intern laughs inappropriately, risqué bookmarks on my computer, and more

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

1. Can I tell someone they laugh too much?

I supervise an intern who tends to respond with short bursts of laughter at incongruous times, like when I am explaining something to her or when I am giving her directions (and I’m not trying to be funny!). It can be pretty jarring. I noticed it during her interview, but I chalked it up to nerves and hoped it would subside as she became more comfortable. One month in, I don’t think it has decreased. I am concerned that clients and colleagues will think she is mocking them or not taking them seriously. I also hate the idea of being the laughter police! How should I approach this?

Oh god, I did this on a first date once when I was like 21. I was not comfortable around the dude at all (largely because of his beautiful hair), and at some level I must have felt laughing a lot, even when it was unwarranted, would demonstrate how relaxed and cool I was. It did not. It came across quite strangely. I am cringing remembering it now. (We did, however, date for about a year after that, which says something about his standards.)

Anyway, it sounds like nerves or discomfort here too, but who knows. You’re right to worry about it giving a weird impression to clients and colleagues.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a way to bring this up that won’t make her feel a little awkward, but it would still be a kindness to find a way to talk to her about it. I would say this: “Can I give some feedback on something? I’ve noticed you often interject with laughter when I’m explaining something or giving you directions. A lot of people do that when they’re nervous and don’t always even notice they’re doing it. I wanted to mention it because it could make colleagues or clients worry that you’re not taking them seriously, even when you are.” You could add, “It’s really normal to have little communication style things like this to work out when you’re early in your career. I had them too, and it’s not a big deal at all so I hope you won’t feel awkward that I brought it up. I think you’re doing great and this is just a minor thing that could help you do even better.”

2. I found our office manager’s pornographic bookmarks on my laptop

I work remotely and was having some issues with my work-issued laptop that required me to send it in to a main office for our office manager to handle repairs. At the end of that process, she needed to log in under my account to make sure everything was working before sending it back to me. I know this is terrible IT practice, but I’m very new and everything’s a mess with COVID-19 closures, so I didn’t push back too hard, just changed my login info immediately after receiving the laptop back.

Upon receiving my computer, I opened up a web browser and noticed her personal account was still signed in. I immediately signed out of her account, but after reopening the browser, there were still a bunch of personal bookmarks, extensions, and website passwords saved in the settings. It looks like she inadvertently imported them all from her account. I deleted everything (passwords, browser history, extensions, bookmarks) and tried not to look at anything more than absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, deleting a folder full of bookmarks requires clicking on it, and one folder labeled “private” had rather a lot of links to obviously pornographic content. I didn’t click on any of the links, obviously, but the names made it very clear what they were.

Everything is erased from my computer. I am planning to pretend I never saw anything and assume those links were accidentally ported over from a personal device, but is there any reason I should take a different approach? She could only have been logged in under my account for a maximum of two hours on a very chaotic day, so I don’t think she would have visited any problematic sites in that time. I do not have any access to confidential documents in my work.

Oooh, how embarrassing for her. I’d let it go. As you note, she could have inadvertently imported them all from her personal account; there’s no reason to think she’s saving this stuff on her work account. It doesn’t mean she’s not — but there’s enough room to give her the benefit of the doubt that I don’t think you need to worry about it any further. (And really, even if this stuff is on her work account, I don’t think that would obligate you to act unless you had authority over her or had other concerns about her conduct, like if she’d been leering at people or she was this guy or so forth.)

3. Eating and nail-biting during Zoom calls

I’m on Zoom calls three or four hours a day now, often during breakfast or lunchtime. Provide me a ruling: can I eat with my camera on? Can I bite my nails with my camera on?

Nails: No.

Eating: Probably, as long you’re talking to coworkers and not clients, and as it’s not an especially camera-unfriendly food like a giant meatball sub with sauce dripping everywhere. But pay attention to the culture of your office; if no one else is ever eating on camera, you should be more cautious … but also maybe point out that these meetings are scheduled at meal times and it would be good to cut people to slack on eating during them.

Also, you can get a lot of grace by just declaring at the start of the call, “I may have to eat during this call because I have back-to-back meetings today.”

4. Should I ask future job interviewers what their response was to coronavirus?

A meme has been circulating on social media where a potential employee asks their interviewer what their response was to COVID-19 and what steps they took to provide for the health and safety of their employees.

I think the response could speak volumes about company culture, existing or planned infrastructure, and job security. But as important as this question is, I also think it could also come off as adversarial, confrontational, or even upsetting to the interviewer. Do you think this is something that people should ever ask in an interview?

God, yes, ask. A company that bristles at that question is telling you a lot about themselves — things that it’s very useful to learn before you decide to work there.

Good companies will be glad to discuss this. This crisis is remaking every aspect of work right now. It’s not weird to ask an interviewer how they’ve handled it. And I don’t mean that in a moralizing way, like “they damn well should be okay with being asked”; I mean that good employers genuinely, sincerely will be okay with being asked.

Of course, as always, if you need a job more than you need a good job, you may prefer to play it safe and not risk screening out bad employers. But the most of the time, screening out bad employers is the goal.

5. Do I have to say no to a job offer because I’m newly pregnant?

I have been working at the same firm for the past several years. I have been intermittently job searching for the last two years after my boss has repeatedly not followed through on promises regarding bonuses, raises, etc. It’s even become a running joke with him that he promises me one thing and does another (not very funny!).

For the past three months, I’ve been in a hiring process with a great new firm. It would be a huge step up in terms of responsibilities and how excited I am to go to work every day. I really want the job and it seems like I could possibly expect an offer shortly … even amidst this horrible time of uncertainty.

Here’s my problem – I just found out I am three weeks pregnant with my first child. Do I have to say no to a possible job offer because of this? I don’t want to start a new working relationship on a lie but due to my family history of miscarriages, I really don’t want to tell anyone until I am farther along. I really want this job but I don’t want to put my integrity at risk.

You absolutely, 100% do not need to disclose your pregnancy until you’re ready to. It wouldn’t be starting a new working relationship based on a lie. It would be you protecting your private medical information until you’re ready to share it, which includes waiting until a time when you feel more confident you will carry the pregnancy to term.

I imagine you’re worried they wouldn’t hire you if they knew about the pregnancy. But that would be illegal. It’s against the law for an employer to make a hiring decision based on the candidate being pregnant. That’s because we want to protect the job opportunities of pregnant people and women in general. You’re not morally obligated to circumvent the protections the law gives you.

Plus, three weeks is very early. Most people wouldn’t expect you to disclose a pregnancy so early on — and anyone who does the math once you do announce will assume you might not have even known at the time you accepted the offer.

(That said, make sure to factor in that with the new job you won’t have been there long enough to have FMLA coverage for maternity leave, plus the other reasons that changing jobs right now can be tricky in some cases but not all. That doesn’t mean it’s not the right calculation — these are just factors to think about.)

{ 310 comments… read them below }

  1. nnn*

    An option for #3, depending on culture: could you say “I’m going to turn off my camera for a moment so you don’t have to watch me eat”?

    (You could perhaps make the eating seem urgent with something like “Sorry, I haven’t eaten all day and I don’t want to faint”, or whatever is the desired balance of true and compelling)

    Also, could you align the camera/your face/your food in such a way that when you go to take a bite, it’s off-camera?

    1. Engineer Woman*

      Yep, I suggest you turn off the video. I now teleconference like up to 4-6 hours a day and find some ppl turn on the camera and some just don’t.

      1. many bells down*

        Yeah one of my coworkers just hates being on camera. She keeps it off or sits out if range if she’s in the conference room. Especially in a large meeting it’s not a big deal.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        With everyone sheltering in place, I’ve been turning off my video to ensure I have adequate bandwidth to get audio. So it seems like this is as good a time as any to deploy that excuse so OP doesn’t have to eat on camera.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yep. Our webex servers are slammed and the first recommendation is for people to forego video if they can.

        2. Christmas Carol*

          Ooh, I like this. I HATE being on camera. Who could fault me for choosing my order entry software over video.

        3. Not a Girl Boss*

          Yes, I honestly just hate having to dress up to sit on camera and let people see the inside of my house, but the absolute inability of WebEx to handle video streaming right now provided a really good excuse.

          1. Dorothy Zbornak*

            I’m glad there’s no expectation on my team that anyone dress up – we’re all in our comfy clothes and talking excitedly about how we haven’t put in makeup in over a week.

            1. Nessun*

              We’ve got no expectation to dress up (our dress code for over a year now has been a “dress for your day” kind of thing, and my days currently allow for a lot of t-shirts and yoga pants) – but we do have an expectation to use video. My bosses have all said it’s an important component of social connection, and our platforms can handle it, so we’re expected to be on video – but we don’t have to look good! I hate being on video, so I usually start on video and then switch it off once I’ve said hi and waited a few minutes, so once I’m no longer speaking no one notices anyhow.

              1. whingedrinking*

                I have to be on video because I’m an educator, but with Zoom at least you have to option to turn off your self-view so you don’t have to stare at your own face on the camera. I get self-conscious like crazy and keep looking at my own video feed instead of at my students’ faces, so turning it off helps me concentrate.

        4. darsynia*

          I’ve been wondering about bandwidth issues and everyone’s internet bills now that so many tech jobs are working from home. I’m sure everyone’s employer would like to think that your home internet costs are your responsibility but if you’re working from home and using them, are they solely your responsibility anymore? Should that be something companies should kick in some money to support?

          1. Eeeeka*

            I work remotely all the time and my company reimburses up to $50 for internet. It’s something to ask about. If nothing else, you can deduct it as a business expense from your taxes, but that’s much further down the road.

            1. CastIrony*

              One time, I tried to deduct Internet as an education expense, but because I used it for personal things, too, they wouldn’t let me put it on my taxes. :(

              1. TardyTardis*

                I deduct a portion of it as necessary for a writing career (since 90% of all submissions are made electronically these days). So far the IRS hasn’t yelled at me.

        5. TiffIf*

          I keep my camera off too-there’s been a request from one person for people to use cameras, but he isn’t my manager and no one else on the team started using camera either, so I don’t feel too bad about ignoring that request.

          I used to work from home one day a week and I could work anywhere in the apartment basically–I usually did so on the couch.
          Now I am working from home all the time and so is my roommate–and she can ONLY set up in the living room so I can’t be in the living room so that means I can only work at the desk in my bedroom. I am not showing such a personal space to all my coworkers.

        6. RUKiddingMe*

          Also maybe not make not eating all day the new norm just because people are WFH now.

          If they were in office they would eat…no reason to not eat at home.

          Expecting different is just ludicrous imo.

          1. Lily Rowan*

            And some people would bring their lunch to the noon meeting (or the 1pm or whatever) and some would avoid it if at all possible — I do think it’s at least somewhat about reading the room, but acting more or less like you would act in the office.

        7. Eukomos*

          I don’t think you need an excuse to eat at a mealtime, though. Just say “it’s lunchtime, so I’ll turn off my camera so you don’t have to watch me eat.” Reasonable people should be fine with that.

      3. Mockingjay*

        My project has people in sites across multiple states, so teleconferences are a way of life for us. I second turning off the video. We all pull up PowerPoints or pertinent docs to look at while we talk (the meeting host attaches the doc to the meeting invite and we all grab it to our local machine). It’s pretty efficient. We have WebEx and a couple other sharing services, but bandwidth always seems to be an issue.

      4. Else*

        Yes. I find it’s somewhat less jarring if you have a profile photo up so that it doesn’t seem like we’re all talking to a black box, but it works just fine for most of the people I talk with.

    2. Lyonite*

      Agree. For one thing, I was just on a zoom call with someone whose chewing was so loud that she became the featured speaker whenever she took a bite.

      1. Zona the Great*

        My boss has been doing this on the meetings I’ve been leading. Then today did it on the meeting she was leading. Talk, chew-breath, talk, chew-breath. I don’t think I can say anything to her about it since she’s my boss but it’s horrifying and contact-embarrassing.

      2. Fikly*

        I was on mute during a meeting, and my shoulder cracked so loudly the program asked if I was speaking and wanted to unmute myself.

      3. Glitsy Gus*

        This was the thing I was going to mention. If you need to eat, make sure you mute your mic!

        I have listened to so much crunching and chewing because various people don’t think to do that, even when they turn the camera off.

      4. Elitist Semicolon*

        That is close to if not actually my worst misophonic nightmare. 100% here for teleconferencing platforms that allow a moderator to automatically mute everyone’s mic.

      5. EH*

        For the love of all things holy, MUTE IF YOU ARE CHEWING. You’d mute if there were construction or a hail storm or whatever, right? Mute for eating also. Just unmute to talk – some programs even let you hold down the space bar to temporarily unmute, like holding the button to send audio on a walkie-talkie. Easy peasy, and you won’t make a lifelong enemy of any coworkers with misophonia.

