open thread – March 13-14, 2020

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 1,522 comments… read them below }

  1. The Green Lawintern*

    How are people handling any racist/xenophobic coronavirus remarks in their workplaces?

    1. Rey*

      No one in my office has specifically said any racist remarks about the coronavirus, but a few of us have been talking about it since the beginning with the perspective of “It’s so sad that people are being racist, of course Chinese people in America aren’t the cause”, so I don’t know if that would have discouraged others from saying the opposite…

    2. Coverage Associate*

      I had a really interesting experience yesterday. Our building management circulated advice about avoiding farm animals and thoroughly cooking eggs, along with hand washing, etc. I have no idea where they got the idea. It’s a skyscraper in a big city in the US, so just really weird.

      I thought maybe they were passing along advice from a foreign country. But my Chinese American colleague thought it was low key racism.

      I am going to my usual Japantown meeting today, where I will have a runny egg.

      1. Jay*

        I live in a medium sized US city in Massachusetts, which has declared a State Of Emergency over the virus. I buy my meat from a butcher shop that gets freshly slaughtered animals directly from local farms. I prefer my meat rare and my eggs sunny side up. I am not any variety of Asian American (I’m a pretty typical Yankee Mongrel, as my grandma used to say) and that advice ABSOLUTELY applies to me.
        Add in the Farm To Table movement, urban/suburban farming (it’s a real thing), Crisis/Victory Gardens, and all the folks who took to keeping chickens during the financial meltdown in the late ‘aughts and early teens, and who still keep their birds around, and a lot more folks come into contact with farm animals and undercooked eggs on a very regular basis than you might think.

        1. Kat*

          Corona virus isn’t spread by contact with undercooked eggs. I think that’s the issue with the guidance that was shared, not what’s the potential for coming into contact with meat/eggs that are closer to the food chain than standard grocery store fare.

          1. Clisby*

            Yeah, this is the first I’ve ever heard of advice to avoid undercooked eggs. (In the context of coronavirus – there can be other reasons, like fear of salmonella.)

            1. Susie*

              This type of advice seems similar to the advice a couple of weeks ago to get the flu shot if you didn’t yet get it this season. It’s not about the flu or salmonella specifically, it’s about making sure you don’t get a major illness that will increase your chances of contracting COVID-19 if you’ve been exposed.

              1. CL Cox*

                In addition, if you have the flu, salmonella, or anything else that’s going to knock you down, COVID-19 is going to hit you harder than if you were perfectly healthy when you got it. They’re trying to get people as healthy as possible wrt other illnesses.

      2. Eksewhere1010*

        Have your neighbor google live poultry sales and they’ll find there are also kosher, halal, and other markets in large cities that provide live poultry for sale to the public. It’s a fact of life that you can find what are considered “farm animals” in most large cities. Just a few years ago there were ten stores in Brooklyn that sold live poultry, and not all of them with religious or ethnic affiliation.

        1. kt*

          Um, saying “kosher and halal markets sell it too!” isn’t exactly the way to convince me that talking about poultry in connection with COVID-19 is not racism!

      3. sacados*

        I’m in SoCal and they’ve been airing a lot of commercials over the past few months for this Chinese dance performance called Shen Yun. So I saw their ad again last night and noticed something that I’m *pretty sure* didn’t used to be in the commercials.
        There’s a banner running along the bottom of the ad that says “MADE IN THE USA! CANNOT BE SEEN IN CHINA”
        Which kiiiiiinda feels like a not so subtle “wink wink nudge nudge” attempt to say, “Hey I know this is a Chinese performance, but like, not actual China, so I promise the dancers won’t give you coronavirus.”
        It was kind of gross tbh.

        1. MCL*

          Shen Yun is sort of a different world unto itself, though. It is definitely censored in China. Maybe they’re referring to Coronavirus too at this point in order to quell misconceptions. There was a really interesting New Yorker article about it last year by Jia Tolentino. Link in reply.

          1. sacados*

            I didn’t know it was actually censored, that’s interesting. I love Jia and will def check out that article!
            Yeah its possible this was always in their commercials but I really don’t think I’ve noticed it before. And with the timing … it seemed like they were sort of trying to use that pretext to convey the “quiet part” without actually having to say it.

        2. Lorac*

          It feels sad that they even have to advertise that…it’s like how a few Chinese restaurants in my city have to put out signs saying their employees aren’t sick just because people are scared and avoiding them. It’s gotten so bad that a few restaurants have basically shut down indefinitely because of low business.

        3. The Green Lawintern*

          It’s not a coronavirus thing, Shen Yun has always been…like that. They’re run by a religious organization that got banned in China and claims that the Chinese government regularly harvests the organs of members (which is about 50/50 on the dubious scale). Their main draw is their claim to perform “authentic” Chinese culture, as opposed to anything coming from Mainland China.

          The New Yorker article posted below is a good take.

        4. LunaLena*

          I actually wondered if Shen Yun would be affected by coronavirus. There was a dance performance in my area by the Guangdong Modern Ballet company in late January, when coronavirus was just starting to get reported on. The box office got several calls from ticketholders asking how long the dancers had been in the US, and was it likely that they would have coronavirus. If people were that worried about it back then, I can’t imagine how many panicked calls Shen Yun is getting about it now and how many people are demanding refunds.

        5. China Hand*

          Shen Yun is affiliated with the Falun Gong movement, which the CCP perceives as an “evil cult.”

      4. Coverage Associate*

        Just to clarify: the advice, in context, was related to corona virus. While not bad advice in general, I don’t think it’s a good idea to give otherwise good advice in an irrelevant context.

      5. Arts Akimbo*

        Recycled advice from bird flu, maybe? Only thing I can think of that makes any sense!

      6. Anon-a-souras*

        In the flip side – Someone probably just pulled hand washing language without reading it or understanding it. Both of those things are standard ‘wash hands thoroughly after’ things. (The animals thing is usually found at petting zoos, fairs and backyard chickens.)

    3. Blueberry*

      Thank goodness my workplace is small, filled with good people, and 1/3 of us are Asian-American, so no one has been racist. I would bet cash my previous workplace is full of disgusting racist commentary, like it was when I was there, and the only ways I know of to deal with that are to 1) pretend I didn’t hear anything or 2) disagree in a quiet firm clear voice. I don’t know if 2 did any good but I couldn’t do 1 after a certain point (which probably contributed to my losing that job).

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The same way I handle them when they’re done without a pandemic.

      You tell the person that their comments are racist and unacceptable behavior. Then you look at them like surely they’re aware they look like absolute dbags!

    5. Saynotocorn*

      A coworker made a racist comment claiming coronavirus came from China because birds poop in their rice paddies since they don’t keep nets over them. Another coworker pointed out that we don’t keep nets over cornfields, and it absolutely blew racist coworkers mind.

      Of course, she’s responded by avoiding corn as well, but I’ll take foolish over racist. At least it seems she wasn’t being malicious.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Tell that person about the “parts per ratio” allowed in the peanut butter we make…or how cream corned is made. These silly people do not understand how many bugs and animal poo-poo the FDA says is totally edible and okie-doakie. I’m glad that they got shook by the corn info though *fist pump* One for the good-guys.

        1. Decima Dewey*

          Some years back my library system’s summer reading them was insect related. I ordered some insect snacks and candy products, grossing out some coworkers. I also pointed out that people eating the insect snacks and candy knew exactly how much insect they were eating.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Yeasssssssssssss slay the world with the fun “ick nast” facts.

            I had so many bugs fly into my mouth while camping, I just don’t care anymore. The moth in my coffee years ago though, that one scarred me a bit though. I couldn’t leave a beverage unmanned for decades after that. But moths are fuzzy so.

            1. Troutwaxer*

              Yeah, there’s something scary about moths. They’re just creepy. (Says the guy who doesn’t mind spiders or beetles at all.) Creepy I say! Destroy them!

              1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

                Awww I like moths when they’re not in my mouth. I was the kid who would call them butterflies and be okay with their soft little selves as long as it wasn’t in my mouth by surprise!

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  Same. Luna moths, especially.
                  I’m the person who will rescue moths when they’re trapped in the house and put them outside.

            2. Kat in VA*

              See also: Almost taking a refreshing swig of Red Bull, whilst sitting by the pool on a hot day…

              …and narrowly avoiding getting nailed in the lip (or worse! inside my mouth!) by the bald hornet who was also enjoying a refreshing swig of Red Bull from the rim of my can.

      2. Jean*

        LOL, as if nets would do anything to keep bird shit off of anything anyway? People’s self-protective delusions blow my mind.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          You can really tell a person who has never even planted a single thing in their life from the stupid sh*t they say, right? I’m from farm country so I’m like “you’re so preciously ignorant, what a world to live in.”

          The response could also be “That’s not how nets work. That’s not how bird poop works. That’s not how any of that work!”

          1. Krabby*

            My husband’s summer job when he was in high school was working in a factory that pickled onions. He worked the conveyor belt that dealt with the onions right as they came in and helped get them separated from the dirt and other things that got caught up in the harvester (is that the right word? I am definitely “city folk” haha). Apparently seeing used condoms, broken beer bottles and dead animals sitting in among the onions was veeery common.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              Imma just say that when you uncrate tomatoes from a ship container that came in, you find the mouses…

            2. Susie*

              This is why I didn’t work at the Heinz factory as a teenager. My friends had the same experience sorting through tomatoes. Ugh.

              I chose to detassle corn instead. It was harder work in the hot sun all day but I preferred being sweaty and dirty to having to sort food out from the garbage and rats.

    6. voyager1*

      Only place I see anything about racist comments is people complaining about racist comments on here and the occasional sarcastic comment on reddit.

      My workplace is phasing in WFH starting yesterday. All my coworkers feel all the numbers are low and the test situation is ridiculous. Corona virus may have started in China but it is a worldwide problem now. Nobody is blaming China or chinese people that I know… granted I don’t work in Washington DC for some particular politicians. This virus could have started anywhere and any normal person knows that.

      1. Zephy*

        There are a few news stories about people of East Asian descent living outside of China being harassed and sometimes physically attacked by racist idiots who, and this is the part that gets me, went out of their way to put their hands on someone who they think has an infectious disease.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        You’ve been lucky, then. My Korean friend was verbally attacked at the supermarket, the cleaning lady for my apartment has made some low-key comments (which I was successfully able to counter and we had a nice little chat about racism and the media), someone was beaten up in my city because they appeared to be Chinese. Otherwise even-handed news outlets have dropped dog whistles into their writing. People are absolutely being blamed out in the real world.

    7. dealing with dragons*

      would love an answer because I HATE people saying kung flu like it’s funny or clever.

      1. Rey*

        I’ll add another comment with a link to Alison’s post about racist coworkers, but she notes that for one-off comments, saying something like “What would make you say that?” can sometimes help (something about having to explain their racist comment can make them rethink it). But she also has a script for when its a more pervasive problem, so that you can tell them that you don’t want to hear those kinds of comments in the workplace.

    8. The Green Lawintern*

      Thanks for all comments – it’s good to know that it doesn’t seem to have been a problem for most people! I ask because Ihave one employee in an adjacent department (And higher up on the management chain) who’s made a couple of suspect remarks. He apologized for the first remark but he just made another one yesterday. I’m just tired of it.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        If it’s a higher up, I’d report the ef outta of them honestly. You’re not in a position to speak out to someone with a position of authority, so HR is your best route.

        Please by all means, retaliate against me for reporting RACISM, I would love to see the day.

        1. The Green Lawintern*

          Well…the sad thing, and the thing that I’m beating myself up over, is the fact that I am under the HR umbrella. I should have called it out immediately, but I froze instead and all I did was give him a nasty sideeye. My coworker who was present for the comment didn’t say anything to him either. I’m resolved to address it if it comes up again, but right now I guess I’m just frustrated I defaulted into not saying anything instead addressing it in my professional capacity as part of HR.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            You can say something to him about it now – you don’t have to wait until he does it again. Just say that you wanted to touch base on a comment you overheard from him the other day that shocked you so much that you couldn’t respond in the moment, but that your company doesn’t condone any discriminatory language or behavior and if he says anything like it again, he will be disciplined.

            1. Krabby*

              Yep! I’m in HR, and part of our job is calling people out on stuff like this. You can also use the, “I know you aren’t racist, so I wanted to talk to you in private and let you know how that comment came across…” At worst it puts them on notice that they are being watched, at best they start to think of you as an ally and will come to you to ask for advice if they are worried about overstepping in the future.

          2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Don’t beat yourself up. You’re human and even as HR, we freeze sometimes. Especially when it catches you so off guard and you’re like “Da fuq you just say though, are you real?” at the moment.

            Once you have time to digest the comment, it makes sense that it starts eating at you.

            I agree that if you do want to bring it up, you can still bring it up after the fact. There’s not a rule that you must address it at the very moment it happens! The shock can wear off first and then you have a better head about you to address it.

            You can still say “I know that our guards and filters are on the blitz right now because of the global wide pandemic we’re dealing with at the moment, none of us are well versed in this stuff, thankfully. But regarding the comment you made the other day [address the comment], I want to tell you that is extremely offensive and is actually racist. We need to not disparage entire nationalities in this time of crisis, it’s not acceptable. This is a time we should be coming together and supporting each other who are all suffering and in fear, not tear each other down and put emotional distance between us. The social distancing requests are about physical distances not emotional ones.”

            1. Pomona Sprout*

              Oh, that’s really good. I especially like the part about “coming together and supporting each other,” etc. Well done!

        2. Ugh*

          I have an internship interview over the computer, since Coronavirus means they want everybody online, so nobody feels pressured into coming in. I understand and don’t begrudge that, but at the same time, I absolutely loathe phone conversations and video conferencing. My voice is terrible enough in person. It’s downright stupid sounding through any sort of recording device. And video and photographs are always super unflattering. And I don’t even have reliable enough internet at home to run a video chat.


    9. whisk taker*

      My favorite line to use in response to any sort of gross comment is “hey, we don’t talk like that here.” Shuts it down immediately and shows that they are the person being out of line and that it doesn’t fly in your group. A little more difficult if you’re newer to a friend group or job environment, but if you have put in any time it’s really helpful.

    10. She's One Crazy Diamond*

      As a white-passing person who is part Asian, I’ve been very vocal about calling people out. They’re oftentimes taken aback because they thought it was safe to be racist around me since they assumed I was white, but it does effectively shut them up.

    11. Enginear*

      I’m Asian and work in a professional office environment. I’ve experienced no racism or xenophobic remarks. I don’t go out much but I’ve been out to fast food restaurants and bars recently and haven’t noticed anyone acting different towards me.

    12. The Great Octopus*

      I haven’t experienced it personally but one of my friends her office is going mad about the coronavirus and they really have no connection to it or reason to be, and they were making a lot of questionable or racist comments about how this all started. She was texting me the other day about it and she had just stopped and stared at them and went “wow, that’s suuuuper racist” with a shocked face and watched them all try and back track the racism. Apparently that put a stop to those comments real fast.

      I am all for that tactic. It’s amazing watching people try and explain it wasn’t racist when it really was, they always think twice about saying something like that again.

    13. Annie Nymous*

      The only racist BS I’ve heard at my office has been from one person, who refused to go to the break-time food truck he’s eaten at for years because the proprietor “is Asian, and that’s where the virus comes from.”
      I flat out laughed at him. Like green-golf-shirt-guy laughed because that was the dumbest thing I’d heard in weeks.
      I’m learning that for my line of work (in an industrial shop) embarrassing guys does more to change behavior than “hey, I noticed….” sorts of conversations.

      1. Amy Sly*

        Yeah, I’m not eating at the closest Chinese restaurant to my house right now … but that’s more because when I tried to help them by patronizing the place at the beginning of this outbreak, I got food poisoning. And as that was the second time in a year, they’re off my list.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’ve eaten at the one here twice with no problems; if they’re open today, I think I’ll run up there and buy something.

          1. Noblepower*

            Actually, that’s a wonderful idea, especially if it’s a local joint- small restaurants are likely to get hit hard by folks who are social distancing themselves!

          2. Intermittent Introvert*

            I made a point to get a pedicure this week even though it’s still sock weather. My favorite salon is staffed by several Asian women.

    14. What's with Today, today?*

      No racism. But a big youth livestock show in our county wants to continue despite the county shutting everything down, and the organizer told me yesterday “It’s only the elderly and sick that are affected,” and “liberals are the only people shutting things down.” Um…no.

      1. FormerFirstTimer*

        That’s the huge problem, people are politicizing this in a way that’s going to make it worse. It needs to stop being about left or right and start being about what’s best for the country.

        1. Kat in VA*

          Reminds me of the video clip of a woman being interviewed when C19 was just really starting to get off the ground, saying that it was all a hoax because she didn’t believe “anything that comes out of a Democrat’s mouth.”

          Oh. OK.

          I personally witnessed, just yesterday, an incredible exchange on Facebook by someone who insisted that it was the media created this pandemic, and she got all of her information from “only reputable sources”…being the WHO and the CDC.

          When it was pointed out that, indeed, both the WHO and the CDC had officially elevated the status of SAR-CoV-02 to a pandemic, she stubbornly repeated it was only because the media made it so…because liberals want to take all of our tax dollars and media is complicit in that effort.

          Absolutely astounding.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Ugly laughing at “only liberals are shutting things down”, since their President just called a national state of emergency. Bless their hearts.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          Well he did today (finally!) but after days of saying this was nothing, it’ll be gone by April, we’ll have a vaccine in a few months, let super anti science VP be in charge, and so on.

      3. kt*

        That’s what Jesus said, right? “Suffer the young and the non-immunocompromised to come to me… the rest of you can get screwed!”

    15. Fenchurch*

      I was in a conversation this week that was really borderline. A coworker of mine adopter her daughters from China… almost 15 years ago. Another coworker asked her – in the context of COVID-19 talks – where her daughters “were from”. I fail to see how that is relevant at all… I think I just stared at her, eyes wide open for a solid minute. I think she was referencing “saving them” from being near the epicenter, but good lawd that made my skin crawl.

    16. KayDeeAye*

      I am happy happy happy to say that I haven’t heard a single one! And where I work isn’t exactly a hotbed of liberalism either, so I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Same. We’ve had our share of preppers and anti vaxxers and MLM “solution” people making their views known, but not racism as far as I know. Minority employees may be far more aware of comments though.

        Happy to say our favorite sushi place was doing better than usual business this week.

        1. Intermittent Introvert*

          I’d be happy if we stopped using “prepper” pejoratively. Since when is being prepared or even super prepared a bad thing?

          1. Caroline Bowman*

            it’s shorthand for borderline-irrational-to-full-blown nutso behaviour. Where I am there has been a really very severe drought (not US) to the extent that there was a distinct chance of running out of water completely. To counter this, people installed rainwater tanks and water management systems of various kinds. Most of us got 1 or maybe 2 for big properties. The prepper next door bought, I am not even kidding about 8 1,000 litre tanks for his really small, modest-sized property. In context, large working farms would find that to be overkill.

            He is… convinced that The End is Nigh and so prepares to a completely nuts degree for whichever boogeyman is looming. This crosses the line from being prepared and organised and forward-planning into ”prepper” territory.

    17. Lemon Ginger Tea*

      I was watching Andrew Cuomo on CNN last night doing a segment with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Cuomo actually said, in reference to over the top sanitizing, “let’s get ethnic here” UM. WHAT.

    18. Not So NewReader*

      Zero racist remarks. The number one topic is the mass hysteria in the media and the serious shortage of adult-like behaviors.

    19. irene adler*

      Saw this post earlier. And my thought was “nothing – so far.”
      I walked into the lab a few minutes ago to hear, “well, maybe we need to get a bit xenophobic, with all this virus stuff goin’ around!”

    20. RussianInTexas*

      Nothing here, but the company owners are Chinese, and half of the office are either Chinese or Vietnamese.
      There was early blabbing on Facebook about avoiding Chinatown. We have a cluster of 18 confirmed cases in the area, and weirdly, none related to Chinatown (sarcasm).

    21. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I haven’t heard any, luckily. Not to say there are none, but I haven’t heard any.

    22. ...Maya Elena*

      I think it depends on what they say.
      If someone just calls it Wuhan virus, or dares reference that it came from China, it more that in some places it totally did come from the Chinese visitors or diaspora (notably China’s neighbors and Italy) it’s not really racist, it’s just what is. I even don’t think “king flu” if being the pale…. Particularly since Chinese Americans themselves stocked up on masks and avoided their own community businesses, not just the racist white Americans.

      When you start attacking people personally for dating to look Asian, making fun of people for wearing masks, start talking about kicking out people of v

    23. emmelemm*

      My normally not-SO-woke boss actually bought us Chinese food for lunch and said, “Nobody better be avoiding Asian restaurants around here, that’s f*cking stupid.” So I have hope.

    24. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      I haven’t heard any comments, but when the head of the company asked for suggestions on things to do, someone suggested explicitly extending our support to Asian llama and alpaca farmers, and positively highlighting some Asian llama breeds in our weekly newsletter. I thought it was a great idea to counter the pervasive negativity with some positivity and I think it’s applicable in just about any industry.

    25. Anonnington*

      I have yet to hear a racist or xenophobic coronavirus remark, but there have been some recent incidents in the local news, so I know it’s an issue here.

      I just wanted to say that I really like your handle, Green Lawintern!

      1. The Green Lawintern*

        Thank you! I was actually thinking about changing it as I have (hopefully) left my intern days behind me, but we’ll see.

    26. Tenebrae*

      I’m so glad you asked this. I have a coworker who’s being pretty racist about the whole thing. The messy thing is that she’s an (abrasive) older First Nations lady who’s been the subject of racism herself and I’m a young white woman. I have no idea how to shut it down without falling or seeming to fall into some gross patterns.

    27. Jack'o'lantern*

      Not well….
      It doesn’t help that the one guy instigating it is:
      1. one of the assistant supervisors,
      2. Just got back after being out sick with flu-like symptoms,
      3. He has been super passive aggressive to me in the past for taking sick days,
      4 He has said transphobic and racist garbage before…
      5. … and when I discussed earlier statements with our boss, boss said it was inappropriate but he wouldn’t do anything because “he’s old, he can’t help it.”

  2. Peaches*

    Hi all. It’s me – the one who works for the Jan-San chemical manufacturing company.
    I am sad to report that this week has only been exponentially more difficult than the last as the coronavirus scare becomes more prevalent. I miss the days when I could go to the bathroom without coming back to 3+ voicemails and 10+ emails of people requesting orders of sanitizer, disinfectants, disinfecting wipes, asking for ETAs, asking for quotes, etc. It is…madness.

    The factory at our corporate office where we make product has been operating 12+ hours a day, 7 days a week (we’re normally only a Monday-Friday, 8 hours a day company). We simply cannot keep up with the demand. On top of it all, we’re now at a standstill on even making several of our products, as we’re waiting on raw materials from supplies overseas – us, and everyone else in our industry.

    I say these lines at least 100 times a day:

    “No, I’m sorry, we are currently backordered on all sanitizer.”

    “I’m sorry, we cannot provide a firm ETA at this time. We are currently working with our suppliers to procure raw materials to manufacture X product.”

    I have gotten some really nice, understanding customers, and unfortunately some really mean ones. I’ve been quite disappointed in the treatment that some of our frequent customers have shown us in this time, especially since we have always taken such good care of them in the past. One customer yesterday was absolutely FURIOUS that an order she placed 2 days ago for sanitizer and sanitizer dispensers had not been filled.

    ”I placed this order two days ago, you’re telling me you still don’t have the product?!”

    “No, unfortunately we have been backordered for a couple of weeks now. We are currently working with our suppliers to procure raw materials to manufacture X product. I understand your frustration; we are doing everything we can to fill customer orders, but unfortunately cannot provide a firm ETA at this time due to high demand.”

    “(scoffs) okay then…I guess…I just don’t understand. So, you’re telling me if I go through (direct sales rep), he’s actually going to tell me that we can’t get this product today or tomorrow.”
    “yes, that is correct. As you can understand, this is a national epidemic, so we are currently working through supply/demand issues.”

    “we are a great customer! I just don’t understand why you would be allocating stock to any orders before us!”

    I wanted to say “LADY, this is not a matter of you being a good customer or not! No one is getting in at the moment! It’s not just you!

    Our company has netted $314k so far in the month or March. Last year in ALL of March, we made $160k, so that tells you what it has been like here.

    Anyway, I could go on, but I’ve already written a novel. Thanks for reading. :)

    1. A Poster Has No Name*

      OMG, the entitlement. The fact that some people don’t seem to get that THEY AREN’T THE ONLY ONES IN THE WORLD is staggering.

      Yes, you’re a good customer, so are a lot of other people, as if that mattered anyway.

      In case you hadn’t noticed, the manufacturing center of the globe has been shut down for 6 weeks and is only starting to get back up again.

      I work a side gig at Target, and if I had a dime for every person who asked “Where is the hand sanitizer?” I wouldn’t need the side gig, and I only work 15 hours a week. They’re not asking if we have any, mind, but WHERE is it, as if we’ve had more than a random box or two come in in the last two weeks. We have plenty of hand soap, though, use that!

      1. Peaches*

        Yes, that is what is so mind boggling to me as well! So many people act personally inconvenienced like it’s some personal attack on them that we don’t have sanitizer for them. We don’t have it for anyone/i> right now!

        Hah, I can totally relate to your, “They’re not asking if we have any, mind, but WHERE is it, as if we’ve had more than a random box or two come in in the last two weeks.” I’ve had tons of people call and ask for (large quantity) of hand sanitizer for (delivery next day). We don’t even have a next day delivery policy when it’s NOT craziness here, not to mention the fact that we haven’t even had sanitizer and haven’t for two weeks!

      2. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I was at Trader Joe’s and the clerk told me they had case limit on how much they could get from their suppliers.

      3. calonkat*

        Well, a nice employee at walmart showed me where it would be (since online it said it was in stock last week), and that was useful, as I’d never bought any, so really DIDN’T know where it would be stocked. I always just washed my hands, but was buying drink mix (they make “kool-aid” with caffiene!!!!) anyway. Lots of soap in stock though!

      4. Batgirl*

        Yeah…just use soap? I get how convenient some of these products are but in the time it takes you to yell at a retailer you could have just washed your hands.

        1. Filosofickle*

          At my house we have no hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes. (We never do, it’s not something we buy.) I’d like to buy some now for the extra precaution, but everywhere is sold out of those as well as rubbing alcohol, regular bleach, and anything else in the ballpark. I’m not going to drive everywhere desperately or harass poor retailers. We’ll just keep washing up carefully and avoiding our faces. And, mostly, staying home.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Go to a liquor store and buy vodka and/or tequila that are at least 140 proof – they work as disinfectants in a pinch.

        1. TheSnarkyB*

          I totally hear that, but sometimes it’s just not an option. I think folks are over-using it at home, and not leaving enough for the people who really can’t. I live in NYC and take the subway – I need to be able to sanitize before I get to my destination 0.5-2 hrs away, and my team works in a healthcare service that goes into people’s homes for multiple visits per day. I agree with you on the merits, but hand sanitizer is really key, and the CDC is pushing it as well.

    2. RabbitRabbit*

      As someone at a big hospital where the public-facing hand sanitizers aren’t getting refilled so much these days, thanks for holding up under all of this.

    3. Michelle*

      Sympathies. I work at a museum and even though all schools have shut down for 2 or more weeks to try to handle this, I have answered- I don’t even know how many- calls asking are we open. Yes, we are (and the part I can’t say but want to is- please stay home. Schools are closed to try to prevent spreading the virus and if you all come to the museum it’s the same as going to school!!).

        1. Michelle*

          As of a few minutes ago, TPTB decided to close the children’s gallery, an activity that involved water that children love and the planetarium. They also cancelled all events and will allow self-tours only. They are going to place says asking guest who do not feel well to enter the facility, but if someone has driven a good distance, they are going to come in anyway.

          They say they will monitor the situation and if necessary, close the museum.

        2. Kelly*

          Most museums, zoos, and aquariums are closed to the public at least through the end of the month. Some public libraries, including the New York Public Library, closed on either Thursday or Friday. I only found out that my local public library was closing for two weeks when I went on its website last night to check when a hold would be coming in.

          I was in Chicago last week for the member preview of the Art Institute’s El Greco exhibition. That show runs through the end of June and at least half of the loans in it are from European collectors and museums. I would think that those would be able to be shipped back to their homes in Europe by that time, but if things are still not good, they may stuck in the US for longer than anticipated. I’m glad I went when I did, especially with the AIC being shut down for two weeks.

          A lot of American museums may have delayed opening for exhibitions with international loans, between the temporary closings and possible delays in shipping the loans to the US. The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC just announced that one of their spring shows on the Baroque in Genoa was being delayed until next year because the Italian loans were not shipped to the US before Italy’s lockdown.

          I work in an academic library and earlier this week before it became more chaotic, I asked my boss about how we were going to handle possible delays of materials we get published outside the US. Currently with some of them, especially our serials, I build in a period of delayed arrival before filing a not received claim, usually about 3 months. I may have to extend that period to more like 6 months now for the rest of the year.

      1. A Poster Has No Name*

        I don’t know if I quite agree going to a museum is the same as going to school, as people are generally more spread out and can keep space between each other much better than hundreds of kids crammed into a school.

        1. Michelle*

          We see over 200,000 visitors a year and can have up to 600 children on field trips on school days. If all the students & parents that are out come to the museum, to me that seems to defeat the purpose. We have over 12,000 members and if we are the only entertainment open, this is where they are going to be.

          I know from experience after a few days of being “cooped up”, if people think they are fine they will start looking for things to do. If you can have the virus for up to 14 days with no symptoms and the virus stays in the air longer than the flu, and the fact that we have closed 3 of the biggest draws, all those people are going to crowd into the other 3 galleries and that will increase the likely hood that someone that is contagious that doesn’t know it will spread the virus.

          It’s scary that there are not enough tests or safety equipment for medical staff and no medicines to help treat it.

        2. SD*

          As for exposure, let me tell you about a recent trip with our grandson to the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley. First he wanted to build with the Keva planks (a kind of building block). He spent about 40 minutes building amazing things with the wooden planks that all the other kids and adults also handle. Then we visited spaces where he could place ramps and barriers on a wall to run the marbles down. The same ramps and barriers all the other kids handle. There are these air cannons (Bernoulli blowers) which keep balls spinning in the air – 6 or 8 balls and hundreds of kids. His favorite was a VR thing where he used the same over the face headset as all the other children who love VR. Everything is hands-on. Unsurprisingly, the Lawrence Hall of Science has closed for at least a couple of weeks, but I’d guess more. Museums aimed at kids are petri dishes of excitement.

      2. Liane*

        And fast food places.
        Several (all?) the school districts in my area closed this week until the end of the month. My traditional writer’s day job as a fast casual restaurant’s Front of House Empress included a big (for a weekday) lunch rush that was 50-75% Teens Freed From School, **Eating In**. When I got home I posted a parenting tip on Facebook: When your teen’s school is closed for an epidemic, letting them run around meeting up with friends for lunch isn’t helping!
        (Why can’t the teens–and most everyone else–use their electronics for their social hour needs right now, like they usually do?)

        Pro Tip for people who can’t work from home, have urgent errands, etc. & need a meal: In addition to drive-through, my company offers order & pay online. Do that, walk just inside our door and there’s a bag with your meal, receipt, and cup/s for your drink/s. Both add some “Social Distancing” to getting your meal.

        Signed, a writer/copy editor/empress who would like to not get or give this plague

    4. Mama Bear*

      Sorry to hear that people are being rude. It’s the unfortunate nature of people to spew their angst at the nearest target – this time it’s you. I used to work in Customer Service and I know how tiresome that can be. Thank you for your updates.

    5. EnfysNest*

      I’m so sorry – that all sounds so frustrating. :( I don’t suppose there’s any way for your phone system to be set up with a recorded message explaining about those products being unavailable and ask people only to stay on the line if they have a different issue? That probably wouldn’t stop everyone, but maybe it would help reduce the number of calls coming through somewhat at least if it was possible.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Once this all winds down, I think I’m going to look up some manufacturers of this stuff just so I can send y’all some frigging Edible Arrangements to enjoy after the traumatic crap y’all have to deal with.

