open thread – March 20-21, 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.

A special note: For today, let’s try limiting this open thread to non-coronavirus-based questions, since we had a virus-specific one yesterday (and part of my goal with that one was to keep the topic from overwhelming today’s). If it proves impractical — which I’m realizing it might be — I’ll change the set-up for next week.

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

{ 1,069 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author


    For anyone who didn’t see it above: For today, let’s try limiting this open thread to non-coronavirus-based questions, since we had a virus-specific one yesterday (and part of my goal with that one was to keep the topic from overwhelming today’s). If it proves impractical — which I’m realizing it might be — I’ll change the set-up for next week.

    1. MOAS*

      Thank you for that!

      Question – is the Thursday thread limited to corona & work or is it open to Both work and non work?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Thursday’s was corona & work only. But I’m thinking about how to change the whole set-up for next week. A couple of possibilities:
        – Move the corona & work thread to Fridays, and post two that day (one corona, one not)
        – Stop trying to have a corona-free thread at all (as it’s impacting everything)
        – Do a bunch of more specific threads throughout the week (one on remote work, one on awkward video calls, etc.)

        Other ideas welcome! It’s a weird time and we might as well get creative.

        1. Ali G*

          I think the Corona thread in last weekend’s open thread worked well. It was heavily used and those that didn’t want to read it could collapse it and skip it. That combined with the Thursday Corona & work I think is enough. Thanks for trying to please us all!

        2. Laura H.*

          I think doing what you did in the open thread last week- encouraging herding all the comments under an upper one worked well, and should be considered as a viable possible option.

          1. MechanicalPencil*

            I definitely agree with this. I’m hitting corona overload, so if I can skip a whole post or a thread, I’m all for that.

            1. Ann Onny Muss*

              Agreed. I totally understand the desire and need for theses questions and answers (thank you for that, Alison), but it’s nice to be able to skip if I’ve hit my COVID-19 limit.

        3. Kes*

          I think having two open threads at the same time would be more chaotic; I think having the coronavirus one yesterday was good, although things are moving so fast it may be difficult to keep everything to there and fully exclude from here.
          I think trying to do some isolation of the coronavirus to preserve some non-coronavirus posts is a good idea though – maybe even have some posts with sets of questions that are heavily coronavirus and others that are virus-free for those trying to avoid reading about it.
          I also think having some threads for topics that aren’t coronavirus-specific, but are becoming more relevant as a result, like remote work or awkward conference calls as you suggested, is a good idea as well.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            > “isolation of the coronavirus”
            Think of it as electronic social distancing ?!

        4. MOAS*

          I missed it on Thursday but I think 1 work & corona and 1 non-work and corona is helpful, like the one over last weekend. I think keeping them separate (as best as possible) is helpful for those who don’t want to face this 24/7 but can join in whenever.

        5. Sally*

          I teach people how to use Zoom, so I may have some suggestions for improving the video calls. And I would love to read about awkward video calls! My team has been having competitions for the most entertaining/clever backgrounds, and my manager has scheduled a weekly video call with the team so we can talk about anything BUT work.

          1. Kix*

            We figured out yesterday how to use the virtual background option in Zoom and it really lightened up the meetings with all the attendees using various background photos. I was in virtual Hawaii all day during my Zoom meetings.

        6. Lucette Kensack*

          Honestly, I don’t think it makes sense to try to limit people from talking about corona. It impacts everything about work.

          1. What's with Today, today?*

            I agree. This thing wasn’t even on my radar three weeks ago and now it has affcted every bit of my work.

          2. Fikly*

            It may be impacting everything about your work. Much of my work is being impacted, but plenty isn’t.

            Keeping a space free of Corona-related talk, or just making it possible for people to easily skip it, is basic respect for your fellow humans. Keeping it to a thread or post is not hard.

            1. Lucette Kensack*

              Humans have different needs. There’s no one answer. For you, it sounds like having a corona-free AAM would be helpful. For others, it’s crazy-making to read questions that seem unimportant, petty, or irrelevant given the current state of the world. Either set of people can skip over the content they don’t want to read.

              1. Fikly*

                Yes, but what reason is there to make it more difficult to skip over than the Corona content, when it’s not hard to make it easy, other than you feeling your needs are more important than other people’s needs?

                There are many many posts in today’s work open thread that have nothing to do with Corona, so either they are complete fiction, or there are plenty of people with work questions that have nothing to do with Corona.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  For me, it’s becoming increasingly hard to have a clear divide because it’s affecting so many questions, and there are an increasing number of questions that are impossible to answer without taking this current context into account.

                2. Fikly*

                  Personally, I would appreciate, at minimum, a divide between the posts that are about practical things like how best to work from home remotely, or even how to convince my manager to allow me to work from home, versus the “we’re all going to die” panic.

        7. CupcakeCounter*

          I posted a question yesterday about how to support local businesses for those of us who do have the financial ability to do so and got a few good ideas, but wouldn’t mind seeing more about what I/we could do that would be most impactful to those most impacted in both the short and long term.

        8. AshK434*

          Would that many open threads be valuable? I like just having two one for corona& work and one strictly for work

        9. Work from Home Work Life Balance*

          I missed the one yesterday until super late. If we have a collapsable subject heading from Alison that says all Corona Virus stuff here as part of the work open thread Friday and part of the Sat/sunday only home not work thread.

          It impacts almost everything now but at least we can collapse the comments.

    2. KAG*

      What about having a daily coronavirus thread? As others have noted, things are developing so quickly that new issues / updates will be relegated to the very end of a weekly comment thread (which is likely to grow VERY long). I don’t think you’d need to provide new content every day, just a place for the readers to write (so, “Yo. Coronavirus posts here.”)

      1. Beth Jacobs*

        Omg, no. Five coronavirus threads a week is simply too much. Plus, I don’t think you’d get much engaging conversation – I really don’t have the time to check AAM five times a day on weekdays so I do respond to day old comments.

    3. Anonymous for Today*

      I really liked the Corona & work thread yesterday and also like that the Friday thread is Corona free. As far as the posts for the rest of the week, I think it would be a good balance if every day there is a mixture, where it’s not all coronavirus topics or non-corona topics. I like hearing about corona and commiserating with other’s challenges, but the non-corona posts are good palette cleansers for when I’ve had enough.

      1. WellRed*

        I agree. I’ve liked the way it’s being handled here so far, both corona work and nonwork and then regular work and non work. Plus the smattering of corona questions each day on the five post.

  2. Alternative Person*

    So I finally turned in my notice at my job, after a long wait because of paperwork hold ups. 

    The Area Manager took it very blandly, was briefly curious about where I was going (my fancy side job asked me to go FT) and since that moment hasn’t said anything. I told most of my co-workers myself. There’s been no planned handover or instructions so I’m doing my best to prepare things before I go.

    Meanwhile, two branch managers asked the area manager if he could organise an As-and-When contract (occasional evenings, holidays, normal in this line of work) and the Area Manager went no, and even if he could, it would have to be at the Entry-level rate, not the Senior Worker rate. 

    Both Branch Managers are upset because the company isn’t going to replace me with someone else at my level and one Branch Manager will have zero junior let alone Senior staff at his branch.

    I feel really bad for my clients as I’ve worked very hard with them and I’m worried they’re not going to get the same level of service after I leave. 

    I’ve been having some fun as well though, we’ve run out of material in one of my News Discussion classes (separate problem), so we did a lesson on protest songs this week. We listened to and discussed ‘Killing in the Name Of’. 

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Congratulations on the new job!

      This not at all meant to be vindictive of your OldCompany: Do you think this staffing is a sign there are stability issues they are foreseeing? As in, could the Area Manager not be staffing up because they don’t know how much longer these branches will be open?

      That’s a narrative that fits the facts (if that helps alleviate guilt).

      1. Alternative Person*

        The Area Manager’s office is stable client wise and the other two branches I go to are both growing, its more they want to do the job for as little money as possible, regardless of the result (the Senior Manager I met with said as much when I saw him last).

    2. Stormy Weather*


      It’s admirable that you’re worried about your clients. I wish your management would make better efforts to keep the same service level.

    3. Queen of everything*

      Congratulations! I literally dream about giving notice every single day and am so happy for anyone who is in the position to move on to a new chapter for themselves! :)

    4. SweetestCin*

      Am I the only one jumping up and applauding the use of “Killing in the Name”….or is that just my 90’s self geeking out?

      Congrats on the new FT position!

  3. No Tribble At All*

    How do I step out of a meeting when it’s an online meeting? If it’s in person, I have no problems standing up, muttering “brb” to someone, and walking out, but I feel awkward announcing to everyone on a phone call that I must use the bathroom. If I’m not needing to talk, I usually mute myself, but what if someone asks me a question and I just don’t answer because I’m…. busy? Is it worth the risk?

    1. Veronica Mars*

      Do you have a chat function in the conference software? Or you could send a note to just the meeting organizer

      1. Person from the Resume*

        We use skype. And it is very common to IM that you’re stepping away and then let them know when you’re back.

    2. DarthVelma*

      I’ve been on what seems like endless calls this week, and it seems most commonly people are putting “brb” in the chat.

    3. LastClass*

      If there’s a chat feature on your online meeting, that’s the spot. For my company, folks usually post “stepping away briefly” (or something to that effect) and then “back”, when they’ve returned.

    4. Captain Raymond Holt*

      BRB in the chat, mute yourself and turn off video. Use restroom, return, turn video back on.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Take the call on your phone, and just take it to the bathroom with you, of course (you may turn off the camera)!
        Just kidding, if course. OTOH I had a coworker who routinely did just that with (voice only) conference calls. Everyone but him considered it weird, to say the least.

    5. Archie Goodwin*

      I’ve always announced on a phone meeting – I used to work someplace where phone meetings went long, and sometimes it was inevitable. Usually, a quick “sorry, be back in a few minutes” was just fine…I never seemed to have any trouble with it.

        1. Archie Goodwin*

          We are indeed. Look out for Lily Rowan around here somewhere – she’s the one that inspired me, way back when. :-)

    6. Kettricken Farseer*

      I temporarily turn my camera off so that people don’t have to stare at my empty chair, and then turn it back on once I’m back. Nobody has really noticed so far, I think.

    7. The Rural Juror*

      This came up a while back on an open thread when someone had a very similar question. One of the suggestions was a sign that said “BRB.” That way it didn’t require any interruption. If you print on a regular letter-size page toward the bottom half of the page, it’s pretty easy to fold the page in a 3 sections and make a little upright triangle sign you can secure with tape or paper clips. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Get consensus with your group — we type “Going AFK for a minute.” That works because we all know that’s Away From Keyboard.

    9. Dog Servant*

      Personally, if I’m not talking much and just need a quick bathroom break, I do it and then blame it on the phone “oops, sorry, forgot to take my phone off mute” if someone asks me something and I can’t respond right away.

    10. Brett*

      It is not uncommon to ask someone a question in a meeting and they don’t respond. We just ask a second time, and if they don’t respond, send the a chat/skype/slack message saying, “Hey, when you get back, we had a question on this.” It is not that big of a deal because it is so common right now.

      That said, but something in the meeting chat. If you don’t have a meeting chat, send an IM/Slack or email to the meeting organizer letting them know you have to step out. That way, if someone does need to ask you a question, the organizer can say, “No Tribble At All let me know they had to step out. We can ask her when she gets back.”

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Oh dear lord yes especially for people in studio apartments.
        I briefly telecommuted from kitchen table and someone heard what they thought was a toilet flushing… happily they said something in the moment so I could turn the video on my husband filling a pot of water. I moved to the other end of the apartment after that.

    11. theletter*

      If you know how long the meeting is going to be, could you ask the organizer to build in some breaks?

    12. MedGal*

      Maybe saying something would prompt a 5 minute break for everyone particularly if it is a long call.

    13. M*

      As someone who works in a 100% remote team:

      – if it’s a big call and you’re not significantly involved in all aspects, wait for a bit that’s not applicable to you, ‘brb’ in chat, and step away
      – if it’s a big call and you’re not able to step away without missing information, work with whoever’s leading it to bake breaks into the schedule every 1-2 hours (really, every large meeting, in person or not, should just do this, because people focus better with regular short breaks, but if you’re in a position to insist on it, do)
      – if it’s a small call (2-5 people), just say something

    14. MonteCristo*

      I’d likely shoot my boss, or a close peer, a text and let them know I was stepping away from a minute.

      1. RVA Cat*

        Jumped into this without context through a search and didn’t think it was about breaks for a second.
        This Is America….

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

      I’m assuming you are (like me) newly placed in this “remote working” scenario! (I hate WFH and there’s a reason I don’t take remote jobs, but here I am!) … what others around me do, and what I would most likely do, is find a quiet point in the conversation and then just say “oh just so you know I’m gonna have to step out of this for a couple of minutes [or whatever it’s likely to be] so I’ll be back shortly”. Everyone will know it’s for some interruption but it could be something with a kid (in these circumstances), the bathroom, or whatever.

      One of two things will generally happen – the others will acknowledge the interruption and either wait or continue as it may be. Or others will also say “actually yeah I need to step out as well so can we resume this in 5 minutes” or similar.

  4. Eillah*

    Either I’m going mad from the isolation, or the opening/closing theme for ‘House’ sounds EXACTLY like an incoming Webex call!

          1. LizB*

            I’m not Eillah, but I will say I watched some a while ago when it was on Netflix and it did not hold up as well as I hoped it would. :( So maybe buy a couple episodes or one season first.

    1. Eillah*

      Update: it’s the Singaporean theme, and it’s the one they use on Amazon Prime (I guess for copyright reasons?)

  5. ThinMint*

    I had an employee who is missing deadlines. Ahead of our meeting, I read different AAM posts related to having those hard conversations and, since it’s the first conversation, coming from a compassionate and concerned place that is ready to help. The conversation went so well and this employee acknowledged some things and gave me the steps they were planning to take next time. It was a good win this week.

    1. Sally*

      Congratulations! Your post is very encouraging to those of us who might be reluctant to have these conversations.

  6. OperaArt*

    The workplace in Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist certainly violates many of the guidelines we’ve learned for a well functioning place to work.
    Love the show, wouldn’t want to work at SPRQ Point.

    1. Gidget*

      Agree. But I wouldn’t be opposed to people randomly bursting into song at my workplace, even if I was the only one who could see it. (Though it might be distracting after awhile.)

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Just today I read a positive review of Last Tango in Hallifax and this season’s plot has one of the characters, a headmistress, crushing on and probably ends up in a relationship with one of her teachers. I’m just: “Why?”

      I mean there’s a lot of terrible decision making for the sake of drama on TV, but there’s so much violation of good workplace practices.

    3. Sara*

      OH MY GOD, I think about that every time I watch the show. I was recommending it to a person the other day and said “maybe I read too much Ask a Manager but that is the most dysfunctional work place.” Like I want to root for her and Max, but she should not be dating a person that reports to her.

      But on the other hand, a good workplace would probably make for boring tv.

      1. leapingLemur*

        “Like I want to root for her and Max, but she should not be dating a person that reports to her.” So much this!!

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I’ve always said that characters who always make good decisions make for very boring stories.

    4. The Rural Juror*

      I’m also one of those people who watches shows and then later thinks about how almost everything is impractical (but hey, it’s just a show). I always wonder how people can just leave in the middle of the day, which has happened a couple of times on Zoey’s EP. Her sis-in-law calls and asks if they can meet up, and she just leaves right then. Is no one there busy?? It happens a lot on that show and I wonder how they get anything done!

      1. Sara*

        I love how in so many shows, people are getting together before work/school for a leisurely coffee or breakfast. I am lucky if I manage to wake up in time to shower before catching my train.

      2. MusicWithRocksIn*

        I get bugged by the opposite. In every single crime solving show the characters are always skipping vacations, social events, family stuff and pretty much blowing off all of their downtime because ‘we have to solve this case’. I feel like it sets a bad example and unrealistic expectations about how devoted people should be to their jobs. It always drives me nuts. I’m sitting there going ‘Just go on your damn vacation!”

        1. Fikly*

          In certain careers, that’s what happens. It depends on the crime, but homicide detectives are not going home for dinner, watching their kids sporting events, or going on vacation while actively investigating a murder that just happened, because that’s how murders go unsolved.

          Similarly, doctors have on-call hours. When something happens, and they get called, they go, regardless of what is going on in their personal life.

          Don’t want to do that? Don’t sign up for those jobs. Personally, I think being a doctor and letting a patient die when you’re on call and you decide your reservation is more important sets a bad example.

          1. Nesprin*

            There’s a huuuuge difference between being on call, and skipping a vacation. Doctors and other professions are ready to work and paid for being on call, and importantly are off call some of the time. Skipping a vacation is equivalent to being on call 24/7/365.

            1. Fikly*

              Sure, but the comment I was responding to lumped everything from skipping social events to vacations together.

              I agree, vacations are a very different issue. No one should be working on their vacation outside of extreme circumstances. (I mean, if you work crisis response, things happen.)

          2. Sadie*

            This- I am a criminal prosecutor.
            If you are on a homicide and it’s new and active – you’re not doing those things. They generally would not assign a detective scheduled to go out in the next few days as the lead on a homicide if it could be helped. But even as the prosecutor, I go to the scene, I go to the autopsy, etc- when a homicide happens whatever I had planned the next 3-5 days is toast. If we had a vacation scheduled we wouldn’t get assigned the case, but other stuff (events, dinner plans, kid stuff etc) yeah- that all goes by the wayside.
            And no, I don’t go home at 5 like a usual day when there’s a fresh murder and a suspect at large. That’s the job.

            1. WellRed*

              Oh Alison, Sadie would be a very cool Q&A to answer these questions about what it’s really like to be prosector. Like, Sadie, I wonder, is there really a benefit to attending the autopsy? The report and follow up questions isn’t enough?

              less seriously, why is Hudson University so darn deadly?

          3. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

            I want to point many doctors are not on call–they are doctors at clinics 8AM – 5 PM, M-F.

            1. PA Julia*

              All too often those clinics then expect you to see 12 hours worth of patients in your (nominal) 8-9 hour day. And, then requires that you write your chart note on a kludgy electronic medical record that adds another couple hours onto your day.
              I’m lucky, especially now, in that that’s not my current job, but I’ve been there.
              BTW, my boss, an internist, takes call every night. Even on vacation he answers messages, cell signal and ski conditions permitting. ;-)

        2. Koala dreams*

          Yes, I always dislike that too. Your job gave you a schedule and vacation days for a reason, just take the time off already. If you hate your family, you can go to the gym or watch videos on your phone or whatever you’d like.

      3. Anonnnnn*

        Some techs will do this, though, and then you find out that they’re getting a lot of work done at 9 p.m. because that’s when the data needs to be run.

    5. MissMaple*

      Haha, I’m with you! Basically every relationship at SPRQ Point is an AAM question/conundrum waiting to happen. Also, how many hours do they have in their days?? Zoey’s somehow out at her parents before work, then has time for dinners and drinks all while being “super busy” haha

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      Her team also undermines her in sexist ways constantly, which makes me sad. But, yes, super unprofessional!

    7. OperaArt*

      Although she must be paid extremely well. Her apartment, although in an older building, is huge by San Francisco standards. And she doesn’t even have a roommate.

      1. Filosofickle*

        As a manager in a tech company, she is surely being paid very, very well. STILL, that apartment is crazy huge! I live here, and apartments of that vintage aren’t that big at any price. Economics of fictional characters are always that way, though.

    8. fogharty*

      How much bread and cereal do those employees eat? I mean, there was an entire bakery’s worth of bread in one scene!
      What is more dysfunctional? SPRQ Point or Whitefeather & Associates (later Mountaintop) the law firm from “Crazy Ex-girlfriend” to name another musical dramedy?

  7. Retail not Retail*

    How can you tell if an issue is with you or with your job?

    I had a freakout tuesday – everyone blamed corona stress but i’ve been on edge like 2 months and just been denying everything.

    I told my shrink I cry at work, find myself climbing the walls, pace, and now yell at obnoxious coworkers. Her answer is either change work or ignore what upsets you.

    I like the physical work! I get along with most of my coworkers! I also feel like no one is listening and no one is getting a clear picture since they only hear from me and obviously I’m biased.

    If an office job fell in my lap, I wouldn’t have greenhouse or trench digging issues, but how do I know if neither mental health professional (therapist thru EAP and psych) offers more than “quit” or “ignore it.”

    I asked coworkers to stop teasing me. They didn’t acknowledge me. So when one rags me for “not working” just ignore her?

    Some of this stems from conflicting boss instructions and different expectations of a project. We have held a next step for 30 minutes until he got out of a meeting for fear of doing it wrong and having to redo it.

    Is this me? The job? I’m trying to find a new shrink but I’m already on my second EAP therapist (have you tried mindfulness? For everything).

    1. Alina*

      I don’t to now if it’s “ignore it or quit”, but it is “deal with it or quit”. Your coworkers sound awful, and I’m assuming you already went to a manager and they didn’t stop it. In that situation you can try a figure out how to dismiss it – see it as an anthropology study, think of them as puppies acting out – but these aren’t long term solutions. I think that at least looking for another job will help .

    2. anonymouslee*

      I don’t think “ignore it” is good advice from your therapist, since there are coping skills you can learn and apply to manage your reactions better. Just ignoring it isn’t a solution.

      That being said… why do you care so much if a coworker is teasing you about “not working”? If you know that you’re doing your best, and it’s really just teasing — not affecting your performance reviews or things like that — then what makes it so hard to let it roll of your back?

      1. Retail not Retail*

        Well I’ve been here over a year and we do performance reviews at the end of June. They come with our raises. At the end of last June, I had not been here long enough to get either.

        So I’ve only recently gotten feedback from my manager – “you’ve improved” and “i can only expect so much when i’m paying you $9/hr” – after I made myself the problem AGAIN and complained about bullying. We’re supposed to report and stop bullying but actually it’s the victim’s responsibility. And if the work release crews don’t like how someone treats them, it’s on them to report it.

        Because I get the light supposed to be banter teasing but i have to hear actual bullying. One victim says she’s inured to it because her exhusband was horrible to her so who is this guy?

        1. Fikly*

          Reporting that you are being bullied does not mean you are the problem. The bullies are the problem.

    3. Kes*

      It sounds like for you to be able to stay in this job, you would need to basically care a lot less about it – about what your coworkers say, about the status of the project and whether it’s held up, etc. I can’t tell from your post whether your job is toxic or if you’re overreacting but regardless, the only one whose behaviour you can control is you, which is probably why the therapists are saying ignore it or leave – if your job is toxic, you’re not going to be able to stop it being toxic, and it sounds like one way or another, it’s not a healthy situation for you right now, so either you disengage a bit more emotionally if you can, or you may need to consider looking elsewhere.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        I don’t care about held up projects, I accepted that early on. That’s just an easy example of how inconsistent our boss can be.

        I do refuse to engage or respond either to refute or say something similar back. Like trying to pull out of the teasing.

    4. JustaTech*

      Oh man, I really feel for you! As someone who has a really, really hard time ignoring *anything*, this isn’t very actionable advice.

      It certainly sounds like some of it is your coworkers (ugh, teasing, really?) and some of it is your boss not laying out clear instructions. I don’t know if you can get the boss to give clearer/more thorough instructions, but since you’ve asked your coworkers to not tease you and they ignored your perfectly reasonable request, then yes, a different job might solve those problems.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        I really enjoy the work though! And the location!

        I’ve applied for jobs throughout my year here and had 2 interviews.

        I told myself early on a day couldn’t be bad if I got to see an animal. And i am obnoxiously chipper in the face of my negative coworkers. “Look we found trash!!!! This wasn’t a waste of time!!!” “My boots are gross – gorilla poop ewwww”

    5. on the 3s*

      I’m not trying to be rude, but it seems like you have trouble managing anger, dissapointment and dealing with common coworker annoyances. This is a you issue, especially if you are going to remain in a blue collar field. I say this not because I know you, but because I see my former self in your letter.
      I worked in the service industry with absolute idiots. I was angered by how stupid and inconsiderate my bosses were. I clashed with particularly rude coworkers. In my mind, me telling them off for their BS was just, but everyone just saw me as the problem.
      I changed fields. I’m an accountant now, I work mainly alone, and my coworkers aren’t rude idiots. I love my boss. Think hard about finding a field that better suits your sensibilities. I am so glad that I did. After 20 years in that field, I realized that I was too smart, and too values driven to be around the majority of people in that industry.
      Some of my coworkers still annoy the hell out of me, but that’s a me thing.
      Good Luck.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        Ah! But I did four years grocery retail – and the last 2 were the customer service desk.

        Very few bad customers stand out and any true issues with them came from management not supporting me.

        I assumed a zoo would be…. classier?… than a grocery store. And for the most part the annoying coworkers are the coworkers – not the work release crew.

        1. Shark Whisperer*

          My experience in the zoo world is that it always kinda dysfunctional. There are a lot of people in the zoo world who went into that work because they like animals way more than they like people. They also tend to wear it as a badge of pride that they don’t get along with other humans. It sucks. I left the zoo world, but honestly I miss it sooooooo much!

          If you are on facebook, I highly recommend joining the facebook group ZooKreepers. There are a lot of posts with commiseration and recommendations for how to deal with difficult coworkers. I think if you can give yourself some emotional distance from the fact that your coworkers suck, you might be able to deal with it better.

          1. Shark Whisperer*

            My other advice is to make friends with the education staff. They usually are nicer/ have better people skills and almost always have snacks. If you can sneak away to the education office for some snacks and pleasant company, it might make it easier when you have to go back to your annoying coworkers

          2. Retail not Retail*

            One of my coworkers came from guest services. He hates the guests, he hates zoos, and he is so dismissive of us watching an animal do something cool. (I saw a rare animal get some training with its paws and claws it was SO COOL).

            The keepers are almost always nice to me because I have a million questions.

