. It’s important to non-lights people to work without headaches too!

      1. nonprofit director*

        And I am the older person in my office that prefers it less bright. I am in an office and shut off my too-bright overhead lights, which make my head hurt, but they’re on motion sensors and turn back on when I move. Grrrr. I will probably have all the bulbs removed, except one.

    2. Old and Don’t Care*

      Eight people out of ten with sensitive eyes and migraines? And you think it’s the old people who have issues! Dear God.

      1. hbc*

        I dunno, if 2/10 want the brightest setting and 8/10 find it painful, my guess is that it isn’t eight sensitive people so much as eight people with relatively average eyesight who don’t enjoy the light equivalent of 130 decibels.

    3. Arctic*

      Desk lamps don’t really help much for eyesight when you are working on a computer. They should have changed the bulbs in the overhead. Those “old” people have as much right to be able to see as the 8 (!!!) migraine sufferers.

      1. James*

        I agree that the old people have a right to see. What’s being lost here, however, is that the 8 people with migraines have a right to not be tortured.

        Migraines are neurological disorders with a wide range of effects. I was 30 when I finally figured out what auras were; until then, I assumed they were part of normal vision, because they were a constant in my life. My sister gets migraines bad enough that she physically can’t move–her annular migraines remove her ability to move her arms and legs. Even a “normal” migraine is a level of pain that’s beyond (I speak from experience) a broken bone, shallow stab wounds, and lacerations.

        We’re not talking discomfort here. We’re talking about expecting people to endure 8 hours of physical agony, every day (depending on the migraine types, triggers, etc).

        Yes, the other 2 have a right to see their work. But the other 8 have rights as well. And frankly, if my office told me “We don’t care about your medical issues, this small minority wants things this way and you’ll have to put up with it” I’d either push to work from home or push for a new job.

        1. Arctic*

          I’m not sure if this was accidentally replied to me since I pointed out other accommodations would make more sense not that the people with migraines should suffer.

          1. earg b*

            This was my thought, too. And if there were, not all migraine sufferers are alike. Light never triggers my migraines. It will make an existing one worse, but it won’t trigger one. So even if there were 8 migraine sufferers out of 10 employees, I doubt they all have the same trigger.

          2. James*

            My comment was in response to your last sentence, which is a bit dismissive of migraine sufferers. Yes, of course older people have a right to see at work. Okay, I can be a bit defensive, but still: you expect one group to be the one to bend, and dismiss health concerns on the grounds of “Let’s be real”. Were this any other medical condition (and migraines ARE a medical condition) you’d see this as absurd. Replace “migraine” with “peanut allergy” and re-read your comments and you’ll see what I mean.

            I’m not saying that anyone has to bend over backwards for the migraine sufferers here. But it’s equally unreasonable to be dismissive of their condition and to expect them to be the ones to accommodate others.

            1. Arctic*

              Again, I offered an alternative accommodation.

              I would find it hard to believe 8 out of 10 people had peanut allergies. Especially if that person was also making rude and dismissive comments about old people.

          3. Curmudgeon in California*

            Ummm, depends on the group. In my extended group of five, three of us suffer migraines, albeit with differing triggers. In a mixed ages group tending toward older, you’d be surprised at how many people have common allergies or conditions. Statistically it is possible.

        1. Lord Gouldian Finch*

          I’ve actually done that on bright, overly-sunny days. My eyes are really sensitive to light. It’s quite annoying to have to do.

  17. Annie*

    I’m really surprised by the response to 3. An employee flat out refusing to talk to or engage with a coworker (and acting in a generally very cliquey way) is highly unprofessional and rude. Unless you are a child giving someone the silent treatment is never acceptable.

    1. Myrin*

      The advice, much like the question itself, isn’t about the coworker’s general behaviour, though, but about this specific situation regarding the office party invitations.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Right. But there is a reusable principle underlying the specific reply. And that is: “It’s okay to let people unravel themselves. And it’s not always up to us to fix it.”

        1. Observer*

          That’s true. And part of that is to not take things personally, and not to act on personal pique.

          If CW is showing up without an RSVP, then you say to the CW “We need to have a response in order to order appropriately.’ If that doesn’t work,m go to the boss and say “CW does not RSVP but sometimes shows up, which throws off our numbers. I’ve already told her why we need the RSVP, and nothing has changed.”

          Stopping to invite CW is a personal response to a work problem, and that’s just not appropriate.

    2. Observer*

      If the CW is refusing to cooperate or communicate on other work issues, then the OP has a bigger problem that needs to be addressed anyway in a broader, work appropriate fashion. Stopping to invite the CW does nothing to deal with a larger problem, if one exists. In fact, it exacerbates the problem because it raised the petty personal squabbling level, which is the last thing the OP needs here.

    3. Dot Warner*

      That’s a good point, but it’s something for OP’s manager to address, and that person didn’t write in. :)

    4. Pobody’s Nerfect*

      Never say never. I used to be in a situation where a coworker treated me very badly, tried to intimidate me, would raise their voice in an angry tone, would make threatening phone calls to other people to make sure I could hear the calls…all of this was reported to the bosses but they chose to keep this person around (I never understood why), so my self-preservation instinct option was to have as little interaction or speaking with this coworker as possible. Hello, goodbye, and work conversation only in the presence of a third party. It wasn’t unprofessional or rude, it was survival.

  18. Bagpuss*

    Out of interest, would / does wearing dark glasses help, in situations where you can’t control the lighting?

    1. Knitting Cat Lady*

      Depends on why you want the lights off.

      If the intensity is the problem, then yes.

      It’s what I do in the aftermath of a migraine.

      For me it’s the light quality. Fluorescent type lights are flickery. Drives me up the wall and gives me a headache.

      Incandescent and LED type lights don’t flicker.

      Had to jump through a bajillion hoops to get the fluorescent tubes above my desk disconnected and LED standing lamps brought in.

      Now that I have that adjustment it just moves with me whenever we move office.

      I’m some kind of record holder at work in that regard, because my average so far is one move per year. So accommodations moving with me is kind of important.

  19. George*

    Regarding #2, I can’t tell how big an office this is, but it sounds like a pretty big group. If this is the case, I would modify Alison’s advice and ask around, rather than just ask the people near you. It’s possible there are a small group near you who prefer half lights, but the rest of the office prefers all on. This is an issue where I work because some people are very close to windows and others are in much darker corners. So please be careful that the group by the switch doesn’t decide for everyone!

    Alternately, it could be brought up with a manager/office manager as, “I sit near the switch and have notice there’s a variety of preferences on the lighting. There have been a few comments made and it makes me wonder if it would make sense to ask around if anyone would benefit from task lighting.”

    It might be easy to get take lighting, but somebody might not be comfortable asking (e.g. age based diminishing sight). Bringing it up this way might be a kindness.

    1. Bright lights forever*

      This this this. The corner closest to the lightswitch should not make the decision for the whole office. I get that only one person has been toggling the lights on, but as someone who hates dim lighting and also would feel anxious about taking an action that affects everyone, I would personally see Lightswitch Lady as a hero with the courage to do what I could not. (But I know that’s just me.)

      I totally think this is worth bringing to HR and letting them make a blanket policy, And then they should explicitly offer everyone whatever lighting or shielding desk accomodations they want. It really might not occur to people that they could ask for a lamp or a tent or whatever.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, I don’t know why OP has dismissed a poll as “too time consuming.” It seems like the only way forward to me. How much time has been wasted on this battle so far that could have been avoided with a definitive vote on how to keep the switch, and then finding accommodations for the people who lose the vote.