    7. Jules the 3rd*

      Yeah, I’ve been having variations on this (for much less critical materials) for a couple of months now. “You mean, there are no shipments coming out of China? I bet if I went to [competitor], they could get supply.”

      Disengage as soon as you reasonably can, and maybe even give them the phone #s for those competitors. After they call around a few places, they’ll get it, and be a lot nicer when they come back to you.

      The shortages are real – I am certain that my CEO is being updated on my supply chain.

    8. MissDisplaced*

      Pandemics: Boom for Some, Bust for Others. I think it’s probably always been that way.
      I grew up in a very Amish area. There were always scares from polio to smallpox, so much so I swear I ate sugar cube vaccine boosters yearly.

    9. pony tailed wonder*

      I work in a library. All of our hand sanitizers that we put out for the patrons have been stolen. I wish everyone well during this.

    10. RussianInTexas*

      My company manufactures (which is important) and distributes single use plastics, paper, foil, think plastic cutlery, latex gloves, and yes, toilet paper. Mostly the thin institutional type stuff.
      I am getting a bunch of calls about it, and people are getting aggravated we don’t stock a lot of the “good” stuff (we never have), and we reserve the product to the contracted customers and not walk ins (as we always do), and that we charge them their regular price instead of a discount “but we are ordering whole 30 cases!” (we sell in thousands, 30 cases means nothing).
      Sorry, you are not special!
      Also, people are asking for products we have never made, like medical grade masks, head coverings, shoe covers, etc.
      If we have never before manufactured or sold it, why would you think we have it now? Do you have any idea how long it takes to create a whole line of product?

    11. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Oh no! Some clients are like that and just don’t have a clue. Yeah, sure- you were sitting there waiting for them specifically to call and place an order.

    12. Social Missfit*

      Maybe she can ask the guy with the article on yahoo. He traveled 1300 miles buying all the sanitizer her could to resell for profit on amazon. Since he was price gouging amazon shut him down and he’s sitting on 1700 bottles.

    13. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      It’s in “unusual” situations (including crisis situations like coronavirus) where we become aware that other people’s mental model of the world can be totally different from ours.

      Not at all the same situation, but similar principle: I once worked somewhere we produced ‘Product X’ and ‘Product Y’ and they had their own sets of customers. Some customers bought both X and Y, some just bought one or the other. When they bought the product we had to print a physical item with the name of the customer company, “Product X/Y” (as it may be) and some other details. Printing these was a manual process requiring someone to key in the customer name, product name, etc. [Yes, I know that’s a process smell and it was fixed later!]

      One day someone in our team made a mistake and printed the thing for Product X instead of Product Y for Customer-who-takes-Product-Y-only. It was just a copy and paste error. We caught the mistake, “quarantined” the wrongly printed item to one side and printed a new correct one, and didn’t think any more of it.

      Later in the day someone from sales showed up due to an unrelated crisis situation (we never normally had visits from the sales guys) and saw the ‘quarantined’ wrongly printed item with Product X for Customer-who-takes-Product-Y-only. He seemed to go into this kind of irrational loop of “but why does this artifact exist? This customer doesn’t take Product X! They only take Product Y! So how can this thing exist with Product X for this customer?! They don’t take Product X! They only take Product Y!”…. etc etc etc.

      Sales guy just didn’t have the mental model of how these things actually get produced (i.e. someone manually keying in the details and printing the thing). So he couldn’t understand how it could be that a printed thing with Product X could possibly exist for Customer? when they don’t take that product! It’s in the contracts and everything!

      Similarly your (OP) customers probably have a mental model of how things work at your company. You’re their supplier. You must have all the stuff stashed away in a warehouse somewhere which you can send out to them at a moment’s notice if they want to change or increase their order – or you can somehow immediately produce it as a priority from your own raw materials, as this is an Important Customer!

    14. Trixie, the Great and Pedantic*

      Gadzooks. I mean, I understand the underlying panic behind the jerk behavior, but on the other hand… jerk behavior doesn’t magically make this stuff appear.

      Are administrative/CSR folks at least being allowed to attempt to work from home? The last thing y’all need is to get sick.

  3. WFH Lover*

    I was out sick last week and am quarantined this week (turns out, they don’t actually test ‘milder’ cases for Coronavirus, so who knows what I had).

    A surprising element of this for me was how much I LOVED working from home. My mood is so much better. I’m really dreading going back to the office.

    1. My home “office” is so much brighter and cozier than my 1960s dungeon of a cube farm. Windows! No disgusting carpet! No fluorescent lights threatening migraines!
    2. Man, my commute is pretty short (30 minutes) but I love having that time back. I still have to get up when my husband does or I lie awake angry at him for sounding like an elephant. But instead I take a leisurely shower, do some stretches, sip my coffee, take the dogs for a walk *after* the sun comes up(!!)
    3. I get to listen to music! It helps me focus!
    4. I get to take my lunch break to do chores, so after work I’m really free. What’s more, I’ve actually been taking lunch breaks now and the mental break is nice.

    I always thought I was someone who would hate WFH because I like the separation (eg, home workouts have never worked for me, I need to go to the gym). And its true that a lot of work is collaborative and better done in person – doubly so given the average age / technology capability of the other members of my team.

    I thought about trying to negotiate WFH days – its very common in my company, but usually for ‘reasons’ like kids etc. And it usually ends ‘career growth’. Ive heard from coworkers that our boss says its fine, but then factors it into performance reviews as a ‘lack of dedication’.
    But I’m downright dreading having to go back to the status quo.
    Its got me trying to figure out a permanent career change where I can make this a thing (pretty hard in my industry, but maybe not impossible).

    1. Eleaner*

      Same here! My conference was cancelled, but did a series of lectures online, so I took those at home. Sitting next to my window garden sipping coffee in bright sunlight really feels nice!

    2. TN Buttercup*

      Love that someone else’s husband sounds like an elephant in the mornings. A cheerful elephant at that.

      1. WFH Lover*

        An elephant with a head lamp no less. Every single day this week he’s forgotten something on the nightstand and come in with cell phone flashlight shining in my face. Like, our bedroom light is on a dimmer, use that, lol.

        1. Ms. Green Jeans*

          This made me laugh, too. We call my DH “the bull in the china shop” because if he can make noise and stumble into things inadvertently, he will.

        2. SaraV*

          Ack! I’m the one who gets up early, so if I have to come into the bedroom to find something, I open Chrome to a website with a white based background (like AAM!) and use that as my flashlight. ;)

        3. onebitcpu*

          You can get fairly cheap actual head-lamps with a red-light option.
          The red light lets you see without ruining your night vision and is dim enough that it won’t wake people shining it around the room.
          I use mine if I have to get up early, and my wife never notices.

      2. CatMintCat*

        My husband’s workday requires him to rise at 3am. Mine requires me to get up at 7am. I have, after 30 years of it, learnt to sleep through the worst of the middle of the night elephant antics (as have the cats) but every now and then …

        His early start is the main reason I would never consider an en suite bathroom in any house we have. I am quite happy to have the shower running and toilet flushing down the hall where it doesn’t wake me. Right beside my head? Not gonna happen.

    3. Ama*

      I am so glad that by coincidence I had already undertaken a rearrangement of my home office space (it’s actually my craft room most of the time, but I do have a desk in there), as my office is going on full WFH through at least the end of the month. I used to avoid working in that space when we’d have weather related WFH because it was just terribly setup and felt very crowded, now I’m actually looking forward to it.

      I actually had been thinking about proposing to my boss that I start taking more regular WFH days when I have high concentration projects going (I sit very close to the staff kitchen and as our office has gotten bigger, the noise at lunch has gotten louder and lasts a lot longer as people cycle in and out), so if I find that I am pretty productive in my new setup I might follow through with that.

      1. WFH Lover*

        Same! It used to be miserable for me to sit at the kitchen table on a tiny laptop. But in preparation for going back to school I recently bought a desk, a real keyboard, and a monitor. It’s made it so WFH can actually be productive.

    4. Nitpicker*

      Would it be possible to figure out a middle ground option? Like WFH two days a week, for instance.
      Like that you’d get to benefit from it but you’d also show dedication (as your boss puts it) by showing up at work three days a week.

      1. WFH Lover*

        I was only going to ask for that, but I’m still worried he’d look down on it. Because “I want to not get dressed” isn’t a good enough reason for him to be “inconvenienced” by having to add a WebEx.

        1. Nitpicker*

          Shame he can’t see beyond the appearances and realise a happy worker is always a good thing! Especially if your work doesn’t suffer at all from this arrangement.

    5. Daisy-dog*

      I’m probably going to be WFH next week and I can’t wait. I know that the part of the workday that truly exhausts me is the whole process of being physically at work. Getting ready early in the morning, commuting, dealing with all the surprises/noises of working with others, etc.

      I’ve been searching for a WFH position since the start of the year. It may take a whole year really because the type of role that I want is pretty rare, but getting this temporary opportunity with my current job will help so much!

      I agree that it stops growth, but I think that’s unfair. It’s probably an “out of sight, out of mind” situation – thinking that you’re not as dedicated to the work.

      1. Mama Bear*

        You do have to remind people you exist sometimes when you are fully remote. That was a benefit to me of the PT WFH I had at the prior job. They did see me a few times a week. Also, you don’t get left out of so many things like company lunches or parties.

        1. Skeeder Jones*

          My whole team works remotely so that helps for us. I am not missing out on any spontaneous office antics because no one is there!

    6. Lora*

      Right there with you! I normally work from home a couple of days per week, but New Boss cut that back to only one day per week as he wants his new team to have time together. Until this week, when everyone who can work from home was instructed to do so for the time being.

      I have a really comfy home office. It has nice soft extra cushions on the chair. It has an electric kettle RIGHT THERE. It has zero distractions and a nice keyboard, though I lust after a new mechanical keyboard…the temperature is set correctly (i.e. the way I like it as opposed to the way my neighbor likes it, which is too hot), it has Bluetooth speakers playing the anti-distraction music. It has an extra desk and organizer thingy to hold all my crap. The Wifi router is 10 feet away and works GREAT over fiber (work does not have fiber, the Wifi sucks). I have a separate drawing table to do drawings with my good drawing pens. I have a chalkboard (an actual chalkboard with different colors of chalk) instead of half a tiny squeaky whiteboard with markers that are perpetually stolen or dried up.

      My commute is horrible, it’s 1 hour 20 minutes on a good day and over 2 hours on a bad day. In one direction. Now I can have lunch on the patio when the weather cooperates, futz around doing dishes…it’s really nice.

    7. OhBehave*

      My hubs is so damn happy in the morning! Arghh!
      Can you WFH two days a week? I’m sure you can point to productivity as an advantage. Glad you made the most of the situation.

    8. Mama Bear*

      I used to WFH regularly and miss it. So does my cat. Being able to take my kid her lunchbox or not have to add time to a doctor’s appointment was great. I hope companies start to really see the viability of long-term WFH options. The other upside of my former company’s liberal policies was that if you were sick, you stayed home, but most of us still logged in and were productive.

      1. WFH Lover*

        My dogs have been so happy too! Noticeably happier and calmer now that they get to run around outside as much as they want (they’d live outside if I let them)And I’m happier getting more snuggle time in with them.

        The only issue is that I have been unable to convince them the mail man is not a threat, and our house is builder grade, so there’s no way to get around a total barking temper tantrum at least once a day coming through during meetings. It’s already a bit of a running joke with my team…

        1. Mama Bear*

          One of my former coworkers had a parrot. I’m sure that was as loud as/louder than your dogs. We learned to ignore Polly.

      2. Marion Ravenwood*

        We had a practice WFH day yesterday in case of coronavirus and it reminded me how much I’d missed it too. Granted I didn’t use it regularly when I worked in a job that had it, but for days when I had appointments or needed to wait in for deliveries etc it was super-useful.

    9. Amy Sly*

      I have a hunch you’re not the only employee who’s recognizing this. My hope is that companies may figure out that their reasons not to have WFH options aren’t manifesting, and that this becomes a big culture shift. Especially if they also discover that WFH saves them money on the amount of sick time, office supplies, or even office rentals.

    10. whocanpickone*

      As someone who has done both, I find a flexible schedule with 2-3 days in the office and 2-3 days WFH is the perfect blend of team collaboration and productive independence.

      1. WFH Lover*

        Can I ask how that works best for you? Do you alternate days in the office, or time block it?

        I was thinking Friday would be a good day because it’s mostly WebEx meetings anyway. And selfishly Mondays because it’s primarily a meeting prep day for me. But I feel like that will contribute to the perception that I’m just trying to extend my weekends.

        1. Mama Bear*

          I did every other day, so MWF was home (unless there was a client meeting) and T/TH was in the office. I had to always be willing to flex location to meet project needs but since so much of the work with the client was online anyway, it didn’t matter so much to them where I was calling in from, just that I called. Skype (now Teams) was great for things like screen sharing with my coworkers. Just as good as leaning over my shoulder at my desk.

      2. Mama Bear*

        ^^ This was good for me, too. And having my company laptop with me at all times meant if I went to the client site first, I still had my “desk” and could call up whatever they needed.

      3. The New Wanderer*

        This is my ideal as well. I would plan to be in the office on days where I had meetings that could feasibly be in person, and at home for meetings with mostly remote colleagues or if I really need to concentrate on something. Works out to about half time at home, half at office, or did before the full time WFH mandate came out last week. My open office is not a bad set up generally (too few people for it to be too noisy generally) and I like my coworkers, but I rarely have to work with any of the people in my main office so spend a lot of time at the other two office locations where my colleagues are.

    11. Foreign Octopus*

      I hope that one of the silver linings of this pandemic (aside from people actually washing their hands properly) is that more and more companies recognise the advantages of having employees working from home. Not only is it better for the environment but it goes a long way to increasing productivity and better mental health. Now, I know that not everyone enjoys work from home but I feel there’s a middle ground to be had between forcing everyone to be in the office and forcing everyone to work from home.

      I really hope we’re going to see the end of the traditional 9-5, bums in seats, fighting through the early morning commute only to end up at work sweaty and annoyed work style that we have at the moment.

      1. Windchime*

        This is my hope, too. My office allows WFH 2 days per week, and it’s great. I love it. But I would love to be able to move to a lower cost-of-living area and still keep my job. I know of three people in my (larger) department who have been WFH for 6 months or more; one woman has done it for over 3 YEARS. It’s said that those people are being allowed to WFH full time for “reasons”. I’m hoping that my company will see that, after weeks of everyone working from home full time, that work continues to get done and employees are happier and more productive. If not for the commute, I would be happy to stay at my job for several years to come.

    12. IndyDem*

      I have 3 WFH days on a regular schedule – Mon, Tue, and Thurs (although my department was given the green light to WFH full time due to the coronavirus – under the table, don’t talk about it – yay biotech!). What I would suggest is study your productivity and contrast it with your in office days in the past and the future. For us, since we are an open environment office, it has also allowed to have less parking spaces (which are a premium in the town I work in) as well as less desk space, so mention that also. I would also find it difficult going back to full time in the office, so I understand your concerns.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      I didn’t like working from home for more than a couple of days. I wanted to get out of the house and go to the office. I’m also jealous right now of anyone who has sunlight. When I get an apartment, it’s gonna be LIGHT LIGHT LIGHT.

    14. Emily S*

      As a full-time remote worker who is a huge proponent of video conferencing because of how hard it is to fully participate when you’re flying blind in an audio-only call, I’m somewhat curious if any of the rarely-remoters who hate turning on their video, and who objected a few weeks back to the idea that a manage of a fully remote team would require video on conference calls, have had to work from home this past week and if any have had a change of heart about the value of video!

      1. WFH Lover*

        I have to be honest, I still hate video.
        BUT when I was managing a team that was 50% remote, I made sure that all meetings that included remote people were 100% over WebEx – no conference room.
        I think where the participation disparity gets really weird is when almost everyone is happily collaborating away in a conference room, but people on the phone really struggle to hear, let alone participate.
        Once you move everyone to web conference, everyone can hear everyone clearly, the ‘power dynamic’ is more equal, and honestly its easier to see stuff on your computer screen than a projector anyway. In that instance, I don’t really miss seeing people’s facial expressions at all.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yeah, I work from home full-time and my company does all meetings via Teams with cameras off, and I love it. We don’t need to see each other’s faces, just each other’s computer screens.

          1. Skeeder Jones*

            Same here. We had a discussion a few months back when leadership thought they wanted to always have cameras on but then no one ever pushed for it and, as a team, we did not see a value.

    15. Junior Dev*

      I’m setting up a “home office” because of this; just relocating a table that had been in the kitchen, that we are replacing with a baker’s rack, to a corner of my room. I am using work time to clean and rearrange my house because we have a work from home order and I know it’s going to be bad for my back to continue working on the couch. Just trying to treat it as any other work project.

    16. Hell in a Teacup*

      I’m on day one of working from home and I’m on my lunch break. It’s so odd but I get the chores thing. I think I’ll get some laundry started while I work on some stuff.

      I live alone with no pets so I can see this getting really lonely really fast if I’m not careful so I’m going to try to plan out walks

    17. Aquawoman*

      Is it the WFH that ends career growth or the accompanying condition (eg parenthood)(forehead slap)?

      1. WFH Lover*

        Haha. To be fair, there are two very high ranking people I’ve worked with who have strict WFH arrangements (negotiated after reaching high level). And to be honest, we all kind of resent them, so I guess I get it stalling trajectory in a company where the majority of people do not WFH.
        They’re both wonderful people, but being a people manager of a team that’s entirely onsite except for you, and a high ranking people manager at that… It’s just a big burden for the rest of us to accommodate.

    18. Amaranth*

      Can you demonstrate being more productive at home, and that communications weren’t slowed, etc.? Even if they frown on WFH in practice, maybe you could negotiate 2 days a week from home and take your meetings in the office on other days and maintain your trajectory. I would definitely share that the different lighting made a big difference to your eyestrain/headaches/general health. (Do migraines fall under ADA?)

      1. WFH Lover*

        Migraines are ADA. To be fair, theyve been amazing about accommodating my migraines. Special flicker free monitors, removing overhead flourescent lighting and giving me a lamp instead. Blue light blocking glasses covered by insurance after soooo many hoops from HR.
        But honestly, nothing beats natural sunlight and a floor that’s been vacuumed some time this decade (no, literally, they do not vacuum our carpets).
        So on the one hand I feel bad asking for more. On the other, maybe it’s an effective argument.

    19. Skeeder Jones*

      I started a full-time WFH position a little over 3 years ago. I love it. It has been life-changing for this introvert! I love having so much extra time in my day and just having a flexible and simpler life. I can get laundry done during the day, at Christmas I wrap presents while on conference calls, my packages don’t get stolen. Between getting ready and a commute, I save about 3 hours a day and as a life-long insomniac, the ability to get extra sleep on rough mornings has been so valuable. I am much more productive and have only taken 2 sick days in those 3 years. There’s rarely an illness that prevents me from getting to my desk and accomplishing some work. Even “mental health” days are not as important as I can easily take a few moments to myself when I’m working alone in my apartment!

      Some things that help make it work: my entire team works remotely so it’s not like any of us are missing out on some office camaraderie, my manager has a lot of practices in place that promote teamwork and a sense of family. Our team genuinely cares for each other and feels close to each other. We have frequent impromptu chats on MS Teams and there are a few side chats with different team members where we have more of a focus on life, sometimes venting, sometimes sharing stories, etc. At home, I have a designated office space which is the only place I work and I have it set up with a docking station, keyboard, mouse and 3 monitors.

      If you are considering finding a career where remote work is more prevalent, I work as an instructional designer. I create online training courses so most of my work is on the computer and fairly independent. When needed, I can collaborate with other co-workers on the fly. You can also look for companies that encourage and support remote work. A large percentage of the employees with my company who do not have a customer-facing position, work remotely. There are a lot of companies where remote work is ingrained in the culture and you can find them with some google searches. I hope you are able to find a situation that works for you!

    20. allathian*

      There’s hope. Lots of employers who wouldn’t dream of granting people permission to WFH are doing it now. And some of them may even be seeing an increase in productivity.

      You’ll just have to factor in what’s more important to you, career growth or being happier at work thanks to WFH? If you have the actual numbers, you are allowed to push back in performance reviews. If your productivity is better WFH, that’s not a lack of dedication.

      If this C-19 pandemic has a silver lining, it will probably be that at least some employers who are forced into allowing WFH will notice that it doesn’t impact performance as negatively as they feared it might, and may even increase productivity at least in some jobs.

      If you find that WFH is really your thing, you can always try to look for new employment. Since you’re employed already, you can be pretty selective and specify that you’re only interested in switching if you’re allowed to WFH at least some time.

  4. Kw10*

    My company is still resisting having everyone work from home in light of the coronavirus situation. What are the best articles I can send my boss to convince him that we need to do our part to “flatten the curve” by having everyone work from home starting on Monday? (We are in DC and most people can easily work from home.)

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      There’s the Vox article that popularized the “flatten the curve” phrase, if you hadn’t actually encountered that one. Not sure about any business-oriented articles, though.

      1. Ms. Green Jeans*

        I saw this morning that Forbes also regurgitated that article. I love the “flatten the curve” concept, and I hope it encourages appropriate action.

    2. ThatGirl*

      After a lot of foot dragging, my company is finally making noises about us working from home for a little while. But my husband works at a university and they are stubbornly insisting students return from spring break on Monday, which seems bad. It’s a small, primarily local/regional college, but STILL.

      Anyway – has had a few good explainers, maybe look there.

        1. Ashley*

          Watch the politics. Vox tends to be liberal so it can be discredited as a result by conservatives. I am not saying the articles aren’t accurate just in a political climate is may not land the same as a new source that reflects your boss views more closely. (The age in which we live.)

          1. Parenthetically*

            My super-right-wing dad, of all people, has posted articles from Vox in the last couple days. Never thought I’d see it.

          2. RabbitRabbit*

            Someone noted above that it looks like Forbes has been sharing the same idea, so that may be more palatable.

          3. AcademiaNut*

            Search for Philadelpha St Louis 1918 flu to get an example of this plot from real data.

      1. Amaranth*

        My daughter’s university has extended spring break two more days while they try to work out how to allow all classes to be taken from home. I’m assuming labs will just have lots of hand sanitizer available – at least I’m hoping they don’t all get canceled — but I’m curious to see how it all works out.

        1. Clisby*

          The college in my town will have spring break this week, and then online classes for the next week (nothing definite after that.) Labs also will be online. No idea how that will work out. My son’s a dual-enrollment student taking geology – I guess we’ll see.

    3. athiker10*

      Same question here! We are a direct service org, so most of us can’t work from home 100%, but even partially is better than nothing to flatten the curve.

      1. Ranon*

        This is actually a really good summary of the numbers in terms of “if there are this many cases in your city probably this many of your employees have it, sick employees are bad for business” – if boss is numbers minded it might take, otherwise it may be too much data.

      2. Frankie Bergstein*

        This is a great article. It’s quite long. I recommend reading through the charts/graphs as well as the first few paragraphs on China if you’re pressed for time.
        This one is much shorter and also factual, but it’s by Nicholas Kristof who definitely has a perspective that comes through in his work generally (although not necessarily here) that your recipient may or may not agree with.

      3. Gatomon*

        Well that’s frightening. We’re still on “WFH if you feel you need to” footing, but that was prior to cases being confirmed in the area after COB today. I think this seals it for me – I will WFH next week unless I need to do something in the office. If it were up to me I would’ve closed the office on Wednesday when it became clear the US is going to royally bungle this. My job can be done 99% remotely.

    4. Chili*

      I think the argument that worked for our CEO was that if he didn’t let as many people as possible work from home, it is pretty much guaranteed that most people working in the office would get sick and the recovery period takes weeks. For business purposes, does it make more sense to let people work from home and perhaps risk a slight decline in efficiency OR have the office at full capacity for a week and then have everyone out sick for a week or longer, meaning the office is understaff and a lot of stuff would grind to a complete halt.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup – it’s a liability to have people working in offices, especially in Washington, right now.

    5. Just J.*

      I would point to any article quoting Anthony Fauci. His testimony to Congress this week is enlightening.

      There was a very informative interview with Michael Osterholm, bio-security and infectious disease expert, on the Joe Rogan show. You can find the interview on You Tube. You can check Mr. Osterholms credientials on Wikipedia.

      1. (insert name here)*

        Yes. Having the Joe Rogan show, which is on the right side of the spectrum, corroborate what Vox says, might help offset any arguments of political bias.

    6. kittymommy*

      My place is still resisting cancelling large gathering events. They pulled the trigger and cancelled an event starting tomorrow (easily over a couple of thousand) but the one that is to happen in two weeks is still on. Last year that one had appx. 3,500 people in and out of it. There’s a lot of testing results that are waiting to come back in our area so it’s not like we’re completely out of the woods.

      1. Ashley*

        The government might force the hand. Many governors / cities are capping events at 250 people. You could suggest if the governor implements a large group ban what is our plan b to get them thinking about it.

        1. Coder von Frankenstein*

          Yup, this has already happened in my state (and my state is Indiana, so it isn’t exactly a hotbed of government intervention). I would assume pretty much every state is going to have such an order in place within the next couple of weeks.

          1. Amaranth*

            Our city won’t give permits for anything over 49 people, but so far hasn’t closed any k-8 schools so it all seems rather arbitrary.

    7. Crazy Broke Asian*

      No advice, just sympathy. I’m in the same boat, and honestly we’re starting to resent the company.

      1. TiffIf*

        My company is dragging its feet on just telling everyone to work from home. Today is a test day where they told everyone who possibly could to work from home but Monday, so far, is supposed to be back at the office like normal. There was some VPN congestion this morning but for the first time for having thousands of people using VPN or VDI simultaneously, there have been remarkably few issues that I have seen.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        My fancy pants university is graciously allowing use to “choose” to WFH full time – not mandatory. I am the only one on my team doing so, yet some of the others are as old or older than I am. It’s crazy. I look at them in conference calls and wonder which one we will lose… Yes, I’m morbid, I work in Silicon Valley, where there are lots of people and not much common sense. We have maybe 25% to 50% of the staff WFH, which is, IMO, not enough, with us all being in open plan hell. Yes, they are increasing surface cleaning, but I don’t think that will make enough difference.

        1. kt*

          For some people, WFemptyoffice might be safer. If every company that could, could get 60%+ WFH, then the remaining 40%- could really space out, which would help.

      3. Amethystmoon*

        My boss to told us to start working from home Monday. In addition, we are having a team meeting to talk about it and decide stuff. I have coworkers who are addicted to paper and have never figured out how to live without paper files. But we can’t add our home printers to our work laptops because it tells us we need admin rights to even do that much. The only work around I can figure out is e-mailing myself at my home account the files to print out, which may or may not get me in trouble somehow. But it’s retail stuff, it’s not like I work for a top secret govt. agency or anything.

      1. Someone On-Line*

        Yes, please refer to CDC. I like those other sources, but it’s always best to go to the primary source.

    8. Mike C.*

      Just go and work from home. Tell your boss to f*ck off and send them CNNi links to what’s going on in Italy. We’re already seeing hospitals here in the Seattle area get stretched thin because we didn’t start worrying about this back in January.

      1. Mike C.*

        I’m not joking here, this is a serious safety issue and if your own boss refuses to care about your safety then you’re left to care about it yourself.

        1. anon for this...*

          I have to say I basically did that. My boss said that we’re not yet really allowed WFH technically and I smiled and said ok and then just did not come in. I’m getting my work done. I attended 5+ hours of meetings on Slack & Skype today. I’m not feeling great. I live with a healthcare worker who has a colleague in isolation, who has not yet been tested or doesn’t have test results back (we’re not sure). I could give my colleagues the kiss of Judas but, well, no. F(^* you, and at the same time I don’t want you to get sick, die, or infect anyone else, actually!

    9. TDR26*

      We faced similar pushback; heard about a closed-door meeting where our CFO said she knew “no admin assistant will work 40 hours a week from home.” Then yesterday afternoon the state governor closed all schools for 3+ weeks. We are all WFH starting Monday.

      1. Eryn*

        Who cares if an admin assistant doesn’t work 40 hours? The way I see admin assistant roles is that they need to be available when their boss needs them. If their boss doesn’t need them or doesn’t give them work they are going to have down time in the office or at home… right?

    10. DinoGirl*

      Curious what you’re doing with coronavirus planning (HR) re:
      1. When schools close/how to best accommodate working parents;
      2. How you did, or will be handling the first notification an employee is infected – will you close the building?

      Hoping we just get orders from government to close soon and take out the guess work.

      Wondering if we can set up some further COVID threads through AAM somehow. This is a great resource.

      1. Mama Bear*

        Caregivers are being given more leeway with telework, but it must be approved case by case. If people do not have telework-capable jobs, they may take more liberal PTO. We are getting extra PTO across the board to stay home if sick, etc. The tipping point was schools.

    11. Red Fraggle*

      Good luck, Kw10. I’ve tried for days…and my bosses doubled down. So I stuck my backup drive in my bag and we’ll see what the weekend holds.

    12. RecoveringSWO*

      On top of the articles, I’d go with peer pressure. It’s very likely that there are similarly sized companies in your same industry in DC that are teleworking. On top of the articles and practicality push with regards to school closures in the DMV, include the names of comparative businesses that are shutting down. Also, feel free to include the risk to exposure that your office has based on its location. Does your neighbrohood have confirmed cases? Did your metro line go through areas with people who have confirmed cases? Etc. It’s big enough in DC that you should be able to point to examples if you need to (note: you shouldn’t need to, and I hope that it doesn’t produce a “patient zero” scapegoat sort of situation, but this isn’t the time to hold back)

    13. 2 Cents*

      I don’t have any articles to help, but my giant healthcare employer sent all “nonessential” personnel home on Wednesday. And this is a place where WFH was considered “newfangled” by most of the staff we’re out till May, with extensions possible.

    14. RussianInTexas*

      Same here. Work form home is not super-easy but possible – some set up will be required.
      However, since the area schools closed, employees are allowed to bring in kids. (eyeroll, THIS will help with the epidemic)
      The Office Child (he’s been here before) is running around in the hallways yelling out some kinds nonsense currently. Previously he went to everyone’s offices and touched everything.

    15. Carol Danvers (with a C)*

      The WFH problem that I’m having is that I have significantly less leeway than others on my team – the research consultants and partners are fine, but I (and, it would appear, the other primarily female admin staff) still have to come in every day. My boss will only accept WFH in limited circumstances, and I guess a global pandemic… just isn’t one of them? I have worked from home in the past successfully, so the lack of flexibility here really baffles me.

    16. J*

      I’m also in DC and can easily work from home. I work for a federal agency with pretty draconian telework policies, which are not being lifted except for people deemed to be at higher-risk. At my facility, we’ve been told that we will all be required to continue working from the office full time (barring a few folks who can secure exemptions) until one of us comes down with COVID-19, triggering self-quarantine on the part of the rest of the staff, or things get so completely awful that the department sends all but essential personnel home. We have publicly-accessible portions of our location that are closing to the public, explicitly in part to keep staff “safe” from them. That staff might need to be kept safe from each other seems to not be of importance. That we’re not being allowed to make our own determinations re: risk and health, especially in the face of mounting public health evidence about the absolute necessity to flatten the curve and the best practices for doing so, has me pretty damn livid today.

      1. kt*

        Time to cough in the director’s face and then clutch your chest.

        Joking/not joking. The only way some of these losers care about things is if it’s suddenly THEM at risk. Ugh. Media attention? Whistleblower?

        1. J*

          The director can’t do anything. The decision is made in the Secretary’s office. It’s absolutely infuriating.

    17. Hell in a Teacup*

      Could you argue that somebody might try to file a workers comp claim? Whether or not they’d win is irrelevant, but the fact that the claim can be made will cost the company a lot of money

    18. Kw10*

      Thanks for all of the ideas! In the end I didn’t have to send anything since we got an email around midday saying that most people should work from home starting Monday.

    19. Dr. Anonymous*

      I saw a patient in clinic today and wrote a pointed note in the after visit summary that anyone who can should work from home as a matter of personal and public health. They’re going to email it to their CEO.