            I’m in operations – and you know how clique-y zoos can get. We get dirty and we do essential work but we’re not getting the cool dirty. “I have a job at the zoo!” “Cool! Where?” and then a dismissive look.

              1. Retail not Retail*

                Okay so here is one Friday in… late january/early february.

                I’m assigned 3 work crew guys to rake out the gorilla yard. After all, the moat got pumped yesterday so it’s easy for more strangers to come in right after than let them out and in. Supervisor says make sure leaves don’t go in the moat – it’s clean!

                We have to wait on the keepers as usual and then we get the gorilla nighthouse spiel. Don’t make eye contact, don’t slow down, don’t overreact, DON’T throw anything back! I get through fine (what a stench) but B is over 6 feet tall. Male gorilla thumps his chest at him! Things are thrown!

                Notice no fresh water in yard, oh well let’s get to leaf blowing and bagging! B says hey that’s not a fine, that’s hot wire on that tree, I touched it in grizzly yard, it will mess you up. (Later he somehow convinced C and S to touch the thinner hot grass because boys will be boys.)

                B falls on his butt on the way to moat AND chooses to slide down the slick pole the gorillas use so he is a muddy mess but it was fun. S fell in the same spot (you can see the marks in the mud) with a leaf blower on – the weight meant he bounced back up!

                I didn’t fall or touch hot wire/grass. I definitely stepped in gorilla poop. We all did.

                So we end. Going back through the house with tools to get a cart for bags we say hmm i bet we can throw more than half over and up onto the public path to reduce our trips. And we did! This is when C touched the tree hot wire as he jumped down. We left S behind in the house trying to move the cart – every man for himself!!!

                Whew. Gorilla yard done. We even got the bags moved before any public came through. My supervisor then sent me and B and C to put some poles in to make a fence in a straight line. Boss wants straight lines! B gets 2 in barely but the 3rd is straight concrete. We’re not gonna break another dang auger so we’re like if the fence curves we’ll hit gravel..?

                Supervisor says no i’m coming to see! Concedes it is impossible and says take me to gorillas. He thought we were cleaning like half the space we were. Whoops on his part.

                After lunch! We give up on fence posts and i tag along to “supervise” b&c while supervisor gets bobcat bc the display boss put up over other bosses’ objections has to be moved. This consists of huge heavy logs and heavy pine trees and only a new flimsy fence as a backdrop.

                Nothing goes wrong! We’re all drenched and filthy and had a better day than rest of the work crew and my other coworkers.

                Scintillating zoo secret: the gorillas watch CBS and so do the orangutans so possibly the gorillas watched us on the cctv monitor and laughed at our stupidity.

      2. Fikly*

        You may not be trying, but you are suceeding.

        To say it’s a common coworker annoyance, but then talk about how your coworkers in a different industry do not act this way, is not internally logical.

        Furthermore, to paint everyone working in the service industry as idiots is offensive. Not surprising, given you trot out a claim to be too smart to be working in that industry. Being poor does not mean you are stupid, or that you have poor values.

        1. Retail not Retail*

          Right? So if these are “common” annoyance than it IS a “me” problem and I need to learn how to deal with it.

        2. Retail not Retail*

          Also I worked more in my retail job than I do here. The work here may be physically harder but it’s not eight hours straight activity (for one thing we get a paid hour lunch).

          And I enjoyed customer service and the relative autonomy and the always something different to take care of.

        3. on the 3s*

          Let me be clear-different industries have different coworker annoyances. Certainly the case between office and service industry. That was why I was advising the person that needs several therapy sessions and blows up at work to switch careers. So while my coworkers can still annoy me, in the office culture and the position I’m in, I can easily avoid them, where I couldn’t in a restaurant. And it is a ME problem if it is just everyday people being people. I couldn’t ignore it in the restaurant world.
          As for the service industry, most of the people in that industry are hard working. But many are uneducated, and as Anthony Bourdain wrote, it’s basically a pirate ship. Many are very stupid and ignorant.
          I am too smart to be in that industry. It didn’t use my skills well, and it provided no benefits and no security. Never felt more so than right now, when all those idiots got laid off for the foreseeable future.

          1. Retail not Retail*

            Wow that’s really cold.

            I also think these interpersonal conflicts can be found in any work environment – someone who’s not a boss nitpicking and micromanaging your work without actual advice or help. (This is a pattern with those 2 women.)

            And I could avoid my annoying coworkers most of the time in the grocery store. None of them ever made me cry.

            I want to know if work is bad OR if my brain is bad. Or both. Or neither. I just want a workplace perspective.

            Another time I yelled at a coworker? He yelled at me that i had “a lot to learn about team work young lady!” And i said don’t call me that, he said everything is offensive to you! And I shouted back, “how about my NAME oh right you can’t bother to remember it.” Then he said stop shouting. The “teamwork” is him not cleaning up after himself and making more work for everyone else. Me and the other girl working with him declared a strike that week and refused to help him
            clean. He didn’t like that.

            He’s 41 years older than me. As for the picking up after himself he’s not sexist he just would rather literally anybody else do it and would call our supervisor at the end of the day and ask him to send some work release guys to pick up branches or whatever.

          2. Retail not Retail*

            Also, a quick browse of the archives of this very website reveal that “office” culture can be dysfunctional, that people do clash whether they’re making 7.25/hr or 72,500 a year

          3. Fikly*

            Still not sure what makes the people working in that industry idiots. The only person with limited intelligence here I see is you, because you cannot understand the difference between poverty and limited access to education and job opportunities and intelligence.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This sounds like it’s the job really, your coworkers picking at you is unacceptable and awful. I’ve seen it happening over the years and sadly in the end, the person targeted leaving is the only option. They’re much happier elsewhere, it’s hard to pinpoint why they’re targeting you, bullies are just bullies to bully in most cases, argh. They know you don’t like it and they love that you don’t like it, yuck.

      It sounds like lack of management in the end, keeping everyone engaged and busy enough to stop nitpicking and gnawing at each other like that. Sigh.

      I wouldn’t necessarily pin it on you and I certainly would never accept advice of “ignore it” because that’s not good stuff. That’s not an answer. Your mental health is suffering and you’re being told to suck it up, that’s not good advice. The advice is that you do need to move on but of course not now given the situation we’re in. But keep in the back of your mind that you can move on, you’re not their prisoner and you will get away from these jerkwads one day. Sometimes knowing you’re not trapped or reminding yourself of that can help the suffering you’re dealing with right now. Hatch an escape plan kind of thing.

    7. Juneybug*

      I imagine you feel like work issues are not improving. That would make sense when you have a lousy manager, undefined projects/tasks/goals, and obnoxious coworkers.
      Could you pick one area where you would like to improve? Cause right now you are trying to fix everything and when your focus/efforts are spread that thin, nothing gets fixed. Pick one and focus with your therapist on getting tools to help improve the situation. Sometimes that is career advice, sometimes that is personal changes. Give yourself a deadline, such as “if ________ does not get better by _________, I will move on with the knowledge I tried my best”.
      And then move on to the next situation. If you notice that work situations are not improving, then maybe it is a time to job search.
      I wish you the best!!

      1. Retail not Retail*

        I like this thinking! Right now my goal is get a shrink closer to home that won’t dismiss my problems.

        (I did have other goals that got derailed – go to the gym! Hip injury flares up. Go to PT and lessen the pain! Taking a while bc of my job but we’re getting there until coronavirus.

        And like I said – my work goal every day – even greenhouse pouring thundering days! – is see an animal. My camera roll is just…. goats sheep flamingoes ducks giraffes ducks broken up with my dog. And I do enjoy the upper body strength I’m gaining along with driving skills.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      If you are actually working in a greenhouse that is extremely physical work. You are probably exhausted beyond belief. I did that work for 8 years. It was a blast, but it was not a long term plan. I could not see 50 year old me still doing this. It was so physical, that I ate what I wanted and never worried about gaining weight. Usually I lost weight, most of us there did lose weight.

      When I worked in that arena, it was a rough crowd. I was lucky that people in my department were decent. But the other departments, oh boy. They were a tough group of people. I think it is better now? But back then there was a lot of sexism also. Some of the worst offenders were women. So sexism, heavy work, rough banter, 90 degree heat. It was a tough job. There was also the tornado, the large fire and oh yeah, company vehicles may or may not have brakes. Did I mention this was tough?

      Yes, you either ignore the teasers or you learn to be an extremely quick thinker. I was standing on the second floor of a barn, I had opened the door and I was passing stuff down to my cohort who was on the ground. A third person came along and they were laughing at me because of the sheer fear on my face. The items weighed around 70 pounds and I was afraid I would drop them on my coworker and kill her. (Yeah, bad set up on that one.) So the third person said, “What do you do when you have to stand on a chair at home???” Thinking quickly I said, “I don’t have any chairs this tall at home!” This brought on a roar of laughter and the third person wandered away. I won, this is what winning looks like.

      I would expect in this environment that “not working” means they see you as working your tail off. A lot of time conversation is the opposite of what is actually said. But IF she did actually mean that, then the next step is she is not your boss. You could go with, “I ‘ll let the boss know you were worried about me not working enough.” Or you could just say, “I haven’t heard any complaints from my boss.”

      I am not sure why you have to figure out if it’s you. It sounds like you can do the work, so it’s a matter of do you want to stay here or move on. No job is perfect, of course. I did not start looking at desk jobs until I was in my 40s. The thought of being chained to a desk was a fate worse than death to me. My body does not do well with sitting endlessly. My little health irritations multiply. I still do not like sitting all the time, but for [reasons] I will work the rest of my life and I need a job that is sustainable for me. Looking back on it all, I should have made the switch much sooner.

      For your setting it could be that if you find work that is less physically exhausting that your coping mechanisms will come back and will grow to actually help you more often.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        We only go to the greenhouse on inclement weather days which is why it is usually in terrible shape. (The windows over the center corridor don’t close!)

        I took a sedentary career break for grad school and 5 months of americorps. In my internship, my mood soured as soon as the physical work was done. The state was also on fire and smoke all day in the sky is depressing.

        What is interesting is that in my specific role, there are more people above 50 than under it.

        Yeah I can’t fathom a desk job at this point. For one thing, my 2015 hip injury still hates professional sitting.

        Yeah most of the “you’re not working” comments are when we’re working but sometimes not and it’s just grating. I would have told person 3 “you want to catch?”

        1. Drama llama*

          I think it sounds like a bit of both. Your coworkers should stop teasing when told it is upsetting but you also seem to be somewhat sensitive to innocuous teasing as well. This doesn’t make you a bad person but it does make work a lot harder. I have two suggestions: actively work on improving your self esteem and try just agreeing with banter. For example, when they say “asleep on the job”, cheerfully reply with “you know it” or “like a tiger in the sun”. If the teasing is repetitive, it often helps to work out a series of throw away answers beforehand that you can adapt to any occasion, and use over and over. This has a twofold benefit. By raising your sense of self worth, light teasing just bounces off because you feel secure in your place in the world. Also, agreeing gives the banter no where to go while creating good will. I want to draw a line between banter and bullying. It is difficult because there is a grey area between bonding over banter and people being deliberately hurtful. Bullying is wrong though. All the best with the job and finding a better shrink.

          1. Retail not Retail*

            This is all true. And the time I asked – well those two banter about it (and i can’t help sometimes, we all walk into those setups you’re obligated to knock it out) but the two that bother me don’t. They’re the nitpickers and micromanagers who aren’t managers.

            The day before I asked, I had to deal with a morning of the latter 2 asking me why something happened the way it did the previous day (I shifted my off days for the first and hopefully last time) and would not accept my answers. “Why wasn’t this done?” “It wasn’t!” “It should have been done!” “I didn’t work on it!” “Why wasn’t it done?”

            It’s always the little things. Also, the whole crew (employees and work release) have a teasing ethos and little empathy for the person trying to pull out. Like you can worker getting upset, you know what he’s going through, he’s been acting off all week, can we lay off? And we just… don’t.

            I try to! I sincerely compliment the guy (bc we also use “working hard!!!” as a tease when someone is holding up the wall) and just be nice.

            Anyway!!!! As all my comments here show i am completely erratic in my moods and I think that is bigger than work.

            Today was aces though – we’re closed so i jammed in between podcasts and parked close to where I was working and took valuable breaks to pet the goats and sheep. I got great pics of all three lambs!!!

            This week started with stress and is ending with… well. Who knows, still one more day to go.

          2. Drama Llama*

            If they are serious in accusing you of not working, it depends on their status. If they outrank you, just say what is happening eg Bob is on his way over or I am on a break. If they don’t outrank you, I would ask your manager how they want you to handle it when it happens.

            1. Drama Llama*

              I added my second reply before I saw your response but in this case, definitely talk to your boss about how you are able to handle them. You don’t want to have to bother him every time they are obnoxious but you are not sure what you are allowed to do. Can you tell them to get off their power trip and back off? Would he rather handle it as it happens? Those two sound like toxic coworkers and NOT in the category of dealing with light banter. Working with these type of people suck however they exist in a lot workplaces :/

                1. Retail not Retail*

                  Hope this works!


                  The bigger white one is buffy, the black and white is hawkeye, the little one is gamora. They all have the same dad – Batman.

                  Batman is popular and fertile. Always a good mix.

    9. TexasRose*

      Dear Retail not Retail,
      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. It’s the pits when you’re the target of idjits (your coworkers) and incompetents (your boss and your psych support staff).
      Disclaimer: I’m all for using your words and treating the people around you as individual human beings. You’ve tried that, and not gotten the results you need. So, onto more extreme techniques:
      TW: Scatalogical suggestions below, building on the zoo setting.
      Here’s a few suggestions from someone who worked in a factory in Lubbock, TX in 1975 as a 6′ tall, 300# female operator of an injection screw machine on the night shift of a plastics factory, where I was smarter than anyone including the supervisor. (Yes, it was brutal. But the company eventually paid for my BS in Computer Science.)
      1. If you haven’t had a physical recently, get a checkup, and be sure your doctor checks both your thyroid and adrenal levels. (These could be contributing to the pacing and crabbiness, which makes it harder to deal with coworker asshattery.)
      2. DO NOT try to “put up with it.” (Sheesh.) I do suggest trying to reframe what you’re experiencing. NOTE: From the outside, this may look like “putting up with it,” but trust me – you’re taking (intellectual and emotional) action to safeguard your mental health.
      a. Teasing – You’re dealing with misbehaving primates that you must treat gently. Yelling at them or trying to fling poo back at them will NOT get them to leave you alone. Either they are tossing poo at you because hearing you yelp amuses them, or they’re masturbating because it feels good and you’re just part of the scenery. Try seeing them covered with fur, and really spend a few minutes imagining them as unsocialized lesser primates rather than well-socialized humans. I’ve found that sometimes this helps. [Yes, I know dehumanizing folks is both unkind and politically incorrect, but if they’re going to _act_ like poo-flinging apes, I get to _think_ of them as poo-flinging apes if it helps me cope with the stench of their manure.] Be scrupulously polite and kind, as you would with any animal. This does NOT mean you have to stand where they can throw poo on you.
      b. Repeated questioning about things you’ve already answered, and that you had no control over in the first place. Treat your questioners as individuals who can’t deal with their own issues (anxiety? a sense of entitlement? allergies and cotton brain? a memory overridden by curiosity so they don’t remember they already asked you the question? – why doesn’t really matter). The response is the same: repetition. Pick an answer, and repeat boringly in the same phrase, no matter how many times they ask it.
      “I don’t know. I wasn’t here.”
      “As I said before, I don’t know. I wasn’t here.”
      “Same question, same answer. I don’t know. I wasn’t here.”
      (Okay, so there’s some variation after the first time, because eventually I even bored myself.) The animal metaphor here is dog training. Most dogs are nice critters, but they’ll try to guilt you to get treats. Yelling at your stepmom’s overweight Labrador won’t make it stop nosing at you or stepping on your feet, but gentle consistent training will get it to leave you alone more quickly, and with less irritation on your part.)
      The point here is to treat the questioners as you would an overweight dog who is nosing you for another treat you won’t be giving them: kindly and gently tell them no, and then go on with your life.
      (Captain Awkward deals with this several times. You may want to pop over there and look at her archives about setting boundaries, and with returning Awkward to senders.)
      c. Observing someone bullying someone else: “Wow, that’s rude.” “That’s uncalled for.” etc. Both Captain Awkward and Allison have a few posts about this as well. The goal here is not to stop the behavior as such, but to let everyone know that you, at least, don’t think the bullying is acceptable behavior. Deploy as you think wise (don’t call out your supervisor, for example).

      Anyway, good luck! Let us know how things go!

  8. Timeular Zei, TimeFlip etc, question...*

    I’ve been reading about Timeular Zei & TimeFlip. Would be very interested to hear from anyone using these, or any similar time-tracking devices, meaning specifically the kind with a bit of hardware. I love the idea in principle, but how reliable are they nowadays? And is there one which doesn’t insist on being connected to the net all the time?

    1. Brownie*

      Oh, yes, same here. The WFH policy here looks to be going to requiring a very detailed “what did you do during every hour” report of each week to make sure we’re actually working and I was looking at Timeular as a way of minimizing the amount of work and disruption it would take on my end to fill out such a detailed report.

    2. Coverage Associate*

      I used a Timeular. I liked it, but I had problems with it recording flips, especially flipping to not tracking. So I would take a break and it would keep going as though I were on the last task. I miss it though. I put it away because my new job has something similar built into our laptops, but the work software really doesn’t fit my work flow.

    3. Rexasaurus Tea*

      I use(d) Timeular at work and it went pretty well… provided I remembered to flip it when I got in that morning. There is a phone app associated with it that you can use if you’re away from your desk and I use that on weekends and evenings. I think the phone app still works even if you’re offline.

      Mainly, I like it a lot. I just wish I were better about using it.

  9. Pregnant and job searching*

    I am extremely worried that I will be fired/laid off in the next coming weeks. I’m 20weeks pregnant and was NOT expecting to be job searching at this time. No one will hire a pregnant person now knowing they will be gone in a few months. And even if I DO get hired, I’m definitely SOL for getting paid leave. So I’ll be losing my health insurance and the income, which is disastrous for myself and my family, the health insurance more so. I lose my health insurance, I could lose the baby which frankly I don’t think I’d survive. tough times all around. pathetic as it may be, work really was my safe space thats now being ripped away from me.

    Yes I know people have it way worse than I do, ther’es always someone suffering more than I am, and I am lucky in many ways, but I dont’ feel it right now.

    I polished up my resume, and….I completely clueless where to start. I had a few recruiters in the past, I get emails for jobs all the time, but I haven’t job searched actively since 2014. and I’m terrified of whats to come.

    1. Rain In Spain*

      It’s definitely stressful, and being pregnant certainly adds to that! What industry are you looking for jobs in? Perhaps some readers would have specific suggestions for you.

      1. Pregnant and job searching*

        I have experience as a tax accountant, although I have been managing the bookkeeping department at my company for about 1 year now. If I go back to tax, I will have to renew my EA license.

        1. Rain In Spain*

          I wish I had specific suggestions to offer you, but that is not an area in which I (or any of my close friends) have experience. That said, I would keep applying to positions that seem like a good fit. I know a lot of smaller businesses are really struggling right now, you may have more success finding a role at a larger company right now.

          You are right that you will probably lose your right to FMLA at your new job, which sucks. But perhaps they would be willing to put in writing the amount of (unpaid) leave they are willing to let you take, which would at least offer you SOME security.

          I’m sorry you have to deal with this right now, when the world seems crazy. But also, congrats- it is very exciting to have a little one on the way. I wish you the best of luck.

        2. Not my usual username*

          This may or may not be helpful, but you should check out Trek Bicycle careers under the department Ascend for Retail Account.

          Several of their Retail Accountants (AKA bookkeepers) work 100% remotely, I feel pretty darn confident they won’t even blink at your pregnant status, and the health benefits / flex scheduling are pretty great for new parents :)

        3. AH*

          I’m not in that industry, but based on my related research, bookkeeping is a field that lends well to remote work and freelance work. Places like Thumbtack could be avenues to help you with short term or supplemental income. If you are US based, the tax filing deadline was just extended, so that could open some opportunities as well.

          1. nonegiven*

            I think the return filing deadline was not extended, you still have to file for an extension to get that.

            The deadline that was extended was the deadline for paying the tax. Normally, even when you file for an extension, you still have to pay by April 15.

        4. TheLineIsADotToYou*

          Are you in the United States? I feel like that’s a great industry (and time of year!) to be searching in.

      2. M. Albertine*

        Robert Half is a job placement company that works specifically with accountants. I have used them a couple times in the past, and while neither time I finalized a job with them, working with them to structure my job search and provide resume and interview feedback has been quite helpful.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Robert Half places both permanent and temporary contract financial folks. Their temp side (at least in my state) is called Accountemps. I brought in temp workers from them for a former employer. Both the company and the temps were terrific.

          I am looking for work now, and have contacted them hoping for help. Best wishes for your search!

    2. Happy Writer*

      I’m so sorry you’re in this situation. No advice on job searching, but if live in the US and you do end up getting laid off, you may qualify for health-care and nutrition benefits through WIC (Women, Infants & Children). Suggest contacting your local office ASAP if you become unemployed. Hang in there!

    3. KaciHall*

      On the bright side, if you lose your job and insurance while you’re pregnant, most states have Medicaid for pregnant women that is very easy to sign up for. I got fired when I found out I was pregnant (the day after my boss asked how I planned to make up for all of my doctor’s appointments since I didn’t have PTO yet, my sales were too low, despite having the highest sales in the branch.) I was in Missouri, and within a week, I was approved for Medicaid for pregnant women. It also included Medicaid for my son through his first birthday. The income limits were way different for that than normal Medicaid.

      1. Pregnant and job searching*

        I’m so sorry your boss was such an asshat. I’m in NYC, I didn’t know about special Medicaid. I dont’ want to derail too much as its non-work related, but I’ve been on regular medicaid before and it was terrible to deal with. Maybe it’s unrelated, I don’t know. Thank you for the advice.

        1. Indy Dem*

          I’d also suggest talking with your doctor’s office. If they are affiliated with a hospital system, they most likely have some form of assistance that will help you apply for Medicaid (most have social workers that will help with the paperwork, let you know what you need, review the options, etc.)

          1. blackcat*

            Yes, definitely talk to your OBs office! They will know how to handle this. Often, they might not accept new medicaid patients, but will keep an existing patient who has to move onto Medicaid mid-pregnancy.

      2. Nita*

        This. Look into it now, so you’re ahead of the game, call the agency that deals with it and find out the application process. That way you’re not spending hours on hold at the last minute when you need your new insurance yesterday. Also look into any new unemployment support in your state that’s been set up due to recent events. And FWIW, Medicaid may be better than your current insurance, if what you have now is anything like mine (hardly anyone takes it, and just finding out if you’re covered to see a specialist takes a number of phone calls, most of which will be useless). Hang in there.

        1. WellRed*

          I agree she should at least look into it to get a head start just in case, but as to providers not accepting various insurance, I think it’s even harder in many states to find a Medicaid provider.

    4. Everything Changes*

      Please remember: this feeling and these circumstances will be over. Maybe not soon, and maybe not easily, but you will one day be in a very different place and feeling very different (better things) from now. So, stop, breathe, and tell yourself, “I feel terrible, scared, and alone. And one day, that will change.” No matter what happens, this will change. Because everything changes.

      Once you’ve sat with that for a minute, make a list of everything you can think of doing to find a new job. Include stupid stuff, like calling your third grade teacher and reminding her how great your handwriting was. Try to come up with fifty ways of looking, or a hundred. Use the internet for more ideas if you run out. (Hint: Start with Ask a Manager.) Then, do the first thing. It can be the stupid one. When you’re done with the first thing, do the second thing. When you’re feeling calmer, you can explore your insurance options, jobs with telework possibilities (even if it’s outside your field), and financial assistance. You can do this, because you’ve already taken the first step – you asked for help.

    5. Nynaeve*

      You know what, just because other people have it worse doesn’t mean you have to feel lucky. This is a legitimately terrible thing to be going through and it’s okay to let yourself acknowledge that. No one wins the Misery Olympics!

      Alison has loads of resume tips and luckily most job applications are online, so maybe just start with a quick search for jobs in your industry on Indeed or an industry-specific job board. See what’s out there. If you’re on LinkedIn, accept messages about new opportunities. Small steps for now.

      1. Pregnant and job searching*

        Thank you! I’ve gotten so used to saying this to myself – I was in bad situations years ago and anytime I complained or shared my fears, I was told to stop whining, my life isn’t so bad, I’m a spoiled brat etc. I try to be sensitive enough to know when it’s appropriate to complain. (I’m on another forum right now where we can share petty rants and that’s a good way to let off steam). Even in my friends chat, they sympathized but then brought up hourly and undocumented workers who aren’t eligible for unemployment…which I am sympathetic about but…. :-/

        Literally a week ago I was annoyed at the idea of staying at home and not being able to go to the mall – and things have escalated so much.

        1. Threeve*

          Someone gave me this advice once that really stuck with me: “the problems of others do not diminish your own.”

          Just because someone else broke their leg, it doesn’t mean my sprained ankle isn’t painful, or that I should ignore it and just keep on walking.

        2. Nynaeve*

          Wow, it sounds like they were super dismissive! Yes, it’s important to be sensitive and read the room, but you’re allowed to have problems and feelings. Good grief.

    6. LunaLena*

      How stressful, sorry all this is happening to you on top of everything else. I hate it when people say “count your blessings” or “someone has it worse than you.” It’s not helpful in the slightest, and life isn’t a competition to be the person who suffers most in the world. Yes, other people have problems and may be worse off, but that doesn’t change the fact that your struggles are real too!

      I don’t have any advice since I don’t know what would be helpful to you without knowing what kind of industry you work in. Just want to say good luck, I hope things get better for you!