      1. Observer*

        I was wondering the same thing. A Doodle poll takes all of 5 minutes to set up, and that includes the initial free registration. Same for Survey Monkey.

  20. Bree*

    Am I misunderstanding, or does #2 feel responsible for solving the lights issue (with a sign, a poll, etc.) just because they sit closest to the switch? If so, this is not actually their problem to fix, and should be passed off to the office admin or whoever manages other facility issues to address.

      1. Bree*

        Yes, totally. If I worked there and the LW put up a sign on sent around a poll – especially in a large office with multiple teams – I would be confused as to why they were doing so, and maybe even think they were overstepping/being weirdly controlling.

        The first step here is for someone to ask the person – nicely – if they’d mind leaving the lights down, and see what they say. After that, it becomes an office manager or similar’s job to find compromises/solutions that would work for the most people. As written, it’s kind of like one group clustered nearby have made a bunch of assumptions and appointed themselves Lords of the Light Switch, and it’s odd.

    1. CheeryO*

      I agree. I sit closest to the thermostat, but that doesn’t mean that I have to referee the Great Office Climate War. I would just ignore the whole thing, or at most, ask one of the grumblers if they’ve ever taken it up with their coworker directly.

  21. Batgirl*

    I know! It seems a quick: “Oh thanks but we keep the lights on half because some people don’t like it/there’s glare” is very unlikely to be met with anything but “OK”

  22. Jennifer*

    Re: lighting
    This is so silly. Standard lighting is common everywhere I’ve worked. If you have a preference for something else, say something. Are you sure everyone in the office hates normal lighting, or just a few vocal people? I would find it odd that she is the only one who prefers lights.

    Re: parties
    I agree that you’re taking this too personally. You aren’t throwing the party. You are sending an email. The company is throwing it. If she doesn’t want to to, that’s on her. You said you don’t like each other very much so that implies dislike on both sides. You mentioned why you dislike her but not much about why she dislikes you. Is it something that can be worked out or is it beyond repair?

    1. Yorick*

      Yeah, there’s no way that this lady is the only person who likes a normally-lit space. Sure, people have valid reasons to have a different preference, but IMO “lights on” should be the default unless someone comes forward to request something different.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I think too much preference is being read into behaviors on both sides. Some people will merely think “I probably don’t have authority to turn the lights fully on” and some people will think “Oh, the lights aren’t fully on yet so I’d better turn them on.”

  23. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

    “The first consequence should be that if someone works unauthorized overtime, you require them work fewer hours the rest of the week so that they’re not earning additional pay, even if it means sending them home.” – some commenters have pointed out that OT may be calculated on a daily and not weekly basis – could you instead require them to take a day (or half day) of unpaid leave that week? It sounds harsh, but as Alison says, this is actually quite a serious issue.

    I’m also wondering what response you are getting when you have the conversation with them around OT – do they agree not to do it, and then do it anyway?

    Are there other issues that would indicate that they don’t take you seriously?

    1. EPLawyer*

      This is where I was going. Did you tell them no overtime without authorization or did you kinda hint around it?
      Like the lighting wars, this is another “use your words” situation. You need to flat out tell people that there is no unauthorized overtime, period. You also need to spell out the consequences. Do not do this in an all office email, or an announcement at a general meeting. Everyone will believe you don’t really mean them specifically. Talk directly to the people who are doing this. Tell them it is a hard no on overtime unless they have your approval in writing. Then enforce the consequences.

      They won’t like you. But you are a manager now. Your job is not to be liked by your reports. it is to make sure the organization runs efficiently and smoothly.

      1. Arctic*

        She says they have had the discussion several times. There is no reason to think she didn’t use her words.

        1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

          I think the discussion needs to include consequences which are then enforced. It sounds as though it’s currently a situation of “Please stop doing this thing. Thanks.”

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Could also be similar to a situation in a friend’s office. The prior manager in that group was a total pushover – never said no to anything and there were two people in the group that just worked whatever overtime they wanted (overtime was always required to be approved in advance, and we’re in a state where overtime is calculated on a weekly basis). Old manager was pushed out for being ineffective, and friend was promoted. They knew they were going to have a fight on their hands about this, so had a planning session with their supervisors before they started about how to handle the issue. Out of that meeting came a new Written document that outlined the group’s overtime policy and all consequences for violating the policy. Friend held a meeting with the whole group where they went over the policy, invited questions, and at the end of the meeting everybody signed the policy (and received a copy with their signature acknowledging their understanding the same day after the meeting).

      Basically it said all overtime requests must be submitted with a business reason in advance and receive signed approval before being worked. If you had to on Short notice at manager request it would also be paid in full. Emergency overtime that wasn’t requested by the manager was paid in comp time. And if you just worked overtime because you wanted to, well you were going to be sent home early the next day. Continued violations of the policy would result in warnings that ultimately led to removal from the group.

      The two who just always worked whatever overtime they wanted, well last I heard one got the message after getting a written warning that their next unapproved overtime shift would result in termination. Person two ended up being terminated because they refused to adapt to a manager that actually was holding them accountable for their actions. Apparently the work group is functioning much better now because of accountability.

      (note: this is also an industry and state where earning Comp time is normal and legal – I know this is not the case everywhere. They used comp time for “project blew up in our faces at closing time and we need 30-60 mins to fix it now because it will be an even bigger mess if it sits till tomorrow” incidents, because well, life happens. Any earned comp time had to be used within six weeks, and was tracked in their timecard software.)

  24. Arctic*

    LW#2 you have a whole big group of people and when someone changes the lights they sigh and pantomime aggravation but not one person says anything?

    Having lights on is the norm. Lots of reasons to dislike it but she’s not crazy to think having lights on at work is a thing. And it doesn’t seem that anyone has *told* her otherwise. How should it be obvious to her? Not everyone picks up on “clues.”

    Also if she has eyesight issues that has to be accommodated ASAP before mandating dim lighting.

    1. Marthooh*

      Yeah the Light-it-up lady probably thinks other people don’t care much cuz they’d say something if they did.

      1. Arctic*

        Exactly! And turning on the lights at work is such a normal thing to do.

        I’m not suggesting anyone is wrong for wanting it different. But if a work preference goes against the norm it should he made explicit.

  25. Eileen*

    For #2, you might want to consider that the lighting could be an accessibility issue. My father has a degenerative eye condition that affects the amount of light he needs to see the space. So he requires an excessive amount of bright light to see as well as a normal person in more regular lighting. There is always a chance your coworker experiences a similar issue. If that is the case, an extra lamp at her desk may help there but won’t do spit when she is trying to navigate the office safely or look across the space to see if so-and-so is that their desk.

    1. AndrewsSister*

      The trouble is, though, the reverse can also be an accessibility issue, depending on what individual medical/eye condition someone has. I’m quite significantly sight impaired and because of the nature of the eye condition I have, I need low light in my workspace to make the most of my remaining vision – in bright light I can see almost nothing (at work I manage by having the overhead lights around my desk disabled, wearing tinted glasses and sometimes also a hat with a brim, and working from home where possible). Lighting is in its way a classic example of a conflicting accessibility need – what one person needs is incompatible with what others need. When I worked for an organisation for blind and sight impaired people we had so many conflicting needs I’m this area that the only solution in the end was to reseat everyone and have a dark section of the office and a light section. Low tech, but it worked well.