    20. Cartographical*

      Look for disaster/risk management articles? My partner is WFH as a matter of course in these situations — he’s employed by a very large insurance company spread across several campuses & not only do 90%+ staff have laptops, everyone takes theirs home at night/weekends and has a secured connection, just in case something happens. That’s mandatory for all staff. They are onboarding the fully-loaded system this week, with essential staff working Monday and more departments added as the week goes on (just to be sure the servers stay up under what is triple the usual WFH load). That’s thousands of people going WFH and it’s just about routine because they were ready for it — see disaster preparedness and risk management. In a disaster, your insurance company needs to be there for you, even if they’re affected too.

      I hope your company catches up, this kind of readiness is essential. These kinds of outbreaks will likely continue over the next decade.

  5. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

    Does anyone have advice for what to do if your supervisors won’t let you work from home because “We can’t let you work from home and tell everyone else that they have to come in”?

    My job is the only one in my office (I work in academic research) that can effectively work from home. I’d guess that 90% or more of my duties can be completed off site. The university I work for, while being very blase about COVID compared to its peer institutions, has officially issued guidance yesterday stating that if employees can and want to work from home, then they should request it from their supervisors and they can work it out. Yesterday, I met individually with each of my 2 bosses and was told by both of them that I can’t work from home, for the reason above (which is not valid, as far as I am concerned). I currently take public transit to work and work in an open-plan office with three other people, with another 12 or so people coming in and out all day from another room. I feel that it is pretty reckless to not be taking action right now. Help!

    1. Eleaner*

      Not snarking, could you send them some of the articles on flattening the curve and the situation in Italy. One less person spreading helps everyone else stuck in the office.

    2. RabbitRabbit*

      Fortunately my boss is good about this – I work in healthcare research, in a hospital with a COVID-19 patient, and no, I am not worried about exposure from that, but rather from my commute. She’s basically been telling people without WFH capability that some jobs just cannot be done from home and that the more people we keep home, the fewer people to bring the virus into the workplace to infect those coworkers who are there. This helps refocus the “but it’s not fair” attitude to orient it as a benefit to the other employees. (I say this as someone who’s WFH right now by her orders, but who worked with patients for years and would be working onsite if I hadn’t changed jobs a few years ago.)

      Perhaps you could spin it that way to her, that your commute with public transit makes you a potential risk as you will be needlessly sitting on seats on a bus/train, and then bringing other people’s germs in? And share the Vox “flattening the curve” article?

      1. Amy Sly*

        One of the ideas that was suggested at our worksite for jobs that simply have to have someone in office is to run alternating half shifts. Fewer people means more social distancing, plus that allows extra time for sanitizing between the shifts.

    3. bunniferous*

      How old are you? Do you have older or immunocompromised individuals that depend on you? Or, do others in your office take public transportation? If they do not and you do, point out if you get it and infect them, everybody is staying home like it or not!

      1. Nita*

        My bosses were also dragging their feet about sending people home until yesterday. It’s understandable, because we have people who can’t WFH, but… I’d say at least 80% of the office can do their work from anywhere. Two days ago I sent a freaked-out email to HR asking them if there are any plans to have people work remotely, and added that I’m specifically worried because of a family member. I was told I’d have to bring in a doctor’s note and would then be allowed to WFH. Which was less than great, because I’m sure I’m not the only one with family members at risk, and some of my coworkers are older themselves. I wouldn’t have felt right getting to work from home while they commute. Thankfully yesterday they finally figured out a plan of action and sent most of us home… but I guess, if all else failed, I’d have tried to bring in that doctor’s note.

        1. CupcakeCounter*

          My coworker’s husband is immunocompromised and she was told last month that she can WFH if she thinks it is best. We already have a very generous policy but it was really nice that our boss put it out there before she could even ask about it.

        2. Trachea Aurelia Belaroth*

          “I wouldn’t have felt right getting to work from home while they commute.”

          Banish this line of thought. By staying away from them, you would have been contributing to their protection. If you had continued to come to work just so they wouldn’t be annoyed and/or you wouldn’t feel guilty, that would have been false kindness. Also, they SHOULD get annoyed–more annoyed workers will put more pressure on bosses. If anyone gets the ability to WFH, they should take it, unless it’s literally a case of “Only one of you can work from home,” and the other person is in an at-risk population or has someone at home who is, while you are not.

          1. kt*

            Exactly. One of the reasons I started WFH even without official permission is that I know, based on my husband’s exposure as a health care worker, that I’M as likely or more likely to hurt my co-workers than anyone else. I can’t have that on my conscience, and in my position I was able to make a gamble that they would not fire me.

      2. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

        I am 25, and I live literally a thousand miles away from my most vulnerable relatives (thank god). Pretty much everyone in my office besides the bosses are under 40. 60%+ in my office take public transit to get to work, and while I actually do have a car, some parts got stolen last week and it’s in the shop right now so I literally don’t have any other option. But I feel like a walking vector.

    4. Al*

      I’m in the same boat and am feeling very frustrated that the official guidance isn’t being followed. I am young and healthy but don’t want to be exposing others.

    5. Also Stuck in the Office*

      I’m pretty much on the same boat, and wish there was a stronger government action or guideline on this, from whatever level of government. Some businesses and managers simply aren’t going to change their minds about WFH, virus or no virus.

    6. Panthera uncia*

      I wish I knew. Our EVP of Operations has been ranting and raving that if the office employees WFH, his manufacturing employees will “just stop coming to work” because it “isn’t fair”.

      1. Mike C.*

        I work at the largest aerospace manufacturing facility in the world and what your manager is saying is blatantly not true.

    7. Mike C.*

      You tell them to f*ck off and start working from home. This is for your own safety and the safety of your family, your coworkers and your community.

      This is literally the hill to die on.

      1. HR- Occam's Razor*

        Although I don’t agree with Mike’s verbiage (best to avoid “f*ck off”) I do agree it would have zero to little impact on manufacturing.

    8. Anono-me*

      As someone who can’t work from home, my viewpoint is: The fewer people/walking petri dishes that I have to work with at the office, the better.

      Maybe it would be helpful if some of your co-workers with a similar view point to mine had a conversation with your supervisor.

      Also does your organization have a union? Even if you are not a member you may be able to get some support from the Union, as you staying home would increase the safety of everyone, including the union members.

    9. NW Mossy*

      In my mind, the most compelling reason is that it’s incumbent on every single human right now to do what they can to limit the spread of this disease and avoid swamping health care systems around the globe. The specifics of what that looks like will vary person to person, but at this point, social distancing needs to be part of everyone’s life to some degree. Sure, you personally staying home doesn’t solve it, but when enough of us do, it makes a difference for public health.

    10. BRR*

      Can you go to your bosses’ boss? Can you go to hr and ask for clarification on the policy (wink wink)? Do you have a medical condition that makes it more risky for you? My employer is being apprehensive and my message to my boss was Today was “I’m concerned about being in the office because I’m diabetic.”

      Other than that, the situation is changing daily. By Monday it might be different.

    11. Pomona Sprout*

      The company my daughter Lavender works for is not letting anyone wfh so far. :-/ They announced in a mass meeting today that they will only allow people to work from home “in the event of a significant outbreak.” Of course, they didn’t say what they would consider a “significant outbreak,” and Lavender says no one was comfortable asking. *throws up hands*

      They are not cutting any slack for parents, either, even though all the schools in this state are going to be shut down after today. 8-|

      Lavender also says no one in the office is following the guidelines about handwashing, etc. That includes the “stay home if you’re sick” directive. AND when people show up sick anyway, their bosses are ignoring it and not even trying to enforce the rule. At the rate things are going, it sounds like that office is going to be a hotbed of contagion before long.

      Lavender is very healthy and not at serious risk, but my husband and I are in our late 60s, and she’s very worried about giving coronavirus to us, once it shows up there. She came home tonight pretty upset about the whole thing, and I had to talk her down.

      Tl/dr: My daughter’s employer is being a complete butt about the coronavirus, and it sucks!

    12. tamarack and fireweed*

      Escalate up to your bosses’ boss – whoever that original guidance came from. Be very polite. Point out that you appreciate that some roles don’t lend themselves to working from home, but that yours (mostly) does, and that in the current situation, any measure to increase social distances should be taken.

    13. tamarack and fireweed*

      Escalate up to your bosses’ boss – whoever that original guidance came from. Be very polite. Point out that you appreciate that some roles don’t lend themselves to working from home, but that yours (mostly) does, and that in the current situation, any measure to increase social distances should be taken.

  6. merp*

    shoutout to all the other folks who can’t easily (or at all) work from home, so are just waiting to see what the office will do! I’m in government and really wondering if we had to close for a longer period of time, if I would get paid for that time or not…

    1. Librarian of many hats*

      That’s me! We just received word minutes ago that starting Monday, all libraries will be closed to the public. We’re still waiting to hear if library staff will still be expected to report to work next week. I’m nervous for the staff who have to work this weekend.

      Those of you who are avid readers, go to your local library and stock up on books and other entertainment now!

      1. Panthera uncia*

        I am currently in library limbo. My closest library is not actually in my town/school district (because my area is gerrymandered all to hell) so I need to get a “hometown” library card before I can get my “more convenient town” library card. My hometown library had a catastrophic roof failure and closed for emergency construction, telling everyone to keep their books with no fines until at least mid-April. There IS currently no “hometown” library for me to go to renew my card, thus the “more convenient town” library will not renew my card with them either. WTF.

      2. NerdyLibraryClerk*

        Right now, the public library I work at is staying open – and apparently the local health department wants us to do so, as a source of information. They did give all staff, even those who don’t normally have benefits, two extra weeks of sick leave. And I think they’re still trying to work out what to do for staff who have reason to be extra concerned about COVID-19 (people who would be at extra risk or live with those who would be).

        We are wiping down surfaces a lot more, washing our hands/using hand sanitizer more, and some staff are wearing gloves. And some staff have discovered they’re allergic to the gloves.

        1. HQB*

          Glove allergies are usually to either latex or to the powder used on some gloves. Unpowdered nitrile or vinyl gloves should help, if that’s the case.

          1. NerdyLibraryClerk*

            Sadly, we started with unpowdered nitrile gloves. We’re trying to work out exactly what the problem is so we can get gloves that will work for the affected people. Apparently, there are a lot of possibilities, including some people simply getting skin irritation from wearing disposable gloves (though there are cloth liners people can get). I have also learned far more about disposable gloves than I ever wanted to.

      3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I’m *dreading* trying to use Overdrive/Hoopla in the next month or two. I hope someone from my local library will be handling those accounts online and buying more licenses for popular titles as the entire city tries to read books because they’re home and bored.

          1. Anonymouse*

            Libby is the same thing as Overdrive, just an easier to use app. So if something is checked out on the Overdrive catalog, you won’t be able to get it on Libby. Because they’re the same.

        1. Canonically25*

          Hoopla shouldn’t change at all – there’s no limit on simultaneous check-outs, at least in the libraries I’ve worked for. Overdrive is gonna be disastrous though, unfortunately. You might want to see if your library has reciprocal agreements with any larger libraries or if your state library offers eBooks (several in the Midwest do ime)

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            And larger cities/county systems will sometimes have more than just those two. Check out your library’s e-resource page to see. Freading is another good one with simultaneous use and no holds queue.

      4. Talia*

        My library closed as of last night, and staff are on a reduced schedule wherein we do curbside pickup where we bring your holds out to your car. I haven’t heard anything about whether we get paid our full amount yet but I *think* we’re going to, or at least everyone else at work seemed to think we will and I heard mentions of “whatever you can do from home” getting mentioned as well.

      5. Person from the Resume*

        As an avid reader, this honestly crossed my mind as a concern for me . But also I have a stack of to read books that I own that have been sitting for a while because of the library books I borrow have a deadline so I’m okay. Plus I listen to a lot of audio books through my library and I can even get eBook from them but my preference is actual books. I own a kindle which I don’t mind reading on, but eBooks from the library mostly have to be read on my phone which I can do but not my preference. I read too much internet from my phone as it is. Prefer reading books to be distant from that little time suck.

      6. WFH Archivist Department Head.*

        Our library and archives are open. I luckily have access to scanned images through our VPN and have assigned all staff to create digital exhibits working from home. Weirdly if we are taking time (no work) it is to come out of vacation time NOT sick leave. Our vacation time doesn’t roll over. I think because vacation is approved by supervisors and sick leave goes through hr and has a ten day ceiling.

      7. Princesa Zelda*

        The public library I work at fully intends to stay open unless forced to close. HR doesn’t have any plans about what would happen with hourly staff if we were to close. They also don’t have a plan for, knock on an entire forest of wood, what would happen if an hourly employee were to actually contract coronavirus — we get 5 days/year of sick leave, and many of us used a lot of it this winter due to several nasty bugs going around; some of us save it for chronic conditions; and of course, even if someone has all 5 days accrued, that’s not enough to cover a 2-week quarantine! I only have 2 days right now and I need to save them for migraines. If I come down with this virus, I am going to be forced to choose between paying my bills and exposing vulnerable coworkers and customers, and I don’t want to have to make that choice.

        1. kt*

          This is why we need government action and support! We cannot be in a position where legions of workers and small businesses are totally wiped out — even from a purely selfish point of view, that would induce a recession as bad as 2008. Consumer spending and employee productivity are both supported by allowing people grace in terms of sick days, pay, eviction notices, and all sorts of other things. If nurses can’t come to work because they don’t have child care, we *all* pay. If food service people and librarians and teachers and receptionists come to work sick because they have to pay their bills, we *all* pay. We know how to do this as a country: in World War II, we didn’t concentrate on making an individual war-profiteering buck, we came together and used our communal will to get things done. We need to do that again.

      8. OntarioLibraryWorker*

        My library system today cancelled all of our programs until at least April 30. It’s March Break in my city next week and I had some fun programs planned We are not yet closed to the public, but I don’t think that’s far behind. Apparently if that does happen, they plan to let us keep working behind the scenes, doing things like checking in items, fielding calls about our e-resources and doing collection maintenance. It’s going to be an interesting 6 weeks (or longer…)

        1. OntarioLibraryWorker*

          Aaaand now we’re closed until at least April 6, like the schools in Ontario. It was just announced a few hours ago that the city is shutting all parks & rec, pools, museums, libraries etc. No firm word yet on what that means for library employees, other than we’ll still supposed to go to work. I don’t even have an email about the closure yet, and it’s not on our website, but it’s posted on the official city website.

          We have an absolute ton of stuff we can do behind the scenes – I’m sure we’ll get plenty of calls and emails about our e-resources. And maybe I can finally organize all the craft supplies! Weed our collection! Actually read all my email! So it’s a chance to get all that done. It’s just unfortunate why we’re doing it.

      9. Jen H*

        I live in Washington State and was going to hit the library Friday afternoon when I was doing errands with my son, but decided to do the grocery store, thinking I could do the library saturday. However, an hour later all public facilities in our town closed down. My husband hit it earlier and picked up some books we can share – and fortunately, I already check most of my books out on line. But I really did want a stack of good books. My daughter is bummed. She is at college in MN now (closing campus at the end of the term with on-line for the first part of spring) and was really looking forward to hitting the library as soon as she got home.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      My immediate supervisor is setting up what little work we can do from home so we can access it, and then we’ll have to use PTO. At least our employer is generous with PTO? But my department is the archives and pretty much by definition paper-based; even what we do online is dependent on looking stuff up in physical files first. So we’re basically cleaning up old databases, etc. for as long as we can make that last. We’re in a remote location but the main building (I work for an academic library) is literally across the street from not one but two huge public hospitals. We’re closing for two weeks (for starters) as of 5:00 today.

      1. Alice*

        Are any academic institutions asking staff who normally do on-campus work to help with the transition to online instruction instead?

        1. Syfygeek*

          My campus has extended spring break through next week for students, but faculty and staff are expected to be on campus as usual. After next week, we will be going to online classes, but again, all faculty and staff are expected to be on campus the regular schedule. And there will be a list of who can help with what online format and instructor is using.

          BUT, a lot of students are electing to come back to campus any way, because, get this, they would rather be at our campus, laying out next to the pools, than be at home. Who cares about a pandemic as long as your tan looks good?

          1. Mama Bear*

            They should close campus if they’re going to close campus. Half-measures are confusing. My alma mater sent a message saying everyone was to MOVE OUT by this weekend and no one is allowed back on campus until at least March 29.

            1. kt*

              This has enormous negative impact on poor and international students. I know many poor students who would/will be homeless because their only living situation is the dorms — they don’t have the spare cash to maintain an alternative residence on their own, and they don’t have places to ‘go back’ to. Some international students are in the same boat — can’t go to their home countries.

              Organization is key. Kicking everyone out of the dorms undoes all that merit-based aid and effort to support students who are striving to improve their economic situation.

        2. Coder von Frankenstein*

          Mine is. We were on spring break when this hit, and the University told the students not to come back from break. Lots of my co-workers in IT are being pulled into a massive project to get all classes online by the end of next week.

          Fortunately we’d already done a fair amount of work on online instruction, but going from “an option that’s available” to “mandatory for all classes” is still a big lift.

        3. Dust Bunny*

          I don’t know. We’re semi-independent, not a department within an institution, so I don’t have direct news on this. I assume so since so many institutions in general are, and these are located within a huge medical center. The local universities have suspended classes and/or gone online.

    3. Gidget*

      I am gov contractor. A lot of my work can’t be done at home, but regardless I don’t have a telework agreement either. I suspect I might be seeing some unpaid leave in my future. :/ Hang in there friend.

    4. Not So Super-visor*

      I’m in this boat right now too. We work in a call center. If the company had looked into steps to make agents WFH months (or even years) ago, we might be in a different scenario, but right now, we’re being told that they are not going to invest in that kind of technology. Because of the customers that we support and the impact on supply chains, we’re told that our jobs are essential. I don’t know what the plans are if we do have to shut down.

      1. anon here*

        Headsets for WFH are at least a week out on order for our call center, I heard — and we’re a supply chain company. Argh.

    5. That tree*

      We just got word that while absences won’t be held against us, we have to use PTO and/or go unpaid. And since it’s only March and our PTO is use-it-or-lose-it….. Literally NO ONE will has enough to cover if they get ill or need to self-quarantine. Plus most of our staff are PT and don’t get any PTO anyway. Many of our students are single parents and the state just shut down all the schools, so we’re getting calls asking if they can bring their kids to class (no, very much no, it’s a significant safety hazard with our programs). My boss is doing what she can but….. The orders come from above.

      So as you can imagine, I suspect that no one will actually stay home and we’ll end up a hotbed of illness before too long. Guess I picked the wrong time to be an asthmatic?

      I also made the mistake of checking my investment accounts this morning…..

    6. Are masks fashionable yet?*

      Thank you! I work retail and it’s all very uncertain. We’re taking a lot of precautions (hand sanitizer everywhere, wiping down surfaces frequently) but it’s still worrying. I’m worried for my older co-workers (many of whom still think this is just an over-hyped flu), I’m worried for myself with my not-great lungs (made worse by all the cleaning supplies, ironically), and I’m worried for our futures after this is over and we’re left dealing with the economic mess.

      1. peachie*

        I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I’m lucky enough to get to WFH, but my partner works retail and is very concerned. He’s in a low-risk group but has asthma (and is generally disposed to anxiety re: illness), and it’s been wearing him down. His work has a space where people can work/study/hang out even if they aren’t customers, and apparently a lot of people have been coming in with coughs. Yesterday, he texted me “no one treats me like a person anymore.” Be kind to the people who don’t have an option to stay home, folks (and, if you can help it, save the non-essential shopping until the situation improves).

    7. Coffee Owlccountant*

      Same here! I work in the distribution industry, so the literal job of 70% of our workforce is to be out in the market interacting with customers, either selling to them or delivering to them. So far, my company’s preparation for COVID-19 seems to be a giant shrug emoji. We’re all gonna get it. It’s not an “if”, it’s a “when and how many”. We have no plans. It’s insanity-making.

      There’s no reason that my particular team in finance can’t WFH, though – except the company has never even considered it as a real option before. We’re not set up for ANYTHING.

      1. LunaLena*

        Oooof, I used to work for a vendor that sold promotional products through distributors, and there was no WFH option there either since I had to be in the office to take calls from distributors, access art files, communicate with production staff, etc. Even though a lot of those can be routed to other devices to make WFH possible, the company was not set up for any of that, since the owner just always assumed that employees should be in the office. Makes me realize how lucky I am that I now work in a place where WFH is fully provided as an option.

        Hang in there, hopefully the company will realize how beneficial it would be to have WFH options set up for the future, even if they rarely use them!

    8. roisin54*

      Public library here. We haven’t closed, but we have cancelled all of our programming. Some public libraries in neighboring cities have closed though and I don’t know how they’re handling paying their employees.

      We had a similar situation a few years ago where the library was closed for an extended period of time due to outside circumstances, and we did all get paid during the closure. It was marked down as excused time on our time sheets. I imagine if we do close for this it will be the same.

      1. hermit crab*

        My full time job is an an office (we’re all working from home until at least the end of the month) but my side gig is circulation at the public library. We’re also still open but with no programming.

        Also: I can’t wait to see what our ebook circulation numbers are like!

        1. Decima Dewey*

          My library system has canceled all programming for the rest of March. Except for the afterschool program. Likewise all staff training and meetings.

          We’re still open to the public. The city’s health department says that library materials aren’t a likely source of contagion. Front line staffers who have to handle the books patrons return aren’t so sure.

          Until recently, if a branch had to close due to a staff shortage, we were supposed to redeploy to another branch. Word has come down that, until further notice, we don’t redeploy. Instead we’re supposed to do behind the scenes work in the closed branch.

      2. Going anon for this*

        Also public library. We got our first COVID-19 related email from the library director yesterday. Yes, you read that correctly. The very first piece of communication directly from library administration to staff was THIS FAR into the pandemic. And the email itself said we’re going to do business as usual, and gave no indication whatsoever that administrators have even considered contingency plans for the coming weeks. I’m pretty sure they’ve been having those conversations because they’re very smart people who generally seem to care about their employees and the populations we serve. But at an organizational level they’ve pretty much always sucked at communication. But this is a really, really terrible time to suck at communication, you know?

    9. Retail not Retail*

      My mom’s district extended spring break another week and gave them today off. Thankfully all from the snow day bank (mild winter!) so she’s still getting paid (hourly assistant).

      My part time game only minor league soccer/baseball job is on hold.

      Zoo released same nonsense press release everyone has. My department works fine without guests lol but it’s spring break! Zoo camp!

      But man if the disney parks have closed…

    10. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      We’re in a state of emergency right now so thankfully our government is already stripping down the requirements for unemployment to kick in. So if you’re closed for say a month and run out of PTO, you should be eligible for the benefits because it’s a “temporary layoff” and you don’t have to wait or work because they are going to reopen so you’re still classified on standby.

      I’m already chomping at the bit for y’all in the government though because I know you’re often exempt from these kinds of rules/regs. We had a news story about a King County worker who was denied work from home despite her being on chemo!!!!!! And saying she very well could do her job from home [she does scheduling for the courts system but they want to act like she must be there to do the mundane crap that’s 10% of the job and not disperse that to the rest of the team, yikes wtf.] That’s on our King 5 news if anyone wants to look up that story. YUCK.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Too bad the Wizard is a humbug and couldn’t save us from this! But I’m pretty happy with how Islee and the state are handling things.

          There’s quite a few of us Washingtonian/King County folk around here. Insert a butt tap instead of fist tap in this time of need for clean hands.

          1. Annie Nymous*

            Wife worked Public Health through the Swine Flu epidemic a few years ago. They had what they called the “Swine Five” which was an elbow tap.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              Oh yeah, they were doing that during the presser when Pence [rolling my eye so hard everyone can feel it I’m sure], came to “visit” the other day or week or whatever.

    11. Third or Nothing!*

      My husband is in that boat. He’s a welder working for an aircraft repair facility.

    12. calonkat*

      I CAN work from home easily (government job, occasional phone calls are the only thing I usually do strictly from the office), but they changed our work from home policies a month ago to be only in the strictest needs. Great timing, right?

      But even if they close the offices, I’m waiting to find out how it will affect required public commentary on pending documents. Do we still schedule/hold public comment sessions? Can we switch to online public comments only? Sigh.

    13. Jules the 3rd*

      Hoping the US govt does the smart thing, with supporting furloughed workers through the unemployment offices… and a mortgage / rent pause (like Italy) would be pretty smart too.

    14. Okumura Haru*

      Hey, it’s me!

      Our school district hasn’t cancelled classes – they did cancel all after-school activities, though.

      I’m still here, encouraging students to wash their hands and hoping for the best.

    15. AceInPlainSight*

      I work in R&D/ manufacturing, and we’re just… waiting. The company is cheap, so there’s some discussion of additional sick days for people who’ve tested positive- but that’s about it. Probably we’ll just all get it.

    16. greenie*

      Apparently we will get paid up to 2 weeks if we are required to quarantine, but otherwise the language looks like we’ll have to burn our sick/vacation/other accrued leave/fmla and honestly sent my morale even more into the dumpster than it already was. (I work for a city.)

    17. Chro*

      This is my life. Thankfully I’m not in a place where there are a ton of cases, but there are people sick. My role is front-facing and cannot be WFH and I don’t have ANY extra PTO to use. I’m honestly freaked out and terrified that this could worsen. We are on the brink of a global great depression and it has me paranoid.

    18. cryptid*

      I’m a part time sport instructor while in school. Campus is closed, so classes moved to online. Work is not closed and I’ll be surprised if it does – my boss is exactly the kind of conservative boomer to think the whole thing is a hoax. I’ve had multiple students postpone and we should technically be closed under the 10+ person gathering rules, too. It’s a small business (3.5 employees, I’m the half) without the ability to weather a big crisis like this. I have my state-mandated 3 data of sick leave (thanks, CA), but no other protections.

    19. Lonely Aussie*

      I work in Ag, there’s no work from home option (I’d never get the tonnes of poo out of my living room carpet) and while the company will allow us to use holidays if we don’t have the sick leave while quarantined, if we don’t have holidays it’ll be unpaid. Multiple coworkers are saying they’ll come in anyway if they don’t have leave. A decent percentage of my coworkers are a bunch of old dudes with questionable hygiene, almost all have kids who chew through their sick leave and very few of my coworkers will take a day when they are sick (preferring to work through it and save the time if they need to be off with a sick kid). It means I tend to catch every bug that goes through the schools as well.
      What scares me the most is how much of a joke they’re treating it, no one seems to be taking it seriously and the company doesn’t really seem to have much of a plan for what happens when we’re all in quarantine. When it gets here, I fully expect to get it.

      1. kt*

        That is terrible :( Sometimes being the voice to speak up and say, “No! There’s a better way,” can help — people are just looking for a catalyst. Sometimes not.

  7. Three owls in a trench coat*

    Has anyone else’s job search been affected by protocols surrounding the Coronavirus? I was supposed to have an interview next week (second round, yay!) but it’s been postponed until further notice.

    1. Berry*

      I have no interviews so can’t help, but did submit some applications this week and was wondering if it was worthwhile! On one hand, working from home means more energy to job search…

      I know my friend’s company has effectively paused all hiring because they don’t/can’t invite people to interview face to face, and I’m sure they’re not the only ones

    2. Belle of the Midwest*

      I’m on the other side of this situation–I’m on the search committee and we got through two of our three finalists before the news came that our university is going to online classes for two weeks after spring break next week. We don’t know when we are going to be able to get our third candidate’s interviews done. The first two were done in person and we have to offer that same type of interview to the third person. We’re trying to keep everyone healthy. I would say that if you’ve made it to the second round, they are interested in you and hang in there.

      1. Bostonian*

        Same here. I’m screening for an open position and am worried about losing good candidates if I can’t bring them in. It doesn’t seem fair to do final interviews via Skype/teleconference for some when we’ve already had in-person interviews for this position, especially since there is a short, timed assessment involved, too. It sucks all around.

    3. Anon PhD*

      I feel for you. I can’t say that mine has been 100% affected, I had a video recording interview last week (questions appear and then you record your answer) and no idea if I will be selected further, but even if I am, who knows when an in person interview might be, I’d have to travel to another city for it. I would say don’t give up looking while you’re waiting for the second round of interviews (congrats!!!). You’ll be ready when this virus situation improves.

      I am going to continue with job applications over the coming weeks, but expect a slowdown in responses. The economy being well…volatile..sigh(yesterday’s stock market..yikes) adds another layer of uncertainty that fills me and probably many others, with anxiety. But I vow to press on with the job search regardless, trying to not be hopeless…of nothing else, it will keep me sane.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I posted below, but yes– not because of fear of illness, but because the organization I was supposed to interview with was majorly impacted. I don’t want to share too much identifying information, but I was scheduled to meet with the man in charge of the business unit that has to take care of all of this impact, so while I am INCREDIBLY sympathetic, I’m still bummed.

      I think the worst part is the loss of momentum. I’m currently employed so it’s not a dire situation for me, but I am also miserable and my optimism took a huge hit.

    5. A Simple Narwhal*

      I’m on the other side of things – starting today all of our interviews have been switched to phone calls. We’re hoping to get someone to accept today but we’re concerned that if they don’t, our applicant pool (a local university, this is a co-op position) will all but dry up since they’re deciding whether or not to cancel classes and send the students home.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        We need to hire for 4(!) positions right now. God only knows if that’s still going to be happening. I assume they will just do phone calls, but also, same issue with canceling classes and whatnot.

    6. Nervous Nellie*

      Yup. I had two interviews next week, one postponed indefinitely and, the other cancelled entirely because the stock market crash caused the company to invoke an immediate hiring freeze. In my area and my industry, the number of new jobs on Indeed etc. have tanked – from 15+ a couple of weeks ago to 1 yesterday, none today. I am starting to panic.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      “Interviewing in the Time of CoronaVirus”… yes, yes it’s got me staying put I expect. If a company is scrambling to plan for unexpected mandatory WFH or is shuttered for 2 weeks, hiring must seem much lower priority than last week.

    8. BusyBee*

      I was invited to a video interview this week! Not sure if that’s their usual procedure or an accommodation for the current situation, but I thought it was interesting.

    9. whocanpickone*

      Just today I was informed that a position I was hiring for has been put on hold until this blows over.

    10. writerbecc*

      I’m putting my own search on hold. I work in Seattle and things are…not normal right now and won’t be for a long time. My job is secure and has good health insurance, and they’re a decent employer, so I’m not looking right now.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve been hearing about companies laying people off. I feel like I’m never going to get a job now. Like everything is conspiring against me. Who’s gonna call me in if they’re not hiring? I’ve been out of work so long now that no one will hire me anyway, and now, thanks to a stupid virus, they won’t have any jobs even if they want to.

      I don’t know what I’m going to do. There is nothing here but retail, which I can’t do anyway because cashiering, and I don’t want to bring germs home to my immunocompromised relative. So far, she can still work—if her clients can’t come to her, she can do the work by phone. But I can’t even get a response from anyone, let alone go talk to them.

    12. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’m just starting a job search. Am assuming things will happen slowly/not at all for a while.

    13. bard*

      I am applying for an internal job change (sort of, contractor to employee) and my interview today has been postponed to Monday. I live in an area where there are very few reported cases, but people are wiping out the stores.

    14. Grace*

      The other side of things – my company is hiring for four different positions and bar a couple of pre-confirmed interviews that are for the moment staying on the calendar (that may change), the listings are being pulled.

      We’re all taking laptops and chargers home nightly in expectation of being told overnight to work from home for the foreseeable future, and it was decided that it wouldn’t be fair to either start interviews and then cancel or to hire straight into a WFH situation and have all training via Zoom and Slack. It’s also giving folks the chance to update the listings to possible pull more candidates (I’m not involved in hiring, but apparently improvements were needed) and reposting in May/June will open it up to new grads.

      I completely recognise how frustrating it must be from the job-hunting end of things, though.

    15. Would-Be Event Planner*

      I squeezed in an interview on Wednesday right before my city really started shutting down, and I got the job! I was so relieved. If I were still looking I’d be doing all phone interviews. I have to protect my 93-year-old immunocompromised stepfather.

    16. Witty Nickname*

      I already work from home full time, but found out that my company is making plans to close down all of the offices and have everyone wfh for the near future.