    3. Avasarala*

      Definitely mute yourself.
      Maybe turn off video as well.

      I don’t think you need to make the eating seem urgent–in some cultures this is the only way to convince people your needs are genuine, but personally I think it kinda begs for attention/sympathy/asks people to get emotionally involved in a normal request. I know people who have a song and a dance about their perfectly normal requests–you don’t have to justify eating to me, just do it! And manage your diet better if you’re on the verge of fainting! Is what some cultures will think. So take care with that, maybe a straightforward approach is better.

      1. JDC*

        I have issues with feeling hungry. Add getting busy, i don’t think about and I can start to not feel well. I work to avoid this but it happens and likely more now that my normal routine is changed. Usually I’ll notice mid morning the time and grab a snack, now with my schedule being so different that might change. And frankly for people who are on these calls for hours on end even if it is managed well that time is likely to come during that 5 hour call.

        1. snoopythedog*

          I tend to get low blood sugar if I don’t eat relatively frequently. I’ll never be the person to ‘forget’ to eat a meal because I’m so busy working….my body starts to feel crappy pretty quickly. I will sometimes have meetings during prime snack or meal time, so I set a private calendar reminder for ~15 min before hand (or 15 min before I need to prep or leave or set up for the meeting) to grab a snack.

          If you’re having a 5 hour meeting, your company should expect that people will need breaks (bathroom or otherwise). Nobody needs to know if you’ve run off to the bathroom or to the kitchen to wolf down a granola bar or piece of toast.

        2. Joielle*

          Yeah, that’s fine – what Avasarala is saying (I think) is that you can have a snack whenever, it’s just not necessary to make a big deal of it. You don’t have to go “OH, I’m going to faint, I need to eat right now, I always forget to eat when I’m so busy, please excuse me, I’m so sorry, I absolutely MUST have a granola bar.” Just mute yourself and eat it. Drawing attention comes off unnecessarily dramatic in some office cultures (it would in mine for sure).

          1. Avasarala*

            Exactly. I don’t need you to justify the literal most basic of human needs… I trust you to do your job, eat, sleep, etc. on an appropriate schedule for you, without my permission/awareness…

    4. LemonLyman*

      Been remote for the last 7 years and used to video conferencing during meetings. Came here to say all this.

    5. AdAgencyChick*

      This is what I do. I hope nobody’s annoyed by it. If people can get used to parents having to parent during the work day, they can also get used to human beings needing to eat in a meeting.

    6. cheeseburger*

      Yup, this. I’ve been WFH for years and I will typically dial in as audio only, state that I’m just wrapping up lunch, then pop the camera on as soon as I’m done eating.

      If that’s disruptive, try pooping out of the view of the camera to eat.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          I was wondering if you were one of the people we got a company-wide “don’t take your phone into the bathroom” email about ;)

            1. Grapey*

              I’ve been on one of those emails; it basically went “Please be aware of when your microphone and camera are on, nobody wants to join you on your bio break.”

                1. Vanellope*

                  There’s a video on twitter of someone who did just that – brought her laptop to the bathroom, set it on the floor, and dropped trou. Probably 8-10 people on the meeting. Someone managed to tell her and she quickly dropped out and the speaker never even knew what was going on; most of the coworkers handled it very discreetly. But yes, against all common sense, some people do get too comfortable and forget they are visible! (Not linking because I feel bad for her)

        2. Elitist Semicolon*

          I am reading this while on a webconference and I am VERY glad that I always mute both my mic and my video by default!

          I expect there will be many, many stories by the end of this pandemic of pets appearing on people’s cameras and orking or pooping or doing something else revolting.

    7. Trout 'Waver*

      Agree! I don’t want to see my coworkers eating on a webcam. Turn off the camera and mute yourself. Maybe add a status note that you’re eating lunch.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I can handle seeing my colleagues eat on camera, I can look away if they talk with their mouths open. Hearing them eat is another story. Normal, polite eating sounds don’t usually bother me. However, lots of slurping, chomping, smacking, and crunching drives me up the wall, and they sound worse to me on my computer speakers. And why do people seem to pick foods in noisy, crinkly packaging – and open their snacks right over the microphone? It takes a lot for me to ignore those sounds…if I even can.

        Willing to bet others would appreciate it if eaters went on mute, too.

    8. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Came here to say this! We don’t use Zoom at work, but I’ve been using it for personal meetings and it’s perfectly acceptable to temporarily turn the video off for personal reasons.

    9. WellRed*

      If you must eat, make sure it’s quiet, including no clanking of silverware and no talking with your mouth full. I have to assume you won’t chew directly into the mic and that you’ll turn off camera.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      I’ve usually just said something like “I’m still here listening, but I need to mute the audio/video.” Keep it simple.

      1. another Hero*

        Depending on the size of the meeting and whether you expect to be addressed directly, you may not even need to say that.

    11. Oxford Comma*

      I did this before when I was working in the office during lunchtime meetings. Turn off the webcam, mute the mic, and eat. Unmute as needed.

  2. jman4l*


    Alison’s advice about FMLA and maternity leave is right on point. Check the benefits of the new job carefully. Also remember your insurance deductible will probably start over as well so something to be aware of if you already had bills this year.

      1. ABK*

        You’ll still have insurance, but you might not have maternity leave. FMLA kicks in at 12 months, so unless your new employer has a separate policy, you won’t have any leave or job protection. ASK! Ask what their family leave policy is and who is eligible and how long you need to be at the company to quality. I just started a new job and my partner is pregnant. On their benefits materials they have great family leave for partners, but I had to call HR several times to confirm how long I had to be there to qualify and turns out it’s 12 mths so I can’t take advantage.

        1. Amy*

          Yes. Unless you are covered by FMLA or a separate company policy, you might have to choose between going back to work after you’ve exhausted your PTO or losing your job.

  3. Astrid*

    #3 For the love of anyone suffering from even mild misophonia, please mute your end when you’re eating! Any slurping or crunching noises would make me want to reach through the monitor and throttle the offender.

    1. Rich*

      Seconded. Mute is your friend (and everyone else’s, too).

      On Zoom, I recently discovered a brilliant push-to-talk feature where if you mute yourself in the app, the Space Bar unmutes while it’s pressed, then re-mutes when released. It makes it super easy to transition from muted to unmuted and back — like a walkie talkie. May be old news to many, but it’s been a game changer for me.

      Also, I have wonderful visions of a muted coworker in a bib chowing down on a rack of ribs during a team meeting.

      1. Else*

        Oooh, I didn’t know this, and I’m spending a lot of time teaching people to use Zoom this week! This is so helpful to know.

      1. On a pale mouse*

        Lots of people have issues that not everyone has. Why would you not try to accommodate them, especially when it’s something as simple as muting while eating?

        1. Disco Janet*

          Realistically, I think people get annoyed by the “OMG MISOPHONIA” comments because so many people on here claim to have it, when statistically that seems pretty impossible.

          1. Aquawoman*

            How is that more “realistic” than concluding that misophonia is more common than you seem to expect?

              1. Cat*

                I mean, I think literally everyone gets annoyed by annoying sounds. Not sure it usually constitutes a special syndrome.

      2. Mary*

        Not everyone has misophonia, but nobody actively LIKES the sound of other people eating, so there is definitely no downside to muting yourself.

        (Having said that, there are almost certainly some people who like it way too much, but I don’t think anyone wants to gratify them on a work call.)

        1. Annony*

          Yep. I do not have misophonia but I cannot stand the sound of someone chewing on a phone call. It feels gross and rude. Mute button is your friend.

      3. Fikly*

        If someone has a problem that you do not have, they should just suffer with it, even if a tiny tiny thing on your part would cause them to not be bothered by it?

      4. Akcipitrokulo*

        No… accomodations don’t work like that.

        That’s like responding to a request not to have peanuts with “not everyone has an allergy. That sounds like it’s a you problem?”

      5. Not So NewReader*

        Noisy chewing in front of others is considered kind of rude anyway.

        I don’t think a person should have to have a diagnosis to receive some discretion. People could mute their speakers if they are not talking. I know my fork clinks against my dish as I eat, and I assume that could be annoying (audio interference) to some and I’d want to mute just for that alone.

      6. MsSolo*

        Have you ever been on a call with someone eating? Trust me, you don’t need to have misophonia to find it the absolute worst. Especially if you’re on a platform that flips the camera to whoever it thinks is talking, which means the eater will keep appearing on screen instead of whoever you’re trying to listen to, and often everyone else’s audio will drop out briefly. Everyone is left glaring at the unmuted eater who has no idea they’re causing this issue for everyone else on the call, because their video and audio isn’t changing.

        Mute if you’re eating, mute if you’ve got construction work going on outside, mute if the kids are downstairs, mute whenever you are not actively talking!

        (courtesy of multiple literal BEC moment. Don’t eat crackers on conference calls, people!)

      7. Seifer*

        We had an exec that used to bite his nails so vigorously on conference calls that it sounded like he was eating a peach that was juicy as hell, with weird crunching noises. It was incredibly discomforting to hear that on a call. I don’t have misophonia, nor do I think that anyone at my workplace has it, but we’d all leave conference calls with him deeply disturbed and shuddering.

      8. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        It’s a pretty common practice though, to mute yourself on meetings when you are not saying anything.

        Back when working out of the office, most of us used headsets. Any sound you made was magnified x100 for everyone. None of us wanted to be that person heavily breathing in everyone’s ear throughout the meeting. We only unmuted when we needed to say something, then muted again as soon as we were done. It’s a habit now.

      9. Wing Leader*

        I don’t have misophonia, but I don’t necessarily like listening to people chew, crunch, slurp, etc. Most people don’t. It’s just a common courtesy.

    2. 404UsernameNotFound*

      As someone who, while she doesn’t generally eat at her desk on calls, does have pretty bad Darth Vader syndrome, mute is a miracle. I once accidentally turned my mic back on during a call and someone asked me if I was okay – apparently I sounded like I had been running a marathon! Seriously, mute your mic.

      1. Mongrel*

        That’s often the microphone is set too close to your nose or mouth or the sensitivity is set too high.
        The first can be alleviated by moving the microphone a little and\or seeing if you can get a cover for the microphone and the second is often adjustable in the chat software and Windows\MacOS.

        1. 404UsernameNotFound*

          Wait, it might not just be me? Thank you for the advice! I’ll go do some tinkering with my Webex settings now…

        2. Pilcrow*

          When I started this job I was new to headsets and had this problem with putting the mic in front of my mouth (previous jobs were in-person meeting cultures). Breathing through my generously-sized nostrils blew directly on the mic and sounded like a windstorm. Breathing through my mouth revealed my asthmatic wheezing. Now I put the mic below my chin and that seems to have solved the problem.

    3. TheGreatOctopus*

      yes please. the other day on an internal conference call I think she was eating soup but honestly it sounded like someone was drowning and eating jello and it was nightmarishly loud. Just mute your mike.

    4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      In general, it’s good practice mute yourself when not actively speaking on a call: background noise, feedback, etc.

      A coworker’s computer gives a lot of feedback, which doesn’t come through on their computer at all, so we have to mute him (as meeting admins). The feedback interferes with the audio, so sometimes the feedback overrides the conversation,

  4. Jess*

    #3: Eating would be okay but MUTE. MUUUUUUUUUTE.

    (I think it’s good practice to mute Zoom anyway when you’re not talking as it helps to cut down on background noise and fuzziness. I love the handy feature where you can mute but just hit the space bar to temporarily unmute while you’re talking.)

    1. Wing Leader*

      Yeah, I totally agree. Between kids, family watching TV in the background, dogs that bark, neighbors that decide now is the time to blow leaves, etc. Unless you have something to say, mute yoself.

      1. JustaTech*

        For me it’s the typing. I think that IT used everyone being WFH to send us all home with the loudest keyboards in the company. Honestly, I wish there were some way to get the word out to everyone to please, whatever software you’re using, just mute yourself.
        The typing, sinus congestion breathing, leaf-blowing neighbor, litter box digging cat, no one wants to hear that while we’re trying to concentrate on the supply chain or this month’s numbers or whatever.

    2. Glitsy Gus*

      Agreed, 100%. I would also suggest saving your meal for a meeting where you don’t need to do a lot of talking, if that’s possible. It’ll save a lot of time and awkwardness if there aren’t lags in the conversation because folks are waiting for you to swallow your food and un-mute your mic.

    3. Curmudgeon in California*

      Where I work it’s considered polite to mute unless you’re talking. Sure, sometimes we have to remind people to unmute to talk, but it avoids “background” noise (and conserves bandwidth).

      If I’m eating something sloppy or wet I’ll kill my camera too.

      About half of the people have crummy net/computers at home, so they turn off their cameras so the meeting doesn’t drop for them. Usually the problem is an GB-down vs GB-up setting from their ISP (10x Gb down, 1x GB up, for example). They can receive the video fine, but sending it chokes their feed.