  26. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

    OP3, please do not take your wife’s advice on any workplace issue, if she thinks you should stop inviting your colleague.

    Your colleague is unlikely to be ignoring an invitation to a work event because she doesn’t get along with the organiser (you). Even if that is the reason, your job, to organise work events, includes inviting the people in your department. It would be completely out of line to stop inviting people who have offended you in some way. I think you’d find yourself no longer organising work events.

    The only thing you can really push back on here, is if she doesn’t respond, and then shows up anyway and makes a fuss when you haven’t ordered her a burger and a party hat. Otherwise please just let this go.

  27. Not So NewReader*

    This is only a tangent thought. Since I have seen first hand how my own vision can fluctuate with my level of hydration, I might seriously consider a water cooler if there was not one already available or no other water source available nearby. Definitely not a magic bullet answer and definitely not something that is a cure-all. However, making sure people can get water when they want it would be important to me as a boss/leader.

  28. Argh!*

    Re: No. 3

    There are many reasons why someone would not want to go to a social event, e.g., recovering alcoholic, parental duties, pet care, anxiety, food issues… so the lack of RSVP may just mean the person feels uncomfortable with the entire tradition.

    The deeper problem is that your manager picked you for this instead of rotating the responsibility. Even if you have great skills, it gives the appearance of favoritism, and may be part of the reason she resents you. Are there other special assignments that go only to you, or never to her? Even if she’s terrible at organization, she has no way of knowing that you’re good at it if she’s out of the loop.

    1. WellRed*

      I think it’s pretty common to just have one or two people responsible for this sort of thing. And look at all the letters we get here from people who hate being roped into it. I’d be more concerned that this has nothing to do with the OPs job (maybe it does) and isn’t adding value to his or her resume.

      1. Arctic*

        Normally I’d agree. But LW does get paid a bonus for doing this.

        For me I’d still be thrilled to have a mandated co-worker doing that stuff so I don’t have to. As long as he or she was OK with it, of course. Give them all the money!! Just make sure I never have to go to a holiday party planning committee again! But I could see how it would cause resentment that they are chosen to do it and get more money for it.

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      Yeah, but…

      I don’t care how uncomfortable someone is with the tradition, it’s just rude not to take the ten seconds required to RSVP.

      If they are that uncomfortable, they should reach out to their manager and say “please leave me off the invite list”.

      1. Artemesia*

        Things that are ‘rude’ in a social situation e.g. invited to your friends dinner party and you fail to respond, are less so in a business situation where the organizer can assume non response is no interest. It isn’t a social event; it is business.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Especially if it’s business I will RSVP affirmatively one way or the other. When it’s certain types of event, e.g. “All Hands” meetings, etc., there is actual money being paid, and the company has a financial interest in having an accurate headcount.

    3. lost academic*

      I must agree. Now that I have a small child at home and a very carefully balanced routine, 2 weeks wouldn’t be quite enough time to necessarily reorganize every other responsibility for a work social event. 4 weeks would be reasonable. And it could easily be breeding resentment – your colleague is routinely receiving the invitations at a time where she can’t accommodate it and it may be coming off as last minute to her. Now all of that should be resolved with reasonable feedback, but I can see where someone would just start ignoring the emails.

      1. Argh!*

        … or can’t afford the child care or doesn’t want to pay a babysitter just to watch coworkers eat and drink.

  29. Workfromhome*

    #! I’d say its time to use this issue to clarify your position as manager. Its time for a team meeting. “as manager I have become aware of an issue which can have serious consequences for the organization. As you know we do not have the funds to support substantial overtime. Legally we cannot have people work unpaid overtime. Thus the policy that all overtime must be approved ahead of time. That means you are not to work more than x hours in any given day unless you have an email approval from Bob or I X hours in advance. If you do not get that approval you will need to leave the task unfinished at the end of the regular work day . Is everyone clear on this ? (That is key you need to everyone to acknowledge that they hard this and follow it up in an email). OK great everyone understands. I also want to let you know that since this is a serious issue that ignoring this policy can result in termination. I would not want that to happen but wanted to make sure its clear if you ignore the policy you can lose your job” If that doesn’t make it clear nothing will. If you have some people who want to test you then after the first one works unauthorized overtime and gets fired it will stop ;-)

    1. Triumphant Fox*

      I don’t know, blanket responses when specific people are doing something can undermine your position. Since OP has already made it clear to these people, OP needs to sit down with each of them and discuss specific instances. “We’ve talked about this before, yet in the last month you took overtime on X, Y and Z dates without asking. What is going on here?” Giving them a chance to respond would let you know if they think they just have so much work to do, in which case you also address that issue in looking at their workload. Then you tell them what the consequences are if they do it again. Communicating “I am VERY SERIOUS” is easier one on one, I think, than in a general “Come on guys” way.

    2. AKchic*

      I like this, and I think the meeting needs to happen immediately, with the outlined Policy/Procedure in writing, with a signature sheet that goes into the employee file. Considering how widespread the problem is and has been, the meeting will be announced as the one and only warning and is officially considered the PIP. Any further unauthorized OT, without an extremely good reason (i.e., there was an earthquake/fire/natural disaster that required a few staff members to stay to secure proprietary documents and the supervisors were unable to access the pre-approval forms) will result in termination of employment.

      I have a feeling that this isn’t the only challenge to the LW’s new managerial authority, but it’s the one that they see most clearly, and they’ve brushed off the lighter stuff with “we’re friends” or “it’s how we’ve always interacted” and is still trying to be their coworkers’ friend and not The Supervisor they need and deserve.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I had a friend who knew going in there would be primarily two-ish people with an overtime issue – but still had that meeting with the whole group with the signed form that listed the overtime policy and discipline policy for violations. Friend and their supervisor thought it would be a good idea to get the whole unit on the same page because the prior manager was “one match short of a dumpster fire” and the unit was in a fairly predictable and semi-toxic mess.

  30. SarahTheEntwife*

    #3 – if she’s showing up every time without RSVPing that’s obnoxious, since you have to make reservations, but if she’s not RSVPing and then also not showing up, I’m not sure what the problem is. I get that it feels like she’s ignoring you, especially since you already don’t get along, but silence as a way of saying that you’re not coming is *super super common*.

  31. Can*

    OP2, I disagree with this part of Alison’s advice: “ Or you can just switch it back without explaining.” Please do not do that. It’s really passive-aggressive and doesn’t solve the problem. Just use your words.

    1. Fuzzyfuzz*

      Yeah–agreed. I found Alison’s advice out of character and passive aggressive. It’s not like someone isn’t flushing the toilet or leaving the microwave a mess. Turning overhead lights on in an office is a reasonable behavior–I’d honestly even guess that if you polled people on office norms, overheads on would win. If the office wants to agree to a dimmer lighting situation, that is a conversation that needs to be had. No signs, huffing, or silent frustrated lighting adjustments.

  32. Phillip*

    Speaking as someone that prefers dim lighting, I gotta say I am surprised that “full on” isn’t the assumed default. I don’t think turning the lights fully on is particularly weird or inconsiderate behavior, seems like half-on would be the requestable variant as opposed to the other way around.