      The impact it will have to me is that they will start requiring cameras for meetings; my office space is in my bedroom, which is the room in our tiny apartment where everything goes when it doesn’t have a place. My camera points directly at the pile of stuff that keeps my closet door from closing, so I have to figure out what to do with that (currently, I have a sticker over the camera so it doesn’t show anything). And I will no longer be able to work in my pajamas with no bra on, no make up, and hair not done (well, I will probably still do no makeup and just throw my hair in a messy bun. I don’t care that much). I am hoping they announce it next week to start the following week, when I am on PTO for spring break and will have time to do some organizing. That or I will just hang a giant piece of the most gaudy fabric I can find behind me so they don’t see the mess.

      Our school district just announced they are closing for the next 2 weeks and then possibly doing virtual school after that, so I’ll also have to deal with kids being home and possibly online at the same time. We’ve been having internet issues so that’s going to be fun.

      1. Witty Nickname*

        And obviously, I missed the word “search” in the original post. That’s how my job will be impacted. My husband is searching, and I basically expect nothing from that until this is over. :(

        Good luck to everyone searching right now!

      2. Locket*

        Hooks to the ceiling, drape a curtain of some sort behind you? IKEA has great little rods and rollers for curtains hanging from the ceiling, as well, which can be a nice backdrop/”I’m working” signal.

    17. J.B.*

      I think that lots of jobs will be impacted for a long time. We’ll see what develops. For now I’m thankful I have flexibility.

    18. Origamist*

      I have an interview on Monday that’s currently still on, but that could still change. It’s at a museum, which has closed to the public but the offices are still open. They gave me a choice to change to a video interview but I’m still going in.

    19. nonprofit director*

      On the hiring side. We we really hoping to bring someone one at the end of this month or early April and were getting ready to start second-round interviews. Effective this morning, we’re encouraged to work from home and discouraged from having any face-to-face meetings, so no interviews for the foreseeable future. Part of the second round interview involves things that can’t be easily assessed in a Zoom or similar meeting. We’ll be reaching out to the candidates to let them know we’re interested, but can’t proceed right now.

    20. Lives in a Shoe*

      I actually went in to the office yesterday, the first day everyone was ordered home to work, for interview #2 for The Job I Really Want.

      And I think it went well? But the hiring manager told me they weren’t going to extend an offer to anyone until we were able to back to the office for work. Sigh.

      Good luck, everyone. I think it’s going to be lots of disruption for a while.

    21. Filosofickle*

      Not exactly the same, but I am hunting for freelance work. Due to a perfect storm of stuff I currently have no active projects. I’ve been self-employed for 15 years and I’ll get through this, but with zero income it’s critical I get something booked, soon.

      I am reaching out to people, but it’s awkward and potentially insensitive to be in super-sales mode. In-person meetings are not viable right now. Networking coffees are out, too. Social media is overwhelmed with the pandemic. Business goes on so I’m hoping to find the people who are looking but I’m definitely afraid to push too much. The timing isn’t ideal.

    22. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I’ve got a job application I’m going to submit next week, but I’m wondering if the project they are hiring for will be postponed. I should really look at online jobs like mechanical Turk or similar.

    23. noahwynn*

      I work for an airline and we shut down all hiring with the exception of pilots. We also can’t have visitors at our office, so even those interviews are all video now.

    24. LabTechNoMore*

      I’m under quarantine, but so far it’s worked to my advantage for the phone and video interviews, since I don’t have to duck out of the office to take these calls. If I get to the on-site, depending on their timing I might be able to schedule after my quarantine’s over. But then I would need to figure out how to get out of work after not being there for 2 weeks.

    25. Unemployed Fed*

      I am on unemployment right now. As most job applications are online, I don’t see a problem. Of course, I’m getting no interviews, so that’s not an issue yet. But I have to go into the workforce office for meetings, which is marlarky right now — I am T1 and don’t need more public exposure. Jeez.

    26. tamarack and fireweed*

      I’m a finalist for an academic position and was scheduled for on-campus interviews the week after next. In fact, I just provided the search committee with the titles of my two public presentations. I haven’t heard back, and know that one of my competitors (who’s also a collaborator), who was supposed to go first Mon/Tue this upcoming week, is not going forward as planned. Their public talks have not been advertised, and neither have mine. I don’t know what they’re working out and am preparing for both eventualities: That my talks, interviews and meetings will be moved online, and that everything will be rescheduled. The latter will be hard as the semester ends early May.

  8. Diahann Carroll*

    So my company sent out two emails yesterday pertaining to the coronavirus. The first was updating our business travel ban – now no international or domestic travel will be allowed through April 30. Anyone who already booked trips, especially internationally, are having their flights cancelled. They also decided to encourage everyone who can to work from home from now until the end of the month – I’m curious how long they’ll carry this out.

    I mean, we’re a software company, so most of our positions can be done remotely anyway; but, I’m very concerned about job security right now. If every company around the globe does this and the economy goes left, I could end up unemployed only months into a very expensive (for me) lease. No one needs software – they need insurance, they need power and electric, they need water. I don’t know, this is beginning to trigger my OCD and anxiety. I would call my therapist, but I really don’t want to be spending money right now just in case I have to spend it someplace else (like rent, should I end up downsized).

    1. Nita*

      I’m sorry this is happening! What kind of software? I would think people actually need software more than before, if many people are working from home.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I would say what our software does, but I think a coworker reads this blog, so to retain my anonymity, I’ll just say that a lot of the bids we put in are for upgrades to existing software our customers already have or add-ons. Basically, companies could get away with not buying from us for awhile – unless they have one of our suite of products that’s about to be discontinued. Renewals do well profit-wise, but we really look at new business as our bread and butter – that’s where the bulk of our revenue comes from.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Once more tests are available and hysteria dies down, it’ll be back to business as usual! I know it’s scary AF right now for everyone and our memories are long, so we’re thinking about the Great Recession in all it’s ugly glory. But it’s going to be okay.

      Unless you’re a very fragile kind of company already, it should bounce back. Technology is a strong hold, it’s true luxury items that will take the bit the biggest in the end. Software is required for a lot of things, unless you’re just making video games but then when we’re locked up without access outside, people want entertainment and they’ll seek out the entertainment value items as well. We’ll all get through this. But it is good to try to take the moment to save money in the meantime!!!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        The recession is exactly where my mind went – I could not get a job after losing my little work study job (hit my yearly allowance) for anything. It took me almost a year after graduating college to find another position, and that one was supposed to be part-time (luckily, they let me work full-time) at $8/hr. I cannot afford to go through something that dire again.

        But yes, I will most definitely cut back and start saving again as much as possible. I already cancelled a hair appointment (and I feel awful because I know my hairdresser relies on her appointments so much and she’ll struggle with her two kids if she can’t work because people cancel) and plan on doing that for the foreseeable future until this blows over.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Try to remind yourself [I know it’s kind of futile to do so but sometimes repeating things to yourself does help after awhile], that this is not you fresh out of college and work study.

          You have all your education behind you, you have a decent amount of experience.

          I know it’s hard because I had friends who graduated into the recession and they were out of work and couldn’t even get retail gigs for YEARS and have just somewhat recently dug out. But now they have upwards of 3 or 4 years of experience. That’s a huge leg up, you’re now in the running, whereas with just work study and education, you were already in the hole.

          I lived through the recession as well. With companies that were hit pretty hard but didn’t crumble, in an industry that was absolutely a luxury item in the end. It’s still going, it only didn’t recover and start booming again because the ownership isn’t interested in the kind of marketing that needs to be done [that’s another rant of its own!]. They say manufacturing is a dying industry and yet here we all stand, going forward.

          This is from the daughter of a person with timber industry background. That industry died. That’s the one that crumbled around people’s ears! My dad was lucky to get out with early retirement when he did. And yet it still chugs along in a lesser capacity.

          It’s written press and that kind of thing that will die eventually but like hell tech/software and the like will go the way of the dodo and physical newspapers! But look at how magazines/print have still survived over the years as well, they still exist but they’re digital. As a society we evolve. Where jobs die, others are born. As much as the conspiracy theories try to make us think about it, no robots aren’t going to make us all unnecessary either :)

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Lol! Although I wouldn’t mind having a robot to replace me right now so it could do all of my cleaning – these disinfecting sprays and cleaners are really starting to mess with my allergies.

            1. Not a cat*

              Totally get why you want to maintain anonymity. If you work where I think you do, your company was a strategic partner of my old employer and I ran our side of the relationship. Anywhoo– I was in that role for over 10 years and I never heard that your employer conducted layoffs. Ever. Their/your big strategic vertical tends to buy during recessions.

              Just trying to make you feel better.

              1. Diahann Carroll*

                Thank you – that reassurance does help. My grandboss also just sent out an email with his boss, the division VP, copied thanking us for all our hard work and emphasizing how important we are to the business, so I hope the VP remembers that, lol.

    3. Sherm*

      We do need software! My field is pretty much on the power/electric level of necessity, and I’m trying to think what I could do without software. The only thing I can think of is that I suppose I could go to a few meetings. But without software I couldn’t tell anyone there that I did any work.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This is very reassuring. Seriously – I had to go take a walk to calm down. I do not like this situation at all and hope it’s over soon.

    4. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      Every company is a technology company these days. Trust me, I work for a company making software for an industry you probably never even thought of as using software. (I won’t say which industry – there aren’t many companies making software for it, and I’d basically out myself.) Our customers use our software on a daily basis (source: current employee of ours who used to be employed by a customer of ours). So even if your industry isn’t well positioned for the current pandemic, lots of other companies are – heathcare software, insurance software, grocery delivery coordination software, video conferencing software (so much video conferencing software right now)…

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I really wish we were in healthcare software right now – anything healthcare related is usually pretty solid regardless of the economy.

    5. J.B.*

      I would do all the self care things you can right now. If exercise helps schedule it every day, take naps if those help, little comforting rituals, etc. If you take medications see if you can buy ahead somewhat, I’ve seen some warnings about supply chain. Take whatever downtime you need for you, but if there’s extra time left over maybe instead of Netflix turn to online learning for some skill that might help. Hugs.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I do yoga five times a week, and that helps a little (I’m having my down time today, but will be back at it tomorrow). I’m also going to try to make an effort to take more walks around my apartment building’s courtyard, being careful not to touch anything of course. I think because the weather where I am has been dreary more often than not and I haven’t really been outside for fear of contamination, the lack of natural sunlight is affecting my mental health. I also keep obsessively reading every article I can on this virus, so that’s probably not helping either. I definitely plan to curb that starting today.

      2. Amethystmoon*

        That and some of us may need to actually eat carbs, in order to keep our brains from panicking and also to avoid sleepless nights. I got very little sleep last night due to anxiety about this whole thing hitting close to home, but was able to get a nap in today.

  9. On that Academic Job Market Grind*

    In the midst of a lot of COVID-related fear and anxiety, I got a TT job! Thanks to everyone here and Alison for the advice!

    1. fposte*

      Congratulations! Aside from the joy of having the job, you don’t have to negotiate interviewing amid coronavirus–we’re going nuts with that on the hiring end.

      1. On that Academic Job Market Grind*

        My friends who haven’t landed anything for next year yet are also very stressed about this! Can you say anything about how your institution/department is handling it?

        1. Dr. Doll*

          All searches now to be held via zoom. If you can’t do that, the search is cancelled. (I’m not at fposte’s org, but in case you were interested generally.)

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, that’s where we went as well, but it’s involving a lot of last-minute cancellations from planned campus visits.

            So far, though, there’s no change in the actual plans to hire, whether we’re talking faculty, GAs, or staff. It’s just the process that’s gotten knocked on its ass.

            1. On that Academic Job Market Grind*

              oof, what a mess. hope this whole crisis doesn’t last long! :(

      1. Amy Sly*

        Tenure track academic position is the most likely.

        In which case, good for them! They beat some incredible odds.

    2. NJBi*

      Congratulations!!!!! That’s such a huge accomplishment!!

      Academic Twitter is such a weird place right now… my feed is 3/4 “how to teach remotely”, 1/4 “I got a TT” or “I got tenure!”

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Also, I just want to add that yesterday my partner and I talked for a while about the affect of the pandemic on the job market. If he had been looking this year, I think it would have been absolutely horrible just in terms of stress and uncertainty. I am beyond happy that your search is wrapped up now and I hope it’s the same for the rest of your cohort!

    4. Mad Woman*

      Congrats! My husband is applying for postdocs and has gotten all rejections so far, so all the COVID stuff plus that is sending me into a spin. I just want to know if we’ll have jobs or homes…

    5. On that track and just made Full*

      Congratulations. I know what an accomplishment it is just to get this job. To the AAM crowd, OTAJMG deserves a parade!

  10. Barbee*

    Any former teachers out there who made a successful career change? What did you go into & how did you do it?

    1. The Rural Juror*

      A friend of mine quit teaching about 2 years ago. She was hired as a receptionist at a large company, then promoted to an admin position. It’s not the most glamorous job, but she really seems to like her coworkers and is happier there.

      Good luck!

    2. triplehiccup*

      I got my master’s in statistics and did research and evaluation for an education consulting nonprofit for a few years. Now I work in consumer education for a federal agency and I love it. Still education but in different contexts, basically. There’s also corporate education/training, which is a pretty broad and varied field – you could be a trainer, a train-the-trainer, an online learning designer, etc.

      1. Invisible Fish*

        How did you find this job/field? I’m an educator hoping to switch, and that sounds intriguing; where/how could I start that search?

    3. Lucy McGillicuddy*

      A friend of mine went from a middle school Spanish teacher to college admissions. She just applied a lot! There are tons of transferable skills there – knowing how to talk with students is valuable. Anyway, it’s been 7 or so years by now and she loves it and has moved up in her office quite a bit.

    4. Eba*

      Not sure how relevant this will be to you, but I tried to get outside-of-the-classroom experience. I volunteered for a political campaign and got a volunteer position managing other volunteers. The job I eventually got was in higher education– I’m pretty sure a big thing that helped was that on my resume, I listed my work with college volunteers on that campagin. I volunteered at a free clinic and got administrative experience. This would be hard to do during the school year, but summer would be a perfect time to increase your paid/unpaid non-teaching work experience.

      As someone who hires, if someone has a ton of teaching-0nly experience, that’s hard, if it’s not a teaching position. But if there are other things you can do, either by volunteering or freelancing on the side (or even school related stuff like managing a club), that can help. It also helps to look really closely at job descriptions, and tailor your resume/cover letter to whatever they’re asking.

      Tell them *why* your teaching skills/experience would make you better at this job. Maybe you work with diverse populations, and would also being doing that in a new job. Teaching involves a lot of communication with parents/families. Maybe you’re really good at that, and have developed some interesting methods that might be relevant to other jobs. Maybe you’re department chair, and have been tasked with organizing weekly meetings/keeping people on track. It’s going to be on you to connect the dots for your future employer, and really spell out how your experience meets their job responsibilities. Don’t talk about how the job would be good for you (unless they explicitly ask why you’re switching). Talk about how you would be good for the job.

      And.. I did take a pay cut. I was in my mid 20s. I don’t regret it at all. I’m now, 10 years later, making about 20k more than I was while teaching (from $39k to $59k). But originally I was making $7k less.

      1. Eba*

        Oh, and I went from teaching elementary school for 3 years to working in higher education. I started out in a study abroad office at a university and now work with international students on visa issues. I essentially started as a secretary, and worked my way up.

    5. Tuckerman*

      I worked in daycare and then transitioned to a call center where I became a supervisor. With the supervisory experience, I was able to get a supervisor job at a University. With a teacher credential, you might be able to go into a higher ed role immediately. Some positions/locations pay surprisingly well.

    6. Amy Sly*

      My sister went back and got her masters in Speech Pathology. She still gets to work at the school, work with the kids, but doesn’t have to deal with most of the frustrations that made her hate teaching.

      Speech Paths also work in hospitals and nursing homes as well.

    7. De Minimis*

      Not me, but a lot of people at my previous employer [an education-related nonprofit] started out as classroom teachers. There are quite a few non-profits serving that sector, so it could be a good option.

    8. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Following! I’ve taught for the last 7 years around the globe then got my MBA and am job hunting and would love any advice. I did have a job in recruitment for a construction company before we moved to Germany and enjoyed learning the HR aspect. I’m applying for different paid internships here in marketing, finance, and banking so maybe something will work out.

    9. KX*

      I was getting my masters (an MA, not an MEd) already when I left teaching. I did admin office work until I found my way into educational publishing, and got into content editing. My credential was in English but I’d been teaching a math class, and there weren’t a lot of math people with writing/editing/math combo. I was one of very few people interviewed.

      The olden days (early 2000s)

    10. Green Goose*

      I left teaching and then did my MA Education, and then got a job at an education nonprofit on the admin side where I’ve been able to move up multiple times. It’s been great and Hiring views prior teaching experience as a plus.

      When I was job searching I just googled “best education nonprofits in [city]” and applied to all of those with entry-level openings and ended up getting hired at one.

    11. Panthera uncia*

      Not a teacher, but in a family/social circle full of them.

      Corporate training and instructional design is HUGE for former teachers, particularly for liberal arts and tech subjects.

      Former science teachers with an actual BS in their subject matter (versus “just” a teaching degree with a subject concentration) have gone on to lab bench/pharma jobs.

      Teachers with ESL grad degrees are being recruited like crazy for higher ed jobs, particularly in the southwestern US.

      1. Eba*

        whereas ESL on the east cost is definitely dying. In a recent non ESL position that we were hiring for, there were so many current/former ESL teachers applying. So definitely know your area on this one!

    12. RecoveringSWO*

      My friend went into private tutoring with a company that pays slightly higher than her teacher’s salary. She tutors most admission’s tests and has a few clients for the subject she taught. Much less hours and stress, but she isn’t completely free from some of the aspects of teaching that she didn’t like. It’s a good option if you want to transition out of education but need time to figure out what field you want to enter.

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        Psst. This isn’t the company she works for, but I love the AAM community enough that I feel like I need to drop this tidbit in for anyone who may be a good fit. My understanding is that Blueprint LSAT prep pays six figures. You’re only eligible if you score ridiculously high on the LSAT, so most applicants could go to a top law school and draw six figures in BigLaw. Except, you don’t have to go to law school at all to teach for them. So if you don’t want to go to law school but like teaching or standardized testing, you might be able to score a great gig

    13. Meyla*

      My husband did not renew his contract teaching middle school math at the end of the 2017-2018 school year. He spent the next 5 months hitting the books and teaching himself Java and general software development techniques and practices. He got a job for a small software contracting company in November 2018 and is currently on a project for AT&T. He’s 100x happier than he was teaching and he’s been hugely successful in this role.

      He had a headstart since his undergrad was in math (which is a common degree of software engineers), he had taken two development classes in college, and I’m a software developer who’s been to many interviews and could provide tips/hints. He is also REALLY great at teaching himself things without classes/guidance/getting distracted/becoming demotivated. He did start to get discouraged because it took him around 50 applications to get an offer, but I think that’s something most people would go through when competing with applicants who have industry experience.

    14. Sleve McDichael*

      My Mum was a primary teacher and had to retire for medical reasons, so she started a day care from her old rental property. She’s her own boss and she’s worked up to one staff member and 50 kids (not all at once, obviously). Because most of the childcarers in our region used to be untrained and still now only need a Certificate, she quickly got a reputation as the high-class daycare where the children did play-based learning instead of being plonked in front of a TV or shoved outside in an empty backyard. She charges more than average and always has a waiting list. We’re non-US though, so ymmv.

    15. Thorisa*

      Me! I ended up in higher ed, and I love it. I found that the things I liked about teaching were more records and information-based, rather than being in front of a classroom. I spent a long time working at a coffee shop while subbing, and reading A LOT of AAM.

      I got my foot in the door at the local university with a receptionist job, where I dealt with scheduling and some health records. I liked that job, but still wasn’t really sure what I really wanted until I happened across an opening in academic records. “YEP. THAT’S ME.” I’ve been there almost 3 years and get nothing but stellar reviews. I’ve found my people. I get to be involved in education without the constant stress of being in the classroom, but I’ve also volunteered for a ton of training opportunities. I get to teach, but in a different capacity, and not ALL the time.

      My cover letter definitely got me noticed (thanks, Alison!), but there are so many things from teaching that can be adapted for other fields too. The key is to be able to make those things relevant and tell them WHY you want something else in your cover letter. I will also say that when I was interviewing, people were often surprisingly VERY interested in my coffee experience, even moreso than the teaching.

    16. Nott the Brave*

      Not a former teacher, but a lot of my instructional design coworkers came from a teaching background.

    17. Skeeder Jones*

      I didn’t make a similar career change but I know a number of people that were teachers and now work in corporate learning and development. In fact, I completed a certification in Instructional Design and we had a ton of people in all of my classes who were working on a transition from teaching.

    18. Dave*

      I have a food truck. We provide goodies at festivals and other events, not set up on the street and work 5 days a week. It was a significant learning curve but much less than my first year teaching. This year looks scary with many events already cancelled or delayed but financially it’s been much more rewarding than teaching ever was.

  11. Maternity leave as a manager*

    Is this an irrational fear to have? God willing I will be going on maternity leave eventually and have begun planning for it. I told my boss and grandboss early on as well as my report b/c he will be taking over as acting manager of our team while I am away. 

    I’m a manager, and my report is a supervisor. We split some duties but I take on more of the planning aspect while he helps wiht the technical. Altogether we have a team of 8 remote workers and everything has been going well so far. He is very professional and has a great work ethic along with other skills. The shortcomings he does have, I’ve been working on coaching him since he began to report to me. 

    I’m certain he will do a good job while I’m away but I want to make sure he has all the tools and resources for him and our team to succeed. On the other hand, while I know he will do a good job, I don’t want him to get burned out by doing this all alone. 

    Now the (irrational?) fear I have is….as hard as I am trying to make sure e the team is in good shape while I’m away….I am a little worried that he will be so good that I will be let go while on leave or after my leave. I will be using FMLA. I’m also a little worried that my pregnancy will be used against me when it comes to raise and performance evaluations. 

    FWIW, I don’t see that type of behavior has played out in the 6 years I’ve been here. Several have gone on leave and came back to their jobs or became SAHMs but everyone had a different situation so I can’t say for 100% certainty that anyone has or hasn’t been “punished” for being pregnant. I was reading the pregnancy thread earlier this week and I haven’t been treated any differently due to my pregnancy than I was before I announced it. 

    1. Rey*

      This isn’t an irrational fear, but I don’t know that there’s anything specific you can do at this point at your job that would prevent it. I think the biggest determination of whether employees are punished for being pregnant is their supervisor and office culture, and I think if you had been there for 6 years, you would have seen or heard something. FMLA is supposed to be job protection, so they couldn’t explicitly fire you for pregnancy, but I know that plenty of women still experience prejudice when they return to work. I’m so sorry that you’re in this position, that you have to spend time during your pregnancy thinking about it, and that the US doesn’t provide better protection for you during this time.

      The only actionable thing I can think of would be preparing yourself if you needed to find a new job, so you could work on your resume and see if you have any connections that you can tap into for that. If this is a concern, think about where your finances are and what, if anything, you want to do right now to prepare for that aspect of things.

      I’m so sorry, sending best wishes for everything.

      1. Amy Sly*

        And I had a friend who did use her maternity leave for job hunting, just because she thought it might be time to move on. No harm in updating your resume and putting feelers out.

      2. Maternity leave as a manager*

        Thanks. Luckily my boss is very supportive and on my side, but I don’t know how grand-boss would be. She’s been nice to me, and saying all the right things and has the right reactions, but she has been known to be nice to your face and cutthroat afterwards. HR assured me that I can’t get fired during leave, but there’s no guarantee that I can’t get fired before or after.

    2. Jemima Bond*

      Wouldn’t that basically be firing you for taking maternity leave? Whether the actual firing happens before or after the leave – it’s still as a result of it. Which would be firing you for being pregnant. Which would be discrimination (on the grounds of sex, or maybe medical grounds – I believe Alison said the other day, pregnancy counts under disability rules).
      How could it not be illegal?

      1. Maternity leave as a manager*

        I was told by HR that being fired during FMLA is illegal but not before or after. And from reading everything here and in other articles etc, employers CAN manufacture reasons to let employees go.. whether the maternity is conscious or unconscious.

    3. ten-four*

      I agree that this is NOT an irrational fear and also that there’s not a lot you can do about it at your current job. I was laid off during my maternity leave in the aftermath of the big 2008 crash. It was Not Fun. The steps you might consider taking are:
      + Getting a little more aggressive about building up cash-on-hand by cutting expenses now. Cushions are nice!
      + Updating your resume and making copies of anything you might need from your current job to support a job hunt.
      + Doing a little thoughtwork on whether or not you’d immediately hunt for a new job or try being a SAHM for a while. It’s good to have your Plans B and C lined up.
      + Continuing to prep your replacement. A piece of that you may wish to consider: establishing an overt expectation with him, your team, and your boss that he will be doing bare minimum maintenance while you’re out, not doing your job + his job. Essentially, his role is to keep things ticking along, not trying to achieve at your levels. I am 99% sure that Allison has a column about how the goal of mat leave is to maintain a baseline, not as a person to do 2 jobs – might be worth doing some digging!

      I think it’s good that you’re thinking ahead like this – I was blindsided. I wound up sort of falling into being a SAHM, and it was a really rough transition because I didn’t choose it and I didn’t plan for it. Channeling your fear about this into some light planning is a really good way to manage it!

      And for what it’s worth: I’m back on career track and doing great now! Even if you do lose your job you’ll find a path forward.

      1. Maternity leave as a manager*

        Thanks for this, this is really helpful!

        I didn’t consider that his goal is to do the baseline, not do 2 jobs in 1! I’ll search AAM archives for something about this.

        I did actually speak to my therapist about this and he said “don’t give him all the keys to the castle.” which sounds pretty similar to this.

        Thanks again!

      2. Maternity leave as a manager*

        Thank you this is so comprehensive and what I was looking for.

        I absolutely did not consider that the aim of maternity leave is to have baseline performance, NOT succeed at doing 2 jobs in 1! I will tell him everything I do but I dont’ think it is realistic to expect 1 person to do the jobs of 2. I’ll look through the archives for more maternity leave posts.

      3. Maternity leave as a manager*

        Also, I did talk to my therapist about thsi briefly and he said “Don’t give him all the keys to the castle.” so I thought that was interesting.

    4. (insert name here)*

      Honestly, this is not an irrational fear. I went on maternity leave twice for the same company.

      The first time they were so thrilled to have me back and definitely the maternity leave was not held against me.

      The second time not so much. It was clear my team resented my absence and I got snide comments every time I left to pump, to the point that I stopped pumping at work and dropped down to only nursing in the morning and evening. I was laid off 9 months later. I think the biggest reason they resented me when I returned was that they liked the temp more than they liked me.

      It took them almost 2 years to replace me. I landed in a better job with a significant pay increase and room for growth. It worked out for the best for me personally, but it’s not an unfounded fear.

  12. Handwashing Hero*

    Just wanted to share that today I was an office hero.

    We have a single use bathroom within our lab space. Strangely enough a coworker from outside the lab has been coming in to use and ‘abuse’ it. Even worse he comes in uses the bathroom and clearly does not wash his hands afterwards or spray after a particularly smelly visit. How do we know? The walls are thin and the fan not terribly loud, our paper towel dispenser makes a loud noise and it’s painfully obvious when the toilet is still flushing and you are walking out without washing.

    We were perplexed with how to deal with this until today. With COVID-19 being such a concern I took a deep breath and acted.

    He again came in this morning, used the bathroom and didn’t wash. As he walked by my desk I pointedly asked him if the bathroom was out of paper towels because if so I would get the cleaning crew to supply us. He stumbled, mumbled at me like a 4 year that got caught not washing their hands and I responded with washing your hands is really important always and especially right now. 

    He went back and washed his hands then walked out an appropriate shade of red. My coworkers cheered.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Honestly, I care a lot more that people wash their hands when they first come into the office, after they’ve been on the bus, at the gas station, etc., handling all the stuff you handle when you’re out in public.

      1. Handwashing Hero*

        I do as well!! But if this interaction discourages him from using the bathroom in here to dump in than going to the larger, closer to him shared men’s room then so be it.

        But I really only give it a 50/50 of working.

        1. sacados*

          Maybe next time pointedly ask him if you need to get maintenance to resupply the Poo-Purri bottle? haha

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      That’s amazing!

      My husband has been working from home all week because he has multiple coworkers who blatantly refuse to wash their hands. They’ve been called out and they still won’t do it. He was like “if they will not wash their hands I will not be in this office”.

      And it’s not just that they fall in that weird group of men who somehow think “just” peeing doesn’t require washing (blech I don’t want to touch your dick hands), it’s after pooping too. It’s literally insane to me.

      1. Handwashing Hero*

        Ugh so gross. I’m so sad to hear there are a weird group and he’s not just a special unicorn of non-washing.

        I just can’t.

      2. LKW*

        I’m baffled as how some people equate being a inconsiderate pathogen spreader with being macho.

      3. Director of Alpaca Exams*

        My partner works with bro-dude types who loudly proclaim that they don’t get flu shots. He was so relieved when the head of the company told everyone to WFH so he didn’t have to try to argue the bro-dudes into it. Being macho will not save you from disease!

      4. tangerineRose*

        Don’t they understand that when they flush the toilet, they’re touching something that a lot of people with fresh e-coli on their hands have touched. Also, what about leaving the bathroom stall and undoing the lock? How many people touched that with unclean hands?

        Plus, it’s just gross. Many of us think less of people who don’t wash their hands after using the toilet.

    3. ampersand*

      Woo hoo! This is so important right now. Good for you for saying something—that’s not easy!

      1. Handwashing Hero*

        It was so not easy!! I am non-confrontational and in general an introvert but good lord was this bothering me.

        It helped that my other coworker was paralyzed with a face full of obscenities after his umpteenth time of doing this in our bathroom. I just took a deep breath and went for it.

    4. Sherm*

      That’s awesome! I can’t believe people are STILL not washing their hands, but sounds like there’s now one fewer :)

    5. General von Klinkerhoffen*


      It’s rare that it’s appropriate to break the illusion that bathroom walls are perfectly soundproof. It was entirely appropriate in this case!

    6. Annie Nymous*

      Kudos for speaking up. It takes nerve but, as the saying goes, you gotta speak the truth even when your voice shakes.

    7. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Well done! People who don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom are gross. I once had a colleague who did that, but in the ladies’ room. If we saw her in there after coming out of the stall, she’d say hi, even contribute to the conversation and then leave without washing her hands. Among ourselves, we said she was on the ‘gross list’ made a point of not being behind her in the buffet line at our pot luck lunches! It was a shame because she was super nice, but, really, wash your hands! :)

  13. Stephanie*

    We were just told work remotely until further notice at my company, unless your job cannot be done remotely (I work at an automaker, so that is mostly people who work at the assembly plants). My department told us to work from home today to see how the VPN handled all the traffic. It has been ok. Things are noticeably slow.

    Any tips on effective WFH? I work from home on a one-off basis (like if I’m fighting off a cold or have a doctor’s appointment or am traveling for work), but not for extended periods of time like this.

    1. Moi*


      So, my husband works from home exclusively, and these are a few things he’s noted.

      Having a dedicated office that can be left at the end of the day. Right now, his ‘desk’ is a folding table, so he’s kind of stuck at it. He wants to build a desk that will allow him to block off his Home stuff while he’s working, and Work stuff while he’s home.

      Having people to communicate with. He goes absolutely stir crazy because he doesn’t have the watercooler talk like you would get in a normal office. Since he works with a lot of folks in other office or who are also remote, they all use video with the conferences to help with the lack of face to face.

      Going for walks. He finds he’ll end up spending all day at his computer and only get up for food. He’s been working on carving time out so he actually is active, and it’s helping out.

      Being somewhere you like. He got dibs on the window in office since he works from home, and it makes such a difference in his mood. He added a bird feeder late last year, and is planning on expanding it out so he can see more wildlife.

      This is also a neat article from Trello. I think they primarily have remote workers as well, so it’s neat to see what they recommend.