  5. BagelGal*

    Arg. I job searched while newly pregnant and ended up getting a job offer right around the end of my first trimester. Told the new job as I accepted the offer and didn’t think to negotiate maternity leave into my offer. BE YE NOT SO STUPID. Because I had been there less than a year when I delivered, I wasn’t eligible for any of the leave the new job offered beyond short term disability. I really, really, really wished I had dealt with it head on and negotiated for the company’s benefit up front. I know it’s early for the pregnant LW, but is honestly consider dealing with it during the offer negotiation phase rather than get screwed on leave at the end.

    1. Anonymous Poster*

      I agree, in this instance it’s super important. If things look promising and you’ll need the benefit, definitely make sure to negotiate it straight up during the negotiation phase of a job offer. A job seeker likely won’t have as much leverage as they do during the negotiation phase.

    2. Op5*

      Thank you! One of the reasons I’m searching is that I am our family’s primary breadwinner and I don’t have leave currently

      1. Spero*

        If you don’t have leave currently, I might not bother mentioning it. Even if you don’t qualify for leave with the new job you won’t be any worse off than your current job, right? And as much as it is unlawful, it might make them hesitate if they think you’re pregnant or planning to be based on including this in negotiations.

          1. Camellia*

            But they can still withdraw the offer, they just need a plausible reason to do so. Also, regarding negotiation – I see this suggestion all the time, but every company for which I have worked has set-in-stone stuff for vacation/sick/leave, etc., and there is no negotiation on it. It is what it is, for everyone. Has anyone ever successfully gotten concessions on these from a corporation?

            1. Botanist*

              But it would look reeeeally bad to withdraw an offer after it’s been made and the recipient discloses they are pregnant. They don’t have to change the terms of the offer, but it would be hard to not argue it was illegal discrimination to withdraw it altogether.

    3. Annony*

      I think that is a really good idea. Also, decide before starting the negotiation what level of leave you need in order to accept the job vs staying at your old job.

      1. Clementine*

        With switching to a different job when pregnant, isn’t there a significant risk that if you disclose at the time of offer, the employer might not withdraw the offer, but will be extraordinarily nitpicky in building a case to fire the employee early on? Intuitively, it feels easier to fire an employee early on by saying — Sorry, this just isn’t working — if the employee has any new-job stumbles at all.

  6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, you may also want to give the intern tips on how to refocus their attention so they avoid those nervous tics. Oftentimes a person with nervous laughter is laughing because they’re extremely focused on how others perceive and they need some kind of release for those feelings of anxiety/nerves. But a side effect of focusing on yourself is that it’s hard to focus on what the other person is saying. Sometimes being intentional about active listening skills can also help minimize the anxiety-loop that often fuels nervous laughter. Deep breathing (as long as it’s not performative, loud, or creepily noticeable) can also help.

    1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

      Yes! She’s just one month in and she’s an intern, of course she is still nervous. There’s no reason to think this is a permanent tic, but even if it is, helping her feel at ease would be a kindness. The Princess is offering very good techniques, but you could also tell the intern that it’s normal both to be nervous and to make a few mistakes at the beginning. Especially if this is her first job experience, she may need to hear that if she makes a (small, normal) mistake you are going to help her fix it, rather than fire her immediately.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Adding it’s also a good idea just to add helpful comments here and there. For example, when she handles something well be sure to comment. Sometimes you can see a common pitfall and talk about it BEFORE she stumps over that pit. This is usually a good idea, tell me about it now before I do Thing so I know what is expected of me when I do Thing.

      If the laughter issue is part of a larger and on-going conversation it’s much easier to bring these things up. You might want to add on that you encourage her to ask questions. It’s amazing how when one gets their questions answered they start to feel better. Perhaps she is concerned about timing for asking questions or perhaps she is concerned about knowing when to question something. Telling stories about your own experiences going through the learning curve can be very helpful also.

    3. Prairie*

      The person I know who laughs frequently and inappropriately does it because she processes a little slowly. So she fills that time with a giggle. If this is the intern’s situation, I think PCBH’s suggestions would work well for that too. OP can help the intern grow comfortable with quietly thinking rather than anxiously filling every second with sound.

    4. Windchime*

      It would really be a kindness to help your intern kick this habit now. I used to work with a woman who was in her mid-forties, and she laughed at *everything*. We finally had to stop letting her attend meetings with customers because they thought she was mocking them. I’m sure it was just nervous laughter, but it was really annoying and quite irritating. She eventually moved on to a different job, where she is probably laughing hysterically over mundane issues. I wonder how her career might have gone differently if she had been able to stop doing this twenty years earlier.

    5. snoopythedog*

      I’ll add to this and say once you’ve told the intern about the laughter, continue to pretend not to notice it for the first bit while they adjust.

      Praise the good things they do. Ignore the laughter, especially if it’s a nervous habit, they’re going to be mortified every time it slips out until they figure out how to break the pattern.

    6. azvlr*

      I wonder if there is a cultural aspect to the laughter. When I taught middle school, female students of a certain ethnicity would often smile, giggle, or laugh when they were spoken to about behavior or serious issues.
      It 100% appeared as though they were mocking me or not taking the situation seriously. It took me years to learn that it was a way that women in their culture diffuse volatile situations. I guess, somehow it’s their responsibility to make everyone feel relaxed and smiling.

    7. PJ*

      You need to be really careful about how you approach it though – inappropriate laughter can be caused by Tourette Syndrome or PBA or a bunch of other conditions. It may just be youth and nerves, but it may be something more permanent.

      1. Extroverted Aspie*

        Yeah, PJ, that’s what I was thinking about. She may have a condition that makes her laugh or sound like she’s laughing when she isn’t really feeling like something is funny.

  7. voyager1*

    #2 I have to disagree with AAM. Everywhere I have worked logging into porn on a company device would be a firing offense. I don’t know how what happened to your laptop could happen, but it would be on you to inform IT… and they would handle it. I have worked at Fortune 500 companies and regional companies with large IT departments for context.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There’s nothing to indicate anyone logged into porn on a company device. These are bookmarks that sound like they may have been imported from her personal, not work, account.

      1. voyager1*

        Yeah… anywhere I worked isn’t going to make that distinction… But like I wrote in my first post, my experience is in large companies with large IT departments—with clear policies on inappropriate material like porn.

        Maybe in small company or whatnot you could try that as a reason and someone might buy it.

        1. Nuts and Bolts*

          You’ve worked in sone really crappy places, then. I’m sorry, that’s clearly had an impact on your sense of proportion.

          I work for a major tech firm. No one here is getting fired over something so simple. Our no-porn policy is clear, unambiguous and thorough – but not ridiculously inflexible! Accidents happen, people are human, and we have the capacity for reason. Accidentally syncing personal account data to company device is not a firing matter. I’m sorry your company doesn’t understand that. I hope you get to work somewhere better one day!

        2. Arctic*

          Even if this is the case isn’t it all the more reason not to say anything? Why get someone fired for an innocent mistake?

          1. Malty*

            Exactly this – if we received that letter ‘my coworker reported me for accidentally falling afoul of draconian rules during covid and i was fired’ can you even imagine the response?

          2. Lucia Pacciola*

            In my opinion:

            I don’t think this is a firing matter, as a first offense.
            Re: “innocent mistake”. As my mom would tell me, when I caused a problem that could have been avoided if I’d been paying proper attention to the task at hand, “sometimes it’s not enough to say you didn’t mean to. You have to mean *not to*.”

            I actually maintain two separate browser cloud accounts, specifically so my personal biz never shows up on my work computer, on my work browser. Importing your personal porn catalog onto a co-worker’s computer is an error of judgement. It’s not a huge error of judgement (unless it’s an ongoing pattern of behavior), but it should probably still be addressed.

            IT workers working on your computer have a heightened expectation of professionalism and trust, in my opinion. Someone who isn’t thinking about this kind of risk, and taking appropriate steps to avoid it, probably shouldn’t be in a position of responsibility over their co-worker’s computers. Certainly not “logging in as co-workers to make sure everything works”!

            At the very least, someone should warn the office manager that there’s a gap in her prophylactic due diligence, and she should probably make sure to close it before touching anyone else’s computer.

          3. Camellia*

            Well, my concern is that they may think that she did these, not someone else like her boss. Who would they believe, if it came down to it?

        3. kittymommy*

          This would likely happen where I’m at as well (government). Pretty much everything on our computers is public record and importing of bookmarks, intended or not, is archived and would be available to anyone upon request.

        4. SheLooksFamiliar*

          Been there, voyager1. I use Chrome at work because I need several Chrome extensions to do research and site scraping, and logged into my personal account to access them at work – no problem, according to my new employer. Not long after, I started to get ads and popups on my company laptop from car dealers and travel sites, both of which I’d been browsing at home. A few days later I got a friendly email from IT, reminding me of our policies and guidelines for Internet use at work. Hmm.

          Now I use Chrome at work and Firefox on my personal devices when I can. And I also assume that even if I abide by our use policy to the letter, I could keystroke *something* that sets off a red light on someone’s screen in IT.

        5. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          Honestly, it sounds like the person logged into their account for the browser (say, signed into Chrome using their Gmail) and it imported the whole thing. It’s clearly an accident.

          1. JM60*

            That’s what I was thinking. Not only was it a probably an accident, but it was an accident under unusual circumstances. While porn and work don’t mix, voyager1’s employer is draconian in their enforcement of their “no-porn” policy.

      2. Jess*

        That happened to me – I pretty much use Firefox at home and Chrome for work. Occasionally I pull up Chrome – linked to my work google account – at home to log into email etc.

        I didn’t realise that at some point my Firefox bookmarks had imported into Chrome.

        And the I didn’t realise that the Chrome synced between home and work.

        No porn but I was horrified one day at work when I was looking for a different bookmark and found all my old fanfic bookmark folders sitting there!

        1. Liz*

          This is my worst nightmare, too. Everything seems to automatically synch to everything else these days whether you want it to or not, and often without you knowing.

          I got a new desktop recently and shortly after, my Onedrive was suddenly hugely over capacity – by about 5x the limit! It turned out my new PC was automatically backing up EVERYTHING in the Documents file to Onedrive, including enormous saved game files.

          Yesterday was my first day of working from home – I am TERRIFIED of something like this happening to me. I’m using that same desktop, and work initially told me not to even bother creating a separate login. I realised an hour into my first day that I had adult artwork one click away from the shared work file. NO WAY was I working like that. I created a separate profile and reinstalled the work software.

          I could understand reporting if someone had been obviously using a work laptop to view these materials, but when something is so obviously an accidental synch after a machine was briefly handed over for repair? I don’t think I could even class that as carelessness, because most of the time I can’t even TELL when a device is going to do something like that, and I’m paranoid about this sort of thing. To me, that’s reporting somebody for something that’s largely out of their control.

          1. JDC*

            People need to use private browsing for their porn like a good adult. Ha Had to explain this to an ex when I went to type in some website with a P and found out a lot about his preferences i wasn’t aware of.

            1. Liz*

              I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t know private browsing did that, although I have heard of it. That’s really useful info, thank you

              I don’t really have much of a threshold for “people should just know how to do this”. Yesterday myself and a colleague taught our manager how to drag a window to elsewhere on the screen. I guess over the years I’ve just learned that an awful lot of people don’t just know these things – things WAY simpler than overriding autosynch copying of info across devices – even if they have jobs, because their job might well hire for other skills and IT is very low on the list of deciding factors. I’m not the most tech savvy of people, but I’m still more knowledgeable than some. I would hope most employers would be understanding of that in cases of genuine mistakes such as this, especially as there was no actual content or access of sites, just copies of the links.

              1. Jdc*

                I recently found out many don’t know about private browsing. I will say one SHOULD know if they are looking at their porn on their work computer. Should being, would be a darn good idea. Ha

                1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

                  Related to this–private browsing doesn’t stop the user from creating bookmarks, and bookmarks created that way will be visible when you’re not in private/incognito mode. It means the browser doesn’t save the history for that browsing session.

                  Private browsing is great if you don’t want your housemates, visiting relatives, etc. to know what sites you looked at–but if you have bookmarks for a porn site, or for something like a divorce lawyer or drug treatment center, or anything else you’d rather not discuss, anyone who uses your machine/that login may find them. And someone who is going to ask why you bookmarked a site, or think “Hm, the Gollux seems to be interested in llama cosplay” will notice it even if they can’t tell whether that was something I was looking at yesterday or during the Obama administration.

                2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

                  Also, I’m pretty sure private mode does NOT prevent the IT folks from seeing your computer’s web traffic.

                3. JM60*

                  @Analytical Tree Hugger

                  That’s correct. Private browsing only prevents information from the session being saved on your computer. The information that goes to and from your computer is the same.