  33. Ashley*

    I worked a customer service position where during our “off season” we were not suppose to work OT unless it was approved beforehand. When I racked up OT hours anyway I explained to my boss that it was because of the workload and that unless that changed I would either need to do the OT or fall behind. Part of my job was client facing and I was the only person who worked the last hour because my boss literally could not make anyone adjust their schedule. So to not work OT I would need to leave at 6pm but our our customer service hours ended at 6pm.
    On top of that I was the primary person who did a particular time sensitive task. And even though we had clear timelines our sales team would constantly tell people we could do this task faster in order to make the sale. So instead of having 4 -6 weeks I was frequently being given 2 or 3 weeks to do it. God I hated that job.

  34. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #2 – go with the majority and for those who don’t like it, they need to find a solution that works for them given the lighting situation. For me, it was to have the lights above me removed (migraines), get a table lamp for my desk and lower the brightness on my monitors. Pleasing everyone is impossible so you need to make it work with what most prefer in this situation.
    #3 – yes to everything Alison said. If your colleague didn’t RSVP and then showed up, that would be a problem. But assuming she doesn’t show up, it’s not really an issue. Let it go.

  35. Madame X*

    I’m unclear about what LW4 is asking to do. I understand that they are disappointed that the nurse they hired 3 months prior rescinded her acceptance of the job a week before her start date. However, the only solution is to move on and immediately restart the job hiring process. So other than that, what else are they hoping to do? Do they want to black list her? Retaliate in some way? Are they trying to see how they can avoid this situation in the future?
    As Allison said, this could just be bad luck for the LW. The nurse may have gotten a better job offer somewhere else or there were some extenuating circumstances that made her realize that this position would no longer be one she could fulfill.
    The only you can do is ensure that you are cultivating the type of work environment that is appealing to qualified job applicants and move forward with hiring someone new.

    1. ynotlot*

      I think they are looking for help with processing what happened and figuring out how to move on. Getting a sanity check and some tips on how to not let this affect every other hiring decision in the future.

    2. WellRed*

      “Any advice on how to regroup and to lessen the likelihood of this happening again, other than baying at the moon and tearing my hair out?”

  36. Jenno*

    For #4, not advice but just commiseration over the weird reasons people back out of jobs at the last minute…this didn’t happen to me but to one of my peer managers filling a first-line supervisor type of job. They found a great candidate, they offered, he accepted, he went through all the pre-hire checks, and then the day before he was due to start, he called and said that he and his wife were trying to conceive just then, and having to come to the office was going to interfere in his ability to fulfill his role in that process. No lie. It’s funny *now*, but that morning, not so much.

  37. Sharon*

    Regarding the lighting, it’s not difficult or expensive for an electrician to re-wire the lighting to be on different circuits so that the entire office isn’t sharing one lighting scheme. Can LW ask building management to accommodate a request to do so?

    Regarding the invites, do they specifically state RSVP yes or no? I am anti-social and would never, ever attend a social event with co-workers in or out of the office. My current job does a monthly birthday cake in the lunchroom and it’s perfectly fine to just ignore the email. For the office Christmas party, the RSVP is just for people attending, so it’s also perfectly fine to ignore it. Perhaps the LW should specify to RSVP yes OR no.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Every office I’ve been in has been the same way with the invites. An Outlook invite would go out and those who want to go would RSVP yes, and the rest would ignore. I’ve seen it done for happy hours, I typically end up going, but I’m one of maybe 5-10 people there and the invite goes out to maybe 50. I’ve hosted a few of those and definitely do not remember getting a Decline response from 40 people. It’s just assumed that they cannot come – which again is perfectly normal and expected. People have families, plans etc. One woman at OldJob was very social, but did not drink alcohol and so did not attend the happy hours. Etc. We have only ever needed the number of the Yes responses for the headcount.

  38. Koala dreams*

    I don’t see why you should do anything. The complaining people next to you are rude, and you can say something to them, but I guess they will just start complain about you instead. Some people just love to complain, and hate to solve things, because then there wouldn’t be anything to complain about.

    As for the lights, the complainers can just as easily talk to the person who wants the bright light themselves, or they can change the light switch themselves. No need for you to do anything. Honestly, I wouldn’t help them just out of spite, I don’t like bullies like that who complain behind someones back and refuse to behave like adults.

    1. Koala dreams*

      I wanted to add, if you yourself have reasons to need the dimmer light (for example, it’s less straining for your eyes), you can of course go to your boss or whoever is in charge of the office and request that you have dim lights. Maybe the solution will be to permanently put the light on dim, or to change the light above your desk to dimmer lights, or put up some fabric to block the light around your desk.

  39. mdubs28*

    #2 reminds me of the time I worked with someone who believed overhead fluorescent lighting diluted their body’s vitamin D, but we worked in a cube farm so that was unavoidable. I thought. I came in one day to find that he had used collapsed cardboard boxes to roof his cube and turn it into a little enclosed fort. Apparently no one had a problem with this because it only came down when he moved to another area. It was fantastic.

    1. Lady Jay*

      As a highly introverted person who really enjoys having her own space, and doesn’t mind dimly lit areas (they feel cozy, esp. with a lamp), I would LOVE this.

    2. Quickbeam*

      I tried that with swaddle blankets because the air conditioning vent was right on top of me. I was told to remove it but it made my point and the vent was fixed.

    3. Curmudgeon in California*

      I keep being tempted to make a cubicle out of collapsible screens, because I *hate* people walking behind me. (It tweaks my streetwise paranoia.) But I get flak for even suggesting it because it’s not “open” or “collaborative”. Feh.

  40. Sneaky Ninja for this one*

    We have a no OT policy, but it’s reasonably enforced. It’s mostly phone work with insurance companies, no in person customers to deal with. The policy is NO OT, but we aren’t going to fuss at someone if they are stuck on a phone call. We’d rather pay you a few minutes then hang up on people, that’s no good. On the other hand, we want people to use the last 5 minutes of their day to tidy things up, wrap up emails, sort out what’s happening tomorrow, and not get on a new call, so they don’t get stuck on the phone, and can clock out on time,

    1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

      Same. My company understands that when you’re dealing with a client, they control the timing of the interaction. If you have a problematic pattern (ie you’re going 30+ minutes of overtime daily), then your manager will have a talk with you about it, but otherwise… that’s the nature of interacting with clients. Down-to-the-minute control ain’t gonna happen.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Current job is also the same way, with a caveat if you get someone like I had last night you can mute your phone mike temporarily and call out the “save me” code word……I had to do it last night because this person just didn’t want to accept that the answer she was getting was the only one we could give – and that answer was you have to talk to “home” department for “home” questions, not the “sidewalk” department.

  41. ynotlot*

    I feel like it should be a requirement for letter writers to have first tried to resolve the issue by just speaking. “Oh, hey, we prefer the lights half off.” Sounds like that sentence was never stated aloud.

  42. Amethystmoon*

    #3 Do the employees have to pay for these dinners? If not, is it made clear that they don’t? I avoid a lot of after-work stuff that is optional because I’m on a strict budget. Also, they could have conflicting obligations in the evenings, especially if they have kids with after-school activities,or friends or a significant other that likes to go out.

    1. Sneaky Ninja for this one*

      But I don’t think that prevents the common courtesy of a response. Just “Nope, I can’t make it” or click Decline on the email invite.