      1. Troutwaxer*

        At one point I was working from home, from a desk in the bedroom, and if I woke up at night and saw my computer I’d get really anxious. So I put a sheet over the desk just before bed and slept very well – I just had to know that work was closed, and the sheet was enough!

    2. SQL Coder Cat*

      I’m looking for suggestions as well. My employer wants everyone who can work from home to do so, and in the IT department that’s almost everyone. So far our VPN is holding up, but a lot of people are still in the office today and gathering up their setups to take home tonight. I’m carving out a dedicated space (when I’ve worked from home in the past, I’ve used the dining room table, but I’m setting up a desk in the corner of the bedroom). When I’ve done occasional work from home, I tended to ‘save up’ things that were easier to do remotely for my work from home days.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        Also looking for suggestions for people temporary working from home the next few weeks and so glad I found this thread! I’ve already been feeling a bit stircrazy after a couple days, haha.

    3. OhBehave*

      Set up a space at home for your office. Mirror your work space in the office (stapler, files, etc.). Keep your morning routine. Dress for the office, if a bit more comfy! It may take a day or two to acclimate, but you will.

    4. lurker :)*

      Hey there!

      I primarily work from home and have found that setting up a routine and giving yourself a “work place” whether it be a chair or at your table, or a guest room, is enormously helpful.

      Every morning I try to get up and my husband and I go through our regular schedule to get the kiddo dressed/fed/clean and off to school (although this part of the routine is about to end as her school is closing…) and walk the dog and then I go to my comfy work chair. Once in the chair I am able to get into a work mindset and I try not to sit in that chair otherwise. I also try to build a half hour or fifteen minute blocks into my schedule to walk around the block or make lunch or start the laundry.

      Hope this helps!

    5. Em*

      Hiya! I work from home as a matter of course (call centre for an EAP provider) and while my position has a set shift which makes things a bit easier, other WFH positions I’ve had have been a bit more blurry in terms of timekeeping.

      For me, the main thing is setting a couple of things which keep the boundaries from blurring, otherwise I feel like I am always at work. A separate space that is work-only is something I’ve recently been able to have, and that’s been great, but it’s not always possible (shared apartments meaning my office is my bedroom, lack of space in general, that kind of thing.)

      Some other ways to separate:
      I walk to and from work. Quick turn around the block or, in inclement weather, just the perimeter of my home, in one direction before work and the other direction after work.
      I have office shoes! My regular clothes don’t change, but I have a pair of very nice heels that I cannot walk in, but as I sit down to work that’s fine. They make my feet feel different when I’m working, so psychologically that physical feeling is connected to work for me. As a bonus, I get to peep at my feet periodically and think “yay, nice shoes!”
      This job provided me with all the gear, including a laptop. I do not do personal things on this laptop. I do not do work things on my own machine.

      So that I do not turn into a hermit (that one Oatmeal comic is spot-on), I have scheduled activities that require me to leave the house and Do Things With People — choir, a biweekly D&D game, community theatre, that kind of thing. Obviously given the reasons for a lot of people suddenly working remotely, that might not be possible/ideal, but it’s important over the long run.

      It’s also important to not underestimate of using whatever real-time communication software your company has (Skype? Teams? Slack? Discord?) for non-work conversations — have and use a social channel. A cover-all “morning, everyone, hope you’re doing well!” on the team channel is good and I try to reach out to at least two colleagues individually through the day just to say or to check in on them (“Hey, from the questions you’ve been sending to the group, it sounds like you’re getting all the really special situations today! You holding up?”) My team is mainly all in the office, so it’s important to have that social bond so that we’re all comfortable reaching out to each other for help with tasks or moral support*. Small talk is _important_, and the nice thing about it being in a chat form means it’s less disruptive than standing at someone’s desk.

      *Depending on your line of work, moral support’s especially important. We speak with a lot of people and some of them are having mental health crises — I had to call an ambulance for someone last week because they couldn’t promise us they wouldn’t do something drastic — , and obviously due to confidentiality, speaking about particular calls with friends and family is ethically iffy, so having each other to lean on’s vital.

      1. WellRed*

        We just set up Slack for this reason. We’re such a small office that we’ve never really needed it.

        1. Em*

          Slack has some great plugins — never underestimate the cheering power of a team gif battle!

    6. Damn it, Hardison!*

      The thing that helps me most is to stick as closely as possible to my regular routine. I get up at my regular time, take a shower/dry my hair, have breakfast and get to work in my office. I limit what things I do around the house to my lunch hour. I log off at my regular time. I’m lucky that my only distractions are furry ones, and they are content to sleep next to me most of the time.

    7. ten-four*

      Make sure your set-up is ergonomic, at least on the basics. Have a decent chair, organize a monitor that you can look straight at, make sure you have a keyboard and mouse. In general you want to make sure you aren’t just hunched over using your tiny laptop stuff all day every day.

      I know this because I’ve been remote-first for three years, and I didn’t have an ergonomic set up until I borked my wrists so badly I had to go to PT!

    8. Skeeder Jones*

      Boundaries are super important. I have a desk set up with a docking station and 3 monitors so I don’t have to squint at a tiny laptop screen. I also put on “fresh” clothes each day, which basically means I don’t work in the same clothes I just slept in, however the clothes might be similar to the clothes I slept in (think leggings and lounge clothes). There are things I know I should be doing (like taking regular breaks away from the work space) but I have always been a “work through lunch” person except for the few times where I’ve had jobs where I wasn’t exempt) but in general I quit work at the 5pm mark. My whole team is remote so we stay close through Teams chats.

  14. Cabbagepants*

    Hi Alison! I sent in a question over a year ago and you said you wanted to answer it on the podcast. The podcast was discontinued but I’m still interested in your answer! Are those questions giong to be answered? Or maybe you answered and I missed it? It was about getting a job offer with a much higher salary than for most others in the job role and had the word “bullseye” in the subject.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If it’s over a year old and you still want it answered, please resubmit it. I do sometimes take months to answer a question — my backlog is enormous — but once it’s that old I normally would not. Thank you! (Full disclosure: it still might not get answered; the volume of questions I get is much higher than I can answer. But that’ll get it back in my queue for consideration.)

      1. Cabbagepants*

        Thanks, Alison! Given your feedback, I won’t resubmit as on my end the issue was resolved (I didn’t take the offer). Cheers and thanks for all you do!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        If it helps — there is no line. There’s one massive inbox. It’s not first-come, first-served; it’s based on what inspires me to write at a particular moment and how it fits with the balance of letters I’ve printed recently. Many letters never get answered, and the ones that do are not in any particular order! (That might be more annoying to hear, but I want to manage expectations correctly.)

        1. kittymommy*

          I remember I wrote in a few years ago thinking it wouldn’t get answered (or at least in the time frame) and surprise! it was (thanks for that). It was a bit different from other letters I’ve seen, and had a short timeline, so maybe that played a factor.

  15. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    Soooo… My boss at Germany has Coronavirus. She was explicitly told to avoid going to the office, ignored it and had a meeting with someone who was positive. Now she’s working from a hospital.
    Meanwhile, we got an email from Head Office telling us all remote software updates will be halted for the time being, which means we’re going to go remote in a few days.

      1. Coder von Frankenstein*

        I would hope not. Being hospitalized with a life-threatening disease seems like plenty of consequences as it is.

        1. Mellow*

          But she was specifically told to stay away and didn’t. She knowingly might have infected others. And for that, she deserves consequences from her bosses.

    1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      No consequences, but I imagine her bosses rolled their eyes and muttered “I warned you” when she notified them… Thankfully it’s a mild case, so she is allowed to work in isolation.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          They use hospitals as quarantine until they can move them to another location if necessary.

          We don’t do that in the US because of our limited health care system that’s built for profit.

        2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

          Also, to keep her closely monitored. If nothing goes wrong (touch wood) she’ll be discharged next week.

  16. Marble Cake*

    I am planning on changing jobs. I’m currently on maternity leave. I’m taking 8-10 weeks. When should I start looking for jobs? Some have long processes while others have short processes.

    Any experience with changing jobs on maternity leave and when to start applying?

    1. Construction Safety*

      Well, I’ve never had a dog in this particular fight, but I’d suggest starting right away. (I’m assuming you can interview, if necessary, while on leave) It always takes longer than you expect.

    2. Kage*

      I switched shortly after my maternity leave. You definitely should start applying soon if you’re already out. Hiring can easily take 12+weeks so you aren’t too early by any means.

      The other thing you will want to try to figure out is whether your company and/or state has any rules related to claw-back of benefits if you leave during maternity leave. For example, some states have rules that if you leave during – or even within 30-days of returning from maternity leave – the company can require you to pay back in-full all of the contributions they may have made towards your health insurance and other benefits. Assuming you don’t want to do that, it might be safer to plan on going back to your job for a month and then giving notice…

    3. Amy Sly*

      I’d plan on starting no sooner than six weeks after the birth, simply because you’re probably not going to have the time or mental energy for it — though of course you know your situation better. Just put down whatever date you’re planning on coming back on the applications; anyone worth working for will understand that your first day is likely to be at least two weeks after they give you an offer anyway, so if your first available date is four or five weeks out (in the event they are super on the ball and manage to go from requesting applications to wanting a start date within a week) they ought to be willing to work with you.

    4. Silver Nickel*

      I actually changed jobs while on maternity leave. I wasn’t looking too seriously but did find a job I wanted and did the application and interview process before the end of my leave. I will say – I could not have done a reasonable job search and interview process any sooner than 6 weeks after the baby was born, and I did have to go back to my old job for a month to avoid paying back benefit costs, so that may be something to negotiate. Also, scope out your wardrobe and make sure you have an interview outfit that fits – pre-pregnancy clothes may not work yet. Found that out the hard way.

    5. Double A*

      I found out 2 weeks before I came back from maternity leave that they were closing my site the following June (about 5 months lead time). So I need to start job hunting immediately, when my baby about about 3.5 months old. Let me tell you, job hunting with an infant at home sucked. I didn’t feel like myself at all and was totally sleep deprived, so interviewing was hard. It was especially hard because I loved my job and completely did not want to be job hunting, so faking enthusiasm was like a knife to the heart. So if you’re choosing to be job hunting, maybe that won’t be such a factor.

      Just be prepared that you will likely take a long time to feel “normal” post-baby and that adds to the difficulty of job hunting.

  17. Amber Rose*

    We have a staff meeting next week on upcoming changes and stuff to our company. I was optimistic about it a couple months ago. Now I’m terrified that the news is gonna be “we’re bankrupt.” All our trade shows have been cancelled, inter-office travel with our US office is forbidden, out of country travel forbidden, I had to write a bunch of bulletins and notices and stuff and management is freaking out. We were supposed to release our rebrand and new logo at one of the shows next week but now I have no idea what’s happening.

    I just hate the uncertainty of it all. The stress is really getting to me. I’m exhausted and nauseous and I dread every morning going to work. :(

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Ugh I’m so sorry about that. Uncertainty is the worst and work stress is toxic. I’d honestly recommend starting to look for another job – you might not need it, but being prepared for the worst is always a good idea, and gives you a feeling of agency over your life.

      Good luck!

      1. Amber Rose*

        There aren’t any jobs, because our government has thrown all its weight behind one sinking ship and driven every other industry out.

        But we are meeting with the bank tomorrow to find out what our options are if we need to leave the province entirely.

    2. The Great Octopus*

      I feel you. My company is one bad break from bankrupt and it’s awful. We import all our stuff from China, and with this virus we’re not having the best of luck. We had a slow year, got cut from some new placements without notice, and had an unexpected warehouse closure followed by an emergency move in our highest income months. A massive restructure to start off the new year and now product stuck in ports and closure on the horizon.
      It’s exhausting coming in day to day pushing and working and not knowing if tomorrow is the day that final blow comes and we move to shut down mode.

      1. Amber Rose*

        That helpless feeling is the worst. I’m sorry, and I hope things improve for the both of us. Sending internet hugs your way.

  18. Alice*

    I have a good problem: my job is doable remotely, and my workplace has implemented a relatively flexible WFH policy, and my boss is very supportive of WFH. (Really valuable because I’m the caretaker for a high-risk person.)
    But — there are some people in my workplace who are still coming in in person. Maybe they are happy to, maybe not, I don’t know.
    Until the whole workplace closes, or at least closes itself to visitors, how can I avoid engendering feelings of jealousy or unfairness?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Some people touched on this upthread, but: If there is resentment, or maybe you could forward to a manager, the bending the curve stuff–if half the office stays home, that’s half the people coughing on you and lots more space around you.

      Per a WaPo summary today: Surfaces are a minor vector. It’s not the payment pad but all the people standing in line a few feet from you that is likely to give it to you. The fewer people in any given space, the lower the transmission will be.

      1. valentine*

        I hope this means you’re WFH until further notice.

        How are people showing their negative feelings toward you? Point out that fewer people in the workplace also helps those who are there.

      2. Nita*

        Yes. I’d bring it up with your boss that maybe there should be a general WFH policy to the extent possible. There may be others who also have high-risk family but have not spoken up because they think they’ll be told “no”, or possibly even fired.


      Honestly, tell them to take it up with their manager. In the early days some people would, and even now do, get to work from home 5 days a week. I personally am irked by it because they are nice people, going places and with whom I’d’ like to have a desktop conversation. What annoys me is we fought so hard to get WFH at all, even having it cancelled at one time, that when the newbies (>1 year) get it right away, I”m like “Huh? Why now and not five years ago?”

      Then I remember what Allison always says: Certain people will get perks that not everyone gets. I’m sitting next to a whiz kid that has literally, in less than a year, advanced our entire technical direction forward ten years. If we need to let him work from home at his discretion (and he does) just to keep him, let him. My boss has told me I can work from home anytime I want. I could, if I wanted to, work from home all the time. But then they would forget me. Facetime in the office counts. Social interaction with other teams counts. Social time with my friends counts. Being able to get breakfast & lunch in 15 mins from the cafeteria counts. I’m finding I’m having to work longer hours because I now have to cook and clean and be distracted by making my own food. Its not all green on this side of the fence.

    3. Artist formerly known as Rabbit*

      They can work from home or they cannot because their jobs are not work from home-able?
      I work directly with the public and would have to work in that situation. I would not be jealous or I would not direct the jealousy AT you. If I did, you would be correct to ask me to let boss know. And you should tell boss if someone is behaving less than professionally.

      1. Alice*

        I’ll reply to you but really to everyone in the thread — thanks for sharing perspectives on this!

  19. Angry and Anon Today*

    I just want to go ahead and award my boss the Dogsh*t Person of the Year award. Our school canceled classes and told the faculty to work from home, but didn’t really mention anything about the staff except for saying that it was a “by department basis.” My supervisor asked my boss about working at home and he basically said that we would work in the office and he wasn’t letting any of us work from home until he was forced to.

    1. Peeves*

      I’m in a similar situation. Classes were cancelled this week and are online-only beginning next week (great!) but the school-wide guidance for staff was to work from home only if you feel ill or are high-risk (less great). We’re keeping dorms and dining halls open so students aren’t scrambling for housing, and the hospital is staying open, both of which obviously require some staff to be coming to campus… but my job can be done 100% remotely. I’m really hoping they announce today that only critical, on-campus-only staff will keep coming in and the rest of us will be on WFH or paid leave.

      1. Angry and Anon Today*

        Yep. We all use an online program or MS Office for 99.999% of our work. There’s no reason we can’t work from home. We actually have several high risk staff members and my department head still won’t approve it. I understand a lot of critical staff needs to be there, but we aren’t critical staff.

        1. Frustrated Staff*

          This is me today as well. I work in secondary education as a staff member. I asked my grand-boss if I would be able to look at working from home because I am an at risk individual (Chronic Asthma that’s highly reactive) and they said that staff will be the last to be sent home. I come to find out that they ran out of VPN licenses so I won’t be able to work from home until they either redistribute them or attain more. I am waiting for HR to let me know what my options are at this point.

        2. LCH*

          could the high risk people get their drs to email a note saying they need to avoid people as much as possible? i’d try that.

        3. Diahann Carroll*

          Yeah, your department head is an ass. Even my mom’s way behind the times employer gave her a laptop today and told her to test it out next week to make sure the VPN works – she’s diabetic and also has a couple other chronic illnesses that, combined with this virus, could kill her.

    2. A Poster Has No Name*

      What a cowardly way out. Your school leadership is basically saying the the faculty & students matter, but the staff doesn’t, and that sucks. Your boss sucks, too, obviously, but leadership is also full of fail.

        1. ampersand*

          Yuck, I’m so sorry. This mindset seems to be prevalent at many universities, and it’s so unfortunate. Hoping you get to WFH soon!

    3. Anon Academic Librarian*

      I win for Department Head of the Year. Last week before of all class canceling, event cancelling postponement etc, I canceled all travel, cancelled or postponed to Fall big events, put a work-from-home plan in place for all at-risk people, created work-from-home electronic projects for all interns, informed volunteers that we would be shutdown until further notice. Informed my director of my plans and noted that my staff would not be available for public service. Rescheduled all meetings for Zoom. We shall see how much trouble I get in with HR when this all shakes out.

      1. Angry and Anon Today*

        Thank you for doing this! I wish people were more compassionate during this time.

      2. Bluebell*

        You are awesome! Regardless of what the higher-ups think, your staff must be thrilled with you right now.

    4. AnotherAlison*

      I get the frustration, but I have ongoing dealings with 3 universities now (one where my son is a sr., one where I’m on an advisory board, and one that I have work with). All 3 have moved to online classes but have staff going in to the office. I wonder if your situation is more the norm than actually letting the staff WFH? (Although it stinks it’s up to each department and others are making different decisions at the same school.)

      1. Angry and Anon Today*

        I just am tired of the BS that our faculty is worth more than our staff. This isn’t the first time our University has pulled something like this. We had a blizzard a couple years ago and guess what? Student and faculty could go home but staff had to stay. I just don’t get the justification that one group should be able to work from home and the others can’t.

        1. Mr. Anderson, Matrix CEO*

          If staff get sick, they go home and stay there until cleared from having CV19. But if students get sick, they would be quarantined in a dorm, which means all the other students in the dorm are also quarantined, but the university now has to figure out a way to feed/take care of these students, who are legal adults and can’t be legally detained & make sure they don’t roam the campus (which you know they would).
          Right now the emphasis is reducing the large group meetings – which means live lectures are out, dorms are out. Offices where staff can distance themselves 1-2 meters apart are not at the same level of risk as a lecture hall of 120.

          But it does suck because it does feel like the Uni only worry about risking certain groups (when really it might be just removing the larger risk activities and allowing the lower risk activities)

          1. kt*

            The point is that faculty and staff are treated differently. That’s simply sh*^y. Faculty are not worth more than staff. I say this as a former faculty person.

            1. Anon, can’t afford to be recognized*

              Yes. I’m feeling very bitter about this today. Our manager developed a good plan with rotating small crews in the office and the rest WFH, with all interaction online or phone. PTB not only scotched it, but insisted we meet with students in person, because Students First. Just about had a mutiny in the office, a lot of anger. I am sure we will lose good staff eventually over just how clearly we are not valued as people. Myself included. A stupid stupid decision, made with no understanding of what we do, nor any thought to get our input, by people who have themselves been meeting on video all week.

        2. Pippa K*

          In solidarity, I wanted to say that my university has switched to online classes and allowed students to leave if they want, but has told both faculty and staff that we are expected to “report to work.” Of course most faculty are ignoring this and working from home, since we’re teaching on line, and that’s an option most staff don’t have, but the inference by most people was that it’s just students they’re trying to protect. (Our VP has explicitly said in the past that faculty are easy to replace, given the academic job market, so this does not come as a surprise to us.)

    5. princess buttercup*

      Same at our university! Faculty are teaching online, students should stay home, but for staff it is “business as usual” until further notice. I’m in marketing and communications…everything can be done online.

    6. Curmudgeon in California*

      My university employer is allowing staff to WFH “as needed” and if management approves. Some of our upper managers are *very* butts in seats oriented, but get extremely bent out of shape when you actually point out that is what they are doing – as in I got chewed out by our CIO for publicly calling it that.

      I didn’t “ask” to WFH, I told them that since I and my housemates and spouse were all over 60 and other kinds of high risk, I needed to WFH for the duration. I left it where if they said no, it would be pretty obviously a bad idea. I also told my boss and teammates that I thought they should do the same.

      I literally haven’t left the house since last weekend. My roomie that does everything on transit has promised to get off the bus at the next stop if someone is coughing. My most at-risk roomie is taking the next 4 weeks, at least, off from her part-time Walmart job.

      I live in Santa Clara County. We’re already at ground zero.

    7. Sciencer*

      I’m so sorry this is happening to you (and others on this thread!). I’m faculty at a university and we’ve cancelled classes prior to going online for the remainder of the semester. Within a day of that decision, I heard from my department head that all “non-essential” workers will be asked to WFH starting next week, though the official notice hasn’t gone out. Our local school district closed, so they’re worried that with parents needed to be home with kids, we won’t have enough people to safely keep the campus running. I’ve had some frustrations with the way information/decisions are rolling out, miscommunications and contradictory advice from the higher ups, but overall I’m happy that they seem to be taking it seriously and trying to clear us all out as much as possible. I’m pretty sure the only reason campus is still technically open is that they don’t want to make things harder for the students with nowhere to go, or no money to get there.

      I hope your boss or someone well above him gets a clue that this is serious and will get significantly worse in the next week or two. The window of opportunity is narrowing and we should all be doing whatever we can to minimize our contributions to the spread.

  20. Just a PM*

    Any suggestions or advice for how to approach my boss about needing more work? All signs point towards shutting down and working from home for a couple of weeks and my workload is REALLY light. I usually finish my tasks before lunch each day and I’m very concerned about not having enough work to occupy a full day, let alone having enough work to go for a whole 2 or 3 weeks. (I’m a DC-area fed.)

    1. valentine*

      Say you want to be proactive and maximize the time away. Go in with suggestions. Is it possible to help with colleagues’ workloads?

    2. Tuckerman*

      Honestly, right now I’m trying to lean on my bosses as little as possible since they’re involved in so much planning. If your field has a professional organization, you might consider generating ideas based on content you read on their website.

    3. Lily Rowan*

      Right now? My boss basically just told me not to worry about productivity while WFH in the short term.

      Big picture, it might be a conversation about what’s included in your position, where else you can contribute, etc., but not this month.

    4. Mockingjay*

      Since you’re a Fed, I recommend signing up for online classes or completing annual training. You know, all those incredibly boring but necessary IT awareness and best personnel practices classes.

      Not the most thrilling material but it’s valid work.

  21. Kelsey*

    Teleworking thread!

    My workplace is moving to mandatory telework starting Monday due to coronavirus. I’ve never teleworked before and am not sure how it’s going to go. What are your best tips and tricks for teleworking effectively and productively while not losing your mind? Thanks!

    1. PB*

      Have your to-do list ready at the beginning of the day so you know exactly what you’re going to be working on. If possible, try to have a place dedicated to work. Depending on your home set-up, this may not be possible, but if you can swing it, it’s really helpful to have a “work” space. For me, this is sometimes as simple as “I will sit at this chair at my table instead of my normal dinner chair.” I find it helpful to get dressed in at least casual clothes. Pajamas/sweats = relaxation mode. I don’t want to be in relaxation mode and having to check email.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        “I will sit at this chair at my table instead of my normal dinner chair.”

        I actually practice this every day since I work from home as a matter of course. It really does make a difference – when I put my stuff away at the end of the day, I don’t even feel like I’ve been at home all day.

    2. Just a PM*

      A few things that work for me:
      * Take breaks where you get up and move around. Even if you pace in a circle for 5 minutes, get that blood going!
      * Take a real lunch break and disconnect. I email my boss when I’m signing out for lunch and I put my computer to sleep. Don’t work through lunch because it’s convenient. (I also email my boss when I’m signing back in for lunch.)
      * When I’m done working for the day, I’ll email my boss that I’m signing off and will include a general summary of what I’ve worked on. We’re not required to do this, but this helps me stay accountable to myself.

      I can’t work in silence so I always have something going on in the background – music, white noise, even the TV. If I turn the TV on, I usually turn it to something gentle and innocuous, like cooking show reruns. YMMV.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Seconding getting up and moving around. Writing, research, and cruising AAM for a break all take place in the same position.

    3. peachie*

      If you have equipment at work that could help with your setup, see if you can take it home. I usually just plug into a single monitor when I’m working from home (for me, it’s only an odd day here and there), but my office is also closed for a few weeks so I went to the office and grabbed my whole docking station. Now I have a whole bag of wires I have to figure out how to reattach, but I’m hoping it will make my spare room feel more like an actual office!

    4. T. Boone Pickens*

      On the days I work from home I make sure to get dressed and put on something respectable (I’m a guy so for me that means jeans and some type of polo shirt/button down) as that helps me transition more versus just wearing gym shorts and a sweatshirt. I also limit all outside distractions, I live in an apartment so I don’t have a dedicated office so for me I’ve discovered I can’t have the TV on in the background or have music playing (your mileage may vary for music/podcasts as I know that helps lots of people focus.)

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Co-sign. I don’t dress like I’m going to the office (we’re business casual but I prefer lounge pants over jeans any day) but I do change out of PJs and a robe to other clothes that are comfy but that I could run errands in if needed.

        Alexa has a decent “meditation music” playlist that is good for background instrumental music (one or two songs with vocals in Gaelic, I think, so not as distracting as music with English lyrics). Also I love music by George Winston – primarily solo piano pieces.

        Having a second monitor is key if you can get one from work.

    5. CupcakeCounter*

      We started that today and my boss said key #1 was overcommunicate. We have a group chat going and it really does give a sense of comradery.
      Also still try for a bit of routine. Shower, actual lunch break, etc…

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Our random chat Slack channel is definitely hopping, and it sure helps! We’re a very friendly bunch in my office, people get along really well and enjoy socializing. Being deprived of that is tough, so this is a good way to keep up the camaraderie. I encouraged people to share pictures of their work from home “officemates” (i.e., pets) to boost people’s spirits. There have been plenty of cute kitties and doggos in our chat!

    6. Autumnheart*

      TV on in the background helps, if you want to replicate the experience of “being around people” without actually being around people. However, make it a series or queue of movies that you’ve already seen a million times, so that you’re not as tempted to watch the television instead of doing your work.

  22. Spills*

    So I had posted on the previous two weeks with updates regarding my situation with waiting for my final Q4 commission check prior to giving notice. That situation was resolved and I got my check and then gave notice the following Tuesday as my manager was out of the office on Monday for her grandmother’s funeral, unfortunately.  
    However, there was also some tension surrounding my resignation from my current role and I am curious to see if I handled it correctly. 

    Essentially I have been in a very high-pressure, “always on” client-facing role for three years. It’s been mentally and emotionally exhausting, as I am always on call for clients, working long hours, etc and has led to me developing anxiety as well as significantly affecting my home life. I have said for years that we need a second person to help divide the workload as it’s too much for one person, as well as had expressed interest in moving into more of a sales role vs what I was doing, which was more events focused. Finally in June of last year, my manager let me know that they were creating a hybrid sales/events role for me and would be adding a second person to take over much of what I was doing. What followed was several months of discussions to create the job descriptions, etc, and finally the role was posted in November. 

    Fast forward to now and we still have not filled that role, but my manager and I have continued to have conversations in our year-end review etc, where I spoke about how excited I was to get started as soon as we hired someone. However I also have been giving it quite a lot of thought and realized that within the context of my current job, this was a growth opportunity that I was truly excited about/also saw as a way to get a little more balance back in my life, but in the context of my greater career it was not the ultimate path I wanted to take, so have been job searching as well for several months ultimately leading to me accepting my new role (which I start on Monday!). 

    From my perspective, I have been asking for this but in the time that it has taken to actually bring it to fruition other things were going on behind the scenes and my mind has changed over time.  I didn’t know if or when I would be leaving and felt that if I had an opportunity to advance in my current role, I couldn’t suddenly say I had changed my mind and no longer wanted it, and should continue to try to move up as long as I was here. Additionally the wheels were already in motion. My manager said that I should have let her know that I was changing my mind and they could have tried to change directions. But it would have been impossible to do what I want to do here – my current role is client-facing,and I am moving back to the client side.  

    Was I wrong for pretending everything was OK while looking for a new job? I think that’s just what people do! 
    The good news is I think she has gotten over the initial shock and is treating me well/arranged a nice send-off happy hour, and today is my last day. Just curious if I could have handled it better.

    1. The Engineer*

      Sounds perfect to me. You outlined the issue. They proposed a solution that you worked with them to prepare. You worked on a backup when no action was forthcoming. They failed to implement the resolution. You moved forward with backup.

      Might it have been different with the new position filled? Yes, but you never got to see and you gave them every opportunity to implement. They simply didn’t see as a priority and now they get to live with “their” decision. Don’t take your manager’s attempt to pass the buck back on you for “changing your mind”.

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      You handled this professionally and respectfully. You let the company know there was an issue, they dragged their feet (in my opinion) on implementing a solution, and now they can use this new data (i.e. burnout is real) to figure out a plan going forward.

      It sounds like your boss is having an emotional reaction (understandable) and is taking it out on you (not understandable). You clearly did say, “This is an issue” and they…didn’t really do enough to try to resolve the issue.

    3. zora*

      Yeah, I don’t think you have anything to feel bad for, since it’s taken them NINE MONTHS to create a job description and hire and there still isn’t a person in that job?!! That’s crazy, it makes no sense that it would take that long. I think you are totally off the hook for working on your own Plan B since they didn’t follow through on theirs.

      1. Spills*

        Thank you! It definitely feels like I’ve been lured along with a carrot on a stick, saying that we are ‘so close’ to hiring a candidate multiple times, and given multiple “start” dates for my new role. Eventually I just had to make a decision to go!

    4. designbot*

      God no, you did it perfectly. Try to grow within your role even while you’re looking elsewhere. Then you operate from a place of having strong options instead of one of desperation. Your boss has the right to be bummed, but don’t let that impact you. She wouldn’t.

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      > Was I wrong for pretending everything was OK while looking for a new job?

      I didn’t read the whole post, just the gist, but in reverse – would the company pretend to you everything is OK while they are making plans to lay you off? Yes! So it’s ok.

  23. Lovecraft Beauty*

    I’m working from home indefinitely, thanks COVID-19, which is fine — I work from home a couple of days a week normally — except that my apartment is under very necessary construction (there was a minor fire in the HVAC system, my apartment was the only one with major damage), and the crew keeps knocking out the internet. I’m a software developer.

    I either have to go to cafés or the public library to get consistent internet access, which seems to defeat the point of working from home for the sake of social distancing. If my local indie café and/or the library shuts down, as they likely will soon (I’m in Boston, we’re taking this seriously), I won’t have internet.

    I have no idea what to do next.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Do you have a close friend whose house/apartment you can go to? someone with extra space who is also working from home? I know it’s still social contact but one/two people versus a cafe full seems like a reasonable risk.

      1. Lovecraft Beauty*

        No one within walking distance, and I don’t have a car; I rely heavily on public transit, which again, seems to defeat the purpose.

    2. Alice*

      Would your office reimburse for a mobile hotspot? Even if they wouldn’t, maybe worth it for your own piece of mind.
      Glad your apartment’s still livable after the fire!

      1. Alice*

        Wait, knocking out internet to the building? Or just to your unit? If it’s not the whole building, maybe a neighbor will share their wifi password when you explain the situation.

        1. Lovecraft Beauty*

          Just my unit. I don’t really know any of my neighbors, but it’s worth a shot, I suppose.

      2. NodakH*

        There are lots of libraries that offer mobile hotspots for check-out for a period of time. Maybe your library has some available!

        1. Mellow*

          But going to a library defeats the purpose of working from home so as to practice social distancing.

    3. Lore*

      Could you afford a mobile hotspot like a MiFi for a month or so? It might be possible to rent them, even.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      How crowded is the library? Staying 6 feet from everyone–while there and getting to/from– will be a big help.

    5. NB*

      Does the public library you’re visiting circulate wi-fi hotspots? Mine does. The only difficulty is that they are very popular and you might have to wait a bit.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Your company needs to provide you a mobile hot spot, it shouldn’t be a burden on an employee who’s forced to WFH to worry about your home internet connection being good enough!!! It’s in their best interest for you to be able to work comfortably as possible without playing the dance around to public spots.