                  If you want your ISP and/or employer (if you’re connecting using their access) to not know what sites your visiting, you need to use a VPN on your personal device.

            2. Risha*

              I’m a grown-ass adult. I save my porn bookmarks and use my browser on the regular mode on my personal computer like an adult who is not particularly bothered by people knowing she watches it (though I’m not sharing any details), thank you very much.

              1. valentine*

                This is why I’m wondering why everyone is so sure the bookmarks are from her personal computer. Why would you need a folder called Private?

                I would’ve reported it so someone else could figure out why it was there while the incident was fresh and remove it for me. I wouldn’t expect “I deleted everything and said nothing to spare her blushes/job” to help me.

                1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

                  If the office manager shares a computer at home, I could see them markings some bookmarks as private. Or it’s just a habit. I don’t share a computer and still obfuscate certain folder names out of habit.

                2. Elsajeni*

                  Well, we can assume from the fact that this happened in the first place that she’s not super savvy about avoiding syncing between devices; I think the “Private” folder suggests that she’s had a similar auto-sync between work and personal devices, or hasn’t figured out how to set up two separate browser accounts, and ended up using folders to keep work and personal bookmarks separate.

                3. JM60*

                  @Analytical Tree Hugger

                  No one uses my personal desktop other than me, but I still use incognito mode, even though there’s no reason for me to do so. It’s just a habbit.

              2. Jdc*

                I use private because sometimes my husband grabs my computer and I don’t want him to start typing a letter and come up with super gay bears loving each other. Or you know, whatever people watch. Haha

            3. Vicky Austin*

              Another option: don’t look at actual porn, but at music videos by Beyoncé, Rihanna, Shakira, Britney Spears, etc. Some of them can be just as tiltalating (sp?) as porn, and no one is going to bat an eyelash if they find them bookmarked on your computer. They’ll just think you’re a big fan of Beyoncé et al’s music.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        I agree that there’s nothing worth reporting at this time as it’s likely she didn’t actually go to any of those sites–but I would make sure it’s well documented when she had your laptop for repairs so that if it turns out anything was accessed and IT comes calling, you have evidence that you weren’t in possession of the computer then.

    2. HBJ*

      I agree, I think you should report it. The last thing you want is for you to have missed something or something to be hiding in your history and you click the wrong thing or something autocompletes in your search bar and you hit enter to soon and suddenly porn pops up in your web use for the IT people to see. You need to protect yourself.

      1. Avasarala*

        I agree. One time I took a photo of something for work, and connected my personal phone to my work laptop to upload the photo without eating up my data. Suddenly it started uploading all my personal photos to my work laptop! In horror and panic I stopped the photo backup and scrubbed that stuff from my computer ASAP. I’m sure there’s some unfortunate record somewhere IT could pull up, but I deleted it from the trash can as well so that’s as complete as I can manage.

        But my point is, I took active steps to remove that from my work computer. This person did not notice, and did not do anything about it. Even if they were accidentally uploaded, it’s not acceptable to have adult materials on a work laptop in any work environment I’ve ever been in.

        In past letters about this thing, we’ve never had the distinction of whether the person finding the material had authority over the person…why is this different?
        And hate to be that person but would it be different if the manager was male?

        1. MayLou*

          But there aren’t adult materials on the laptop, there are links to adult materials. I know that seems a minor distinction but it’s not – to me, it seems the same as if there were adverts to something non-work-appropriate on a web page. No one was actively viewing porn at work here, no one was deliberately downloading things to work computers.

          I would however, consider speaking to the manager about it, if that would be at all possible. Not necessarily even in detail, just saying “just to let you know, when you logged into your browser account on my laptop, it imported all your personal links. I’ve deleted them but wanted to give you a heads up so you can avoid that happening in the future.”

          1. Avasarala*

            I think that’s a distinction without a difference. It’s a saved bookmark to adult materials, created with the intention of visiting that site. It has no business being on a work computer. Nevermind the whole security kerfuffle of leaving her account logged in with her passwords, this is a big deal security-wise if this person/company handles sensitive information.

            Nowadays with everything syncing automatically and secretly, it’s probably an accident and if you otherwise get along with the coworker and think they’re a good person who made a mistake, it would be a kindness to let this person know, as you said. Because if you’re HR or IT or a manager of a company with clear-cut policies, this is an obvious NO and the person could/should be reprimanded or fired over it.

            1. hbc*

              It’s a distinction with a huge difference. No porn was on that computer. You might as well bust someone for writing the word “porn,” or the IT guy for having a list of banned sites.

              A url link has been added to the bookmarks, through a pretty obvious accident. Anyone who takes that isolated incident as something more than a reminder to tighten up security policies is severely overreacting.

            2. MCMonkeyBean*

              There is a huge, enormous difference. The links being in bookmarks mean nothing more than the office manager has these saved for her personal use on her personal devices and Chrome automatically ported the bookmarks over when she opened the browser.

              If she actually *went* to the websites, it is both a highly inappropriate thing to do at work and dangerous as many of those sites can put viruses on the computer, and maybe the entire company network.

              Those are two extremely different scenarios.

          2. JDC*

            There was a website we used for work that with a slip of a finger sent you to adult dating website. I told my boss laughing about it and she told me she had accidentally visited the site many times. It just was standard at out company for that site to be frequently visited. Who knows who clicked further.

          3. Venus*

            I completely agree with your last point. I disagree with Alison about not telling the person, and agree with your wording, although I would change it to ‘some’ personal links rather than ‘all your’ as ‘all your’ suggests that there was something to see. I would try to keep it as vague as possible.

            I have worked for large companies and they don’t want surfing of porn on their time, but they acknowledge it happens, and links would be a “Don’t do it again!” thing but nothing worse (although I haven’t done it myself, so can’t speak to exactly what would happen, but I have accidentally gone to the wrong address for a few seconds and nobody cared, and I do know some people have been caught surfing porn and they are still employed).

      2. Sandra*

        I think it should be reported too. AAM said how embarrassing it was for the person that put the porn there and if they were discovered. But what about the person that might have seen it? That’s just gross.

        1. JM60*

          The OP wasn’t forced to see the porn itself, only the bookmarks. That’s not ideal, but it also shouldn’t be a big deal. IMO, the security issues around this incident (remaining logged in when giving the computer back) is more concerning.

      3. rudster*

        Except, how would you prove it? IT – especially if the same person gets wind of it – or HR could just say that the bookmarks were yours, barring some kind of complex sting operation managed to uncover the same bookmarks in the IT person’s personal account.

        1. Julia*

          I thought rule number one for detective fiction is that if you confess, you are off the hook (until the better detective comes in and says you were actually the culprit all along) – but seriously, who would go to IT to report their OWN porn bookmarks?

        2. Autistic AF*

          If there’s a nightly backup, it would be simple to check bookmarks before the computer was sent away. The IT person would likely have said bookmarks in their work profile as well.

      4. AcademiaNut*

        I think it’s worth reporting – not necessarily the specific contents, but the automatic syncing part – so that people can be told to turn that part off before logging into someone else’s account, or when setting up their own computer.

        Porn is extra bad, but accidentally syncing your personal account and settings to a work computer is not good in general.

        1. KRM*

          I think reporting the automatic syncing is the way to go–even if there was no porn on the account, you’d still have someone else’s personal info! Just a quick “hey, when I got my computer back there had been an autosync and I ended up with your personal stuff. I deleted it all but wanted you to know so that it doesn’t happen to you again!”. OM may need help from IT on how to disable that (not everyone is deeply computer savvy, or would realize that an autosync would happen on a different computer, or would even think about that possibility) but just mention it in passing like “here’s a thing that happened by accident, so keep an eye out for it!”.

          1. Elsajeni*

            Yes, especially because of the saved passwords, I think it’s both important to let her know this happened and easy to do it in a face-saving way — she doesn’t want anyone whose computer she’s handled repairs on to be able to log in to her online banking, or order stuff on her Amazon account, or whatever! I would focus that conversation on “some of your browser settings, including saved login info and passwords” and not even mention the bookmarks if I could help it.

      5. Katiekaboom*

        I would email my boss and just say “hey, you may not have realized, but when you worked on my device, some of your information including bookmarks and saved passwords got synced on my device. I deleted everything, but just something to look out for”. Then if anything does come of the porn on the device, she can point to the email and say “yeahhhhh this is what I was talking about”. A paper trail without her boss being embarrassed.

        1. Elenna*

          Oooh, I like this one, both in the sense of creating a paper trail and in the sense of casually warning OP’s boss so they (hopefully) don’t do it again.

        2. M. Albertine*

          That’s exactly what I would do: flag it for the office manager by saying that her personal Chrome was still linked up on your computer. You deleted everything, but it’s something she should watch out for in the future.

      6. Asker #3*

        Hi, it’s Asker #3!

        I’m on mute at all times in these meetings when not speaking, so that’s not a factor.

        Part of what makes this a tricky calculation is that I am a slow eater (so I can’t just scarf in 5 minutes and turn the camera back on) and I’m often in meetings small enough that it would be weird to have my camera off at all times. I’ve been compromising by taking bites off camera (as someone suggested).

        1. NowI'mHungry*

          Hello LW3! When the world was normal, did you typically have meetings that convened during breakfast/lunch time? Sounds like these 3-hour meetings are not the norm at your office. I’m curious why your team feels the need to meet for such extended periods of time if that wasn’t the norm pre-pandemic. My advice as a 100%-work-from-homer is to avoid video when you can, but if it’s required then send a note to the meeting organizer about needing to hop off video for 15 minutes so you can eat during the meeting. I think a lot of companies are very flexible about the requirement to be on video during this time, so it couldn’t hurt to inquire whether calls could be audio-only. Good luck!

    3. NoSolutionsJustProblems*

      I’d have to agree a bit here.

      You don’t necessarily have to state how you *think* it got there.. just that when you got the laptop back weird things were on it that weren’t yours. Including things like porn bookmarks.

      If nothing else – any good IT dept would want to review their processes for break downs. No device that’s been worked on should be returned in that state.

      What if there was a malicious site bookmarked and someone accidentally clicked it?

      What if someone did something malicious while the office Manager was still “logged in”?

      What if multiple people get laptops back with porn bookmarks?

      1. GeekBoi*

        At one job, we had to make sure equipment issued to new users didn’t have any objectionable material on it. This included porn, but also things like hate mongering website bookmarks. Company rational was that leaving such stuff on a laptop or desktop could constitute a “hostile work environment”

        Trust me, we IT peeps get jaded to this kind of stuff. (The exception was when child porn was found on a client PC we had taken to the shop – THAT one got an immediate call to the cops)

      2. Percysowner*

        Exactly. You don’t have to reveal that the bookmarks were pornographic, just contact them and say when I got my laptop back there were bookmarks and other material that were not there when I sent it for repair. It was a mild pain to have to remove it, so IT should make sure others don’t have to clear out their machines if they send them for repair. Ignore the content of what was transferred and alert them to the fact that things were incorrectly imported. Turning off Synch during repair of someone else’s computer just seems like good practice.

      3. Colette*

        Since the office manager needed to log in using the OP’s account, I doubt they have an IT department that would be concerned.

      4. James*

        I’ve heard that pornographic sites aren’t as big a security risk as people think. Like anything else, porn sites have reputations–and if you get a reputation as a malware haven, you don’t get traffic. (Spent a week talking to a laborer who used to work IT for a porn site; we had some very interesting conversations.)

        Church websites are more dangerous, honestly. Porn sites have professional IT teams because that’s how they make money. Church websites are run by volunteers–usually older (because they have free time), usually not as computer-savy (because they’re volunteers), and usually not updated as often as they should be (because they’re volunteers).

    4. Emmie*

      I agree. OP should report it. The goal isn’t to get anyone in trouble. It’s to protect yourself. If there’s ever a reason to search your computer or you’re investigated for sexual harassment in the future or your company audits for porn links, these bookmarks will not help you. It will probably a non-issue now.

    5. Yorick*

      They’re bookmarks. There’s no indication that these sites were visited on a work device.

    6. Wing Leader*

      Honestly, even if the manager were actually logging into porn on the work computer, I still wouldn’t say anything. Like Alison said, it would be different if this was someone the OP manages or someone on a lower rung. But a manager? I’m staying out of it. It’ll come out when it comes out.

    7. James*

      I once worked with some archaeologists who had a link that lead to a pornographic site on her laptop. There was an archaeologist who had a personal site that included both his professional publications and his adult-oriented hobbies. This isn’t terribly uncommon; I’ve known a few very well-respected scientists that did BDSM photo shoots, for example. And having your papers available for free n your personal website is common practice. Anyway, the archaeologist once clicked on the wrong link (bad website design) and got questioned about it. Since the archaeologist A) had a legitimate reason to be on the site, as she demonstrated to IT, and B) saved the company a few thousand dollars (the cost of purchasing these papers, required by the client), IT decided to look the other way.