  43. Anonny-nonny-hey*

    #2: If someone is complaining behind someone’s back and making snide comments but refuses to speak up directly, then yeah, I think they’re the rude and petty one. (Especially since they aren’t exactly making it clear to the lights-on person that they might have medical reasons for keeping the lights low; maybe they don’t have them! Maybe they just like the lights low!) I actually don’t think you need to get involved, but if you feel the need to speak to someone, I’d do it to the complainers first, and tell them to solve their own problem.

    I admit I’m a little biased because I shared an office suite for seven years with someone who did the eye-rolling loud-sigh thing about every single level of lighting- apparently dim was too dim, half-on was too shadowy, full was too bright- but never asked for a single accommodation and would only reply to someone asking her what level of light she needed with another loud sigh. It got to the point that I would just turn the lights in the main room to whatever position I preferred, especially since I was usually the first one there in the morning, and ignore her eye-rolling and sighs. She could have spoken up if it was that effin’ important to her.

  44. Jennifer*

    Exactly. I’ve never worked anywhere where dim lighting was the norm. She turns the lights on because working with the lights on is a thing. Also people need to learn the difference between having a personal preference for something and needing something for actual medical reasons.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      +1000. I’ve had three surgeries in my one eye (retina detachment, subsequent cataract, and another retina surgery) and am simultaneously nearsighted and farsighted in the other. 20/20 vision in my surgery eye (but it cannot focus so I need reading glasses for it) and slightly nearsighted with correction in the other. I wish I could work in a darkened room like my 20-something children do, but that’s just not going to happen for me anymore. I need my lights to be able to do my job. If they are in an open office environment, this means she cannot have an overhead desk light like some cubicles do (another reason to hate open offices, I guess!)

  45. James*

    #2: The lighting thing strikes me as a Health and Safety issue–specifically, ergonomics. No one would assume that everyone needs a chair the same height, or a monitor at exactly the same height; it’s frankly weird to act as though everyone needs lighting levels the same.

    If you’re a big enough company the “H&S” framework would be a good way to approach this issue. In a three-person company this argument will get you nowhere, but in a tens-of-thousands-person, multi-national company you may get some traction.

    As an aside, this is why I like my office field office. It has a door, and windows I can close, and lights I control. Many times I’ve worked with the lights off because that was more comfortable for me. One of the few perks of my position! :D

    #1: I would DEFINITELY start with looking at workload. Many of my colleagues routinely work overtime because project managers under-staff in order to save budget. Not a big deal if you accept that going in, but if you expect folks to work 40 hours and they’re routinely working 45 or 50 it’s a really good sign that the workloads are simply too high. One way to look at this: Are those who work unapproved overtime your high performers? If so, it’s likely a workload issue–they’re in “get the job done and deal with the paperwork later” mode.

    If the folks doing overtime are also underperforming, that would indicate you’re not overworking folks, some staff are just lazy.

    1. MsM*

      I think the nonprofit part is important. A lot of places have a strong “forget the pay; just get it done” culture, so they may need it forcefully spelled out for them that regardless of how it may have worked elsewhere or under different leadership, this is a problem and you need to know whether they don’t actually have enough time or just aren’t managing it well.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I’m wondering if different leadership is the key here: like the prior manager didn’t manage at all so now OP is having to actually manage and people are rebelling at being told “actions have consequences” and consequences actually being enforced.

        1. Purple*

          Or maybe they’ve been pressured into not reporting their correct hours for so long they’re finally taking a stand.

          I could see that happening at my job some day. We don’t get overtime but my manager gets increasingly flustered and upset as people avoid his gaze while he’s trying to give out new projects at 2pm on Friday.

      2. Goliath Corp.*

        Yeah honestly I’m surprised that a nonprofit even has paid overtime. I’ve never known anyone in the nonprofit world to only work 40 days a week. (But I’m not in the US so I don’t really understand the exempt/nonexempt stuff.)

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Non-Profit aren’t excluded from OT laws, so if they’re hiring “Non-exempt” folks, they aren’t meeting the ‘Threshold” for non-exempt. It requires you to have administrative duties, have decision making responsibilities and a salary threshold requirement.

          Typically if you want to go by the letter of the law, it’s hard to be exempt but many places mis-classify which is why it makes it hard for people to understand as well!

          The only entity that’s “above” the exemption law is basically the government. Then instead of giving you OT money, they can give you “comp time”. Non and for-profits run by the same laws OT wise.

          I think it’s easy to get mixed up since lots of non-profit are also government entities!

  46. hbc*

    OP1: I think before you do more telling, you need to do some asking. As in, next time someone works unauthorized overtime, you bring them in and say, “We’ve discussed this, so why did you work an extra hour?” They’ll have some answer (real or not) that they feel justifies going against the general policy, which is your chance to say, “In that case, I want you to [leave it for the next day/tell the customer you’ll call back tomorrow/whatever], but to not take overtime.” You need to specifically shoot down whatever justification they’re using, or heck, maybe they’ll identify a flaw in your staffing or processes that you need to handle.

    And if they’re bold enough to say it’s because they want the extra cash (which I’ve seen), then make clear that they can choose between the regular hourly salary or zero.

  47. not neurotypical*

    #2 How old is the person turning the lights brighter? As we age, we require more light because of changes that are not correctable by lenses. People in their 60s require 3x more ambient light than people in their 20s in order to read without straining. People in their 50s need more light than people in their 30s.

    Whether or not aging is a factor, workplaces must be bright enough for everyone to see without strain. If someone needs more light than others, then that should carry more weight than a preference for a dimly-lit workplace. A half-lit ambiance is fine for your own home, but not something one has the right to impose on a co-worker who needs more light to be able to see.

    1. Observer*

      I HATE dimly lit spaces for work – they give me a headache. But, dimmer lights are not necessarily a preference for people. In many cases, the are a genuine need. Which is to say that when this comes up, people need to try to figure out a solution that works for different people.

    2. Aquawoman*

      I agree if you’re talking preference for lower lighting, but some people have a physical reaction to the bright lights (migraines, eg) which then puts them in the same category as the people who need light to see (i.e. lighting level is related to their ability to work).

      1. Jennifer*

        But the OP didn’t mention that. If someone was suffering from a debilitating migraine every time this lady turned on the lights, I’m sure they would have said something or it would be obvious they were suffering.

        It doesn’t change the fact that ‘lights on’ is typically the default. If an employee there requires dim lighting for medical reasons, it’s their responsibility to go to management about it.

        1. Anonymous Poster*

          OP also didn’t mention that Lights Lady has a legitimate need to turn the lights on. So if we’re providing advice based on speculation about needs, it seems fair to think about needs for low light as well as all the lights on.

          1. Jennifer*

            Lights Lady is cracking me up for some reason. But anyhoo, my point is ‘lights on’ is the default every place I’ve worked. She’s turning the lights on because people turn the lights on. Since that’s the default, if someone needs accommodation due to an actual MEDICAL ISSUE and not preference, they should ask for it instead of griping at their desk like children. I’m tired of people acting like everyone should bend over backward to accommodate their every preference. It’s just not possible.

    3. James*

      Overly-bright lights are just as bad as, if not worse than, dim lights. They were popular a while back–I think in the 90s–on the grounds that they increased productivity. Turns out, not so much. Eye strain can be caused by overly-bright light as easily as by dim light. There are also physiological and psychological effects, which basically boil down to the increased light creating stress on the body.