    7. Rachel*

      You poor thing! I have three suggestions for you: 1) Let go of “other people have it worse.” You are literally worried about losing your baby, and that is The Worst. You are allowed to focus your concern on yourself, and to ask for help.
      2) At the same time, try to slow down and take your worries one at a time. You think you may be let go—is there someone you can talk to at your work to get more clarity, one way or the other?
      3) As another commenter said, there may be assistance available for you if you do lose your health care. While you’re focusing on your current job and brushing up your resume, is there someone who can help you research that? Do you have a partner, parent, sibling, or friend who you can ask, “Hey, I don’t know what the requirements or application requirements for WIC [or whatever] are in this state—can you look that up for me and tell me what I’d need to do?”
      Good luck! I’ll be thinking of you!

    8. anonymouslee*

      Others will have better advice than I do, but I just wanted to point out that it’s not “pathetic” at all that work was your safe space and that losing it is a huge stressor. You don’t have to qualify your suffering and rank it against others to justify your feelings. This is a hard situation and you are allowed to feel what you feel about it.

    9. Suibhne*

      In addition to the other great practical advice here, I’ll add this — if you’re worried about the pregnancy preventing people from hiring you (leaving aside that they technically can’t discriminate against you for this, but may do so anyway), remember that because of our current health situation, any and all job interviews are going to be remote for the foreseeable future. No one will be able to see you are pregnant on a video call. You DO NOT have to tell anyone you are pregnant during the hiring process; I know you might feel required to be transparent about it, but really, you don’t have to, any more than you would be required to mention any other medical condition. I had a former coworker who was pregnant during the interview process, let everyone know only after she’d started, and took normal leave once it was time to have the child. It was fine, and it would have been illegal for them to fire her for it.

    10. Jdc*

      If you lose your health insurance you can immediately get into mediCaid. It’s an automatic if you’re pregnant. So know that might help your stress a bit.

    11. 867-5309*

      I saw below that you’re in New York. New York, similar to California, has slightly more progressive benefits for people. Here’s are some practical things you can do that might help you channel the anxiousness:
      1. Your company should payout any unused, accrued vacation.
      2. Start looking at the total cost of your health insurance. We might seen benefits like in 2009 that will make COBRA more affordable so you can keep your health insurance.
      3. IF you were to be laid off, in addition to starting a job search, post on LinkedIn that you can be a virtual office manager or bookkeeper. You might find some freelance gigs to tide things over.
      4. I believe there is a thread from a women who job searched while pregnant and it worked out okay, so while you might have some challenges in the search, it’s not hopeless, OP.
      5. Research what the STATE and CITY government is doing to help unemployed persons.
      6. Remember that even in a layoff, you might be able to negotiate a period of continued benefits. Depending on the size of the organization, they might be able to assume this cost even as they can’t necessarily full salary.

      You aren’t alone, OP. We have to walk through this storm and the AAM community will help where we can.

    12. 867-5309*

      I forgot to mention… hospitals and similar healthcare organizations have been recruiting as restaurants and other industries layoff. You might start a job search there.

    13. Jem One*

      I posted yesterday in the COVID thread, but I’m 21 weeks and I’ve just been laid off (hospitality shutting down during the virus). I’m in the UK, so at least I have the NHS, but I completely understand your fears and the feeling of not knowing where to start. I’m so sorry that I can’t offer any real advice, I wish I knew what to do! But commiserations and sympathy from the other side of the Atlantic – you’re not alone.

    14. KayDeeAye*

      Do you have a specific reason for believing that “No one will hire a pregnant person now knowing they will be gone in a few months”? Because some places will – I’ve seen it, and I don’t work in a particularly progressive environment. If you can figure out the health insurance issue (COBRA, Medicaid, whatever) – and I realize that may be a big “if’ – it may not be as hopeless as you think. I mean, companies actually do hire people, even knowing that they’ll shortly be on maternity leave.

    15. SunnySideUp*

      Check out FlexJobs and Upwork to see if you can find remote hire/contract work. I wish you the best possible outcome.

    16. Fikly*

      People do get hired when pregnant!

      I recently came across someone who not only got hired, but was onboarded and immediately given health insurance and maternity leave a week before giving birth at full term.

    17. Champagne Cocktail*

      Yes I know people have it way worse than I do, ther’es always someone suffering more than I am, and I am lucky in many ways, but I dont’ feel it right now.

      It is okay to feel your feelings, regardless of how other people are suffering. There isn’t a hierarchy of pain.

      You’re in a frustrating situation. I went through two months of waiting for an axe to fall (and I’m sure others here on AAM have too), it is survivable.

      If you haven’t hunted for a job in a while, I know Allison posted a resume article not long ago. Maybe you know someone who can review it for you.

      Good luck!

    18. MissDisplaced*

      This is really stressful and I sincerely hope your company doesn’t do that. The best way to help people is to keep them employed. That said, if it does happen and you get laid off, I think you’d qualify for more assistance than if you jumped directly to a new job. You might want to check with your local social services about your options, although this Coronavirus relief is a fast changing topic.

  10. Lena Clare*

    Hi there.
    Can you give me some advice on searching for a job while studying?
    I need Fridays off to fit in my studies, but all the jobs I’m interested in are full-time.
    Do I mention it in the cover letter…or not at all? I should add I’m only applying for those that say ‘flexi-working hours’.

    1. LunaLena*

      I think it really depends on what industries you are looking for work in. Some places are accommodating for educational needs – I used to work at a promotional products company/small business where the owner encouraged people to continue their educations, so he was very accommodating of people taking time off in the middle of the day to attend classes. I personally knew three people who worked in the production area who were pursuing degrees while working there, and they just arranged to make up the time before or after regular work hours.

      I wouldn’t mention this in the cover letter, though putting “expecting to graduate in 20XX with a bachelor’s in ABC” on your resume would be a good hint. Not that I’m an expert, but based on the search committees I’ve been on, a phone interview or in-person interview is probably the better place to address this, since they can ask you questions about what accommodations you would need and get specific answers, instead of having to guess at your availability.

      Also if you are a university student and not necessarily looking for full-time work, would a university or work-study job be an option? They might not pay as well and are usually part-time, but they tend to be very understanding about working around class schedules. There are usually a variety of jobs too, not just desk jobs or nominal ones that only teach soft skills. I work at a university myself, and know students who have jobs ranging from food prep to event planning to graphic design.

      Good luck with your job search!

      1. Lena Clare*

        Thanks, very useful advice! I’m sticking to jobs at university campuses so fingers crossed…

    2. anonymouslee*

      I’m not an expert, but personally I’d apply without it in the cover letter, then mention it in the phone interview. Especially if you can point to them advertising with flexible work hours, saying something like, “One of the reasons I was drawn to this position is the potential for flexible work hours. Right now I’m [working on completing XYZ education], which means I would have to adjust my work hours to leave Fridays open for [classes]. Is that something that’s possible in this role?”

      1. Lena Clare*

        Oh I really like that wording, thanks.
        Most jobs I’m applying for don’t have a phone screening, just a face to face interview (although maybe not lately), but talking about it beforehand on the phone might be useful before coming into the office for the interview.

    3. Construction Safety*

      Is the Fridays off a permanent thing or does it have a horizon? I’d tell them if/when it ends to remove speculation.

    4. it_guy*

      A lot of jobs are going WFH or are getting away from 5 x 8 work week. It may be possible to ask for a 4 x 10 work week, and take Friday off to study.

      1. Lena Clare*

        This would be ideal, and is exactly what I’m looking for! but as @Kes below says, flexi time tends to mean come in earlier or later some days, rather than completely revamp the working week.

    5. Kes*

      Yeah, this may be a bit difficult because for a lot of companies flexible working hours means more that you can leave early or take off for an appointment, for example, or that they don’t have a completely fixed start and end time. Not working every Friday will basically require either 4×10 or part-time work. Whether than is feasible will depend on the company – there are ones out there who would be okay with this, but they will likely be the minority. I would second the advice to look for jobs geared towards or open to students, since they may be more flexible.
      I think I would also agree to leave it out of the cover letter but do bring it up and be aware this may be a deal-breaker in many cases

      1. Lena Clare*

        This is what I’ve noticed too.
        It might end up that I stay where I am till I graduate, but I’m still looking!

  11. Forsythia*

    I need to create some permanent quizzes to use as part of training volunteers to code correctly. Does anyone have a recommendation for an online quiz provider that is cheap/free and allows me to upload images to be interpreted as part of the quiz? SurveyMonkey and Qzzr cost money; I was trying to make a PowerPoint quiz but I only have access to a Mac and the “insert forms” component only works on PCs.

    Any advice welcome.

    1. Please make it stop*

      I use Google Forms for internal quizzes. It works pretty well for what I need it for, but my quizzes are pretty simple.

      1. Bubbles*

        Second. It’s free, easy, and all the answers are compiled in a spreadsheet that can be easily sorted.

      2. Spero*

        Third! I developed an entire volunteer training platform around google Forms and google Sites. Posted training videos and materials on the site with a completion quiz in forms, used forms to sign up for shifts, etc.

    2. Arsy Day*

      Quizizz – Free and the quiz taker sees questions on their own screen, can proceed at their own pace, etc. You can add images though maybe not in the way you’re looking for? Check it out, anyway.

    3. Shark Whisperer*

      We use Kahoot or Socrative in our trainings. Google forms are also super easy and free.

    4. noahwynn*

      If you work for an org that used Office365, Microsoft Forms works well. I’ve also used Google Forms, which is also free.

    5. KAG*

      I’ve been on the receiving end of quizzes using hackerrank, so I don’t know how much it costs. I liked it because you can provide unit tests to the recipient to test their code against.

  12. Hugine*

    Our company’s president has strongly recommended that we work from home. I have a good relationship with him and the other VPs. My boss, on the other hand, is awful. She is passive aggressive, controlling, manipulative, and hateful. She does not want me to work from home. She is also retiring at the end of next month (she is being forced, due to her behavior).

    I don’t really want to work from home but I think it’s the responsible thing to do. I’m stressed out of my mind over this whole thing. I’m getting ready to approach her and I’m honestly more scared I’m going to start rage crying or say something unprofessional.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      You can do this! Try to think of it as stating the facts and keep referring back to those facts if she tries to manipulate you. The president wants employees to work from home, you want to follow the president’s guidelines. If she comes back and tries to shame you, bully you, be hateful to you – refer back to the facts. Repeat as many times as necessary. Even if you feel like a broken record.

      The silver lining is if you’re working from home, you don’t have to see her face to face for a while! Good luck!

      1. Jambon-Beurre*

        Stay strong! You are a professional and she’s on her way out the door. Reframe the situation. She has no power to wield. You’re just humoring her really.

    2. Elaine Benes*

      Try to mentally re-frame it as, she’s already gone, so her opinions don’t really matter. WFH is absolutely the right thing to do. Good luck!!

    3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      Your boss is being effectively fired for being awful. That means you basically don’t have to listen to a thing she says. Stay home.

      1. Ginger*

        Agreed. You’re giving her too much head space. Top management gave the direction, follow them. I’d mark your calendar with a big gold star and have a countdown going until she’s gone because the end is near!

        You need to care 100% less about her reactions.

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        Very much this. Send her an email telling her your plans. Cite your president’s recommendation. Do not ask for her approval. If she responds that you can’t work from home, use polite corporate-speak to blow her off. What is she going to do? Give you a bad review?

    4. EvilQueenRegina*

      If someone higher up than your boss has already recommended you work from home, he should be able to overrule your boss if she does try to argue.

    5. Batgirl*

      She’s halfway out the door; no one cares what she thinks! Inform her as a courtesy in writing, that you’ve received the president’s message loud and clear and she can reach you at.. etc etc. Informing, not asking.
      If she gives you any bile, forward her response to a higher up and ask for ‘clarification on the confusion’. If she tries to press you verbally, ask for it in writing or just go over her head anyway.
      You really don’t need to worry about her.

    6. MusicWithRocksIn*

      I was in a slightly similar situation where the company line was work from home, but my boss kept going “ummmm….. errrr…. maybe… we’ll talk about it later”. However, I got sick (it isn’t that, just another in a long line of sinus infections) and I pretty much sent him an email saying that I would probably start coughing when it started to break up and was going to work from home due to the rule not to come in if you are coughing or have a temperature. It worked, but I was in unique circumstance. Maybe just try going above her.

    7. Deanna Troi*

      I am in an almost identical situation! My horrible boss is transferring to an office in another state at the end of April. He is acting wishy-washy about us working from home. We all sent him emails with variations on “per Fergusina’s email recommending that staff work from home as much as possible, I plan to work from home for the remainder of the pay period. “

    8. valentine*

      Pick a VP, cc the prez, and tell them you think she’ll refuse. Ask them what support they can give you.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I would only do this after asking first and having her refuse, though, because you can forward the email where she denies approval for WFH and then ask what you should do.

        Definitely get it in writing though!

  13. MOAS*

    What are the little perks of working from home?

    (if this is too related to the other topic, I can repost it the next time!)

    I’ve always loathed the idea of WFH (for myself, not for anyone else) but now that it’s mandatory I’m trying to find little silver linings.

    A small one is being able to inject myself with my medicine when I need to, and to not have to run to the bathroom to do it. The single occupancy one is always occupied and the regular one is very awkwardly set up. So it’s nice to just sit at my desk lift up my top and inject. Oh and the bathroom is never occupied :)

    Once my tooth/mouth heals, I’m looking forward to being able to eat a fresh streak–I could never make steak good enough to eat as a leftover LOL

      1. Mimi Me*

        Because this made me laugh I’m going to share it. My mother and sister (who live together) are both working from home. My sister works downstairs and my mom has to be plugged into her desktop so she sits in her bedroom. Yesterday my mom was headed upstairs after making her cup of coffee. She told my sister “I’m off to work! Hope the traffic isn’t bad” At this point my 10 year old niece started down the stairs and my mom was forced to wait until she was at the bottom before heading up. My sister said “I don’t know…you should call them and tell them you’ll be late due to that traffic jam.”

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I regularly have traffic jams of two dogs (one rushes down the stairs fast, the other is slower due to arthritis) and a cat between me and my office :)

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          I am still driving into the office, but the drive is about ten minutes quicker, what with empty roads.

          1. emmelemm*

            Yeah, my commute isn’t terrible at the worst of times, but these last few weeks it’s been positively empty!

          2. Hamburke*

            I’m also driving into work. My county seems to be taking advantage – there’s a road on my commute set to be closed next week to begin a widening project. It’s in front of a school so this wasn’t a pre-planned thing for this timeframe.

      2. straws*

        My commute actually doubled because my kids’ daycare is next to my office. I’m the only person at my job having a harder time getting to work on time now!

        1. MusicWithRocksIn*

          I’m having this problem too! Used to be five minutes from daycare to work, now it’s another 20 back home.

    1. CatCat*



      I am struggling a lot with adjusting to WFH. But wearing sweatpants all day is amazing.

      1. M. Albertine*

        I’ve been wearing jeans all week in my attempt to make the mental transition between home and work (my office is normally business casual), but today in honor of casual Friday in my home office, I am wearing leggings.

        1. Indy Dem*

          I have a co-worker who has been posting on Facebook all week about how leggings are pants, so she is wearing pants.

    2. Gidget*

      Music while I work. My preferred musical choices are not always work appropriate. And my workplace doesn’t really love people listening either on headphones or outloud.

      1. Veronica Mars*

        Thank goodness my work allows headphones because I listen to the least appropriate of musics while I work. Something about it makes me feel like I’m sticking it to the man so I can calm down and do the work that makes me angry, lol.

        Of course, there was that one time my bluetooth disconnected smack in the middle of an inappropriate song and blasted a full 10 seconds worth to a dead silent room full of older men….

        1. Gidget*

          Haha. Totally agree, with the “sticking it to the man” counterbalancing effect. I think we have all experienced the “vastly inappropriate thing we’ve been listening to accidentally played out loud” moment. Mortifying, but helps to know it happens to all. :)

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          I alternate between classical and bluegrass. The classical is the harder sell. Most people wouldn’t choose it, but few find it actively obnoxious.

          1. Princess Scrivener*

            My two favorite genres, for sure! Yay for Bose in-ears when among co-workers.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              I am currently the only one in the office, so I can crank it up! Pro tip: We all know Johann Pachelbel for that one piece, but he wrote a lot more and his organ music is particularly fine. This is what I currently have cranked up.

              1. Princess Scrivener*

                Agreed! That song grates for me. I’m currently into Tomas Albinoni for writing, and anything Alison Krauss, Nickel Creek, or Del McCoury for light editing, reformatting.

                1. OyHiOh*

                  Albioni, Jeoen van Veen, Philip Glass, Sibelius, Grieg, Mendelsson, Satie, and Bach if I’m writing dialogue (the interplay of melody lines in fugues particularly helps).

                2. Richard Hershberger*

                  There is nothing wrong with that song other than it is grossly overplayed. For a few years there I think weddings weren’t considered legally valid if it wasn’t played.

                  But seriously, it is both pleasant-sounding and simple enough that you don’t need to be a classical music person to understand it. Look at many of the overplayed pieces and they are easy to understand: Bolero and the 1812 Overture spring to mind. It is entirely likely that the first time you heard that song, your reaction was “My, how lovely!” The 8,957th time? Not so much.

          2. Veronica Mars*

            I do strike a pretty good balance for most shared-listening with classical covers of more popular music. Classical is my go to for really intense work, but it’s kind of ruined it otherwise for me because classical = time for difficult problem solving.

        1. OyHiOh*

          I have a weird association with headphones and music. Music just coming out of the speakers equals playtime/don’t need to concentrate. Exact same music, with headphones equals “time to work.” My brain is weird.

    3. CTT*

      I’d say I’m getting through my podcast backlog, but somehow I have MORE soccer podcasts to listen to than normal? There is no soccer happening, how are they producing so much content??

    4. Operation Glowing Symphony*

      Going for a walk in the middle of the day! unless your location is on an tight quarantine, in which you can’t leave your house, now is a great time to take as many outdoor walks as possible.

      You don’t have to save your household cleaning until the weekend. You can make it a project throughout the week one room a day and now you’re done by the weekend. weekends are going to be precious because people are going to let their work bleed into the weekend now that they’re working from home.

      Cooking your own lunch and eating it after you make it not after it’s sat in your thermos all morning.

      Just remember at work you were not getting eight full hours of uninterrupted time. Don’t think working from home that you should have 8 hours of uninterrupted time. Work in chunks, get up and move around and cleanse your head, and then come back to work.

      1. Jessen*

        Oh it’s been great for us home crafters! Especially if you have stuff that has to dry. I can just sort of toss some glue on something in the morning and let it sit and then do some more work in the evening.

        1. we're basically gods*

          YESSS THE CRAFTING. I’ve had some painting to do, and it’s been nice to sort of pomodoro it as the paint dries

      2. Cassie*

        On the first day of WFH, I thought “I can run my Roomba during the day!”. But then I never got around to picking up the stuff from the ground, in order to run the Roomba… it’s day 4 already :)

      3. Amethystmoon*

        I’m hourly so can’t work on the weekends, but I have been doing chores when I’ve had no work. Things that don’t take me away from the computer for too long, like dishes or cleaning the floor. I don’t want it to say away for too long.

    5. Rain In Spain*

      Pajamas, fresher snacks/coffee/etc, private bathroom, limited exposure to the virus! And I get to see my baby all day which is pretty amazing (even though I still have child care so I can actually work… will evaluate if we need to ask our nanny to stay home at some point)

    6. DarthVelma*

      I work from home on a fairly regular basis and there are lots of little perks I enjoy about it:

      1. Being able to work in my pajamas if I feel like it
      2. I have a much better computer setup at home – less eye strain and a more comfy chair makes for a happier DarthVelma
      3. I can make passionfruit syrup (today’s project) or brownies or homemade bread during my lunch hour
      4. Even when work is busy busy it just seems less stressful with a cat curled up by my feet. (I have a blanket under the desk that I tuck my feet under to keep them warm. The cat loves to snuggle into the blanket. So I get her body heat as well. Win for everyone.)
      5. Cocoa o’clock – my partner and I will have cocoa around 2 in the afternoon. It’s lovely.

        1. DarthVelma*

          I just set it to steep. Simple recipe found here:

          I love Hurricanes and I could never find passionfruit syrup locally and ordering it was kind of a pain. Plus I worried a bit about what they were putting in it to make it shelf stable. So I decided to make my own. Easy peasy and very tastsy.

          I also started making my own grenadine.

    7. Grits McGee*

      Being able to start work on my pajamas and then change later in the morning.

      Waiting until I’m hungry to eat breakfast instead of forcing myself at 4 in the morning.

      Being able to immediately go putter around in the garden after I sign off in the afternoon.

    8. Retail not Retail*

      Not wfh but closed to the public so headphones and podcast OR no headphones and blare music. Park anywhere I want. No time limits.

    9. LizB*

      No bra, not having to wait until evening to do laundry (I can pop it in in the morning, move it at my first bathroom break, take it out at lunchtime!), getting to play my music without headphones, not worrying about laughing out loud at comedy podcasts.

    10. Mike C.*

      Being able to manage my garden during the day. I have a dozen trays of flowers and veggies and it’s time to harden them off.

      1. Seifer*

        I started seeds yesterday on my lunch break! Today I’m building planters since it looks like the rain is holding off for a little bit.

    11. Everything Changes*

      My laundry’s done for the first time in three months. I was always dressing out of the dryer or having to fold stuff.

    12. Person from the Resume*

      No commute and no parking challenges. Seriously I’m more grateful that I don’t have to park in the city than I am about not having to drive (my drive would be easy).

      Not having to dress up or put on make up or fix hair. I knew I’d save commute time, I never factored in how much time I save by not having to look business casual.

      Much easier to pop to the bathroom here.

      Homemade lunch without having to prep the night before and pack it up to stay in fridge.

        1. Threeve*

          I’m so glad other people are appreciating that as much as I do! I felt kind of weird that “not having to use a multi-stall bathroom” was so high up on my list of things I appreciate about telework.

          1. Seifer*

            I was talking to my roommate about it and I was like, we’re not gonna be able to give up that luxury, being able to go to a bathroom where you KNOW the toilet seat is clean, everyone has flushed, everyone has washed their hands, because it’s YOUR bathroom. (uglysobbing)

      1. The New Wanderer*

        All of the above. Also the treadmill is in the same room as my work setup, so private onsite gym!

    13. AndersonDarling*

      I found that I don’t need to set my alarm and I can get up when I’m ready. As long as I can get to my computer before 8am, I’m good. It has been great to wake up naturally.
      And I love doing face masks during work hours.

      1. MOAS*

        I did do a sheet mask last night — although I’ll be honest, I’ve done sheet masks a few times at work during last few tax seasons. Tax season = extra late hours + a relaxed boss who doesnt’ care + cowrokers who get a kick out of it = fun times.

      2. Panthera uncia*

        OMG, the skincare junkies are out in force. I can slop crap on my face all day long, glisten like a slug, and nobody is the wiser.

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

        Haha, I take it you don’t have to do ‘unexpected’ (as in unplanned in advance and then someone says lets jump on a call to discuss this) video chats…

      1. Veronica Mars*

        YESSSSSS I don’t think I can ever go back to the dungeon.

        Probably not entirely coincidence, no migraines since WFH (fingers crossed).

        1. leapingLemur*

          A lot of people get headaches from florescent lights – could that be triggering the migraines?

          1. Veronica Mars*

            I’m very light sensitive. My work has been pretty good about accommodations (flicker free monitors, unscrewed all the bulbs above my desk, incandescent lamp on my desk, blue light blocking glasses) but there’s no substitute for natural light and no lights anywhere to be seen.

      2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        Yes! This is hands down my favorite thing about my WFH setup! (Of course, I also positioned my equipment so I’m sitting so I face the window. The view is nothing special, but it’s a window!)

    14. NW Mossy*

      No running between conference rooms on different floors for back-to-back meetings! It’s lovely to actually be on time. Also, not having to constantly pat myself down to make sure I have my keycard so that I don’t get stuck in the stairwell.

    15. periwinkle*

      I’ve been primarily WFH for about a year and a half. Advantages include:

      No bandwidth/site blocking so I can blast music to my heart’s content using my personal devices on WiFi.

      The fridge is clean and safe from lunch thieves.

      I can run quick errands mid-day (especially useful these days) and extend my workday as needed.

      Good coffee with no drama.

      Napping cats within petting distance.

      However, I do get dressed for work as a way to maintain work/home boundaries.

      1. MOAS*

        I have 7 remote staff members and most of them say these are the perks, the flexibility and being introverts. One has a restaurant of her own (and she’s definitely feeling all thsi right now!) likes the flexibility of this job.

      2. willow for now*

        The cat. I second that luxury. Of course she thinks that every snack or bathroom break for me means a snack for her…

        1. Windchime*

          My cat has been making appearances in my video meetings lately. He hears me talking and comes to investigate, jumping up on the desk and being all social. It’s been kind of fun to see everyone’s pets now that we are all working from home.

          The biggest benefit for me has been that I feel like I’m living on a real-person schedule again. I can stay up until 10 PM instead of going to bed at 8:30. I don’t have to get up till 6. I can wander downstairs for some iced tea in the morning. I’m saving a fortune when you combine the parking, gas, Starbucks, and eating lunches out that I’m not paying for.

    16. anonymouslee*

      Comfortable clothes, sitting in comfortable positions, being able to do stretching or yoga when you need a physical break, playing your own music out loud, snacking as loudly as you like, not having to style your hair or put on makeup if that’s something you normally do, spending time with pets if you have them.

      1. Amethystmoon*

        Yes! I have subscribed to an exercise channel, they have things like yoga and aerobics.