      Our libraries are already closed, so it’s just not reasonable at all for them to want you to hitch yourself to this problem. It’s their problem to fix since this isn’t a “perk”!

      1. zora*

        I agree with this. Our normal telecommuting policy requires you to have good home internet set up, but this isn’t the normal situation, this is a short term emergency. So, it’s on the company to help you make it work.

    7. TL -*

      Do you have a friend with an Xfinity account? Their wifi is widely available in Boston – it’s not great but it’s usually available and you can stream movies on it most of the time.

    8. BPW*

      I also work in Boston several tines a week so I feel for you my friend. Can you go to any of the larger public stations and piggyback off their wifi? Yes it defeats the purpose of social distancing but with so few people on the MBTA and many working from home it might be easier to provide that distance.

    9. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      Can your phone work as a mobile hotspot? If so, you can ask your company to reimburse you for data charges.

    10. Easily Amused*

      Boston must have a few co-working spaces you could check out. Ask your employer to pay the fee, bring Clorox wipes, find one that allows you to keep your distance from others. Good luck!

  24. Absolutely Anonymous*

    I’ve actually considered writing to Alison about this, but decided to ask my fellow AAM managers first:

    I have a co-worker who creates an environment that isn’t exactly toxic, but is extremely unpleasant and stressful. “Jane” is a very unhappy and negative person, and she makes it very clear to everyone else in our small, open-plan office (though for what it’s worth, I don’t think she even realizes what she’s doing).

    Jane will complain to anyone who listens (and those who don’t), and these complaints often become quite loud and lengthy. Usually it’s about things that most people would find annoying or inconvenient, but Jane talks about them like they’re the worst thing that could possibly happen. Yesterday it was a rant about people buying up all the toilet paper and hand sanitizer due to Coronavirus panic. The day before that it was how a company we work closely with can’t do anything right. These are rants, not discussions or contributions to the conversation. Jane will also jump in on conversations happening at other desks by yelling out her complaint about whatever is being discussed.

    Lately, Jane has been interrupting my work to tell me about problems we are having with one of our partner companies. These are all problems I am well aware of and both sides are working to resolve, and her screaming about them to me does nothing except put me in a bad mood. I don’t want to ignore her and try to turn back to my computer and look like I’m super-busy and focused, but it doesn’t work. I’m biting my tongue to not come back at Jane with “I know, it’s frustrating, what do you want me to do about it.”

    I’m trying to be understanding since I’m fairly certain that Jane has mental health issues and quite a lot going on personally. However, she shouldn’t be using her coworkers as an outlet for it. I have anxiety and I dread talking to Jane about anything because I’m always afraid she’s going to snap at me, even though she’s never snapped or yelled at anyone in our office. I feel so much more relaxed when Jane is out of the office, and my other coworkers do too.

    I also can’t go to our supervisor “Fergus” about this either. Since we’re in an open office Fergus is well aware this is going on, but refuses to do anything about it. He’s afraid of confrontation and has never addressed issues with problem employees the entire time I’ve been here (though he was more than happy to complain to me about said employees). Fergus is also one of the most unprofessional people I have ever met and is sure to tell Jane that “OP said you’re creating an unpleasant environment” if I say anything to him.

    What should I say or do about this? Or is it better to just keep my head down and my mouth shut?

    1. Auntie Social*

      “Have you talked to Fergus about this? What does Fergus say? I wish I could fix it but I’m not the supervisor. ” I have no use for managers afraid of confrontation.

      1. valentine*

        Screaming is toxic. So is Fergus’ silence and passive-aggressiveness. I hope you’re looking.

        1. Absolutely Anonymous*

          Oh, I’ve been looking for quite some time. The whole atmosphere where I am right now is just very stressful.

      2. Absolutely Anonymous*

        I could, but Fergus will either a) Do nothing or b) Tell Jane that I think she creates a toxic/unpleasant environment, which will almost definitely not end well.

        1. zora*

          No Auntie Social was suggesting you tell Jane to talk to Fergus. Broken record style, so that it becomes less satisfying to talk to you and/or so Fergus has to actually deal with the problem instead of you.

    2. The Rural Juror*

      I empathize with you. I had a coworker a while back that was a very negative person. He would walk into the office we share in a huff and I would pause what I was doing to have the normal niceties. Usually it was the standard, “Morning! How was your weekend?” or whatever. Over time it went from being, “Good, the family and I blah blah blah.” to “Horrible, nothing went right this weekend and I’m more exhausted than I was on Friday.” Every day it was something. He would get worked up about the smallest things and use me as a sounding board because I couldn’t escape our shared space.

      Eventually my greetings became, “Oh, hi.” and then putting my headphones back in to end the exchange. There were a couple of times he would complain about vendors and I would say, “I know that’s frustrating, but I have to get back to blah blah blah.” and try to shut it down. It became like a battle. I would try to push a conversation to end and he would try to keep it going. Eventually I got fed up and told him I could not keep it up and his negativity was really making me wish I could take a sick day. Well, that hurt his feelings and made it really awkward…

      The next day he came in and asked if he could talk to me for a minute. He proceeded to tell me how he deals with anxiety and hadn’t realized how much it was affecting his day to day. If he was complaining to me about something, anything, then he wasn’t thinking about other things and it seemed helpful for him. But, he hadn’t considered that it was taking such a toll on me. We talked for a bit about how people deal with anxiety and how therapy shouldn’t be looked down upon. I ended up giving him the number of a friend of mine who is a therapist. The next couple of months went by much better with short pleasant conversation, but he eventually felt he needed to resign to take care of his health.

      Is there anyone in your office you think could have a conversation with Jane about how the complaining is affecting people? Someone who is sympathetic and could get the point across gently? That’s not to say Jane would take it well, but right now it seems like a lot of people are suffering at her expense.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      “Jane, I understand why you’re upset, but listening to this stresses me out. I have to ask you to stop coming to me with these complaints.”

      1. zora*

        This one! But one addition: Practice saying it in a gentle tone, not sounding frustrated. And you will probably have to repeat it several times before she realizes you are serious and starts to follow through.

        I literally practice stuff like this in the mirror multiple times until I feel like I’m happy with the tone, it’s so hard to do it in the moment when you are frustrated, practicing ahead of time really helps!!

    4. Lizy*

      I wouldn’t bite my tongue – go ahead and say “I know it’s frustrating, but taking it out on me isn’t solving anything.”

      Also, her mental health issues doesn’t mean you have to put up with being screamed at.

    5. OhBehave*

      This is impacting YOUR mental health! Why should you be quiet because she *may* have issues. You have to be blunt with her. She will not stop unless you do. (Your boss is an ass.) “I understand that is a frustrating situation. I can’t help you. You may not realize this, but you complain a lot. So much that it causes me anxiety. Please stop.”

      1. Melissa*

        If she’s yelling, you can absolutely ask her to lower her voice. And you can tell her that her negativity is affecting your ability to work, so she should talk to the boss directly, because you will no longer participate in her negative conversations.

    6. Bagpuss*

      Step One:
      Speak to her in the moment. Something like “I understand that you are frustrated, but please don’t vent to me, it simply ads to my own stress levels.” (For work related matters, you could add – I suggest that you raise that with Fergus if you are not happy – make it more of his problem. For non-work related matters maybe “I understand you are frustrated / angry about this, but I need to focus on working right now,so let’s not discuss this now” (I know that it is a rant from her, not a discussion, but I’d start with the softer language. If it continues, you could escalate to “Jane, I can’t focus on work when you are shouting in my ear. I need you let me get on with my job”

      Step two.
      Speak to Fergus. Although Fergus has witnessed it, have you explicitly spoken to him and asked him to address it? If not, I would do that. If you have, then do it again “Fergus, I raised this with you before but it is still happening. Jane’s rants are making it hard for me to do my job, and are causing a lot of stress. Can you take steps to deal with the problem?”

      Step Three:
      Speak to HR or to Fergus’s manager. Explain that you have already tried to address the issue with Jane directly and with Fergus and that her actions are disrupting your work and causing personal stress. IF she is doing this to others as well, could you speak to Fergus together? and indeed to HR? That way, Jane is less likely to target you even if she knows you were one of those who spoke to Fergus, and they my take it more seriosuly if they are made aware that it is disrupting more than oneperson.

      If you don’t want to do that, could you get / wear headphones and not respond or react at all to Jane? She may not top at once but it may reduce how much she talks to / at you if she doesn’t get any reaction at all. (and it makes it easier for you to say “Can’t talk now, need to focus” and put them right back on.

    7. moql*

      I sympathize and how nothing helpful. I had a coworker like this and it was so bad for the whole office, but the supervisors had no idea what to do either. Eventually she transfered to another department and things have lightened up so so so so much here. I actually do think enjoy spending some time with her, but it was wearing to have every bit of office news spun and dissected in the worst possible light. I hope they move on soon.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Even in my personal life, for chronic complainers I have developed some go-to sayings that I use over and over.

      I use the repetition figuring that in order to be heard once I probably have to say the same thing five times.

      For the more minor things, I use this format: “It’s not the end of the world. [state simple remedy for the situation] It’s just not the end of the world.” EX: “It’s not the end of the world. If you open the door on the printer right here, you will be able to remove the paper jam. It’s just not the end of the world that the printer jammed up like that.”

      For things that involve a few steps but are recurring issues: “Yep, everyone is experiencing that, so we are all doing X.” Ex: “Yep, everyone has to wait for the mail on Wednesdays because the mailman comes later on Wednesdays. So, yep, we all have to wait.”

      For things bigger than me and my scope at work or at home: “I can’t fix that. I can only fix things that are under my watch.” Ex: “I can’t fix the fact that the news is awful and you believe the sky is falling. I can only fix things that are under my control.”

      1. Absolutely Anonymous*

        I’ve thought about using the “It’s not the end of the world”, “It’s okay, it’s not a huge deal”, etc. format, but I’m hesitant to because to Jane, it IS a huge deal. At least, she makes it seem that way.

        I could try the “I can’t fix that” method and see what happens. Everyone here is affected by the problems with our partner company, and we’re all very frustrated, but there’s nothing more we can do beyond what we’re already doing. Jane just has a particular need to share said frustration.

        1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

          Your instinct is correct—downplaying Jane’s feelings will backfire. She gets to feel what she feels. She just needs to stop feeling it at you. Ask her to change her behavior, not how she feels.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          You know your situation best, most certainly.

          I found that I have to be good and fed up in order to say, “It’s not the end of the world.” In my most recent application of the tactic, I realized I should have done it MUCH sooner.
          My person did the equivalent of dropping a paper clip on the floor. A meltdown followed with cussing and yelling. In a flat voice, I said, “It’s not the end of the world. There are more paper clips in this holder here.”

          What happened next was a total change in tone and demeanor and the reply was, “Oh. Yeah. Right.”

          I just got sick of it. I have stuff coming across my desk that would make many adults cry. A paper clip on the floor is not an actual problem that requires a daily meltdown. And it’s not up to me to make a person feel all better when these paper clip tragedies strike. What if everyone fell apart when they dropped a paper clip? ugh. what a mess we would have.

          Her failure to manage her emotions does not automatically mean you are in charge of her emotions.

          Back to nothing replaces you using your best judgement. I think my punchline is decide how much more of this you are willing to put up with before you move to the next level in communicating the STOP word to her. I have a very high tolerance, I guess, as I let the paper clip thing go on and on and on…..

    9. MissDisplaced*

      So, this is a pretty common workplace complaint, and one more so in open office plans.
      I’ve both been something of a “Jane” and listened to the Janes! LOL! The two best pieces of advice I have for you are this:

      1. In the moment when Jane starts venting say something like: “I’m sorry you’re so frustrated Jane. Perhaps you should talk to Fergus (the manager) about it.” or “I’m sorry you’re always so frustrated by this Jane. I don’t see things changing much, so perhaps this isn’t the right type of work for you any longer.” or “I’m sorry this type of stuff upsets you Jane, but there isn’t much I can do about it and I really need to work.” Rinse & repeat as necessary.

      2. Earphones! Block her out.

      1. Absolutely Anonymous*

        Unfortunately, I don’t want to use earphones since other employees come to me often with questions or updates and I need to be able to hear them. Wishful thinking!

        Fergus won’t do anything even if Jane talks to him about it, but I do like your other suggestions. Right now Jane isn’t “getting” my hints that I’m busy and need to focus and don’t want to have a “conversation” (hear her complaints) so I might just have to try being more direct with her.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          It doesn’t matter if Fergus does anything, though. The object is to get her to go to him, not you, for her venting.

    10. tangerineRose*

      Can you say something like “I know this is a problem, but I can’t do anything about that, and I have work that I need to get to.”?

  25. Meredith*

    For those that are self employed: what was your “AH HA!” moment, as Oprah would say, when you decided to change your hobby/passion into your full time work? what gave you the courage to just GO FOR IT? Especially interested in those who were working stable, full-time jobs with benefits prior to this switch (as that is me!)

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I switched to doing my in-office job freelance when I had my first child. I was an editor, now I’m a writer. I could do the first switch (to home) because I had contacts in the field. The second (to just writing) was largely a natural progression, but it helped that by then my spouse was the primary breadwinner and so stability wasn’t on my shoulders. (When I started freelancing he was in grad school and I earned more.)

      I know none of this is about passion, but I think for a whole lot of self-employed it wasn’t about passion but about self-employment being a practical fit to other constraints in our lives.

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      For me it was a combo of the jobs I was interviewing for weren’t very exciting, I wasn’t getting call backs on the jobs I was interested in and I noticed a gap in my industry that I thought I could fill. Now, I was very fortunate that I had a pretty big emergency of 12 months of savings built up (definitely have some money saved!) so I gave myself 6 months to take my shot and if that didn’t work, I’d resume my job search.

    3. Elaine Benes*

      About a year after having my son it just started to feel untenable to keep up with the stress and urgent/last minute style of schedule my full time job had while also being a parent. And working so hard to build a company that wasn’t my own where I wasn’t in charge of the design direction. I was lucky that my husband also has a full time job with great benefits and was already bringing the majority share of our family income, but it still felt terrifying as all get-out. I think the feeling of being between a rock and a hard place was what really gave me the push to move. BEST DECISION I EVER MADE. It’s been about 5 years and I’ve never been so happy and fulfilled in my work, despite all the overwhelm and challenges at the beginning. It turns out I love learning about business (I already knew I would love the creative side), I love the freedom of being the boss, I love getting to determine my own schedule and keep refining the business to work for me and my family’s lifestyle. It gets a bit easier and I get a bit more confident every year. The cons of being self-employed turn out to suit me sooooo much better than the cons of working for someone else, but you’ll never know if that’s true for you until you try it. I say if you’ve been thinking about it for a while, make a plan to do it and just go for it! Best of luck!

    4. Anonnington*

      I just knew, deep inside that I needed to do my “passion,” full time. I always had. It was challenging at first because I was dealing with health issues and related harassment at the same time. But I eventually improved my situation and things got better.

      My opinion on this issue differs from the advice that Alison often posts here. I respect her point of view. But here is mine. Doing your passion full time can be a positive or negative thing depending on what you bring to it. It tends to be an upgrade for people who are really hard-working, can live without days off, and can excel at both the passion part and the business part or have the resources to hire someone. It’s stressful and it will take over your whole life. But if you do well at it, there is no defined limit to your success.

      If you thrive on work-life balance, it’s still doable. You just have to be strategic and realistic and expect to be working long hours for the first five years or so. It’s not a great option for people who want a weekend social life. You’ll lose all down time. It’s also not great for anyone who is uncomfortable with the business side of things, from the people part to the money part. You have to get really comfortable with money and people. And you have to be confident enough to get your stuff out there while also avoiding ego, which tends to lead to bad decisions. In the long run, it can make you a better person.

      Also! You may lose some enthusiasm for your passion if you’re doing it full time. And that can actually make it less viable in a business sense. So you need to find ways to keep it fresh and remain excited about it. It’s not that hard. Just be aware of it.

      I say give it a shot and have a backup plan in case it’s not for you.

    5. Shirley Keeldar*

      I had a full-time job as an editor and left it to become a freelance writer (with some editing on the side.) I knew it was time when I got promoted and my reaction was to burst into tears. It was actually quite a reasonable reaction–they were going to load me up with many, many thankless projects that were doomed to fail, and the extra pay and title bump would not make up for it at all. So the tears really showed me that it was time to quit, and I might as well try freelancing and see if I could make it work. If not, I’d just have to look for a new job, and that was already true.

    6. HBJ*

      For us, it was having built up enough contacts and a network and a good reputation to believe we could make it.

    7. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      I didn’t really have one, and it’s okay if you don’t either. I was in a job, the job wasn’t a great fit, I had some savings, and I decided to try freelancing and set myself a date by which I had to be making enough to live on or start looking for another job. I was profitable well before that date and kept doing it for quite some time before having a kid and deciding paycheck stability mattered more to me than full independence. It was a practical decision both times, not the sort of thing where angels came down and sang “Go freelance, go freelance, go freeeeelance”. (I’m not making fun of you. I have had angels-sing moments of inspiration happen to me and change my life. It just didn’t happen around work in that way.

      I also wasn’t pursing a hobby or passion; it’s work I like, but not as intensely as that framing suggests, and I do the same kind of work as a freelancer and as an employee.

      It sounds like you have a lot of assumptions and expectations about what being self-employed is like, and that’s making you hesitate to pursue self-employment. At the end of the day, starting a business is a business decision and you need to make it with your mind as well as your heart. It may not be magical—and it can still be great without being magical.

    8. Arts Akimbo*

      I tried the gallery scene as a fresh young artist right out of college, but where I was located it was very, very hard to gain traction in fine arts. So I went back to school for a biology degree in hopes of getting an interesting day job to support myself while I was trying to get my art career off the ground. I worked for my state’s Department of Environment and Conservation for a bit, ended up working a miserable contract job for them, then had something of an epiphany that if I’d worked as hard at art as I had at grad school and the miserable contract, I’d probably be doing what I wanted to do instead of being miserable! I think I’ve described here before how that epiphany involved coming close to death from hyponatremia because I was overhydrating during field work and not getting enough salts of any kind in my diet. (Guess what condition’s symptoms look a lot like hyponatremia’s? Yes, dehydration! I was drinking MORE whenever I felt miserable!)

      Around this time, a friend encouraged me to do just 3 small paintings of fairies and show them at a local science fiction convention, and… that was the beginning of a whole new life for me! Doing art in the genres I loved satisfied me in a way fine art never even approached, and while it is hard work, it is so, so, very worth it to me!

      (I will never be able to retire, though, so… keep that in mind. Plan well!)

    9. TyphoidMary ( username seems in bad taste now)*

      Honestly? It wasn’t an ah ha moment. I had a series of bad work experiences and abusive bosses. I felt like self-employment was my only option, and for awhile I felt like a real failure for not making it a normal office setting. It was difficult and scary and I questioned myself a lot. It’s been about eight months now, and I’m really proud of what I’ve built and it ended up being a good fit for me.

      I think a lot of time it’s not an ah hah moment. It’s letting your experiences marinate in your bones until you arrive at some clarity… or something.

  26. Its5oclocksomewhere*

    How do you deal with mind games at work? They act catty towards me and only talk to me if I leave my area and come back. When I’m absent, my coworker will text me and will actually be social with me, yet when I’m sitting at my desk he will not acknowledge me at all.

    In the morning, no one greets me yet they greet each other. I’m friendly- I ask how they are, bring donuts and snacks in, yet it doesn’t matter.

    I’ve been in other places like this, but still don’t understand it. They play by a different rulebook or something. It’s like going back to high school…

    Has anyone been through this? How did you cope?

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I haven’t personally dealt with this, so this is all hypothetical:

      1) Accept that’s how they are (and it’s ridiculous that they are acting this way in a professional environment, just to be clear)
      2) Stop bringing in snacks and donuts. Continue to be friendly, but realize that they’re weird and you can’t change that.
      3) Focus on doing well at the job and bring up any professional issues (i.e. coworkers not responding to work-related needs), otherwise focus on other spaces in life to meet your needs for connection.

    2. Dr. but not that kind of Dr.*

      I had to deal with this at my current job. I had two strategies, and they seem to be working:

      1. Adopt the internal mantra “I WILL OUTLAST YOU!” to shore up your confidence. It helped me deal with the long days where all the catty stuff was ridiculous.

      2. Keep doing the Kill them with Kindess thing – but don’t break the bank bringing in donuts & snacks.

      It’s taken a few months, but the people that essentially ignored me are now much more engaged and we have a jovial relationship. We’re not hanging out outside of work or anything, but we’re having normal, small talk office conversations.

      Good luck!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      What everyone said and adding:
      Sometimes there is that huge event, where something goes terribly wrong and I am able to fix it. After that people are different.

      In one horrible example, I worked in a place where one entire department would not speak to me. Being new, I was clueless as to why but I had to supervise these people. It was awful ,they only spoke to me when I initiated and their answers sounded more like grunts.
      One day it was the end of my shift and a person from this angry department was arguing with my boss. I tried to ignore most of the yelling, as the boss was the owner and in the end he made the decisions.
      HOWEVER, this time the boss raised his hand to STRIKE the employee. I cleared my throat and shuffled my feet to make my presence in the room noticed. Of course my boss noticed me and informed me that I could leave now. I said, “Oh, I would like a nice drink of water before I go, I am just going to sit down and drink my water then I will be on my way.” (There was a sink right in front of me, so this was a plausible thing to say.)

      The employee’s face went totally white, he could not believe I wasn’t going to leave the room. I sat down. Wisely, my boss dialed back his anger, lowered his hand and wrapped up the conversation. I finished my water and left.

      The next day, the angry department, all of whom never spoke to me, ALL initiated a good morning greeting when I walked in. They said good morning BEFORE I did. I quickly deduced they all knew that I had pretty much called the boss out on his BS of threatening to hit people. So this former angry group started asking me questions that were work appropriate and involving the plan for the day. They never asked me questions before, no check-ins, nothing. Conversation just flowed from there.

      That was a turning point event. The job when downhill for me after that. It wasn’t long after the boss raised his hand to me in a threat to strike me and I walked off. Not all turns are this dramatic, but sometimes it is possible to do something that the whole group recognizes as being of value. Their attitude changes. And from there on, you never have to go back to the second-class-citizen treatment you had originally.

    4. Batgirl*

      It depends what you mean by ‘act catty’. If they are just generally unsociable to you, Id treat that as a benefit/entertainment. People who are that unsocialised make great dinner party stories, peaceful work companions and the distance is a moat between you with your popcorn and their inevitable drama.
      If they’re being overtly rude, you may need to tell them to knock it off.

  27. Eba*

    Currently trying to crank work out at work (especially the stuff that will be harder at home) before we have to work from home.

    Any good concentration/get things done at work tips for a stressful time? Spam me with your top get-sh*t-done work tips!

    1. rayray*

      If you’re allowed to do so, I always like just putting on head phones and listening to a podcast while I work. I don’t necessarily have to pay full attention to it, but I kinda like the background noise and hearing an interesting story vs. hearing the same conversations about toilet paper all day. Look as busy and focused as you can so coworkers won’t bother you.

    2. Viva*

      Videogame soundtracks are always a good idea. They are designed to keep you concentrated and pulled in at a certain level to keep you playing as long as possible. Plus they usually do not have singing or other elements that might irritate.
      I like to use them when I need to concentrate for a while and disappear into my flow.

  28. Stephanie*

    I’m also curious to see how this online class thing will work out. My part-time MBA is going online (is mostly in-class instruction) and transitioning to online-only instruction has been a mess. There is an online format, but this program was designed to be mostly in-person, so professors and staff are scrambling to redo lectures for the rest of the semester.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      I think you will be amazed. I’m 100% online student and I’m just in shock about all the things that can be done online. The technology is really amazing. I’ve even done chemistry labs online. I know the transition period will be rough, but honestly once you get into what works for your class, it won’t be as big of a deal as previously thought.

      1. Okumura Haru*

        Same. I did my MLIS online, and it was a wonderful experience. I hope it goes well for you!

      2. Artist formerly known as Rabbit*

        Agreed! I have 2 masters, one in person (history), one online (MLIS). I enjoyed the online one much more and have a very extensive network from it that I don’t have at all with my in person degree.

      3. Ramona Q*

        100% online classes are developed very differently than in-person classes. So please don’t expect “amazing” from faculty who are exhausted, stressed, possibly underpaid or contingent, and having to learn new methods and change long-set plans very, very quickly.

    2. OhBehave*

      My son is a music major and students have to move out. Online classes start in a week. No idea how they will handle his music classes online.

    3. KAG*

      It might be helpful to have had this experience when preparing for interviews. After I completed my MBA and was interviewing for jobs, one of my interviews required a virtual Skype presentation. I’d always been a strong presenter in person, so hadn’t realized that presenting virtually requires a different skill set. Getting accustomed to this different format could make a big difference.

  29. New to WFH*

    We were officially told to begin teleworking from home yesterday. As someone who is new to the WFH life and does not have a great setup (chatty roommate that is WFT, no “office space”, etc.) what are some suggestions to help with productivity? I normally would go to a coffee shop with an actual table but am not doing that currently because that would defeat the purpose of teleworking to help with social distancing. I am based in the US currently so we are still figuring out how long this will last.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      Just try not to set up shop on your bed. My roommate works from home (she owns her own business), and she actually has an office in our guest bedroom, but she constantly works on her laptop on her bed. Then she complains that she doesn’t sleep well. Probably because she spends so much time in the place meant for sleeping.

      Set boundaries with your roommate. Make it a rule that work hours are work hours, after hours, sleep hours, etc. That doesn’t mean you have to be library-style silent, but be mindful and respectful of distractions. I had to have this talk with my roommate a while back because she would be going through her supplies and rustling packages at 11:30pm. Those are sleep hours, no more inventory in the living room late at night! She had headphones on and couldn’t tell how loud it was. We talked about it and it was all good. Respect the boundaries!

    2. drpuma*

      Don’t expect to be consistently productive all day. I bet your in-office productivity waxes and wanes, you’re only human! Take breaks to chat with your roommate, then tell them “hey I have to focus until [time].” When my partner and I both WFH, we’ll let each other know “I have calls until noon today” or “I have to meet a deadline by EOD so I’ll be heads down.” You absolutely can and should communicate similarly with your roommate. Other than that, stick to your usual work timelines. If you generally take a mid-afternoon coffee break, let your roommate know you can chat then, or ask them if they want to take a walk around the block with you at that time (or go yourself!).

    3. JBX*

      Try to build yourself a workspace with some sort of visual barrier and use a headset. So it might be a desk in the corner of your bedroom or the kitchen table. But find a defined workspace. If the only private area is your bedroom, can you re-configure it so a small table fits? Something like a self-supported folding screen can separate an area off or serve as a nice backdrop when hosting video chats. If that’s not an option, you can cobble together a DIY solution. For instance, material draped across a temporary line or a bookcase pulled out to serve as a particition instead of being flat against the wall. Let us know how it works out.

    4. Mid*

      Can you get a cheap table from Ikea/Wal-Mart/Amazon and create a semi-office? Maybe hang some curtains/sheets/towels or a folding divider screen to create a cube?
      Also, headphones are great. There have been threads in the past talking about headsets that are designed to not pick up background noise if you have to take calls and your roomie is being noisy in the background.

      Talk to your roomie and explain that you’re “at work” and can’t socialize much during working hours. Hopefully they’ll also have work to do and so won’t be as chatty (8 hours a day more of chatting time is a lot, even for a talker!) But also try to make an effort to talk with her when you’re on your breaks, because you do live together and it’s going to be close quarters for a while.

    5. WFH Lover*

      I use music to set the mood. I have a specific pandora playlist (classical versions of pop hits) that signals my brain ‘ok, focus time’.

      Also if you can, set up shop with a table and chair and consider ordering a proper keyboard/mouse so you can prop your laptop on top of a pile of books. An ergonomic setup will save your back.

      And I really like the comment about not overly policing your productivity. When I’m at work, I think nothing of dozens of bathroom trips, brewing a cup of tea, internet browsing breaks… but when I WFH I feel guiltier about them. One thing thats helped me ‘feel better permission’ is setting a timer to take a 10 minute break every hour.

    6. Curmudgeon in California*

      * Work in a dedicated space as much as possible, even if it’s a TV tray and chair in a corner that you don’t usually sit in at home.

      * Set your phone alarm for when you need to be “at work”, then “commute” to your space, set up, and work. Set another alarm for “quitting time”, and shut down or at least put the screen saver on your computer (lock screen).

      * Make sure your video conference settings are up to snuff.

      * Be presentable. Ripped t-shirts make you feel like a slob. Even if you don’t have any vid meetings, wear presentable clothes.

      * Mind the distractions, same as you do at work, but take your breaks. (I’ve taken at least five minibreaks to write this entry.)

  30. General Organa*

    We just went to remote work–I’ve worked from home here and there in the past, but never for this long. Any productivity tips, specifically for small spaces? I know some of the basics (get dressed properly, build a routine, etc.) but am somewhat hampered by the fact that I live in a one-bedroom that does not currently have a desk.

    1. Just a PM*

      Can you make do with what you have? For example, if you have a coffee table or an Ottoman, can you use that as a desk while sitting on the floor (on couch cushions or floor cushions for padding)? Is there any room in your apartment to get a desk? Ikea has some small desks are multifunctional – they come attached to a bookcase or a shelving unit.

      As for productivity, usually just creating a routine will help, as well as taking frequent mental health breaks – go out for a walk, have some coffee, etc. Eating lunch away from your computer also helps.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      Do you have a dining room table? You could work there. If you think your WFH situation will be prolonged, consider replacing your current table with a drop leaf table. They are very spacious and give you the room for a lot of equipment (mine can fit my laptop, a 21” monitor, a small conference speakerphone, a mouse, and even a couple of cups and a plate when I need to snack or eat full meals as long as I sit horizontally), plus you can put the leaves down when you’re not working to save space and give the illusion that you weren’t sitting in the same spot all day.

  31. Michelle*

    All of our local schools have either closed for 2 weeks or “indefinitely/until further notice” and will be following their e-learning plans (due to announcement from our Governor. who encouraged closing the schools but allowed individual systems to decided), almost all colleges/universities are going to online classes, people are buying out entire grocery stores of toilet paper & paper towels, and my employer (tourist attraction) is getting ready to announce all public events will be cancelled until mid-April, BUT we are going to remain open for now! I’m trying to decide if I want to burn most of my vacation to stay home during this period or not. The entire point of closing the schools and cancelling large events is to try to get a handle on this. I understand the fear and I understand the impact on people who still have to work, but I just don’t know. We obviously cannot WFH and full-time employees have a little cushion with PTO but a complete shutdown would hurt our part-time employees. But what if we all get sick?? I’m so anxious and worried. I’m trying to stay calm but it’s hard.

    1. OhBehave*

      I’m so sorry about this. I wouldn’t exhaust your PTO at the moment. It’s a good thing that you will be around fewer people. Minimizing contact with people is the reason for these mandates. Do what you can to keep your distance from people (standing close, shaking hands, hugging, etc.). Wash your hands often. Right now there are 1,866 confirmed cases in the US. Considering the population, this is a small number. Not making light of this at all, but I tend not to panic, but plan.

  32. Funny Cide*

    No real problems, here – my work is being super understanding and proactive and we’re not in a very active area for infections so far, but a bunch of events I work on are being cancelled and it’s all just a very weird “okay, what now?” sort of thing happening. Excited to get some laundry done while I work from home at least!

  33. What's with Today, today?*

    I’ve been in media for 17 years and I have never, never seen anything like yesterday. It was wild, to say the very least. I’m tired and glad my shift ends at 1 p.m. (I’m sure I’ll do a lot of small work this weekend, but still…) How is everyone else handling work changes? Nothing changes at my job except we’ll lose a lot of money from sports broadcast sales. (small market radio)

    1. WellRed*

      I’m worried we’ll lose ad pages, etc, which are already down. I’d love to take a few days off because I really need some downtime, but who will write about corona if I do ; ) Taking it day by day right now.