      The other thing to consider is that in a modern office environment it’s far, FAR easier to add light to a relatively dim area than to dim light in a relatively bright one. I can’t put cardboard up to cover my cubicle; it’s a fire hazards, and I’m one of the Safety Jerks. I can, however, buy (or request from the company, as this is an ergonomics issue) a desk or floor lamp to increase the light in my cubicle without anyone batting an eye. Since it’s easier to add than to remove light, I would suggest erring on the side of dimness.

      The problem is that there is no easy solution. Your method in practical terms means favoring one group (older workers) at the expense of another (younger, those with migraines). Dim lights also favor one group over another. There’s trade offs, and no one right answer.

      1. Clisby*

        The easy (not necessarily financially feasible) solution is to get rid of open-plan offices, and for pete’s sake, give everybody their own office, where they control the lighting.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          This. But most companies are too cheap, or have bought into the “collaborative” propaganda that helps them justify their cheapness.

      2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

        But lamps don’t provide the same kind of lighting as overhead. It’s not as simple as you state.

  48. Oh No She Di'int*

    #4: I’m sorry this happened to you and your coworkers. It’s true, sometimes these things just happen. But if you look back, especially at the interviews, were there perhaps any clues at all that might have tipped you off?

    Here’s why I ask. We recently had a similar situation. We were hiring for an entry-level assistant position. My operations manager fell in love with a particular candidate (which is never a good idea). I attended the 1st-round interview and could sense within a few minutes that there was an issue. Her responses were full of vague answers lacking detail and very much had a “I’ll say whatever you want me to say” feel to them. I knew pretty much right away that the candidate was simply trying to nail down an offer and probably hadn’t even given a moment’s thought to actually working this job.

    Well, against my better judgment I let my Operations Manager overrule me and make an offer. I said, “Ok, but I think you’ll be looking for a replacement in 3 months.” We didn’t even get that far. The candidate emailed the night before her first day, basically saying that she just wasn’t that into it, so she wouldn’t be showing up. And that was that.

    I don’t know if there are any generalizable life lessons here, but perhaps you could play back some of the candidate’s interview responses and see if anything seemed like a misfire there?

    1. Artemesia*

      I was often the Cassandra on the hiring committee who said ‘don’t hire him because X’ or ‘if you hire her, this will be the outcome’ — but who got overruled and then precisely what was predicted came to pass. As time went on, I got listened to since there were a couple of hilariously bad hires against my advice. Some people fall in love with a resume and don’t pay attention to the person sitting in the interview chair.

      For us one of the pitfalls was the person who ‘could do X’ although they had mostly done Y in their career. S/he would be personable and smart and an obviously desirable person to have on the team IF they could step up and do X even though that was a bit outside their career pattern. I finally convinced our committees that people ‘do what they do, not what they ‘could do”. This after hiring a couple of people who then proceeded to move into projects requiring Y leaving our important X still uncovered. People do what they do and any attempt for someone to argue they want to change direction and do X not Y requires some track record not just what they say to land the job.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        “People ‘do what they do, not what they ‘could do”.

        Perfect. During hiring, there has been/continues to be a lot of “she could do the job.” Yeah she could, but will she? You nailed it.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Some people learn and adapt, and have good transferable skills, others don’t.

          What I would advise looking for is people who have learned new tasks, like X or Y, on previous jobs, and therefore would be able to learn Z at the new job.

          This bit with refusing to hire unless they’ve previously done exactly Z makes me want to bang my head on the desk. Hire for the ability to learn and adapt, not N years with Z specific job. That way, when Z becomes obsolete, they will still be of value to your company.

  49. Observer*

    Re lighting – Obviously talk to the person who keeps turning up the lights. But also, talk to your maintenance people about getting all LED lighting. Most people who hate “too bright” lights actually have a problem with florescent lights – either because of the flicker or the color temperature. *ANY* LED is going to get rid of the flicker, and you can get LEDs with almost any color temperature you want, so you can get something that’s bit warmer that the typical fluorescent, which is a lot less glaring.

  50. Kristinyc*

    For #3 – she might have good reasons why she can never go to these events if they’re in the evening. She could have childcare to deal with or a dog that needs to be walked or medication that makes her need to go to bed at 7 PM. You should still invite her. If it’s that important for everyone to attend, make it during business hours.

    I have a co-worker who regularly invites me to happy hours, and I haven’t been able to make it to one yet since I have to pick up my son from daycare by 5:30. It’s still nice to be invited. I’ve told her that too – I thanked her for inviting me but said I usually can’t go because of childcare, but I appreciated being invited. She still invites me.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      I don’t think the OP if fussed about whether or not coworker can attend, it is the fact that coworker does not respond to the invitation either way so OP does not have the information she needs to give final headcount to the venue. Since OP didn’t say she doesn’t RSVP but still shows up for the event, most of us are assuming that she doesn’t attend these events at all so I would go out on a limb and say OP can simply assume she is a “no” going forward.
      Its still rude of the coworker not to respond, especially if everyone else on the team does, but OP is definitely taking it more personally due to their interpersonal issues.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        But OP does have the headcount. Non-Responsive Coworker did not respond yes, therefore, she is not going.

        I made the assumption once that no RSVP does not mean the person is not coming, and it was at my son’s 7th birthday party. Ended up with a lot of leftover cake. Learned my lesson.

  51. Sunflower*

    #3 Do NOT leave her off the invitations. Yes, she’s rude for not responding with a yes/no but leaving one person off a department outing is worse than her rudeness. Nobody is required to attend a luncheon but leaving her off can be seen as workplace bullying (or something similar). Everyone needs be treated the same when issuing department invitations even if their response back is not the same.

  52. Aquawoman*

    In my office, everybody but one person responding to an invitation is a goal about as achievable as world peace.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Seriously lol

      I just go around and ask after I don’t receive an answer though. It’s part of event planning duties IMO

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      No kidding, it’s a happy day when you send a work-related meeting invites and everyone responds.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      Bring in a tesla coil and water guns to your workplace for a fun workplace surprise!*


  53. Goldfinch*

    #2 Office light wars are the story of my life, as someone who deals with a lot of graphics and photo editing. Most offices expect full bright lighting, and then those of us with glare/headache issues are expected to figure things out for ourselves, whether that be via hats or cubicle shades.

    If your workplace allows for individual preference and you’re dealing with standard overhead fluorescent tubes, my team was allowed to just loosen the bulbs that we don’t want on.

  54. JoJo*

    No. 2 — OMG I am nearsighted and have to have lights fully on. JFC I’d probably have to quit working at a company where lights half on was insisted upon.

    1. boop the first*

      IS it a nearsighted thing? I’m always the one walking through the house cranking the dimmers up in the morning, too. I’m sure it drives my spouse batty.

      1. Clisby*

        I doubt it’s a nearsighted thing. I have TERRIBLE nearsightedness, and I can’t stand being in brightly lighted places. Fortunately, I worked remotely for 15+ years, where I didn’t have to turn on any lights during the day.

        1. Clisby*

          Adding … during that time, I always lived in houses with a lot of natural light, from the windows. That was plenty.

  55. SomebodyElse*

    I’m very confused about #3. How would that conversation go with your boss when they find out that you stopped inviting 1 employee?