    17. Jessen*

      A very happy friendly cat who likes to come over and sit near me and purr while I’m working. He has his own perch near my chair.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        Yes!! I have a decoy chair for one of my cats, and she’ll sit next to me for hours. Extra kitty snuggles is the best part of WFH for me :)

    18. Brownie*

      Hot tea whenever I want it. Furry supervisor who comes over for scritches and pets when I take a break and stretch. No one stopping by my cube every 20 minutes to talk about whatever they think should be my priority. No coworkers drenched in perfume or cologne. No pollen & dust-filled HVAC system to make me constantly sneeze. No need to put headphones or earplugs on to block out the “I don’t have an inside voice” coworkers next to me. I sit next to a window at home and can see the sky vs being stuck in the middle of a cube farm.

      At this rate I may ask for one day a week WFH after this is all done. It’s practically paradise here compared to my cubical at work.

      1. MOAS*

        If my job survives this and everything works out during maternity leave, I am planning to ask to WFH 2 days a week.

      2. zora*

        omg, i actually kind of forgot about the loud office neighbors until I saw your comment! Yes, that is definitely my #1 perk of WFH is not hearing the loud, whiny, angry office neighbors who cannot stop talking. Whew, that is probably why my stress level is lower than usual.

      3. Amethystmoon*

        This and being able to eat what I want for lunch, including fish. 0 points on WW, and the fewer people that like it won’t buy it in this time of low stocking food, so more for those of us who do like it. Yay!

    19. LunaLena*

      Actually being able to relax and get things done on my lunch break. I love my job, but there isn’t always a great place to sit and eat when the weather is lousy (as it is now), so I usually end up eating at my desk. Now I can sit on my couch and catch up on Netflix shows during lunch (I hate streaming to devices; I’d rather watch stuff on my 50 inch TV!), make something fresh for lunch instead of heating leftovers, walk down to the store, or relax and read a book, or even take a nap.

      And of course, my cat and I are thrilled to be able to see each other all the time now.

      1. MOAS*

        Lol have you seen the meme going around where this whole thing is paradise for dogs who love having their owners home and a total CATastrophe for cats?

        1. LunaLena*

          I’ve definitely seen some photos and videos of cats who are less than pleased that their reign of the house is being disrupted by the humans staying home, haha! Mine has been mostly grumpy because she thinks this is just a temporary situation and I’m going to leave just as she’s starting to enjoy it, but it’s finally starting to dawn on her that this is going to be the status quo for a while, and is starting to circle my work area to check on me like the little shark she is.

      2. LunaLena*

        Oooh, another perk I just thought of! I can drink whatever tea I want now! Normally I just keep a couple of cheap varieties of tea at work and leave my fancier teas for the weekends, but now I can indulge in a fancy tea if I want to!

        Sometimes it truly is the little things in life :D

        1. Veronica Mars*

          Yes! Something about showering in the daylight is so refreshing for me. I’ve been showering right after work to kind of signal that its relax time, so nice

    20. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      5+ years WFH here — the last time I put gas in my car was mid-January.

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

        I’m not really a car geek but I have been wondering about something similar — how long can you leave a car without being started up / without driving a reasonable distance?

        My partner and I normally drive to work (separately in our cars) every day but this has come to a halt as we are both WFH for the foreseeable future and I’m a little worried about the impact on leaving a car ‘rusting’ for what could be potentially 12 weeks or more.

        I am in the UK where we aren’t yet locked down and can go to the supermarket or travel to other places etc but our car usage is significantly down.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Drive it for at least 15 minutes every two weeks or the battery may die. If the battery is older, once a week.

    21. JustaTech*

      Being able to fuss with my sourdough starter at lunch.

      Getting to use my bidet during the day. Who knew I would spend this much time on the internet telling semi-strangers about washing my behind? And yet, it’s a popular topic. (And it’s nice.)

      Not having to listen to the construction noise (and the traffic cop’s whistle).

      1. MOAS*

        Amongst the toilet paper frenzy, I’ve been seeing an uptick in posts/ads/memes about bidets. In Pakistan & Middle east every toilet has a handheld shower. We’re unable to install one in our system at home (NY) b/c its so old but I’m envious of anyone who has one. I just use a handheld bidet thats basically a squirt bottle with a long, angled spout.

      2. Veronica Mars*

        We bought a bidet off amazon for $10 when we were unable to locate TP. It’s an unheated bidet, which I don’t really recommend, but its still surprisingly nice.

        1. MOAS*

          I personally feel that you need both – I grew up using a watering can, and we always needed TP to dry off afterwards, otherwise it’s gross. But having that definitely cuts down on needing SO MUCH TP that people are hoarding.

          I’m not even ashamed to talk about this. LOL

          1. Veronica Mars*

            I’ve found one that has a blow dryer, might buy one of those as a “congrats, you aren’t getting furloughed” present… once I know for sure I’m not going to be furloughed.

        2. JustaTech*

          Mine is unheated (the toilet is in it’s own little room with no hot water or electricity), and I installed it by myself (I’m not a handy person) in about 20 minutes.

          The price of bidets on Amazon has gone up, but it’s still less than $100 for an unheated one.

      3. BRR*

        Breadmaking is a serious plus for me for WFH. It doesn’t take much time, I just need to do a few turns.

        Also I like having the temperature be at my preference. Temperature is very important to me and I’m not productive when it’s too hot (I get too uncomfortable).

    22. Lives in a Shoe*

      No terrible commute. Hanging out with my teens/young adults. Hiking every day. So much baking!

    23. Elenna*

      Comfy clothes (I know some people recommend putting on work clothes in order to focus, but I find I have a significantly easier time making myself get out of bed in the morning if I know I can just wear PJs)

      Being able to walk around (even just around the house) when I need a quick break. I could technically do this at work too, I guess, but still.

      No commute! Probably better for me than you as my usual commute is 1.5 hours each way. (I was looking for a condo closer to work but that’s been put off for a bit.)

      Having wifi and no site blocking so I can listen to Twitch streams in the background while working.

      1. MOAS*

        Not gonna lie, I’ve gone to work a few times wearing sweatpants, no bra and I wear slippers inside the office every day. lol

    24. Veronica Mars*

      I always assumed that WFH would make me have a harder time with “leaving work at work” but it’s actually been the opposite. Now that I can do chores on my lunch break, I actually feel so much more free when I am done for the day. Instead of “great, time to go home and do my house job” its “Ok, so, I guess I get to read a book now??”

    25. KR*

      Your own bathroom, more lunch options, no scent restrictions if that’s your thing (all the candles!! and incense!), Complete control over amount of light, fresh air, temperature, ect. No business casual, no commute. And furry coworkers if you have pets.

      1. Daisy Avalin*

        The downside to SO working from home, he hates me burning incense!! I’m hating the idea of him working from home, because I’m used to him & Child not being here so I can do what I like and now they’re both going to be in my space for the foreseeable future!

    26. Kiwiii*

      The commute is definitely a plus. I’m waking up 20 minutes later now, exercising for 20 minutes before my shower, and still able to start nearly a whole hour earlier – though not having to assemble a lunch or wear real clothes is helping there as well.

      1. JustaTech*

        I keep asking myself, where the heck did my not-commuting time go?

        I think it’s going to reading more of the newspaper.

    27. zora*

      comfy clothes
      no bus commute
      sleeping in later because of no commute
      being able to do laundry or other chores in the middle of the day instead of having to do everything on the weekend
      calling my family during the day, which is better for time zones
      having whatever i want in the background: music, tv, etc

    28. Cat Lady Anooonymous*

      -Watching over my kitten who just got neutered today, on the hour every hour (*note: kitten’s surgery was considered “essential surgery” so was still scheduled for today, and had been months in advance).
      -Baking desserts and bread for the hubs who is always open to trying new things
      -Quiet studying (for a certification course). There was that one coworker who constantly talked so loud it was like he was shouting in my ear….from 20 ft away O.o
      -No commute
      -Movie night

    29. LunaMei*

      1. I can sleep in 1.5 hours more since I don’t have to get kids ready, get them to daycare, and then drive to work.
      2. I don’t have to get kids ready!!! They just wake up whenever and I get them breakfast.
      3. SWEATPANTS 24/7
      4. I’m eating better. I stocked up on lots of fresh veggies and other healthy options – I dno’t have much time or energy to fix healthy lunch/snack options for work, and all the restaurants around me are crap, but I still go out to lunch a lot because I’m desperate to get out of the office.
      5. I’m not spending as much money on crappy food!
      6. Saving gas!
      7. My skin is better. The full-blast AC (and full-blast heater in the winter) makes our offices extremely dry, and my skin gets so parched.
      8. No overhead fluorescents!

    30. Bunny Girl*

      Not showering as much! I have a short pixie and my bedhead is normally legendary and I have to shower in the mornings to fix it. But I also have eczema so it’s been drying my skin out. Now only the dog and cats see my hair so I have only been showering every other day. My skin is very happy.

      1. LunaMei*

        I have a short pixie as well, and I just do not understand how some people with short pixies get away with not washing every day. There are a few people I follow on instagram who somehow make a 4-day pixie look awesome. But for me, no amount of dry shampoo/flat iron/prayer can tame my pixie. I always have to start over with fresh hair and product.

        1. Bunny Girl*

          I don’t have to shampoo it every day, but I do have to get it totally wet. Normally I’d just stick it under the sink, but our bathroom sink is too small. But yeah, I have no idea how some people do it! I look like I’ve been wrestling a bear every night.

    31. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

      No commute, going for walks, having natural light and being able to open the windows for fresh air, actually tasty lunches! And for sure not wearing makeup or real clothes. Swaddling in scarves and blankets. Not having to see my bosses, who stress me out.

    32. Seifer*

      I love the ability to be in the garage at exactly 4PM. I’ve been able to knock out a ton of things on my woodworking list this week. I haven’t had to wear real pants in a week, and I definitely haven’t put on a bra. I don’t have to wear headphones. I get to terrorize the kitty whenever I feel like it. I can check on my little seedlings throughout the day like the helicopter plant parent I am. I don’t have to listen to my coworker dial the phone ON SPEAKERPHONE and then not pick it up until there’s a reply on the other end. I also don’t have to listen to him honk his nose all day. I don’t have to put in my contacts until I feel like it or my glasses hurt too much to wear. I’ve also been able to knock out a shit ton of long term work projects because it’s so quiet at home and if I need to puzzle something out, I can lay on the floor without judgement!

      Oh, and I also love not having to wake up until 6:55AM to be logged on at 7AM hahahaha.

    33. Jem One*

      Proper homemade, hot lunches. I love to cook and I love not having to decide at 6am (or the night before) what I’m going to take for lunch!

      1. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

        I love that, too! Some days when I WFH, I eat a larger breakfast than normal (since I actually have access to a stove and time to cook eggs) and can randomly decide that “lunch” is just going to be cheese and crackers and fruit mid-afternoon. Or I can cook something. Or make a Dagwood sandwich. Whatever strikes my fancy.

    34. Mill Miker*

      Not being watched all day. Not that anyone at work is actually “watching” me, but it’s an open concept office.

      I get worked up and frustrated easily over some things, and spend so much mental energy in the work day trying not to sigh, or groan, or make a face, or throw my hands up in the air, because that draws attention and questions and opinions.

      It’s such a relief to be able to just let out an exasperated sigh and get on with things. I feel much less stressed overall and at the end of the day, even though the same number of things are happening.

      1. LunaMei*

        Oh yes, having to be “on” every day can be exhausting. At my last job, I was WFH 3 days a week, and then 2 in office, and I thought that was a great set up for me. I had to give up WFH with my new job, but it was worth it because the job was infinitely better. But my current boss is now going to start letting us all WFH 2 days a week (after the pandemic is over), so that’s a win!

      2. Anon for this one*

        I’m on the other side of this one:

        I’m your (metaphorical, we don’t actually work together obvs) co-worker, in that I sit next to someone who gets very easily worked up and frustrated, but who (unlike you) generally lets it out repeatedly during the day by exclaiming loudly about how crap X software is, swearing about other people’s incompetence, banging their hands on the desk, groaning, etc…. and yet I still get the sense that there’s a huge untapped well of frustration etc that is bubbling below the surface despite these outlets! This person seems to swing between “worked up and frustrated” and “happy happy la la la la la” in the space of a few minutes sometimes!

        For myself I find it quite unnerving and distracting. I don’t think this co-worker is a physical threat to me, or anything like that, but each of their exclamations of “what the ***?!” “***ing shitty software” etc pulls my focus out of whatever I was working on, and does generate a small spike of anxiety each time.

        I find it especially difficult to deal with due to experiences in the past that I won’t bore you with, involving someone with a similarly “volatile” character (but it did then escalate to physical violence) and it still generates the same response in my mind…

        So thank you (I mean it sincerely, not being funny) for holding in this kind of thing at work – you are doing well by your co-workers!

    35. noahwynn*

      I’ll be back in the office as soon as they allow it, because I’m really missing my coworkers and the environment. If anything, this cemented for me that I could never be 100% remote.

      There are perks though. I have basically gained an extra hour in my day because I don’t have to commute anymore. Also, it is nice to flex the schedule around more. Sure, I was allowed to leave the office to run an errand if I wanted to, but never did. Now if I want to workout at 1pm I just have to block off my calendar and do it. The bathroom situation is also much better and I am definitely eating healthier because I can take the 10 minutes to make a real lunch.

      The biggest plus by far is a window to the outdoors. Also, despite the fact my pets drove me bonkers the first few days with their constant cuddle wants, they’ve settled down now and it is really relaxing having them around all day.

    36. Little Beans*

      Honestly, I kind of love working from home. I used to be anti-video conferencing because I do a lot of one-on-one conversations and I feel like they’re always better in person, but I’ve had to get over that. Basically everything else is a perk for me:
      – not commuting saves me about 90 minutes per day
      – I don’t have to pack/prepare my breakfast and lunch the day before, and I can make hot meals with as many ingredients as I want
      – my two puppies are my new officemates
      – I’m 7 months pregnant and can wear stretchy, comfy pants all day. I also haven’t put on real shoes in a week, I don’t think
      – being able to receive packages

    37. Stormy Weather*

      No shoes!

      Relaxed dress code, though I will put on light makeup for a video call (I hate video calls).

      More control over the ambient temperatures

      Better snacks

      Proper person-to-bathroom ratio (which in my case is 1:1)

      Lunchtime naps

      1. LunaMei*

        I forgot about no shoes! I am barefoot 100% of the time at home.

        Having my own bathroom is SUPER NICE.

        1. Kat in VA*

          This is late but SOCKS ALL THE TIME YEAH. I keep slippers under my desk (I wear business to business formal depending on the day) but I can’t usually shuffle around the office in those without commentary, so I can only wear them at my desk.

          At home? GLORIOUS leggings or yoga pants and NO BRA.

          Husband and I figured we were saving about $100/week on gas and another $600 or so a month on EZ pass tolls (along with his $125 parking fee). I’m stuffing money into savings as busily as I can.

    38. Jdc*

      Let’s just say doing anything one needs to do in your own bathroom, a stocked kitchen feet away, sweatpants!!!!!, no makeup or hair doing assuming you aren’t having to do video, pets being there, Postmates!, the commute, your office actually being a place you created to enjoy (aka your home) and not a cubicle.

      1. Jdc*

        Oh and Janet not overly excited asking you every morning how stop are. Stop it Janet, I’m not caffeinated yet.

        1. Jdc*

          You not stop. My phone is special these days. I switched to a smaller one and I’m adjusting.

    39. Nita*

      I haven’t spent this much time with my family since I went back to work after maternity leave! I’m lucky that I’m not the kids’ only caregiver right now, though, or I’d be going crazy trying to work while schools are closed. As it is, though – just perfect. I’m still feeling very anxious, but at least now I’m not wondering if I’ll get everyone sick because I’ve been on the subway. Also, the commute is exhausting even when life is normal, and I’m feeling much more energetic now that I’m not spending 2-3 hours each day traveling.

    40. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Two new thoughts:
      –No one wearing cologne by the bucket
      –I have a window. This week I have seen a cardinal, a bluebird, a pair of pileated woodpeckers eating (first I’ve ever seen!), and a pair of hawks mating. (!!)

    41. Skeeder Jones*

      I like to sing with the music so it’s just not something you can do in the office. I’ve been remote for over 2 years and I would miss it if I had to go into the office every day.

      Other perks: folding laundry while on conference calls (we do not do video calls), getting an early start on dinner, almost never needing to fill my gas tank, extra 2 hours of time each day where I’m not commuting

  14. Coffee Owlccountant*

    One week of WFH and I’ve learned that I’m really bad at working from home! I’m having a terrible time getting actual work done and maintaining focus. We’re in a part of the month/year where there’s less focused work going on and more project-based items, and I just can’t seem to get the juices flowing. I’m fortunately childless or it would be worse, I’m sure, but even in a best-case scenario like I have, I just can’t seem to do this.

    I’d love to hear from folks with strategies for how to maintain excellent productive work when you’re transitioning into WFH, and especially if you were a person who started out being bad at it.

    1. Gidget*

      I feel like at this point any reasonable person has to realize that productivity is going to decrease with everyone on telework. And I personally think that’s okay, but I know not everyone is okay with that. One trick I have used is to put my computer on airplane mode which helps prevent me from the distractions of the internet. Of course sometimes you need things on the internet, but if you have the opportunity to turn off your wifi for an hour it can help. Another trick is to break down the projects into discreet tasks and then just focus on completing one at a time. That way you will focus on little thing and feel accomplished.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        productivity is going to decrease with everyone on telework.

        I disagree that telework in inherently less productive. For people who need focused time to work on tasks, telework is probably more productive than in an office. It can be depending on the type of job, but you’re statement is simply echoing the bad boss who refuses to allow people to telework because he believes people won’t actually work unless watched.

        1. NW Mossy*

          I think what Gidget’s getting at is that the abrupt switch for many people who previously didn’t WFH is causing a broad dip as people figure out how to make it work and cope with changing conditions (having spouse/kids at home, lack of home office space, etc.). It’s absolutely true that certain types of work go really well with WFH and adapt swiftly, but others require a significant style change to be as effective as in-person.

          I’m definitely seeing a slump myself for a couple of reasons. First, I’m a people manager, so meetings are the bulk of my job and there’s an art to having effective ones virtually that I’m still refining. Also, the specific business area my team supports (bringing on new customers) is struggling because it’s really hard for our sales team to close deals with everyone being distracted by their own coronavirus response.

          Eventually this will rebound as a new normal gets established, but in the short term, there’s a lot of change to cope with and it does clip productivity somewhat.

          1. Gidget*

            Yes. Thank you. This is exactly what I meant. I think it is an adjustment everyone is having to make which might hinder productivity.

            1. Person from the Resume*

              Thanks. That’s true.

              And it is true that some jobs aren’t as possible from home.

              Also I know it had to be done, but everyone working from home now will strain unprepared networks. This isn’t how you should do.

            2. tangerineRose*

              I’ve been telecommuting for a long time, but this week has been rough. Knowing what’s going on has made it tough to focus.

        2. Gidget*

          Apologies. I didn’t mean to come off that way. I meant it solely because of the anxiety of the situation not the specifics of teleworking. I am more productive while teleworking. Also, I don’t think that everyone needs to be productive all the time.

        3. Mazzy*

          I just started working from home. I’m realizing I don’t have access to some systems so am doing stuff by hand that used to be able to finish via an upload or pressing a button. Also, the parts of my job that require people to email me stuff – they’re definitely taking much longer to email me, and I’m stopping projects because I’m not getting answers and then start something else, and have to go back to the previous project and re-focus and remember what I was doing, and it feels like a waste of time.

        4. Jdc*

          Ya I know my husband (even before) worked more from home. He starts earlier and ends later at home. He doesn’t take a lunch break other than soup and sandwich while working at his desk (his favorite lunch at home). He’s not worried about traffic so he isn’t as rushed to get out at a certain time.

      2. Old13oy*

        It’s not true that people are losing out on productivity – we objectively measure the work we do in our team and are completing more work more quickly. In our case, I think it’s because we all work from home 1 or 2 days a week, and thus have some amount of experience at it.

        Give it time to build a system – if WFH is new to you, it’s natural to get distracted. You just need to consciously engineer against those distractions.

      3. Panthera uncia*

        Yup, my productivity is in the toilet because I don’t have the equipment I need. I am normally a partial WFH person, so I was grouping my tasks by what I could easily accomplish at home and what I needed to do in the office on my giant double monitors. Now I find myself working much longer hours to accomplish the same amount of work, because chasing detailed graphics around a tiny laptop screen is a GD nightmare.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          My husband’s a computer hobbyist and videogame nut … and today he’s short one monitor because I connected it to my office laptop. Otherwise I would have brought one home from the office because yes, a big monitor really is a productivity tool.
          I wish I could have brought my sit/stand desk, or at least something to raise the height of my monitor without reference books. (Dad’s copy of Who’s Who is working hard this year!)

      4. Dancing Otter*

        It really depends on the specifics. Certain tasks are easier at the office, but still possible at home, just doing them a little differently.

        For example, sometimes it’s easier for me to cross-check similar sections of code (think option A or B, does the same thing but with different parameters) if I print hard copy rather than scrolling back and forth. Well, that’s fine and good with the big laser printer at the office, but not so practical with my little inkjet printer at home. So I need to use split screen or dual monitors. Doesn’t mean I can’t do the job, just less convenient.

        At home, though, nobody interrupts me just when I’m totally focused and can see the whole process clearly. There’s a kitchen with real food instead of vending machines in the far wing of the building. I have my very own bathroom, nearby. I can set the thermostat to whatever temperature I d___ well please. I can have any background music I want, as loud as I want, without headphones. And nobody is going to spray me with Lysol if I cough or sneeze.

        Just don’t get too comfortable swearing at the computer when something doesn’t work. It’s a hard habit to break when you go back into polite company.

      5. Cassie*

        I feel like things take longer while I’m WFH – kind of like molasses. Is it because the internet is “basic” and not the super high-speed internet we’re used to at work? I don’t know. But also, because I don’t have a printer at home, I’m just saving to pdf and filing it electronically. Better for the environment for sure, but there is just something somewhat satisfying with taking a printed piece of paper, sticking it in the folder, and filing it away that can’t be replicated by dragging a file to a folder and clicking the “X” in the corner.

    2. Please make it stop*

      I am distracted by anything shiny, so when I started working from home 2+ years ago, it was a tough transition, especially because I was starting a new function and there was not much to do once everything was set up until we had customers.

      I started making a daily list of what I need to do. For me, that visual really helps and I’ve trained myself that I can’t call it a day until everything is checked off. Sometimes, it’s OH MAN, I forgot I need to X at the end of the day and I have to work another hour until I’m done. Sometimes, it’s I have plenty of time to do X,Y, and Z today, so I’m going to read ALL the comments on AAM. I also look for training that will help in my job that I can do in slow times. For some reason, that’s easier for me to do when working from home.

      I also treat my workspace if it were a real office. I avoid it when I’m not working and when I am in the space, I work and try not to do anything that I wouldn’t want a coworker to see. Also, when I’m working, I stay in that space as much as possible and avoid the rest of the house so I’m not distracted by laundry, etc.

      I did read a meme this week about making up a coworker to blame things on (Karen was telling me stories about her cat again and now I’m behind. Dammit Karen), it might also help to think of Karen as the tattletale who will tell your boss EVERYTHING you’re doing that you shouldn’t be. YMMV.

      1. Kiwiii*

        Lists are how I’m making good progress as well. Unfortunately in my job, there’s a lot of quick tasks that will come up and need to be completed right then, so i make sure to add those to my list as well in case i’m not able to make much progress on the tasks I started with – I can see that I did the work.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      It really depends on your problem. I suggest make your home office as much like your office as possible and while you’re working pretend the only thing you can do is work or goof off like to used to do at work (i.e. surf office approved web sites)

      – Have a room/place where you work that’s not also where you play or relax.
      – Don’t put the TV on.
      – Don’t tell yourself I’ll just turn on the TV or start this chore or step away for a second
      – Do get up and walk outside for a minute or two. I assume you are not normally chained to your desk.

    4. (Former) HR Expat*

      One of the keys I’ve found is having a separate workspace if possible. That puts me in “work mode.” For me, it’s a card table with my laptop, monitor, and keyboard in the corner of my living room. When it’s break or lunch time, I’ll transition to the sofa. Keeping the boundaries has helped me focus. Also, getting dressed and ready like I would for a day in the office helps because I’m in my “work armor.”

    5. Ama*

      One thing that has worked for me when I’m having trouble maintaining focus (I actually did this initially when I was having an anxiety flare up when I was not working from home, but it works for both) is spending a few moments at the end of each workday (including Fridays) writing down 3-4 tasks to accomplish the next work day. These could be big things if you like, but I find it works best to break things down into simple components (“draft email to committee” and “send email to committee” as separate items, for example).

      Sometimes just getting myself kickstarted on a project will be enough to get me to do more work on it, but on days when my focus is really bad, the task list both keeps me from floundering around trying to think of what to do next, and gives me a record of what I actually have accomplished.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you normally store & edit files on a server, test out working with them on your hard drive.
      Self-contained documents usually work well. Anything that references external files with live links (FrameMaker, InDesign, etc.) will be trickier, so test before overwriting.
      For *shared* files you reference, make a read-only copy on your local drive and only go to the server copy when you need to make & save an edit.
      To keep track of which is the newest version, I use BeyondCompare from Scooter Software. It gives a color coded comparison of two folder structures, down to content comparison of files if needed.

    7. Delta Delta*

      Learning how to do it is as much a skill as the actual work. When I started I made sure I kept a schedule, made sure I wear actual clothes (jeans count; sweat pants don’t, although it’s different for everyone). I make sure I schedule breakfast and/or lunch breaks. I try to not spend non-work time in my workspace. I’m also someone who likes rewards, so I tend to make lists and set goals/rewards throughout a day. Like, “If I get these three tasks done I can walk to the mailbox.” That kind of thing.