  34. rayray*

    I posted last week that I was excited for a job interview. Found out that I wasn’t selected, it was pretty fast so I think maybe they had someone in mind anyway. I reported back later on this, but I actually was laid off from my job later that day. I did get three weeks severance and they’ll keep me on insurance til the end of April (I was at the job just shy of a year). I hated the job, so I wasn’t devastated but I am definitely stressed. I think I have a pretty solid resume and I’ve had people helping me to tweak it and make it even better. A friend gave me an employee referral to a great company that has been ranked one of the top companies to work for in the state, so hopefully I hear back on the job I applied to.

    I’m a little stressed that given current state of events, landing interviews could be tough, but I am hoping to not be out of work too long. To be honest, this little break has been great for my mental health. I was in a bit of shock over the weekend. I felt panic on Monday and almost cried while at a basketball game with friends. I cried a bit on Tuesday but went to a religious service that helped calm me. It’s been fun hanging out with mine and my roommate’s cats and being able to get outside for walks, watch movies and such while I work on my resume and send out applications. I intend to get more focused next week and really apply for lots of jobs.

    The good thing is, I am out of my last job that I hated so much. I complained about it on many Friday open threads, got the advice to get a new job ASAP. My boss micromanaged and treated me like a child. It was one of those situations where it was a very small business so she’d had many things added to her plate over the years, and she’d been there for about 20 years so she wouldn’t trust anyone else to do the job right. I think she also felt powerful because she had an assistant and it affected how she treated me. I might be wrong, but I think the restructuring has something to do with a major change at the sister company and possible relenting some responsibilities to someone there that has been working there longer and would have been without a job come July due to her Executive taking a religious assignment in another country for a couple years.

    Anyway. That’s my update. Hoping for the best!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I am glad you are out of there. I am glad you are putting your time in distancing yourself from the toxic place and building yourself back up again. I wish you much luck in your search, I am sure you will find something soon because you have a good attitude and a good approach.

    2. Ann Perkins*

      Keep sending out resumes and follow up once COVID-19 dies down.

      I am on the other side, trying to get a position filled. It’s been slow. I had an interviewee cancel because she wasn’t feeling well, we are working on rescheduling.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Wow. I had forgotten about that one.
      Alison, are you able to reach out to this person to see how they are doing?

  35. Niniel*

    My coworkers and I are trying to convince our boss that we need to work from home, but he doesn’t believe that people actually do work at home. I think it would take a governmental decree before we are told to WFH. It’s frustrating because even if we were to WFH, he doesn’t know how to use the technology necessary to oversee projects remotely. Which is sad, because my job and others definitely can be done at home and completed collaboratively online. It’s all so frustrating!! Anyone else going through something similar?

    1. Bunny Girl*

      Yep. Our faculty was told they could work from home, but our DH won’t let staff work from home because he is a big butt in seats person. Of the four staff members, one lives with someone compromised, two are immune compromised, and my boyfriend is at a slightly higher risk as well.

    2. Snark no more!*

      Hi! To address the second part of your question, I work at a university in a research unit and support a professor who has been told she has to teach at least some classes remotely. She does not fully understand the current state of technology or what we already have available. Yesterday I went to her home to make sure her computer was set up correctly and to show her how to access what she needed. Do you have someone in your office that could do the same for your boss? She has no problem with the WFH, it’s just making sure she can use what we have. Maybe your boss is embarrassed that he can’t?

      1. Niniel*

        Not sure about that. I think the bigger issue is the mindset that when people say they are “working from home,” they’re goofing off instead.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          We have a director like that as well – if he can “see you working”, you’re obviously not. He’s an ass. Universities, even geeky ones, have a lot of fossils and luddites.

  36. Wing Leader*

    Is there a way to shut down pet nicknames at work when I’ve let it go on for far too long? I work very closely with a coworker who is old enough to be my grandmother, though her and I are at the same level (both admin). She’s not too bad as far as mothering me or anything like that. The only thing I don’t like is she often calls me things like, “sweetie.” I’m a 30 year old married woman with an apartment and a car, and her way of talking to me often makes me feel like a seven year old.

    I know I shouldn’t have let this go on for so long, but I’ve never known how to address it and I know she doesn’t mean any harm. But it’s really starting to drive me nuts.

    1. Alice*

      Could you just talk about it? “Look, this is awkward because I haven’t said anything before now. But I’d really like it if you called me Wing instead of sweetie/darling/honey.” Most people will react to that by saying, “Oh, sorry, I will!” and maybe making some mistakes occasionally and eventually stopping with the pet names. I mean, sure, the pages of Ask A Manager are full of unreasonable people, but the world has more reasonable ones than unreasonable ones. I hope!

    2. The Rural Juror*

      I have a dog named Sweetie. I actually hate her name, but she already had it and was used to it when I adopted her, so…there was no going back. You can tell her an acquaintance of yours has a dog named Sweetie and every time you hear someone call you that it makes you think of the dog. Tell her it’s far safer to just call you by your actual name.

      1. Wing Leader*

        Haha, that’s funny. My mom’s dog has the same name as one of my executives lol. It’s just a regular name (think like Molly) , but it makes me think of the dog every time I see her. Especially since I give the dog little nicknames, like Moll Doll, I have to be careful to not walk up to the executive and say, “Hey Moll Doll, do you have a moment?” Lol.

        1. The Rural Juror*

          Ha! This has been happening a lot for me as well. I have two friends who have dogs named Chloe and Zoe, respectively. We affectionately call them Chlo Chlo and Zo Zo. My other friend is about to get married and her new stepdaughter’s name is Chloe. I accidentally called her Chlo Chlo the other day, but I don’t think she heard me, thank goodness!

  37. Myrin*

    I know this question gests asked about a million times in every open thread but it hasn’t been relevant to me so far so I’ve always skipped it so here I am because of my own laziness:

    After sending in a job application, how long does it usually take to hear back whether you’ll get an interview or not?

    This is really just out of pure interest – I will not in any way follow up with the places I sent an application to, I just honestly have no frame of reference for this kind of stuff.
    (At this place, I want to give a shoutout to the company I so far like most out of everyone, who sent me a confirmation within half an hour of applying and said they’ll still need “some time” to appropriately judge every application. That action alone was already just… so nicely professional, you know?)
    I’d specifically like to hear from people in Germany, but I of course treasure everyone’s input!

    1. rayray*

      For me, it varies. Sometimes within a week or two. I had a weird situation recently where I got an email rejection of my resume, but then about a month later a recruiter emailed to see if I was still interested.

      I think many companies just don’t acknowledge you at all. It’s been all over the board for me.

    2. Millicent*

      Yup, it’s all over the map. Anywhere from a couple of days to months for me. I don’t think there’s any “usual” timeframe unless you’re applying to the same company.

    3. Marny*

      I can’t speak for Germany, but here in the U.S., I’ve had situations where I was contacted for an interview less than 48 hours after applying, and situations where I was contacted for an interview 3-4 months after applying.

      1. londonedit*

        Same (UK). Maybe not as long as 3-4 months, but it’s varied between ‘immediate’ and ‘a few weeks’. Sometimes companies will invite people in for interviews as and when good CVs come in during the application window, and sometimes there’s a process where they wait until the closing date for applications, then review everything that’s come in, and then start inviting people for interviews. So in the first instance it could be 24 hours, in the second it could be three or four weeks before the applications close, and then another few days before you actually hear anything.

        Of course, often companies don’t get back to you at all! But usually in my industry, a job advert will have a disclaimer saying that they expect a large volume of applications and will only be contacting successful applicants for interview, or it’ll say ‘Interviews will be conducted on 8 and 9 April’ so you know that if you haven’t heard by then, you’re not getting an interview.

    4. Bostonian*

      Usually when I end up getting an interview, I hear from the recruiter about a phone screen within 2 days of submitting my application. Last 2 times it was the same day.

      But being on the other side, my company’s recruiter is completely overworked and some phone screens haven’t been happening until WEEKS after the candidate applied.

    5. Drtheliz*

      Just landed a job in Berlin – I’m now three weeks in :)
      For the job I got it was very very quick, because I was the best qualified candidate by a long chalk, which was very obvious to my now-boss.
      I was shortlisted for a couple of jobs I didn’t get (and one I withdrew from), and with them it ranged from a couple of days to a couple of weeks.
      Government jobs were v-e-r-y slow in getting back to me. In some cases I’d get a rejection letter in the post ~6 months after applying.

      Viel Glück!

    6. The Great Octopus*

      Depends, I’ve gotten interview invites upwards of 4-6 months after I applied.

      Sometimes it’s a day, but typically within 2-3 weeks of application.

    7. CL Cox*

      I think the only time you can usually predict for sure is if they have an application deadline, which is more common in certain professions. In that case, it’s usually about a week or so after the deadline, no matter when you submitted yours.

  38. CallMeTired*

    What do you do when your boss shuts you out? We’re in crisis mode because of coronavirus but my boss won’t trust me to handle anything. Even medium-important responsibilities.

      1. CallMeTired*

        I’m trying to move into a better role in the same office this summer and I think it reflects poorly on my abilities if I can’t help the office through the crisis. It looks like I can’t be trusted on this.

        It can’t be foisted onto someone that is not me or my boss. It’s something unique to the two of us that needs to be handled.

        1. Silver Radicand*

          Can you suggest specific parts or actions you could take on or do? Your boss may be more amenable to giving out authority to handle what they consider to be sensitive if they know you have a specific plan of action.

          1. valentine*

            It can’t be foisted onto someone that is not me or my boss.
            I meant can you ask his manager or someone else to speak to him on your behalf, maybe ask him what’s going on and encourage him to delegate to you.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      I’ve been in a similar position, not because of a public health emergency but rather an ’emergency’ within the company, where the boss has a habit of just shutting down and distrusting everyone. Those ’emergencies’ were semi frequent but maybe similar impact, I don’t know.

      Ultimately there isn’t much you can do. Push back once or twice (probably no more than that) with “if there’s anything you want me to do … I’m right here, just let me know” etc.

      If you think there’s a real impact on business continuity by the boss doing this then bring it up with their boss.

      I’m curious what if any justification your boss gave for not trusting y’all with even medium urgency tasks?

  39. Fishsticks*

    Tldr: any advice on how to resign when your company instituted a mandatory work from home for the next 2 weeks?

    A little bit longer: My company started a mandatory work from home policy as of yesterday. It might end on the 27th but of course, who knows. I was required to bring my desktop. I was offered a position yesterday and I plan to accept it today.

    How should I go about resigning/returning my computer/giving my two weeks with all of this going on? Additionally, my company might “walk” me out since they’ve done so in the past. (no idea how that would happen since I’m not in the office lol).

    My current plan is to tell my team lead Monday and take his advice on it. Any one else have anything I might miss or be thinking of? Also if I’m immediately required to resign, I’m not worried about the missing paycheck so that’s not something that I’m factoring in.
    Thanks all!

    1. Millennial Lizard Person*

      Typically they’ll send a box for you to ship your desktop back. They might also give you the option to buy it off of them. The way they’d “walk” you out would be to cut off all your access — revoke your login credentials — so make sure you have everyone’s contact information written down somewhere else!

      1. Fishsticks*

        Okay cool! I live a mile and a half from the office and maybe 4 blocks from my team lead (who had to drop me off yesterday with my desktop lol). I already have everyone’s numbers but that’s also something I’ll keep in mind. Granted the person who revokes access might also be leaving soon haha
        I would never buy this computer because it’s so bad haha

        1. Amy Sly*

          It also may be that even if most everyone is working from home, some poor sap will still be there. (To empty the physical mailbox, if nothing else.) You might even be able to arrange a drop-off at the office if you’re that close.

    1. Zephy*

      Imagine the cacophony when one person puts the call on “Hold” instead of “Mute,” and then everyone else whose mics aren’t muted start echoing the crappy hold music.

      Or, at least, that’s what happens on our conference calls. Thank goodness someone in IT finally showed the meeting runners how to mute other people.

  40. Laney Boggs*

    How egregious is it to apply to the same job in a few weeks time?

    I was on the application page when I noticed specific phrasing I thought I’d seen before. I did have an acknowledgment from them in my email and backed out, but if I hadn’t noticed it was the same posting/didn’t see the acknowledgement, do you think I would have hurt my chances?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I mean, it’s good that you noticed – but it would have been pointless at best/worst, probably, I doubt it would have been disqualifying.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      If someone applied to a job I had posted twice within a few weeks, I might think they weren’t really paying attention to the jobs they were applying to, and that they therefore hadn’t really given much thought to the job when they applied the first time. It might be unfair in your case, but it’s what my first impression would be when I got the second application.

  41. Jennifer*

    Hey – For those of us who have to go into work, especially those you use public transit, how are y’all keeping your spirits up? It’s kind of a ghost town around here and the few people out are wearing masks. The gloomy weather isn’t helping. It’s very post-apocalyptic and super-depressing.

    What music are you listening to? Podcasts? TV episodes? What’s cheering you up?

    1. StellaBella*

      Music: Surf Music chill on youtube, cafe jazz on youtube, David Rudder (Trinidadian singer), Avicii, and Maitre Gims, among others.
      Mindfulness meditation training sessions.
      Podcasts: In Our Time, by Melvyn Bragg, and BBC Natural Histories.
      TV: Lucifer.
      Cheering me up: my cat chasing a cable tie – why buy cat toys?, planted some gladiolus, and I will clean my balcony this weekend.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        In the spirit of light-hearted books, I’ve enjoyed reading books written by comedians. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey’s books were awesome. Check your library’s online audiobook category and download them to your phone.

        1. Jennifer*

          I’d have never guessed you were a Tina Fey fan :)

          I agree with this suggestion. Retta, Rachel Dratch, Issa Rae, Anna Faris, Lauren Graham, and Anna Kendrick all have really funny audiobooks too.

          1. Bluebell*

            I don’t know if it’s available on audio , but Retta wrote a pretty funny memoir about a year ago.

      2. Marion Ravenwood*

        Yep, I’m in the light books group too – my go-to at the moment is ‘trashy yet comforting’, if that makes sense. I’m currently two-thirds of the way through the second Outlander book which seems like a good fit for that description.

    2. Just a PM*

      I’ve been alternating between the Maggie Hope series (by Susan MacNeal), the Brit in the FBI series (Catherine Coulter), and the happy playlists on Spotify like Songs to Sing in the Shower, Chill, 80s Workout, etc.

      When I really need a break, I go to one of my guilty pleasures – the British Royal Family and the snarky blogs about Megxit. One of my favorite BRF blogs is doing a couple of throwback series/deep-dive analyses of Kate and Will’s relationship and BRF/BRF-adjacent (like Carole and Pippa) fashion.

      1. Jennifer*

        I’ll check out those playlists.

        I’m a fellow royal watcher so I need the name of that blog that does the deep dive on Kate and Will :)

  42. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I had an interview scheduled for Monday afternoon. I was really looking forward to it, spent a ton of time prepping, all that good stuff. Then, about two hours before our appointment, they called to postpone.

    I don’t blame them at all– their business was SUPER affected by COVID-19, with a lot of things changing rapidly, and I was actually surprised they hadn’t canceled sooner. I’m taking it as a compliment that they waited until the last minute, because to me that means that they were eager to move the process along and tried to make it work until they absolutely couldn’t. I thought about sending them some kind of “condolence” email, but I figured that would just be clogging up their inboxes unnecessarily.

    They said I am still very much in the running, but of course these are crazy times. Should I follow up in the next week or so? Say nothing? This is so unprecedented for me and such uncharted territory for most of us, I’m unsure how best to proceed.

    Also, screw this virus, man. Some of the trips I had coming up that were helping me stay engaged in my job have been cancelled, and I am so unfocused and so uninterested in addition to dealing with ramping up anxiety.

    1. Amy Sly*

      I would send them an email Monday or Tuesday (assuming they haven’t contacted you first) asking for a status update. Something along the lines of “I appreciate that your regular hiring procedures have been disrupted. Do you have a plan for rescheduling the interview at this time, and if not, how would you like to proceed?”

      It shows your professionalism in dealing with the chaos; it reinforces that you’re still interested in the position; and it gives them a specific question they can answer. My guess is that they’ll say something like “We don’t know; we’ll contact you in a couple weeks,” but they may be slightly more prepared than that.

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Definitely don’t send a condolences email. That’s just weird.

      I’m assuming you’ve already responded, saying you understand and look forward to continuing the process when it’s safe to do so.

      If anything beyond that, in your situation, I would follow up in two weeks, just a “Hello, I’m still interested in continuing in the interview process. I know the virus has made timelines unpredictable, so please keep me in the loop as you’re ready to move forward.” The intent is just to let them know you haven’t accepted another position or received another offer and that you’re still interested in interviewing for the job.

      Normally, AAM’s advice to use the follow-up to ask about timeline is much better, but because of the virus, it would seem tone deaf to ask them for that, since no one is going to know.

  43. SF-86-update*

    hi all, two weeks ago I asked for advice on the SF86 security form. After reading the form (all of it) and reviewing the gov’t. job again, I elected to withdraw from consideration. The form requested so much detail of my finances, my health (currently not great), needed lists of all the people I worked with in past 7 years, and since I have done a lot of work with people in foreign gov’ts in the past 7 years, I have been on unemployment for 2 periods of 6 months, I participate in numerous political actions and fora, attended over a dozen international conferences in the past 7 years, and worked for a while in Palestine…plus dated two foreign government officials…this form was not going to go over well for this role. Besides, several of my non US former colleagues were not keen on being listed in the form as they are very politically active. So in the end, while it would have been interesting, it would not have been a good fit.

  44. AndersonDarling*

    I’m really curious if Covid-19 is going to change how we work in the future. Once companies realize that people really can (in most cases) do their work from home, will they start allowing more work from home? I wonder if more companies will have virtual offices and shed the expense of big office buildings.
    I also wonder if companies will realize that they have managers with outdated managing practices who cannot cope with their teams being out of their field of view.
    I’m also amazed that so many companies were not prepared for a business disruption. The last companies I worked for had plans in place for natural events that would disrupt operations for months. I mean, isn’t that business planning 101?

    1. Jennifer*

      I wonder how many companies will finally realize that adequate paid sick leave is a necessity.

      1. valentine*

        I think it will go the opposite way: We missed you! Hope that never happens again!

        From the “quarantine is ruining my relationship” letter, I wonder if selling cubicles to celebs will turn the tide of the open-plan horror.

    2. rayray*

      I agree so much. I definitely think people know that work from home is possible and that adequate sick leave is more beneficial than having your butt in your seat on all but 10< days a year. These are things that I have always hoped to see shift as a different generation are in the work force. With advancements in technology, I think many office jobs could stand to make adjustments to allow for flexibility. Even in client-facing jobs, skype or google hangouts could be used in times like this.

    3. Bunny Girl*

      I’m more just amazed at how much some managers (like mine!) are digging their heels in about not letting people work from home.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I hope the measures disabled people have been asking for over the past few years, which were always resisted then, but which have suddenly been rushed in for quarantine reasons, will persist.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This. My mom’s not disabled, but she has a couple of (sometimes) debilitating chronic illnesses her company is well aware of (she’s on intermittent FMLA), and for years, they had her driving to work when she could barely see straight and walking around a huge building when her legs and feet were acting up and causing her severe joint pain because working from home just wasn’t possible.

        They gave her a laptop today and told her to stay home one day next week (to start) to see if their VPN works at her house. WTF?! So they could let people work from home, they just chose not to. She could have killed herself or others several times trying to come into that shithole, and they saw nothing wrong with this. It’s mind-boggling.

        1. BelleMorte*

          It’s shocking how easy it was for them to flip the switch to making WFH a possibility, they just didn’t want to. I, too, hope it lasts, at least for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses as it will make them SO much more employable.

    5. Bostonian*

      I hope so, but on the flip side, after being WFH company-wide for weeks, I could totally see my company swinging the pendulum back in the other direction and be like “Being in the office is important! Look how much collaboration we missed out on!” (even though WFH policy before coronavirus was pretty flexible).

      Definitely depends on industry and current ways of thinking. I hope many companies realize they need better sick/PTO policies, as Jennifer said above.

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      Interestingly, we were already gearing up to do a pilot program for more flexible work schedules! Many if not most people in my office worked from home one day a week already, but we were starting to look at more options, and at expanding the option to more people. I can’t imagine we’d ever go 100% remote: if nothing else, we can have a lot of fun together in our office! But it’s nice that we’re finding out some of the major challenges and needs that we have right now, to consider for when we’re not in crisis mode.

    7. Amanda Fitton*

      This has happened to me a couple times — actually being forced to work virtually, and doing it successfully, made management embrace it. Story #1: An old boss of mine was very wary of WFH, until an injury forced him to have to work virtually for a while–after which he was much more lenient and even encouraged it for everyone. Story #2: A power outage affected our HQ location for several days, but most of us were unaffected by it at home. So we were encouraged to work remotely–and we did, with very little disruption. Soon after, the company launched an expanded, formal WFH policy.

      1. Gumby*

        I really really hope something similar happens on a large scale here. I cannot work from home effectively; my company builds things and my co-workers are seldom at their desks so even though *I* do desk-based computer work, I frequently have to wander the building to find the person I need information from (no, I cannot put trackers on them, I’ve asked). Also, since we are mostly an in-person company the infrastructure to work at home is lacking. Anyway, point being, that is why I am still commuting to work. It is so much nicer that I hope even a fraction of the people now staying home because of COVID-19 decide it worked out well and they’d like to continue. It would reduce the load on freeways here which is desperately needed.

    8. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      My company announced today that they would prefer everyone to work from home for at least the next 2 weeks. (It might end up being 3, because the governor closed the schools for that long.) About half a dozen people (out of about 30) are planning on working in the office, everyone else is planning to work remotely. I’ve been remote since Tuesday while recovering from a bad cold (Friday and Monday I called in sick), so I came into the office for about an hour to collect my docking station, monitors, and headset.

      My manager is very much in favor of remote work, but she reminded our team that we have to visibly keep producing work to our usual standards. She also said she hopes that everything goes well enough that senior management sees that they should be letting us all work from home more often, rather than less. (It would probably help with our recruiting efforts if we could do that, too.)

      Fortunately our upper management was planning for this possibility, and even people who use desktop computers instead of laptops had already been set up so they could take them home even before the official announcement was made. The biggest issue we’ve noticed is that some of our video conferencing software limits the number of people who can join a meeting – the limits are more than big enough when most people are in the office, but not when most of us are remote. But we think we do have a plan for that, and a fallback plan if the original plan doesn’t work.

      Looking at what I just wrote, I’m actually kind of impressed with how we’re handling things, given how dubious upper management has historically been about remote work.

    9. Curmudgeon in California*

      We got a mail from our university department today patting ourselves on the back for our BCDR readiness to WFH. Nevermind that we have a few group managers who don’t like their people to WFH. In my minds eye I see them gritting their teeth every time they have to say yes, knowing that it will be harder to say no in the future.

    10. Ranon*

      My company is tiny but we got lucky- when we moved offices we upgraded phone systems so we are all internet phone with the ability to forward/ call from our computers or cell phones via an app plus the service comes with free video conferencing software.

      My boss does some remote work so we had a VPN set up, early this week we all talked through how we would work remote and settled on the “just take your desktop home”, figured out we needed more VPN licenses, and taught my boss how to use our cool already paid for video conference software. I did a test drive from my house today and ironed out VPN bugs so we’re good to go.

      I don’t think my boss really believes we’re going to need to use this set up for an extended period of time but he won’t stop any of us from working from home if we choose and now we can so I’ll take it.

    11. Sparkly Lady*

      I think it depends on how successful an experience it actually is. I see a lot of people on my social media feeds assuming that companies going to emergency measures means that the emergency measures are going to have no drawbacks and prove that they could always have been policy. But it doesn’t. The emergency measures having no significant drawbacks would prove that. It’s waaaaay too early to make that claim.

      I have telecommuted 100% and worked with remote teams and honestly, I found there to be drawbacks. I think there are benefits to having teams be in the office most of the time that are hard to quantify or explain but are nevertheless important and real. That said, I worked in tech before my current fitness instructor incarnation and tech seems to be way more flexible as a rule than a lot of what I read people writing about here. I’ve never had mandated work hours as long as the bulk of my hours overlapped with the team. I’ve always been able to work remote between 1-3 days a week, and I’ve always been able to choose to do it with no advance notice as long as I didn’t have a meeting that required in-person attendance. So maybe the tech norm will become the general office culture norm.

    12. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      To be honest I doubt it. I think what’s much more likely to happen is a collective “phew! Back to the old ways finally! That WFH shit was surely something, huh?”

  45. Book Pony*

    The job I applied to has been waylaid by HR after having done two interviews. The hiring manager said they had to repost the job listing, and said they really want me to reapply.

    I plan to… but it hasn’t been reposted yet. I got the official cancellation notice on March 4, and she (hiring manager) said she’d email me when it went live, but should I poke her? Prob not, yeah?

    I just wanna move on to a new job. Getting a bit cabin fever-y at this place lol. I keep checking the job board to see if it’s up. OTL

    1. sacados*

      March 4? I think that’s definitely long enough to poke them once!
      Just say something along the lines of you understand things must be incredibly hectic but you were just wondering if there were any updates … etc
      After week or so it’s totally fine to do one gentle followup and then let it go. Tho if you wanted to wait until next week so that it would be 2 full weeks later and then send the email, that’s also fine.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      The company might be in a temporary posting/hiring freeze due to the coronavirus concerns. I would send her an email early next week.

    3. waldo*

      I’m going through the exact same thing, job had to be reposted with lower requirements because they originally said 4 years of experience and I have 3. Interviewed on Tuesday, said they’d repost it in a couple days and the following Friday (so about a week after they said it’d be up) I sent a quick email asking about it/reiterating my interest and saying I know they’re busy, going through HR takes time, etc. Now I’m almost done waiting another 2 weeks for HR to release applications to the hiring manager.

    4. Book Pony*

      Not sure where this will nest (can you tell I don’t post often? lol)

      Update: Decided to go ahead and email the hiring manager, and she said that the job hasn’t been reposted yet, but that she sent it up to HR this morning, so maaaaaybe this weekend it’ll appear?

      @Kimmy: That’s actually a bit funny because my current job is having a hiring freeze of sorts (suspended in-person interviews), but the new place seems to be fine.

  46. CupcakeCounter*

    My company instituted full time work from home for at least two weeks and then last night my state’s governor announced that all schools would be closing for several weeks starting March 16.
    Trying to figure out how to get solid work done with a high energy 10 year old running around needing stimulation.
    There is the other little problem that state mandated testing starts the week after they are scheduled to return to school and my son isn’t the best student and his head will purge knowledge in hours let alone several weeks.
    Oh and we are not in a state that has had a lot of confirmed cases – just had our first this week actually.

    1. rayray*

      Just out of curiosity, is your son’s school trying to do online learning? There’s one school district closed in my state, and all the local universities are going fully online next week. The school district that’s closing issued chromebooks to kids and they’ll do schooling from home somehow.

      I’m not a parent so I cant give any advice from that standpoint. If you have a yard or park nearby, maybe letting him play for some time during the day may help get the wiggles out. I’ve also heard from people who do homeschooling that they don’t allow their kids to stay in pajamas, they have to get up and get ready and dressed and that helps a lot with their focus. I know it’s not super helpful, but just a thought. :)

      1. Amy Sly*

        I follow a homeschooler blog, and one of her go-to examples of “Why Homeschooling Works For Us” is a short video of her 11 year old son jumping up and down in place in front of his desk while he works on his homework. Quite a few kids have to burn off their energy before they can be calm enough to sit quietly and study.

        I’d suggest starting the day with PE. Maybe it’s running the length of the block and back a few times. Maybe it’s raking leaves or fallen deadwood out of the yard. Maybe it’s going up and down the fire stairs in the apartment building. Then move to studies. He may be able to focus adequately that way — heck, he may be able to focus better than he does at school if he can get his physical need to move resolved before he has to study!

        Horse riders do the same thing with highly energetic horses that need training. You make them run in circles in a lunge ring or on a mechanical hot walker for ten or fifteen minutes to burn off the energy, and that gets them in the mindset so that you can actually train them to respond to new commands.

      2. CupcakeCounter*

        Nope – even before the governor’s announcement they sent out a long email with a lot of FAQ’s and they specifically said that online learning would not be used.
        The homeschooling ideas are great but I still have a full time job to complete and we are neck deep in budgets.

        1. Sled dog mana*

          Check out homeschooling for working parents (there are some great resources, free and paid). Also depending on how reliable your 10 year old is maybe you could have him research certain topics that you give him and use that to inform how you keep him learning during this time. There are also online charter schools you could look into moving him into

  47. RetirementNoGo*

    I retired early a few years ago and now due to Reasons (and health insurance) need to look for full time work again. I am 60 and was a director at my last job in a nonprofit. Those of you who had to come back out of retirement, were you able to find another job? I’m concerned about ageism (and now about a recession). Also, did you look for employment at a similar level to what you retired from or did you go for something else? How did you explain the resume gap? Thanks.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Being a director at a non-profit may be the best case scenario. Lots of non-profits are looking for leaders with experience. You could probably look for a VP position with no problem. I’d spin it as that you retired but realized that you loved working with [mission] so much that you wanted to return to work. Good luck!

    2. Anono-me*

      You may find it helpful to look at federal jobs of any category that you would be qualified for, if your main motivation is health insurance.

      1. RetirementNoGo*

        Hadn’t thought about gov jobs. Just a cursory glance I see jobs where a graduate degree (I have an MBA) can substitute for experience. And I’m open to relocating so thank you for the suggestion!

    3. tangerineRose*

      Are you on linkedin? Do you have former co-workers who can put in a good word for you? Networking can be really helpful.

  48. Academic Librarian manager still*

    Classes are closed at my University. Professors are teaching virtually. All meetings have gone to Zoom. BUT our academic libraries are declared open for business and Provost/HR is insisting that people who do not come to work are using PTO and hourly employees will not be paid. How is THIS logical?

    I have one report that is not in a risk category who is part-time and the University won’t let me give him more hours.

    Pushback language please.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      Oh you too? Yep our staff aren’t allowed to work from home at the moment. I think this is by department, but ours isn’t allowing us to unless the DH is forced. We have more at risk people among our staff than our student body. I don’t see the logic.

    2. NB*

      I’m an academic librarian, too. I have no pushback language for you, but I will say that we are busier than usual today. With classes going online, students need to use our computers. Many of them need extra help with the technology such as scanning assignments and uploading to our learning management system. It seems we are more essential than ever.

    3. Mimmy*

      Yeah I’m not sure I understand why schools are closing / bringing classes online yet staff still have to go in and libraries are open? The only thing I can think of is that people are more spread out in offices and libraries?

      1. Jennifer*

        Because this wasn’t thought out very well. Closing all the schools/universities and telling everyone to do their work online is based on the assumption that everyone has a laptop/smartphone and an internet connection. The only choice lower income kids have is to go to the library.

        1. fposte*

          And online teaching can get pretty bandwidth heavy to boot.

          I don’t know if it’s that it wasn’t thought out very well or if it was a “least worst” situation, though. Keep campus classes in session and students in dorms and you have a vastly heightened risk of transmission. Close the university down entirely and you get students shorted on their expected degrees and economically disadvantaged as a result. I don’t know that there’s a good answer here.

    4. Academic Library Manager still*

      yes but if it not safe to be in classrooms, if people are at risk, if people in their twenties are being asked to social distance, how is okay for librarians and clerks and pages to be in this situation?

      1. fposte*

        Because libraries function as essential services or nearly so. It’s not simply about safe vs. not safe but what risks we, our universities, our towns and states, decide are the ones we take–there are risks in closing things down and risks in keeping them open. We’ve decided it’s okay for supermarket clerks to be at that risk, after all, and they’re likely to be paid less than library staff. I don’t know if your university is making the right call or not, but it doesn’t seem to be all that out there.