      I also knew a field worker who’s wife was a photographer, so he had her website linked on his computer. And, well, let’s just say that a paying gig is a paying gig.

      So it’s not always going to be a firing offense. Context matters.

    8. Curmudgeon in California*

      I use my personal desktop when I WFH. I created a different account with my workplace username, only have workplace bookmarks. I don’t sync my personal bookmarks to that account. It’s the most stable way to handle two identities.

  8. Hyacinth Bouquet (OP #4)*

    OP #4 here. Thanks for answering Alison! When I first came across the posts I referred to I thought it was a great question to ask, but it felt weird taking interviewing advice from a meme.

    1. irene*

      I didn’t even know it was a meme when I asked! albeit, i asked during the pandemic, not after things were back to normal. it makes sense to me that these questions are natural curiosity and concern, but the meme helps provide the script.

    2. Oeskathine*

      Totally agree with Allison. Companies and managers really show their true colors in this crisis, and all candidates should be fully aware of how they reacted.

      I recently gave notice at my current job and boy am I glad I’m leaving. Their response to covid-19 has been downright immoral: our boss immediately laid off most of the office staff without offering anything to help them through it; obviously sick people (hacking coughs, sneezing, etc) were pressured to report to work regardless because no one else was left to do their work; they refused to let people work from home until the city was ordered to shelter-in-place. Our boss spent most of last week nagging at the remaining employees to think up new ways to drum up more profit from our clients. Management’s pep talks and emails were positive, but their actions clearly told us they were not concerned at all about our welfare.

    3. Katepreach*

      Re 4, as a hiring manager I would be genuinely happy to be asked.

      Moreover, being asked is actually a benefit to good employers. We’ve made many many decisions in the past two weeks to support our workers, and it gives us a way to positively distinguish ourselves from others.

      Example: we employ many people on flexible contacts, such as our own students who guide people on open days or do various office projects. All of these people have had their employment guaranteed through to 31 July at whatever their normal working hours would have been, and I happen to know that the directive to do this came right from the Vice Chancellor

      So if this came up in an interview I would be very happy to talk about it and have no trouble finding positive examples

      1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        Same here. We hope to hire after the crisis abates and I will think very highly of a candidate who asks the question. It shows they are learning about the company culture and how it handles difficult times.

    4. Delta Delta*

      It’s a great question! Because right now it’s the virus. But in a year there may be a disruption for a weather event or an earthquake or whatever, and it’s good to know how the business behaves when times are tough.

      1. HiringMgr2*

        Yes, I would be really interested to hear how companies respond. Bear in mind, not all companies were especially well-prepared – what I’d hope to hear was that either A. they had a strong contingency plan in place to maintain business and executed it (there may have been some unforeseen challenges they had to deal with, etc.); or B. they were not well-prepared and learned a lot of big lessons along the way. Then, outline some of the things that may change how they operate going forward.

        If they seem put off that you asked or give you any push back… I’d wonder why. Point is to say don’t rule out companies who admitted they made mistakes or were underprepared. To hear if they learned from it, and are taking appropriate steps as a result – I think that’s more important.

    5. Ali G*

      As a member of my orgs senior leadership team, I would be so proud to tell any prospective employees how we’ve handled and continue to handle this crisis (yes it’s a crisis!). Please ask away!

      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        Well, if your employees feel the same level of “work from home is NOT something I need to worry about. I have all the hardware, software and printed materials I need” that I feel, then well done you.
        As an employee of a company with a fully functioning plan for this, thank you!

        1. Ali G*

          Did all that, set up a sick time back for affected employees, let everyone decide what was best for them, etc. I think we did extraordinarily well. Especially since this team has only been working together for about a year (4 of 7 of us came on within the last 18 months).

    6. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      I was looking for you to say, that my company did a great job with this. They’d be happy and right to basically brag about it. They would definitely feel you were right to ask and be willing to share the plan (an overview, nonproprietary details).
      Any company that doesn’t probably effed up in the crisis.
      Shout out to company part: They had a dynamic Business Continuity Plan in place that was tested annually and improved upon. We started remote work (1400 people) before the official shut down and had no lapse in business function.

    7. rayray*

      I’m glad you asked this. I’m actually doing an interview today (from home in a web meeting) and this is definitely on my mind. I was planning to ask anyway about what they’re planning as far as when they want their candidate to start and if it will begin remotely or what. It is certainly a non-essential job but it is with a website that I think might see an uptick in traffic while we’re all isolating at home. I think I’ll try to ask them about this as well. It is VERY important to me to have a company that cares about their employees well-being.

    8. Chinook*

      Not only will I ask future employers, but I will be asking any new dentist (or any health provider) before booking an appointment.

      We had a dentists here in Canada who refused to self quarantine or to let their staff even though he was exposed and later tested positive. I have always worried about how to judge someone’s professionalism and ethics and this pandemic has given me an excellent way to check it. To me, it is a fair question.

      The flip side is that I will ensure to support businesses and professionals who did the right thing and closed/supported staff the best they could. Crisis enhances character and lets us see people for who they really are.

    9. My coworker made me sign a cast on her crotch*

      I actually had a phone interview today and asked the employer that. He said he’s still coming in to the office 3d a week b/c his industry is essential (accounting) but would like to add WFH 1x a week after all this is over.

      I’m an accountant and my company has been 100% WFH since last week so….

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Wow, he’s out of touch. Accounting is not the type of thing that must be done from an office.

        Yes, maybe physical check printing needs to be done from the office, and maybe reconciliation of paper shippers/invoices too, but the second could just be scanned by one person, then parted out electronically. But that’s more accounting clerk stuff, and only happens occasionally.

    10. addiez*

      It’s funny you ask – I work in HR, and I think my company is handling this pretty well, but honestly I don’t know how I’d answer the question. We encouraged everyone to work from home who was able? We’re a financial institution, so some work must be done on-site (considered essential) but we’re paying for parking, cleaning more, and putting six feet between work stations. That doesn’t feel like an answer though. We made a donation to those in need — but at the same time, may need to have layoffs due to the economic climate, so aren’t looking to drop too much. I guess it depends on the company and on the sector, because if the best/only answer is we let people work from home and used virtual tools, it sounds like a boring answer to me?

  9. Llama Llama Bing Bong*

    #1: Can you ask your intern about it? Like integrate that into what Allison recommended. Something like I’ve noticed that you have a tendency to laugh/giggle (not sure if giggle is more or less offensive..) when I’m providing instructions. Are you are you aware that you are doing that? Or is there a reason for it? I know some people do that because they are nervous, etc/what Allison said. I’d at least give them the benefit of the doubt to explain or realize what they are doing. If you just come at them like you do X and it’s probably best you don’t do X and also I just gave you this great teachable moment “mic drop”, it might be kind of patronizing. If I (the intern) remember back and realize that I’m giggling that might make me take ownership of it and be like oops, that’s really embarrassing or oops, I thought that was a good nervous tic but i see now it’s a bad nervous tic. Instead of someone just assuming they know what I’m doing and telling me to stop.

    #3 Please don’t bite your nails in front of people, thats gross. I would also say if you are going to eat you should turn your microphone off as well. And do you need to be on camera all the time? If these meetings are all with the same people I think it’s definitely warranted to bring up something like: “actually can we meet at 1 instead of 12:30 so we can eat lunch?” Or even “it sounds like we may not need that third meeting about teapots today so that we have time to work on the teapot project”. I think with all this transition to remote work, meetings and oversight might be heavier now than if you were in the office. Like is having 3 meetings today really necessary if they’re not going to provide any useful action items or discussion. If it’s just to go over minutiae or minutiae you talked about yesterday maybe it’s worth it to see about spacing out these meetings.

    1. Avasarala*

      #1 Yeah, why not just approach it as genuine confusion in the moment?
      Intern: giggles nervously
      OP: What’s funny? (with a half smile like you’re expecting to be let in on a joke)
      Intern: Oh, nothing.
      OP: Oh, it’s just you laughed suddenly, so I thought maybe I missed something.
      Intern: No, it’s nothing.
      OP: OK. To get back on topic…

      Intern: giggles again
      OP: Is something funny?
      Intern: Huh?
      OP: Because you just laughed again, and it kinda sounded like you were mocking me.
      Intern: Of course not! (backpedals)
      OP: Of course you wouldn’t do that! Just be careful with the laugh timing, we don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea!

      If a few iterations of that don’t work, then I’d go for the general “you tend to do this” talk.

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        If I had a nervous tic of laughter (and I once did), this would be an absolutely mortifying way of dealing with this for me. She probably isn’t doing it on purpose and this method calls her out as if she’s deliberately being disrespectful. The OP doesn’t seem to think she’s being mocked. It will be much kinder and more effective to take the “hey, do you know you do this?” tack.

        I wrote more about my experience with compulsive work-giggling down below in my own thread.

        1. Avasarala*

          I intended it to sound more like reacting naturally while giving the benefit of the doubt and trying to solve a miscommunication. Of course tone and knowing the individual in question are important.

          Personally I prefer when people react naturally to my habits in the moment, rather than “hey did you know you always do this?” It lets me recalibrate immediately and reflect privately, rather than broadening it to “you’ve been doing something awkward this whole time and nobody said anything until now.” But there are lots of ways to approach this.

          1. Autistic AF*

            You are not giving her the benefit of the doubt if you suspect that she’s laughing for one reason, but you pretend that you think it’s for a different reason. It’s still a form of “you’ve been doing something awkward this whole time and nobody said anything until now”. Then there’s the issue of immediate calibration – if she can’t then you’re likely to exacerbate the problem.

        2. Hey Karma, Over Here*

          Agreed. Please deal with it head on
          “You are laughing. I think that’s a nervous tic. I don’t want to embarrass you, but it’s jarring to the listener and could make clients uncomfortable. We all have tics/things we do, but this one could be problematic for you. That’s why I’m making you aware. Not criticizing, not “yelling at you” just trying to let you know that it’s something you should work on.”

        3. Alton*

          I agree. Also, it’s possible she genuinely isn’t aware that she’s doing it, and this way of handling it could be confusing. It would also be awkward and humiliating if other people are present.

        4. AngryAngryAlice*

          Yeah it honestly sounds really passive aggressive if taken incident-by-incident. This isn’t the clueless colleague who stands over your shoulder until you pointedly ask “do you need something?” This is a new intern who doesn’t have a great idea of workplace norms yet. I would have been mortified if this happened to me when I was an intern.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        I think that’s way too aggressive and way too likely to humiliate the intern. I’d go with Alison’s approach – matter of factly address it as as a nervous habit they may not realize they’ve got.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I like this approach and I have used it.

        One benefit is that the person feels the conversation is over, it’s a contained conversation. It happened in the moment and now the moment has passed.

        The problem with bringing it up out of context is that it can make it feel like a bigger deal than it is. The intern did not just lose $60K. It’s not the end of the world. This is a correctable thing. When a correction is woven into ordinary conversation, it can feel more like one adult taking an interest in another adult’s success. A stand-alone conversation can be tougher.

        I have used, “This is just a conversation between you and me, it would benefit you if you….” to help the person keep a perspective. They made the correction and the whole thing was forgotten (at least by me).

        And really, OP, thank you for taking a sincere interest in this person’s success in life. Not everyone does this.

        1. Avasarala*

          “One benefit is that the person feels the conversation is over, it’s a contained conversation. It happened in the moment and now the moment has passed.”

          Precisely this! It helps keep perspective, rather than bringing it up out of nowhere.

        1. Avasarala*

          Of course not! I hope that anyone using this technique would use their tone indicate lightness, and their best judgment as to whether this is a good choice at all.

          But I also note that you are using precisely the same technique (giving benefit of the doubt while critiquing to allow the other person to save face), so it clearly does work sometimes!

  10. Zircon*

    I have always worked remotely in my current position. I often spend 4 hours a day on Zoom – probably 4 different sessions!! I usually grab something to eat between meetings, or if there are lots of people, I’ll organise for someone else to facilitate so I can get something to eat. I turn off my video and my microphone when I’m eating!!
    I organise Zoom meetings for largish (up to 100) groups. I set it up so everyone else is muted as they enter. I ask people to post in the chat section if they have a question or want to comment and then call on them so they can unmute and talk. Offer to be in charge of setting up some of the meetings and make sure you give yourself breaks!!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I love it when I am automatically muted on conference phone calls. They don’t have to listen to my little buddy woo-wooing in the background. My house is not that big even if I shut myself in a room, he can probably still be heard. My dog is a “talker”, it’s in his breed. We are working on it.

      1. Ali G*

        Aw, I have a woo-wooer too! He’s better now that he’s mostly deaf, but he used to wake up as soon as he heard voices and woo-woo.

    2. Environmental Compliance*

      My favorite people are the people that auto-mute.