    8. Little Beans*

      For me, it’s useful to have a designated space. I am fortunate enough to have a home office so this is easy but it could even just be that you designate a certain side of your dining table as the “work” spot. When I’m in my work spot, I’m working. When I need a break, I get up and move. When I’m doing non-work-related stuff on my laptop, I bring it somewhere else.
      I’m also trying to maintain normal work hours as much as possible. Some people on my team have had to really adjust their schedules, especially those who are now responsible for watching kids at home during the day – they’re doing a lot of work in the evenings. I am trying to be vigilant about logging in at 9am, and leaving at 6pm and not continuing to check email after that.

    9. Knitrex*

      When I transitioned to full time WFH it took me at least a week to adjust, and I didn’t have all the current events going on to distract me.

      Set up your home workspace to function just like your actual office (as much as you can anyway)

      If possible, place your IM or email on do not disturb.

      Schedule time in your calendar to work on long term projects

    10. Shirley Keeldar*

      Been working at home for almost two decades now (so my life is kind of…normal now? Which is weird!). I’m a big believer in chopping tasks up into small pieces and giving yourself daily assignments with breaks/rewards built in. Write 1000 words of this project and then go have lunch. Work on this other thing for 45 minutes and then take a 15 minute break. To-do lists for the day and week (so the daily to-do list has “1000 words of the Llama grooming guide” and the weekly to-do list has “5000 words of the Llama grooming guide”). Soooo satisfying when I get to Friday and can cross off both the daily and the weekly to-do!

  15. JKJK*

    Anyone have any tips on how to talk to my manager about how I am sort of losing it mentally right now? I’m in the Boston area, our entire team is remote since last Thursday, and while there has been a fair amount of leeway to getting everything up and running in terms of deadlines this past week, I’m really struggling in a way thats not easily explained anymore by “remote is difficult”. My mental health is just in shambles at this moment, and I keep creating estimates of when I’ll have work done and overshooting them by days.

    I’m hoping I can get back on track soon but honestly with everything going on it feels both selfish and dangerous to admit that Im not able to do my job well, when at least I have a full time salaried position that is keeping me employed when others aren’t even able to work. Having an anxiety disorder and a job at the same time in itself feels like such a massive privilege that I dont want to take time out of my manager’s (already overly full) schedule to whine about how I dont know how to do my job. But I also feel like I’m letting the rest of the team down in a critical moment. I KNOW others have it worse, I KNOW I should be able to make this work, but at the moment I’m not succeeding and I dont know how to communicate it.

    1. Old13oy*

      There’s a lot of stress/anxiety in the air right now – even my wife, who is normally unflappable, has been cracking up a bit because we’re:

      A. Unable to go out and do the things that normally sooth us
      B. Constantly receiving news about how bad things are in the world and in the economy

      I think it’s perfectly fine to communicate that you’re having a tough time with work right now because of all of the uncertainty in the world. The key is to focus on how that’s impacting your work and communicating what you’d like to do about that, like pushing back some non-essential projects

    2. Princess of Pure Reason*

      I’m having the exact same problem. Also in the Boston area, and already remote 40% of the time, now 100%. The switch to fully remote wasn’t too big a deal, but trying to stay on track mentally is a nightmare. My manager did check in yesterday, and asked how things were going, and I was honest that I’m working but everything it taking longer because it’s so hard to concentrate and focus. Plus, I was already swamped before anything changed. The other thing that isn’t helping (trying to be deliberately vague here) is that even if I finished all my work and get caught up in the next five minutes, those projects can’t start due to restrictions in place in an effort to redirect resources and keep people home. So a little piece of my brain knows that in some ways these deadlines are meaningless right now, and finishing today, tomorrow, or next week won’t make any difference. I’m known for being reliable and steady and generally unshakable, and I’m not doing well with that at all – and trying to not beat myself up, because that helps nothing. I was honest with my manager about the workload and the reasons for delays, took responsibility for it (it was hard to say but I felt better after I did) and laid out my plan for finishing my current projects as there are more are already lined up. It’s hard when you know you’re doing the best you can, but your best right now is sort of terrible.

      1. JKJK*

        Thank you its good to hear Im not alone in this. I wish I could say I didnt struggle with deadlines and time estimates already, but its unfortunately a (known) “needs improvement” area for me. Right now its gone entirely out the window; I had a thing I was supposed to finish up this week that I budgeted an hour and a half of yesterday morning to work on. It took me five hours.

        Can I ask what your “plan” looked like? Just laying out future deadlines? Can I also ask what “being honest” meant in this context (did you tell her you were stressed and why or just that you were behind?) I guess I’m trying to gauge how “honest” is too honest. Also, I feel like Im so overwhelmed that coming up with a plan thats realistic feels beyond me, let alone sticking to it, but I know I can’t say that (and I likely wont feel like that forever, especially if I get a chance to take a day or two)

        1. Princess of Pure Reason*

          I’m very fortunate to have a great direct supervisor who I can be honest with. I explained that I was swamped in general before anything changed (everyone knows this happens sometimes) had been trying to get caught up, when everything went sideways and my biggest hurdle was my own brain – being very distracted and it’s a challenge to stay on task. My job is very detailed oriented and right now I’m working through a mountain of complex writing – that’s all I have on my plate, no ‘easy’ projects. I updated the status of everything I have on my “to do” list in a general way “all in progress but not quite final” and gave any additional specifics I could as far as when I thought things would be final. I didn’t get any pushback, really just a thank you for the update and acknowledgement that this is very hard and everyone is struggling in their own ways. It was hard to say all that but at least it’s out there now. Hard mostly because I feel like I’m letting my team down by not being my usual reliable self, not because I’ve missed a specific deadline.

          I also work in healthcare (though not direct patient care) so I also can’t check out/take PTO right now because our department is fully operational and we are seeing specific projects related to Covid-19 that we fast track. That’s why my manager checked in – we’re evaluating our resources (people) to assess workloads and see where we’re at for new stuff. The best way to help in general, and support the hospitals and my coworkers, is to just keep working and try to keep the rest of the balls in the air as close to normal as possible.

          I made a list of daily self-care things to do, like go outside and get fresh air, meditate, exercise, play with my lazy cat. Usually do most of those on a regular day but now it’s a must do. For work, I’m breaking things down in the smallest possible units – writing one sentence at a time. I actually feel very motivated (despite not finishing my work) and fortunate to be in this position – easily fully remote, busy, and engaged in helping with a problem. It’s really “just” the brain weasels keeping me from focusing and staying on task, and I don’t have a solution right now other than concentrating on writing just that one next sentence…

          Extra socially distant Jedi hugs to all!

    3. Nita*

      It may be a good idea to let your manager know you’re struggling with deadlines. Do you have any ideas for what would help you, though? Maybe coming up with a plan to better manage what you’re doing will help. Would it help to extend your deadlines to something that’s more realistic for you now? Push back a few projects that aren’t urgent? Delegate some work to someone on your team who may be looking to pick up hours? Anyway, take it one day at a time and do what you can. It’s an anxious time even for those of us without diagnosed anxiety…

    4. Bubbles*

      Even when you are WFH, you need mental health breaks. Take a Mental Health Day. Turn your work off and give yourself time to do the self-care that you need. Maybe you need a few hours of uninterrupted reading or tv. Maybe you need time to exercise or even just go for a walk when the sun is shining.

      Let your boss know that you are struggling and are going to take a day to reset your mind frame.

    5. Purt's Peas*

      Boston area too. Here’s what I told my boss: “I’m putting a lot of energy toward managing my reactions to the corona crisis, and I have a lot less juice for work than I’d like. If losing a little productivity is the worst thing that happens to me then that’s great, but it means I’m doing less and I’m finding it tougher to concentrate.”

      This is basically just to illustrate that it’s possible to say something about this. I would tell your boss that this is a tough time, you’re finding that work is going over your estimates by a couple days, and ask how you should handle it.

      As to your self-recriminations in your last paragraph…shoulds are useless in a bizarre time like this. Others might have it worse, but you have it how you have it, and you deserve to ask for support. We’re humans and sometimes we need support. Someone else will need support from you, at some point; wouldn’t you want them to ask instead of suffering because others have it worse? And wouldn’t you want to be able to lend them a shoulder, without the feeling of your own foundations crumbling? It’s necessary to give help but it’s also necessary to ask for it. It’s not selfish and it’s not dangerous.

      Take care. Take walks. You’re not alone in this.

    6. SarahTheEntwife*

      Is right now a crunch time for your workplace, ignoring the chaos of moving to remote work in the middle of a crisis? If there’s any way to swing it, this sounds like an entirely justified reason to take a few days off, or maybe work some half days if that would be helpful. Many of your coworkers may be feeling the same way — are you close enough to them that you could coordinate each taking one day next week to fall apart? There’s no magic rule that says you “should” be able to make this work. You’re dealing with a global crisis, on top of an anxiety disorder, on top of having to completely reconfigure how you do your job. It is entirely normal to be in shambles.

      I’m only able to write all coherent because I’ve apparently reached the crisis stage where I get *really responsible* and productive in an effort to Do Something. At some point it’s going to wear off and I anticipate having to take a couple days off myself in the next week or two to eat brownies and watch soothing TV until I can contemplate doing anything more complicated.

    7. TexasRose*

      Okay, I’m just going to point out the pachyderm here: The problem is not you’re working from home, it’s that you don’t whether the world (as you know it) is ending.
      I come from a slightly different perspective, because I’ve almost always lived on the coast (either Texas Gulf coast or on a barrier island on the Florida Atlantic coast), so It Is a Part of Life that, any year, Fate may decide to wipe out my home.
      And by wipe out, I mean I have to evacuate my home (mandatory, since the house is only 4′ above sea level, and is located between two bodies of water) and I don’t know until I get back whether the house will be standing unscathed (though covered by lots of palm fronds), or there will be only a concrete slab hidden under 18″ of sand and silt.
      However, a hurricane party/evacuation is limited: Dorian was a bruiser because it took almost a week for it to move on. For most hurricanes, you take a coupla days’ break from work (and visit relatives out of the path), and then return, and if the worst happens you know help will be coming – maybe not enough, maybe not right away, but folks will help, and you know what it means to rebuild. You can see a future after a storm.
      With the pandemic, we’re looking at weeks to months of disruption, with no clear understanding of what life will look like afterwards (after we have a vaccine and effective treatments, when Covid-19 is just another part of life, when you are truly blessed if any of your grandparents are still living). It’s hard to remain professional when you fear the world is ending in slow motion.
      So, here’s a few suggestions adapted from my hurricane preparedness toolkit:
      1. Name it to Tame it. Try journaling. Draw a picture with lots of reds and blacks. Under the dark of night, go out in your back yard, dig a hole, whisper all your fears into that hole, then fill it up again. Something, anything, but: Acknowledge the fear. Put it in its place.
      2. Acknowledge you won’t be 100% effective (unless you are someone who can bury themselves in work, and you have work in which to hide). Decide what professionalism and good sense indicate you owe to yourself, to your employer, to your coworkers; make a plan, then work that plan.
      3. Treat yourself well. Eat well, sleep well, exercise, get some sunshine every day. Do something fun. Treat yourself to a calming manatee, or cute kitties, or whatever. Try to be kind to someone every day. Turn off the news for a while every day, and strictly limit the amount of time you spend scouring the news media.
      4. Make emergency plans:
      a. What’s your support plan if you DO get sick? (and not just with the pandemic, but with the seasonal flu, with chronic problems, etc.) Is your will up to date? Do you know where your medical history and insurance documents are?
      b. What’s your support plan if you AVOID getting sick? How often do you need to get supplies? etc. (Maybe now is the time to learn to cook )
      c. In the short term, who can you help? In your circle of friends, who do you need to reach out to, to provide emotional support to? logistical support? etc.
      d. Can you help your neighbors with THEIR support plan, esp. those who may need more help than others? (Look around on YouTube for suggestions of how to create a no-contact contact list, and how to help in your neighborhood.)
      OOps – I now return your highjacked thread to its original topic.

  16. Forced social distancing*

    I got fired last week (just as our office was shifting to work from home indefinitely) after a year and a half of working for a nit-picking, bullying boss. It’s not a surprise, it had been coming and I’d been trying to get out for six months, with no luck. It’s completely warped my sense of what I’m able to do and I’m sure come through in interviews. There are lots of career resources out there for people who have been fired, but anyone have any personal advice of how they got through a similar situation, or dealt with sudden unemployment in the midst of a recession?

    1. JohannaCabal*

      In 2009 I was laid off in January. Then, in March I took a job I was fired from in July. The firing shook me up more than the layoff!

      (In hindsight, I should not have taken the three-month job.)

      The situation then was clearly different. I’m not proud to say it, but I will admit I lied on a few apps—presented it as a contract job or that I was still there. Eventually, I got a one-month temp job via an Agency. Then I found a permanent job in January in a totally different field for lower pay. That job really just needed people to fill seats, and I applied using a resume that did not show the three-month job but did show the one-month temp job.

      Sorry for the novel! I would recommend freelance opportunities you can do from home for the time being.

    2. LunaLena*

      Sorry to hear! :c I was working as a contractor for special projects when the recession started in 2009, and so when the corporation decided it was time to tighten the belt, all non-essential projects were put on hold and I was released from my contract. I spent the next eight months or so being unemployed, and part of what got me through that time was staying on a 8-5 schedule – mornings were spent searching for and applying to jobs, afternoons were spent learning new skills through free teaching aids (self-teaching books from the library, Lynda, etc) or doing freelance work.

      Is there anywhere you can go to practice interview skills? Since so many people are at home now, maybe you could even get a random person to help you out. Doing stuff online with random people is a thing right now, to help people feel connected to others. In Japan people are starting chats on Zoom (a teleconferencing app) that anyone can join so that they can drink with others, maybe something like that could help?

      Good luck, I hope things get better for you!

    3. Pretzelgirl*

      If you are in desperate need of income, Amazon has some WFH opportunities right now. Also a lot of states are being pretty great about unemployment. SoI would def apply if you haven’t already.

    4. 867-5309*

      I started my career mere months after 9/11 AND was laid off in 2008. I’ve been laid off twice besides that time and while we said it was “mutual,” I was also basically fired another time. (I’ve taken some risks in my career…) :)

      This circumstance is a bit different than those because you can’t get out and network or meet people at a coffee shop. Instead of that, most industries have leaders and influencers who are doing live chats, webinars, etc. Find those for yours and join them. Job search but don’t go crazy applying to everything – use this has a chance to RUN TO and not RUN FROM. Think about what you want to do, polish your resume, and so forth. Do other practical things like make decisions on health insurance, apply for unemployment and so forth.

      I felt embarrassment and shame – it’s a common feeling. Don’t wallow and know that you’re certainly not alone.

    5. Marshbilly, not Hillbilly*

      I was laid off in 2011, by a horrible bullying boss who gave conflicting instructions and screamed into employee’s literal faces when angry. I had a rough time separating my treatment by my boss and my feelings of worth as an employee and a person, honestly. What was helpful for me (therapist’s suggestion) was to remember that ex-boss’s feelings are not facts – I was a smart, hardworking employee, but I worked for an asshole who treated everyone like crap. And no matter my skillset or intelligence, that all people deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.

      I also read a book, The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry (by Jon Ronson) that helped me see that ex-boss was probably a literal psychopath and it really wasn’t me.

      I’m so sorry you are going through this – please accept internet hugs and kitty head bonks from us (me + 4 cats).

    6. Drama Llama*

      I was fired after three months from a very toxic workplace (the job was advertised every three months should have been a red flag but I was so desperate to break into that industry). Looking back, they did me a huge favour because in three months, they really did a number on my self esteem and messed with my head. So I am not surprised after a year of toxic management, your confidence is low. I was fortunate to pick up temp work with a great employer (although not in my desired field). They thought I was the bees knees and working under good management in a healthy environment helped me realise that the problem was not actually me. They gave me a fantastic reference which landed me an entry level position in a company within my chosen field. So I guess I am recommending picking up temp or short contact work until a permanent position is offered. I definitely did not appreciate being unemployed or fired at the time but I am very glad it happened.

  17. How to respond*

    Hello! I’m an associate attorney and my first year hours were not great – partially the fault of the group I work with for not delegating well and partially my fault for not being explicit with them about “here are my hours, I need more work.” I had my semi-annual review yesterday, and the hours were addressed, which I knew would happen, and I got the same comment that I did six months ago, which was along the lines of “sometimes you have to work nights and weekends and that’s just how it is.” I think my reviewers think that I could be pushing myself more, but I do work nights and weekends when there’s a closing or I have a lot on my plate. I actually love coming in on weekends because it’s quiet and I get so much more done without my phone ringing all the time. The problem is that for large swaths of last fiscal year, there wasn’t anything for me to do on nights/weekends.

    Both times this has happened, I want to say something in the moment, but stop myself because it feels too…defensive? And like I’m trying to shift the blame away from me. Is there a way to respond if this comes up again that doesn’t seem like a knee-jerk “am not!” retort.

    (I acknowledge that I’m probably over-thinking this.)

    1. Fikly*

      It sounds like responding in the moment is hard for you, but can you come back a few days later and say something like, “I’ve been thinking about what you said regarding x, and these are my thoughts?”

    2. RC Rascal*

      Try this:

      In my review we have discussed that I am not billing enough hours. I agree with your concerns, and share them myself. Up until now (key phrase there), here is what I have been trying to do to solve the situation (list examples). Since those steps have not provided a satisfactory solution, can you please help me with a solution that will solve this concern? I’m not sure what else I should be doing.

      Then close your mouth and listen to their response.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        This is a great script. Great great great. Starting with agreeing will not come across as defensive.

    3. Coverage Associate*

      It sounds like your practice is feast or famine. Lots of legal practices are. Mine isn’t.

      So first, I would confirm that. Follow up with whatever supervisor you’re closest to and say something like, “My experience has been that the work flow is very irregular. Sometimes there’s tons. Sometimes it’s light. Was that also your experience when you were at my level (or with other associates)?” Then also ask if there’s something you can work on when business is light.

      And while I hate daily time entry, it can help when you are very busy to have that quantified for the partners.

    4. M. Albertine*

      Do you have project time budgets? In the public accounting field, I found that very helpful to manage my workload. On a weekly basis, I would look at my project list and while looking at deadlines to see what needed to be done when, I also looked at the time commitments and sketched out the timing. By doing that, I could see when there was feast or famine, and could either push things around to do some preliminary work on an upcoming project or be able to tell a supervisor “I’m going to have some time to fill in a couple weeks, could you look for something I could work on?” Then they could reassign work, or call up some clients to push them on getting information in, or any number of things so that I wasn’t twiddling my thumbs. That way, your billable hours is an ongoing conversation instead of twice a year, and you have a lot more data in terms of discussing/defending your time spent.

  18. Lay-Off Etiquette*

    I was laid off yesterday morning via phone (working from home). I was told on the phone that yesterday was my last day, and I would be getting no severance and my PTO was not paid off. I was available for any phone calls until 5:00 PM yesterday to talk about the transition, and actually messaged my coworkers and direct supervisor, but nobody called me.

    Today, the company CEO texted me that TODAY is actually my last day, and he wants me to come in to meet with him. He said I had to come in because “he’s still paying me for today, and it is a professional courtesy.” I also got asked to do a phone call on Monday, which I politely declined.

    I told him that I would come in this afternoon, but that I was not working today since I wrapped everything up yesterday and that I would use a day of my PTO if necessary (since it’s not getting paid out).

    He insisted I come in this morning (it was more convenient for him). I said I was unavailable this morning, and would come in at 2:00 PM.

    I have only been in this position for 6 months, and was laid off for downsizing. I’m trying to be as professional as possible and not burn bridges, but I also thought it was unreasonable for him to expect me to be available when I was laid off yesterday morning.

    Am I being unreasonable? Is it normal for an employer to lay you off, not provide any severance or financial help of any kind, and then expect you to continue working after being laid off?

    1. CatCat*

      No, it’s not normal. I would refuse to go in. What on earth does he need a face-to-face meeting for? That is an inconvenience to you and not consistent with public health guidelines. I’d just go with the, “I’m sorry, it won’t be possible for me to come in.”

      I think you could still bow out despite saying you’d come in earlier. “In light of the fact that I wrapped everything up yesterday and public health guidelines, it won’t be possible for me to come in this afternoon at 2:00 pm after all. I am available by phone, however, and I’ll call you at that time.”

      Also, they are a-holes for not paying out your PTO. I assume you live somewhere where such a payout is not legally required. Nonetheless, paying you out the PTO is the bare minimum of decency they could do for you, but instead they’re not doing that and making these weird “you have to come in” power plays. No. Just no.

      1. Lay-Off Etiquette*

        I live in North Carolina. I just looked it up, and it is a bit unclear whether they are required to pay it out or not. Anyway, it wouldn’t be a lot of days – maybe like 5 – so I’m not sure it’s worth the threat or legal battle.

          1. CatCat*

            You could check your state’s labor department or labor commission web site and see if you can find info there.

            In my state, you file wage claims against your employer directly with the labor commission. The state then looks into it. You don’t have the threaten anything or bring a court case. Maybe your state has a similar process?

            It may be you are not entitled to any payout, but if If you think those 5 days are worth your time to investigate a little more, you’ve got nothing to lose.

            Really sorry you’re going through this!

        1. Marthooh*

          And here’s the newly normal advice to apply for unemployment benefits immediately. Your state may pay out for those days even if your company doesn’t have to, but only if you tell them you need it.

    2. AppleStan*

      I really don’t think you’re being unreasonable…and I think the bridge is burned. I also don’t think you’re the person that burned the bridge though. Your company did.

      I would say use the PTO, don’t go in at all, unless you think there is some reason that you might actually be able to keep your job if you go in, and if you, you know, *want* to stay at this job. If none of those reasons apply though, I would enjoy your PTO.

      I suspect in the long run, being laid off during this time won’t have as much of a negative impact on job searching as it would pre-COVID-19. Also, I would write down and document everything regarding the timeline, because you want to make sure that if for some reason you are eligible for unemployment later on, they can’t turn around on you and say you were a no-show.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      Nope. You are being reasonable to expect you to continue working after being laid up; they are not. I suspect in these trouble financial times that being laid off without severance or financial help of any kind will not be unusual and wasn’t even that shocking before. Not paying out your PTO seems unfair to me.

      It does sound like, though, whoever told you yesterday was your last day was wrong and today was meant to be your last day. That seems like a mistake/confusion that makes your story messier since it does sound like you’re getting paid for today.

    4. Lemon Ginger Tea*

      (posted in the duplicate comment further down, copied here)
      What a dick move, at least get the details right when you lay a person off.

      Considering it’s a downsize and not something you did wrong, it may be worthwhile to suck it up so that you don’t burn bridges. But keep in mind that it’s for your own connections down the road, not because this employer deserves your courtesy.

      Re: accrued PTO, laws vary by state as to whether employers are obligated to pay out your PTO. Don’t take their word for it, make sure they’re giving you accurate information.

      Sorry this happened. :-/

    5. always a nurse*

      I second the notion to check with your state’s Labor Board. In California, your employer must have your final check ready for you on your last day – including any hours you worked that day – and PTO time is also payable. (The State considers PTO time as “earned” time, while sick time is not… so if you have separate vacation and sick day accounts, you have to get paid for the vacation time, but not the sick time. When employers started lumping it all together, the Labor Board said it was all earned time.) If that final check is incorrect, you get a day’s pay for every day it takes them to correct it. I once got a five figure check from an ex-employer because they didn’t pay me for a mandatory 4 hour class held the week before they let me go. Instead of just paying me the 4 hours, they decided to “fight it” and lost.

    6. Mazzy*

      My blood is boiling. What exactly does he need to say that you have to have a meeting?! And not even 2 weeks severance? Maybe you need to ask for it again, even though they’ll probably say no? For what it’s worth, I was laid off once, after six months coincidentally, and I got two weeks severance.

  19. HannahS*

    Could we gather some tips on how to transition to working from home, from people who’ve been doing it a while?

    Here are some of my own questions.
    1) How do you structure your work day?
    2) How do you avoid feeling lonely?
    3) How do you shield yourself from distraction?
    4) If you have a small space without a dedicated office, how do you mentally draw divisions between work and leisure?

    I have a terrible track record when it comes to large blocks of unstructured time. My medical school has switched to remote learning for the last few weeks of clinical rotation + the weeks of teaching in advance of the licensing exam, so it’s not employment, but I know many people are making a similar transition.

    1. Sarah*

      I have worked from home for 8 years. Thankfully, I have a dedicated office, but if you don’t, I suggest setting up a dedicated space if possible. Don’t just sit on the couch. You’ll want a table and chair.

      I know it’s a cliche, but get dressed. You don’t have to put on a suit or dress, but throw on some jeans and a sweatshirt and get out of your yoga pants or sweats. It makes a difference mentally.

      I also set my office hours, and when I’m done for the day, I (try to) close the door and walk away. Don’t keep checking email.

      As for being isolated, I’ve got lots of people around now, so that’s not an issue for me. You can use slack, or if you have meetings, use the camera to feel more connected.

      Distraction – that’s a hard one these days. I find the timer/Pomodoro (sp?) thing helpful. Give yourself time and space to check FB/social media/AAM, but then turn it off or close the window. Disable notifications – visual and auditory and turn your phone face down, so you can’t see things pop up. Close down email if you’re working on something so you don’t see notices arrive. Give yourself permission to be a little more distracted these days – I really liked Alison’s post yesterday. We’re all on this same crazy ride together.

      1. JessicaTate*

        Ditto to all of this. I’ve worked from home for 12 years, and these were all critically important:
        –Dedicated Space
        –Get showered and dressed – jeans and sweater is my go-to
        –Do morning pre-work routine, and then “commute” to the “office.” Then the workday starts just like at the office. At the end of the day, I shut down, walk away.
        –The TV stays off. Period. Housework/laundry don’t happen during the workday (maybe at lunch). You’re not at home, you’re at work. [I think this is particularly important if you are prone to distraction. I know others are more lax.]