  49. MoneyBeets*

    Not a coronavirus question. My husband is miserable at his job. Just miserable. He has been miserable for years, and has tried getting additional certifications and even a bachelor’s degree in hopes of finding something somewhere else. But there are few jobs around and they are all either third shift (overnight) or variable (totally erratic). So he has stayed put. Twice he’s been offered a promotion with a 9-5 shift rather than the typical three-12s shift (it’s healthcare) and both times, his boss did NOT give him the promised shift. Additionally, every time someone quits, their work is given to him. They don’t backfill, so the staff gets smaller and smaller and it’s harder and harder for him to do the job well because he is spread horribly thin. One of his duties is to ensure the facility is ready for inspections, so if he does not do that job thoroughly there is even the remote chance of his facility being shuttered due to noncompliance! So he’s worried sick; his boss, however, is not.

    He is fed up, tired, demoralized at work, and now that he is doing the work of three people he is also worn down to the point of physical illness at times. I’ve told him he’s got to start setting some boundaries and saying he cannot do XYZ, or he cannot work an early shift AND a late shift on the same day. “I’m so sorry, Jane, but I am not available to do both; which one do you want me to concentrate on?” I’ve told him to make clear to her that XYZ is in jeopardy as long as he is not permitted to stop doing other jobs and focus on that one. His answer, every time, is “She should know.” Yes, she should! But she’s living in a bubble and making all this risk his problem. I can’t do it for him, and he is becoming extremely difficult to live with. Over the years his personality has largely disappeared and the marriage feels like it’s strewn with eggshells. Currently we don’t even sleep in the same room because I can’t risk disrupting his sleep, since he is now going in earlier than ever before (even though it is still first shift, at least).

    I’m at my wits’ end here. If anyone has been through this or has any advice…

    1. Jennifer*

      He HAS to set some boundaries. If he doesn’t understand why, I’d consider trying to get him in contact with the company’s EAP for some counseling. I’m sorry.

    2. valentine*

      the marriage feels like it’s strewn with eggshells.
      I think this is the piece to tackle. Fixing the job won’t necessarily make the marital pieces fall into place, and vice versa. (Also: Is he using work to avoid you?) It’s time for a performance review. Review your shared goals and values. How do each of you envision your life together now and at future points? What is the path there? What are benchmarks and are you willing to fulfill them?

      If he stays the way he is, what does he need from you and are you willing to do it?

      If you cannot tolerate this past April, what do you need from him and is he willing to do it?

      Separate counseling could do you both good. Start with that rather than with marriage counseling because you want someone who wants what’s best for you, not someone who wants to help you stay together.

      She should know.
      Does he think you should know? What is going unsaid?

      both times, his boss did NOT give him the promised shift.
      If she wasn’t the one who offered it, can he appeal to the person who did, even if they’ve already said she has final say? Is he Lucy with the football and this is her way of retaining him? (It’s bizarre!) It seems to me healthcare people are in high demand, especially if they’re happy to work nights. How hard would it be for him to find a new job? Is he afraid of peace and success? Does he identify as a stressed-out person now and seek to continue as such?

      (Finally, he’s putting his spin on things, so, think about whether his version of events is maybe an extreme and what the likely middle or Jane’s side might be.)

    3. fposte*

      In addition to what Jennifer says, it might be worth you looking into counseling for yourself to negotiate this.

    4. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      Well, of course his boss isn’t going to do anything to fix it. Your husband is her scapegoat. She can go about her business short-staffing and underbudgeting his area, and it’s his fault when it’s not compliant, and he’ll be the one fired for it.

      That’s why I left safety compliance, it’s a fall-guy job.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      “She should know.”

      Tell him that is not an answer. “Let’s say you are 100% correct and she does know this is too much for one person. There are people who take advantage of other people. If she knows then she is one of those people who takes advantage of other people. The only way to stop a person like this is to tell them NO. What do you think will happen if you tell her NO?”

      [Insert rambling, nonsensical reply here.]

      Then try again, “Honey, you are not you any more. Your job is making you miserable. I miss US, I want US back. [if true]. What do you think we CAN do to get you out of this pit?”

    6. ToodleOodleWhordleOrdle*

      Ultimately he can be as terrible at self-advocacy/setting boundaries at work as he wants. The problem is it isn’t just him suffering.
      I’d go ahead and crunch some eggshells. Don’t compromise on how you ask him to treat you, and make it clear that how he’s behaving is not ok. How bad things are at work or whose fault it is– that’s actually irrelevant. The way he’s behaving at home has to change; how he goes about making that happen is up to him. You’ve already given him lots of good advice– if he decides to give the tools you’ve offered him a try, great, but even if he chooses to continue suffering at work, passing the suffering on to you is not okay. Be ready to go stay somewhere else for a while, even if you’re not ready to bring up divorce. If you love someone, don’t let them treat you badly; letting someone become a crappy person isn’t an act of love.

    7. Cassandra*

      So, this might actually be a coronavirus question after all. Because if he’s working anywhere in the healthcare industry, I think the odds are good that the landscape will look radically different a couple months from now. So it may be that that the best thing you can do is to help him weather the crisis, because there will be many opportunities for change in the aftermath.

  50. Sara M*

    Need help convincing your boss? There’s tips at flatten the curve dot com (obviously that’s a url)

    Pass it on. Take action NOW. I have rarely meant anything so seriously in my life.

  51. No name*

    My partner is a grad student, we live in an apartment building owned by his university. They have requested (not required) all grad students move out of on campus housing and seek alternative housing. The university has indicated that they feel they have the right to kick everyone out of all university owned apartments at any time with no notice. We had planned to live here year round for at least another 4 years until my partner finished his program.

    I am not a student and depend on my full time job to support myself and for my health insurance.

    My work is permitting (but not encouraging) employees to work form home until the 31st if they are able to. I don’t have a company laptop so can’t access a lot of our systems from home and the current plan is people in my type of role will go into the office once or twice a week until the 31st.

    Should I mention to my boss that I could be kicked out of my housing at any time and see if there are arrangements can be made so that I can keep my job? Or is it best not to mention this until needed?

    My partner’s parents live 3 hours away and they are our back up plan and the only guareenteed place we have to live. I do not have a car.

    We are also trying to find a place to live in our city but housing is crazy expensive where I live and I work in publishing so my salary is crazy low ie coming up with first/last/security will be hard on short notice and I don’t make enough not to need a co signer for most places. My mother makes just above minimum wage and my father passed away 5 years ago so they can’t help.

    I am worried about keeping my job and being blamed by my employer for something out of my control and want to mitigate potential consequences by planning ahead.

    1. londonedit*

      I’m not quite understanding what you’re worried your employer might blame you for…losing your housing? That’s a) not your fault and b) none of your employer’s business. Unfortunately, though, the fact that it’s none of your employer’s business also means they’re probably unlikely to guarantee that you can keep your job because of your housing situation. Why are you worried about losing your job? Is it something that’s likely to happen? I think your employer would find it very odd if you went to them out of the blue and asked if you can ‘make arrangements to keep your job’.

      I understand that it’s a precarious situation for you, and believe me I know all about living on a publishing salary in an area with expensive housing where renting is really the only option. But unfortunately your employer doesn’t really have any obligation or reason to worry about your finances outside of work – they can’t base salary or hiring decisions on people’s personal situations.

      1. zora*

        Ok, in a normal situation what you said is true, but this is not a normal situation. The entire US is going into basically a state of emergency.

        I think this is totally a valid thing to bring up to your boss and say you might be losing your housing because of COVID response, and can you have some extra PTO while you figure this out, because you might not be able to work from home. They might even offer to help you fight back with the university. My employer is not great at these things usually, but even they are saying that HR folks will help with adjusted schedules/solving travel problems/salary advances, whatever people need right now to be safe and healthy.

        That said, I think if you do what I said in another comment below: reach out to elected representatives and the media, I think this should get nipped in the bud and the university should back down on this. So, at the most you might need an extra 1 or 2 days of PTO to make phone calls and get this sorted out.

    2. rayray*

      I think it might be worth mentioning to your job. You might feel better once you’ve had the conversation. I don’t know your boss but I really hope they’d be reasonable since you’re in a dire situation.

      That’s super crappy of the university to just kick everyone out. If you have a contract for a time, it should be honored. Forcing people into possible homelessness is awful.

    3. blackcat*

      What state are you in?

      It is likely not legal for the university to do this. There is at least one law firm in the greater Boston area that is already representing some students here to prevent universities from kicking students out.

      1. valentine*

        It is likely not legal for the university to do this.
        Look into local tenant law and see whether universities are exempt. You’d think they’d ask everyone to please stay put and have everything possible delivered.

        Ask your employer for a laptop and to work from home until the eviction date. Do they have corporate housing? Look for housing for just you, since you’re the one who needs to be local. There was a thread maybe two weeks ago about new job in city B/lease ends in November/BF in school until May. The options may work for you.

    4. zora*

      Wait, WHAT?!! Yeah, this sounds totally immoral if not illegal, to kick people out of housing in the midst of this.

      I would be immediately calling my congressional representative and/or city/state representative immediately. Some cities/states are looking at eviction moratoriums right now, because it would be so much worse to have more people homeless in the middle of this. And I think any decent representatives would be willing to put pressure on the university to stop this immediately.

      And/or call the media. This is an awful, terrible, horrifying idea to turn people out into the streets. Not everyone has family they can go live with. Please seek help!

      1. Not a cat*

        Perhaps moving the grad students is a COVID-19 response. They may need to make room for undergrads students. I’ve never heard of a university making housing available for grad students until they finish + four years. It seems like a lot to ask.

        1. HQB*

          The housing is avaible for current graduate students; the OP’s partner is a current graduate student and expects to be one for the next four years.

  52. Miss M*

    Hi! Reporting week one from new job and it’s great!! I’m so happy! I just have to move closer within the next year and I’ll be set.

    I have a one on one with my new supervisor. She is very dedicated to having me succeed and basically wants to know my long term career goals so we can work on it. I have never had this happen!

    What do I say? I was candid with her upon hire, that this is a step down from my previous job but she said it’s a foot in the door job. I honestly want to say “My goal is to make more money.” Because I took a pay cut and will most likely pick up a second part time job just to make some extra money (we both know this.) is there a more tactful way to bring this up? Talk about wanting to keep moving up? We are both open with each other so I would not be afraid to say this, but I also want to keep respectful. How did you figure out these meetings and what you actually wanted in a long term career other than “I want to keep moving up and making better pay and be happy”?

    1. Just a PM*

      I think it’s pretty common to assume or expect that someone will always want better pay and to move up the ladder. Could you frame your answer in terms of a career plan on what your end-goal is? Your end-goal could be ladders away from where you are now so your supervisor would probably be able to infer “moving up and more money.”

    2. Not So NewReader*

      “I want to grow and turn myself into a valuable asset to this company. I am very happy here and I want the company to be very happy with me. I need you to point out what areas I can boost up to make myself into that valuable person.”

    3. Pam*

      What does ‘moving up’ mean to you? Management? Better technical skills? Interesting projects? That’s probably a good place to start.

  53. Environmental Compliance*

    Exciting news – I accepted a job offer! I start early April at a much larger facility, with a whole environmental TEAM, and I am very, very excited. Also terrified, because now we’ve listed our house and the anxiety gremlins are making me second guess myself. But I got a 12% bump in pay, and honestly I think this will be a much more stable company & position. Hubs has a promising interview as well for a position that would be a great bump for him and pushes his career in the direction he’s wanted to go for a while.

    Meanwhile, at my current place, we’ve had a rash of people confirming their retirements. We can’t get the plant to run in any consistent manner. Everyone is very obviously checked out. Corporate Idjit got their hands slapped after I clapped back at them for refusing to do their job properly, and now they’re pretending I don’t exist. I’m not complaining. It’s unclear if they’re going to even backfill my position….for a large, Title V major, full suite of every enviro permit you can think of, complex facility. I would not be surprised at all if this facility shut down within the next year.

    1. CheeryO*

      Congratulations!!! I have been following your story with a mixture of fascination and horror, as a state environmental regulator. I’m glad that you escaped!

    2. PX*


      Been following your story with morbid fascination (have touched EHS/compliance things in various roles) so generally gobsmacked by whats been going on. Honestly, if your company has an ethics hotline, I would suggest giving it a call before you leave just to flag the many things that have gone on, but as you’ve spelt out – its mostly just sheer incompetence that no one seems to care about. Shame though!

    3. lost academic*

      You give me so much hope because I am growing incredibly fed up with my environmental consulting firm and I am not finding a lot of prospects at my level either in consulting or industry right now! Congratulations and keep us posted – I always look for your comments and updates!

      However if your company won’t backfill your position I offer my firm’s services to replace you :) Not having staff on site at a Title V is… probably something they should run by legal….

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Hugs!! The postings seem to go in waves – the area we’re going to, I had about 10 postings I could choose from in that city. But now there’s been nothing for a few weeks. If you don’t mind Middle of Nowhere, WI, there’s quite a few things.

        I have no idea what the plan is now for Place Full of Velvet Ants. The position was posted….then got yanked a day later. My boss had no idea it was yanked. Parent Co is no longer responding to emails. Corporate is pretending I don’t exist (though to be fair, Head Corporate Honcho is focused on the coronavirus right now). I am so, so very tempted to say I’m WFH for the next 2 weeks to avoid any sort of exposure before I move. It’s petty and probably not appropriate, but…… it’d be much nicer.

    4. Environmental Compliance*

      Thanks, everyone! Am feeling very loved! I am not confident in any ethics reporting. I have gone to hr as well as the parent company and they don’t seem to care. I’ve discreetly flagged to the regulators I work closely with. In all likelihood, this facility will shut down within the year whether by finances or forcefully by the regulating bodies.

    5. Curmudgeon in California*

      Congratulations!! I remember you were being screwed pretty badly there, with the boys club and all that.

      Remember, you have the experience, and you have the drive to succeed.

      Enjoy the schadenfreude at the old company circling the drain.

  54. AnxiousAttorney*

    I have been stewing on this for about 2 weeks now…

    I’m about to hit 3 years working in my current attorney job. The office where I work has 6 attorneys and 5 support staff. (We only have 5 attorneys at the moment since one just left for another job. We’ll call her Brenda.)

    I was working with Brenda on a trial. Then for reasons I can’t go into, the case blew up. Since Brenda was in court the day it blew up, everything came down on me. Brenda (who is a considerably more experienced attorney than me) agreed with everything we did. My boss, “Jim,” threw me under the bus, and would have come down harder on me had Brenda not gotten back from court and stood up for me. (I was told by one of the support staff that Jim has thrown attorneys under the bus before.) I spent the last weekend in February wracked with anxiety and suicidal thoughts. (No, I never seriously considered suicide. I just wanted the pain to stop.)

    Now it is two weeks later. Brenda has moved on to her new job and I’m still here. Jim has decided I’m a screw up and has limited even more the kind of cases I can get. (Because of my inexperience, I was already limited, which was completely understandable.) I can agree that everything could have been handled better, but it wasn’t just me. Plus, Jim is criticizing everything I do, which has my nerves and my confidence shot to the netherworld. (The other senior attorneys are still helping me when I need it.)

    I don’t have enough experience to hang out my own shingle. I would prefer not to go to a private firm, as I am in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and know that is the only way I’ll get my student loans paid off.

    My wife and I are in the process of building a house, so I have to stay in this area.

    There is another office doing my kind of legal work about 30 minutes away (which would actually be closer to where we are building), but they don’t have any openings right now, and I’m afraid Jim would sabotage any attempt I made to go there.

    I actually live in a different state from where I work, and would be eligible to waive into that state’s Bar without having to take the bar exam. However, that process will take several months to complete. (I have the letter requesting the application ready to send off.) And even once I do get admitted, I would have to find a job there. (There is no office doing my kind of law in the county where I live, though there is one in the next county south. Of course, I could suck it up and apply for a similar job in my home county or any of the surrounding counties…)

    1. Delta Delta*

      As a fellow attorney who suffered through a horribly toxic legal setting experience I give you this advice: GET OUT OF THERE LIKE YOUR HAIR IS ON FIRE.

      Your physical and mental health is not worth all this. While the public service loan thing is a nice idea, we are seeing in practice that people are not actually getting that benefit. Do not rest your entire career, life, mental health and overall well-being on this. I don’t know what state you’re in, but many states have lots of attorney openings in their attorney general offices with various state agencies.

      If you can’t find something, it’s actually okay to try to start your own shop. You may not have a fancy office and lots of staff, but there are probably things you can do and can learn how to do fairly easily so you can earn some money while you figure out what you want to do. I’ll check this thread back later if you’d like some of my ideas – I don’t want to overwhelm the post.

      1. AnxiousAttorney*

        “As a fellow attorney who suffered through a horribly toxic legal setting experience I give you this advice: GET OUT OF THERE LIKE YOUR HAIR IS ON FIRE.”

        I would if I had somewhere to go. As I said, it will take me several months to waive into the state where I live, and I don’t know of any opportunities in the area where I currently work. I can keep my eyes and ears open, but at this point, that is all I know to do.

        “While the public service loan thing is a nice idea, we are seeing in practice that people are not actually getting that benefit.”

        I know. I’m trying to stay on top of it to hopefully get it once I finish my ten years. At least keeping up the hope; otherwise there is no way I will ever pay off my loans.

        “I don’t know what state you’re in, but many states have lots of attorney openings in their attorney general offices with various state agencies.”

        The capital of the state where I work is 4.5 hours from where I live. The capital of the state where I live is about 2 hours from where I live. There may be something in the city 30 minutes south of where I live; I’ve not actually looked because I’m not licensed there. Although now that you mention it, I could look at county/city government jobs in the state where I work.

        “If you can’t find something, it’s actually okay to try to start your own shop. You may not have a fancy office and lots of staff, but there are probably things you can do and can learn how to do fairly easily so you can earn some money while you figure out what you want to do.”

        To be honest, the idea of going out on my own is kind of scary. I’ve worked in public service most of my adult life, and I like the benefits and the guaranteed paycheck. *sheepish grin*

        1. Suni*

          To say this in the nicest way possible, if you don’t want to change then nothing is going to change.

          You’ve had numerous excellent pieces of advice from multiple people who have been in your shoes before, and you have a reason/excuse for why every single one won’t work.

          Change is scary, and especially hard to do when you’re already burnt out. But you’re not as trapped as you think you are.

          For instance: Yes, you have a house, but if its preventing you from finding better jobs then you can put your significant other to work selling it and rent a place closer to the city. People do this all the time. Its work to move, but its not impossible. I’m sure she would rather have a happy family than a miserable family in a dream home.

          None of your arguements are actually all that deal-breaking. If you still feel like nothing can change, then you might benefit from a few sessions of therapy. It sounds like you’re trapped in a spiral of negative thoughts right now and are having trouble thinking rationally.

          Best of luck and I hope you are able to improve your situation soon.

      2. Unemployed Fed*

        #1. WAIVE WAIVE WAIVE WAIVE WAIVE. Get that other bar admission.

        After that, just do what you need to do for you and your family. Jim is toxic. So many lawyers are toxic, this is why I don’t practice. Hateful, awful people. Start your own firm. Find alternative work. Anything. But get that waiver, it is gold.

    2. CatCat*

      Don’t let worries of Jim’s sabotage stop you from applying for another opportunity if it comes along.

      Also, you mention the other office that is doing “my kind of legal work,” but could you shift to some other type of legal work? I have bounced from doing a super niche kind of litigation to totally different types of litigation to house counsel doing X and now house counsel doing Y plus policy making. Don’t box yourself in on “type of legal work.” Can you also tap Brenda and the other senior attorneys for advice? Do you go to local bar events to meet other attorneys?

      Not sure if you’re in gov or non-profit. If government, do you have any kind of civil service protections? That may give you more power to push back on Jim or just not hide the fact that you want OUT.

      I’m also working toward PSLF so I know that can be a high priority. I have also been in the job where the stress made me cry. Reminding myself that I was getting out of there eventually and it wasn’t forever helped me get through.

      So sorry you’re dealing with this.

      1. AnxiousAttorney*

        “Don’t let worries of Jim’s sabotage stop you from applying for another opportunity if it comes along.”

        I’m keeping an eye on that office, but have no idea if anything is even going to come open that I could put in for. Jim used to work there, which is why I am concerned about him sabotaging any attempt to move to that office.

        “Also, you mention the other office that is doing ‘my kind of legal work,’ but could you shift to some other type of legal work?”

        I could, but I really like what I do. I practice the kind of law that I went to law school to do. It is a high-stress area (and is known for burnout), but until all of this happened, I really liked my job. I worked for a private firm doing a few different areas of law before I got this job, but I didn’t really like it. There are a few other areas of law that I think I would enjoy, but I’m leery of jumping into something I don’t really know if I would like. Plus, if I did switch, I’d have to go to a firm with an attorney who currently does it because I just don’t know that area of law well enough to be willing to represent clients. I don’t know if any of them could hire me, and that would leave me practicing in the same city where I am now.

        “Can you also tap Brenda and the other senior attorneys for advice?”

        Yes. Brenda specifically told me to keep in touch when she left, but I don’t want to come across like I am whining. As for the senior attorneys here, one is very much a loner. He will help me with my cases, but would not want to get involved in an issue between me and Jim. The other senior attorney was actually involved (in a peripheral way) when everything blew up. He tried to take up for me, but did not know enough about what was going on to really be able to help. He is willing to work with me on cases that I am no longer deemed able to handle (keeping me on as second chair).

        “Do you go to local bar events to meet other attorneys?”

        Yes. The local bar is small because the city where I practice is small. About half the members of the bar are attorneys in this office or the local prosecutor. I do get along with the private attorneys.

        “Not sure if you’re in gov or non-profit. If government, do you have any kind of civil service protections?”

        I am in government. However, Jim is attacking me on my competence, which would be a basis to get rid of me. I really don’t think we are at that point (although I was not sure a few weeks ago).

        “That may give you more power to push back on Jim or just not hide the fact that you want OUT.”

        I am not revealing the fact that I am working to waive into the state where I live.

        “I’m also working toward PSLF so I know that can be a high priority. I have also been in the job where the stress made me cry. Reminding myself that I was getting out of there eventually and it wasn’t forever helped me get through.”

        As I said, my job is known for burnout. It isn’t my job itself that has me stressed, though. (Well, it does. But it’s a normal level and the stress comes and goes.) I’m kind of stuck here for now, until I can get something else lined up.

        1. zora*

          You’re not whining.
          Brenda knows what Jim is like and the history. She knows you are not whining. But that your job is in actual jeopardy.
          I would definitely reach out to Brenda and tell her you think Jim is getting ready to push you out, and does she have any advice or contacts she can suggest. Work any other network you can find, even if it’s for non-barred jobs in the short term. Fellow law school alumni, other people who have left the current firm. It’s perfectly reasonable and normal to send out some messages saying you think you will need a new job sooner rather than later, here’s my current situation (waiting to waive in) does anyone have any thoughts or advice.
          Call that other office, whoever you know there, and specifically mention you are looking for a job. Lots of places are willing to hire people with the right experience even if they don’t have a posting out there, and that’s especially true for legal jobs.

          I think you are letting your negative brainweasels convince you that you have no options. You do have options, people don’t mind being asked for help as long as you aren’t harrassing them or a jerk about it. Start asking people, get the word out, look for short term hold over options. You don’t need to just sit around and wait for Jim to lower the hammer.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Echoing, Brenda would not have offered if a) you were a lousy worker and b) she thought you were okay where you are at.

            Please contact Brenda. You have bad brain weasels. Ignore the weasels and listen to actual people around you. Call/email Brenda…you know from home or a private line.

    3. The Sky Isn't Falling*

      “My wife and I are in the process of building a house, so I have to stay in this area.” There are ways around this. If the perfect job and living situation came up a thousand miles away, wouldn’t you go for it? Consider widening your search. Houses are being built all over. You might lose a little on this one, but gain a future elsewhere. It won’t be a dream home if your work life is a nightmare.

  55. The Negotiator*

    Hello all! Quick question about negotiation that I wasn’t able to find in Alison’s archives.

    I might be receiving a job offer for a government org I’ve worked for in the past. They have a 90-day waiting period before their health insurance kicks in. I’d like to ask them to waive that (if that’s even possible). Any suggestions for wording? Or anyone with experience in city gov that can tell me if it’s even legal for them to waive it?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      From what I know, government jobs have no room for negotiations of flexibility. It doesn’t hurt to ask, but I’d be prepared to find an alternative insurance. Twice, I had to find temp insurance and I found a plan that was affordable. As long as you don’t have any current health issues, you can get a basic plan for a few hundred dollars…and you get discounts if you pay the full 3 months up front.

      1. The Negotiator*

        Yeah, that’s what I’m afraid of (the lack of flexibility). I do have coverage through TCC from my last job, but it’s over $700/month and it’s hard to swing. I have expensive pre-existing conditions so temp insurance is pretty damn expensive too. Would it look bad or naive to ask about waiving the waiting period, do you think?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          How about asking them what other people do for coverage during that waiting period instead. Maybe they have an idea that not many are aware of.

        2. Retail not Retail*

          I was able to get a plan on the exchange really cheap (my income when i applied was zero) for the 90 days and I got super pre existing conditions.

          Now I had some issues BUT this was in a state that didn’t take the medicaid expansion and it was super super easy.

    2. Flyleaf*

      90 days is short enough to take advantage of COBRA from your previous employer but not pay for it (assuming you don’t have any medical expenses in those 90 days). It does require some planning on your part, but it’s a good way to get free coverage in between jobs as long as the gap is less than 105 days.

      1. You have 45 days to sign up for COBRA. Coverage is retroactive to the day you leave your old employer. You don’t have to make any payment at the time you sign up for COBRA.

      2. You then have 60 days to pay for COBRA. Again, coverage is retroactive. If you don’t have any medical expenses, you simply don’t make the payment and you move onto your new employer’s plan. You are not obligated to pay. If you do have any significant medical expenses, send in the payment for the cost of COBRA, and you are covered retroactively to day 1.

  56. AwesomeRandGMom*

    Need some ‘spin’ for possible interviewing situation. I’m a 50+ individual contributor hoping to line up lots of job interviews in the near future (virus notwithstanding). I have no desire at all to ever manage a team of people; it’s not a skill I have and I’m not sure I have the patience, attitude, or desire to do so.
    How best to ‘spin’ this in light of the anticipated where-do-you-want-to-be-in-5-10-years question (I assume interviewers still ask that). I can address how being an individual contributor plays to my strengths and i’d like to take on bigger assignments and learn more about my new company, but anything else? Thanks

    1. irene adler*

      Suggestion: don’t concentrate too much on the why you don’t want to manage others. Instead, concentrate on why you like the individual contributor role. What are your skills/abilities that make you a success at the individual contributor role?

      Also, in every one of my interviews, the interviewers latched onto my job title (Supervisor) and asked if I understood that the role was of individual contributor. Yes! This is what I’m looking for! They view this (supervisor-> individual contributor) as going backwards in one’s career. Who would want to do that??? They are perplexed at this.

      They also fear that I’m looking to direct others in carrying out the job tasks (“You understand that YOU will actually be DOING the job tasks -right??”). I explain that I enjoy the lab work best. Supervisor is merely a title. I no longer manage anybody.

      So have a convincing response to these aspects.

      And, NEVER have I been asked where I want to be in 5 years. Or in 1 year. Or in 10 years.

      Yeah, I’m over 50.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ditto from me. I have never been asked that. I think part of that comes from people hope their new hire won’t leave them, so they don’t want to open that topic.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      I think Irene’s advice on concentrating on why you DO want the individual contributor role is spot on. If anyone asks you where you want to be in five years (which I have never asked in an interview), talk to them about skills you’d like to acquire, or maybe responsibilities you WOULD like to take on: “I’m really hoping to learn more about teapot spout design, and I’d love to get some experience training new teapot painters since I’ve been painting teapots for years and I enjoy one-on-one training.” Or maybe you can discuss goals you’d like to achieve: “I’m hoping to become more active with the National Teapot Guild, volunteering and maybe presenting at the annual conference.”

  57. Delta Delta*

    I’m a solo attorney and when I’m not in court, my office is my home. I was supposed to go to an ABA conference this week, but it was cancelled due to the virus.

    It is So. Quiet. Everyone in my state is taking the virus very seriously. It’s almost like everything has shut down. It’s so quiet its unsettling.

    this isn’t a complaint or anything – it’s just an observation. Anyone else having a similar experience?

    1. Artist formerly known as Rabbit*

      I find it is crazy busy! I cannot understand the obsession with toilet paper.
      I decided we needed a couple of things from the grocery and stopped at 9pm last night after I got out of work. Shelves were empty of all things. They said they will be restocked by 8am, opening time.

      I went at 8am before work. I have stopped there at that time before, its empty. Today it was packed!

      One poor man was balancing 5 large packages of toilet paper, following a woman and muttering, “I think we are buying too much toilet paper!”

  58. MissGirl*

    Any tips for understanding someone with an accent

    My new client has a very diverse workforce and I often will have phone calls with people with different accents. I do not have an ear for languages and talking on the phone makes it even harder for me. (BTW, I have a friend who talks fast. When we’re together, no problems. On the phone I miss half of what she says).

    Any tips for how to develop better listening skills? If it’s someone I talk to often, I usually pick up the nuances. However, my contact changes with each project.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      Could you say something like, “Can we please slow the conversation down some? I like to take notes, but I can’t write quite that fast!”

        1. littlelizard*

          Slowing down usually helps understand.

          My own tips:
          1) If it’s an option to do video calls, seeing the person’s face move helps me a lot. College classes taught by professors with accents got a lot better when I sat close enough to see their face.
          2) Listen to stuff with accents outside of the phone calls. This will help you develop an ear for languages. I grew up in a very immigrant-heavy community and it’s pretty rare that I hear an accent I genuinely don’t understand, including ones I’ve never heard before.

    2. Construction Safety*

      Try to listen to the whole sentence and not get stuck on the first thing you didn’t get because you’ll miss the rest of the sentence/context. Then you can ask a better question/clarification.

    3. Gazebo Slayer*

      Yes! I’m on the autism spectrum with slight auditory processing difficulty and I have so much trouble with accents – sometimes even ones from native English speakers which are really different from mine. My boss is an immigrant with an accent I wasn’t that used to until I worked with him, and I still have to ask him to repeat things. I feel really bad about it, because so many people are just shitty and racist about it (think telling a US-born Asian-American “I can’t understand your accent”) but I just… can’t interpret speech sometimes.

    4. OlympiasEpiriot*

      I am pretty good at understanding accents; but, there’s an wonderful excuse I use for anyone I have a hard time understanding — whether due to accent, enunciation (or lack of), or speed or volume — “I’m so sorry! I’m a bit deaf…too many years of construction…could you repeat that? A bit slower?”

      I mean, it’s true. Too many years in construction. And punk rock concerts. And I’m getting older. But, sometimes it is just I can’t understand the way a person speaks and I use it for that, too. Improves things a lot, i.m.e.

    5. Quill*

      The phone speakers are definitely an issue for me – too much competing noise both on their end and on mine!

      I gotta call a person back because I have no idea what he was talking about when he called earlier…

    6. Just a PM*

      If you’re having trouble with an accent, don’t be afraid to keep asking the speaker to repeat himself or if he/she could explain themselves further. My go-tos are “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. There’s a lot of background noise here. Can you repeat that, please?” and “I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying. Did you say (what you think they said)?”

      One thing that also helped me was to watch YouTube videos or listen to podcasts from speakers who have accents I can’t understand to learn the nuances or the patterns. Is this something you could try too? It helps to have an idea of who you’ll be talking to or knowing what kind of accents you struggle with the most.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I blame the phone connection or I blame slight scarring inside my ears. Both of which are true. I know in the world of transcription some people find headphones to be much clearer. Perhaps you can find head phones to use with your phone?

    8. Artist formerly known as Rabbit*

      I don’t have much advice but I have much sympathy!
      In physical groups, I am the one who can understand everyone and often “translates” for others.
      On the phone, I can not understand anyone with an accent!

      I wish you the best!

    9. Foreign Octopus*

      If it’s one specific accent that’s causing you the problem then expose yourself to it – YouTube videos, Netflix, etc. The more you hear the accent, the easier it becomes.

      1. Princesa Zelda*

        Seconding this! I listen to a podcast by two Irish guys. Two years ago when I started listening, I couldn’t understand an Irish accent to save my life; now they’re almost as familiar as US accents.

  59. De Minimis*

    Coworker went home midday on Wednesday complaining of a fever and cold, then came in yesterday morning. SMH.