      I once seriously got in a near-argument with a person who had set up a conference meeting with roughly 50 people and one Idiot who was well known for breathing very, very heavily into the mike and smacking their lips. Loudly. Constantly. To the point where you couldn’t hear anyone else. The conference call setter-upper tried to tell me you couldn’t auto-mute. Yes, yes you can. It was Zoom. They also refused to include a note at the beginning asking everyone to mute. Absolutely aggravating and tbh a waste of 3 hours every time we had that meeting.

    3. Sydney Bristow*

      I’ve been trying to convince our Zoom meeting leaders to do this and sent them instructions. Hopefully they’ll start doing it eventually.

  11. irene*

    I asked this question at a job interview 3 weeks ago! my city wasn’t in lockdown yet, but the signs were there: it would be coming soon. (tomorrow is the first full lockdown day) so I asked if they were set up for work from home and how that might impact their mission, and what else they have planned for the duration. we had a good conversation about expectations and impacts to funding and their services (nonprofit that provides services to the elderly).

    I’m sure that in the next few years, at least, this is going to be something that everyone thinks about, and it’s a good question topic to tease out more info about organizational practices (and crisis management), if only to help you have a better idea of what you’re getting into. we should hopefully never have this kind of pandemic again, but the current strategies may apply to future disasters.

    (btw, I’m pleased to share that I got the job! since it’s a healthcare org, I expect to be going into the office for a day of orientation and training, then working from home except on days when I’m needed to do meal deliveries, which was one of the things we discussed as an emergency response – admin staff taking over some volunteer jobs, to protect our clients, and something I’m happy to do)

  12. Sharkie*

    OP 4- yes you should ask! You need to know if they were fair to their employees. A lot of people and companies are showing who they really are.. you should pay attention to that

    1. Mockingjay*

      #4 – the question can also be asked more generally – what is your disaster response plan? We’re in hurricane country, so good companies better have one, because the topic comes up every summer.

      This issue came up this morning at breakfast. My husband’s company does not have a very coordinated response (there’s confusion each time a hurricane approaches). His project has staff on a government facility which is closed to all non-essential personnel as of today. So he’s been on the phone trying to figure out what to do with his warehouse staff. His boss is sending endless emails trying to figure out how often employees need to report in, via daily muster teleconference and/or written report. And so on.

      This is in contrast to my company, which tracks everyone on government sites and has an alternate workspace or telework conditions for them to continue under. We’ll even loan people to other projects to keep them occupied. Corporate has a solid telework plan and a reporting scheme in place (and has for years), including an excellent VPN connection.

      Planning, people. It actually doesn’t cost that much, and saves you in the long run.

      1. Chinook*

        Youvare right that a good emergency response plan is a sign of many thjngs. Good management knows when to be flexible and how to plan for the unexpected.

        It is like the rock stars who ask for M&M’s with no red ones – if you get that right, odds are pretty good the facility also paid attention to details about stage setup and overall safety.

  13. CC*


    Oh my god, this brings back memories. I was in my first real job at a tech company, which included a temporary position as an inside sales support rep. I was working with an older sales rep, a sweet man who resembled a very wise walrus, with his white tusk-like whiskers.

    My trainer introduced me to him on a conference call, and he made an awkward joke about being an old sales rep working with a youngster like me.

    So, I laughed, and he laughed

    and I laughed, and he laughed

    and I laughed, and he laughed

    and nobody would stop!

    Finally, he said, “well, it’s not that funny!” but I didn’t really know how to stop laughing without making it sound like I was being rude.

    OP1, I *wish* my trainer had given me the kind of advice Alison suggests. You have to say something, and this wording is very kind.

    1. Mystery Bookworm*

      In one of my first jobs, I was point of contact for another department. One of our clients was causing them a huge headache and I was often chatting with this guy, troubleshooting issues.

      I also thought he was just…like, SO cute. He had these adorable Clark Kent glasses! I was only twenty, I think, in my defense, and a little starry eyed about working with this funny guy who seemed to really have his shit together.

      He was totally professional and warm, but also working on a legitimately stressful problem. One day, my boss just pulled me aside as we left a meeting and sort of gently said: ‘You know, Achielles is a really nice guy, but I actually think they’re pretty slammed…we should be aware of that when we talk to them, and not sound too lighthearted about the problem’. (Or something to that effect.)

      I was confused for about, oh, two seconds, before I was struck with the terrifying realisation that I had been compulsively giggling through ALL our meetings and phone calls. Pretty much everything my colleague said would result in a giggle from me.

      It was a mortifying realisation, but I’m also SO grateful that my boss brought it to my attention.

      Also, ugh. I hope I wear my crushes better now than I did then!

      1. Wing Leader*

        Speaking of crushes, I had my first giggling, googly-eyed, can’t-control-myself crush when I was about twelve years old. It was on my friend’s older brother, who was about sixteen. No big deal, right? Normal kid stuff.

        Fast forward about fifteen years to the job I held until 2016. Guess who was my boss? Attractive, older brother himself. And I still found him so attractive that I had to be careful not to stare! Luckily, I managed to make it through without doing or saying anything super embarrassing, probably because I was hyper-aware of myself all the time. And he was a nice boss. But it was still awkward AF, and I prayed to the gods that he did not remember how twelve year old me used to act around him (if he did remember, he never brought it up or teased me about it, bless him lol).

    2. Retail not Retail*

      It sounds like you were trapped in goodfellas. Op1 – memorize joe pesci’s script to terrorize your intern. Or watch the scene to see how nervous laughter builds!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      My sense of humor can be… odd. Stupid stuff can really amuse me. Then other stuff that causes people to roar in laughter just doesn’t tickle me in the same manner. My solution to both is to say, “Oh that is really funny!” Putting that statement out there seems to release the need for elongated laughter so I don’t need to do that. And for things that just aren’t that funny to me, it can work as an acknowledgement of a shared joke with the other person.

      Sometimes I can go with “That’s clever, I really like that.” If these things are true, of course.

    4. high school teacher*

      This story is cracking me up! The way you wrote it totally captures what it must have been like.

  14. Elizabeth West*

    #4–I absolutely plan on asking. In fact, today I received an email from an employer who had already asked me to do some preliminary testing. The recruiter said they’d gone 100% remote due to the coronavirus and had paused hiring for the position, and she would contact me if that changed. I wrote her back thanking her for the update and said to let me know if they want to move forward later for this or any role she thought I might be a good fit for.

    The fact that she even bothered to email me about it when I haven’t even had an interview makes me WAY more likely to apply there again in the future. I’d also go into any interviews there with a good first impression of them.

    1. valentine*

      some preliminary testing
      I first read this as medical testing and was amazed you were so cool with it.

  15. LittleRedRiding...huh?*

    #LW 4:
    I think this is a great question to ask. It’ll tell you so much more about their work ethics and employment culture.
    My daughter is currently looking for an internship and applied to a very established and well known company just before the Corona outbreak in Germany. They called her Thursday (1 day after the lockdowns in Germany) to ask her to come to an interview the following Friday. With her having a small child, nurseries closed until 17th April and no alternative minder available, she asked them to postpone until everything is a bit back to normal.
    The reaction of the recruiter was mind blowing and I quote: ” Well,if you’re not infected why can’t you come to the interview? Just let a neighbour mind the child. We need to make a decision this month as to whether we want to hire you.”

    My daughter was gobsmacked and discombobulated at first, because this reply was so tone-deaf to the current situation. After a few moments to compose herself, she immediately withdrew her application…. what’s the point working for someone who disregards common sense just because TheY hAvE tO mAkE a DecIsIOn.

    Stay save, stay healthy, stay inside!

    1. Julia*

      As a German, I would like to apologize. Obviously not all Germans are like that, but I could immediately picture some people I’ve previously met reacting exactly like that (maybe because we like rules?). I am currently in Japan, where employee health is not really considered important at all, and keep wanting to move back to Europe, so thank you for reminding me to extend the same scrutiny to German managers when interviewing as I would with Japanese ones.

      1. LittleRedRiding...huh?*

        I’m hopeful this company is one of the few exceptions to the rule (see what I did there ;)
        I usually give the benefit of a doubt, especially in situations never dealt with before, but this one was just so….out there?!

        Best of luck with your relocation and job hunt once it’s “spruchreif”.

        1. Julia*

          Thank you! I feel like at least in Europe, the general public takes employee rights more seriously, so you don’t have to deal with the “stop whining and work till you drop dead” attitude I often see here – and better PTO!

          My job hunt is being made more difficult due to the current situation, but I don’t want to get off topic.

          1. Mameshiba*

            While Japan certainly has its societal problems with workers’ rights, the curve is flattening here!

            This would be a good question to ask in Japan as well as company responses have varied from “why would we let office workers work remotely?” to going fully remote work since a month ago. Don’t paint every company with the same brush!

            1. Julia*

              I’m not, but I live in Tokyo and don’t see a lot of change despite the virus. My husband still goes to work, my friends still go to work, and I have yet to have a boss who actually thinks people should get to be sick guilt-free. I know some people work for great companies, but on average, I think things here are harder for employees than they are in Europe.

              1. Julia*

                Forgot to add: You can’t deny that there is a huge difference between 20 to 30 days PTO in Europe plus unlimited sick leave, and 10 days of PTO and zero extra sick leave. For someone with a chronic illness, this is an extremely important factor.

                1. Mameshiba*

                  I’m not going to debate with you whether all companies in Japan are better/worse than all companies in Europe. That would be pretty difficult! But I ask you to recognize the limits of your experience and not generalize about a whole country based on that. People post here about bosses around the world who make people feel guilty for being sick–Japan is made up of humans and with the same problems as the rest of the world. This thread literally starts with an anecdote about disregard for employee health in Europe, and I can give you more anecdotes about companies and individuals taking it seriously here in Tokyo.

                  So bottom line is, do your due diligence here as you would anywhere else.

  16. RUKiddingMe*

    OP5: It is not a lie! You are entitled to keep it private.

    Like Alison said, this is your private medical information.

    Would you feel it’s a lie yo not tell them you had your tonsils removed? Colon polyps? Cystic acne? Stitches from that time a glass broke while you were washing dishes?

    It’s all the same except that in slightly under a year you will have a mini me instead of a partially used prescription of butt cream or a scar.

    None of which is their business unless and until they need to make accommodations for you.

    Keep in mind that it being illegal doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t not hire you because of it…they just would find another reason to not hire you. Or…do so via subconscious bias.

    Even if the hiring manager is a woman. Internalized misogyny is real.

    1. Chinook*

      There is also the sad reality that you may not be pregnat 6 months from now (knock on wood). Or you could be hit by a bus. As I told one employer who asked me an interview how I could guarantee that DH wouldn’t be transferred in 6 months, there is no guarantee that the boss won’t get struck by cancer in 6 months or a colleague won’t leave for another job of the country will shut down a minth from now in a pandemic (I added the last one today). All anyone can do is work hard now and prepare for any easy handoff if/when theg are unable to work for short or lj5ng periods of time.

      1. My coworker made me sign a cast on her crotch*

        At the risk of being a downer…. the job I’ve been in for 5 years let me go. Knowing that I was going to go on leave so they “expedited it”. All I can do is work hard and take things as they come.

  17. Indigo a la mode*

    OP #1: As a reformed compulsive work-giggler, I can attest that you should bring it up. Years ago, my boss let me know that she often noticed me using a laugh as punctuation after I said something. She clued me in that it’s often a gendered thing, that a lot of women tend to say something directly or authoritatively and then giggle, as though to belie or lessen the impact of what they’re saying – especially when they don’t have the power in the room (like your intern). We do a lot of things, consciously or unconsciously, that “soften” our words and actions, and at work that sort of thing undermines our credibility and makes us look silly or immature or not credible.

    I hadn’t really noticed I was doing it, but as soon as she brought it up, I started driving myself crazy with the inane little cackle after every sentence! So I broke the habit. Now I say what I mean and leave it there, unless what I’m saying is actually funny. In any case, this might be at least part of what’s going on with your intern. If you think it’s possible, it would be a kindness to bring it up this way. I know it clicked for me.

    1. Batty Twerp*

      I feel bad for commenting as a reply to a self-confessed cackler, but one of the fringe benefits of being made to work from home is no longer having to hear The Cackle in our open office (yes, it warrants the capitalisation).
      Please talk to your intern OP1. Frequency may be one thing, but if it’s frequency, combined with volume *and* an open office setting, and you may find other coworkers mentioning it to you, and not in a positive feedback way.
      Our Cackler has had four managers in three years so I don’t think any feedback has ever made it back to her – her job hasn’t changed, and she’s not the catalyst for the manager change in anyway, these were the results of other company issues. (to further clarify, when she’s not laughing she’s one of the nicest and most efficient people in the office, but dear gods *nothing is that hilarious Susan!*). It comes across as being a bit forced as well; almost in a “Look, I’m laughing at your witticisms, please like me”, kind of way. Which, given that her job is being on the phone to clients, means the rest of us hear it all day.