        I worked for several years out of a one-bedroom NYC apartment. I set up a small table/desk in a corner of my living room, and that was my office. Even though it didn’t have walls, it was a specific space that was “work” and helped me get in the mindset. It was an important part of the mix.

        Distractions/Focus – Partly it took discipline and imagining I wasn’t at home. But also scheduling/deciding what a chunk of time was for in advance helped. “I’m going to spend the next 2 hours writing the TPS reports.” And then do it. Turn off email and chat if necessary.

        Isolation – Having some sort of IM/chat system with colleagues as always been helpful. It’s the equivalent of the watercooler or poking your head over the cube wall. And video meetings when you meet, even quick 1:1s. Use video. It’s so much more connecting than phone. Zoom is great and free for 1:1 calls.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’ve been working from home full-time for about 8 months, so not terribly long, but I like routines.

      1) How do you structure your work day?
      – I do my usual morning routine: walk the dog, exercise, shower, get dressed (in actual pants), eat breakfast
      – I sit down at my desk between 8:20 and 8:30, NO EARLIER, and power up
      – I work through until 10am, then I have a cup of coffee
      – Lunch when I get hungry, usually noon on the dot. I try to get up and eat in the living room or at the kitchen island. I take 30 minutes when it’s busy, more than that when it’s slow, but I do it.
      – Walk the dog at about 2pm, for about 15 minutes, depending on workload
      – Shut down and power off at 5:30 if I can, no later than 6 (unless I’m on a client call)

      2) How do you avoid feeling lonely?
      – I participate in a performance-based hobby and my group meets one or two evenings a week, so I do that (except now, for obvious reasons, and it blows)
      – When I take the dog out, I chat with the doorman or any neighbors in my building
      – I text friends throughout the day
      – Sometimes I take the dog and work in the lobby of my building, but… that’s shut down now. Same with coffee shops.

      3) How do you shield yourself from distraction?
      – I listen to music or podcasts or I stream familiar TV shows– the noise helps me focus
      – I don’t beat myself up if I do get distracted
      – I pick things to focus on when I know I need a distraction– laundry, letting a loaf of bread rise, that kind of thing. If I know that I have to get up in 20 minutes to put the load of clothes in the dryer, I concentrate better

      4) If you have a small space without a dedicated office, how do you mentally draw divisions between work and leisure?
      – Don’t focus on mental separation, because I think that’s really hard– focus on physical. Try to get some kind of physical boundary. Even a dedicated desk chair works– you get out of the chair at the end of the day and you don’t sit in it unless you’re working

    3. Two Dog Night*

      For the record, I usually work in PJ’s in the morning and get dressed before lunch, and that works for me.

      At the start of every day I go through my to-do list and sketch out approximately what times I’ll be working on what projects. It doesn’t always happen that way, but it means that at any given time I know what I’m supposed to be focusing on, which helps avoid distractions. And I take a full hour at lunch–having dogs to walk helps with this. :-) At the end of the day I shut down entirely; I usually do one last e-mail check on my phone around 8pm because I work with people in Asia, but I try not to do much work after 6:30 or so. It’s always tempting to think of one last thing to do, but when that happens I add it to tomorrow’s list and forget about it until then.

      To help with the isolation, I try to chat with coworkers about non-work things two or three times a day, like I would in an office. It helps that most of us have worked together 10+ years, and we’re all remote. Don’t feel bad about taking some social time here and there.

  20. Flaxseed*

    I’m at the BEC stage with my coworker, “Sally.” Sally is Admin and has been at the company for 5 years, while I’ve been there for a few months. She is *always* correcting me. At times, she has a point, but it’s usually something so minor. (ie: I’ll say “the car” and she’ll correct me and say, “the BLUE car.”)

    It has no bearing on our work and we’re not in the same position.

    One day my coworker went to pick up a prescription and then go to lunch and someone stopped by looking for him. I just said that they were out to lunch, because I didn’t want to share private info that they were picking up a prescription.

    Sally of course had to interject with, “Actually, he went to pick up a prescription and then go to lunch.”

    She’s always doing stuff like this and I don’t know how to respond.

    Is there a way to tactfully handle this? Have any of you dealt with people like this? Do they ever stop this behavior?

    1. The Rural Juror*

      Wow…that sounds like…a lot. Is Sally usually a very talkative person? Like the kind of person who seems like they can’t go a few minutes without being heard? I know people like that and it drives me insane. They’re usually the interrupters in group conversation…like the ones that will steal a story, so to speak.

      I have a client like that and I literally can’t finish a sentence. I’ll bring something up in order to segue into giving information without seeming so dry. For example, “A lot of times in this situation people like to do this, and that’s because…” and she’ll cut me off and say, “Oh! Yes, I’ve seen people do that! I think it’s so cool, I’ve even thought about doing it this way…” and have scatterbrained thoughts. She won’t let me give a vital piece of information about WHY it’s done the way it’s done, and a lot of times it’s hard to transition back to that subject because she’s bouncing around. Meetings with her are very unproductive and take FOREVER.

      That’s not exactly what you’re going through, but I’ve started to realize it seems like my client is insecure about her decisions and that insecurity manifests in non-stop talking. I can’t exactly correct her, because I don’t want to be rude or hurt a client’s feelings! Especially one that seems sensitive…

      Maybe Sally is also insecure and it manifests as correcting people to make it seem like she’s the one who knows what’s up. I’m not sure what advice to give you about that…especially considering you’re relatively new to that workplace. But I feel for you. It can be very frustrating…and you end up in the BEC mindframe. Agh!

      1. MsSolo*

        I had a coworker who did that – she’d tell you the same thing five different ways because she wasn’t confident you would believe her. Luckily, she was generally an affable and pleasant person, so most people just learned to tune it out (and make sure if they started a conversation with her they had time to finish it!)

      2. PJM*

        I worked with someone that sounds exactly like Sally. People like that NEVER change. But it is going to get to the point where she is going to interfere in something that really angers you and you will snap at her. It is inevitable. So don’t every share any information with her and try your best to keep her in her lane saying ‘I got this.’ whenever possible’ I would be direct and tell her you don’t appreciate her corrections. I wouldn’t worry about hurting her feelings, look how much she is affecting your feelings!

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        That sounds like a really good way to handle it actually! Broken record-style, utterly bland, “Sally, why did you say that?” or “Sally, what was the purpose of that?” over and over again, whenever it happens. Let *her* get sick of how you respond for a change.

    2. Kes*

      I think it would be worth talking to her about it after you finish the conversation. “Hi Sally, could you please not jump into my conversations when I am talking to someone”

    3. Former Retail Manager*

      As for whether people like this ever stop the behavior, in my experience, it depends on their age. If they are older and at a lower level career wise, with limited or no room for advancement, I don’t know that they’ll ever stop. Old dog, new tricks and all that. Everyone I’ve ever dealt with that behaved this way seemed to do so because they wanted to feel important/valued and they did so by making sure that they corrected people as if to say “see how valuable I am because I can provide so much detail/more accurate info, etc.” If they aren’t older, you might have a chance. And if this person really wants to move up in their career (regardless of age), you may want to point out that this type of behavior won’t serve them well and will lessen their chances of promotion. Basically, unless their correction has a real effect/consequence, they need to shut it.

      Regardless of age, you could have a kind conversation and point out the behavior and ask them not to do it. Ideally it would be in the moment. I think the prescription scenario would have been a good opportunity to pull her aside and tell her that you didn’t want to put your coworkers business out there and ask if she’d considered that he may want to keep that private. I’m personally a bit more abrasive, so if I said “the car” and she said “the blue car” I’d probably say, what does it matter? Why are you nitpicking my language? Or why are you sharing co-workers business? But that’s just me.

      Quite honestly, you’re new, and as annoyed as you may be, I think that at this point, you need to grin and bear it, at least until you have the lay of the land. I’ve found that admins can have strange (disproportionate) amounts of influence, so I’d be careful about taking a stand over something that’s really just annoying and has no real consequence.

    4. Leo*

      Hmmm. I had a situation somewhat similar to this. A coworker would make passive-aggressive remarks when I went to the bathroom, like, “Leaving already?” And one day, I just looked at her and said, “I don’t appreciate that.” She was flabbergasted and stopped doing it. Did we have a great relationship? No. But I got that particular behavior to stop.

      In this case, I probably would have said exactly what I was thinking, “Well, yes, but I didn’t get the impression he wanted that information spread around.”

      It also seems like she thinks you’re in competition with each other or something. Maybe you could try to engage in some friendly small talk to make the relationship less adversarial?

      1. Flaxseed*

        I’ve tried small talk- sometimes it works and she backs off, other times it doesn’t matter. (Even if it works for *that day*, the next day we’re back to square one…)

    5. Batgirl*

      This is something I’d respond with a couple of different options:
      “Yes, thank you Sally. As I was saying, he is out to lunch.” (This one doesn’t sound like much but it even works on show-off teens because it ignores everything they’ve said and you take the conversation right back.)
      “Sorry, I don’t understand the significance? What difference does the car colour make?
      “Well that’s essentially what I just said” + let it lie really awkwardly.
      “Is that a meaningful difference Sally?” Or
      “Could you not? It’s really distracting when you interrupt with minor details”.

      But I would start with mild and not go strong unless she’s impervious to hints.

      1. Gary*

        I’ve been through hell at work with a passive aggressive colleague. I’ve learned to just ignore them and realise that the are just total idiots and not relevant – it’s hard – it took me at least a year to get to that stage but try and think how ridiculous they are. Seriously. Take care

    6. Thankful for AAM*

      I’d work on a couple of phrases that can pop out when needed:
      – Yes, I figured the x (picking up a prescription, going to the bathroom then going to bosses office, etc) was private information and best left out of the convo
      – that correction seems important to you, does it impact our work/change the meaning?
      – yes, that is more correct, and somehow, not that relevant
      Ok, not the last one!

      Good luck!

    7. Shirley Keeldar*

      “True, but not actually relevant.” Respond this way every time.

      Okay, maybe don’t, because it’ll come across as a bit hostile…but man, I’d be tempted. How annoying.

  21. Lay-Off Etiquette*

    Reposting because I put it in the wrong thread (sorry).

    I was laid off yesterday morning via phone (working from home). I was told on the phone that yesterday was my last day, and I would be getting no severance and my PTO was not paid off. I was available for any phone calls until 5:00 PM yesterday to talk about the transition, and actually messaged my coworkers and direct supervisor, but nobody called me.

    Today, the company CEO texted me that TODAY is actually my last day, and he wants me to come in to meet with him. He said I had to come in because “he’s still paying me for today, and it is a professional courtesy.” I also got asked to do a phone call on Monday, which I politely declined.

    I told him that I would come in this afternoon, but that I was not working today since I wrapped everything up yesterday and that I would use a day of my PTO if necessary (since it’s not getting paid out).

    He insisted I come in this morning (it was more convenient for him). I said I was unavailable this morning, and would come in at 2:00 PM.

    I have only been in this position for 6 months, and was laid off for downsizing. I’m trying to be as professional as possible and not burn bridges, but I also thought it was unreasonable for him to expect me to be available when I was laid off yesterday morning.

    Am I being unreasonable? Is it normal for an employer to lay you off, not provide any severance or financial help of any kind, and then expect you to continue working after being laid off?

    1. Lemon Ginger Tea*

      What a dick move, at least get the details right when you lay a person off.

      Considering it’s a downsize and not something you did wrong, it may be worthwhile to suck it up so that you don’t burn bridges. But keep in mind that it’s for your own connections down the road, not because this employer deserves your courtesy.

      Re: accrued PTO, laws vary by state as to whether employers are obligated to pay out your PTO. Don’t take their word for it, make sure they’re giving you accurate information.

      Sorry this happened. :-/

  22. Almost Academic*

    What strategies worked to help “course correct” for those of you who used to be underperformers?

    The last few years have kicked my behind on a personal level, and my professional work (grad student in a lab) has definitely suffered. It’s impacted the entire time I’ve been in my lab, so they’ve never known me as someone who can actually achieve. I also didn’t have the best work habits before this, so it’s not a problem that can entirely be blamed on shifts in my personal life and academic demands.

    I’m specifically struggling with constantly missing deadlines, and letting work pile up when I feel that I have too much of it to manage. It’s hard to motivate myself to keep going when I see an endless pile of stuff to get done. Anyone have tips on how they were able to pull themselves back on track? Especially if you’ve managed to do this in an academic environment. Or, folks who always make deadlines, what strategies do you use for keeping organized and making sure this happens?

    1. Academic struggler*

      Grad school is extremely difficult time. Academic work is extremely difficult. So, please, don’t blame yourself so much. It’s more normal to struggle with it than not.

      The first thing to check is mental health. Too many people blame their mythical ‘laziness’ for their missed deadlines instead of undiagnosed ADHD, untreated depression, and anxiety. And let’s be honest, who in academia doesn’t have at least one of the three?

      CBT as anxiety treatment helped me to get out of perfectionism paralysis and to stop over-planning (that used to result in me getting crushed under unrealistic commitments). I still battle anxiety and that constant drive to over-do stuff (to over-plan, to over-acheive, to over-correct). But CBT helps.

      There is a brief exercise to start doing stuff, if you are interested. You first focus on every reason why you shouldn’t do the stuff, however silly that reason sounds. You do that for 5 mins. Then you rest for another 5. Then again focus on the reasons. Then rest. You should do it until you feel the anxiety subside. Usually, 3 repeats is enough. Then you work for a bit (like 45 mins) and then you reward yourself.

      1. Dr.KMnO4*

        I second the suggestion to check mental health. As someone who was diagnosed with ADHD after grad school, I can say that it definitely affected my work, both quantity and quality. If I’d been able to get a diagnosis and treatment during grad school I believe that I wouldn’t have struggled nearly as much.

        Even with medication, organization and task management don’t come easily to me, so I make very detailed to-do lists which help me stay on top of things. I try to stay away from very broad items because then I feel like it’s too daunting to start. Instead I stick to smaller tasks that are part of the larger item so that I feel like I have a place to start.

    2. MsSolo*

      When there’s a massive pile to get through, sometimes it can help to start with the stuff that came in most recently, even though it feels counter-intuitive. If you can get some current things off your plate, you’ll feel more productive and less overwhelmed, and then you can look at the oldest things and decide if they’re still worth prioritising at all – sometimes you’ll find the deadlines are too long past or someone else picked it up, and its easier to let go of them when you have something you’ve accomplished under your belt, instead of falling into a shame spiral.

    3. Kes*

      I would suggest making a list of the things you need to do, adding when they need to be done and prioritizing them, based on importance and deadline. Then you can look at that list and estimate how much you realistically think you will be able to do within a certain timeframe. Either you’ll realize you can get done the things which most need it and can commit to that smaller amount, or if you think you can’t you’ll be in a better position to go to your boss and say ‘a, b and c need to get done by this time but realistically I think I’ll only be able to get to a and b’. That way, your boss can ensure the priorities are aligned, tell you it’s okay if c slips or get someone to help. Worst case, even if your boss is totally unhelpful, you at least have done what you can and flagged the risk for them.

    4. Koala dreams*

      When I feel overwhelmed, I list 3 things and tell myself that I only need to do those three things today. It’s a little white lie to get myself started. Out of those things, one is something super easy and quick, the other two are regular work tasks. Often the hardest is to get started, so it’s helpful to just find some easy tasks. And if it’s a bad day, well, having done 3 small tasks is better than nothing.

      If you have trouble prioritize, you can talk about that with your boss. Ask for strategies to help you prioritize. When there’s a lot of work to do, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed, and your boss can help you in the right direction.

      Also, I tell myself that it’s a good thing that there is always more work to do. That’s why I and my co-workers stay employed. A positive spin, if you will.

    5. deesse877*

      This is not practical advice, and it comes very late, but I found Brandon Taylor’s novel _Real Life_ to be an extremely validating look at these issues. (Also, the protagonist seduces the hottest person in the cohort, so the recognition is balanced with wish-fulfillment.)

  23. hbc*

    Kind of random, but: Does anyone else wish it was socially acceptable to run at work?

    There’s something about a long walk down an empty hallway (especially common these days) that really makes me want to break into a light jog. Some days I do a lot of back and forth, and it just seems like I’m lighting time on fire. I’ll even sometimes pretend like I’m in a rush to get away with it, and if I’m here after hours, all bets are off. How big a weirdo am I?

    1. Policy Wonk*

      We used to have a group that ran the stairs at lunch-time, but not in the halls. Of course, until recently it was very unusual for the hallways to be empty.

      1. WellRed*

        As someone whose office is just on the other side of the wall from the stairwell this makes me want to scream.

    2. Lore*

      I frequently fight the temptation to do cartwheels. (Which would probably end disastrously since I haven’t tried one since I was about 12.)

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I’m glad to hear I am not the only one who has wanted to do cartwheels down hallways. Sometimes my brain switches it up and for some reason the urge to somersault down the hallway pops in.

        There’s times I’m very glad I have a private office because I have taken my lunch break and just danced around. I think it’s just part of getting the fidgets and sick of sitting for so long, glaring at a database that no one uses correctly.

      2. Brunch with Sylvia*

        My walking-buddy and I once each did a cartwheel in an empty basement hallway at 0600. It was exhilarating! Life is short: Do it if you can.

      3. Employee of the Bearimy*

        I used to dance down empty hallways at my office until I realized the security cameras were picking me up.

    3. OTGW*

      Sometimes when it’s super busy at work (we do customer service type work, but not retail) and I have to go here and there to fetch things, I’ve been tempted to run. I get a lot of…. anxious energy? cause there’s a line and people are in a hurry and so I just want to let some of that off. And also, the faster I get these people away from me, the better. Especially when the patrons are being b*tchy.

      So no. Not a weirdo.

    4. Brett*

      It’s not just a social acceptance issue.
      It really is a significant safety concern.
      Most people at work are wearing the wrong kind of shoes for running down the halls, and the risk of rolling an ankle or other types of injuries are much higher than people think.
      And, since others are not expecting someone to be running down a hallway, there’s a higher risk for collisions than it seems.

    5. LeahS*

      I bathroom run! Like, not as in run to make it to the bathroom, but run in place in the bathroom. We have a single stall so YMMV. It helps get my energy out and helps me concentrate- I’m super ADHD. I feel absolutely ridiculous doing it though haha

    6. EddieSherbert*

      At a previous job, one of my coworkers would jump-rope in a mostly unused hallway during her breaks when the weather was gross out :)
      On nice days, she (and a lot of us) would go for a walk outside during breaks.

    7. Nancie*

      That’s better than what I’ve always wanted to do: strap on a pair of skates and skate down the hallway!

    8. Emilitron*

      There’s something about seeing a long empty hallway that’s so tempting! I get that feeling in hotels. I do sometimes sprint for fun in hotel corridors, but not at work.

    9. 7310*

      I’m tempted to waltz or polka complete with turns and an invisible partner…no you are not weird.

      1. blaise zamboni*

        I love this :) I sometimes have to work in our mailroom, moving between two or three surfaces. If the music is right, I do little swinging waltzes with invisible partners. Unfortunately, if the music is right, I’m too absorbed in my dance to notice coworkers come in…but that happens so rarely that it’s still worth it.

        I really enjoy finding little moments to move or dance at work. It’s good for your body and your mind, and most people won’t notice, care, or remember in the long run.

  24. Cog in the Machine*

    I’m moving across state next week to a new work location, and the relocation company and the movers aren’t talking to each other about when the actual move date is. The movers suggested a later date due to weather concerns, and now it’s looking like the original dates are better. Sigh.

    1. Sam I Am*

      Good luck with everything, it’s so hard to coordinate what happens “tomorrow” right now that anything beyond that is even more of a challenge. You’ll get through it.
      Lift with your knees!

  25. Retail not Retail*

    How do you tell if your anxiety is just plainly triggered by work as in this specific job or if it’s something in you? By which I mean – change my job; run into the same issues – so it is me, not current job.

    Both mental health professionals I see say “ignore what bothers you or quit”

    1. Forced social distancing*

      Sorry to hear you’re going through this. If you’re able to afford it, a good therapist may be able to help. It sounds like the two people you saw weren’t a good fit for you, and sometimes you need to shop around. Hope you’re able to find someone who’s able to work with you.

    2. Asperger Hare*

      Have you worked in similar environments (e.g. office, retail, etc.) and had similar anxious feelings? Or was it just this job?

      1. Retail not Retail*

        Crap double post!

        No, I’ve never had a job like this. I did freak out at my americorps job and quit less than halfway through the year. That was entirely sedentary.

        This job is super active!

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

      Do they literally say “ignore what bothers you or quit?” Do they provide strategies for helping you tolerate distress (i.e. “ignore” it)? Does it make a difference if you frame it as “acceptance” instead of “ignoring”?

      1. Retail not Retail*

        You’re right – I’ve remembered what they said negatively. But I ask for coping mechanisms and I’m just told… remember they’re not your boss. Do what you can.

        It just feels like. Depressed? Have you tried not being sad?

    4. WS*

      It can help being really specific about what is bothering you. When you feel upset at seeing Fergus in the morning, is it because he yells at people? Or you find him annoying? Or is it because he happens to be the first person you see and that reminds you you’re at work? (Don’t do this for every issue in one day, it’s tiring!)

      Personally, it came down to “I am a super introvert and would be happy never to see anyone ever” but I can’t find a job like that so I trained myself on phone scripts and personal interaction scripts which eased my discomfort at being around people.

  26. OTGW*

    People in museums/archives/libraries:

    I want to work in museums after I graduate. Right now I have zero (0) experience, though I’m hoping to get that fixed this summer. But I still want to get some experience that would be at least somewhat relevant to the career. I plan on volunteering this summer and am gonna spend an hour or two per week transcribing online documents. I don’t know what else to do. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Anony vas Normandy*

      Does your college have an archive? They may offer internships – mine did – or allow volunteering during the academic year that works with your schedule. If you have local museums or a historical society, reach out to them. Transcribing online is a great idea right now, when many museums are closed/limited. One of my first jobs involved transcribing letters, and having experience deciphering handwriting was a huge benefit to me.

      1. OTGW*

        It does have an archive, but they wouldn’t hire me/let me volunteer cause I didn’t have any experience ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        Oh, that’s great to know about transcribing! I’m slightly worried that it’s not gonna seem like enough, but your experience is reassuring!

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

      I don’t work in that field, but I ended up at a museum for my internship. The museum was attached to a historic property and I was studying historic preservation of architecture at the time. It was summer and I could only be in the historic building with no air conditioning, and no operable windows, until around lunchtime because it would get way too hot.

      After lunch I had to find things to fill my time, so I ended up helping with a lot of field trips. It was fun! The historic building was the location of a newspaper and book printing business. We would take kids through stations set up for the school groups and show them how books are made. This, of course, was in the area with air conditioning…no kids were overheated in the making of those books.

      The only paid tour positions in the museum where I interned were during the weekend, when I wasn’t there. But sometimes there would be a weekday tour group go through in the afternoon and I would follow them and listen to the museum director take them through. I learned a lot about the way people experience museums by watching those groups. If you’re going to be working in the back of house operations someday, it makes sense to know about front of house operations and visitor experiences beforehand. See if there are any part-time positions (hopefully paid) as a tour guide or help with field trips. Good luck!

    3. Space Oddity*

      What kinds of museum work are you interested in doing (i.e., public education, curatorial, archives, registrar, exhibit design… lots of options!)?

      Given that things are what they are, it might be more difficult to arrange an onsite internship or volunteer gig for this summer– for example, I work in an archive and we were planning on starting an internship program this summer, but now it isn’t clear whether that will happen, since my workplace is pretty locked down and it’s an open question whether the interns would even be able to access the materials they would be meant to be working with. Since a lot of museums are temporarily closing, I suspect a similar issue would apply there.

      I think your plan of doing some museum-y online project work is a good one, but another part of your plan might be to try and find work/training/an internship or position that is relevant to the skill set you’ll need to do the kind of museum work you’ll want to do– like instructional design for an education position, records management for a registrar position, subject work if you’re interested in curatorial work, and so on.

      Another suggestion– if you haven’t already done so, see if there are connections to be made in your program/school, as there might be opportunities available through that route.

      Good luck!

    4. MsSolo*

      Just to piggyback on this, my husband’s been looking for museum’s work for over a year now, so I’ll be keeping an eye on any suggestions in this thread, especially since all of our local museums are now shut for the foreseeable. Where are you looking for transcription work? I know has some ongoing projects (if you can read hebrew or arabic, there’s one that looks fascinating!) to dip into, but if there’s anything more formal that’s accessible right now I’d appreciate it to pass on :)

    5. Grits McGee*

      I think I make this suggestion every time someone brings up museums or archives in the Open Thread, but have you looked into Americorps or the Student Conservation Association? I had 0 experience when I got my first (paid!) archives internship as part of SCA. I only had internships and volunteer experience when I got a one year position as a museum collections manager through Americorps. You won’t get rich off either of these options, but unlike most museum and archives internships, they are paid/include a living stipend, and relocation stipends are usually available. Sometimes they’ll also include housing, depending on where the job is posted.

    6. JessicaTate*

      When you say “work in museums/libraries,” what aspect of the work do you mean? Curator, Collections/Registrar, Educator, Administration, Fundraising/Development, PR, Events…? There are lots of types of jobs, and each has different skill sets. My advice for every student is first think about what it is you want to do; museum work isn’t a monolith, and you don’t tend to jump between departments. To that end, just having a museum/library/archive on your resume isn’t necessarily as valuable as the skills that transfer.

      Consider other non-profit internships that might build your skills in ways that are transferable. Especially if the museums/libraries have to stay shut down through part of the summer. My example: I had a college job/internship in the Fundraising department at our local NPR station. It was menial intern stuff, but I learned a lot about how the fundraising game works in that setting, which was useful when applying to museum jobs later.

    7. Theory of Eeveelution*

      You can be a virtual volunteer for the Library of Congress. Look it up!