    Boss: So… ahh OP3, I’ve just heard from Tulula that she’s been left off of the dinner invitations. Can you be more careful with the distribution list going forward.
    OP3: Oh I took her off the distribution list and stopped inviting her.
    Boss: ??? Can I ask why you would do that
    OP3: Oh she is curt and dismissive. She gives one-word answers and won’t engage in conversation with me.
    I do not care if she doesn’t like me, but I do care if she ignores my invitations to our office parties. It is rude and ungracious behavior. She has done this three times.
    Boss: ummm… yeah, you can’t leave out one person from the office because you don’t like her. That’s called bullying and will not be tolerated here. This really puts into question your judgment.

  56. NLMC*

    If you send people home early for working overtime earlier in the week don’t do it on a Friday afternoon. Then you’ll open a whole different can of worms.
    Making them take a long lunch is a good alternative to leaving early for the day especially if the overtime was worked on a Thursday.

  57. Dust Bunny*

    LW1 (1? Overtime): I would actually start by taking a look at your department’s workload. You don’t mention it, but maybe you don’t know. We had one person in our department who regularly milked overtime and got reprimanded for it, but everyone else is scrupulous about keeping track of their hours (we’re also a nonprofit with little money to spare). Unless you really think your entire department are miscreants, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re understaffed and being asked to do too much, and this is a case of management thinking that because it’s more or less been getting done, they should be able to continue as before without additional help.

  58. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

    OP2. This lighting situation. I’ve worked in places where the boardrooms had dimmable lighting, used during presentations. When the presentation is done, the lights go back on. I’ve also worked in places where the lighting in the open plan would be dimmed after hours, but would go back to full brightness if the motion sensors picked up someone coming in.

    If I arrived at work and found a bunch of people sitting working at their desks in an artificial twilight I’d probably turn the light up too.

    1. JoJo*

      Lights turned to the standard “on” position has got to be what the vast majority of people assume is a company default. I am really pretty baffled by the presumption that it has occurred to the coworker that the dim lighting that is on when people haven’t yet arrived to the office is what apparently everyone but her wants full time.

  59. Beverly C*

    #2: It’s amazing that the lighting issue has gone on for months without being tackled. There’s something in our society that keeps people from just talking about things. Why can’t you go to the boss? “Everyone like the lights lower, but Susie wants them higher. Can we get her an extra lamp for her desk?” P.S. These lamps cost $10-20. Simple.

  60. NicoleK*

    #3. I, too, work with someone who has been curt and dismissive toward me. In fact, she’s my replacement. The majority of the time, she doesn’t talk to me. She only talks to me if she has to. If she has a question, I’m the last person she’ll approach even when I’m the best person to answer her question. She’s pretty standoffish with most and only talks to 1-2 people in her small circle. That said, the few times she has asked me for help, I’ve done my duty and provided assistance.

    In your situation, keep sending her invites. If she doesn’t respond, just assume she’s not attending and proceed as usual.

  61. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I agree you just need to shrug off her rudeness of ignoring the RSVP request.

    I do wonder how she reacts to other bulk distribution list blasts… she may have them muted or filtered because she gets too many unnecessary ones. So it’s not as personal as it feels! I’ve had some coworkers things get caught in filters over the years and it took a long time to figure out.

  62. eileen1979b*

    Re: Overtime

    I’ll bet you anything they’re working the overtime because there is that much work to do. Figure out if your team realistically needs more help than it has. If they’re begging for help, get told no, get told tons of work needs to get done, then get told no overtime to the point of discipline, you will have people quitting in droves.

  63. Stormy Weather*

    It’s frustrating not to get RSVPs, but I don’t know that you need to assume it’s personal. Some people simply don’t care for work events. They could be introverts, comfortable with a small group, but not in a larger one. They could simply not want to socialize with work people. They could be strongly against enforced fun, which is a feature of some office events.

    Remind everyone that they should RSVP. After that, your job is done. Assume they aren’t going and keep enjoying the planning that you’re doing.

  64. Argh!*

    p.s. to #3 — the coworker would have no way of knowing that she’s the only one not responding. It’s not fair to get put out over something that the person has no idea makes them stand out.

  65. boop the first*

    2. You’ve come up with perfectly usable solutions but it sounds like you’re going really far out of your own way to avoid implementing any of them. You make it sound like no one has ever talked to this person. You also came up with a lot of excuses why you just shouldn’t bother. Sometimes things do work, and you don’t have to be someone’s boss to have a friendly conversation with them!

    She’ll probably tell you why she prefers all lights on if you just… ask. I’m also the kind of person who can’t see as well in dim lighting. It’s probably not just to annoy you. Your lamp idea is a fine one, but since you aren’t talking to anyone except your always-approving deskmates, I’d be surprised if she knows that’s an option. Suggest it!

  66. BigGlasses*

    Like OP #5, I also use a friend-former-manager as a reference. He was my grandboss for 5 years at a company where I would not otherwise be able to get a reference (they only allow HR to confirm dates of employment — no current staff are allowed to give references — my former grandboss, like me, no longer works there but everyone else who could be a managerial reference from that time does) and that makes up the bulk of my career. I’d pretty much reached the same conclusion as Alison that it’s not ‘ideal’ but it is ‘legit’ and I don’t expect to be in a position any time soon where I have enough references to be able to drop him. (My current company also does not allow employees to give references at all).

    I have never disclosed to a company that we’re also friends but I’m open to the idea that maybe I should be. I just cannot think of a non-awkward script for that.

    1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I’m also like OP5, but am friends with all but 3 of my former managers. It never occurred to me that I shouldn’t use them as references because we are now friends. Shoot, if I can’t use former managers that I am now friends with, then I’d only have the manager who isn’t allowed to give references anymore by the org because she’s kinda nutty, the guy who moved to a remote village in Spain and only communicates by snail mail, and the one who was fired for workplace harassment a few months after I left. My gut tells me to stick with the managers I am friends with, even though it is less than ideal? I guess I could offer remote village guy, but they’d have to understand that getting his response might take a while.

    2. nerfherder*

      Two of my current references are former-managers-now-friends. It would never in a million years occur to me to warn prospective employers about this. And I’m the kind of “overly honest on my resume” person that annoys everyone in her life by refusing to stretch the truth.

      But I really don’t feel like manager-friends are any kind of circumstance that requires disclosure. A big part of why we became friends is because they enjoyed having me as their employee! They thought I was competent and pleasant to be around. I mean, what manager wants to buddy up with the idiot she couldn’t stand to have as part of her team?

  67. SusanIvanova*

    The last time we did an office shuffle, the multi-person rooms were designated “dim” or “bright” so people with light-level preferences would be grouped together.

  68. Calina~*

    For those complaining about being in a dimly lit room with too bright computer screens (re: Question 2): My solution is to dim the lighting on the computer screen itself as well.

    I’m severely light sensitive so I keep things as dim as possible and I’ve had some accommodations made for me as well in our cube farm. But the screens were too bright and this solution works really well for me.

    On my iphones, not only do I keep them as dim as the ambient lighting allows, but I have a color filter that changes the tone to an orangy-red which is so much nicer for my eyes. This can be found in the accessibility setting on your phones.

    1. Not A Mouse*

      A lot of us are actually saying that the dim light makes it impossible to see anything because of bad eyesight (which is not just an old age thing! I’m in my low 20s!) so lowering the dimness on the computer screens would make it even worse

      1. Calina~*

        It actually helps to have both the dim lighting in the room AND the dimmer light on the computer screen for me. (And I’m 60 years old, for what it’s worth)

        One without the other sucks, either way. So it “Can” be a solution for some. That’s all I’m saying.