      1. old curmudgeon*

        So very true. Our Office Cackler is the bureau director who’s been there over 30 years, and she punctuates Every Single Sentence with a humorless giggle at the end. “I just found out that So-And-So’s mother is in the hospital (heh-heh-heh).” “Head management decided they don’t like the way such-and-so is presented so we need to start it all over (heh-heh-heh).” You can tell where she is in the giant cube farm by listening for the giggle. At this point in her life (late 50s), she’s never gonna stop that.

        OP#1, you will be doing a huge favor to your intern if you can gently, respectfully help her hear herself and stop that conversational tic before it becomes a lifelong habit.

        1. Oh No She Di'int*

          Yep. I’m familiar with this. I once worked in a non-profit with a youngish woman whose job was to inform the public on major bank lending issues and to speak to bank executives and high-level politicians about being more fair and equitable.

          And yet… Every. Single. Sentence. ended with a giggle. Every single one. Her laugh sort of sounded like it was saying, “Whoa! Can you believe that?!” after every sentence. It was distracting and completely undermined everything she said. I can’t even imagine doing this into one’s 50s, although I have no reason to believe she stopped.

          1. Indigo a la mode*

            Yes…yes…this all sounds sadly familiar. I’m so glad my boss called it out when I was 22 and not, like, 42.

    2. Chili*

      I’ve never been a giggle or cackler, but I had myriad other annoying habits that I now look back on and cringe. LW, I know it feels really awkward, but know there’s a chance that after she licks her wounds a bit, she’ll be really grateful someone told her. I know I would have been! This is the intern equivalent of discretely telling someone they have spinach in their teeth.

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        Great analogy. It’s not something that should embarrass her–it happens to lots of people and just needs to dealt with. Stopping the compulsive giggle isn’t as easy as flossing, but it prevents a lot more embarrassment down the line.

    3. CM*

      Argh, I STILL do compulsive giggling when I’m nervous, and it’s something I’m actively working on. I recently did it all through a job interview. Very astute of your boss to observe that it’s to soften communication that sounds too direct or authoritative — I wish someone had told me that instead of taking all these years to figure it out by myself!

      While I like Alison’s general approach, the script in her answer puts so much emphasis on saying “it’s not a big deal, and I think you’re doing great, and this is such a minor thing,” that if I heard all this I would feel like it WAS a big deal and my boss didn’t think I could handle the tiniest bit of criticism without falling apart. I’d pick one of these statements and go with it. As long as the general tone is, “Hey, I want you to be aware you have this nervous habit, and help you work on improving it so that your communication will be more effective,” you’re good.

  18. Anonymous Poster*

    #5–There are many, many reasons not to disclose the pregnancy, from the sad-but-true (My wife and I experienced multiple miscarriages before having our first child) to the normal (This cannot enter into their calculation to offer you a job anyway, so it’s immaterial). It’s also perfectly normal to ask what sort of maternity benefits they offer as part of a normal job offer discussion after the offer is made. It may help inform you if this is the right job offer for you right now or not. For example, if they require a year’s waiting time before offering maternity benefits, that says something, just like if they offer 3 months paid maternity leave regardless of your tenure at the company, that says something else.

    There’s no need to disclose right now, so don’t feel any pressure to.

    1. Mary*

      I really liked someone’s formulation the other day, something like: “I’m hoping this is a job I’ll be in for a while, so can you tell me about the maternity benefits?”

      1. Anonymous Poster*

        That might work. I’d probably just lump it in with, “What is the overall leave plan? Like maternity or paternity, sick leave, vacation, and the like?”

        It’s such a normal question to ask there’s no need, from what I’ve experienced, to preface it at all in the US. It’s just straight up asking about the company’s leave package.

  19. tab*

    #3 Please keep your fingers away from your face. This is a perfect time to work on that habit. I could save your life.

    1. Delta Delta*

      I was on a video conference last night and itched my eye and everyone said “noooooo!” We all laughed but I was very conscious of that afterward.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        But… I’m at home, and I have to facepalm… /s

        Yeah, try not to do gross face touches.

  20. Fikly*

    #5. It’s not a lie. Did they ask you if you were pregnant? That’s illegal for them to ask. So you have, presumably, not told them you are not pregnant.

    Just like you are not obliged to disclose any other medical condition when being hired, until you want an accommodation, you do not have to disclose you are pregnant.

    You have no obligation to give companies a free chance to discriminate against you.

    1. Tuckerman*

      It’s not illegal to ask- they just can’t factor it into their decision so it’s not a good question to ask. But many companies may have a policy against asking.

      1. Fikly*

        If they’re asking, they’re factoring it into their decision. It’s impossible not to, brains don’t work that way. Also, why ask about anything that you aren’t factoring into your decision in some way?

        1. demosthenes*

          They may ask because people are awkward and make mistakes. They may ask if you have a partner or a family in general and then kick themselves after you leave.

          1. Fikly*

            She’s barely pregnant, there’s no way they can guess. And again, even if it’s an accidental ask, it’s going to be a factor in their decision.

  21. Retail not Retail*

    Can the question in op4 be broadened to crisis management?

    I’m thinking of people in Nashville this spring – first hit by tornadoes, then by the virus. I’m also remembering a job interview at a county clerk’s office I had in July 2015 where they very obliquely referred to gay marriage. “Are you willing to carry out all your duties?” and “as you know we now do appointments for marriage licenses” (since the other counties shut down instead of complying with the law)

    I know we like to be subtle and talk around controversial issues in interviews when we’re desperate.

    Sirens roaring as we interview: “SO WHAT IS YOUR INCLEMENT WEATHER POLICY?” and they mark me off for being presumptuous

  22. Trudy Judy*

    OP#1– I have Tourette’s and my tic manifests in a harsh little giggle, usually triggered by nerves. Is your intern late-teenaged or early twenties? With therapy and medication my tics have subsided (I’m 28) but my giggle was accompanied by eye blinking and (more annoyingly–to me and everyone around me) throat clearing. If it helps, a kind conversation with the intern could go a long way to relaxing her so that the tic subsides but each time I entered a new environment with its accompanying anxiety (starting college, my first days at work, traveling for business) I noticed more occurrences.
    Empathy and understanding, but definitely communicate what you are seeing. I can’t speak for others with my diagnosis, certainly, but when people share what they see kindly to me I can usually relax a bit and readjust. We’re all on this ride together.

    1. Antennapedia*

      I was just coming here to say this. I tend to write off most people’s tics precisely BECAUSE I have a friend with mild Tourette’s. Everyone seems to think “Oh! Tourette’s! That’s where you shout obscenities uncontrollably, right?” except it’s mostly… not that. At all.

    2. rayray*

      This is an excellent point, and something I thought of immediately. It could very easily be a condition like that and she can’t help it.

    3. KoiFeeder*

      Yeah, I’m autistic, and I still have a lot of trouble not laughing when I’m nervous. It’s a little more obvious with me that it’s involuntary because I can’t keep an affect/expression when that happens, so I look “corpse-faced” and all that. No medication for me, but therapy has helped.

  23. LeahS*

    I am laughing so hard at “largely because of his beautiful hair”. Alison, you’re the best.

  24. Chellie207*

    I was on a zoom the other day and one of the participants flossed her teeth before the meeting began. It was mesmerizing, funny, and awful. I don’t believe the flosser realized that everyone could see her (which I guess is a better problem than not caring?) The host was pretty new to hosting and was obviously trying to figure out what to say or how to shut off her video; the flosser stopped before either happened. A good reminder to keep an eye on your own camera (ans wear pants!)

    1. Jdc*

      I feel like this is a bathroom activity like we were talking about a week or so ago. I’ll take nail clipping over flossing in front of my face.

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      Gag. Tooth stuff in a meeting, in-person or remote, is just gross. A discrete toothpick might fly, but I’d still turn my camera off.

  25. Frances*

    Totally off topic … “largely because of his beautiful hair” – This is one of the many reasons why I love AAM!

    1. AnotherAlison*


      Reminds me of my own worst date ever with a boy with 1990s Hugh Grant-esque hair. (That did not lead to a year-long relationship.)

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      As someone whose late teens/early 20s fell on the 80s, I felt that comment of AAM so much.

      One of my crushes in college had thick, luxurious hair down to his waist, so I was reminded of him too. What happened to him? What’s he doing now? Does he have hair???

  26. Perpal*

    For #2, I can’t help but think it might be nice to give manager a heads up that this happened at all. “hey, not sure how it happened but when I got my laptop back, a bunch of your passwords were saved! I deleted them all but wanted you to be aware in case you’ve done it with other laptops” (no need to mention porn!)

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      This is a tidy way to remind her to wipe her data, without mentioning porn.

  27. Bopper*

    I agree with others…Show your face at first, and then tell them you are going to be eating lunch.
    Re: nails…try to stop biting them as they are a vector to catching illnesses (covid19 or other)

  28. Heat's Kitchen*

    OP3: I work for a very remote company and often times people will put in the chat, “off video so I can eat”, or if it’s something not too messy they’ll just eat on camera. If you’re not sure which would go better, I’d probably start in a meeting where you have good rapport and say, “I need to eat something becuase I have back to back meetings today. Message me if it gets too distracting and I’ll turn off my camera”.

    OP5: Alison is spot on. You don’t have to share. But I wanted to share my story. I found out I was pregnant the day I received a job offer. We had previously had two miscarriages. I personally didn’t feel comfortable taking the job without disclosing it. Before I accepted, I asked to talk to HR about benefits, and just asked when all benefits, including disability, go into effect (sometimes disability has a longer waiting period). Once that cleared up, when I talked to the hiring manager, I told him I accepted, but wanted him to know I was pregnant and would likely need some flexibility for appoints. He was more than understanding, cared more about my output than my time in a chair. I had my son six weeks early, was able to take 12 weeks fully paid, even though I wasn’t eligible for FMLA. I’m definitely not saying that you have to share your news yet – it’s a VERY personal decision. I just wanted to let you know it can be done and you ABSOLUTELY SHOULD NOT refuse an offer because of this. Congrats!

  29. Not Me*

    Pseudobulbar affect (PBA) is a real disease that causes uncontrollable laughter or crying. It’s not the only disease that has that symptom. Don’t just assume someone’s laughter is “just nerves”, some people have real medical issues that cause uncontrollable laughter.

  30. Employment Lawyer*

    1. Can I tell someone they laugh too much?
    Yes, because the magic words are “supervise an intern.” You get to tell interns mentor-ish things like “tuck in your shirt” or “brush your teeth” which you wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell a co-worker; part of your job is to make them better entrants into a future workforce.

    2. I found our office manager’s pornographic bookmarks on my laptop
    It really depends on your industry. There isn’t necessarily an issue of porn per se, but porn is notorious for popups and viruses and so on. And someone who is frankly dumb enough to do what you describe is a high-risk target. And office managers tend to have high level admin rights, so this is probably a security hole.

    So balance this out with what you know.
    3. Eating and nail-biting during Zoom calls
    Sipping drink: Yes.
    Nail-biting: No.
    Eating: No if you’re primary (you and someone else.) Yes if you’re secondary (large group) and if manager approves. But you’re best to give your manager a heads up and ask whether they want you to a) eat on screen; b) duck off screen; or c) turn off video.

    4. Should I ask future job interviewers what their response was to coronavirus?
    If you care, sure.
    Be aware that you’re getting the “hindsight” response, though, and judge it in that context.

    5. Do I have to say no to a job offer because I’m newly pregnant?

    If they are covered by your state’s anti-discrimination laws which apply to pregnancy, then they can’t fire you for being pregnant. But if they’re small enough (in my state, “fewer than 6” is small enough, but it varies by state) then they CAN fire you for being pregnant, so make sure you know what laws apply to you!

    You may not get FMLA leave at your new job (or you may. again, check your state laws), so if you have it at your job now, there’s some financial benefit to staying.

    Finally, you can also balance the reality of the situation and your thoughts about employer response, your pregnancy plans (which often go astray), and your tolerance for risk. I once represented someone who did what you describe: She went to work, got trained for 6 months (as usual, this costs time and money to train), then took a three month pregnancy leave and then came back. This cost the employer a lot of annoyance and money; they were pissed and they did their best to force her out after that. But they were careful and it was incredibly hard to find proof. She wasn’t abused or harassed or fired, but she was treated just poorly enough that she ended up quitting after a year or so, and despite everyone being certain that there were bad acts by the employer, we couldn’t find enough of a “hook” to get a lawsuit to stick. Just FYI.

    1. Ferret*

      Did you read no 2? It sounds like the office manager logged into chrome on their personal account (which may just have been for reading a one-off email), and the bookmarks synced automatically, which they may not even have noticed.