      I used to work in archives, and when I wanted a new volunteer opportunity, I cold emailed the city archivist (HUGE American city), and he was THRILLED to have me. Give it a try, most public/non-profit archives and libraries are desperate for volunteers.

    8. Reba*

      This is tough since museums and libraries are closing, but I echo others’ comments about transcription volunteering.

      And look for virtual internships! My workplace (museum-adjacent research center) has done several rounds of this successfully, and we are still recruiting interns for the summer with the understanding that they will probably end up being remote workers.

      Another plus of this is that it mitigates the high cost to non-local interns, since most of our positions are unpaid or a small stipend only.

  27. Asperger Hare*

    I’m in a team with quite a lot of tech-fearful teammates. (They are excellent at other things, like interpersonal skills and teamwork.) We are all getting used to the challenges of working from home, and I have had to explain various facets of Office 365, Teams, etc. to people who don’t like basic Email functions.

    If you are, or have previously been, tech-phobic, was anyone able to assist you or get you to a point where you felt more comfortable?

    Above all, how can I remind myself to be kind?

    1. Policy Wonk*

      Not tech-phobic, but I find that when I need to be taught how to use new tech, those who explain it don’t even realize that they are leaving things out – they take certain steps for granted.

      What I find to be most helpful is a cheat-sheet or checklist of what to do. Walk through the procedure and write down every step – and I mean every step. It may be obvious to you that you are supposed to hit tab or enter to move to the next space or line, but it is not always obvious to your trainee – some programs do that for you, we don’t know if this is one of them.

      And if you give your teammates a list of easy-to-follow steps they will be less likely to call you every day to have you walk them through logging on! (or whatever it is they are asking of you.)

      1. tangerineRose*

        I do software development, and YES so much to writing down every little step. It is frustrating to have to guess what to do next when steps are skipped, and since some things are specific to what IT wants, google isn’t always as helpful here.

      2. Sam I Am*

        Think of your favorite teachers, how did they react to people who needed help, or said something completely wrong? It’s important to get step by step feedback from the learner, and really listen to what they’re saying; it will contain nuance of what they do and don’t understand.
        Encourage them to say “I don’t know what that means,” or “wait, what’s that word / symbol/ term/,”as much as they need to.
        Spot quiz during the instruction. EX: Me: “Does that make sense to you?” Them: “Yes.” Me: “OK, explain in your words what I just said.”
        Sometimes they’re right on, often they need a slight trajectory adjustment, sometimes they deflate a little and say “I don’t know.”
        Be patient. Learn to be interested in how many ways individuals can take the meaning of a phrase. It’s actually creative work, when it comes down to it.

        Good luck!

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I’m an analyst and I’ve worked with some of the most non-tech people imaginable. Try teaching someone how to open, read, and print a report when they don’t know how to open an email. I once asked someone to send me a screenshot of an error message and they sent me a photo of their computer.
      But I love them all! I remember that we all have different talents and some of them have nothing to do with tech. These people had 25 years experience doing what they do, and forcing them to learn software isn’t really necessary, because they are great at the one thing they need to do. I used to think it should be required for people to know how to handle a computer and software, but we would be loosing so much if we did.
      So! I put on my kindness hat, and try to make it as fun as possible and spin everything as cool. “This part is really exciting! You won’t need to do [task] anymore, isn’t that cool!” I remind them that I’m here to help them and support them so they can do the awesome job they are here to do. That seems takes the pressure off. I know that I am opening myself up as being the go-to person for simple tasks, but I’m in a support role, and as long as it doesn’t become a burden then I accept it.
      Oh, and give them the basics first and the rest as they need it. It can become overwhelming and scary if you try to show them everything.

      1. Mozzarella*

        The screenshot/photo of the computer seems pretty logical to me as a solution! I know how to do screenshots on my phone and tablet, but I can never remember the right command when using my Mac, because I rarely have to do it. I do google it, but it would be quicker to just grab my phone and take a photo!

    3. Fikly*

      I’m the opposite of tech phobic, but I’ve worked with people who are, or have difficulty picking up new tech.

      The thing that helped most, I’ve found, is step by step written instructions with as many screenshots as you can take. The combination helps catch more styles of learning, and they can reference that whether than coming to you every time, and it reduces the temptation for you to take over the task for them. If they are physically doing it, they are more likely to learn it.

      You can even print the instructions, if needed.

      1. Faith*

        This is what I was coming here to say. Screenshots with step-by-step instructions will save you so, so much headache. It might be tedious to do 30-50+ screenshots, but if you capture literally each and every step, and highlight where they’re supposed to click/etc., it becomes a great resource you can hand over to a bunch of people and they can refer to it without having you show them over and over.

        I highly recommend printing it out, so they can reference it as they go.

        I actually did this as part of a “in case I’m hit by a bus” manual since no one else does my job where I work. It came in handy when I had to be out for a month post-surgery.

    4. Chili*

      One thing I’ve found is that a lot of tech-fearful people are afraid to try things for themselves because they believe they may break the whole system/computer. One of the most helpful things I’ve found is to make sure people know they probably won’t cause a whole platform to come crashing down while trying to rotate a PDF or whatever.

      1. BeachMum*

        In the late 80’s I taught an online query language to a group of market research admins on a regular basis. I always started by telling them that they didn’t know enough about computers to break theirs and that if they made the worst possible mistake, I could credit them for running an instant report (overnight was least expensive, instant was most expensive). They usually believed me and became a lot less fearful.

        (This was way back in the day of 1200 Baud modems and DOS computers.)

    5. Clever username goes here*

      I am in your shoes – we just rolled out Teams before the coronavirus thing hit (luckily) and I am my company’s admin. Microsoft has some great training resources on their website – just google “MS Teams training”. There’s even an interactive demo that people can use to get comfortable using it without fear of messing up the real interface. They have short, easy to digest videos for every functionality that Teams offers. Worth checking out.. and deep breaths. That’s the only thing getting me through. :)

    6. No Name Yet*

      One thing to maybe keep in mind for the ‘being kind’ aspect – I assume that most of the folks that you work are probably really anxious right now, worried for themselves/family/friend/work/the world. And anxiety really messes with concentration and memory (both storing and recalling). So it wouldn’t surprise me that even with the best instructions, it’s going to be harder than usual for them to understand what you’re trying to show them. I’ve been reminding myself of that, while trying to teach people on my team semi-complicated-but-not-all-that-different-from-our-usual things – I’ve had to walk through the same instructions 2-3 times for very smart people, because they’re just not processing what I’m saying. Also, it sounds like they’re having to learn multiple new things at the same time, which is also that much harder!

    7. TexasRose*

      I’m not particularly tech-phobic, but I started learning computers in the 1970s. Most software is Just Another Screwdriver, and unless I’m trying to make a cabinet, I Just DON”T Care. (Last year I realized I have learned over 20 word processors in my varied careers. Most of the new bells and whistles I Just Don’t Need.)
      1. Provide task-based training (“To read your email, you need to…”)
      2. Provide separate, super detailed newbie training (“Here’s how to get from one field to another…”)
      3. Depending on your audience, sometimes you can tap into your newbie base to help them provide help to each other (some newbies would prefer to ask other almost-newbies for help, rather than you – and this lets them practice what they need to do)
      4. Chunk your training, so you aren’t overwhelming folks with too much at once. “Too much,” of course, is entirely subjective to your audience.
      Good luck!
      3. Provide reminder checklists (“Once you’ve done this a few times, here’s a quick checklist to help your remember…”)

  28. Non-hostile take over*

    I want to take over my boss’ position when he retires later this year. Any advice on how I pitch my case and make sure I get promoted.
    I have already started working on a presentation to show my strategy for the team for the next 1-3 years. I need to work on a “sales pitch” for them to understand that I would be a good choice for the role. Any advice on how to do that?
    Thanks a lot!

    1. Fikly*

      Can you access a job description for your boss’s job?

      I’d start there, and look at what requirements you meet, and what you don’t, and then both work on getting internal experience (if possible) for what you don’t, and put together a list of how you meet the requirements you currently meet.

      Slightly different, but my track at my company has rubrics for the different levels. The one I’m aiming for right now has, essentially, be the owner of a big project as one requirement. So when I was thinking about that, I went looking for something that needed doing, that would help the team, came up with an idea, proposed it to my manager, got approval, did the project (with some help from people on other teams when needed), and managed the project after launch. Now that requirement is met.

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

      Assuming you are a ‘natural’ candidate to take over — talk to your boss. Have a conversation about what happens when he retires, express your interest, ask him to advocate for you. He will likely be in a position to recommend you to whoever his boss is.

      I wouldn’t go around him and start pitching presentations to his own boss without any discussions, as it would come off as you just being opportunistic — but having a hypothetical strategy/plan in place is good, as you are likely to be asked something like “how would you take the team forward?” “what should be done differently?”

      It’s not necessarily different than if your boss was leaving (rather than retiring) and you want to step into the position.

      I’m assuming since you said team rather than department that the boss who is retiring is more of a “manager of X team” rather than “Director with a lot of reports” type.

  29. Marzipan*

    One hour and thirty-give minutes to go until I am on maternity leave! Bit of an odd last week for, uh, reasons we are not mentioning here. Very strange feeling to write an out of office with a return date in 2021!

  30. Pet Peeve CC*

    As ‘administrative support staff’ I’m often copied on emails that are not directed to me but as an FYI (fine).

    Sometimes, though, I’m copied on emails that really should be directed TO me. Like a piece of mail that has my name on it, but the higher ups on the project get the email directed to them and I’m copied. Or an email about who is in the office and who isn’t, when one of my responsibilities is to track who’s in and out.

    This drives me crazy, and makes me feel like a second class citizen. I realize how trifling it is, but the fact that my coworkers repeatedly decide to put me in a second category of not *really* needing to receive that email… it gets under my skin, clearly.

    1. Ditto on the Pet Peeve*

      This is not limited to Admin staff. I am the only female on the management team in my office and I get this too. It gets under my skin as well.

    2. Coverage Associate*

      I am sorry. Somehow my new job’s version of Outlook makes it difficult to add recipients, and of course my auto fill is still working on its “dictionary.” So sometimes I add someone as a cc when they should be on the top line. So maybe it’s the tech not proficient, and not you?

    3. Mockingjay*

      I think this is something that happens to everyone.

      I get copied on a lot of group emails, “for awareness, not action.” 90% of the time, I can just delete the email or move to a reference folder. The remaining 10% makes the annoyance worthwhile, because it’s stuff I need to know or do something with. And yes, there’s stuff that should be addressed to me and isn’t. I just got off the phone with my project lead. Lead: “I thought you knew about that.” Me: “Nope. Wasn’t in the meeting or on the email string.” Lead: “Oops. Let me forward this to you.”

      For tracking absences, does your office have a group calendar available to post all leave and trips? That might help.

  31. Dream Jobbed*

    I’ve decided that one day this weekend, Probably Sunday, I am totally unplugging. No Internet, no news, no Facebook, no Yahoo stories, no looking at the stock market, and hopefully no Prime or Netflix. Going to read (a novel), walk the dogs, read, drink tea, read, make a nice meal, read, and nap. Also, probably won’t call anyone that day either. Just going to pretend for one day none of this is happening.

    I hope everyone’s weekend is good and restful!

    1. CatCat*

      Gawd. Such a good idea. Especially since I am struggling with unplugging with my work computer in my home.

    2. The Rural Juror*

      Almost everyone in our very small company had planned on taking this week off for spring break, and originally I had planned on being the person in the office to hold down the fort. I can’t necessarily work from home when no one else is working, so my boss told me to stay at home and we’ll figure out how to dole out WFH priorities on Monday when everyone is back.

      I’ve done really well the last couple of days, but today it’s raining and I’m having a hard time. So far everyday for me has consisted of waking up around the same usual time, then getting outside to for yard work, a jog, or something to get some fresh air. I’ve been consistently logging on around lunchtime to get a daily news fix, read AAM and other advice columns I follow. Then finding other things to do around the house until time to cook dinner. So far, I haven’t even turned on a TV until after 5pm. Last night I didn’t turn one on until almost 8pm because it was nice outside and I had my nose stuck in a book while sitting next to an open window.

      But today I’m struggling because the weather feels so moody. I’m actually looking forward to starting to work from home because it will give me some tasks! But I’m going to keep trying to follow the NO TV until after 5pm rule I’ve set for myself. We’ll see how long I can last today… It’s only now 11:30am…

    3. Bunny Girl*

      Great idea! I did this once a month even before this happened. It was always very relaxing.

    4. Mockingjay*

      Good idea! I’ve already been catching up on the stack of books I have – bought but not read. I’ve also signed up for another e-library service (I think I have 5?), because…more books! Weather’s nice and we just adopted a rescue dog, so we’re spending a lot of time enjoying the backyard with her.

  32. bluebonnets87*

    I started a new job at the beginning of February. I’m a PA who supports 2 people. One of the people I support is also new – his start date is the 1st of April. We’ve corresponded via email but never met in person, and of course now we’re all working from home. So, our very first meeting will be via Teams video chat.

    Has anyone ever had to introduce themselves to a new boss via video or phone chat before? If so, any advice?

    1. periwinkle*

      I did not meet my current or previous managers in person until well after I joined their teams. We weren’t in the same time zones, let alone buildings!

      It helped to set up a meeting (we use WebEx) and turn in our webcams so we could talk with a visual connection. Just talk about whatever you normally discuss in a first meeting – professional background, expectations, goals, work rhythm, etc.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      When I started my current role, my manager wasn’t actually hired til the week after I was (well, she was an internal transfer too, but wasn’t moved into the management role til a week later), and we’re both remote and live three hours apart. I think it was probably eight months before I ever met her in person. I wrote her an email when her name was first given to me, giving her a little rundown of my professional background and a little bit of a personal introduction (nothing excessive, just, I live in this town with my SO and these pets, I’m also a grad student studying blah, and in my free time I like to watch murder tv and historical documentaries while I knit and cross-stitch). She appreciated that I had reached out :) And she’s much more extroverted and chatty than I am, so after my written introduction, our first meeting had her doing most of the talking, which worked out great for both of us.

  33. Your Thoughts?*

    I am wondering how other organizations/companies handle work travel and “comp time” for exempt employees.

    I travel for work, probably 5-6 times a year, one of those times is a full week, Wednesday to Wednesday. The other times often cover weekends and I’m putting in 16 hour days during all of these trips.

    My organization says that because I’m exempt, I am not allowed to comp time when I get back. If I want the day after travel to be a day off, I need to use my meager PTO time. I know that as an exempt employee, this is expected and allowed.

    So I’m asking: How does your company handle work travel and time off.

    1. Alex*

      My company does not do any official comp time for exempt employees regardless of hours worked. You are expected to work as you are needed. That said, not one would fault you leaving the office a bit early on a day when you didn’t have much going on if you’d worked extra hours previously, but taking an entire day (not as vacation) isn’t something people do.

    2. acmx*

      If we get home late in the day we get the next day off, two if the travel day (which is also a working day) is very late. However, our trips are usually 1-2 days only during the work week. If we end up needing to work a weekend day, we’d take a week day off to compensate.

    3. Ama*

      At my employer, you only get comp days for the first three years (and then only five of them). This is because here you get an extra five days of vacation after three years — so basically they are just evening the playing field so if you get hired into one of our travel heavy roles you’re not at as big of a disadvantage on PTO.

      However there’s been a lot of grumbling among the staff as some of the departments have seen their evening and weekend travel increase quite a bit recently so even the people who get the comp days could easily be eligible for more than five days if it wasn’t for our policy. I know a lot of the staff here have just called in sick the day after trips because our sick and vacation PTO are separate buckets (and the big bosses don’t care as long as it is just one day off).

    4. Ali G*

      We don’t have comp time (officially), but our culture is that if you worked on a weekend, you can take a day off that week. So in your case, working Wednesday to Wednesday (I’m assuming you also worked the Monday and Tuesday before the first Wednesday), we would actually log our time on Saturday and Sunday and then not work the following Thursday and Friday.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We don’t have comp time. We’re kind of flexible; if I get back really late on a weeknight, I can just come in late the next day. But we don’t usually work on weekend days. I think if we did, I would just take a day and no one would count it, but I’m not sure (we’re a small business).

    6. AcademiaNut*

      In my institute, we get formal comp days if we have to work or travel on weekends for project duties*, but that doesn’t include non work weekends while on a trip. It’s also expected that if you have have just got back from a tiring trip (international travel, for example) that you might leave early/come in late as you adjust back, and if your international flight gets in at 6am (which happens a lot), that’s not a work day for you.

      *by project duties, it means that if you are travelling for personal research reasons this doesn’t apply, but you also have control over signing up for those trips. Project trips are ones you are sent on.

  34. CatCat*

    My husband’s boss just sent him home due to lack of work.

    Meanwhile, I am WFH and have to be able to have confidential conversations. We live in an apartment. I guess he could hole up in a bedroom, but that seems kind of unreasonable all day.

    Any advice on handling this?

    1. DarthVelma*

      My partner and I both work with confidential info – his is covered by NDAs and mine by FERPA. (We joke that we need to write an NDA/confidentiality agreement for the household.) :-)

      Mostly when we’re both in the office just working on stuff, we pretend the other person just isn’t there and use noise cancelling headphones. But I’ve been taking a lot of phone/web conferences and still doing TA with field staff, so I do have to have confidential conversations as well. I hole up in a bedroom for those. I do have to admit it probably works as well as it does because we’re a tech heavy house. I can take my work laptop and the iPad in the bedroom and it’s almost as good as being at my desk.

      So that’s how we handle it. Plausible deniability when possible. And when someone needs privacy, they’re the one who leaves our shared space.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Would it change that last point if only one of you were working, though?

        It seems to me that the one who is working and bringing in money would have some priority over the unemployed one. “I understand that you want to watch Netflix, but I’m trying to have a video conference here, and the explosions in the background are a problem.” Kind of like when I’m cooking dinner, stay out of the (small) kitchen.

        1. DarthVelma*

          That’s a good question. I don’t think it would change things for us personally. I just think it makes more sense for the person who needs privacy to go somewhere private rather than cutting the other person off from the rest of the house.

          But I’m also willing to concede that may be based on our own space and setup and the ridiculous amount of tech we have in our house. People in smaller living spaces or with a less defined “office” area or other situations really different from ours might have to handle things differently.

    2. EddieSherbert*

      My partner has confidential conversations as well for his job. He’s been able to schedule most calls/videos on the same days so far, so we had two days this week where he helped set up my “desk” at the kitchen table and he got the office. We put a white noise machine outside the office door (and I mostly play music or have headphones in anyways). That has worked well so far!

    3. Delta Delta*

      My husband and I are both attorneys so everything we have is confidential. Sometimes we both WFH. Luckily we can use different spaces. If one of us hears that the other is on the phone we stay away. We don’t ever share devices (our house looks like an Apple museum – too many devices as it is).

    4. Anonymous for Today*

      My husband and I are also using different spaces. He has a desk set up in the bedroom, while my workspace is in the dining room. I’m subject to having the dogs around all day, but since he is on the phone most of the day and I’m not, this is what’s working the best for us right now.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      I’d set up a small work station in the bedroom during the day (folding table, chair, computer), and do the conversations there. That way your husband has access to the kitchen and living room, and can do household stuff and his own thing. You could also switch locations for stretches of time.

      I do think that essentially locking someone who is out of work in their bedroom for 8 hours a day is unreasonable.

    6. Anon for this one*

      IMO you are the only one having income right now and so your requirements have to take priority (however you work that out). It’s an unusual dynamic for you, but now you are – like it or not – the head of the household.

      How would it be for your husband (and you!) if you were fired due to violation of confidentiality etc.

  35. on the 3s*

    Well, I know we all love an idiot story, so here goes one to cheer you up:
    Frontline employees in our industry have been hard to find, as it is a physical and not great paying position (the benefits are great though). Due to the previously stout demand in our field, we have a few marginal employees.
    Wednesday, the very worst performer, with the most documented discipline, did a ‘no call-no show’, which is always grounds for immediate termination. He eventually responds to a text that he is in the hospital, so we start to worry about him, and exposure of course, and try to start getting more information. He goes dark, and calls me on Thursday.
    He stated that he was taken by EMT to the hospital where he was put on an IV and given ‘sleeping medicine’ ,was without his phone and is still ‘laid up now’ in the hospital. I knew he was lying (the details were quite off, and not realistic in the crisis) but I am hemmed in by privacy laws, so I asked for a doc’s note excusing him, stating the hours he was in the hospital and if the company should go into even higher quarantine or had any public health risks. 3 hours later the employee sent me a note stating:
    ‘Fergus Bonehead called on 3/19 to report an illness he experienced on 3/18. He should not work on 3/19 or 3/20.’ I asked if he could just send me a snapshot of his release paperwork from the hospital with no private information visible…nothing.
    So I called him and fired him, because obviously this is all a lie, he wasted the health workers’ precious time with his foolish phone call, and we are facing layoffs anyways if this keeps up, so bye-bye Fergus.
    He starts screaming at me that he could have died but took care of it himself and didn’t want to expose us all to the Corona virus, that we care more about ourselves then him (true) and that he is going to the media. I asked again why he said he went to the hospital instead of just telling us the truth, that he was sick and couldn’t come in. He said he was ‘dry-heaving’ and couldn’t see.
    He has put up some cringe worthy Facebook posts, but I haven’t been contacted by any reporters yet lol.
    (before anyone gets on me about us being open right now, we’re the people bringing the stock to grocery stores, so mission essential right now.)

    1. fposte*

      “that we care more about ourselves then him (true)”

      That made me laugh. Did he really think it was your obligation to put him first?

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Well, he was asked to provide proper documentation regarding his whereabouts and illness/hospital stay, which he FAILED to provide.

      I’m sure your company must have some standards as to what those are.

      1. on the 3s*

        He’s just really not following. I suspect there may be a substance abuse issue, because he is wavering from one minute to another on if he was is the hospital or not.

  36. Corky's Wife Bonnie*

    To those that work from home more often, do any of you have a recommendation for a great desk chair? I have spine issues and only on day two of wfh and my back is killing me. We have no idea when we’ll be back so I need to order something very soon.

    1. CatCat*

      Could you pick up and bring home the chair you normally used at the office if that’s a good chair for you?

        1. Eng*

          If you know and like your regular office chair’s brand, it’s always an option to order one of those even if you can’t take the actual one from the office. That’s what I did because when I spend this much money, I better get something that I know I like. Good chairs can be expensive so I ordered a used one – still pretty expensive for a chair, but this is one I’ll be spending half my waking time in so it’s worth it.

          For what it’s worth, mine is a Herman Miller Mirra. Expensive but I love it.

    2. MissMaple*

      Seconded! I can’t go get my office chair because our facility is closed to non-essential personnel.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      I had a similar issue and found that all the really good ones are sold-out on line. We ordered a couple of the less-well-rated ones because anything was better than what we had. One took a week to arrive, the other will not arrive until next week. So my recommendation is not for a specific chair, but that you look online and see what is actually available now. (And one listed as available wasn’t, as we learned when they called to cancel the order.)

      And I caution that the one that arrived needed assembly, which was not noted on the site.

    4. Jessen*

      I’ve actually had some pretty good luck over here with an IKEA chair! I have the Flintan because I’m small and it seems to be sized right for petite folk. A footrest helps too, even if it’s just made up of whatever you could get your hands on.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I’m having back issues too (and neck and jaw) from my (home) office chair, which apparently is fine once a week (my normal WFH schedule) but not for days on end. I’m anxiously awaiting my lumbar pillow from Amazon. I’m improvising with a small pillow from my couch, and that is helping. If you can’t get a desk chair quickly, maybe a pillow might help in the interim.

    6. Gatomon*

      I splurged a few years back on a Steelcase. I ordered it from an online office supply store, but I do think it took a while to come, and anything that wasn’t black/black was like made to order. If you’re in serious pain now I’m not sure it’s wise to wait and potentially hurt yourself.

      Any chance you can get away with a low-end chair and supplement with cushions? Even the basic chairs I’ve bought in the past have been helpful for a few months.

  37. JustaTech*

    Funny little review story!

    About two weeks ago I had my annual performance review with my boss, who said I was doing a good job, and he’s hoping to get me a promotion next year, but because our overlords have very strict rules about how many people in any given department can get a “Great” rating, I was going to get a “good” rating.

    OK, sure, fine. This has been a thing in our department since we got these overlords, because one group in the department has had to ramp up like crazy, and they were under-rated before, so all the promotions and “great” ratings have gone to them (and they’ve earned it and I don’t begrudge them at all).

    So with my rating I get my bonus and my raise for the year (and it’s nice) and I sign everything in the computer system and think nothing of it.

    Then this week I get an email from my boss that I need to re-sign my review. Uh, OK, why?
    Apparently the system gave me the raise for “great” rather than “good” and my boss told HR that if they wanted to reduce my raise they were going to have to tell me that themselves (because it was their mistake). So, HR, either being good people or not wanting to deal with telling me they were taking away (some of) my raise, decided that I could have a “great” rating.

    So all’s well that ends well, and hopefully this doesn’t bite me in the butt next year.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      Ha! I’m glad that worked out in your favor! Hope it stays that way into next year. It sounds like you deserve it!

    2. Kes*

      Ugh, I hate those kind of systems. Anyway, if your boss wants to put you up for promotion, sounds like you deserve it and conversely it may help with the promotion to show you’ve already been doing a great job.

      1. JustaTech*

        It’s so weird that we have this 5-level system, but you’re not allowed to use the highest level, and if someone is in the lowest level then they’re just fired, so it’s really only 3 levels, but then the new top level is super restricted, and I’m just like huh?

        Maybe the corporate overlords want us to fit a perfectly normal distribution, which is not something humans generally actually do.

        1. Dancing Otter*

          Isn’t the goal in hiring to find people that are better than mediocre? Other than hiring mistakes, you really don’t want to see the lower half of the bell curve.

          Gross misuse of statistical theory for 500, Alex.