  69. stitchinthyme*

    Several jobs ago, when I first started I had to sit in a hallway lined with desks — the company had outgrown its space and there was a new building under construction, but until it was ready a few months after I started, I was stuck in the hallway. It had no windows and the lights were kept turned off — as I later learned, primarily because one person wanted them off. She sat on the opposite wall, a bit diagonally to me. Since I couldn’t see my keyboard or pretty much anything else but my screen, I brought in a small desk lamp…which she also complained about. As the new employee, I didn’t really have much capital to spend on this, so I just gritted my teeth and endured it until the new building was finished. Though I didn’t have to work with her or sit near her after the move, I didn’t shed any tears when the dark-loving employee got laid off a year or two later.

  70. Erin Keniston*

    “She and I do not like each other very much. She is very nice and outgoing to a few people in her office clique, but when I try to talk to her she is curt and dismissive. She gives one-word answers and won’t engage in conversation with me.”
    This really, really grabbed me. I had a coworker just like that. Everyone loved her, but to me she was short and almost hostile. We didn’t work closely together, but it did make for awkward and uncomfortable lunches and such.
    One day I’d had enough. I decided that I was just going to kill her with kindness. I went out of my way for a LONG time to reach out to her, offer to help her with mundane tasks (routine, endless filing), brought cookies to the office and made sure to stop by her office first, etc. At first it was weird but gradually she started smiling in my direction. To make this already long story short, one night our work group went out for beers after work, and after a beer or two, I looked her right in the eye and said, “I really like you. I’m glad we’re getting to be friends,” and she just died laughing, hugged me, and we’ve been real friends ever since. She retired about a year ago and I miss her like crazy.

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      That’s a great story. Out of curiosity, did you ever find out why she didn’t like you at first?

      I remember meeting one of my boyfriend’s friends back in college. Right from the get-go–and I mean from the very first time I laid eyes on her–it was very clear she was not a fan of mine. I was really baffled. This was not likely a sexual jealousy thing as she was a lesbian in a long-term relationship. So one day I decided to confirm my suspicions. I said to him, “I feel like T**** doesn’t like me.” He goes, “She hates you.” “Why?” “She has no idea.”

      And that’s when I learned that sometimes people just don’t like you.

  71. TiffIf*

    For LW #3–this doesn’t sound like it applies to how you are sending invitations, but there is a weird (annoying!) issue in Outlook if you are doing calendar invites–Outlook will only count participants if they opt to Accept or Decline with Response. If Accept or Decline without response is selected then the sender never sees the Accept/Decline even in the invite view. I really wish that it didn’t work this way–When I send an invite I don’t want a bunch of accept or decline emails but still want to see the accept/decline counts on the invitation itself. Unfortunately, this is not a feature available in Outlook.

  72. A*

    #2: When I was an admin, this was exactly the kind of office drama I would handle regularly. I was in a good position to solicit everyone’s different opinions and come to a compromise that people wouldn’t continue to fight about once it had been decided. Sometimes I would even have background info that others didn’t that would help. I would also be really relieved if someone brought it to me instead of fighting about it amongst themselves and making things worse! Admin roles definitely differ and it probably depends on the specific job of your admin, but sometimes this stuff is exactly what they’re there for.

  73. Buns of Cinnamon*

    Re #3–another possibility

    At a past job, Outlook did some weird things. I regularly had people show up on my tracking function as not having responded. When I followed up, they’d send me a screen shot that said they’d accepted.

    This may be Microsoft’s fault.

    1. TiffIf*

      Yup–I mentioned this above–If someone Accepts without Response then it doesn’t track it at all. This is a longstanding complaint against Outlook that 2 years ago Microsoft said they would address but still haven’t fixed. Basically most people THINK that when they Accept without sending a response that they are saving the headache of the person who sent the invite getting a million emails but they still get tracked as accepting in the invite (and this is perfectly logical idea for how it should function). This is not correct–if you Accept without sending a response then it adds to your calendar only instead of tracking the response in the invite.

      1. All at Once*

        Sweet Jesus! I had no idea this is how this worked. I always assumed exactly as you say: that “Accept Without Response” means they can see you’ve accepted, but that they get no other notification. And yes, I precisely was always doing this out of politeness so that the inviter wouldn’t get a bunch of unnecessary email.

        Yet another reminder to check all possibilities before you assume someone is being rude.

        1. Buns of Cinnamon*

          Right. Everyone is being logical as to how something should function, but Microsoft is in its own little world.

  74. LogicalOne*

    #3. I can see how you’re taking this personally because you’re investing your own personal time into this task your boss has requested of you. We have someone like that at my work in that they never attend staff meetings and staff parties. To the people that never attend, I will casually make a comment like “Oh such a shame you couldn’t be there. Maybe the next one. Would love to see you there.” Killing with kindness works sometimes. But I wouldn’t force them into going. That’s your boss’ call.

  75. EmKay*

    OP #3

    As the person who organizes all group lunches and activities for a 60+ person team… If one person not answering an event invite bothers you this much, you are very quickly going to go nuts. If she doesn’t answer, count it as a no and move on. If she doesn’t answer but shows up anyway, count her as a yes in the future and move on. You’re giving this woman waaay too much space in your head.

  76. DNDL*

    I can’t say I sympathize with OP in the lighting wars. No offense OP, I just don’t think its unreasonable to want to work in a well-lit environment. I used to work in a place where the break room had two light settings: on and off. There was a window that was blocked by another building. If one particular coworker was in the break room, she would turn off the lights and rely on the dim window. Other people would want to read on break and turn the lights back on. God help you if you turned those lights on–she would get so angry and glare daggers.

    Wear sunglasses or dim lenses if light bothers you, but I feel like a well-lit working environment is standard, and shouldn’t be something you have to fight for.

  77. aspiring Nora*

    #1 — what kind of pay are your employees taking home without the overtime? I know nonprofits aren’t known for being especially high-salaried, but if you’re on the very low extreme, that may be something you’d want to try to address instead.

  78. LlamaLlama*

    I don’t think it would be unreasonable to approach the non-party attender to see if there is a reason she doesn’t wish to attend the parties. Like “I noticed that you haven’t come to any of the after work happy hours, is there a reason that I might be able to help with?” Maybe she’s miffed because you keep planning these events at steakhouses when you “should” remember she’s vegan. Or maybe the timing is bad, because they are always on Wednesdays and that’s when her kid has tutoring or something. If it ends up that she just doesn’t want to go then I’d leave it up to your boss to have a talk with her about attendance, if it’s that important to them.

  79. Flora*

    So, maybe buy the light-increaser a desk lamp? It’s entirely possible she has a hard time seeing details in the medium-strong light everyone else feels good about, or is a person who really wants outdoor light and bright light is as close as she can get, and assuming her intent is about making herself able to do good work is where I think I’d start. I agree that first OP should check with the group to verify actually most of the crew wants the lower lighting, but then I’d go to light-increaser and let her know, hey, so this is a thing, and I’m wondering if we can meet your needs with a lamp. And I’d offer an opportunity for her to provide a different suggestion. (for example, if the bulbs were more tinted in some direction, could they be more bright for her without making everyone else sad?

    Also, this is reason 54857398457 why open offices suck.

  80. Granger*

    We switched to natural light LED bulbs and removed half the bulbs (two out of four in each unit) and haven’t had any complaints (we have both vampires and light worshippers).

Comments are closed.