      If you are talking about IT admin rights then any company that hands access over to office managers who aren’t otherwise involved in IT support has something very wrong with them.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        Cosigned on Ferret’s statement. Both in my civilian and military capacities, administrative level access to the computer doesn’t go to someone with the title ‘Office Manager’.

      2. Employment Lawyer*

        Yes. Again, this isn’t a horrors-of-horrors situation. But it does pretty much demonstrate that the user isn’t, shall we say, high-level skilled. I know people who watch porn; I know people who have work computers; none of the smart ones combine the two and all of them are skilled enough to avoid this sort of thing. I’m not saying “fire them,” but you may not want to rely on all being well.

        Remember: Evidence is rare!! You don’t often see when someone is sloppy, even if it happens often. The human tendency is to assume this was “just a mistake” but the proper security protocol is to assume “this is an example of sloppiness which is probably happening elsewhere.”

        As for admin: We’re talking about different admins. They probably don’t have admin rights on the router, for example. But they quite possibly DO have admin or high-level access to all of the company’s internal software or online vendors (ordering, payments, time cards, customer contact info, and other office-manager-ish stuff) and depending on how their job works they may also have Windows admin rights on their own PC.

        1. Ferret*

          Why are you ignoring the fact that the bookmarks are absolutely zero evidence that she watched, or even considered watching, porn on that computer.

          They don’t have to be particularly stupid, it’s very likely they just don’t understand the extent to which google attempts to incorporate and sync all activity across all devices, which can be tricky to keep up on.

          Also the idea that all porn sites are hotbeds of malware is pretty out of date.

    2. Not Me*

      As an employment lawyer I would expect you to understand that there are ADA protections for a number of illnesses that cause uncontrollable laughter.

      1. Avasarala*

        Which the intern would have to disclose and request accommodations for, if they wanted to take advantage of those protections. And OP can’t preemptively decide “oh it’s probably a medical thing, I’ll leave it alone” and then watch the intern offend colleagues and clients and hurt her career…

    3. Arctic*

      Nobody was watching porn on the computer. She signed in under her own username, likely on a browser like firefox or Chrome, and her bookmarks were imported.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        Her bookmarks were likely not imported, they were synced to that computer. When she logs OUT of Chrome, they’ll go away.

        1. OP 2*

          Nope, the bookmarks were definitely imported. I signed her out, closed chrome, reopened it, and it was all still there…

  31. Eeyore's Missing Tail*

    OP 5, definitely continue on with this new company. You’re not obligated to take an offer they give you. I can’t say I know all of your details from your letter, but it sounds like you are in a similar position I was. I was told that I would going to be reclassified (state government job, so no promotions), but then it kept getting kicked further and further back until my boss told me while I was on maternity leave it had been put on hold indefinitely. While I was still on maternity leave, another department asked me if I was interested in another job. I took it and for me, it was the best decision for my situation. Good luck!

  32. Melon*

    #4 – I think my current employer would say they handled this well. As an employee I would disagree. I work for a small company and as we all expressed concerns and there were talks of a shutdown looming, the owners response was to essentially send out a mass email saying calm down, panicking only makes things worse, and we will discuss the following week (!) when she came back from traveling (!) at our physical all-hands meeting where everyone is crowded into a little room (!).

    Eventually people were allowed to work from home about 24 hours before the state issued a stay at home order anyways. However I think in their head, they think they were timely and handled it well.

    So basically – there’s nuance, even if they kept people on staff and allowed remote work.

    1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I would hope that if they genuinely think they handled it well, they’d say something like “I’m glad you asked. What we did in March 2020 was keep things going and discourage panic and over-reaction.” Whereas a lot of us are thinking that there is a *huge* difference between “don’t panic” and “calm down, everything’s normal, you get an occasional iceberg on this route….”

  33. bluemeeple*

    #4 I just had a phone interview today and I asked what the company was doing in response to the current crisis. I work in manufacturing, so very few employees can work from home and this is vital information. The HR rep I talked to was happy to tell me about everything they were doing, which included physical distancing, ramping up cleaning, discontinuing company travel, limiting visitors to the plant, and encouraging people who show symptoms or live with someone showing symptoms to stay home (all good, so far as it goes…).

    But she’d spent a while talking about how attendance is “pivotal” for this company and missing work can cause employees to lose out on raises and promotions – and she didn’t have good answer for how “encouraging sick people to stay home” meshes with “attendance is pivotal”. Maybe they are doing a good job and she just didn’t communicate it well…but she didn’t communicate it well, because to me that says “show up to work even if you’re sick”. No, thanks.

  34. AnotherAnon*

    #4 – I’m not entirely in agreement with the response. I conduct a lot of interviews and manage a staff of 40, but I have almost zero ability to make coronavirus response decisions, that’s up to the City Manager and our Director (I’m a municipal worker). I’ve done what little I can, but most of my employees cannot remote work for multiple reasons, so I have to wait for direction. I am not happy with the reaction of my employer, but I also have no room to speak to what we did in response to COVID-19 without badmouthing my employer while conducting a paneled interview, which would be suicidal. An interviewee really gets nothing from asking that question unless they are speaking with a high level decision maker in their interview, and otherwise puts their interviewer in a really awkward spot.

    1. Colette*

      But they learn more about the organization. It’s not a judgment on the individual manager, but it’s valuable information.

    2. Ferret*

      If you couldn’t offer a reasonable salary or benefits do you think no-one should be able to ask about those either?. The fact that you can’t give a positive answer is information that interviewees are entitled to – the fact that it might make hiring more difficult is a natural consequence that your employer deserves.

      The interviewee does in fact “get something” – they get to make an informed decision on whether they can risk taking the job.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        Right. I actually do think that even a low level employee can provide a positive response along the lines of: “Well, our division doesn’t have authority to make major decisions regarding workplace operations. But at our level we did make sure that we had hand sanitizer throughout the office, and we put in place a strict policy of no longer sharing office supplies…” or whatever little things you do have control over. And as Ferret says, if that isn’t enough for a prospective employee–and I can see why it wouldn’t be–then they have a right to know that.

    3. James*

      A municipal worker can fall back on “Our COVID-19 response can be found in publically-available documents” or something similar. Plus, you can talk about what little you did. We couldn’t do much at the jobsite I work at either, but what little we could do we did as hard as we could, and we generally have kept one or two steps ahead of official requirements. That sort of thing is useful for a prospective employee to know.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        If someone said that to me, I would run so far away. I would rather hear someone’s answer, even with their own negative opinion (or implied negative opinion) than be told, essentially, to Google it.

        1. Indigo a la mode*

          Cosigning AvonLady’s second sentence. Sounds like a stiff brush-off to me. If it was a good policy, I’d expect someone to speak warmly about it, government or not.

  35. Bostonian*

    I think #2 is concerned about the office manager having accessed these sites while logged on to their account in that 2 hours and is therefore concerned that it would look like OP accessed those sites while the office manager was logged in.

  36. Re'lar Fela*

    OP 5–when I started my previous job, I was pregnant but had no idea. I found out about a month later (it was unexpected) and they were so great about it. Definitely dive into the benefits before accepting an offer and consider what that might mean for you in terms of time off for appointments, maternity leave, etc. But there’s no reason you need to tell them before you’re ready. Good luck–and congratulations!!

  37. Kateedoo*

    #5 – Hi and congrats! You are me a couple months ago, the only difference being I still did not know I was pregnant when I started my new position. I found out a few weeks after starting and did not inform my boss until I was 13 weeks along.

    Things I would have considered had I know at time:

    1. I would have reviewed the healthcare and benefit package more carefully. It turns out my health insurance was MUCH better at my previous job but I wasn’t thinking about prenatal care when I moved on. Review everything before accepting – my pay raise will be null now with additional care costs and the fact that I do not have any paid maternity leave.
    2. Paid maternity leave – my new company does not offer it until you’ve been employed for 12 months. My previous job offered a generous 3 months off paid and I’m kicking myself now. I did not know I was going to need it. Review their leave policy.
    3. Starting a new job while dealing with a first trimester – this is my first pregnancy and I had NO idea how hard it would be! I hadn’t told anyone yet and had to worry about first impressions, vs. my old job where I already knew the role and had a good reputation built up. No one would notice if I had a new off weeks. At a new job everyone was still forming their opinion of me and it was really hard – showing up on time when I had morning sickness, struggling through exhaustion and headaches, etc. all while trying to absorb new information and learn a new role. Everyone’s is different, of course, but it’s something to consider. It’s hard to be dealing with those issues and not be able to tell anyone why you’re not 100%.

    Would I still move on had I known I was pregnant? Honestly, I try not to think about it because I can’t change it now. I do wish I had all the information at hand when I made the decision, or at least the ability to negotiate special accommodations. I hope this helps while you make your decision and good luck no matter what!

  38. My coworker made me sign a cast on her crotch*

    I’m glad to see #5 – the advice makes a lot of sense, but at the risk of piggy backing does any of this change if you’re further along in the pregnancy? I’m 20+ now. If this is inappropriate to ask here I can wait for the Friday thread b/c I do have more questions. …

  39. I Love Llamas*

    #5 – hi and congrats! Many years ago I became pregnant for the first time within weeks of taking a new job. FMLA was brand new. When I finally worked up the courage to tell my new boss (owner of this small company), it was during my 90-day review. Before he started, I told him I needed to let him know (I was then 4 months pregnant). He smiled and said, “if you are having a baby, you’ll need more money” and gave me a 10% raise. Good things can happen in these situations. Good luck!

  40. The Ginger Ginger*

    #4 – If you’re still worried about asking, a more “business-y” way to ask this would be something like:

    Can you tell me about your Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plan? How did that come into play during the Coronavirus pandemic, and what impact did it have on your staff?

    Basically ask specifically about Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery with Covid19 as the example you’re asking them to use. It might feel less pointed to them while still getting you the same information. With the added bonus that you might also get info about how they handle more typical business interruptions like blizzards or other really inclement weather.

  41. Nacho*

    #2: I once logged into my work email at home to check something, and promptly forgot about it. A few months later, I was at work and started typing something, when the autofill completed a very not-work-appropriate site I absolutely have never gone to in the office. I can totally see how your manager might have accidentally imported something she didn’t mean to, and I’d just laugh it off and not mention it to anybody.

  42. Lizy*

    #5 – I’ve started 2 different jobs while pregnant. Assuming you have a good employer (really, even a halfway decent one), it’s NBD.

    In addition to what Allison mentioned about FMLA… pregnancy (and any leave taken due to doctors appointments or miscarriage or birth) is covered under the ADA – completely separate from the FMLA. ADA guarantees that you cannot be fired/laid off due to the pregnancy and related conditions, and does NOT have to do with how long you’ve been employed there, nor are their limitations as to the number of employees. Basically, if you have a doctor’s appointment or give birth, you HAVE to be allowed the time off per your doctor’s instructions, and THEY CANNOT FIRE YOU OR FORCE YOU TO LEAVE. Now, if your doctor says you are able to go back after 4 weeks, you have to go back after 4 weeks unless your company is willing to work with you to take a longer leave.

    This is different from the FMLA in that FMLA only covers if you’ve been working there for more than a year and if the company has more than 50 employees.

    I only mention all of this because I have prior experience with the ADA (I have a disability and have literally lived and breathed ADA all my life), and I had a company try to force me to quit because I wouldn’t have been eligible for FMLA. I got the satisfaction of telling them to f-off by quitting without notice (not recommended, but in my particular case there were reasons and it was justified), as I started my current job – which has had a much different (and better) outlook to me being preggers.

  43. No longer an expecting parent*

    #5: We had 3 miscarriages before our first successful pregnancy. It then took forever to get pregnant. We had actually talked to a lawyer about a private adoption from a friend-of-a-friend who wasn’t sure she wanted to keep her baby. She changed her mind. And then along came #2. #3 – #5 appeared in the following years. My wife was high risk to miscarry in all. We had weekly ultrasounds for a few of them.

    I had different jobs through these. Our parents were the first to know, followed by bosses even before the rest of the family. Why on earth would we do this? Because it’s a lot less stressful to say, “Here’s what’s going on, and we’re at a huge risk of something going wrong” than to have that discussion at a highly emotional time.

    It was the right approach for us.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      I am desperately hoping that you had five children, not five miscarriages after your first successful pregnancy.

  44. Jennifer Juniper*

    OP1: Could the intern have a tic disorder, like Tourette’s syndrome, that causes her to laugh uncontrollably?

  45. moneypenny*

    My best friend is a frequent/nervous laugher. I never realized that about her until my husband pointed it out but now I can’t help but always hear it and I fear she does it during job interviews and during inopportune times during tense moments both at work and at home. In fact I’m sure she does. I don’t think anyone’s brought it to her attention but I am willing to bet it has put people off at times.

Comments are closed.