        2. Alex*

          We have the same kind of thing. It’s so dumb. And the amount difference between “scraped by without getting fired” and “stellar performance” is so extremely minimal that it is almost offensive. It’s like 1%. So I can either really slack off or work my butt of for…..a 1% difference. And I work in a relatively low paying field so that 1% isn’t much at all!

          I think it would be better to just have “you did well this year! You get the raise” and “You didn’t do so well. No raise for you.” And if everyone did well, everyone gets a raise, and that should be the general expectation. I feel like that would better motivate/reward people. Crappy people get fired. Mediocre people don’t earn their raise. Good people get a raise. Great people get a raise and eventually a promotion.

  38. StellaBella*

    This morning, I sent a fourth followup mail to my former boss, the admin and the Hr person to ask about my reference letter. My fixed contract has ended and I have received nothing but excuses on this (mandatory, legal, not in the USA) item from them. I am hoping to hear soon as I need this for looking for a new job, and for unemployment. I have been clear, polite, and explained why I need this. The admin and I have talked about this and she shrugs her shoulders as the boss needs to do this.

    Question: my emails and one in-person chat started in January and have been spaced a few weeks apart after each blowoff – so if I get another blowoff this coming week – any ideas on how to get this document?

    1. Restless Rover*

      If you’re in Germany, I hope you have legal insurance because you will probably have to get a lawyer involved.

  39. Halae*

    Does anyone else put up ambience videos on Youtube or Netflix or whatever on a corner of their screen? What are you ‘streaming’ right now? I am rather in desperate need of calm.

    1. straws*

      the people behind the Calm app are posting free resources right now. I’ll post a link in reply to my comment.

    2. Environmental Compliance*

      I highly recommend the Cornell bird cams! The red tail hawk couple just laid their first? second? egg, and there’s an owl one somewhere too. Links in comment.

    3. periwinkle*

      On YouTube, try the SlowTV channel. It’s hours and hours of footage of train journeys, clouds, and so on.

      I also enjoy the YouTube channel of a British guy named Paul Dinning. He makes a lot of videos to entertain cats, and they’re also soothing for humans (hours of bird feeder footage).

      1. JustaTech*

        I love those videos!
        We started playing them on our new TV because the resolution is finally high enough our cat sees it as motion (rather than flickering still images), but honestly sometimes I just watch it long after the cat’s wandered off.

    4. Space Oddity*

      Aquarium cams. The Tennessee Aquarium’s Secret Reef cam is my favorite; Monterey Bay Aquarium has a whole suite of excellent ones as well. This afternoon I’m going to check out the National Aquarium’s cams (ooh, Friday excitement!)

    5. Nervous Nellie*

      I am greatly enjoying a wind chime loop that was featured on Mother Jones. Go to motherjones dot com, and put ‘chimes’ into the search. You will find it. It’s lovely.

      I also opened my windows a bit (it’s still pretty chilly here) to hear the juncos & robins & chickadees singing in the trees. It’s mating season for them, so they are at their operatic best.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We have 3 people on a rural internet connection so I’m trying NOT to stream.
      But that’s OK because for the office, I’d long ago generated a “noises online” file for myself designed to sound like I’m working in a dockside coffee shop.

      1. Atalanta0jess* is another source of really relaxing sounds that as far as I understand doesn’t stream. (I think it downloads a file that has a bunch of pieces, and then they combine and recombine? I don’t know.)

  40. GigglyPuff*

    I applied for a job back in December, and sent it off into the void into an academic HR email, and never heard anything, not even an automated acknowledgment. I saw they just reposted it on their website (the date was updated). Should I send a follow-up email with my materials? Send them again, not referencing that applied before? TIA

    1. CM*

      I’d send it again without mentioning that you sent it before. If they rejected you last time, they might not remember, in which case you get a second chance. If they never looked at the applications last time, it doesn’t make much difference.

  41. Kimmybear*

    Finding the Micromanagement balance…What guidelines have you/your managers put in place with everyone working remotely? Daily virtual standups? Must update status if away more than X minutes? Guidance on when to IM vs. Email vs. Call? How many hours you have as meetings vs. work time? T

    1. Brett*

      Most of our teams already had daily virtual standups, so that has continued.

      We have actually cut back on meetings for two reasons: 1) They are more disruptive and difficult to conduct virtually. 2) Our VPN is getting hammered and all the streaming video and audio from virtual meetings is not helping.

      People are more conscientious about updating their status on slack and skype, but no requirements have been imposed.
      Our work is well suited to work from home, and we are actually getting a lot more done because people can work uninterrupted. But… our coordination with outside teams is suffering and that is going to be hard to keep on track as this continues. (I might be more aware of this because part of my role is that outside coordination.)

      IM has picked up drastically. We have analytics on this, and it is more than a 50% increase. Email has not really changed, and no one is calling anyone.

      We do have tickets and roadmaps that we track and other statistics to monitor how much work we are doing (part of why I know that more is getting done than usual from that perspective). So that has helped with the visibility while we are all remote. But those measure were in place even when we were all in the office.

    2. Going undercover for this one*

      We first had the option to work remotely starting on Monday. I jumped on it. I had to make a list of weekly tasks and specify what I expected to complete each week. Which I don’t have to do normally.

      Yesterday, most people still in the office were told they’d need to start working from home next week. And were informally told that productivity wasn’t going to be a big deal. And I applaud this, I really do. But it makes me wonder if I have to stick to my weekly goals!

    3. Kes*

      We don’t really have any more than we usually do when working from home. Mainly, daily standups plus a Jira board to track what we’re working on. Beyond that, they trust us to get our work done (and are aware productivity may take a hit, although in some ways our team has actually been more productive this week).
      Most of our casual communication is through Slack, and we can jump on a call if it’s easier to discuss that way or we need to share a screen to show something. Email is generally a bit more formal.

    4. Kiwiii*

      as someone whose manager is super not micromanagey, it’s been very easy and nice. we’re continuing our team’s MWF standup and the project’s M/TH standup through group chats. We haven’t had to do any additional updates otherwise, though I’ll update the coworkers i work most closely with if my lunch is going to be longer than about 40 minutes. Our company has always been really really flexible, i wfh most fridays, most of us will wfh a day or two around the holidays, or we’re sick, or the weather’s gross, and take off the rest and our work is 50% or so ticket based, so as long as we’re not letting anything sit for too long or getting overwhelmed, i doubt the managing is going to get any closer than it has been.

  42. Anony vas Normandy*

    Another commentor mentioned Gantt charts a while back, and it spoke to the depths of my type-A soul. Does anyone have recs for tutorials on those or other project management tools?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I have no suggestions, but just a funny comment. I once made a gantt chart with thunderbolts, so it was a …Thunder Gannt! Get it! “Thunder, Thunder, Thunder Gannt!”
      I’ll go back into my nerd cave now.

    2. Ali G*

      I’m pretty sure Excel has a Gannt chart template and probably lots of online tutorials. I’m such a dork I made my own in Excel :)

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Excel 2016 sure does, and if it does, I would expect Excel in Office 365 to have it as well. Open Excel, and on the “New” page, there is a Gantt project planner template. It’s great fun! Gantt charts can also be found in MSFT Project & Visio. I am having fun exploring the far reaches of these dusty programs. Nerds unite!

        1. JustaTech*

          I’ve been really impressed with the quality of the tutorials from Microsoft. Years ago (2011?) I had to teach myself Access and I was really impressed at how much I was able to learn from the basic, free tutorials.

          Recently I was volunteering with someone who works on the team at Microsoft that makes the tutorials and they were a little overwhelmed at how much I appreciated them and thought they were well-made. I guess they don’t get a lot of direct feedback.

          1. Nervous Nellie*

            Agreed! On all of the 2016 programs, beside the ‘open new blank document’ link, is a “Welcome to ‘program name’ link. If you click on it, it opens in the program and walks you through basic steps. Click on ‘more templates’ and many more appear. I always point colleagues to the ‘Welcome to pivot tables’ tutorial, which is so clear, and so well-explained that it makes people comfortable with them immediately.

            You comment made me look a little closer at the Excel New page, and yay, sure enough, there is a Feedback link above the usual Options link that opens a window where you can tell them what you appreciate or don’t. These days I bet everyone could use a thank you. I am going to do the Feedback links in Excel, Project & Visio today. Thank you for the inspiration, JustaTech!

  43. Brett*

    So, I mentioned several weeks ago how former employer got hit with a $20M discrimination judgement.

    What has happened since then:

    The entire governing board for the department was replaced by the chief elected official. This sort of wholesale change has never happened.

    The department head resigned.

    And the big news, the new department head was appointed yesterday.

    _She_ will be the first woman ever to head the department in its 70+ year history. She was promoted from two ranks below department head, something that is pretty much unheard of. This will not be without controversy though. She is white, and two highly qualified African-American men, currently in the two roles immediately below the department head, were passed over for the position despite highly vocal support from numerous political organizations in the African-American community.

    I worked with her quite a bit in my former role, and she was an ultimate glass ceiling case. She should not have jumped two ranks, because she should have already been a higher rank. She was pushed around through several roles at her level that other leadership considered less important (in particular, head of staffing, recruitment, and diversity at various points); and she excelled at all of them. She happens to be highly trained in emergency response too, taking a couple hundred hours of courses and training on her own initiative and volunteering to take a lead in disaster response in the past. So, she is the perfect person to have in charge during a pandemic too.

    I might not work there any more, but I am really excited about this. An extremely intelligent woman who everyone thought would never move up instead jumped up all the way to the top. If I had to pick one of my former co-workers who was most likely to completely scrub clean the toxic culture in that organization, it would be her.

    And now she’s in charge.

    1. fposte*

      Usually I would advise people not to keep up with their toxic former workplaces, but yours is different. Sounds like good action is being taken and I’m glad you see a good future for it.

      1. Brett*

        This particular story was all over the local news so it was hard to miss :)

        I have 40+ facebook friends from former workplace too (about half of whom are no longer there) so we had some pretty extensive facebook discussions about it. The women who worked there, in particular, are extremely excited about this. This particular woman is a crusader for equality in the workplace too. If you had surveyed all of those women and said, “You can pick one woman from the department who will instantly replace the current department head,” I think you might have had unanimous agreement that the new department head should be that woman.

        I think a lot of the excitement is because this both affects our community and it affects all of our friends who still work there.

      2. RC Rascal*

        My hunch is Brett lives in a City with a famous geometric landmark.

        This failure to settle a lawsuit that led to a $20M settlement, paid out of taxpayer money, has been all over the news. As a bystander, it is obvious there has been extreme incompetence and hubris in this agency.

        Hopefully new candidate can put an end to that.

  44. Environmental Compliance*

    Last Friday before I leave. Luckily, new job is still lined up and ready to go as of right now; temporary housing has been set up. Happy there’s no delays there.

    Current Facility is still refusing to post to backfill my position. I am being cut out of all discussion around any sort of replacement for me (well, at this point pretty much cut out of everything). I can’t even train anyone in any meaningful fashion. I made a couple large how to documents for the really important stuff, but not everything just can get shoved in a document. Stuff in the field really needs hands on demonstration.

    I am trying very hard to not be upset about what will end up being the loss of all my work over the past 2 years, but I’m finding it difficult. I shouldn’t care as much as I do – I’m leaving! But I put a lot of effort, hard work, sweat & tears into building up this program. I dug this facility out of multiple noncompliances and turned a lot of this around. We went from ongoing noncompliance (Title V!!) to 0. Nada. None. I yanked our wastewater out of continual noncompliance. I automated our NPDES monitoring to be more accurate and better updated. I updated every. single. SOP & plan for environmental. SPCC, SWPPP, Tier II, PHSMA. I brought this facility into full compliance for FDA standards.

    And it’s all going to get thrown out the damn window. And this is going to really hurt the facility at some point, which is going to really hurt the plant staff who did their absolute damndest to work with me and do good things.

    I’m currently sitting in my office, trying to get as much set up as possible, but with no motivation to get anything done. I just want to get my lunch, close my door, have a good cry & knit for the rest of the day, until the inspectors are out of my house (we did sign an offer and it’s set to close & sell for us soon!) and I can go home.

    1. Ali G*

      I’ve worked for a company that has industrial sites, and every time I read your posts I am always shocked how the place you work stays in business. We were so meticulous with compliance stuff and people legit got fired for things that seem to happen on the regular where you are. It’s baffling! I hope your new place actually cares about the work you do.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Well, they won’t be here shortly, because they won’t have anyone whipping them into shape. I’m baffled. Glad to see that all the support I fought for will just get chucked out with the dirty bathwater.

        What they’re doing now is pissing a lot of people off onsite, so I guess… there’s that? Maybe the staff onsite will get it through their skulls? I dunno. Probably not.

        The new company has a much more robust program (there’s more than one person! I’ll have a team!!!) and simultaneously has less applicable programs. So I’m cautiously hopeful.

        I just wish that it wouldn’t feel like I’ve wasted 2 years of hard work at this facility.

        1. lost academic*

          You didn’t waste it – I can tell you that from experience – but your departure especially in this time of drastic cutbacks will really set them back. Probably what will happen is that eventually they’ll bring in a 3rd party firm to cover the requirements or finally hire someone (probably much more junior than you were when you were hired since it’ll be cheaper) and maybe if they are lucky it’ll be before they get an NOV or some other large enough penalty that makes the upper management pay attention. Whoever comes in will realize what a mess it all is but they’ll be able to start from your good documentation and systems and eventually get back to where you left it.

          Leave paper copies in your office if you can :)

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            That’s true. They already have a lot of attention from the regulators (hard to get past 40 years of stupid with 2 years good behavior) so they’d get hit within a year, missy likely. I hope they don’t destroy everything and someone can reconstruct.

        2. Free Meercats*

          As a regulator, I can say you haven’t wasted the time. You’ve put policies and procedures in place that I can point at in the future and ask, “Why aren’t you doing X anymore? Start doing X again or I’ll escalate my enforcement action.”

          You did good, if they don’t maintain that progress, it’s all on them.

  45. Emily*

    Just need to vent a bit. I am really wishing I had a job that I could do from home. My company does event services, and the revenue has fallen off a cliff (since every event has been canceled for the next 2-3 months). It looks like I (and my front office colleagues) am going to be furloughed for an indefinite period. The uncertainty is killing me. My manager hasn’t told us specifics yet, so I’m guessing we’re getting the news in a meeting this afternoon. (The co-owners of this small family-owned company have always been terrible at communication.) I’m just dreading it. It’s so scary to think that next Friday will be my last normal paycheck in who knows how long.

    I am thinking about other jobs I could get, unemployment, getting deferment on certain payments — lots of strategic planning stuff, but since I don’t know anything for sure, I haven’t made any changes yet. I just hate to think of my job and routine being gone.

    And yes, I know this is totally a first world problem, and there are lots of people out there dying and struggling, and in FAR worse situations than me. I just feel so hopeless right now. I can’t remember ever feeling quite like this before. And it’s so frightening. I’m usually so good at looking at the positive side of everything, and keeping it together. This is making me feel like my life is falling apart.

    1. nep*

      Even if there are many who are far worse off, that in no way diminishes the gravity of the situation and the justification of what you’re feeling. This level of uncertainty is a gigantic source of stress.
      I wish you well. I hope you’ll find ways to–little by little–regain some semblance of control over your situation to a point where you’ll be able to stay mentally and physically well.

    2. Rain In Spain*

      It’s totally reasonable and fair for you to be stressed about this! It is probably a good idea to start your strategic planning, to help you be prepared. For me at least that helps me feel like I have some control/a plan moving forward. I wish you the best of luck and hope that things resolve sooner than we all anticipate.

    3. Purt's Peas*

      It’s definitely not a first-world problem to be worried about your livelihood and your future in the face of pandemic and overwhelming change–that’s pretty global. It’s ok to be scared. You’re not alone in this. Best wishes.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      You will be ok.
      It’s very scary right now, but it does appear some help is on the way for people who get laid off or furloughed during this pandemic. At the very least, you will be eligible for unemployment.

      And yeah, I feel for those in the event industry and the self-employed. Events fuel so many jobs, from CVBs to caterers.

  46. Daisy-dog*

    Looking for advice as to whether pursuing a PhD is a good idea. Specifically in Social Psychology. My Bachelor’s is in Psychology and my Master’s is in a semi-related field.

    Since finishing undergrad in 2011, I have worked a variety of jobs and pretty much hated all of them. I keep coming to the conclusion that they are all challenging, but not in the way that I want to be challenged (ie: difficult customers/co-workers or not being given enough direction).

    What should I expect with going back to school full-time? My Master’s program was online and I worked full-time. And what are the quirks of PhD programs? What should I consider before I make any decision? Money and age are not concerns.

    1. Gidget*

      The question to ask is why you want the PhD. If you are interested in research and teaching in higher ed it might be worth it. I know at least two people with Social Psych PhDs who never really found positions after obtaining their degrees. (One worked a single semester as an adjunct and then never again. The other had a postdoc and then decided to start an ebay business.) Others I know are working at small private colleges or community colleges.

      You also need to consider funding. Will schools offer you research assistantships, teaching assistantships, expect you to find your own grant money, or otherwise support yourself?

      You mentioned that you had challenges when it comes to not being given enough direction. This may be a big reason to think hard about whether a PhD is appropriate. Depending on your mentor you may have a ton of direction or almost none. So you should carefully research labs you are interested in and try your best to talk to the mentor and their lab members to see whether it is a good match. I am not in social psych but I struggled, and ultimately did not finish, my PhD in part because my mentor was very hands off.

      All of this being said, if you love the field the work towards the degree can be rewarding and lead you to new places. I would reach out to graduate programs you might be interested in and ask if you can speak to some of their students to get a perspective on what it really looks like on the ground. Good luck!

      1. Almost Academic*

        Current psychology PhD student here (in clinical), and definitely second everything that Gidget said.

        Why do you want a PhD? What are you going to do with it? What sort of characteristics do you want in a job, and does it line up with what a PhD student, researcher, or professor actually does on a day-to-day basis? Do you know the hiring outcomes for the types of job you are likely to want (for example, tenure-track hiring is abysmal right now, only a small percentage get a job in the end). Are you set up well enough to get into a highly ranked PhD program, that pays you a stipend high enough to live on and has the resources you need to get to the next step of your career? In my field of psych that means coming into the application process with at least a few national conference poster presentations, high GRE scores / GPA, and if you’re coming in with a Master’s at least a publication or two.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      This really, really depends on what you want to do with it, and also on how good a program you could get into. Unless you’re just doing it for fun and don’t care about what it leads to, you need to get into a good program – the resources and reputation of your PhD school matter a lot when it comes to getting jobs. Even if you have lots of money in hand and can pay your tuition and living expenses for five years, you could still hurt your job prospects – a five year gap in your work history and education credentials that will make it harder to get hired for the type of job you do now.

      For looking at programs – you want to look at the career paths of graduates and what they are doing. Not necessarily just academic jobs, but whether they are in jobs where their PhD is an asset. Also ask what the typical size of an incoming PhD class is, and compare that with the number of PhDs granted a year to get an idea of the drop-out rate.

      In a PhD your supervisor matters a *lot*. You can get into Harvard with a full scholarship, but if your supervisor is a total jerk it can drive you out of the field. A PhD supervisor is like a boss turned up to eleven – you work closely with them (or their minions) for a period of years, they have total control of your professional path, and you’re stuck with them. Unlike a job, if you’re 4 years into a PhD and things are toxic, you can’t apply for new supervisors to get out – it’s generally finish with them or quit the program.

      To be honest, though, if someone is casually thinking of doing a PhD and wonders if it’s a good idea, my answer is NO DON’T DO IT!! And I say this as someone with a PhD who is using it in their job. Generally people start out a PhD driven and enthusiastic, and come out the other end rather wild-eyed and disheveled – being uncertain about it at the start is a good way to end up six years into a four year program with no end in sight and wondering what to do next.

      1. No Name Yet*

        Agree with everything that AcademiaNut (and Gidget & Almost Academic above) said. My wife and I both have our PhDs – I’m directly employed in my field, and she’s adjacently employed – and our advice to anyone thinking about getting a PhD is: DON’T DO IT. If you absolutely, 100%, need a PhD to do what you want to do for a career, then ok. Do your research about the programs, supervisors, percentage of people who graduate (and how long it takes), percentage of people who are employed (in and out of the field), etc.

        One quirk of PhD programs that I think is worth noting (very different from bachelor’s and usually from master’s programs as well) is how independent and self-driven you have to be – the deadlines are more of, ‘get this major project done in a 1-3 years, figuring out all of the steps and smaller goals along the way, making sure you keep moving forward even without external benchmarks,’ which is a huge shift from the more semester-long (at most) focus of BA/MA programs.

        And sorry if this all comes across as harsh – we both had some really tough times in our programs, and while we both made it through and are happy with where our careers have gone, I’m not sure either of us could or would do it again.

  47. Anoning for reasons*

    A friend of mine took a new job last year, in October. Her first pay check didn’t look right, and she asked the company accountant about it. The accountant never got back to her and was fired a few months later. Now, the company has told her that her insurance deductions are wrong and she owes them quite a large sum of money, directly as a result of a mistake that the accountant made and never corrected.

    Is this just one of those things that you have to live with? Does she have any recourse? (In the US, but not in one of the coastal states that might have more labor protections.)

    1. Daisy-dog*

      Yes, your friend will need to repay those insurance premiums. She should have the option to break it up over as many paychecks as she wants though. It is unfortunate because it was someone else’s mistake, but it is like she was paid extra money and insurance premiums in particular are very important to correct.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Yes; she has to pay the money she owes. Since it was their fault hopefully they give her a period of multiple paychecks to pay it back. It was never her money to begin with; finders keepers isn’t legal.

      I was in the military and this was commonly passed around wisdom. If you ever think you’re overpaid for salary or TDY travel or anything, sock the money away; do not spend it. They will come back for repayment.

    3. What's with Today, today?*

      I work for a small family business, so take that into consideration. This happened to me on three paychecks. I called the owner to report my pay was too high on the first two checks, and I figured out what was happening myself on the third. Our owner did not make me pay back the money.

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

      Well, ethically if it didn’t look right (in her favor I’m presuming) she should have assumed it was a mistake and set aside the (estimated to the best of her ability) overpaid money in to a separate account (or at least mentally sequestered it) since it wasn’t really her money.

      Does she know from her own calculations or from some other reliable source that she does actually owe that money? – if so, she shouldn’t be looking for “recourse”, but for how she can start paying it back!

  48. Rome*

    I used to work for a psychiatrist. I think she violated HIPAA but I am not sure. She had patients working the front desk who access patient files. When we .loved she had patients carry loose charts in their cars. She gave away computers without having them sanitized a set back to factory specs. He son used to be a patient and she kept his records under lock and key in her office. She worked with children , mainly victims of sexual abuse, and would miss and caress them and give them money. One time during November she took one of the boys out of the building after dark and didn’t notify his grandmother who had brought him to the office.

    None of this will come back on me, will it?

    1. Jessen*

      I’d really encourage you to consider reporting this person to the board! Your post here is raising so many red flags for someone who’s abusing their clients (in addition to violating HIPAA). I could definitely see this coming back to bite you if something comes out.

      1. Jessen*

        To be specific:

        Victims of sexual abuse are at highly increased risk of being revictimized. An ethical psychiatrist should not be engaging in significant physical contact (really anything more than maybe an occasional hug) with clients, especially abuse victims. And there is absolutely no circumstance where they should be giving clients money, nor taking minor clients anywhere without the guardian’s permission.

        This is screaming with red flags of someone who is grooming vulnerable children.

        1. Jessen*

          This is definitely wildly unethical behavior, and unfortunately I would not be surprised if it’s hiding abuse. Definitely report her to both the professional licensing agency and to whatever number you have for suspected child abuse. Even if nothing comes of it right now it’s on record – plus that way if something is wrong it can’t come back to haunt you that you didn’t report it.

          I saw you said you were only there for 6 weeks, so definitely in “leave this off the resume” territory. And that looks a lot better than having stayed there for a long time.

    2. Not All*

      Pretty sure you win today’s award for burying the lede!

      HIPAA is the least of the concerns here and depending on what your exact position was you may well have a legal as well as moral duty to report the probable abuse of minors.

      1. Rome*

        She has been reported before and has terrible reviews on Glassdoor. She laughs about how she has the police in her pocket. I quit after 6 weeks.

    3. Atalanta0jess*

      I would report to the department of health/licensing board; any professional associations she’s a member of; and child protective services. Everything you mention is super concerning in so many ways.

  49. drivesmenuts*

    I am more upset about my company letting go the amazing CEO we’ve had for the last year, than any thing to do with COVID-19. I am heartsick over the company’s decision. From what I gather, they canned him because the company owner and the accountant decided they can do a better job than he was. They decided this based on the improvements he made to the company and the trajectory he set us on. He did all this and now they’ve said “Buh-bye” and will take the credit for any success we can manage to hang on to. Previous to him, these two had run the company and things were getting very bleak. They do not know how to run a business and their management style is very toxic. A number of the employees were ready to quit before the CEO was hired. I am very upset and this impacts my life right now way more than the virus. I am ashamed my company did this and I am more ashamed that I was finally starting to believe they wouldn’t pull any BS like this. This is not the first time they have done this and I am sad that I didn’t expect it. Shame on me.

  50. Top Cat*

    Our org got some unfairly bad press this week – we are just refusing to comment, which is the right thing, but I feel so aggrieved that such a travesty was published. I’ve had friends and neighbours comment – one, who knew the whole situation, said straight out it was very unfair. Grrrrrrrrrrr.

    1. Rain In Spain*

      I’ve had that happen in the past too- so frustrating! But staying silent is all you can do :/

      1. Top Cat*

        Yeah, the journo knows it too! We were very courteous in our mails, with lots of wishing each other good health.

  51. ThatGirl*

    I have my performance review today – over the phone, naturally. It’s going to be weird, since it’s based on last year and